Sponsored by Nancy Bixler & Michael Hudak
1946. World War II has ended but young André Villers is dying of bone tuberculosis. Doctors at the sanatorium in the South of France will save his life in extremis but André will have to spend the next five years in a whole body cast, from head to toe, unable to move. At 21, he will learn how to walk again, how to discover life again. André Villers met Pablo Picasso, working in the same village of Vallauris, after finding his own passion in photography. Picasso allowed the young photographer to take pictures of him at work, a privilege he had never granted anyone. André would meet and photograph other great artists of the 20th century: Chagall, Dali, Miró, Léger, Buñuel, Fellini, Brassaï, Le Corbusier, Cocteau, Prévert, Gainsbourg, Aznavour, but it was Picasso who was his mentor. Taking photographs, cutting them, gluing them, replacing them, drawing on them, Villers experimented, finding himself soon outside of his guide’s shadow. Though he kept a low profile, Villers, who died in April of this year, created crisp black and white work that came to be known worldwide for its playfulness and effortless precision. One of the oft-unsung great photographers whose work deserves to be finally recognized is celebrated here.