Jean-Baptiste Huynh (French, b. 1966)
Jean-Baptiste Huynh is self-taught, and the dedication it takes to master the craft of photography is evident in the extreme patience it takes to achieve perfect lighting and composition in his work. He has authored 15 books, participated in numerous projects, and has an extensive exhibition record from museums and galleries around the world, such as the Sonnabend Gallery and Galerie Lelong.
Despite having shot a wide variety of subjects from inanimate objects to living beings, preserved specimen, and archeological artifacts, Huynh’s photographs are unified by a distinct style of cultural documentary focusing on honesty, stoicism, timelessness, and introspection. There is an overwhelming sense of respect for the subject in Huang’s work that is evident in the forward gaze from human subjects and the attention to detail in composing and lighting inanimate objects. Huynh’s series on ancient mirrors from the Louvre is emblematic of his attempt to capture infinity for a number of reasons. First, they are ancient artifacts meant to be entombed with the remembered, and were highly polished stones meant to reflect identity back into a viewer. Now they are pictured as patinated orbs or planets that capture a viewer’s attention as retrospection of the past and forbearance of the future. Age has altered the surface of these mirrors through erosion and oxidation and rendered them useless as mirrors, yet through photography, Huynh has given them new life and purpose. Likewise, Huynh’s portraits are similarly considered. They are masterfully executed and equally sensitive to the identity of the sitter and the viewer. Huynh apprenticed under the master of portraits, Irving Penn, and presents the same respect for perfectionism in his printing. He is able to inspire curiosity and respect for the people of various cultures as he documents their aesthetic. These photographs are dynamic in their content, with formal compositions and a strong sense of tonal value.
SELECTED MUSEUM COLLECTIONS:
National Museum of Asian Arts – Guimet, Paris, France
National Fund for Contemporary Art, France
France National Library, France
Louvre’s Friends Society
National Foundation for Photography, Turin, Italy
Palazzo Grassi Collection, Venice, Italy
National Museum – Reina Sofía Art Center, Madrid, Spain