Jacques Henri Lartigue, Albert Heïdé, Francis Pigueron and Ostertag, 1918. Jacques Henri Lartigue© Ministère de la Culture France/AAJHL.

The Frick Pittsburgh
Through May 15
10 a.m. — 5 p.m.

If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s visually rich, quirky films, then you likely have seen the work of Jacques Henri Lartigue without even realizing it. Get to know the vivid imagery of this famed French photographer and painter—and  travel back in time to The Belle Époque (read: beautiful era)—at The Frick Pittsburgh.

Jacques Henri Lartigue, Renée. Biarritz, 1930. Jacques Henri Lartigue© Ministère de la Culture France/AAJHL.
Jacques Henri Lartigue, Renée, 1930. © Ministère de la Culture France/AAJHL.

Opening to the public on February 6th, Fast Cars and Femmes Fatales: The Photographs of Jacques Henri Lartigue features 135 works completed between 1907 and 1958. A contemporary of The Frick Pittsburgh’s own benefactress, Helen Clay Frick, Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894—1986) was born into a privileged, wealthy and glamorous French family—a distinctive upbringing that informs his artistic voice and choice of subject matter.

With the aid of Lartigue’s curious lens, museum-goers will travel back in time to The Belle Époque, a “golden age” in Western European history that was characterized by optimism, peace, prosperity and technological, scientific and cultural innovations. Spanning the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the outbreak of WWI in 1914, The Belle Époque was also a pivotal period in Paris, when culture flourished and masterpieces of literature, music, theater and visual art were celebrated.

Zissou, Rouzat, 1911© Ministère de la Culture France/Association des Amis de Jacques-Henri Lartigue,
Jacques Henri Lartigue, Zissou, Rouzat, 1911 ©Ministère de la Culture France/ Ministère de la Culture France/AAJHL.

Lartigue—who received his first camera at age eight—was a constant documentarian of the world around him. Full of playfulness and experimentation, Lartigue’s photographs document the exploits and adventures of his eccentric, upper-class and creative French family—from fashionable strolls down grand French boulevards, to a graceful gymnast caught in mid-air on a sunny beach.

Presented thematically, with sections depicting fashionable Parisians, cars, aviation, tennis, winter sports and beach scenes, Fast Cars and Femmes Fatales also includes reproductions from Lartigue’s photo albums and journals. Also featured are images of influential artistic personalities in Lartigue’s circle of peers—including artist Pablo Picasso, actor Sacha Guitry, his model, muse and companion Renée Perle, and his first wife Bibi.

When Lartigue was 69, his photographs became more widely known via an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and a feature in Life magazine. Augmenting the new exhibition will be a display of images highlighting the Frick family’s leisure pursuits here on American soil, including snow sports, picnics, tennis matches and games.

To learn more about Lartigue, check out The Frick’s array of public programs, including tours, gallery talks, lectures, workshops and family events. Not to miss is the new cinema series, Fast Cars, Fanciful Families and Fab Francophiles—Lartigue and the Films of Wes Anderson, running on the second Friday of March, April and May.

Looking for more events? Read our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in February feature.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.