Jules Decrauzat – A Pioneer of Photo-reportage, Fotostiftung Schweiz
A discovery: approx. 1’250 glass negatives dating from the period between 1910 and 1925 that had resisted the ravages of time in the archive of the Swiss picture agency Keystone.
While the quality of these photographs was known, the conditions under which they were taken were largely obscure. Now, thanks to in-depth research, a new chapter in the history of Swiss photography can be written: Biel-born Jules Decrauzat (1879-1960), from whose extensive oeuvre these glass negatives originate, is surely Switzerland’s first major photo-reporter. Decrauzat had already made a name for himself internationally as a photo-journalist around 1900 reporting on world events for the French press.
In 1910 he moved to Geneva to take up a position with “La Suisse Sportive”, the oldest Swiss sports illustrated journal. He covered the first attempts to fly motorised aircraft in Switzerland, observed car and motorcycle races and captured exciting scenes from tennis and soccer matches or light-athletics tournaments. One hundred years after they were taken, his instantaneous photographs are still astonishingly fresh and actually transcend the theme of sport. Decrauzat’s masterful presentation of the buzz of speed, the cult of the body and a whole new lifestyle provides insight into a society on the threshold to modern times – involving topics that still preoccupy us today.