Andre Villers

Villers is a French photographer and artist, born 10 October 1930.

In 1947, following a bone tuberculosis, he was hospitalized at a sanatorium in Vallauris where he stayed for eight years. During that period he was introduced to photography and started making in 1952 his first experiments in dark room and pictures of Vallauris and its inhabitants.

He met there Pablo Picasso in March 1953, who offered him his first camera a Rolleiflex. He produced many portraits of the painter, and their relationship evolved into the realization of a work together, hundreds of images based on photographic experiments. In 1962 Heinz Berggruen edited a book, 'Diurnes' (Daytime), based on 30 of these images accompanied by an original text by Jacques Prevert.

Since the 1950s, André Villers has shot many portraits of great artists, among them: Leger, Calder, Arp, Le Corbusier, Dali, Miro, Chagall, Ernst, Cocteau, Hartung, Soulages, Tapies, Bunuel and Federico Fellini.

In 1970 he began to experiment with a new way of creating his photography without a camera. He made the negatives himself from pieces of tracing paper. This series was exhibited and a book was released with a text by Michel Butor, 'Pliages d'Ombres' (Folding Shadows).

Since then, his personal photographic work is based upon experimentation with shadows and transparencies. He has tried to use several emulsion techniques (solarisations, jets of developer).

In the mid-1950s he began a set of carvings titled Ex-Photos that were exhibited in 1970 at the Loeb Gallery in Paris, then in the 1980s he did an important set of paintings on cardboard, 'The Photographers', exhibited in Paris, Tokyo and New York by the Yoshii Gallery. His friend David Douglas Duncan devoted a book to it entitled 'A Secret Garden.'

In 1984 he published his text 'Photobiographie' recounting his life, his artistic process and his relationship with Picasso in a special issue of Les Cahiers du Sud dedicated to him.

Significant collections of his photographic work can be found at Nicephorus-Niepce Museum in Chalon-sur-Saône and the Museum of Photography in Charleroi in Belgium.

The city of Mougines in the Alpes Maritimes has honored this photographer with the creation of a Museum of Photography bearing his name.
Since July 14, 2006, André Villers has been a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

56. Picasso as Popeye  Silver gelatin print, circa 1960
Signed by the photographer in ink and stamped verso
 Printed by the photographer in 1989
 Literature: Jacques Prevert ‘Portraits de Picasso’ Andre Villers
£1,800  Andre-Villers-Picasso-as-Popeye 
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