From the late 1930s to the early 1970s the photographer Jean-Paul Cuerrier worked at Au Lutin Qui Bouffe (roughly translated as the Noshing Elf) in Montreal, taking photos of patrons bottle-feeding and pulling the tail of a beribboned piglet wheeled on a cart from table to table. The souvenir postcards touted Au Lutin as “the Restaurant Famous for the Little Piglet.” Little is known of Cuerrier’s equipment or technique. Most of his photos were anonymous but for a small stamp in the corner of each image. He was known to take as many as 250 photos in a single night.
Pictures like the one above, found in an antique store, become parts of “found photography” collections and like most photos in the vernacular, the vacation snapshots, photo booth strips and class pictures that hide in family albums and shoeboxes in attics, the images are visually banal or at least unintentionally “artistic.” Cuerrier’s “pig photos” have come to form a collectible subgenre of their own. Michel Campeau, another Montreal photographer, has collected more than 200 Au Lutin photographs into a small book called In Almost Every Picture, which he describes as “an ever changing pageant of bracelets, necklaces, hairstyles and human interactions.”
Au Lutin Qui Bouffe went out of business in 1972 after a fire destroyed the premises.