From February 6 to June 5, 2016, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain will present the first European retrospective of the artist Fernell Franco, a major yet little-known figure of Colombian photography.

Fernell Franco (1942–2006) began his career in Cali as a photojournalist and quickly became specialized in the fields of advertising and fashion photography. At the same time, starting in the 1970s he developed a powerful personal body of work that addressed the precarious and conflicted nature of urban life in Cali. Whether it be in color or in black and white, whether it represent crumbling ruins, wrapped parcels, pool halls, or prostitutes, his melancholic twilight photographs are inspired by Italian neorealism and film noir. A pioneering experimental artist, Fernell Franco often manipulated his prints —cropping or retouching them with colored pencil or airbrush—, going beyond the limits of documentary photography to create metaphoric, almost pictorial works.

The exhibition will bring together 140 photographs from 10 different series he produced between 1970 and 1996. It will also reveal the importance of Fernell Franco’s work within a broader cultural context, as part of the vibrant art scene that emerged in Cali at the beginning of the 1970s. Representative of the artists who emerged at this time, Oscar Muñoz has been commissioned by the Fondation Cartier to create a work specifically for the exhibition as a tribute to Fernell Franco. The catalogue published in conjunction with the exhibition will include more than 190 illustrations. Featuring texts by Colombian photographer Oscar Muñoz and curator María Wills Londoño as well as an illustrated biography of the artist, this monograph provides a unique occasion to discover the sensitive and singular work of Fernell Franco.

Fernell Franco, Cali Clair-Obscur
Co-publication: Fondation Cartier pour
l’art contemporain, Paris/Toluca, Paris
Bilingual French-English
Hardback, 22 × 27,5 cm, 296 pages
196 color and black-and-white
reproductions
Texts by Oscar Muñoz, María Wills
Londoño; biography of the artist
ISBN: 978-2-9522442-7-5
Price: €40
Publication date: February 2016

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