Born in Ixelles in Brussels in 1928, Agnes Varda spent her childhood in Belgium with her four brothers and sisters. The war in 1940 moved the family to the south of France.
She spent her adolescence in Sète and later Paris where she took her baccalaureate, afterwards
studying at the Louvre and then photography at night school in Vaugirard.
She has lived on Daguerre street (Rue Daguerre) in Paris in the 14th arrondissement since 1951.
Varda became photographer for Jean Vilar, founder of the Avignon festival in 1948, and later for the People’s National Theatre (TNP) (the film star Gerard Philipe shined there among others).
She held her first solo exhibition in her home in 1954, followed by several reportage missions in China
and Cuba. Over the course of her travels and via the people she met, she produced several portraits of both ordinary and famous people of her time.
Without any training, Agnès Varda moved to the medium of cinema. She created her own small company Cine-Tamaris to produce and direct her first feature length film, La Pointe Courte, which earnt her the title of ‘The Grand Mother of the New Wave’.
Her most well-known films include: Cleo from 5 to 7, Happiness (Le Bonheur – Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival), Vagabond (Sans Toit Ni Loi - Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival), Jacquot (Jacquot de Nantes), The Gleaners and I (Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse - Golden Prize Chicago) and The Beaches of Agnès (Les Plages d’Agnès).
Married to film director Jacques Demy (deceased in 1990), their daughter Rosalie Varda-Demy is a costume designer and their son Mathieu Demy, an actor and director.
They spent several years in Los Angeles, where Agnes filmed Lions Love (…and Lies), Uncle Yanco and Black Panthers in the 1960s, then Mur Murs and An Emotion Picture (Documenteur) in the 1980s. In 2003, Agnès Varda launched her third career as a visual artist. 7
Her installations were shown at the Venice Biennale and Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, SMAK in
Gent, Art 41 Basel, the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain and Martine Aboucaya Gallery in Paris.
Contemporary Centers and Paul Valéry Museum in Sète. Her Broken Portraits series was shown at Nathalie Obadia Gallery in Brussels.
In 2008, The Beaches of Agnes, a poetic and playful auto-biographical film, resonated with the public
and won the French César award for best documentary.
In 2010-11, she directed a documentary series Agnès Varda from Here to There. Chronicling an open
journey and meetings with contemporary artists. These 5 episodes of 45 minutes in length were shown
on ARTE channel in December 2011, then on DVD.
In March and April 2012 CAFA Art Museum in Beijing and Hubei Museum of Art in Wuhan made a tribute to her work of art, showing her unknown photographs taken in China in 1957 and many of her
From June till August 2012, she participates to the big exhibition « Le voyage à Nantes » in France with two new video installations Des chambres en ville.
In July « La Rochelle Film Festival » in France will show a retrospective of her films and her installation Patatutopia, with photographs.
YDESSA, LES OURS et ETC... (Orig.) / 2004 / France / 44 min
In two huge rooms, discover hundreds of old photographs: children in their Sunday best, families gathered, groups of friends, athletes or colleagues, etc., and discover that in each picture we also see a teddy bear…