François Halard: The photographer capturing the intimacy of the home interior
In conversation with Ellie Brown , January 25, 2024
— People, Art, Design
Few have visited the number of home interiors that François Halard has, though it is likely that many of us have seen images of so many home interiors because of him. As an acclaimed interior and architectural photographer for over forty years, Halard has worked with magazines from decoration international to World of Interiors. His first proper gig was a cover for the French interior decoration magazine, Marie Claire Maison, while still a student at the École Nationales des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. By the mid-1980s, when Halard was 25, he was asked by Alex Lieberman, the editorial director of Condé Nast, to work on its publications, beginning a decades-long collaboration with the likes of Vogue, House & Garden, Vanity Fair and GQ
While much of his work with magazine clients has the gloss and sheen that is to be expected of interior publications, Halard has also cultivated a more honest style of interior photography that has been the focus of a series of books, published by Rizzoli. The eponymous series, first released in 2013, with the final component released ten years later, offers an intimate look at the homes of artists, architects and designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Carlo Mollino, Miquel Barceló, and Louise Bourgeois, captured from the perspective of the photographer himself.
The latest book, Francois Halard: New Vision marks a shift in approach from the first two, however. As he explains over the phone to Present Space, “the new book is more personal, it’s more about freedom.” The focus is less on grand shots of beautiful interiors, and more about documenting the experiences that Halard has had visiting the homes and art studios of those he admires—experiences that have resonated with him, and which he cherishes. In this way, it’s an autobiographical journey into the memories Halard has made over an extensive career. The artist Cy Twombly, for example, features heavily in New Vision, and is someone whom Halard has long been inspired by (Twombly’s home features in the first instalment of the series, where Halard describes the artist as his hero).
What this intimate book series captures is the deep connections that the photographer has forged with the spaces he has visited over time. This is evident as the series progresses, as the books increasingly take on the feel of a personal scrapbook (the second instalment is subtitled A Visual Diary), in which Halard’s brushstroke-like handwriting is combined with close-up details of the inhabitant’s belongings. More recently, Halard has turned to using his distinctive handwriting as part of a more artistic exploration yet, combining painting with the glossy photographs he is so accustomed to taking. The result is an increasingly personal investigation into how stuff—objects, paintings, furniture, surfaces—create the spirit of a place, behind the sheen of the stylised interior.
All images from François Halard 3: New Vision (2023) published by Rizzoli
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