Andre Villers is a French photographer and artist born October 10, 1930 in Beaucourt.
In 1947, following a bone tuberculosis, he was hospitalized at sanatorium of Vallauris where he stayed for eight years. During that period he was introduced to photography and in 1952 he first experimented in a dark room with pictures of the residents of Vallauris.
In Vallauris he met Pablo Picasso in March of 1953 who offered him his first camera, a Rolleiflex. This was the beginning of a great friendship, one that created a complete fusion of photography and painting. This led to a life long project documenting the life, work and studio of Pablo Picasso. He produced many portraits of Picasso, and their relationship evolved to work together on hundreds of images based on photographic experiments.
“ It is widely held that Cubism has always been confined to the mediums of painting, drawing and even sculpture. However, almost 50 years after the inception of Cubism, Pablo Picasso revisited the genre in collaboration with Andre Villers: together they created the Cubist genre in photography.”
Since the 1950s, Andre Villers has shot portraits of many great artists, among them: Fernand Leger, Alexander Calder, Jacques Prevert, Alberto Magnelli, Jean Arp, Le Corbusier, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, Bram van Velde, Cesar Baldaccini, Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages, Antoni Clave, Antoni Tapies, Francis Ponge, Luis Bunuel, Federico Fellini, Leo Ferre, Michel Butor, Ben etc.
In 1970 he began to experience a new way of creating his photography without a camera. He personally made the negatives from pieces of tracing paper. This series was exhibited and a book was published with a text by Michel Butor, Pliages d’Ombres (Folding Shadows).
In the mid-1950s he began a set of carvings titled Ex-Photos that were exhibited in 1970 at the Loeb Gallery in Paris, then in the 1980s he did an important set of paintings on cardboard, The Photographers, exhibited in Paris, Tokyo and New York. His friend David Douglas Duncan devoted these works to a book entitled A Secret Garden.
In the 1980s, Karel Appel created an important group of paintings based on the photographs of Andre Villers. Also in the 1980’s Villers published an article Photobiographie recounting his life, his artistic process and his relationship with Picasso, printed in a special issue of Les Cahiers du Sud.
Significant collections of his photographic work can be found throughout Europe and the United States. The city of Mougins in the Alpes Maritimes honors his photographic achievements for the creation of the Museum of Photography which bears his name.
In 2006, Andre Villers was awarded the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et Lettres.