Solo show

Lines and Lineage at PhEST in Italy

The FESTIVAL INTERNAZIONALE DI FOTOGRAFIA E ARTE (PhEST) in Monopoli, Italy is exhibiting my Lines and Lineage prints.

1 September to 1 November 2023

Lines and Lineage solo exhibition
Stalle di Casa Santa
70043 Monopoli BA

About the work

Lines and Lineage takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, I chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. Portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired with photographs of landscapes inside the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. Lines and Lineage lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West. The work will be published as a monograph by Radius Books in Autumn 2019.


Reviews and praise for Lines and Lineage

“…Using a North American map from 1839 (the same year that photography is thought to have made its debut in Europe), Mr. van Houtryve traveled along Mexico’s old northern border to meet families who have lived in the region for centuries.

His equipment in the Instagram age? A 19th-century camera he found in a Paris antique shop. He stocked up on the glass plates and pungent potions needed for the wet-collodion process, a technique invented in 1851. Doing so, Mr. van Houtryve conjures what the West may have looked like in the Mexican era…”

— Simon Romero in The New York Times


“His portraits are carefully researched and historically relevant – all of his subjects are descendants of the area’s original Mexican inhabitants. Quiet and dignified, the images pay tribute to Nadar, whose powerful portraits Van Houtryve admires. He focuses on his subjects’ eyes, conveying a sense of their interior life. He presents the work in diptychs that juxtapose portraits with romantic landscapes, reflecting an intimate connection between humans and nature…”

— Elisabeth Biondi in Photograph Magazine


“…Photographing the descendants of families who live on the once-Mexican territory, Van Houtryve proves their existence within a dominant narrative that often ignores them. Using traditional nineteenth century photographic techniques, like wet plate glass negatives, the artist taps into the aesthetic of the 1800s…”

— Zachary Small in Hyperallergic


Artist interview video


Workshop: Photographic Narratives retreat at a castle in Dordogne

Perfect your visual storytelling skills at this immersive photo workshop at the Domaine Cazenac in Dordogne, France lire en français 🇫🇷 Dates: 15 – 19 November 2023   Highlights: • 4-night retreat inside an exceptional chateau in the Périgord Noir area of Dordogne • Individual photo assignments in surrounding medieval villages, castles and gardens • One-on-one photo review sessions with Tomas…  read more.

VII Talk: Documentary Photography in the Era of Generative A.I. with Fred Ritchin

In a talk on VII Insider, I discussed how generative artificial intelligence is impacting documentary photography with Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the School at the International Center of Photography. The talk was moderated by David Campbell. It was first streamed on 13 July 2023. Watch the video About the conversation: Photography’s ability to record specific moments of reality has…  read more.

FAR WEST film awarded France’s 2023 Étoiles de La SCAM

Each year, a jury from la Société civile des auteurs multimédia selects the 30 best documentary films for the Étoiles de La SCAM awards. Far West, The Hidden History, co-directed by Mathilde Damoisel and Tomas van Houtryve was awarded in 2023.  The jury included Philippe Baron, Cathie Dambel, Madeleine Leroyer, Tülin Özdemir and Cédric Tourbe. Film Synopsis: Photographer Tomas van Houtryve confronts America’s collective…  read more.

Review: CECI TUERA CELA solo exhibition in Beaux Arts

Beaux Arts featured my solo exhibition Ceci Tuera Cela in its selection of six shows to see in June. Below is a translation of the review in English followed by the original text in French:   In the Yvelines, an Exhibition Sounds the Alarm The title of his exhibition cites Victor Hugo and his thoughts on technological breakthroughs. With Ceci…  read more.

Solo show

CECI TUERA CELA – Chimères du Réel, solo exhibition at La Chapelle de Clairefontaine

Solo exhibition from 3 June to 3 September 2023

• inauguration from 2 – 6 pm on June 3rd

• round table discussion on AI at 5 pm with Gaspard Koenig, Helga Rouyer and Baudoin Lebon

La Chapelle – centre d’art contemporain
12 Impasse de l’Abbaye
78120 Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines

Ceci Tuera Cela – Chimères du réel
(This Will Kill That – Hallucinations of Veracity)

Can photography still bear witness to reality in the age of AI? How are relentless waves of technology impacting our lives and our relationship to the photographic image? How have automation, hyper-connectivity and artificial intelligence altered our perception of reality and veracity?

