Francois Halard is a photographer, a visionary and a storyteller. For the last 30 years he has been known as the interior photographer that designers and architects hope will photograph their work. His work includes the homes and working studios of many notable artists and designers over the years; Cy Twombly, David Hockney, Anthony Gormley, Luis Barragan and Louise Bourgeois, to name a few.
You’ve been looking at Francois' work for years, even if you don’t know it. He’s a visual storyteller, through the pages of design magazines, fashion campaigns, interiors and architecture. He’s a curator of design.
Yves and Michelle, Halard's parents, were both interior designers. His grandfather, Adolphe Halard was the founder of Nobilis fabrics (as seen on our Fluted Stools), so you could say it’s in the blood.
Always interested in spaces and objects, a young Halard spent weekends at museums and flea markets. It is here and in his childhood bedroom where he discovered a natural ability to curate space and objects; a 16th Century Spanish four poster bed with an Ashica studio lamp, next to a Zanotta super studio desk. If he liked it, it worked. This was the first room he ever photographed, the beginning of a lifelong obsession with capturing moments in spaces.
The family home was opened up to friends of Halard parents (including the likes of Helmut Newton) for photography shoots, undoubtedly piquing his interest in a life behind the lens.
It was shortly after graduating art school that Halard landed his first ‘big’ job, aged 23. The assignment was to photograph the home of Pierre Bergé & Yves Saint Laurent. He was completely encapsulated by the way they had curated their home. African sculpture beside a Hockney pencil sketch, a Corbusier console sitting beneath a Picasso, fine antiques surrounding a Mondrian. The couple seemed bound by this beautiful collection of objects and art.
Obsessed by the work and photography of Cy Twombly, Halard spent his first paycheck on his book, ‘Drawings’. When the opportunity came to photograph Twombly, he found him to be a very private person, not thrilled at the thought of having a young editorial photographer in his home.
Halard quickly confessed to buying his home in Arles because it reminded him of Twombly’s; with centuries old Italian architecture, rooms through to rooms, everything wonderfully undone, with his entire home set up to be his studio with objects as a living still life and charm in all its imperfections.
On seeing these photographs, Twombly warmed to Halard, allowing him free reign to document the interior of his home; ‘you can do what you want, make portraits, anything.’
Although Halard had a natural ability to curate objects and spaces, Twombly was a huge influence on him and the direction of his career, encouraging him on a path to capture the personal spaces of artists, designers and architects. Which he did, famously.
This journey culminated in Halard finally turning the camera on himself. In 2020, when the global pandemic forced him to stay in one location for the first time in more than 30 years. His home became his muse. Applying his astute visual eye to create clever montages of art and objects using his polaroid camera. He employed the same casual nonchalance as Twombly, with his eclectic array of paintings and objects, in perfect juxtaposition to his collection of modern art.
‘A pebble is as good as a pearl’, reaffirming that it’s not about the money spent – but objects that speak of your taste.
Halard has published many books over his career, these personal projects are a form of expression, breaking away from the editorial stronghold of much of his early work, allowing himself the freedom to photograph who, what and how he likes.
It’s hard to choose a favourite, but this is a good place to start.
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