Editorial & Business
25% of Gilles Caron’s work finally recovered
Paris 9 février 1966 – 7ème sommet franco-allemand : sur le perron de l’Elysée, le Général de Gaulle et le chancelier fédéral Ludwig Erhard en compagnie de Georges Pompidou (Premier ministre) et Couve de Murville (Affaires étrangères). Le 21 février De Ga
EXCLUSIVE – Here is the first contact sheet recovered from the box containing 736 rolls of film by Gilles Caron, the discover of which we revealed two weeks ago. “I am very happy. It is a quarter of the work of Gilles Caron that is alive again!” exclaims Marianne Caron. “I am rediscovering photographs which I could only trace through press publications, or simply memories.”
This past Wednesday, March 9th, 2011, mid-morning at the Corbis France headquarters, a branch of Corbis Corporation, Stephan Biberfeld – former manager of the in-liquidation Corbis-Sygma company, returned to Marianne Caron, the widow of the famous photographer accompanied by attorney Joffre (counsel for the Gilles Caron Foundation), not only the 736 rolls of film whose existance we revealed in our February 21st edition, but also a few other documents, color positives and vintage photographic prints.
“Everything happened as planned” said Marianne Caron “everything was perfectly in order, as the inventory work began by Sébastien Dupuy had been made very carefully (editor’s note: Sébastien Dupuy was the last editor in chief of Corbis-Sygma). It must be emphasized – we don’t encounter men of this quality every day.”
“In fact, it was first necessary to read all of the manual files in the archives of the APIS Agency”, states Sébastien Dupuy. “In these files, Gilles Caron’s photographs were identified by the acronym CAR, written by hand and in different writing styles. At the same time, as contracts were signed with photographers from the APIS Agency (acquired in 1973 by the emerging agency Sygma), we began to put aside the negatives belonging to Gilles Caron. The lists from these files had to be later compared with the film sleeves….This entire process took a lot of time and expanded from six months to a year with two photo editors in charge. And then for administrative reasons, the restitution had continued until the filing for bankruptcy by Corbis Sygma last year.”
For the act of restitution, “the reception from Corbis was perfect and of great kindness, from the managers’ side”, explains attorney Joffre. “A young lady spontaneously introduced herself as the one that had carried on the work of Stéphane Dupuy, having participated in the research for the photographs and other material to the finalization of the list. She was even touched to have met Madame Caron! New documents, mostly printed copies, some black and white, color-matching and positives of color photographs had also been found and, even if they did not appear on the list, were also returned. And we were promised that it would be this way in the future in case of new findings!”
When asked by email, Stephan Biberfeld said: “Acting in accordance with the instructions of the liquidator, the photographic works of Gilles Caron deposited with Sygma were returned to the Caron Foundation on 9 March 2011. Any additional information should be requested from the Liquidator."
This Thursday, Marianne Caron had quickly “skimmed over the contact sheets” containing features by Gilles Caron made for the APIS agency in 1965 and 1966. “There are a lot of portraits, many stage theater rehearsals, shoots of celebrities from that period such as Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda… Beautiful portraits of Juliette Gréco… There’s also the Ben Barka process, the family of the Moroccan opposition leader… Many other things. Excuse me for not being capable of giving you further details today, but I’ve seen the contents only very quickly so far, we must begin the task of cleaning the films, changing the films sleeves, and a digitalization before we can promote this section of the work. On the scans of the contacts that I am showing, you will find the different APIS indexations, and then those of Sygma.”
Contrary to what we have written in our edition of February 21st, the Gilles Caron archives were not stored in Locarchives in Garney in the Normandy region as the rest of the Sygma collection, but in the Corbis Sygma and Corbis France headquarters at 62 rue de la Chaussée d’Antin in Paris.
In reality, it was on July 3rd 2009, during the conference entitled “Gilles Caron photographer” held at the University of Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne and organized by the Parisian National Institute of Art History [Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA)] that Marianne Caron found out about the existence of negatives from the APIS period in Corbis-Sygma, without knowing the quantity or the subjects portrayed.
“It was then only by chance that I was able to demand in due legal time, one day prior, for the restitution of all of these photographs to Mr. Cardi, legal authority in the liquidation of the Corbis-Sygma company”. Summoned to the Commercial courts on Tuesday, February 15th, the Gilles Caron Foundation was able to produce a list of the 736 rolls of film.
The legal authority in the case fixed a six week delay for the restitution, but according to Louis Bachelot, director of the Gilles Caron Foundation, “the noise made around this affair had without a doubt accelerated the process, even if the photographs were not stored in a bunker as you had depicted.”
The Gilles Caron Foundation wishes now to recuperate other rolls of film or “wandering” copies here and there, from the editorial offices of magazines where the photographer had contributed on “of-the-moment” current affairs. Only then will the work of the photographer be complete.