The Montreal-born photographer specialized in portrait-style photography, which captured the subject in numerous profile and frontal views.
Arnaud Maggs was born in Montreal in 1926. As a young man, he studied typography and drawing and worked as a graphic designer in Montreal, New York, Santa Fe, Milan and Toronto. He took up photography in the mid-1960s and became a portrait and fashion photographer, during which time he was commissioned to photograph Canadian business people, politicians and artists. Within ten years Maggs gave up on his business, sold his Hasselblad camera and went on to study drawing at the Ontario College of Arts in Toronto.
In the mid-1970s, at the age of forty-seven, Maggs turned away from commercial design and dedicated himself to becoming a full-time artist. He had to purchase a new camera, and his first major work, entitled 64 Portraits, featured frontal and profile portraits of thirty-two men and women, naked (at least from the shoulders up), against a neutral background. The photographs were presented in a grid. Over the next several decades, Maggs produced similar work—portraits in profile and frontal views against neutral backgrounds, presented in grid formation. One of his most prominent works is a series entitled 48 Views, for which he photographed Canadian artists, each forty-eight times. Maggs produced some eight thousand images for 48 Views.
By the 1990s, Maggs was focussing his attention on photographing objects: The Complete Prestige 12" Jazz Catalogue, a series of photographs of numbers identifying recordings from the Prestige label; French envelopes from flea markets with black X marks on them (the X signified that the letter was announcing the death of a loved one); Eugene Atget’s address book.
The photographs above, Pierrot Turning, and the photograph on the cover of this issue, Pierrot the Photographer, are from After Nadar, a series referring to work by Nadar, the nineteenth-century French photographer and caricaturist. In this series, Maggs cast himself as the character and posed as Pierrot the Archivist, Pierrot the Photographer, Pierrot the Painter and others. The poses refer to Maggs’s own interests, and they represent his most autobiographical work. Arnaud Maggs died in November 2012.