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