Paris Match has a long history of friendship interspersed with quarrels with France’s presidents. The relationship has had its ups and downs, depending on whether the country’s helmsmen felt the magazine’s pictures were serving their cause or, on the contrary, portraying a side of them they did not wish to disclose. Great men always harbour great passions… and are capable of unleashing great wrath. Spanning four decades, the presidential family album of the 5th Republic is the result of a long photographic cohabitation; and just like in the grass-roots political arena, observing, spying, complicity, suspicion, splits and reconciliation are routine.


However, the respectful intimacy built up between whoever was president at the time and Paris-Match was sometimes so close to perfection that it gave a glimpse of the real life of a man in power, with his family or on his own, toiling over major decisions to be made or resting from decisions previously taken. At a time when citizens are demanding that politicians be closer to the people and speak the truth, these pictures, taken by Match's most prominent photographers, thrust viewers right into the political debate in the run-up to next year's presidential election. Their modernity is striking.

Alain Genestar

Paris Match

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