10.06.2019 Alexander Trauner Photographer

It is a great pleasure to announce the discovery of a talented photographer. Not a 2019 photographer – we are 7 billions now – but a pionner from those heroic times: the pre-digital era. Next October, a short exhibition , preview of an auction organized by Binoche et Giquello, Paris Drouot, will allow access to Alexandre Trauner’s photographic body of work.

A paper catalogue will describe over 4000 photographs, which will be offered in over 200 lots, together with original sketchbooks, drawings and paintings, as well as vintage material by his friends, Brassaï, Munkacsy, Pierre Verger, Jacques Prévert, Orson Welles …

This short article resume the variety of images, as conceived by the creative spirit of the famous film production designer.

Alexandre Trauner (born as Sandor Trau in 1906 in Budapest, Hungary -1993 in France) is known rather as a production designer. He studied with set designer Lazare Meerson (À nous la liberté, 1932 or La Kermesse héroïque, 1935).

After 1937, he became a chief set designer and worked on the majority of Marcel Carné’s films (including Quai des brumes, 1938, Le Jour se lève, 1939, and Les Enfants du paradis, 1942-1945).

After the war, Trau worked with many great directors, including Orson Welles (Otello, 1952), Yves Allégret (La Jeune Folle, 1952), Billy Wilder (Witness for the Prosecution, 1957)…

Trau then designed sets for color movies, Billy Wilder (Irma la douce, 1961), John Huston (The Man Who Would Be King, 1975), Joseph Losey (Don Giovanni, 1979), Luc Besson (Subway, 1985).

“Alexandre Trauner’s photographs are free of any clever tricks.

He comes to show you the tools of his illusionist work: simple fragments of reality picked up by an acrobat from perspective.

This was already known, but I think that what we should remember from his work is his astonishment at the importance of details.

To Alexandre Trauner, a few slags of reality are enough to build a launch pad for the dreams of a few directors.


It was while wandering around in a studio where one of his sets was planted that I had the revelation of his pedestrian paradise.

Large photographic panels form the backgrounds and I owe Alexandre Trauner all the interest that can be taken in the text of the signboards and a great taste for the sharp gables of the condominiums of which our suburb has so many cute examples.

From René Clair’s “Million” to Bertrand Tavernier’s film “Autour de minuit” or Luc Besson’s “Subway”, a little over half a century of cinematography has passed.

A half-century during which he took so many photographs all over the world, for the films and for himself, and during which, among carpenters, staff, painters and electricians, Alexandre, the enchanter, walked his evil eye”.

(Robert Doisneau, introduction to Alexandre Trauner’s photo exhibition, Forum des Halles, 1988).

The first recognition of Alexander Trauner’s photographic work was organized in 1986 by Sonia Bove and Bertrand Eveno, at the suggestion of Jean-Claude Carrière. His portraits and street views of Dublin, 1952 were enlarged in exhibition silver prints, produced in only one copy each.

The following years, Monique Plon organized an exhibition in the Forum des Halles with Trauner’s studios photographs, when the artist documentated his own creations.

But the essential themes of his photographs are in the real world. Trauner travelled in many countries on many occasions, his photos of China (1936), of England (1936, 1952 and 1974), of East Berlin (1961), of Morocco (1962), of Senegal (1970), are still unpublished.

 

Légendes des images :

Tournage en studio Juliette ou la Clef des songes, Marcel carné, 1950

Alexandre Trauner  photomontage dans un décor

Orson Welles sur le tournage d’Otello, 1962

Graffitis, quartier des Halles avant démolition

Repérage au Havre pour le Quai des Brumes, 1938

Décor nocturne pour Irma la Douce, 1961

Reconstitution des Halles aux studios Paramount d’Hollywood, Irma la Douce, 1961

Vue de Montmartre, probablement prise avec Robert Doisneau

Photographie coloriée probablement avec jacques Prévert, pour Juliette ou la Clef des Songes, 1950

Dans les rues de Dublin, repérage de 1952, épreuves tirées en 1986

Planches contact, voyage en Chine, 1936

Reportage à Berlin Est pour Billy Wilder, 1961

Reportage à Essaouira, Maroc, négatifs et contact, 1962

Scénario d’Irma la Douce, négatifs et planches contacts, 1961

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