Exhibition: Ré Soupault
“The Photographer of the Magical Second”
“These are images of timeless beauty, an irresistible mixture of abstract photography and realistic depiction of the human body: masterworks.”
Ré Soupault (1901-1996) was an avantgarde videographer, photographer, fashion designer, journalist, translator, radio essayist, and author of radio plays. She is among the most important artists of the twentieth century.
Daughter of a Pomeranian butcher and livestock dealer, Soupault studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar, became a fashion journalist in Berlin and Paris, and invented the “transformation dress.” She accompanied the surrealist writer Philippe Soupault as a photographer on his journalistic travels. The two married in 1937 and in 1942 fled Tunis for the United States, following the German invasion. From the conversion of the Bauhaus’ Neues Sehen, Dada, Constructivism, and avantgarde film, Ré Soupault developed her own style in the 1920’s, which she explored in photography.
After her separation from Philippe Soupault, Ré first worked in New York, then in Basel, and finally again in Paris as a radio essayist and translator of Lautréamont, Romain Rolland, and Philippe Soupault, to whom she returned in the last twenty years of her life.
She was part of the European avantgarde movements of the 1920’s and 1930’s, beginning from her training at the Bauhaus in Weimar (1921-1925). In her first marriage (1926) to the Dadaist Hans Richter and her second marriage (1937) to Philippe Soupault, one of the initiators of the Surrealist movement, she was also part of the circle of artists that included Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Florence Henri, Gisèle Freund, Elsa Triolet, Helen Hessel, Max Ernst, and Foujita, and thereby an important mediator in German-French cultural relationships of the 1920’s and 1930’s and after the Second World War.
Master of Photography
Soupault’s photographic work was produced between 1934 and 1950 in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, and Tunisia. From the beginning, she worked with Rolleiflex and Leica cameras. Her work includes reportage photography, portraits, and scenes of everyday life, and is captivating because of its straightforwardness and clarity. None of her photos were contrived, “everything came straight from life.” Her photographic work was only rediscovered at the end of the 1980’s. She was a photographer “of the magical second” (Die Zeit), a “master of photography” (Le Monde).
Exhibition with photographs by Ré Soupault
Location: Galerie St. Laurent
Manfred Metzner, editor and friend of Ré and Philippe Soupault, will give tours of the exhibition and will be in conversation with Stefan Zweifel as part of the “Perspectives” series.
Andalusian farmers before the outbreak of civil war, 1936
Philipe Soupault on the beach, 1940
Wedding, Paris, 1934
Quartier résérvé in Tunis, 1939