In the mid-1950s in France, Roland Bourigeaud, Albert Plécy and Paul Sonthonnax were advocating photography as the core tool for universal postwar reconciliation: the advent of an image civilisation would enable mankind to transcend the traditional boundaries of communication. All three wanted to play a part in this advance with projects for universal photographic documentation that remained stillborn. Immersing himself in the original sources, Guillaume Blanc demonstrates that in fact these projects were intended as the driving force for a strategy that would restore France to its role as an exemplar in a civilising mission regenerated by the informative powers of the image.
Guillaume Blanc is a PhD candidate in History of Photography at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Written under the supervision of Michel Poivert, his dissertation focuses on the politics of photographic images and practices in postwar France. After a year as a researcher in the Labex CAP at the Prints and Photographs Department of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, in 2015 he became a research associate at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art. Since 2017 he has been the general secretary of the Société Française de Photographie.
Keywords: Roland Bourigeaud, Albert Plécy, Paul Sonthonnax, photographic documentation, universalism, nationalism