As a young man, after studying at Cornell and working as an assistant to a New York fashion photographer (Jérôme Ducrot) he had relocated to Paris and acquired a certain Gallic sensibility.
The people in the north of England have a saying: ‘there’s nowt [nothing] so funny as folk’. Kalvar’s latest book from Flammarion, Earthlings, epitomises this bon mot and the reader is delighted by a collection of stolen moments that ably illustrate the ridiculousness of the human race as they eke out their existence. Incredibly, for the digital age, each picture is pure - no cropping, no posed scenes and no image manipulation. They are all the more remarkable for it - because this is street photography at its very best. Kalvar’s eye is unbelievably quick and the fleeting moments his lens captures contain irony, humour, pathos and the downright absurd. Mainly studies of human foibles and affectations, when his camera is turned on animals or quirks of nature Kalvar has the same wicked sense of humour and affection for the double-entendre. Perhaps this is a French thing? His work is in the great tradition of Robert Doisneau and Cartier-Bresson, but it is not at all imitative of these masters of the art.
The title Earthlings insinuates this is life viewed from another sphere, another world. The terrible truth is that we will all recognise ourselves in these comedic visions of our ‘civilised society’. If you don’t already know the work of Richard Kalvar - get on the case immediately!