André Villers – A Lifetime in Images (English trailer) from Procope Films on Vimeo.


A documentary film about French photographer André Villers

produced and directed by Marketa Tomanova









I met André Villers for the first time when I was 7 years old.

It was at that time that he took a photograph of my family.


My father had met André in France in 1968 and in 1969, he organized André’s exhibition in a gallery in Prague, already occupied by communist Soviet tanks.


It was thanks to this privileged relationship to André that I was able to access him for my documentary film.


But André’s story goes way back in History…














In 1946, 16-year old André Villers was dying when he was transferred to the medical center in Vallauris in the south of France right after World War II ended.

He was suffering from bone tuberculosis and doctors didn’t give him much hope.

He was put in a full body cast, laying in bed all day, for nearly 5 years!!!

All he could do was to listen to jazz music.

It was thanks to the newly introduced penicillin and bone transplant that he slowly recovered and eventually was able to walk again.

And to discover life again…

He took on photography lessons and soon, photography became his passion, alongside jazz.







Picasso et Andre Villers_autoportrait




When André was 23, he was walking around the town of Vallauris, taking pictures. He took a photograph of an older man.

The next day, André developed the photo and took it back to show it to the man. The man shook his head and said, “I like it. You’re talented, kid. Now come with me, I’ll show you what I do.”


And the man took André to his workshop where there were paintings, sculptures and ceramic objects all around. Young André was mesmerized. This man was Pablo Picasso!

After that first encounter, Picasso allowed André to come to his workshop and take photos anytime he wanted. That was the beginning of their friendship.


Through Picasso, André was introduced to many artists: painters such as Chagall, Dalí, Miró, Léger, Hartung or Magnelli, filmmakers Buñuel and Fellini, photographer Brassaï, poets and writers Jacques Prévert and Jean Cocteau, singers Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg and Léo Ferré, architect Le Corbusier, pianist Richter and many others…




He has photographed them all and has never boasted about it.



Aznavour_et_Prévert par André VillersFelliniDaliBunuelGainsbourgPicasso avec son chapeau de cowboyLéo FerréAlberto MagnelliPrevertBrassaiLe CorbusierChagall



Throughout his life, he kept a low profile, even though his photographs are known worldwide.



Together with Picasso, they created over 700 photocollages. André wasn’t only photographing Picasso’s cut-out figures but he was creating the final images, arranging and layering them in various styles. It was truly a collaborative work.

Then they chose about 30 images. French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert wrote poetic texts for these images and the album, called DIURNES, was published in 1962 in limited edition by Heinz Berggruen.



Diurnes (couverture)Diurnes_Picasso Diurnes_figures avec la mariee


At that time, André also met and became friends with fellow photographers Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Robert Doisneau or David Douglas Duncan.


Villers-Doisneau Villers-Brassai Villers-DuncanVillers_lartigue






Today, André still likes to take photos and still develops them himself, but at the same time he’s been also practicing other forms of visual art. He does collages and photomontages but he also enjoys experimenting with the photographic emulsion and the developer.



emulsion poisson photogramme_bidon_cadre







One can always find a touch of humour in his work!


Picasso_fleursdécoupage2 découpage



boucherie chevaline collage collage avec Matthieu enfant 3 IMG_5973







André Villers

André Villers





André remains active even though he is already 84 years old.
All his life, he remained in other artists’ shadow.  It’s time to tell his own story.