In a few days, on 4 November, Gérald Bloncourt was to celebrate his birthday. He had promised to hold on until then. But for some time, he would post messages on his page Facebook that did not leave much place for doubt. “A few more days…”, wrote it as well, just to get used to his family, his friends and his admirers. He who handled humor as well as the shutter. Is now a year old, he had performed, with his family, a journey in the form of a pilgrimage to his native land, Jacmel, Haiti, but also Port-au-Prince, the capital, where top honours were rendered by the younger generation with whom he felt so comfortable.
Gérald Bloncourt was born on 4 November 1926, Baînet, commune of Jacmel, in the South-East of Haiti. From his young age, he is revolted by injustice, him who came from a wealthy family. He likes to tell a scene which forged his “soul-revolutionary”. Child, he sees a man beaten to death by police because he was barefoot. The father Gerald is a guadeloupean coffee merchant, and his mother a French teacher for the children of the bourgeoisie. They moved to Jacmel in 1927, then under the american occupation. Young high school student in Port-au-Prince, Gérald Bloncourt ranks alongside the workers and peasants who resist against the Marines.
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Artist, he meets an american painter Dewitt Peters, and the two men create the Center of haitian art in Port-au-Prince. It is a melting pot where explode of many talents and attracting artistic personalities and intellectuals including Aimé Césaire, Pierre Mabille (cultural attaché of the France libre), André Breton and the painter of cuban Wifredo Lam. The series of lectures given by the writer and surrealist André Breton inspires Gérald Bloncourt and his comrades, among whom Jacques-Stephen Alexis, and Rene Depestre. Together, they create the magazine The Hive to publish their creations.
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In 1946, the small group takes the head of an uprising of the student. This will be called the “Five Glorious years” that will lead to the fall of president Elie Lescot, January 11, 1946. Arrested, then released, Gérald Bloncourt departs for exile on board a ship that will take him to Guadeloupe, then France, where he joined the family of his mother. In Paris, then, he is greeted by communist militants and poets. He learns photography and is working as a reporter-photographer for the newspaper Humanity , where he became head of the photo department. In the 1950s, its “look engaged” captures snapshots of the workers of Renault in Boulogne-Billancourt, of Portuguese immigrants in the slums of Joinville-le-Pont. It is alongside the workers of the construction site of the Montparnasse tower.
He travels to Europe also to cover as a reporter on the popular events, which explode everywhere as the Revolution of carnations in Portugal. It travels in the countries of the East, in the USSR, China, where he met Mao Tse-tung.
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Gérald Bloncourt at Laviano in Italy in November 1980, after the trembelement of earth that swept through the region. Gerald Bloncourt/mandatory statement©Gerald Blonc
Gérald Bloncourt is also the photographer of artists. His film black and white has sublimated many of them, Yves Montand, Georges Moustaki, Charles Aznavour, to name a few. It is the same mold as his contemporaries Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis. For Bloncourt, “photography is a way to tell the Man, in his highest truth”. When appears the digital, this follower of modernity puts to the bottom. He scans all his negatives on his Mac . This phenomenal work, which takes him several years, he never forsakes anyone. His photographic collection is impressive. Not less than 200,000 shots. It also captures the process of digigraphie print of his paintings and drawings in large format. He is regularly involved in conferences to talk about Haiti, the photo of the painting. He never said “no”.
Slum Portuguese Champigny in the paris region in 1964. Gerald Bloncourt/mandatory statement©Gerald Blonc
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in Parallel to his work as a photographer, this creative multi-faceted and embraces the novel, the poetry, the painting, with so much talent. He published The haitian painting , a bible and a must, in 1986. But also novels, Yeto the palm of the snows , and essays, The eye engaged, the career of a maverick out of the picture , 2004, to name a few. But there is a character sensitive, very affordable. His paris mansion is a haven welcoming to visitors eager to listen to him talk about politics. One of his great passions. Gérald Bloncourt has been awarded many times for his work as a whole. In 2011, he was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and in 2015, it jumps to the Legion of honor.
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Strike at the Renault plant in Boulogne-Billancourt on may 19, 1968. Gerald Bloncourt/mandatory statement©Gerald Blonc
The oldest exiled haitian waited for the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, on February 7, 1986, to be able to set foot in Haiti, forty years after party. Since then, he has been constantly wanting to bring the ex-dictator to justice for the countless crimes committed against opponents of the regime he inherited from his father Francis during the 29 years that lasted their reign of blood. It was at the initiative of a “committee to judge Duvalier,” where the latter is hosted in France, while at the same time, the persons persecuted by the regime of the dictator are repressed by the administration of migration French. Gérald Bloncourt has even resorted to a prolonged hunger strike. His relatives have been very afraid because it has been close to death. This fighter tireless did not have of cease to obtain that the dictator will be judged and that he will return to Haiti the fortune siphoned off by his family. The tyrant died in 2011. Without having been judged. A losing battle for Gerald.
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On the night of 28 to 29 October, Bloncourt has lost her battle against the disease, which he has led with exemplary courage. The funeral will take place a day after his birthday, November 5, at parisian cemetery of Père-Lachaise.