Wall Street Journal

The Real Lives of Gypsies Culture

Apr 04, 2015

By William Meyers

The Gypsies I encountered in Romania, Poland, Italy and France were universally despised, even by the sort of people who in America would never acknowledge a prejudice; Gypsies refuse to assimilate into societies from which they nonetheless very aggressively beg. Pierre Gonnord (b. 1963), a French photographer living in Madrid, spent time among a tribe of Gypsies in Portugal, recording them and their animals in a series of dramatic, large-format portraits. Shot against a black backdrop with deeply saturated colors, they look at the photographer with the self-confidence of the Renaissance nobility they somewhat resemble. “Anibal I” (2014) is a man in his 30s with regular features, brown eyes, a swarthy complexion, a curly black beard, and a hat with character it has taken a long time to acquire; parts of the brim are stitched to stay attached to the crown, and the crown is a wonder of texture and architecture.

“Maria, Joao e Isaac” (2014) is a sturdy woman with two blond-haired, puttilike children nursing at her breasts. The mother in “Elena y Aquiles I” (2013) is beautiful without any makeup, her long dark hair falling down her back; the boy on her lap looks inquisitively at the camera. “Moses” (2014), a middle-aged man with a badly torn jacket, has a graying beard, curly dark hair, and the intense look of a figure by El Greco. There are four horses and a magnificent ram among the 17 pictures at Hasted Kraeutler, and they, too, have a classical aspect.