This is the story of 75 year old Magnum member Harry Gruyaert whose life is saved by color. Harry grows up in a strict and traditional Catholic Flemish family. His father forbids him to become a photographer because he sees it as sinful. So he decides to leave his country and travel. Coming from a repressed and grey background he discovers the lights and color of Europe. Driven by hatred and love and the irresistible desire to be a photographer, he becomes a pioneer in European color photography.
The film is a story of attraction and rejection and deals with the difficult father-son relationship that plays a prominent role in the formation of the protagonist. It is the story of a restless vagabond, a questing soul who never stops hunting for images. A man who despite all, must follow an irresistible urge to continue travelling and to discover the changes in society.
A story about a timid but honest voyeur who captured the zeitgeist in an unique way.
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Harry Gruyaert, born in Antwerp (Belgium) in 1941, studied at the School of Film and Photography in Brussels from 1959 to 1962. Then he became a photographer in Paris, while working as a freelance director of photography for Flemish television between 1963 and 1967.
In 1969, he made the first of many trips to Morocco.
From 1970 to 1972 he lived in London. This is an opportunity for unprecedented visual experiments: he decided to "cover" the Munich Olympics of 1972 and the first Apollo flights, on a broken TV screen he has at its disposal, by manipulating the colors.
Between 1973 and 1980, he began a long essay on Belgium first in black and white and then in color.
Harry Gruyaert joined Magnum Photos in 1981 and continues many trips including Asia, USA, Middle East and Russia.
For more than thirty years, from Belgium to Morocco, and from India to Egypt, Harry Gruyaert has been recording the subtle chromatic vibrations of Eastern and Western light. Far from indulging in stereotypical exoticism, Harry Gruyaert has a vision of faraway countries that locates the viewer within peculiar and somewhat impenetrable atmospheres.
In the 2000s Harry Gruyaert abandons film to digital photography.
Very concerned about the quality of prints made previously in Cibachrome and sometimes dye transfer, he experimented early in the inkjet printing. Better suited to revealing the rich shades found in his films, digital print opens new possibilities for his work, bringing it one step closer to his original intention, namely to give color the means to assert its true existence.
MAST – Foto Industria – Bologna, Italy.
Fondation d’Entreprise Hermes – Paris, France.
Randsom Center collection – Austin, Texas.
Lhoist collection – Belgium.
NSM. Vie/Abn Amro – Paris.
Fond National d’Art Contemporain – Paris, France.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Paris, France.
Centre Georges Pompidou – Paris, France.
Metropolitan Museum – Tokyo, Japan.
Musée de la Photographie – Charleroi, Belgium.
Howard Stein collection – New York, USA.
David Roberts collection – London, UK.
Source: Magnum Photos