The raft of illusions by Gérard Rancinan
The Raft of Illusions (2008) took the basic concept, composition and colors of Gericault’s 1819 masterpiece and stylized it with contemporary characters.Refugees with sculpted, tattooed bodies languish on a makeshift raft, sailing toward the promise of the West, struggling to reach the Hollywood signboard and Eiffel Tower in the waves beyond.The concept behind Raft of Illusions stemmed from the issue of refugees seeking asylum in France and other Western European countries.
“I tried to revisit the old masters,” Rancinan says. “Raft of the Medusa was about slaves risking their lives. And immigration is still a big question today. Raft became the first photo in the series..”
Photograph mounted on plexiglas
Gérard Rancinan is a French photographer whose work has appeared in publications such as Sports Illustrated, Time, Life Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, and Paris Match.
Gérard Rancinan started his career as an apprentice in the laboratory of the photo department of the Bordeaux daily newspaper, Sud Ouest. After three years in the dark room he became, at the age of 18, the youngest photojournalist in France, covering news around the region. When he was 21, he was sent to the newspaper’s agency in Pau.
Having been spotted by the newly founded press agency, Sygma, in 1973, Rancinan decided to sign a distribution contract with the firm. Five years later he became a Sygma staff photographer in Paris. He covered events all over the world, from earthquakes in Algeria to political upheavals in Poland, and from the war in Lebanon to riots in England. As well as such dramatic events, he also covered sport (Olympic Games, Football World Cups, World Athletics Championships), and movie shoots (Ran by Akira Kurosawa, Betty Blue by Jean-Jacques Beineix, The Last Emperor by Bernardo Bertolucci). At the same time, he kept a close eye on the stars of show business, fashion and the cinema.
He left Sygma in 1986 to set up his own agency, before once again becoming independent in 1989.
His portraits of leading personalities (Fidel Castro, Pope John Paul II, François Mitterrand, Monica Bellucci, Tiger Woods, Yasser Arafat, Bill Gates, etc) and his photographic “sagas” describing major societal developments are published regularly on the front pages of magazines including Paris Match, Life Magazine, Stern, The Sunday Times Magazine, etc. Since 1984, Rancinan has also worked on a regular basis with Sports Illustrated, the biggest sports magazine in the US. In all his major projects, he collaborates with writers, journalists, thinkers, sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers (Caroline Gaudriault, Virginie Luc, Paul Virilio, etc.).
In the 1990s, Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr helped to point Rancinan in the director of the art world by producing the exhibition Urban Jungle at the Espace Cardin in Paris in 2000. Today, recognized the world over, Gérard Rancinan’s work is displayed in numerous international galleries and museums (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art: “Portrait of Nathalie”, Triennale di Milano: “Portraits of Cardinals”, Palais de Tokyo Muséum, Paris: “Metamorphoses”) “Trilogy of the Moderns”, Triennale di Milano – Contemporary Art Museum, Italie and features in prestigious private contemporary art collections.
At an auction at the Étude Million at the l’Hôtel Drouot in 2008, the price commanded by Gérard Rancinan’s work put him firmly in the upper echelons of French contemporary art photographers (Sud Ouest, Monday, June 2, 2008). With the photograph, “Batman Girls”, commanding a record price in London in May 2012, the international auction house, Philip de Pury, confirmed Rancinan’s status outside France. A committed photographer – “A watchful witness of the metamorphoses of Humanity”1 – Gérard Rancinan photographs his contemporaries and analyses the behaviours and beliefs characterizing modern societies. Gérard Rancinan’s photographs are now studied in schools in France within the framework of the National Diploma (DNB) in the History of Art.
On January 7, 2013, Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, invited Rancinan to display, in one of the rooms of the Quai d’Orsay the photography, “Batman Boys” (300 x180 cm), thereby promoting the work of contemporary French artists abroad.