François Braunschweig and Hugues Autexiers
François Braunschweig et Hugues Autexiers © Bettina Rheims
The rediscovery in the early 1970s of French "primitive photography" as highly desirable art led many museum curators and private collectors to a small glass-walled treasure trove buried in the Paris flea market at Porte de Clignancourt. This modest establishment-bookstalls outside, photographic, posters, and popular-art memorabilia crowding the interior-was designed around a deliberate strategy: Novice collectors were required to show scholarly and financial measures of seriousness before being allowed access to a tiny second-floor room where one could find a select group of premium images by Le Gray, Baldus, Nègre, and others. The success of this arrangement allowed its two owners, Hugues Autexier and François Braunschweig, to gain a degree of financial success, which in turn allowed them to acquire ever more important albums, archives, historic collections, and, later, a gallery in posh quarters on rue Mazarine. The Galerie Texbraun was not an act of grandeur-though the pride its owners took in it was justified-but recognition of a new art market requiring a higher public profile. It also provided room for important exhibitions and an inventory that encompassed the total history of fine photography. Hugues Autexier and François Braunschweig had been inseparable since they met at school in Paris in their teens. The relationship flourished for 23 years. They were great company. Analysis of prints at their gallery would continue over luncheon or dinner at nearby Chez Georges or La Cafetière. lntrepid travelers, they adored Egypt, the Pyrenees, and Greece. New York in the late l970s was also a favorite haunt-dinner at the Russian Tea Room (over by 11), a quick leather-costume change, then on to the Mineshaft nether world and, as it turned out, the seeds of extinction. It was in the spring of 1986 that François died of AIDS. Hugues, who was HIV positive, was a resigned suicide six weeks later. His fated and planned exit occurred the day after he welcomed us all to the opening of "Souvenir of Italy," three years in planning and the final collaboration of Galerie Texbraun.
Harry Lunn, art dealer and collector
Galerie Texbraun, one of Paris's premier photographie establishments, was closed in1986. Hugues Autexier was born in 1944, François Braunschweig in 1946.