Paris 14/18 , The war in day-to-day life

© C. Lansiaux/BHVP/Roger-Viollet

The exhibition presents a view of Paris during the Great War, through the unique story of a little-known photographer, Charles Lansiaux, a documentary maker both fastidious and humorous. His humanist vision is surprising in that is is far from the patriotic spirit which was so prevalent at the time. 30 years before Doisneau, there is a similar warmth about his work.

The exhibition features a selection of 200 modern enlargements, made with scrupulous respect for their nature as historical documents, along with a choice of original posters from the period. This is not a display of war photos and fighting. This is the experience of a distant war which was partly hidden by government propaganda. The photos are sometimes anecdotal or metaphorical, but also concrete and violent capturing moments that he has faithfully transcribed with rare sensitivity. With Lansiaux, we walk the streets of Paris of a century ago. We observe Parisians in search of the latest information. Beyond the enthusiasm of mobilization with hopes of a short war, the conflict became part of everyday life. People started to learn how to decode the signs, to perceive what lay behind the scenes.

Gare de Lyon between 10th and 20th August 1914 © Charles Lansiaux/BHVP/Roger-Viollet
Gare de Lyon between 10th and 20th August 1914
© Charles Lansiaux/BHVP/Roger-Viollet

Charles Lansiaux produced nearly 1,000 photographs, from Mobilization to Victory. He always emphasized the human aspect, shiwing the urban environment and the daily activities: Parisians, women and children, foreign soldiers on leave and the injured, doctors and nurses, officials and security forces, etc. He did not work for the press and his photographs were not published at the time or even after the war. Lansiaux worked just to record history and the collective memory. The library of the city of Paris, ahead of its time, bought Lansiaux’s photographs from September 1914 until 1918.

© C. Lansiaux/BHVP/Roger-Viollet

Practical Information:
Galerie des bibliothèques de la Ville de Paris:
22, rue Malher, Paris 4e / Métro : Saint-Paul
Until 15th June 2014
Exhibition open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 1pm to 7pm. From 1pm to 9pm on Thursdays.
Free from 6pm to 9pm.
Admission: 6 euros, reduced 4 euros, half-price 3 euros