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Claire Artemyz is a photographer who explores both what could relate to "Nature", in the sense of

"natural sciences" than to "Culture", in the sense of the modifications made by the hand of Man and the underlying questions. Beauty, here, is sought in its most subversive aspect, voluntarily erasing any defect, roughness, disorder, to achieve an intriguing appeasement in its strangeness, in response to the frantic evolution of the world.

As under a giant microscope, the subject is isolated from its context, most often on a black background, with no other external element than the light which makes possible the photo immortalizing in a frame the trace of reality.


Aurrelien Simonet- prehistorian and archaeologist at the Landes Departmental Council. The author particularly thanks Delphine Haro-Gabay, Claire Artemyz and Jean-Claude Merlet, thanks to whom this project was made possible.

For more than 10 years, Claire Artemyz has been imaging prehistoric pieces from museum collections of the Musée de l'Homme (Paris), the Institute of Human Paleontology (Paris), the National Archaeological Museum_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_ (Saint-Germain-en-Laye), the Musée des Confluences (Lyon), the Musée d'Aquitaine (Bordeaux) and the European Center for Prehistoric Research (Tautavel).


By exploring the universe of prehistory, his artistic research questions us about the origin and identity of the human species.

In 2019, as part of the creation of a new permanent exhibition space, Claire Artemyz was invited by the Landes Department to discover and photograph the prehistoric collection of the departmental site of Arthous Abbey. An invitation that gives rise to the exhibition “Au grand Galop, Duruthy and the art of origins”, open to visitors in June 2020.


The collection includes 20,508 archaeological pieces from the shelters of Sorde. 26 pieces were selected as part of this project: ornaments, animal representations, fish vertebrae, human skull, etc. The jewels of this collection consist of three horse sculptures in stone and mammoth ivory dated to around 17,000 years ago.

The photographs express their full evocative potential thanks to the assemblage imagined by the artist (for example the large friezes presented in this exhibition) or else suggested by the bringing together of the images. Claire Artemyz takes a singular look at objects from Prehistory, and her technique, based on tight planes, a meticulous use of light and chiaroscuro, sublimates the choice of materials made by Paleolithic artists and reveals the vitality of their works of art.

Photographs of emblematic Magdalenian works (Isturitz, Lourdes, Mas-d'Azil, Bruniquel) kept at the National Archeology Museum, in the Paris region, are also presented in the exhibition. 

This dual approach - artistic and scientific - highlights the reciprocity of their influence. The gray areas of scientific discourse can leave the field open to creation. In return, scientific thinking relies on the imagination to come up with new hypotheses.

The two approaches enrich each other and remind us that, since its birth in the 19th century, prehistory has been at the crossroads of art and science. 

Etienne Dumont, art critic

"At a time when photography wants to be infinitely large, both in the objects represented and in its prints, Claire Artemyz is not afraid of the very small. Her methodical gaze scrutinizes things like a microscope. Everything resides for her in detail. Suddenly becoming almost abstract, her colorful images invite us to discover living things up close, or what was. There are in her work, with distinctly archaeological tones, a lot of dead skin and bones Fossils Earth existence sometimes, but sometimes only, leaves traces in the ground...


Over the years, Claire Artemyz has thus archived a memory of the world, from saurians to man via ammonites. All branching, as a scientific tree can be in a book, his computer is full of body fragments. Grouped together, they would not give birth to a new animal, or to a human from prehistoric times. This set of photographs would show, by simple observation, what has disappeared from the origins of life and what remains among us. Aren't the birds the survivors of the dinosaurs?


These highly composed shots therefore constitute the pieces of a gigantic puzzle. The observer feels invited to assemble these elements, some of which will inevitably remain missing. What would their meeting look like? Hard to say. The overall image produced by these accumulated shots would appear in certain precise places. Has others blurred. The so-called natural history is not as easy to tell as we would like to admit. Even dead, the living slip away. He eludes those who want to pin him like a butterfly to a cork.


Developed in what could only constitute series slowly built, the adventure turns out in fact to be twofold. There is intellectual research, of course. There are also aesthetic choices. Each framing, each lighting, each sequence of images in an album constitutes a bias. This is an articulated language, with what it presupposes of choice in sounds and words. Others than her would no doubt have photographed each object in its entirety, placed under a neutral light. These scientists would have refused any involvement. They would have stayed out of things. Claire Artemyz does include herself in her work.

She is there, and the viewer feels her presence.


Therefore, whether it is a matter of reflecting a modern body modification, also stemming from a desire to change the species, or whether it is a matter of showing the steps of a dinosaur who ran ages ago millions of years, Claire asks the public to collaborate in her work. He must embrace the whole image, then slowly decipher it. Sometimes offering some resistance, his photography must be discovered. Reveal yourself. Normal after all for an art, the eighth I believe, which has long offered itself to the gaze after having undergone a revealing bath.


Nothing is therefore simple, nothing is therefore certain, with these "Flush of skin", this "Eclipse", these "Memories" or this "Feather", where the feather evokes by heritage the bodies of the sometimes colossal dinosaurs of the Secondary. But the word "science" no longer necessarily goes hand in hand with that of "certainty" for a long time. What does it really matter? For the fascinated observer, seeing does not imply knowing. After a century of abstract art, the subject has in any case almost disappeared from consciousness.


