Staged to coincide with Photo España, an exhibition at Loewe’s Madrid flagship store presents 50 photographs by the French writer and image-maker Hervé Guibert, who documented his life with poignant candour in 1970s and 80s Paris
Hervé Guibert was a prolific writer and photographer in France during the 1970s and 80s. Writing a photography column for Le Monde from 1977 until 1985, Guibert’s own image-making displayed the same astute sensitivity that his articles, essays and novels were renowned for. Despite only living until the age of 36, the Parisian writer and artist left an indelible impact on French culture in his lifetime thanks to his unprecedented openness and candour about his Aids diagnosis. To coincide with the 2019 edition of Photo España, Spanish fashion house Loewe is staging an exhibition of Guibert’s photography at its Madrid flagship store, spotlighting 50 of his extraordinary images.
Born in 1955, Guibert had written his first book, La Mort Propagande, by the age of 21. This novel is autobiographical and Guibert mined his own childhood and homosexuality when writing; this highly personal approach came to define much of his work; his friends and lovers would often appear in his photographs and texts, and in Ghost Image, a collection of essays on photography published in 1981, Guibert described the act of image-making as “also an act of love”. Meticulous composition was a cornerstone of Guibert’s work, resulting in poignant images that invite a closer look, most of which were shot in black and white. The Loewe Foundation exhibition also features many of the photographer’s self-portraits, his face often captured close to the camera lens.
Some of Guibert’s most recognised works deal with Aids, and his own personal experience of living with the disease. Not only would he write about, photograph and film his own everyday life with Aids in the late 1980s, but Guibert captured the experiences of his friends, lovers and contemporaries. Michel Foucault, for example, appears in a photograph in the Madrid exhibition and is believed to be the inspiration behind a character in To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, Guibert’s searing study of living with Aids.
The Hervé Guibert exhibition, curated by Maria Millán, marks the third in a series of shows staged by Loewe looking at artists’ personal explorations of gender, identity and sexuality: a study of Minor White was staged in 2017, and last year an exploration of Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowicz. For the house, spotlighting some of the most important, and sometimes unsung, names from the 20th-century LGBTQ community is of ongoing significance. “In this small way and with other initiatives, Loewe hopes to help create consciousness around instances of intolerance and marginalisation that – along with the danger of losing hard-won liberties – persist today in many parts of the world, not excluding more advanced societies,” the brand says.
Hervé Guibert is at Loewe Gran Vía, Madrid, until August 30, 2019.