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Arnaud Claass
  • Artist (1949)

In 1968-69, after studying music, Arnaud Claass (born in Paris in 1949) discovered photography through the works of André Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bill Brandt.  After studying at the Canadian Academy of Arts, and, in tandem, his early days in the world of fashion and reporting for different international magazines, Claass exhibited his first photographic works in Paris in 1972-73.  At that time they depicted cityscapes in America and Europe, which asserted an approach whose first result was the book Contretemps (1979). The exclusive framing on vegetation gave rise to series of landscapes including Paysages-Miniatures (1978-84).  The lens, directed towards the ground, sent back a nature that was at once general and highly detailed, in which details were intermingled.  “Visual accuracy, the presentation of visual tensions, and comparisons of textures are the conditions of the power of presence which has to be achieved in images.  It’s a matter of concentration, in every sense of the term”, explains the photographer.  The very wide and subtle range of greys emphasizes this confusion of grasses, thickets and clumps, all juxtaposed and superposed.  Similarly, the small-format works invite an attentive eye and close observation.  From 1988 onward, the scenes photographed capture parts of a country area:  abandoned building, end of a barn, table, animal facies, walls.  We find this attention to accumulated details in the Lapidaires (1990-92) in particular.  For Arnaud Claass, it is a matter of capturing the impermanence of things and not freezing a state of reality.  Memoire vive (2001-2003), Nuit optimal (2005), and Heure locale, three series which make up a trilogy, link images and texts by the author and explore the way in which visual activity and writing, somewhere between descriptions and meditations, mutually enrich one another.  Arnaud Claass, who teaches at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (Arles), also regularly taught at the International Center of Photography in New York, and at the School of Applied Arts in Vevey, Switzerland  (between 1997 and 2004).  Arnaud Claass’s work features in many public and private collections.

Nadine Labedade