Long before photobombs and selfies were coined, there was Jean Pigozzi—a photographer who often pictured himself among celebrities.
“I take photos of friends, relatives, architecture, landscapes, the food that makes me hungry, the people I admire, the women I desire. I have the intention to keep taking photos as long as I can,” he said.
Now showing for the first time in China, Jean Pigozzi is usually introduced as the photographer of the jet set.
Heir to a European car empire (Simca), he suffered dyslexia from a young age and started taking photographs of his daily life as a teenager.
Instead of writing a diary, he kept a visual journal of his life in the high society since the 1960’s.
His current exhibition in Beijing covers four decades of capturing celebrities in their off guard moments—like Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Jack Nicholson, Halle Berry, Natalie Portman, Kate Moss, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, and even as recent as Leonardo Di Caprio, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts during the 2014 Oscar parties.
L-R: Jean Pigozzi at the opening with actors Mei Ting and Huang Jue
Jean Pigozzi and the Luu Triplets from the film, “Pacific Rim”
Both an insider and outsider, friend and fan, his photos reflect moments of intimacy in the life of the rich and famous. They provide access to a world that is usually hidden from sight: the Oscar or Cannes Festival parties, yacht trips, private dinners, weddings, even backstage of Rolling Stones concerts.
Appropriately titled Jean Pigozzi—My world, the exhibition at UCCA (Beijing) includes 250 photos shot in black and white, curated by famous film director Alexi Tan.
Before his return to China as a film director, Alexi Tan was a photographer in New York who shot numerous portraits of Hollywood celebrities for major fashion magazines.
By introducing Jean Pigozzi’s photographic work to China today, director Alexi Tan nods to his own past as a photographer.
Brothers Fed and Alexi Tan at the opening
TV host Li Xinyi
Presented by GQ China, Audi, ThinkPad, and Moët & Chandon, Jean Pigozzi—My World, curated by Alexi Tan will be on view at the The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), 798 Art District, Beijing from March 14 to 24, 2014.