In the summer of 2024, as part of Rennes’ Exporama contemporary art season and the Paris Olympic Games, the Frac Bretagne is presenting an exclusive exhibition entitled “Les JO de Raymond Depardon“.
In 165 photographs, the famous French photojournalist Raymond Depardon retraces the 6 Olympics he covered between 1964 and 1980.
In 1964, Raymond Depardon had been working as a photojournalist for the Dalmas agency for four years. He was sent to Tokyo to cover the Summer Olympics and thus took his first steps as a sports photographer. It was a winning move, as he ended up working for 6 Olympiads, until the Moscow Games in 1980.
During these events, the famous photographer learnt that, to capture the beauty of the moment, you have to be ahead of it.
This is how he managed to capture the feat, the strength and the extreme emotion: the despair of Michel Jazy after his defeat in the 5,000 m event in Tokyo (1964), the dazzling joy of Colette Besson winning the 400 m in Mexico City (1968), the legendary Olympic hat-trick of Jean-Claude Killy in Grenoble (1968), the grace and perfection of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci in Montreal (1976)… images now engraved in the history of sport.
But Raymond Depardon, driven by his expertise as a journalist, also captured other moments, historic events that went far beyond the field of sport: in 1968, he immortalised the raised fist of African-American athletes in Mexico City, then in 1972, during the Munich Olympic Games, he witnessed the Israeli delegation being taken hostage. Stadium and history, culture and sport.
6 OLYMPICS IN 165 PHOTOGRAPHS
1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo
20 years after the end of the Second World War and its dramatic aftermath in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan opened up to the world by hosting the Olympic Games.
1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics
The first Winter Olympics organised by France, inaugurated by General de Gaulle and featuring the young skier Jean-Claude Killy.
1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City
The raised fists of the African-American athletes on the podium will forever remain the image of the fight for civil rights.
1972 Summer Olympics in Munich
These Olympics were sadly marked by the hostage-taking of Israeli delegation by the armed Palestinian revolutionary group Black September.
1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal
The young Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci achieved the highest score 7 times.
1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow
The Olympics were boycotted by a number of countries in reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
French photographer, film-maker, journalist and screenwriter Raymond Depardon was born on 6 July 1942 in Villefranche-sur-Saône.
He moved to Paris in 1958, then joined the Dalmas agency in 1960 as a journalist. In 1966, he co-founded the Gamma agency.
Alongside his career as a photographer, Raymond Depardon began making documentaries in 1963, notably on politics, with a 1974 documentary on Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s election campaign, which was banned by the President. Since then, he has made a number of films, taking his humanist approach to places as diverse as Chad, a psychiatric asylum, an emergency room, a courthouse or the farming community.
In 1978, Raymond Depardon joined the Magnum photo agency and continued his reportage work until the publication of Notes in 1979 and Correspondance New yorkaise in 1981. In 1984, he took part in a photographic mission for the DATAR, whose aim was to “represent the French landscape of the 1980s”.
While pursuing his film career, he was awarded the Grand Prix National de la Photographie in 1991.
His films also gained recognition: in 1995, Flagrants Délits, about the French justice system, won the César Prize for best documentary, and in 1998, he began his trilogy Profils paysans, devoted to the French rural world.
One of the characteristic features of his photographic work is his assertion of the photographer’s subjectivity.
« Sport is perhaps the speciality that best teaches us best how to ‘see’ well. A sports photographer is equipped to venture onto any other field. In the Olympic stadiums surroundings, I had the impression of becoming an athlete myself. Before a big race or competition, I stopped eating, drinking and talking. For a champion, it’s a year of preparation for a performance. For me, it was half a day waiting for a photo. » Quote by Raymond Depardon.
Visuel bandeau : Raymond Depardon, Un athlète afro-américain lève le poing en symbole de la lutte contre la discrimination raciale aux États-Unis. Mexico, Mexique, 1968 (détail) © Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos