Contradictions are not few and far between when examining Harry Gruyaert’s photo career.
He doesn’t consider his work art, even though he admits his famous series TV Shots wouldn’t have been possible without the inspiration of pop art. He rebels against having a narrative in his photographs, yet he is a member of the most prestigious photojournalism agency, Magnum Photos. He focuses on photographing environments filled with people, however, people aren’t of his concern, the shapes and colors are the main subjects.
“In Europe and especially France, there’s a humanistic tradition of people like Cartier-Bresson where the most important thing is the people, not so much the environment. I admired it, but I was never linked to it. I was much more interested in all the elements: the decor and the lighting and all the cars: the details were as important as humans. That’s a different attitude altogether,” he explains.
Gruyaert’s only stated loyalty is to intuition and to the miracle of how things come together in an intelligible way in his photographs. Perhaps many other greats in photography have the same loyalty, but are too embarrassed to admit their simplicity.
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