Window Dressing

If you are permitted to sojourn through central France this summer and find yourself on the D6 north of Aurillac. Pause for an aperitif and some window dressing in Pleaux (Coordinates:45°08′08″N 2°13′38″E). Sunday would be best as there is usually a brocante et vide grenier most weekends. But be sure to wander the streets of this small sleepy town as there is something unusual about the shops.

Window dressing in Pleaux

Some are closed but their windows are full of carefully arranged bric a brac. Others have been converted to people’s homes the windows decorated with themed collections. Every August for the last six years collectors have adorned the shop windows with their private passion turning the streets into an exhibition of still life.

The window as a source of inspiration

Photographers have been irresistibly drawn to window dressing as a source of continual inspiration. A window is a clear, flat plane dividing inside from outside. A line between artifice and reality. When adorned with objects a transformation takes place. A tension between the real and the imaginary.

In Fête du trône, Eugene Atget found a surreal window display featuring items associated with the difference in height between two people. Lee Friedlander’s images of shop windows evoke a certain ambiguity between reflected and actual reality. Lisette Model, Andy Warhol, William Eggleston, Ernst Haas, Rose Mandell, Josef Sudek, Jaromir Funke and Vivien Maier all have their own styles but recognize the surreal power of the window.

Here are a few of my own.

The exhibition was officially closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. But will be open in 2021 between July 27 and August 18.

For an idea of the exhibition see the 2016 map.

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