Notre-dame de paris

Nazraeli Press: Michael Kenna: Notre Dame de Paris

For lovers of beautiful books, Nazraeli Press in the USA is a nugget of gold. Chris Picher in 1998 launched a series called A picture book: each title is limited to 500 copies, numbered, of modest size, comprising 16 pages, and an original photo signed on the back.

The next article in this series is devoted to Michael Kenna.

“As soon as I entered its dark and sacred enclosure, I fell in love with Notre-Dame de Paris. I walked there with wide eyes, amazed by the grandeur of its architecture and its aesthetics. I breathed in the atmosphere, the smell of incense, the whispers of the crowd; other people also experience these wonders in their own way. I lit candles and sat at the altar praying quietly, savoring the tranquility and meditative atmosphere. I listened to the choir at vespers. It was in 1972, during my first visit to Paris…

My affection for Notre Dame has only grown over the years. Now, arriving in Paris, often early in the morning and jet-lagged, I really like to take a ritual walk along the Seine to the Ile de la Cité and Notre-Dame, where I can have a lonely time. Of course, I am never alone. Notre-Dame de Paris is an extremely important religious, national and cultural monument, visited by more than twelve million people a year. Fortunately, you can always find a quiet bench and reconnect with this captivating space. Notre-Dame continues to capture and inspire my imagination.

On Monday, April 15, 2019, like countless people around the world, I was shocked and saddened to see the images, relayed by the media, of Notre-Dame in flames.

It seemed unimaginable that this architectural marvel, over eight centuries of history, memories and mystique, could be destroyed in a matter of hours. Yet this devastating fire was unfolding before our eyes.

In the days following the fire, I dug through my archives to collect negatives to pay personal tribute to this beloved place, which gave me so much.

The fourteen photographs in this book, most of which I have just dealt with for the first time in my darkroom, were taken over a period of forty years during my various wanderings in Paris.

Come back to us quickly Notre-Dame. We miss you. I miss you.”

Michael Kenna