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Fifteen years !

Thierry Gervais
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Quinze ans !

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1The inaugural issue of Études Photo­graphiques appeared in November 1996. With its fiscal troubles behind it, the Société Française de Photographie embarked on the publication of a journal that brought together on its editorial board young academics and curators who firmly believed that the subject of photography was complex enough to provide sufficient material for a biannual publication. Études Photo­graphiques was imagined, conceived, and, until 2008, edited by André Gunthert. Études Photographiques would not be what it is today without the energy and involvement of this multi-talented man, who was as adept at developing research topics as at configuring the first Mac computers. Fifteen years later, in November 2011, the journal has published a total of 210 articles (over a million words) and 260 book reviews by more than 220 international authors. Are not anniversaries an occasion for stocktaking, a chance to review the work accomplished and acknowledge all those who contributed to it ? Subscribers, partners, advertisers, members of the editorial board and editorial advisory committee, and of course, authors : thank you for your support, which has helped to win recognition for our field.

2Appraisals like this also provide an opportunity to recognize the development and completion of especially notable projects. Ten years ago, Nathalie Boulouch’s introduction to the second of her four articles on color photography for our journal began with this observation : ‘In the historiography of photography, it has been difficult to study color outside a purely technical context.’1 What a pleasure it is to see that she has now filled this gap with her book Le Ciel Est Bleu. Une Histoire de la Photographie Couleur (The Sky Is Blue : A History of Color Photography), published just a few weeks ago.2 This subject now has an accepted place at prestigious research organizations,3 with Nathalie Boulouch’s analysis as one of the first.

3Writing of the history of color in general, Michel Pastoureau documents how particular sensations and ideas have changed radically over time. The color blue, for instance, was perceived as warm in the Middle Ages but now is defined as cool.4 Nathalie Boulouch, writing of photography in particular, describes the initial denigration of color by photographers and critics, before being adopted by everyone : for example, Paul Strand declared that ‘color and photography have nothing in common,’ while Henri Cartier-Bresson felt he was making ‘a concession’ when he took color photographs for magazines ; Eddie Adams suggested that in wartime ‘colors tend to make things look too nice,’ while Walker Evans rejected color as ‘vulgar’ before embracing it in the 1970s, a decade that marked a sea change in attitudes and practices.5

4Today, amateurs, photojournalists, and artists all seem to have abandoned black and white for color. Nathalie Boulouch traces the history of this phenomenon, explaining the scientific issues at stake in the additive and subtractive color processes, the Lumière brothers’ industrial ambitions for the Autochrome, the economic success of the Kodachrome, amateur photographers’ infatuation with color, the greater realism of color news photographs, and the long road to cultural and artistic recognition. This history of the reversal in attitudes toward color was previously sorely lacking in our understanding of the photographic medium.

5Thus retrospective appraisals also allow us to observe how, in the pages of this journal, certain authors gradually developed theoretical arguments that have ultimately taken shape as a book. Let us hope that Nathalie Boulouch’s example will pave the way for many other, equally inspired, editorial projects.

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Référence électronique

Thierry Gervais, « Fifteen years ! », Études photographiques, 28 | novembre 2011, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 21 novembre 2011. URL : http://etudesphotographiques.revues.org/3231. consulté le 27 mai 2017.

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Thierry Gervais

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