The hundred photographs on show give an interesting and stimulating insight into the development of the medium of photography from its beginnings until the present time. The French photographs exhibited represent all the watershed points in the technological and conceptual development of this particular visual discipline in art, from the oldest record left by light of Nicèphore Nièpce of 1826 right until the present day. From the mentioned heliography of Nièpce, the chronophotography of Etienne–Jules Marey of 1883 and the autochromes of Etienne Clémentel of 1916, exposure time got constantly shorter and the ability to make copies improved; photography started to be used for commercial, propaganda and scientific purposes. Masters like Mayer and Pierson, or Félix Nadar record ongoing social changes of the time, the persons, as well as interesting views of Paris and the French countryside. Scientists and artists too were involved in photography, and the exhibition includes photographic portraits of such greats as writer Charles Baudelaire or painter Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Photographs of great painters like Degas and Pierre Bonnard tell of the closeness of the two artistic media, while the surrealist experiments of Man Ray and Dora Maar actually combine them. Important for the world history of journalism was the contribution of French photographic journalists like Janine Nièpce and Sabine Weiss and of fashion photographers such as Frank Horvat. Also greatly influential was the work of news photography agencies, of Magnum, for instance, particularly that of one of its founders, the great master of life photography, Henri Cartier Bresson. Bringing the 20th century to a close, artists like Valérie Belin and Frank Perin produced paintings or installations via transformations of the medium of photography.
The textual interpretation of each exhibit and author is a fine opportunity for familiarisation with photographic techniques, themes and viewpoints in France, as well as in the world at large.
There is discussion of the continued and indeed constitutive influence of French photography on artists in this country in an essay by Marija Tonković, MSc, historian of Croatian photography.
The exhibition 100 x France was devised by Sophie Schmit, art historian, journalist and curator, who prepared this touring exhibition under the patronage of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The works were selected from three of the most important world public collections of photography (Bibliothèque National de France, Musèe d'Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou) as well as from many other public and private collections (École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris and the Donation Jacques Henri Lartigue, Paris, and others).
The exhibition in Zagreb has been organised in collaboration with the French Institute, as a contribution to the Francophone Month, a multicultural event that promotes French language and culture in general.
In Zagreb the exhibition is being produced with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the Office for Culture of the City of Zagreb and sponsors Privredna banka Zagreb and Peugeot Croatia.