Forgotten women of photographic art? This is the question posed by the Paris exhibition "Who is afraid of women photographers"? And the answer is hardly doubtful. We're not interested here in contemporary art photography or photo-reporting - two areas dominated by men for a long time, where women are gradually gaining ground - but at a time that will great starts in 1838 at the end of the second world war. Once again, the official story reserves few places for female artists. Yet, the 400 exhibited works (at the Orangery and Orsay museums), prove the importance of the contribution of the so-called weak sex to an art at the time booming.
Who knows the names of Constance Talbot (wife of the English inventor of the photo W.H. Fox Talbot) pioneer of the discipline, or Christina Broom, one of the first British photo-reporters? Not many people. The museum of the Orangery, which exhibits the first part of the works (from 1838 to 1919), offers to discover their work. Opposite, at the Musée d'Orsay, the second part of the event is devoted to the feminine photo between the two world wars. Again, many top pros have contributed to the rise of the magazine press, collaborating on prestigious titles such as Vogue, National Geographic or Vu. But the story, this ingrate, especially retained the virile exploits of Robert Capa or the poetic despair of Henri Cartier-Bresson - which nobody also puts the talent in question.
Today, things have all the same a little changed. Annie Leibovitz or Mary Ellen Mark - among others - are legends of the SLR and the number of female photo-reporters is increasing. This is not a reason to forget those who have preceded them.