For more than a year I have been working with Frank Horvat on several projects. He allowed me to enter into his life, his memories and his photo archives.
The photosopher, instants with Frank Horvat ( 70 minutes) recounts the intellectual journey that has inspired Horvat’s uncompromising gaze upon the world around him and on the photos he has taken. He brings a cynical and sentimental eye to bear upon his life and work, on art and on humanity. The man and artist speaks of the passion that has guided his existence: photography.
The project arose from my meeting with the photographer Frank Horvat who allowed me to delve into his archives, his memories and even his private life. Nearing 90 at the time of shooting, time increasingly gives him pause for thought. In a series of rare and inspiring instants,he shares with me his reflections on existence and his vision of creativity.
The film unfolds like a one-on-one, a genuine collaboration in which each of us in turn becomes the subject of the other in a kind of duel between the eye of the photographer and the viewfinder of the filmmaker, a dialogue on photography.
For my part, camera in hand, I adapt to him, giving him the time and space to feel at ease while awaiting the moment of awakening, the moment of confiding, in which he recounts and explains to me things he has never previously spoken of…I sought to break down the barriers between us and to dispense with the requirements of a pre-written screenplay, so that Frank could feel free in both his movements and in his words. I filmed veritable moments of life, of reflection and of creation, instants at times overwhelmed with emotion. Our complicity was inherent to the telling.
In The photosopher, instants with Frank Horvat,I use my images to depict what I see, what the artist wishes to share with me and what I feel in the moment. I improvise and adapt to the situation. Indeed, with Frank Horvat, one cannot do otherwise. And so, we discover in turn, the artist, the philosopher, the photographer, the son, the father, the old man, the friend and the confidant. We listen to the “Photosopher” as he speaks to us of art and humanity.
I hope this film will enable a better understanding of the work of this great, yet relatively unknown artist, but also a deeper insight into the man.
FRANK HORVAT was born in 1928 on the Adriatic coast, in the Italian town of Abazzia – today known as Opatija – which became Croatian after the Second World War. He currently lives in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, in his photo-studio home, a space in which black sets the tone.
Of Jewish parents, his Hungarian father and Austrian mother were both doctors. They split up when he was still a child, whereupon his mother fled Italy with her two children to find refuge in Switzerland. They would remain there throughout the war. In 1943, upon the advice of a friend, Frank, then 15 years old, swapped his stamp collection for a 35 mm camera. Later he moved to Paris, where he met his future mentor Henri Cartier-Bresson. Frank Horvat was on the staff of the Magnum Agency from 1958 to 1961.
Having worked for many years as a photo-reporter, the then applied his reportage experience to fashion photography. His maverick approach to the genre quickly earned him international renown. Certain of his fashion pictures would become legendary, but never one for resting on his laurels, he constantly reinvented his way of shooting. Indeed, he was one of the first photographers of his generation to switch to digital.
A ceaseless photographic quest that has spanned over seven decades and his unconventional approach, have made him almost unclassifiable. And for Frank Horvat, now 90 years old, innovation is still a vital need. With a digital camera always to hand, he continues to capture the world around him even dreaming that one day he might swap an eye for a camera lens…