In 1832, in a chapter titled “This Will Kill That” of his novel Notre-Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo wrote about technological upheaval and how the printed book had replaced the monument. A century later, the photographer revives this line of questioning. What are we gaining and what have we lost as we plunge headlong into the digital revolution?

The show features a retrospective of more than a decade of Tomas van Houtryve’s work that examines the changing place of photography in our lives, from drone surveillance to social networks to Artificial Intelligence.

Read the review of the show by Beaux Arts.


Installation overview at Le Chapelle de Clairefontaine, 2023


Installation view of CECI TUERA CELA, pages 230 & 231 and pages 239 & 241 (2023), mixed media AI on pages from 1836 edition of Victor Hugo book


Formula to create an image with AI (2022)


TV interview: France 24 l’Invité du Jour (French version)

I was invited as the featured interview of the day on France 24 television for a ten-minute French language studio segment with host Damien Coquet. We spoke about my photography of the Notre Dame cathedral, my upcoming exhibition at La Chapelle de Clairefontaine and my ongoing solo show in the parvis of Notre-Dame de Paris.

TV interview: Notre Dame exhibition on France 24 (English version)

  France 24 television featured my major exhibition in front of the Notre Dame cathedral with a seven-minute studio interview in Paris by Sharon Gaffney on their English language service. The solo exhibition is open from spring 2023 to summer 2024.

Solo show

Major Exhibition in front of the Notre Dame cathedral of Paris

Notre-Dame: La Renaissance d’une Icon
solo exhibition, from spring 2023 to summer 2024

Parvis de Notre-Dame
Paris, 75004

Notre Dame: Rebuilding an Icon is a major exhibition featuring 21 large-scale photographs by Tomas van Houtryve, offering an exceptional view into the heart of the cathedral and its history. The solo show is located on the main square (parvis) in front of the Notre Dame cathedral of Paris and is open through summer 2024.

The outdoor exhibition features two sections. The first, The Cathedral After the Fire, features color photographs of the aftermath of the April 2019 fire that struck Notre Dame and the beginning of its massive restoration.

For the second section, Echoes of the Past, Tomas van Houtryve used a 19th-century wooden camera and the wet-plate collodion process to photograph the cathedral and make portraits of workers, scientists and artisans engaged in the rebuilding. The black-and-white photos seek parallels with Notre Dame’s previous restoration in the middle of the 19th-century, lead by the architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.

Artist statement:

“My visits to Notre Dame left me inspired by the remarkable challenges of rebuilding and by the depth of the structure’s meaning: Notre Dame is more than a cathedral, and it has many facets.

The epicenter of historic events, a perennial muse, and a reoccurring motif, Notre Dame has been photographed since the very introduction of photography in 1839. To pay homage to its past, I decided to use two photographic approaches. This first color series highlights the exceptional scale and diversity of the current task.

Even in its most damaged state, Notre Dame remained a place of awe and veneration. As I explored the cathedral to document the aftermath of the fire and the beginning of the restoration, I was often struck by strong emotions. Rather than ignore this flood of intangible feelings, I tried to channel them into photographs.”

About the artist:

A contributor to National Geographic since 2012, Tomas van Houtryve uses a range of contemporary and early techniques, continually questioning and reinventing his approach to image making. For his previous work, he was awarded the ICP Infinity Award, the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents, and the Roger Pic Award. He has been a member of the VII photo agency since 2010 and is represented by the Baudoin Lebon gallery.

The exhibition was produced by the public establishment responsible for the conservation and restoration of Notre Dame de Paris’s cathedral in partnership with National Geographic. The photographs are accompanied with graphics by Fernando Gomez Baptista. 

Coinciding with the exhibition, a special collection of fine art prints are available for a limited time.

The exhibition was announced on CNN. Many of the photos were first published in the Feb. 2022 cover story of National Geographic.