I picked up two interesting photos in a small gallery in Arles this summer. The photo of Samuel Beckett is an original from the Agence France Presse, taken in a hotel in Nabeul, a small port north of Tunis, where Beckett was tracked down when it was announced that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. The typed attribution note attached to the photo, in French, goes on to say that Beckett had studiously avoided all contact with the press and only consented to speak in the company of his editor at Éditions de Minuit, Jerôme Lindon. Photographed Saturday evening at Beckett’s hotel in Nabeul, a town famous for its pottery, 26 October 1969.
This second photo is by a photographer who is new to me. Francis Bataille also goes by the name of Schklowski. He is an American who spent much of the Sixties and Seventies in Europe, whose work has been collected in the National Archives in France. Beyond that I don’t know very much about him. The split focus of the photo, the way light differs quite radically between the upper and lower half of the composition, the mix of old streetwise Europe and Groucho Marx Hollywood are what draw me to it.