Sylvie Aubenas: The beginning of the chain
Sylvie Aubenas, 2011 © Yan Morvan
Sylvie Aubenas is to photography what Mother Theresa is to misery: a Saint and an icon. She inherited the skills of a long line of otherwise unknown or forgotten curators, in the French photography world, her predecessors Bernard Marbot, Philippe Néagu, Jean-Claude Lemagny, Françoise Heilbrun…
Without them, there wouldn’t be much in French public collections. Sylvie Aubenas discovered photography quite late, at 20, in the early 1980’s. She was at the time a student in Ecole nationale des Chartes. It was while visiting an exhibition at the Orsay on Charles Nègre that she fell in love at first sight. Before that, her only relationship with pictures were the post cards and stickers she devoured at the flea markets she often visited with her mother, a screen writer. She caught the virus and never lost it. Although she might have missed the Texbraun at the Clignancourt flea market, she would become Jean Beauchesne’s groupie at the Montreuil market. That was her strength: eclecticism. That which led her to comment: “I am building a photo collection, not a series of museum purchases”. Recently, she saved Yvette Troispoux’s pictures from being dispersed, this photographer of photographers for 50 years, and acquired for the Bibliothèque Nationale some of the greatest French erotic pictures taken by Pierre Louÿs.
Eclectic also in choosing her friends, who include André Jammes, Michel Frizot, Gérard Lévy, Serge Plantureux, François-Marie Banier. It is from this eclecticism that was born the photography chain that which begins today. A friendly Who’s Who where each photographer will select someone he or she admires profoundly to write about. The chain will continue each week. We have 10 today. The most recent lives in Maine. You will be surprised.
Sylvie Aubenas, chief curator at the Department of Prints and Photographs at the National Library of France.