Thus located at the limit of comprehensibility, a photo can therefore speak as much as another. Better than another, no doubt. Because to interpret, as the artist imposes on us, is also to appropriate oneself. We must make our own the trepanned skulls and the shattered basins. The drop of blood gushing from an incised skin. The abyssal bottom of an unknown eye. The light feather, which has nevertheless finished flying. Claire Artemyz's world is made to be shared. Offered to the gaze, it suddenly gives itself as a gift. Just take the trouble to receive it."​


Dr Alain Froment, Anthropology Collections, Museum of Man

"When the skeleton of Lucy was discovered in Ethiopia in  1974, it was noticed by studying her pelvis and her leg, that she was bipedal, and Yves Coppens drew a book from it, The knee of Lucy, inspired by the title of the famous Eric Rohmer film Le Genou de Claire released in 1970. Contrary to what many people think, Lucy's remains do not rest in the Musée de l'Homme, but in the National Museum of Nevertheless, our Museum contains the most important collection of fossil men in the world, some sixty, certainly more recent than the Australopithecus, but very emblematic, such as complete skeletons of Neanderthal men, in particular those of La Ferrassie and of the Chapelle-aux-Saints, and that of our venerable ancestor Cro-Magnon Man, as well as his major artistic productions, such as the Venus of Lespugue, so refined and so timeless. Rohmerian analogy, it is Claire's gaze that is at issue it. 

Because when Claire Artemyz, whose approach had particularly interested us, set her lens in our collections, what she captured on her film transfigured the bones and objects that were so familiar to us. The use of macro-photography and ghostly lighting revealed to us a very singular reading of our prehistoric heritage. The smallest cranial suture becomes a crossroad connecting us to an earlier humanity, the smallest anatomical detail, highlighted by the camera, sends us back to our own constitution, and each detail of a tool or a sculpture on bone or on mammoth ivory restores to us the sure gesture, and a scrap of the thought, of its author so long gone. There is a visual incarnation of what one of the greatest anthropologists of the Musée de l'Homme, André Leroi-Gourhan, subtly analyzed in a book that truly marked anthropological studies, Le geste et la parole._cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


It is that Dr. Artemyz is not only an artist, she is also a clinician and a researcher who has deeply probed the human mind, and it is this neurobiological experience that gives her photographs this original and original perception. , abstract and somewhat psychoanalytical, anagogic and dreamlike, of the human adventure."


Amelie Vialet, paleoanthropologist.

"There is like a stubbornness on the part of the researcher to understand, of the scientist to break down the world and of the paleoanthropologist to disarticulate the human being to grasp the essential. 

It is also the work of Claire Artemyz, who in a much more poetic way, by a subtlety of pose and lighting, by a singular look, accounts for this determination to pierce this timeless mystery, that of the meaning of humanity. . 

It is also the “after” time that is frozen by this talented photographer. When life is no more, the object becomes a study support for the researcher, an inanimate dry bone. 

But the artist succeeds in prolonging it, making it dialogue with his peers, bringing it back to life "in film". 

And provoke the viewer with real paintings of vanities where the evanescence of butterflies recalls the breath of life that has passed so quickly!"


Personal exhibitions



"At full gallop, Duruthy and the art of origins", Abbaye d'Arthous, Landes department


"Bestiaire et Cie", Ulis Media Library, Science Festival, Paris-Saclay

"The dance of the caves" House and Archeopark of the Lady, Brassempouy

“The Dance of the Caves”, PhotoChoreographies, Maison de la Dame and ArchéoParc, Brassempouy



"150 years of  the discovery of Cro-Magnon" Library of the Museum of Man, Paris

“Lazaret Excavations” Institute of Human Paleontology, Paris

“Les Vénus” CCIC, Cerisy, symposium “Paleolithic art at the risk of meaning” organized by Marc Avelot and Jean-Paul Jouary


"Objects of study" Avallonais Museum, and University of Nanterre (MAE)


“Au Bonheur des Dames” Town of Montignac and Gallery of Montignac-Lascaux


"Mother Nature and Mother Culture" Pornic, Society of Friends of the Museum of Man, ocean branch


“Once upon a time…”, House of the Lady, Brassempouy

“Memoirs of Tautavel”, Tautavel, Fiftieth anniversary of the excavations


“Of bone and stone”, National Archaeological Museum, Saint-Germain-en-Laye


"Bestiary and Co", National Archaeological Museum, Saint-Germain-en-Laye

“Memories of the Oceans” Galerie Le Cerisier, Month of Photo-OFF, Paris


“MEMORIES II”, National Archaeological Museum, Saint-Germain-en-Laye – France

"MEMORIES", Archeoparc, Val Senales - Italy


Collective exhibitions


"Prehistory and Contemporary Art", Atelier du Hézo - contemporary art

"By the light of the fire", Galerie Le Cerisier, Paris


Participation in “Expo Neanderthal” Museum of Man, Paris

"The Warp and the Weft" & "Over the bone" Galerie Le Cerisier, Paris


“Prehistory and Shamanism”, Galerie Le Cerisier, Paris


“ZAN PAR”, Curator François Pannier, Ici-Magazzino del Caffè, Venice, Italy


"The Echo of the Caverns", Gallery Le Cerisier, Paris


"The smallest of all things", November, MAC PARIS


“SUPER-NATURAL”, Gallery Le Cerisier, Paris – France

“Memento mori”, Berliner list, Berlin – Germany



"I PRESENT MY BODY TO YOU", Festival of Other Images, La Rochelle - France

“XTH NORTHERN INK XPOSURE”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto – Canada

Presentations at conferences


“Paleolithic art at the risk of meaning” CCIC, Cerisy, organized by Marc Avelot & Jean-Paul Jouary

Prehistory and Contemporary Art, an underground passage? Seminar at INHA, Paris, organized by François Jeune.


Paleolithic and Mesolithic International Conference, British Museum, London

Evolution of the brain and cognitive abilities of fossil hominids, international conference, Tautavel, France.


“Ice Age Art” Poster presentation at Ice Age Art exhibition and symposium, British Museum, London


Artist's websites




French Prehistoric



At full gallop on hominids

Bradshaw Foundation

The Book "A Une Passante" at Escourbiac

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