Rain in Paris, strolling couples with umbrellas at the banks of the Seine: a silent image full of melancholy is front page picture of Peter Turnley’s book » French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris“. Published in October 2013, Turnley forms in 138 photographs of his long-term project a mosaic of observations and tells his very own story of Paris, his adopted home for 40 years; with a dash of Robert Doisneau and Edouard Boubat. Tango at the Trocadero , elegant legs on high heels, the intimate connection of a couple: Sunken in dance – and erotic sparkles in black and white. A pregnant woman at a public Salsa dancing on the Seine: A portrait of a joyful summer at Paris. And the silent moments of the city: children playing in the quiet little streets of Paris; its people, in cafes and bistros, dancing, kissing, sometimes melancholic and sad. Beyond all clichés, captured with a wink, »French Kiss« is an intense, poetic portrait of a vibrating city. And even more: Bizarre encounters, such as with Monsieur Bernard, who installed his bathtub on the roof of his house and made it his favorite place to read in the summer, open unusual perspectives and intimate insights – in the timeless spirit of a restless city. And in some other, lesser known facets of a great photographer who became famous for his reports and images from war and crisis areas.
Rwanda , Somalia, Kosovo and Iraq , fall of the wall up to 9/ 11, Gulf wars , and earthquakes in Haiti , Saddam’s fall – like his twin brother David, Peter Turnley has been eye witness of many historic moments. His works focus on the terrible consequences for the people; he reports with unsparing sharpness about war, destruction and death at numerous crisis and disaster areas in the world. Awarded at numerous prestigious competitions such as World Press Award Competition , POYi or Overseas Press Club, published in virtually every major magazine, among them Newsweek, Harper’s Magazine, National Geographic, STERN, Turnley’s images are personal observations, far beyond the boundaries of pure reporting. Remember the exhausted firefighter at Ground Zero, a cover of Newsweek. Or the series “ The Unseen Gulf War“: for its clarity, its intense look and reduced photo language, this series belongs to Peter Turnley’s most poignant works.
No matter if reports from war and disaster areas or photographic notes, documentation and snapshots: Peter Turnley’s photographic work is as distinctive as a signature. And his visual language in “ French Kiss “ is still the same – and yet completely different: Impressive in restraint, as if watching on tiptoe, with respect, warmth and affection, even love for life, for the small things of everyday life and the beautiful finds along the way. Nothing in these images is reinvented or new, no need to reinvent anything. And thus Peter Turnley’s photographs deeply touch their viewers. As if they accompany the photographer during his Paris walks, with an open mind and eyes, exploring the city, being completely amazed – by the lovely gifts that Peter Turnley discovers on every corner of the streets.
In their black and white timelessness and silence the »French Kiss« photographs are of stunning and captivating beauty; each one is a picture you’ll want to have around, every day, like a companion and friend. Impossible to get enough of these photographs, not of the motives and the stories they tell nor nor of the marvelous, abundant gray tones that speak of the colorful life at Paris. Unmistakably „French Kiss“ shows the signature of another master: Voja Mitrovic, who worked as a fine art printer for many great photographers like Henri Cartier- Bresson, Josef Koudelka, Sebastiao Salgado – and Peter Turnley . For decades Peter Turnley’s companion and friend, Voja Mitrovic is responsible for the prints of those images that were not photographed digitally, but on film.
»French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris“ is not only a tribute to the photographer’s adopted home. Turnley’s images also invite their beholders to a visual journey – to Paris with its myriads of facets. Between silent joy and melancholy not a single photograph leaves its viewer unaffected; some motives offer smiles and cheerfulness, some sadness which touches to tears. This compilation of images, of 40 years of photography in Paris, is full of intense joy, deep affection and tenderness of seeing. With his photographs, Peter Turnley proves to be a wonderful storyteller of a nonverbal story: About friendship and love, about the things in life which really matter, the intimate pleasure of romance. Picture by picture, »French Kiss« is also an autobiography of a passionate photographer who gives with his own story a new perspective of life to his viewers – a strong reminder, how fleeting and precious the beauty of life is.
»French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris« is available exclusively via Peter Turnley’s website. Each limited, first edition book will be signed by Peter Turnley.
“Open Eyes and Heart in Paris” – New York Times/Lens Blog, 3.10.2013
»French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris« – Video (Interview) via Leica Camera, 2.10.2013
»Peter Turnley – Moments of the Human Condition« Part 01 (NPPA/Jim Colton, 8.10.2013)
»Peter Turnley – The Newsweek Years …« Part 02 of the NPPA Interview (NPPA/Jim Colton, 11.10.2013)
Peter Turnley’s page on Facebook
»’French Kiss – A Love Letter to Paris‘ by Peter Turnley« (The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston, 8.10.2013)
»Digital File to Silver Print« (The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston, 21.10.2013)
All photos: ©Peter Turnley