Le Funambule Bernard Faucon was one of the first photographers to master the constructed image in which he created photographic mise en scène that convincingly distort reality.

Bernard Faucon, Le funambule, Les Grandes Vacances, 1977, Printed 2006, Fresson photograph

Le Funambule

The scene Le funambule is a part of Faucon’s Les Grandes Vacances series composed in the late 1970s becoming a pioneering series of subjective reality photographs that would push the genre to the forefront in the 1980s. Faucon’s method in this enigmatic and nostalgic series was to employ both mannequins and sometimes actual children to create intricate staged scenes that reflect oftentimes playful, yet ominous situations from an idyllic childhood. These scenes are dreamlike but are not entirely innocent. The unusually memorable and striking compositions from this series subtly evoke heightened feelings and emotions, which could be linked to memories of our own childhoods.

On the surface of Le funambule specifically, the child tightrope walker surrounded by an audience of smiling onlookers is engaged in the challenge of walking the length of the precarious line. Another look at the constructed scene evokes feelings of the youth on an unstable walk through childhood’s both tranquil and oftentimes challenging situations while also straddling a place between a child’s real and imagined world. The subjective reality created by Faucon dovetails both time and experience.

Fresson Printing

Faucon chose to develop his photographs including Le funambule using the highly exclusive and controlled method of color printing known as Fresson printing. This method of printing produces an image that is characteristically diffused and subtle making it one of the most painterly of photographic processes considering the colors are each applied separately and seem to float one atop another. It is also considered to be the most archival and stable of any color processes used today.

The Life and Legacy

Born in Southern France in 1950, Faucon is both a conceptual photographer and a poet. He attended Sorbonne University in Paris until 1973, receiving a degree in philosophy. The well-known art dealer Leo Castelli was the first to introduce Faucon’s work in the United States followed by his soaring popularity in Asia. Work from Faucon’s Les Grandes Vacances series is included in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie among others. Given that the series is a pioneering moment in the genre of subjective reality, it comes as no surprise that work from Les Grandes Vacances, as well as Les Chambres D’Amour, is included in many of the most renowned public and private photographic collections.


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