Harry Gruyaert (Antwerp, °1941) is one of the most well known photographers in Belgium. A pioneer of colour photography, Gruyaert has been a distinguished member of the renowned photography agency Magnum since 1982. The FOMU retrospective presents a broad overview of his work and shines a light on some of its more surprising aspects.
Gruyaert’s iconic images are the focal point of the exhibition. Each photograph reveals his unique universe, constructed from a flawless feeling for colour, light and composition. Gruyaert travels the world in a single-minded quest for the beauty of the everyday.
The photographer’s poetic language is very much in evidence in three series: Rivages (2003), which incorporates images of the horizon and the sea; the recent publication East West (2017), which opposes the colour palettes of Moscow in 1989 and Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 1981; and the conceptual TV Shots (1974), which is considered by Gruyaert himself as his most journalistic piece of work, displayed at FOMU in the form of a video installation.
Gruyaert’s trademark is his masterful use of colour photography and his beloved Kodachrome film. But the FOMU exhibition also shows his versatility and focuses on elements of his career that are relatively unknown: early black-and-white work, a fashion campaign for Hermès, covers for the Penguin pocket editions of Georges Simenon, a homage to filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, family photos and a diverse selection of commissioned work.
Harry Gruyaert – Retrospective offers a comprehensive summary of an acclaimed career. It presents a poetic narrative, in which colour and light play the leading roles and photography does what it does best: creating “the conditions for a miracle”.
Curators: Rein Deslé and Joachim Naudts