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Exhibition "Chaplin in Pictures"

An exhibition drawing on new family material

To arrive in Brazil the 19th October in L’Instituto Tomie Ohtake


The exhibition includes original photographs, film posters, production notes, press cuttings, extracts from Chaplin’s films, contemporary newsreel footage, makings-of, rushes, and other archival material relating to the exhibition. In addition, we have access, via the family archives, to hitherto unpublished negatives, often 8x10, whose quality will allow for new, large format prints.

The recent cinema and DVD success of restored versions of “The Great Dictator” and “Modern Times” raises the issue of the contemporary relevance of the work of Charles Chaplin, who was born in London in 1889 and died in Switzerland in 1977, aged 88. True, the sheer staying-power of the Chaplin shorts as TV fare has ensured continuity between successive generations of viewers; and the Little Tramp image remains in constant use the world over, from America to Japan, as a symbol of the clash between man and machine, the confrontation with dictatorship and all the anachronistic grace of pantomime. This exhibition, however, seeks to go beyond the conventional portrait by drawing on the Chaplin family archives and their wealth of largely unknown documentation.

There exists a mass of subsidiary material relating to Chaplin’s films and life, and by tying this in with extracts on video we can actually show the artist at work. Where did the Little Tramp character come from? What kind of parts did he mostly play ? What comedy situations recur from film to film ? Beginning with the birth of the Little Tramp, the exhibition moves on to the elaboration of a gag via footage showing the enormous amount of work that could go into a sequence lasting only a few seconds. Comparisons with the Little Tramp’s successors “Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, for example” offer real insight into the Chaplin comic style and its legacy.

While the Little Tramp is without doubt the 20th century’s best-loved single character, it should not be forgotten that he was also an emblematic figure for the 1920s avant-garde. The press coverage of the time points up this dual success, as does the work of artists as different as Moholy-Nagy, Erwin Blumenfeld and Robert Doisneau. Born into the poverty of working-class London, Chaplin conquered America as it was becoming the most powerful nation in the world: how to explain this daydream come true? The exhibition closes with the end of the artistic growing-up period, the moment when the Little Tramp becomes an adult: confronted with Hitler, Chaplin set out to replace the dictator with a Jewish barber; but then looked his viewers right in the eye, as if to address the whole of human kind.

The Curators

  • Sam Stourdzé, exhibition curator, notably of Les Coulisses d’Hollywood (Behind the Scenes in Hollywood), photographs from the Universal Studios collection, Paris Photo, 2001.
  • Christian Delage, historian, whose books include Charlie Chaplin, La Grande Histoire, Editions Jean Michel Place,Paris, 1998.

Chaplin in Pictures was presented in….

  • Paris, France
    At The Jeu de Paume gallery from June 7th to September 18th 2005

  • Kunsthal, Rotterdam
    From October 2005 to January 2006.

  • Hamburg, Germany
    At the Deichtorhallen from February 2006 to end of May 2006.

  • Lausanne, Switzerland
    Musée de L’Elysée from June 15th to September 24th 2006.
    Musée de L’Elysée
    18, avenue de L’Elysée
    Tel: + 41 21 316 99 11

  • Bruxelles, Belgium
    At Le Botanique From 12 October to 31 December 2006 Centre culturel de la Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles rue Royale, 236 Bruxelles 1210 - Belgium

  • Montpellier, France
    At “Le Pavillon de l’image” From February to April 2007
    2 place de Ptronque 3400 Montpellier

  • Bologna, Italia
    At Sala Bostra From June 2nd to October 30th 2007

  • Madrid, Spain
    At Caixa Forum Madrid From July 2 to October 19 2008
    Paseo del Prado, 36. 28014 Madrid

  • In Lisbon
    At Palacio da Quintanilh
    From September 4 to October 4 2008
    In the [Lisbon Village Festival] Rua Tierno Galvan – Torre 3, Sala 405 1070-274 LISBOA | PORTUGAL Tel +351 21 0190922 | Tlm +351 917 580 956 Email:

  • Mexico
    at the Salón Juárez del Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco.