march 18, 2020 - Casa dei Tre Oci

Closed until April 3rd 'JACQUES HENRI LARTIGUE. The Invention of Happiness. Photographs' at Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice

From 29 February March to 12 June 2020, La #casadeitreoci in Venice is hosting the most extensive retrospective ever to be organised in Italy devoted to French photographer #jacqueshenrilartigue (1894-1986).

The Invention of Happiness, curated by Marion Perceval and Charles-Antoine Revol, respectively director and project manager of the Donation #jacqueshenrilartigue, and Denis Curti, artistic director of La #casadeitreoci, is organised by Civita Tre Venezie and promoted by Fondazione di #venezia, in close collaboration with the Donation #jacqueshenrilartigue in Paris with the patronage of the French Ministry of Culture.

The exhibition presents 120 images, 55 of which previously unknown, all coming from Lartigue’s personal photograph albums, some pages of which will be on display in facsimile form. Added to these are archive materials, books such as the Diary of the Century (published with the title “Instants de ma vie” in French), magazines from the period, a diaporama with pages from the albums, three stereoscopes with images representing snowy landscapes and elegant Parisian settings. These documents look back over his whole career, from its beginnings in the early 20th century until the 1980s, and reconstructing the story of this photographer and his rediscovery.

1963 was a crucial year in this regard: John Szarkowski, recently appointed director of the photography department of the MoMa - Museum of Modern Art in New York, exhibited Lartigue’s works in the museum, enabling him to achieve success when he was close to seventy years old.

The display itinerary of The Invention of happinesswill be structured around those significant moments of rediscovery of Lartigue’s work, beginning with the exhibition at the MoMA, where his first photographs, created in the period prior to the First World War, were presented; this contributed to the establishing of his renown as the enfant prodige of photography. Inspired by the newspapers and illustrated magazines of this age, Lartigue was interested in the affluent members of the Parisian middle class who would gather at automobile races, at the horseracing competitions at Auteuil, as well as the elegant men and women attending them.

“Lartigue’s ‘part of the world’” - writes Denis Curti in his text in the catalogue - “is the rich and bourgeois one of a Paris of the nouveau siècle, and even when Europe was to be traversed by the horrors of two world wars, Lartigue was to continue to preserve the purity of his photographic microcosm, keeping on fixing on film only what he wants to remember, to conserve. To stop time in order to save the instant from its inevitable passage. For Lartigue photography becomes the means to exhume life, to relive happy moments, again and again.”

Following the success achieved with the exhibition at the MoMa, towards the end of the 1960s, Lartigue encountered #richardavedon and Hiro, two of the most influential fashion photographers of that time, who immediately began to enthuse about his art.

Avedon, in particular, soon asked him to create a work in the form of a “photographic ‘journal”, showing a little more of the material in Lartigue’s archives. Helped by Bea Feitler, then the photo editor at Harper's magazine, in 1970 they published the volume Diary of a Century, which definitively placed his name in the pantheon of greats of 20th-century photography.

Yet by this time Lartigue was no longer the amateur photographer that he had been back at the beginning of the century. From the 1940s he published his photographs in magazines, combining society gatherings with more sought-after shots.

After looking in greater depth at the period of his rediscovery, the final sections will focus on the subsequent decades, marked by collaborations with the worlds of cinema, where he worked on numerous films as a still photographer, and fashion. Nevertheless, Lartigue’s eye never stopped focusing on everyday life, to immortalise its ironic and curious details.

An interesting focus will also be reserved for the memoirs that Lartigue wrote in the 1960s and 1970s, when he began to recompose the albums in which he had gathered together all his photographs.

Accompanying the exhibition is a bilingual catalogue published by Marsilio Editori, with a presentation by Ferdinando Scianna.

From 29 February to 26 April, in the De Maria rooms of La #casadeitreoci, the one-man show of Daniele Duca (Ancona, 1967) is to be held, entitled Da Vicino [From Nearby], which presents a series of photographs of objects (hangers, pens, patterns of fabrics, pasta, peppers), which, once removed from their context, become contemporary still lifes.

