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Tony Le Duc
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About Tony

Elviera Velghe
Director FoMu Antwerp

His name sounds like the first words of a promising, aristocratic title. Le Duc. A name inextricably bound up with photographs of luscious, unexpected culinary combinations, a photographer who makes your mouth water. Le Duc as the brand image for a good product, for a brilliant food photo.

Le Duc’s oeuvre coincides with the spectacular, accumulative interest of ‘gastronomy’ for a quarter century. In the last twenty-five years, the media interest in fine food and cooking has only grown. Photography has certainly contributed to this. It has been the story of the chicken and the egg: which came first?

Did professional photography – created as an aid to visualizing a recipe – influence public opinion? Or did the supply of a wider assortment of products, the world kitchen, the demand for tempting dishes, in other words, the need to pay more attention to the culinary aspects, make the use of photo­graphy necessary? It’s more than that. Food photography gained a status of its own by steadily going beyond being merely illustrative. Tony Le Duc’s work proves that photographs of lobster soups, pig’s cheeks or bouillabaisses can be given a personal touch. With a play of light, colour, texture and intensity, he creates compositions that clearly carry his personal stamp. And that is precisely Le Duc’s great achievement.

He goes beyond the advertising gimmick of drawing attention and temptation to a search for the essence of taste and texture. This leads to photographs that no longer just offer a recognisable picture, but have an abstract, photographic dimension. This is why Tony Le Duc is a pioneer in the area of international food photography. To see the photographer at work is a revelation. Just like a painter, he fills in his frame with a well-thought-out composition of the dish. Some top chefs even allow themselves to be inspired by his vision. After all, every chef knows that the eye is even more demanding than the stomach and that appear­ance also counts. An aesthetic masterpiece on the plate produces satisfied customers.

For a successful photograph, the composition of sauces, ­ingredients or garnish is crucial. Le Duc therefore knows the products through and through. He knows just what exposure to use in order to bring out a ­specific ingredient. He plays with the texture and structure of ‘materials’ so that he knows how best to reveal their graphic qualities. Every single photograph ­receives a great deal of thought beforehand, and taking such a photo can sometimes take hours, as it requires a great deal of technical ­ingenuity. So Tony Le Duc is not only a master in thinking up fresh, contem­porary compositions, but also a creative, highly accomplished technical ­photographer, who constantly extends the limits of the medium.

For the Provincial Museum of Photography in Antwerp, it is important to show the diversity of photography. Professional food photography is in that respect a perfect topical example. It is one of a few branches of photography with such a widespread distribution. Moreover, it has an immense impact on us all. It influences the way we look at food, our idea of good food and also our buying behaviour. With his photographs, Tony Le Duc proves how forcefully images penetrate our consciousness without our noticing, and direct our lifestyle. Reason enough, it seems to me, to dedicate an exhibition and a book to this photographer. Licking thumbs and fingers, here at the table: ‘Voilà, Monsieur Le Duc’.