Legends exhibition x Jean-Marie Périer

July 25, 2022 | Gandia Blasco Group / Gandia Blasco Group /

Our Gandia Blasco Group Flagship store in Madrid (Ortega y Gasset, 28) hosts the LEGENDS exhibition.
The renowned French photographer Jean-Marie Périer returns to Madrid with a photographic exhibition that covers his gaze on great legends from the world of music, art and fashion, from Mick Jagger to John Lennon, through Salvador Dalí, Françoise Hardy or Naomi Campbell.


LEGENDS, which can be visited until the end of October, is curated by the social photography and sustainable luxury magazine FEARLESS®.

Jean-Marie Périer. © Frédéric Maligne


Legends… how do you create a legend? Do you think your images contributed to turn some of the icons we see in the exhibition into legends?
Let’s not reverse the responsibilities. All these young artists would have made it without me, but without them, I wouldn’t be much. If my pictures helped them a bit, it’s because my goal was to make them look good. Period.
Legends, icons, that is not for me to say. I don’t trust those ones who tell you about themselves: “I am an artist!” It is not to me to say that, it’s to other people if they want it… You know, I never thought I was Picasso…


What were you looking for when capturing each of these images, and did you leave much to the improvisation?
No, I never knew how to show reality. I don’t care about it; other photographers know how to do that perfectly. All my pictures were staged before the shooting. Even those who looked real. Françoise Hardy in the streets of London, it was staged. I wanted to make a show. So, I invented stories in order to make several pictures on the same theme, like: “What will happen to all those artists after their lives, when they’ll go to hell!”
Don’t forget that these pictures were made to be hanged up on the walls of teenagers, I had to make them dream about these young singers and musicians.


Mick Jagger, Paris 1966 | Alain Delon, 1966. © Jean-Marie Périer


On some occasions you have said that sixty years ago you would never have imagined that your images would still be appealing after so long. How does a photograph become an icon and withstand the passage of time?
Luck. Luck to be at the right place, at the right time, and with the right people. I was 22 years old when I met the French young artists, or the Beatles and the Stones, they all were between 17 and 20 years old. Like a lot of my friends, we thought that we would be dead at 30.


You started out in publications such as Salut les Copains, specialized in musical culture and emerging talents. And throughout your career, your photos have been published by major international magazines. What does paper bring to your images that cannot be achieved digitally?
First it brings you money, since you’re paid to do them. Then you can touch them with your fingers and put them on your wall. Also, it’s a sign of acknowledgement, if it’s in a magazine, then it “exists”.


Sylvie Vartan & Brigitte Bardot, 1963. © Jean-Marie Périer


Fun, sense of humor, freedom… these are words that are repeated when talking about your golden age as an eye of the ye-ye generation in France. Do you miss anything from that time, creatively speaking?
Not only I miss it, but first I preferred to be 25 years old than 82. And I miss the liberty I had to do exactly what I wanted.
I stopped making pictures in 2000, after ten years at “ELLE” magazine. Because everything got “serious”, everybody is scared, “how will I look? Could you make retouching here and there? (I never made any kind of retouching during the sixties) Is it good for my “image”. Too many people around the artists, creating useless problems, asking to see all the images so they can choose themselves. Sixty years ago, not one artist asked me to see a picture before it was printed, not one. Mick Jagger or Alain Delon used to see the result in the magazine. That was as simple as that. No, let’s face it, the party is over!


After selling all your cameras in the 70s, twenty years later you returned to photography and your focus shifted from capturing music celebrities to leading figures in the fashion world. What had changed during that time?
For me, not much because the “ELLE” magazine was directed by my sister Anne-Marie. It is her who asked me to come back to photography. Plus, I already knew some of the major designers, and those that I didn’t know remembered me from my work in the sixties when they were teenagers. Actually, I didn’t make any progress.


Yves Saint Laurent & Carla Bruni, 1998. © Jean-Marie Périer


Gandia Blasco Group’s flagship store in Madrid is the headquarters of Legends until the end of October. The company’s three brands, Gandiablasco, GAN and Diabla have a recognizable identity in the field of outdoor spaces and invite you to enjoy the outdoors throughout the four seasons of the year. Those great natural settings, that Mediterranean light… have they also been a source of inspiration throughout your career?
Not necessarily. My goal has always been to make look good the people I had to photography. I’m not obsessed about showing my “style”, if I have one. I would rather change style to make them look good, that’s all.


What role did design play in your fascinating stagings?
The personality of the “couturiers”, the actors or other stars that I had in front of me was leading me toward a style. One more time, it is them that matter to me. I had also some talents with me to help or propose ideas about design. Having people around me was a great help.


What does it mean to you to show your work for the first time in Madrid, where you haven’t been since the 70s, and in a space like this?
I made exhibition everywhere in the world sing twenty-five years, and I already know a lot about Spain. I used to work in Barcelona making commercials in the eighties, and I just finished a huge exhibition of over three hundred pictures in Malaga last year. I don’t feel like a stranger in this country. Since 2000 I made three different exhibitions in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. There I really felt like an alien, not in Spain.


The Beatles, Red Door, London 1964 | John Lennon. © Jean-Marie Périer


Fearless Magazine, the curator of your exhibition at the Gandia Blasco Group showroom, arises from the concern to make the links between sustainable luxury and photography visible. What is luxury for you today?
It has always been the same for me. Luxury is what doesn’t show off. It can be a mixture of a very expensive object with things that one finds beautiful even if it’s not much. I prefer an empty room with the minimum needed and one very luxurious object, or a picture, or a painting. In fact, real luxury is like elegance: It doesn’t show off.


Can you tell us about the projects you are currently working on, which are related to writing?
First, I start again in 2023 the show on stage with pictures and music that I started in 1995, telling stories that I lived in the sixties and seventies.
Then I have three books to write before I die. This might seem pompous, but it’s only two stories that I lived and a novel that I would like to write just for the pleasure of it.
I wrote seven books already, ten seems a good number before I fly away, don’t you think?


James Brown, Long Island, 1967 | Françoise Hardy & Salvador Dalí, 1970. © Jean-Marie Périer


After going through the photographic journey proposed by Legends, what feelings do you think the viewer will take away?
First, I suppose they will think: The bastard has been very lucky. I would like that kind of luck right now!
And then: “I want to buy one”. This is the best reward for me, let me tell you!


Design is born to make people’s lives easier and to provide wellness and comfort. What do you think is the purpose of photography?
The purpose of photography is there to make you feel well every time you look at it. It’s just decoration on your wall, not necessarily an “artistic message”.
My pictures in the sixties were made to be on the walls of teenagers. Now they are forty of fifty years old.
My souvenirs are their souvenirs.


Los Rolling Stones en los campos Elíseos, París, 1965. © Jean-Marie Périer


What does it mean to you to show your work for the first time in Madrid, where you haven’t been since the 70s, and in a space like this?
I exhibited all over the world twenty-five years ago, and I know a lot about Spain. I worked in Barcelona doing advertising in the eighties, and I just finished a huge exhibition of over three hundred photographs in Malaga last year. I don’t feel like a stranger in this country. Since 2000 I have held three different exhibitions in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There I really felt like an alien, but not in Spain./em>


Naomi Campbell para la revista Elle France.

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