Jacques Henri Lartigue, Voyage de noces a l'Hotel des Alpes, 1920 © Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL courtesy of Donation Jacques Henri Lartigue

Jacques-Henri Lartigue: Bibi

Intimately watching the disintegration of a happy, glamorous relationship is a curious thing – one that’s likely to cause waves of uncontrollable hysteria in even the most hard hearted. Mostly, it’s fictitious narratives we’re privy to – from Hubbell and Katie in The Way We Were, to Leanne Shapton’s brilliant collage-style novel that’s set out like an auction catalogue: Important Artefacts and Personal Property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris – but when it’s real life, it’s another story. And when it’s captured on film by a photographer with as exquisite, as sensitive and as poetic an eye as Jacques Henri Lartique, quite frankly it’s an unmissable.

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An incomprehensible 9 years after the last major show of Lartigue’s work in London (at The Hayward, which is where I first fell in love with him properly), this exhibition zooms in on his relationship with his wife – the enigmatic and beautiful Bibi – rather than being a full retrospective of his 9 decades as a photographer (though he reluctantly saw himself as such, instead preferring to focus on his talents as a painter).

The mostly black-and-while images chart the tumultuous journey from young romance and lazy days in post war Cap d’Antibes via the glitz and glamour of creative Paris, where catastrophe strikes and clandestine affairs temper affections, and lastly to the final years of the roaring twenties, when the couple’s distance and disjointedness seem to pervade every shot.

Tapping into Gatsby-era glamour and tragedy, but with a visceral verve you couldn’t make up, we think it’ll be an unforgettable exhibition.

Jacques Henri Lartigue: Bibi
11 OCT – 5 JAN 2014. OPEN MON – WED, FRI AND SAT 10AM - 6PM; THURS 10AM – 8PM; SUN 11.30AM – 6PM
0845 262 1618
— Beatrice
10th October 2013