Jean Painlevé et Éli Lotar


Jean Painlevé et Éli Lotar Biography

(see also Jean Painlevé)

PLEASE NOTE:  We have listed some of the works as being by Painlevé and Éli Lotar. From our perspective, since it is unclear which artist made the work, it is better to credit both of them. Others have attributed these images to Painlevé and some to Lotar. Lotar worked as Painlevé’s cameraman for the filming of Crabes et Crevettes [Crabs and Shrimp] in 1929 (sometimes dated 1930) and Caprelles et Pantopeds [Skeleton Shrimp and Sea Spiders] in 1930 as well as unfinished projects on lobsters and spiders. Each piece we have attributed to both of them was made during their collaboration on Panlevé’s films. We have seen Lotar’s stamps on the prints or other prints of the same image as well as signatures by Painlevé on some of the same prints. We have included images of the versos for your reference.
According to James Leo Cahill in Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinemas of Jean Painlevé (2019), “This collaboration was short-lived due to a falling out . . . over the mishandling of some footage of skeleton shrimp giving birth. According to Painlevé, Lotar forgot to label the unprocessed footage as ‘panchromatic,’ resulting in the laboratory processing it as orthochromatic and ruining the negatives.” This statement is footnoted but unfortunately, we don’t have a hard copy of the book to look it up.

Éli Lotar
(born Eliazar Lotar Teodorescu, 1905–1969) was a French photographer and cinematographer with Romanian parents. Some of his photographs epitomized the best of New Vision modernism, while others, though more documentary in nature, helped expand the vocabulary of Surrealism. He apprenticed with Germaine Krull and became a part of the Parisian avant-garde. His work was included in major international avant-garde photography exhibitions including Fotografie der Gegenwart, Film und Foto and Exposition de l’AEAR–Documents de la vie sociale. Lotar worked as a cameraman and set photographer for other filmmakers, directed several films and collaborated with avant-garde writers and playwrights. Later in life, he befriended Alberto Giacometti and was the sculptor’s last male model. Click here for a link to a Herbert Matter photograph of one of Giacometti’s sculptures of Lotar. Lotar’s was the subject of a major retrospective in 1993 at the Centre Pompidou and in 2017 at the Jeu de Paume.