The French Connection: C’est si bon!

Francoise Hebel announces Mois de la Photographie Grand Paris at a Paris press conference.Harold Feinstein work appears on screen represented by Galerie Thierry Bigaignon, one of the authorized venues for the festival © Thierry Bigaignon

When asked who his favorite photographers were, Harold generally listed Henri Cartier-Bresson at the top, though later in life he might have said Boubat, whose humanist sensibilities and optimism were so close to his own. His favorite artist: Matisse. And his favorite city: undoubtedly Paris. Harold would be pleased to know that his star seems to be aligned in the direction of France right now! Et c’est si bon!

Thierry Bigaignon of the Galerie Thierry Bigaignon with studio manager, John Benford, selecting prints from the up-coming show during his visit to the studio in September. © Judith Thompson

In September, we had a great visit from Thierry Bigaignon, director of the new Galerie Thierry Bigaignon, who is mounting a three month exhibition of Harold’s work opening on February 2nd. The exhibit will be the first of several planned at the gallery and will take place during Le Mois de la Photo Grand Paris, a month-long focus on photography in greater Paris, under the direction of Francois Hebel, formerly the director of the Arles Fotofestival. We’re delighted that the Galerie Thierry Bigaignon will be an official venue of the festival and that his exhibition “Contagious Optimism: Harold Feinstein, the early years (1940s-1950s)” will be hanging during that time.

Thierry’s first show, launched in June 2016, featured never-before-seen color work of Ralph Gibson. It was preceded by an unprecedented eight part series about his new venture in The Eye of Photography. We’re pleased to have the gallery as a new representative for Harold’s work in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Thierry Bigaignon and Judith Thompson at the new studio reviewing prints for the 2017 Paris show. ©John Benford, 2016.

Les trois soeurs ath Les Quatres Saisons in Grimaud.  Ruth Thompson, Judith Thompson, Beth Black, 2016
Les trois soeurs at the restaurant Les Quatres Saisons in Grimaud. Ruth Thompson, Judith Thompson, Beth Black, 2016
Thierry’s visit came just a few days after I had returned from my first French vacation in many years, with my two super sisters, Ruth Thompson of Carmel and Beth Black of Orlando. We stayed in the lovely village of Grimaud for several weeks which is located in the Côtes-d’Azur region. It amazes me, with all my international travel, and 27 years of marriage to Harold, that the two of us never went to Paris together! If only I could re-wind the clock!

A docent at the exhibition in Arles gives a thumbs up Feintein's photograph "Draftees on the troopship home", which she said was a favorite for many viewers.
A docent at the exhibition in Arles gives a thumbs up Feintein’s photograph “Draftees on the troopship home”, which she said was a favorite for many viewers.

In addition to enjoying the pleasures of the region, including sampling a great many Rosé wines and toasting the great view from our terrace, we spent at day in Arles taking in Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016. Of particular interest, of course, was the exhibition that included 8 of Harold’s photographs as part of a broader exhibition on the work and influence of Sid Grossman.

The exhibition — curated by Keith Davis, Howard Greenberg and Bob Shamis, and organized by The Howard Greenberg Gallery — represented a re-introduction of Grossman’s work and contribution to the social-documentary movement represented by the Photo League, which he helped to establish in 1936. Included in the exhibition were photographs by those who had studied with Grossman, including (in addition to Harold) Morris Huberland, Leon Levinstein, David Vestal, Rebecca Lepkoff, Arthur Leipzig and Sy Kattleson.

The exhibition recently came down, but the long-awaited book, The work and Life of Sid Grossman (Steidl/Howard Greenberg Library, 2016) is finally out. Several of Harold’s photos are in the book, including this lovely portrait on the last page.

Photo of Sid Grossman and his son, Adam, taken by Harold during a visit to Sid’s home in Provincetown in 1955 appears on the last page of the new book.