April 2, 1938|
|Died||August 16, 2012
|Occupation||Documentary and portrait photographer|
|Spouse(s)||Henri Cartier-Bresson (m. 1970; w. 2004)|
Martine Franck (April 2, 1938 – August 16, 2012) was a well-known Belgian documentary and portrait photographer, and the second wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson. A member of Magnum Photos for over 32 years, Franck was also co-founder and president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation.
Franck was born in Antwerp to a Belgian banker and his British wife, and after her birth the family moved almost immediately to London. A year later, her father joined the British army, and the rest of the family was evacuated to the United States, spending the remainder of the Second World War in Long Island and Arizona.
Franck's father was an amateur art collector who often took his daughter to visit galleries and museums. Franck was in boarding school from the age of six onwards, and her mother sent her a postcard every day, frequently of paintings. Franck said that in high school she loved art history, and planned to become a curator.
In 1966, Franck met Henri Cartier-Bresson, thirty years her senior, when she was photographing Paris fashion shows for the New York Times. In 2010, she told interviewer Charlie Rose "his opening line was, ‘Martine, I want to come and see your contact sheets.’” They married in 1970, had one child, a daughter named Mélanie, and remained together until his death in 2004.
Franck studied art history at the University of Madrid and at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. After struggling through her thesis (on French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and the influence of cubism on sculpture), she said she realized she had no particular talent for writing, and turned to photography instead.
In 1963, Franck became an assistant to photographers Eliot Elisofon and Gjon Mili at Time-Life in Paris. By 1996 she was a busy freelance photographer for magazines such as Vogue, Life and Sports Illustrated, and the official photographer of the Théâtre du Soleil (a position she held for 48 years). From 1970 to 1971 she worked in Paris at the photo agency Vu, and in 1972 she co-founded the photo agency Viva.
In 1980, Franck joined the famous Magnum cooperative photo agency as a "nominee", and in 1983 she became a full member. She was one of a very small number of women to be accepted into the agency. In 1983, she completed a project for the now-defunct French Ministry of Women's Rights and in 1985 she began collaborating with the non-profit International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor. In 1993, she first traveled to the Irish island of Tory where she documented the tiny Gaelic community living there. She has also traveled to Tibet and Nepal, and with the help of Marilyn Silverstone photographed the education system of the Tibetan Tulkus monks. In 2003 and 2004 she returned to Paris to document the work of theater director Robert Wilson who was staging La Fontaine's fables at the Comédie Française.
Throughout her career Franck, who was sometimes described as a feminist, was uncomfortable being in the shadow of her famous husband and wanted to be recognized for her own work. In 1970, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London planned to stage Franck's first solo exhibition: when she saw that the invitations included her husband's name and said he would be present at the launch, she cancelled the show. Franck once said that she put her husband's career ahead of her own. In 2003 Franck and her daughter launched the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation to promote Cartier-Bresson's photojournalism, and in 2004 Franck became its president.
Franck was well known for her documentary-style photographs of important cultural figures such as painter Marc Chagall, philosopher Michel Foucault and poet Seamus Heaney, and of remote or marginalized communities such as Tibetan Buddhist monks, elderly French people, and isolated Gaelic speakers. She cited as influences the portraits of British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and the work of American photojournalist Dorothea Lange and American documentary photographer Margaret Bourke-White. In 2010, she told the Times that photography "suits my curiosity about people and human situations."
She worked outside the studio, using a 35-millimeter Leica camera, and preferring black-and-white film. The British Royal Photographic Society has described her work as "firmly rooted in the tradition of French humanist documentary photography."
Her books include:
- Martine Franck: Dun jour, l'autre. France: Seuil, 1998. ISBN 978-2-02-034771-6
- Tibetan Tulkus, images of continuity. London: Anna Maria Rossi & Fabio Rossi Publications, 2000. ISBN 978-0-9520992-8-4
- Tory Island Images. Wolfhound Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-86327-561-6
- Martine Franck Photographe, Musée de la Vie romantique, Paris-Musées/Adam Biro, 2002. ISBN 978-2-87660-346-2
- Fables de la Fontaine (production by Robert Wilson), Actes Sud. Paris, 2004
- Martine Franck: One Day to the Next. Aperture, 2005. ISBN 978-0-89381-845-6
- Martine Franck. Louis Baring. London: Phaidon, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7148-4781-8
- Martine Franck: Photo Poche. France: Actes Sud, 2007. ISBN 978-2-7427-6725-0
- Women/Femmes, Steidl, 2010. ISBN 978-3-86930-149-5
- Venus d'ailleurs, Actes Sud, 2011
- Martine Franck Photographe, Musée de la Vie romantique, Paris, 2004
- Les Rencontres d'Arles festival, France, 2004
- Kaufman, Leslie (22 August 2012). "Martine Franck, Documentary Photographer, Dies at 74". New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- "‘Magnum has lost a point of reference, a lighthouse, and one of our most influential and beloved members – Martine Franck". Film's Not Dead. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- John-Steiner, Vera (1997). Notebooks of the mind: explorations of thinking (Rev. ed. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 27. ISBN 0195108965.
- Gill, A.A. (2008). Previous convictions: assignments from here and there (1st Simon & Schuster trade pbk. ed. ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. p. 90. ISBN 141657249X.
- Walker, David (17 August 2012). "Photographer Martine Franck dies". Photo District News. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- "Wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martine Franck, dies at 74". Art Media Agency. 20 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Bussell, Mark (8 June 2010). "Martine Franck’s Pictures Within Pictures". New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Wallace, Vaughan (20 August 2012). "Martine Franck: 1938 – 2012". Life magazine. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Hopkinson, Amanda (19 August 2012). "Martine Franck obituary". Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Laurent, Olivier (17 August 2012). "Magnum Photos member and photographer Martine Franck has died". British Journal of Photography. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
- Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation
- New York Times "Martine Franck's Pictures Within Pictures"
- Martine Franck 1991 catalogue of Taipei Fine Art Museum, with the pencil painting of Henri Cartier-Bresson