Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

1928 - 2019

Photo: Agnès Varda, 2018, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Bruxelles.

Agnès Varda (born Arlette Varda; 30 May 1928 – 29 March 2019) was a Belgium-born French film director, screenwriter, photographer, and artist. Her pioneering work was central to the development of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Her films focused on achieving documentary realism, addressing women's issues, and other social commentary, with a distinctive experimental style.

Varda's work employed location shooting in an era when the limitations of sound technology made it easier and more common to film indoors, with constructed sets and painted backdrops of landscapes, rather than outdoors, on location. Her use of non-professional actors was also unconventional for 1950s French cinema. Varda's feature film debut was La Pointe Courte (1955), followed by Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), one of her most notable narrative films, Vagabond (1985), and Kung Fu Master (1988). Varda was also known for her work as a documentarian with such works as Black Panthers (1968), The Gleaners and I (2000), The Beaches of Agnès (2008), Faces Places (2017), and her final film, Varda by Agnès (2019).

Director Martin Scorsese described Varda as "one of the Gods of Cinema". Among several other accolades, Varda received an Honorary Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first woman to win the award, a Golden Lion for Vagabond at the 1985 Venice Film Festival, an Academy Honorary Award, and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Faces Places, becoming the oldest person to be nominated for a competitive Oscar. In 2017, she became the first female director to win an honorary Oscar.

Bachelor degree. Photography evening classes. Auditor at the Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre. Photographer at the Festival d’Avignon, then at the T.N.P directed by Jean Vilar.

Writes, directs and produces her first feature-length movie in 1954, La Pointe Courte. Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961) is widely acclaimed. Then short and feature-length movies, documentaries and fiction alternate. Among them : Happiness (1964, Silver Bear in Berlin), Vagabond (1985, Golden Lion in Venice), The Gleaners and I (2000), The Beaches of Agnès (César 2009), Faces Places co-directed with artist JR (2017, selected for the 2018 Oscars).

2003: PATATUTOPIA at the Venice Biennale.

Solo shows: 2006 L’ILE ET ELLE at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (Paris, France) 2009 LA MER… ETSETERA at the Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain Languedoc-Roussillon (Sète, France) 2012 Y’A PAS QUE LA MER at the Musée Paul Valéry (Sète, France), PLAGES ET PAGES CHINOISES at the CAFA Museum (Beijing, China) 2013 AGNES VARDA IN CALIFORNIALAND at the LACMA (Los Angeles, USA) 2015 AGNES VARDA: PHOTOGRAPHS GET MOVING (potatoes and shells, too) at the Logan Center (Chicago, USA) 2016 VARDA/CUBA at the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), PATATES & COMPAGNIE at the Museum Van Elsene (Brussels, Belgium) 2017 VARDA CUBA at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Cuba (La Havana)

2015: “honorary Palme d’Or” at the Cannes Film Festival. 2017, “honorary Oscar” for her entire body of work.

The work of Agnès Varda is featured in many international collections: Centre d’Art of Chamarande (France), Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (France), FRAC Alsace (France), MoMA (USA), CNAP (France), MAC/VAL (France), Musée Paul Valéry (France), CAFA Art Museum (China), Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez (France), LACMA (USA).