Marc Lagrange tragically passed away on the 26 th of December 2015, in Tenerife, Canary Islands. A talented man has died, a photographic genius is gone. The Normal editorial team admired this small, simple, discreet, passionate and fascinating man. We admired his intensely precise and sensual vision. Two weeks prior, we had just realised a filmed interview of him in Paris, we talked about photography, about his creations, not knowing that we would never have the opportunity to discuss with him again. This interview is detailed in the following pages. He talked about his projects, his ambitions. At 57 years of age, he remains alive through his work: rich, diverse and unique creations. Marc was born in Kinshasa, Congo in 1957. He later travelled to Antwerp in Belgium where he works and decides to settle. He discovers a passion for photography at the age of 15 and receives the influence of several renowned photographers like Helmut Newton and Richard Avendon for the timeless nature of their negatives, but mostly Irving Penn, who was to him the greatest photographer. His cinematographic approach enables him to create the staging of magnificent exotic sceneries. His ultimate goal was to raise sensuality to its climax, to find the additional detail in each image which transcends reality in order to create a unique experience for the viewer to become free to make his own interpretation. “I am always looking for beauty”.
When capturing his images, Marc tends to promote the natural aspect of the body’s curves, to show the skin’s texture of his models, and most of all, to put them forward. His dream-like and fascinating universe is portrayed by a sumptuous, baroque and opulent décor and by sensual women, both dazzling and fragile. More than simply just models his muses are his friends, and he has photographed them at different periods of their lives. The respect he has for the power and the mystery of these women creates an atmosphere of trust within which, though naked, they are in control of the situation. Showed throughout the world, his work draws collectors from all over the globe. In 1980, he decides to concentrate exclusively his work to photography and creates portraits and nudes of fabulously flawless women. For him, a nude photograph may evolve into a portrait. His passion for large polaroids starts in 1990, he will then makes it his favourite means of expression. In order to immortalise his iconic portraits he spends a lot of time on the selection of location, the ideal casting, the lighting, perspective and the right pose to shoot. Extremely meticulous, Marc is a perfectionist when it comes to photography. Each detail is important to him, and nothing is left to chance. He typically realises several series and sequences before finding the right atmosphere he wishes to pass on to the viewer.
What is your main attribute?
I'm a great perfectionist! When I start to create a picture reflect on it for a long time the long, I think it through. Everything must be well coordinated and prepared. I analyze everything, especially the wardrobe which for me is of capital importance. I have an eye on everything, from the actual shooting all the way to the development. I try to ensure that everything is perfect. I'm not someone easy work with (laughs), I may be very demanding, but I'm not harsh or forceful, I'm pretty quiet, and I always try to explain to the team, to everyone, what I'm looking for.
What are you the least proud of ?
(Laughs) I’m therefore too obsessive! Pushed to the extreme, being too demanding can be frustrating.
Why the nude ?
I am often catalogued as a photographer of erotic nude. It is a title which displeases me, and which I do not give myself. I do nude, a lot of nudes, but I want it to be more than “just nudes”. I'm looking to stylize the nude, to make it cultural, that my images have meaning! I started by making photographs for Playboy, or similar kinds of publication, but I can no longer do so, it is too low-end, too trite. I show pictures of naked women with a story, a narrative series, like: the Banquet or more recently the Maritime Hotel. In this series there is always something happening, an allegory, a narration, a tension, and it is never to show the nude for nudity’s sake. This is consistent with the work and thought of Helmut Newton. He has shot many nudes but with an underlying frame in mind. The viewer projects himself in front of each photograph is, he invents his own story. I really like women and especially naked women, but women that are staged, positioned and not exhibited. Through my work on nudes in Senza Parole , I specifically worked on art history, making references to sculpture, painting and cinema. The nude is not an excuse for shooting a naked woman. It is a comprehensive approach.
And precisely through this approach, what do you want to express?
I wish that the viewer be moved by the ideas; they become observers. My intention is that the picture triggers emotions in people. And that is why I played with the naked. I have a project for a Museum, this is no longer a secret, inspired by the Roman decadence, something like the Fellinian Satyricon!
- Meet Marc Lagrange in Normal Magazine n°1 -