Arthus-Bertrand, Yann 1946-
ARTHUS-BERTRAND, Yann 1946-
PERSONAL: Born March 13, 1946; married; wife's name Anne.
CAREER: Photographer and entrepreneur.
Tender Killers, text by Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, Vendome Press (New York, NY), 1985.
Kenya from the Air, text by Anne Arthus-Bertrand with Anne Spoery, Vendome Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Morocco from the Air, text by Anne Arthus-Bertrand, Vendome Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Greece from the Air, text by Janine Trotereau, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1997.
New York from the Air, text by Anne Arthus-Bertrand, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1998.
Turkey from the Air, Vendome Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Good Breeding, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1999.
Earth from Above: 365 Days, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2001
Earth from Above for Young Readers, text by Robert Burleigh, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Being a Photographer, including advice on technique and biographies of nine renowned photographers, including Sebastiao Salgado, for Martiniere.
SIDELIGHTS: Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a photographer of international reputation. He was educated as a naturalist, but turned to photography in the 1980s while he was in Kenya helping his wife as she made a study of the behavior of lions. At one point in his life he piloted hot-air balloons for the tourist trade. His balloonist's vantage point turned his mind to the possibilities of aerial photography. Arthus-Bertrand's parallel interests in the natural world and photography also led him to work with celebrated primatologist Dian Fossey. He is most famous for his volumes of aerial photography.
Earth from Above is perhaps Arthus-Bertrand's best-known work. It took about ten years for the photographer to accumulate some 150,000 pictures, from which he chose 195 to appear in this publication of 400 pages. Arthus-Bertrand traveled across eighty countries on five continents to gather the images. Critics have praised the contrasts the photographer arranges, by showing photographs of stark natural beauty such as Nigerian deserts and equally compelling, but very different pictures of human constructions, like Yankee Stadium. The photos are accompanied by economic, geographic and ecological information. In an interview published in Photo District News, Arthus-Bertrand explained his motivation for the books: "I wanted each [viewer] to be able to discover and look at the world as I saw it. Man today is utterly capable of destroying the planet, and everyone talks about that but doesn't take it seriously. I wanted to show that which is around us but we do not see." Later he added, "I think the project's been such an incredible success not because the book is beautiful, but because the earth is beautiful. The earth is art, and that can leave no one indifferent." The photographer has also organized exhibitions in conjunction with museums so that his work reaches the widest possible audience. Critical reaction in the press has been favorable.
In addition to Earth from Above, Arthus-Bertrand has also created numerous other volumes of aerial photographs. Among these are Kenya from the Air and Greece from the Air. They preceded Earth from Above, and received positive reviews.
Good Breeding represents a significant departure in photographic subject matter for Arthus-Bertrand. He has made what amount to portraits of an assortment of barnyard animals accompanied by their owners. The photographer has arranged his subjects against an unadorned canvas screen and taken some care with the lighting. He found subjects to his liking in England, Argentina, Italy and France, observing that the English are unusually fond of their animals, more so than the other nationalities. Critics have been amused by the subject matter and are touched by the subtle interactions of people and their animals.
Arthus-Bertrand's Being a Photographer will contain some biographical information on famous practitioners of the art, as well as technical advice.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1997, Ray Olson, review of Greece from the Air, p. 538.
Forbes, FYI, November 12, 2001, Thomas Jackson and Richard Nalley, review of Earth from Above, p. 82.
Geographical, January, 1995, Claire Hutchings, review of Kenya from the Air, p. 49.
Life, November, 1994, Tala Skari, review of Bestiaux, p. 30.
New York Times Book Review, March 19, 2000, Alida Becker, review of Good Breeding, p. 19.
Photo District News, September, 2001, Laurie Attias, review of Earth from Above, p. 76.*