Fernand Fonssagrives was a very gifted photographer who shot for Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1940s & 50s. He originally trained as a dancer but a driving accident had put an end to that career for him. However, his wife’s surprising gift of a camera led him into the limelight of a different kind. Monsieur Fonssagrives became known for his beautiful black & white ‘nude’ photographs and at some stage was the highest paid fashion photographer.
But life works in a mysterious way and his friend Irving Penn ended up overtaking him on both professional and personal (his wife, a beautiful model Lisa Fonssagrives, left him for Penn) fronts. With his professional star on the wane he concentrated on creating sculptures and painting, trying to fulfil his creative potential.
The exhibition of his work was opened recently at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in Chelsea and looking at the beautiful images one seems to be transported back in time, where nudity was more tasteful and seduction was much more of a mystery. The photos are relatively small, compared to many exhibited today, but they draw you in and make you re-examine the art of photography that remains current even though the originals were taken many years ago.
Fernand Fonssagrives died in 2003 and left his estate to his daughter Mia Fossangrives-Solow, who continues taking care of his legacy and the exhibition makes sure that the public understands the importance of Monsieur Fonssagrives work.
p.s you can still buy a copy of the book of Fernand Fonssagrives work that accompanies the exibition. It is called ‘An eye for beauty’, the second edition of which was published in 2005 and it is limited to 1,000 copies.