The work of James Barnor for the collection of the musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac
On Wednesday 29 June, the musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac confirmed the acquisition of a set of 69 photographs (vintage and modern prints) and documents by James Barnor, a Ghanaian photographer born in 1929.
James Barnor, Untitled#4, Sick-Hagemeyer shop assistant, Accra, 1971, modern print
Considered one of the pioneers of African photography, during the 1950s everyone who was anyone in Accra passed through his “Ever Young” studio. He was also Ghana’s first photojournalist, as part of which he documented the rise to power of the pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah, and Ghana’s transition to independence under Nkrumah’s guidance. Barnor spent the 1960s in Great Britain. He trained in the use of colour film while working in a leading photographic laboratory in Kent before studying at the Medway College of Art. He photographed the African diaspora for South Africa’s Drum magazine, posing his models in the streets of London. In 1970 he returned to Ghana and opened the country’s first colour film laboratory for the German company Sick-Hagemeyer. Today he lives in London.
James Barnor’s work has been shown in the travelling exhibition “Ever Young” by Autograph ABP in various institutions and galleries around the world. Although his modern prints are already present in such international collections as those of the Tate, the V&A and FOAM, this is the first time his work will enter a French public collection. The acquisition, proposed by the galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière, received the support of the Cercle pour la photographie des Amis du quai Branly. It was the result of exceptional research in James Barnor’s personal archive by Christine Barthe, head of the Unité Patrimoniale des collections photographiques at the musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac.