top of page

#21 Legacy of photographers

Book with photos by Pierre Segers and his vintage prints. photo Hetty de Groot

Speaking: Jo Brunenberg and Ton Huijbers

The exhibition ‘Pierre Segers. Looking for times lost’ is the reason for organizing a discussion about the legacy of photographers.

After Pierre Segers (1935-2016) deceased, a group of friends took care of his photos.

"Pierre Segers had indicated during his life that after his death his photos would go to me," says Jo Brunenberg. “However, that was only agreed verbally. Fortunately, Pierre himself had made a selection of what he considered his best work. Everything that was in passe-partouts had in fact already been selected by him. Ton Huijbers and I made an exhibition, a book and a film. After the exhibition at Pennings Foundation, the photo archive of Pierre Segers will be housed at Gemeentemuseum Weert.”

Ton Huijbers and Jo Brunenberg finishing the exhibition of Pierre Segers. photo Hetty de Groot

Jo Brunenberg and Ton Huijbers wrote this text for the exhibition:

This photographer cannot be found on the internet, nor in overviews of Dutch photography. Only in a few publications from the seventies you can still come across his work. He grew up in a small Limburg village near the border where he continued to live his entire life. In this closed community, his fellow villagers usually did not get much farther from home than family visits in the immediate vicinity, but that did not apply to the photographer Pierre Segers.

He made his most important work in the seventies and eighties, times of great contradictions in Europe. On the one hand the Europe with communism and dictatorships and on the other hand the Europe where in countries like the Netherlands and France the sexual revolution, the secularization, democratization and emancipation of women caused major changes.

In the early 1970s, Pierre Segers often traveled with his ‘deux chevaux’ through Romania, behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, to photograph villagers, farm workers and gypsies. It was before the time that dictator Ceauşescu wanted to demolish eight thousand villages.

In remote areas in France, Pierre Segers photographed people in sleepy villages, as well as in Spain where dictator Franco ruled hard. And there, behind closed doors, people entrusted the photographer that they had an aversion to ‘El generalísimo’ and to the Catholic Church.

The sexual revolution, including the groundbreaking, explicitly erotic work of a photographer like Robert Mapplethorpe, also encouraged Pierre Segers to take bold photographs of male nude, partly on the popular and special Polaroid SX70 material at the time.

The photographic legacy that Pierre Segers left behind is too special to be forgotten. That is why there is now an exhibition with vintage prints and a book of his work that does justice to his photographic legacy. As a homage to him, the two befriended photographers have published a book and made a short film (15 minutes). ‘Photographic travel notes made by fellow travelers of Pierre Segers’ (Ton Huijbers, Jo Brunenberg, Pieter Heijnen and Theo Derksen) are also shown on the screen in the exhibition.

(In June 2003, Pierre Segers and Ton Huijbers, together with Harry and Françoise Pennings, visited the photo festival of Lannion in France. See blog # 4)