February is usually such a monochrome and monotonous month in England that we were determined to inject a vibrant burst of colour into the gallery. There was really only one candidate for this difficult task: Jean-Marie Perier, a truly gifted French photographer who was operating at the peak of his powers in the mid sixties.
Jean-Marie was responsible for the photographs that appeared in the pages of France’s pre-eminent sixties teen magazine, ‘Salut Les Copains’. Not only did he photograph the ‘Big 3’ international stars of the period – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan – and actually, very few photographers can lay claim to those three major scalps – but if that wasn’t enough, he created some of the most enduring and iconic photographs of all the major French stars of the period, providing a visual document of the so called “ Ye -Ye “ sound. His archives include Francoise Hardy, Jacques Dutronc, Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Michel Polnareff, Antoine, France Gall, Ronnie Bird and many others.
As you’ll see, Jean-Marie’s photographs are exquisitely composed, vibrant, and natural. Put simply, they “pop”. Jean-Marie is a modest man, and underplays his own talents substantially, putting much of his success down to being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. He will be the last to admit it, but there is much more to it than that. His photographs have an undefineable quality that leave you with a sense of yearning for another time, and yet lift your spirits at the same time. Just the tonic for a miserable February.
I first came across Jean-Marie’s work in a large format hardback book – “Mes Annees 60 ” – My Sixties – which was published only in France. As I started to turn the pages, Jean-Marie’s photographs burst from the book, and it felt like someone had brought the sun into the room. Who were these people? Francoise, Johnny, Jacques, Sylvie and others were unfamiliar names, but they looked amazing and life certainly looked good for them. What did they sound like ? Just as good, so it turned out. More pages turned and along came the familiar faces, John, Paul, George and Ringo, Mick and Keith, and many others. Familiar faces yes, but completely unfamiliar and mouthwatering photographs.
So who was this man, Jean-Marie Perier, who created this monumental collection? Well, as any self respecting gallerist specialising in music photography would do, I had to meet him and do something about bringing his work to a wider audience. A nice lunch in Paris and a couple of bottles of wine, and now here we are – I’m very proud to be able to present Jean-Marie Perier’s first UK exhibition.
Guy White, Gallery Director