During the summer of 1969 Belgian artist Jef Geys decided to follow the Tour de France. A passionate lover of cycling, like so many of his compatriots, Geys photographed the stages of what was to be the first victory for Eddy Merckx. The result was a series of images mingling the sociological, the geographic and the artistic, and focusing as much on the fans and the curious as on the competitors. The logos and advertisements spotted at the stopover points make up the event’s symbolic literature, while the points of view are those of the true enthusiast, a voyeur whose dedication to a seldom satisfied repetition with no aesthetic purpose is the embodiment of a pure critical stance. The 67 photographs are in black and white. Now on show almost fifty years after being taken, they might be seen as merely documentary or nostalgic, were it not for the caustic edge Jef Geys highlights with his specially designed «bolted» frames. Another feature of the exhibition is a montage of two pages from the Belgian press of July 1969, giving equal exposure to man’s first step on the moon and Eddy Merckx’s first victory. This exhibition first opened at the CNEAI art centre in Chatou in 2016, then travelled to the CAPAC museum of contemporary art in Bordeaux, and in 2017 to the Bains-Douches art centre in Alençon, the Passages Centre for Contemporary Art in Troyes and the IAC Institute for Contemporary Art in Villeurbanne, before settling in at Air de Paris. A publication edited by cneai and keymouse gathers the 67 photographs that make up the contact sheet n°234 of «Jef Geys: Al de zwart-wit fotos’s tot 1998»
Curators: Sylvie Boulanger and Francis Mary
Born in Leopoldsburg (Belgium), 1934
Lives and works in Balen, Belgium
Jef Geys represented Belgium at the 53rd Venice Biennale with his “Quadra Medicinale” installation and took part in DOCUMENTA XI in Kassel. His work is in collections that include Centre Pompidou, du Middelheim Museum, du MUDAM and Stedelijk Museum as well as private collections.