Biographical notes

Jacques Henri Lartigue was born on 13 June 1894 in Courbevoie (in the region of Île de France) into a wealthy family; his father Henri was a businessman who was passionate about photography. In 1899 the family moved to Paris.

In 1902, at the age of seven, Lartigue received his first camera as a gift from his father. His activity as a photographer began here: he took and developed his own photographs, first with the help of his father and immediately afterwards by himself. He portrayed the world he saw around him, relatives, friends and, generally, the everyday life of the middle class.

Starting from 1904 he began some photographic experiments. The most representative example of these tests consists of double exposures to create photographs of “pseudo ghosts”. Cars and aeroplanes, but movement more generally, were then to become one of Lartigue’s favourite subjects.

In those years the philosophy began to be delineated that was later to characterise his entire life: the cult of happiness, the search for an idyll that could not be upset by profound traumas. This ideal, which is fully reflected with the period of La Belle Époque, is represented by the photographs of elegant ladies strolling along the Bois de Boulogne, whom he already began to portray at the age of sixteen.

In the middle of the First World War Lartigue decided to devote himself to painting. In those years, he also worked as a set designer, illustrator and still photographer, beginning to spend time with key personalities from the world of art and cinema.

Thanks to Albert Plecy, influential personality of the world of photography in France, in 1954 the Gens d’Images association was founded and Lartigue became its Vice-President. The following year Lartigue exhibited his photographs for the first time at the Galerie d’Orsay, alongside works by Brassaï, Doisneau and Man Ray.

His name began to get around, but his true fortune as an author of photographs only arrived in 1963, the year when the MoMA in New York devoted a one-man show to him, The Photographs of Jacques Henri Lartigue. The portfolio of the exhibition was published in the hugely selling issue of Life magazine devoted to the assassination of President Kennedy, and the photographer’s name and work were made known to a vast audience.

Other exhibitions and the publication of various books devoted to his work, including The Family Album, edited by Ami Guichard in 1966, and Diary of a Century, conceived by #richardavedon, were to further reinforce his renown, to the point that in 1974 he became the official photographer of the French President.

Since then, though continuing to photograph for himself, he was to dedicate much of his time to commissions for fashion magazines and the decorative arts.

He died on 12 September 1986 in Nice, at the age of ninety-two, remaining in people’s imaginary world as the privileged witness of a golden age.

In 1979, #jacqueshenrilartigue donated his collection of photographs, diaries and cameras to the French state. The works are conserved at the Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and the Donation Jacques Henri Lartigue conserves and manages the collection.

La Casa dei Tre Oci is a cultural project of Fondazione di #venezia. Since 2012 it has proposed major international photographic exhibitions. Thanks to the commitment of Fondazione and the organisational support of Civita Tre Venezie, the Casa, conserved within which are the De Maria Photographic Fund and the Italo Zannier Fund owned by the Fondazione di #venezia, has progressively become a centre for developing and getting to know the languages of #contemporaryart. A Technical Committee composed of representatives of Fondazione and Civita Tre Venezie, as well as the Artistic Director, guarantees the quality of the exhibition and cultural planning of the dwelling built by Mario De Maria in 1913.



JACQUES HENRI LARTIGUE. L’invenzione della felicità. Fotografie

[JACQUES HENRI LARTIGUE. The Invention of Happiness. Photographs]


Casa dei Tre Oci

Fondamenta delle Zitelle, 43, Giudecca, Venezia


Zitelle stop

From Piazzale Roma and from the railway, line 4.1 - 2

From San Zaccaria, line 2 - 4.2


29.02 > 12.06.2020

Opening hours

Every day 10am-7pm; closed Tuesdays


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Bookings (obligatory for groups)

Ticket One. Call centre: 199 757519


€13.00 full price

€11.00 reduced price for students, those aged under 26, over 65, holders of special conventions

€9.00 special reduced price for groups of 15 people and over, special reduced price every Wednesday for residents and natives of the metropolitan city of Venice;

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€26.00 reduced price for families (2 adults + 2 under 14s)

€5.00 reduced price for schools

Free, children aged below 6, one accompanier for each group, people with disabilities and their companions, two teachers accompanying each class, journalists with membership card, tourism guides

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Italian €100.00, English € 120.00

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