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Photo exhibition captures allure of Paris over last century

More than 160 black-and-white photographs selected from the Centre Pompidou will go on display tomorrow (May 11).

The exhibition, "Paris Reflections: Photographs from the Centre Pompidou", will run at the Hong Kong Museum of History until May 30, 2005.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Centre Pompidou of France, the exhibition is jointly organised by the Museum of History and the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong. It is also part of the programmes of "The Year of France in China" and "Le French May".

The exhibition was opened today by the Director of the Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms Anissa Wong Sean-yee; the President of the Centre Pompidou, Mr Bruno Racine; the Consul-General of France in Hong Kong, Mr Serge Mostura; and the Chief Curator of the Museum of History, Dr Joseph Ting Sun-pao.

The exhibition features more than 160 black-and-white photographs taken from the 1920s to the 1990s by 32 photographers. There are masterpieces of world-renowned artists, including Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray, as well as artists recently discovered by the Centre Pompidou, such as Daniel Masclet, Eli Lotar and Tore Yngve Johnson.

Paris is presented in a variety of styles through street scenes, buildings, portraits and everyday life. The exhibition shows the city's grandeur as a modern cosmopolitan city as well as its uniqueness as a European city of a gentler era. Both long shots or close-ups, the images, with their poetic flavour and philosophical overtones, speak of the reality and romance of Paris in the last century. They also capture the mystique and allure of the city that has made a lasting impression.

The exhibits are divided into three parts. The first presents an extraordinary series of prints made between the two World Wars in the 1920s and 1930s. Photographers of this period were influenced by artistic movements such as Impressionism, Cubism and the Bauhaus. The economic crisis that took place in the 1930s also prompted them to face social and economic realities. Scenes of everyday life in the city became the popular subject in their photographs.

The second part covers the postwar period from the 1940s to 1970s, when photography entered the commercial age. Cameras shrank in size while printing techniques were much simplified and improved. Documentary photography as a genre came into being, and photo agencies became a new breed of business, especially in Paris. Exhibitions and publications of photographs proliferated, giving photographers the social status that used to be enjoyed by artists.

The third part features photographs taken in the 1980s and 1990s, when photography became a medium of artistic experimentation, and with it came a radical change in the perception of the relationship between the image and reality. Other emerging trends that had parallel influences to photography included conceptual, minimalist, documentary and filmic approaches.

Audiences will notice from the old photographs the subtle changes that have taken place in Paris over the last century.

The Hong Kong Museum of History is located at 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It opens from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesday except public holidays. Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For details, please visit the Museum of History's website at or call 2724 9042.

Ends/Tuesday, May 10, 2005

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