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The terrible beauty


January 7 - February 7, 2020 

Opening Thursday, January 7

Press kit


The artist of the exhibition:

John Craven

An entry into the John Craven Inquiry

Galerie Berthet Aittouarès invited Savage Collective to take over the work and the character to explore Craven's artistic heritage.

Enigmatic character born in 1912 in Dignes-les-Bains, self-taught and passionate photographer, sometimes art dealer, sometimes curator before his time, Louis Conte, alias John Craven is an extraordinary, whimsical and mysterious man.

From 1950, at the time of all-powerful oil, John Craven immersed himself, first in Dunkirk then in Lavéra, in the world of refineries which he compared to cathedrals. He photographs them a lot at night, captivated by the appearances of these industrial sites which become decoys of a starry sky, visual pollution of a simple contemplation of the sky by man. He paints a striking and personal portrait of it, often abstract, where the man is almost insignificant, dressed in asbestos, reduced to the maintenance of disproportionate, crushing, subjugating machines.

Highly contrasted, these images testify in a poetic but uncompromising way to the attraction / repulsion that the photographer may have felt in the face of this industry, as one may be fascinated by fire while having
aware of the danger it can cause.

The set exhibited at the Berthet-Aittouarès gallery, which represents around forty vintage black and white photographs, taken by the artist around 1950, forcefully immerses us in a world of terrible beauty, as Jean Giono will say, in a time when black gold is at its golden age and its infinite reserves.

The exhibition is accompanied by an investigation carried out by Savage Collective in an attempt to approach the mystery of John Craven, A man in perpetual motion, recognized by his contemporaries for his total commitment and his original proposals. Savage chose to conduct the survey because it seemed important today to provide an original reading prism of John Craven's work, according to his personal history, his artistic and premonitory flashes, his vast photographic observations on his time. .

Savage is a collective of curators, image specialists, made up of Nathalie Amae, Audrey Bazin, Matthieu Foss, Valérie Fougeirol; Judith Peyrat.

Set of 40 black and white photographs
Period prints made by the artist in 1950-1958


Berthet-Aittouares Gallery
14 and 29 rue de Seine

Tuesday Saturday
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. / 2:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
T: +33 (0)1 43 26 53 09



Click hereto see the press review on our exhibition ofJohn Craven.

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