Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Sarah MoonPastPresent

The Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris is presenting the exhibition PastPresent, devoted to the work of Sarah Moon. Active in France and abroad since the late 1960s, she is recognised as a great fashion photographer; but she is far from limited to this single field, and the aim of this exhibition is to reveal the singularity of a photographic and cinematic oeuvre fluctuating between reflections and transparency, mirages and obscurity.


As an adjunct to her career as a model, in the early sixties she started working as a self-taught photographer. Commissions began to come in and in 1968 her collaboration with Corinne Sarrut on the Cacharel image drew attention on the male-dominated international fashion scene. Her advertising campaigns, posters and magazine work were marked by an immediately recognisable imagination, with the women who peopled her images seemingly suspended in the course of a narrative sprinkled with literary and filmic references.

The death of her assistant Mike Yavel in 1985 saw Moon turn to personal projects in addition to the steady influx of commissions. Various themes recur in her photographs, as part of an endless quest for the unexpected and the moment when time stands still.

Opting for a strictly non-chronological approach to this exhibition, the artist has chosen an interweaving of eras, typologies and subjects that illustrates their reciprocal porousness. The main strand – a selection of her films, mostly adapted  from popular tales – provides an ongoing narrative that invites visitor interaction. Each film – Circus (2002), Le Fil rouge (The Guiding Thread, 2005), Le chaperon noir (Little Black Riding Hood, 2010), L’Effraie (The Barn owl, 2004), Où va le blanc? (Where Does the White Go?, 2013) – serves as a kind of stopover where the images are orchestrated and come to life.

The exhibition is rounded off by the room in the permanent collection (currently closed) dedicated to Robert Delpire (1926–2017), Sarah Moon's companion for forty-eight years. Photographs, posters, books and films cover the multiple activities of this key figure in French cultural history: one of its most important publishers, creator and artistic director of the Delpire advertising agency, and founder of the Centre National de la Photographie, which he directed from 1983 to 1996.

The catalogue, containing essays and tributes, is published by Paris Musées. 

Browse through the catalog

Curator : Fanny Schulmann