The great war reporter Patrick Chauvel sets up his archives at the Caen Memorial

After travelling the world for 50 years, photographer Patrick Chauvel bequeaths to the Caen Memorial a photographic collection of 380,000 archival images and 1,000 hours of film devoted to the great conflicts of post-1945.

On the warpath

This grandson of a diplomat, son of a great reporter at AFP and Le Figaro, was raised in the shadow of great men like his uncle filmmaker Pierre Schoendoerffer, the war photographer Gilles Caron or the novelist Joseph Kessel. The taste for risk and adventure slung over his shoulder, the young man left at 17 years old for a kibbutz in Israel and reported on the Six-Day War but messed up most of his shots! A photo workshop at France-soir then it was Vietnam at 18, “I was the same age as the American soldiers”, which he covered until the fall of Saigon.  The savagery of the conflict left its mark on him but founded a fierce vocation and a lifetime commitment.

He covered 34 conflicts

Ireland, Mozambique, Israel, Cambodia, Zaire, Afghanistan, Haiti, Peru, Chechnya ... zooming off to cover the wars of the globe, wars that always wear the same hideous mask with its funeral procession of cries and suffering. "I absolutely wanted to experience something powerful." Eritrea Liberation Front, Londonderry riots, Carnation Revolution in Portugal, civil war in Lebanon, revolution in Iran and Nicaragua, siege of Sarajevo, San Salvador massacre. His photographic works are award-winning (winner of the World Press in 1996) and he joins the famous Sipa and Sygma agencies. His stories are published in the most prestigious magazines. War comes at a price and photoreporter has bitten the bullet: 7 wounds for this large beast always ready to leap onto the minefields where spawns its worst and its best.

Jury and Audience Award of the 26th edition of the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Awards

The 26th edition of the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award, which he presided over in 2009, rewarded him with two exceptional prizes for his clichés of the fall of the Islamic State in Syria: Syria, the end of Baghouz. The consecration for a life of adventure and a devilishly sharp eye. Half a century after his beginnings, the reporter is thinking about what he will leave behind. "When I look back, it wears me out. I bloody did all that!". At the age of 70, this "war reporter" is now devoted to documentaries. In the face of the horror of conflict and angry men, the word takes over to accompany the images of hell and transmit his understanding of conflict. The Caen Memorial is now home to a collection of 380,000 photographs and a hundred hours of video footage, which is accessible to historians, students and the general public. The opportunity for this passerby to bear witness, tell about his exciting life and turn the pages of his history book with the new generations.

Photo: Wikipedia

Related reading:

- In Bayeux, the Hotel du Doyen exhibits a tapestry on the theme of Game of Thrones until December 31st 2019

- A Sherman tank decorated by Jef aerosol was exhibited in July 2019 in front of the Caen Memorial

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4 - 05/11/2019