Date of Lecture: 1994-02-11
After successful careers as both a graphic designer and a fashion photographer, Arnaud Maggs decided in 1975 to become an artist. Born in Montreal in 1926, Maggs’ first large body of work was 64 Portraits Studies (1976-78), in which he presented a grid of 16 women and 16 men photographed both frontally and in profile. Maggs followed this work up with his Ledoyen series (1979) of French pastry chefs, again employing profile and frontal views, and then his renowned Joseph Beuys, 100 Profile Views and 100 Frontal Views (1980). In Maggs’ collaboration with the famed German artist, Beuys presents himself in his fisherman’s vest and cap and attempts to maintain the same expression over the course of 100 different exposures.
Maggs then simultaneously produced Turning, Downwind Photographs, and the 48 Views Series (1981-83) in which he photographed prominent members of the Canadian art community, including Martha Fleming, Northrop Frye and Yousuf Karsh. In 48 Views, Maggs photographed each sitter 48 times, again alternating between frontal and profile views. He then printed 16” x 20” contact sheets that contained the 48 different portraits of each sitter; the final piece consisted of 162 different sitters.
After Maggs turned away from portraiture with The Complete Prestige 12” Jazz Catalogue (1988) he photographed Hotel (1991), a typological survey of vertical hotel signs in Paris. Since then, Maggs has continued to work in Paris, often utilizing objects he has collected in flea markets, evidenced in Travail des enfants (1994) and Notification (1996), perhaps Maggs most somber and emotionally powerful works. In 1997, Maggs exhibited Répertoire, his homage to Parisian photographer Eugène Atget, which consisted of 48 photographic reproductions of Atget’s address book.
Arnaud Maggs: Works 1976 – 1999, a retrospective of Maggs’ work, was held at the Power Plant in Toronto in 1999. In the fall of 2000, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris mounted the exhibition Arnaud Maggs: Notes Capitales. In addition to the accompanying publications for both of these exhibitions, Maggs’ series Hotel was published in 1993 by Presentation House and Art Metropole.