Matthias OLMETA was born in Marseille (France) in 1968. At the age of 16, he has been fond of photography, the next year he decided to study it. In order to do so, Matthias OLMETA went to Los Angeles and studied visual arts at Santa Monica City College, from which he graduated in 1991. During his American stay of seven years, he traveled a lot, especially to Mexico. These first getaways put the bases of a more general approach of search for other one and somewhere else.

Back in France, he has carried on travelling. Matthias OLMETA photographs misfits: prostitutes in Athens or psychiatric patients in Havana, of which he succeeded in being accepted. 2006, new path, Matthias OLMETA has worked on his fears. He encountered shamanism and renew his photographic approach. Traditional photographic techniques sparkled his interest. In essence, a return to the roots of photography with ambrotype: a unique light glass negative picture, inverted to a positive thanks to a black background. This method, invented and developed between 1851 and 1854 by Frederick SCOTT ARCHER, Adolphe MARTIN and finally patented by James Anson Ambrose CUTTING, was used until 1870. Ambrotype knew a fair success in America, beside daguerreotype. Then, superseded by gelatin negative plates during the 1870’s.

Through ambrotype Matthias OLMETA has operated a real technological revival.

The constraints and the peculiar depiction of ambrotypes give deep pictures. Their materiality is palpable. Matthias OLMETA photographs mainly still-lives and portraits of children and elderly people. During his shooting sessions, he builds a special atmosphere nurturing a sort of ancient composure in the model. With this photographic technique the subjects have to stay perfectly still. Thus, it seems to be an antique sculpture torn off from another time.

A very instructive interview of Matthias OLMETA from LensCulture tell us more about his work.

Fairs and exhibitions:

Marseille-Provence, Capitale Européenne de la Culture, 2013, Marseille, France, 2013

Museums and collections:

Collection agnès b, Paris, France

The Wilson Centre for Photography, London, UK

The Elton John Collection, Atlanta, USA

Collection Freddy Denaes, Paris, France

Collection Gensollen, Marseille, France

Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada

Musée Niepce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France

Fond Communale de la ville de Marseille, France

Direction générale des Affaires Culturelles, France

Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles d’Alsace, France

Les Nouveaux collectionneurs, France

Conseil Générale des Bouches-du-Rhône, France

Département des estampes et de la photographie, France

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France

Numerous private collections in Norway, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France & USA

Books selection:

OLMETA, Matthias, clitoris, 2008, Le Renard Pâle, livre d'artiste à 27 exemplaires signés

OLMETA, Matthias, Les seigneurs – Lords of the fleas – Marché aux puces de Marseille, 1996


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