Gérard Rancinan started his career as an apprentice in the laboratory of the photo department of the Bordeaux daily newspaper, Sud Ouest. After three years in the dark room he became, at the age of 18, the youngest photojournalist in France, covering news around the region. When he was 21, he was sent to the newspaper’s agency in Pau.
Having been spotted by the newly founded press agency, Sygma, in 1973, Rancinan decided to sign a distribution contract with the firm. Five years later he became a Sygma staff photographer in Paris. He covered events all over the world, from earthquakes in Algeria to political upheavals in Poland, and from the war in Lebanon to riots in England. As well as such dramatic events, he also covered sport (Olympic Games, Football World Cups, World Athletics Championships), and movie shoots (Ran by Akira Kurosawa, Betty Blue by Jean-Jacques Beineix, The Last Emperor by Bernardo Bertolucci). At the same time, he kept a close eye on the stars of show business, fashion and the cinema.
He left Sygma in 1986 to set up his own agency, before once again becoming independent in 1989.
His portraits of leading personalities (Fidel Castro, Pope John Paul II, François Mitterrand, Monica Bellucci, Tiger Woods, Yasser Arafat, Bill Gates, etc) and his photographic “sagas” describing major societal developments are published regularly on the front pages of magazines including Paris Match, Life Magazine, Stern, The Sunday Times Magazine, etc. Since 1984, Rancinan has also worked on a regular basis with Sports Illustrated, the biggest sports magazine in the US. In all his major projects, he collaborates with writers, journalists, thinkers, sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers (Caroline Gaudriault, Virginie Luc, Paul Virilio, etc.).
In the 1990s, Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr helped to point Rancinan in the director of the art world by producing the exhibition Urban Jungle at the Espace Cardin in Paris in 2000. Today, recognized the world over, Gérard Rancinan’s work is displayed in numerous international galleries and museums (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art: "Portrait of Nathalie", Triennale di Milano: "Portraits of Cardinals", Palais de Tokyo Muséum, Paris: "Metamorphoses") "Trilogy of the Moderns", Triennale di Milano - Contemporary Art Museum, Italie and features in prestigious private contemporary art collections.
At an auction at the Étude Million at the l'Hôtel Drouot in 2008, the price commanded by Gérard Rancinan’s work put him firmly in the upper echelons of French contemporary art photographers (Sud Ouest, Monday, June 2, 2008). With the photograph, “Batman Girls”, commanding a record price in London in May 2012, the international auction house, Philip de Pury, confirmed Rancinan’s status outside France. A committed photographer – “A watchful witness of the metamorphoses of Humanity”1 – Gérard Rancinan photographs his contemporaries and analyses the behaviours and beliefs characterizing modern societies. Gérard Rancinan’s photographs are now studied in schools in France within the framework of the National Diploma (DNB) in the History of Art.
On January 7, 2013, Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, invited Rancinan to display, in one of the rooms of the Quai d'Orsay the photography, "Batman Boys" (300 x180 cm), thereby promoting the work of contemporary French artists abroad.
Prizes and awards
- As a "Photoreporter", Gérard Rancinan has won four first prizes at the World Press Photo Awards, in 1983, 1986 and 1988 (twice).
- "Picture of the Year International" in 2004 at the prestigious POY Awards - Missouri School of Journalism, USA.
- Rancinan was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2006 by the then French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. He was made Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti in January 2013.
Most recent solo shows
- June–July 2007: Trilogy of the Sacred Savage, Triennale Bovisa di Milano Museum, Italy
- September 2008: The Photographer, Museum Palazzo Roma, Italy
- October 2009: Metamorphoses, still lives and conversations, Galerie Brugier-Rigail, Paris
- November–December 2009: Métamorphoses, Palais de Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, Paris
- March–April 2011: Rancinan in Paris, Opera Gallery London-Paris
- September–October 2011 : Rancinan in London, Opera Gallery, London
- Octobre-November 2011: Hypotheses, Chapelle Saint-Sauveur, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
- November–December 2011: Rancinan in Hong Kong, Opera Gallery Hong Kong
- April–May 2012: Trilogy of the Moderns, Triennale di Milano Museum, Italy
- May–June 2012: Wonderful World, The Future Tense, curated by Ed Barttlet, London
- September–October 2012: Wonderful World, Galerie Valérie Bach, Royal Icerink, Brussels, Belgium
- May–September 2013: Trilogy of the Moderns + Chaos, Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava, Slovakia
- Fiction/Short Film
Héritage - Voyage au Pays de l'Homme, TF1, 52 min, 1995
Trilogy of the Moderns - Behind The Scenes, documentary, making of, on the work of Gérard Rancinan and Caroline Gaudriault, 52 min. Directed by Vincent Tavernier with commentaries by Paul Ardenne, art historian. French and English version, December 2012
- Rois Sans Royaume, Éditions Nathan Image, 1986
- Urban Jungle, Éditions de La Martinière, 1999
- RANCINAN EXPLOIT, Edition Federico Motta, Milan, 2004
- La Trilogie du Sacré Sauvage, Edition Federico Motta, Milan, 2005
- The Photographer, Edition Abrams, New York, 2008
- Le Photographe, Éditions de La Martiniere, 2008
- "Métamorphoses", conversations & natures mortes, Biro & Cohen éditeurs, 2009 (with the writer, Caroline Gaudriault)
- "Hypothèses", Éditions Paradoxe, 2011 (with the writer, Caroline Gaudriault)
- "Wonderful World", Éditions Paradoxe, 2012 (with the writer, Caroline Gaudriault)