AutoPhoto: self-portrait of mobility since 1900
Both born in the 19th century, cars and photography are closely tied. They have changed our management of time and space by respectively offering limitless movement in space and capturing an instant in time. Since then, they have helped model our environment and our imagination.
In the early 20th century, driving was still an adventure and the road unknown. From 1910, to encourage its customers to travel, Michelin began “civilizing” French roads. Our Group installed panels indicating the names of towns and villages, signs and arrows at crossroads and produced precise road maps. And what could be better than images to report on the condition of the roads traveled by drivers? So photographers systematically accompanied our teams in the field. They were also there when we began mapping the roads in Europe in the following years, then all over the world in the wake of the Croisière Noire and the Croisière Jaune. The photos taken are stored in our archives. They represent a unique testimonial to mobility from the 1910s to the 1930s.
Some photos from this documentary content are currently on show at the Fondation Cartier as part of the AutoPhoto exhibition. This exceptional exhibition offers the chance to rediscover all the aspects of mobility through the lens of photographers, whether famous - Brassaï, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans, Martin Parr - less well-known or even anonymous. All tell their own version of the same story, an adventure both human and industrial, the very heart of our own history and vision.
AutoPhoto, until 24th September at Fondation Cartier, 261 bd Raspail, 75014 Paris, France