Michel Comte first completed an apprenticeship as a restorer before he taught himself photography. When he was 25 years old, Comte got employed by Karl Lagerfeld and Chloe for a big advertisement campaign and started working in Paris. He then moved to New York when he started to produce numerous campaigns for the American “Vogue”. Within a few years Comte became one of the most popular and asked photographers worldwide. Michel Comte also developed interest for report and documentary photography and worked as a reporter for the international Red Cross.
By Efi Michalarou
Photo: MAXXI Archive
Ten years ago, Michel Comte stopped commercial work to focus on his passion. A climber and aviator, Comte has been portraying glacial landscapes for the past 30 years. Michel Comte presents for the first time “Light” a new body of work, which explores the impact of environmental decline on the glaciers and glacial landscapes of the world. “When my grandfather (the Swiss pioneer aviator) Alfred Comte crossed the Alps in 1914 for the first time, he came back with the most stunning images of shining glaciers. Gigantic white masses covered the mountain ranges. Almost a century later, I climbed many peaks and realised the fast decline of our glaciers and global ice caps. For decades, I have been revisiting and taking many images from open helicopters, gliding between clouds or simply climbing and witnessing the vanishing icecaps and glaciers of the world” notes the artist. “Light” is study of natural landscapes through large-scale sculptures, photography, video installations and projections. Comte returned to the same places for over a decade to record the alterations in landscape and light patterns. His portraits of the glacial landscape challenge the tradition of classical landscape photography, alternating close-up and partial details with very occasional panoramic views and abstract, vaguely suggestive structures to expose the unpredictable, almost moody nature of these giants. Juxtaposing their gradual disappearance and fragility with their enormous strength, mystery and monumentality, the savage rawness of these images cannot but encite awe, anger and frustration at their erosion and loss. “Light” is not only an exquisite series of landscapes: it is a reminder of the truth, a highly political statement and a call to arms.
Info: Curator: Jens Remes, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Via Guido Reni 4 A, Rome, Duration: 14/11-10/12/17 , Days & Hours: Tue-Fri & Sun 111:00-19:00, Sat 11:00-22:00, www.fondazionemaxxi.it