Labry’s stunning monochromatic images of Joan of Arc statuary are a love letter to the Maid of Orleans.
A professional photographer for over 30 years, Labry chose equestrian and other statues of Joan of Arc, the martyred saint and heroine of France, as the subject of his first book. The statues, all but two of which are in France, feature considerable texture, which the photographer captures beautifully in rich black and white. There is a timeless, sensitive quality about the images, many of which are close-ups of one detail—clasped hands, a bound torso, the Maid’s face lifted to the heavens. A few too many tight shots of horse heads appear, however, and the one of the stallion draped in Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans seems out of place. But the depth and dimension of all the photographs are notable; the contrast is strong but not excessive. An artist’s statement explaining the photographer’s fascination with Joan, as well as an intro to the life and times of the medieval peasant girl–turned–victorious army leader, is provided. Although the photos easily could stand on their own, Labry pairs them with quotes that are attributed to Joan of Arc, directly refer to her, or could describe achievements and mindsets credited to her. For example, a photo of a sculpture of Joan prepared for battle is coupled with Maya Angelou’s quote, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels.” The selected font for the quotations, Herculanum, an all-capital typeface that mimics Roman letters written in clay, however, is not reader friendly. Also, the index could be more helpful for readers; the general location of each statue photographed is given, but additional beneficial information isn’t supplied in the index or anywhere else in the book. For example, one reference to a statue reads, “Town Square, Chinon, France,” but a more helpful entry would say the piece was by Julies Roulleau (1855-1895) and is in the Place Jeanne d’Arc in Chinon.
Fabulous fodder for Joan of Arc fans, Francophiles, and lovers of fine photography.