Search

Daniel Aron Sets The Foundation For Photography

From Hermès to Dior, Daniel has captured some of fashion’s most thunderous and defining moments.

It’s Monday, November 21st and I’m just a few minutes into my interview with Daniel Aron, the profound French photographer that has captured some of the most thunderous and defining moments, internationally. The slow motion of light raindrops on the car window and soft Moroccan music my driver put on the radio sets the tone but hasn’t prepared me for the ingenious I am soon to meet.

For over 40 years, the man behind the camera, the venerated Daniel Aron, defined fashion through his lens for the world’s most influential fashion houses including, Hermès, Dior, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Architectural Digest, amongst many others. With his work acclaimed around the world, he has had twenty-one exhibitions, with four collections displayed from Houston, Texas, to Dubai. The photographer has been featured in over seven publications in addition to three of his own. His exceptionally visual language electrifies the moment in sublime, thought-provoking advertisements and editorials across Paris, New York, and Milan. 

In just a swift moment, Daniel and I will chat over his private and eminently captured symbolic moments of Tahar Ben Jelloun, Inès de la Fressange with Karl Lagerfeld behind the curtains, Marie Seznec dancing with Christian Lacroix, Paul Bowles, Nina Ricci, and Hermès’ Jean-Louis Dumas. Names that have shaped not just an industry, but the entire world.

Pulling up, up down the hidden, yet, winding one-way thoroughfare, I arrive at the foundation, 235 Rte Sidi Masmoudi of Vieille Montagne. It’s gorgeous. The long, private, tree-lined driveway emits a sense of seclusion and calm that justifies today’s overcast.

“Are you the journalist?” – a tall estate manager greets me at the doored gate… I’m taken aback as I’ve never actually heard someone call me that before, but “Yes! I’m with Moroccan Digest,” following him up a few stairs into a beautifully manicured and enclosed courtyard.

If you don’t know, in recent years, 2018 to be exact, Daniel and his wife, Françoise, founded the “Fondation Pour La Photographie Tanger”, across the white-walled courtyard of their home here in Morocco where they spend half of their year apart from being in Paris. It’s an absolutely stunning location. The court has burnt-sienna-colored sections accented behind large photos taken by highly acclaimed photographers.

The foundation is a private assemblage gallery dedicated to prominent and game-changing photography works. It’s the first photography foundation in Morocco where chosen participating artists of recognition both historically and presently, can be found on display. Currently, it showcases permanent as well as transient exhibition collections that boast pieces from the nineteenth, up to the twenty-first century.

A warm and inviting, Daniel comes out introducing himself in khakis, a knit cashmere sweater, and a French scarf, offers refreshments, “Coffee? Espresso?” signaling his estate manager to bring two espresso’s out, guiding me to his office to chat. It should be noted that his office, is every bit what you would picturesquely imagine from such an iconic photographer. It’s small, cozy, and quite comprehensive with portfolio pieces displayed on the walls.

 

“You like Chanel” he presumes as he takes a quick glance at my outfit as I hang my coat… “Yes, well I love Chanel, but I can afford Zara” – I’ll mention as we all know Chanel versus the Zara-styled knockoff pieces. He quickly reminisces on his first time meeting and shooting for Mademoiselle Coco where his reputation emerged as a young apprentice. He’s quite a funny storyteller remarking “I remember mademoiselle Coco standing at the top of the stairs asking if he was drunk again.” Daniel was assisting a top photographer in Paris who was known to be three sheets to the wind at times; giving him the opportunity to shoot for the fashion house in his mentor’s replacement.

The conversation, over the savory morning caffeine fix, is surprisingly pleasant. The quick-witted soigné is a class of his own and a walking encyclopedia of photography and global creative expression – bringing me up to speed on foundational news as well as recent exhibits and what he thinks about the current state of art between cities, and internationally. You can feel a sense of genuine love, and excitement from him admitting that it’s his “passion” and luckily he found success in it.

As an entrepreneurial photographer, Daniel’s work covers both artistic and commercial projects, his knowledge and dedication to the visual arts are peerless and benevolent to the nation.

“There’s a gaining appreciation for the arts with new museums popping up in Tangier, catching up to Marrakech” stating that the future of Tangier in the creative sector is exhilarating. Currently, the foundation’s permanent collection holds various works of Zakaria Aït Wakrim, Daoud Aoulad Syad, Céline Croze, Marc Riboud, Raoul Hausmann, Man Ray, Georges Pierre, and counting.

With mutual ardor encouraging us to finish up our coffees and casual introductory banter, we venture back into the courtyard to start the gallery’s tour, guided personally by Daniel himself. It’s spread over two levels and lined with portraits. A cool tranquility from within the halls of the foundation helps showcase and embrace the feeling of each portrait and landscape, making me wonder more and more about the subject’s personal stories and their identities.

Its most recent exhibition, “Les Couleurs du Temps” shows an evolution of black-and-white monochromatic photographs, taken and hand-colored between 1860 and today by various talent including, Ludovico Wolfgang Hart, Youssef Nabil, and Aassmaa Akhannouch, amongst others. The photographic process took the world by storm in the late nineteenth century, adding depth while heightening the realism of images and stimulating impressions through creative control. The primitive technique of colorized photographs has recently resurfaced in today’s popularity inspiring the new contemporary. Daniel recalls receiving a few valuable, hand-colored, photographs found by a friend that came across the stack in the trash in Asia “They’re adorable” he proclaims – and they are!

“Les Couleurs du Temps” has brought the attention of many from within the nation as well as abroad. Critics rave and a recent Google contributor added it’s “A marvelous place and an exhibition where color paradoxically gives an air of Proustian nostalgia to these superb colorized photos” – JO Arfeuillere.

With time moving fast, and ending up in the library, an archive of Daniel’s publications is aligned on the middle table, alongside exhibition souvenirs and small tokens. His time with me is up, within a packed schedule and engagements, he works extensively through the foundation to approach and support students within the nation, helping them strive for excellence and photography education.

Daniel describes photography and the foundation’s most recent exhibit as “Chasing a Dream. A dream in black and white that we would have covered with colors. It summons a lost time or imagined, to better confuse the dream with the real, to invent an ideal reality or revive loved ones.”

Author