Daniel and Charlotte Angeli: Art, a family affair …

Daniel Angeli has just published a photo book, “Private lives”, a collection of unpublished photos. Internationally renowned, often nicknamed “the king of the paparazzi” or “the gentleman paparazzi”, Daniel Angeli is an extraordinary character, a living bible of the years Stones, Lennon, Piaf, Bardot, Taylor and other big stars on glossy paper. For Instant City, he agreed to receive us and tell his story. Travel to the land of the people.


We arrive at the foot of an old building. We don’t have the code. I grab my smartphone to call him, but useless. Monsieur Angeli comes from the bakery, white hair and beard, his bread under his arm. He types in his code. The heavy, light-wood door opens onto an entrance hall with old cement tiles. Daniel Angeli calls the elevator while apologizing. I rush into it first. It is tiny and there are barely three of us, glued to each other: contact established. Daniel announces a surprise: his daughter Charlotte and Charlotte’s mother, Elisa, will be there too. On the landing, three double wooden doors in an English green color. On the right, a photo: the portrait of a woman with a big smile and a gentle gaze. ” My father took the photo. It is the portrait of the neighbor. She had put a picture but my father did not think it was beautiful, so he took another and gave it to her. ” Charlotte will explain to us. Daniel opens the double middle door. Here we are at his home… This is a very pretty old apartment with creaky parquet floors and white walls. We are in the spacious entrance. In front of us, a French window in white woodwork and small panes which opens onto the double living room. To our left, the corridor leading to the kitchen and a bedroom. To our right, another bedroom. On the wall, a photo of Daniel Angeli shaking hands with Jacques Chirac. The preamble to a book of memories that Mr. Angeli will do us the honor of opening for us.

It is very moving and we, Christophe and I, are extremely honored to enter this intimate place, very touched by the trust placed in us. The white walls are adorned with her photos: the Stones at Bianca and Jagger’s wedding, Bardot lying in a topless swimsuit at La Madrague, Lennon at the airport holding Yoko’s hand, Claudia Cardinale surrounded by crowds and photographers, Elizabeth Taylor ..they are all there, around him, those he has worked with and photographed for 30 years. On the left, the lounge area with sofas and club-type brown leather armchairs and on the right a square table in exotic wood. Huge windows let in light. Charlotte and Elisa welcome us with a warm smile and offer us “Coffee, tea, orange juice ..? “. We sit around the big table. Charlotte goes to the kitchen and returns with coffee and water. Daniel has already started his story. He tales. He tells. He unfolds, inexhaustible, the thousands of anecdotes he has stored up during all these years in hiding and we are like Sultan Shahryar, hypnotized by the tales of the Thousand and One Nights, amazed.

Daniel Angeli :You need to talk about my daughter, she is very talented, she is a gifted painter. She has painted a lot since she was little. She customized furniture for clients and we had an idea, after seeing the exhibition at the Center Pompidou in Metz: that she expresses herself in my images, in her own way. “

Metz, Center Pompidou, 2014. The Center devotes an unprecedented multidisciplinary exhibition to the phenomenon and aesthetics of paparazzi photography, through more than 600 works. The exhibition examines the profession of image hunter by addressing the complex but fascinating relationships that are established between the photographer and the celebrity shot. We have often spoken of Lady Diana’s ambiguous relationship with the paparazzi, sometimes rejected, sometimes used.


Daniel Angeli :I went with my daughter Charlotte to the Pompidou museum in Metz. It was incredible for me: the paparazzi were returning to the museum! There was a great article in Paris-Match in which I appeared in photo among all the other photographers of the time ”. The article was six pages long. We paid tribute to those who were described as “image thieves”. It was incredible, a real turning point for the paparazzi photo, which became a work of art and the paparazzi, an artist. “

The idea: to use the celebrity photos of Daniel Angeli as canvases for his painter daughter Charlotte. First step of this family project, to settle the legal problems. Head to the lawyer’s office of a long-time friend of the family, Gilles Hittinger-Roux, who also happens to be a great art lover and patron of the arts. This man has the passion, the eye and the professional skills. His advice will prove to be invaluable. The first: to collect all the photos of Daniel Angeli, there are nearly a million, and protect this incredible capital, both for transmission to his children and to identify the entire work. After the bankruptcy of its press agency, the Bestimages agency keeps the photos in its archives.


Daniel Angeli :Bestimages is run by a friend of mine who took over my image fund and all my staff, around 80 photographers, after I filed for bankruptcy. My agency was in the top three in Paris. After my accident (Daniel Angeli had a stroke), I tried to put all my photos together to fill the Endowment Fund. “

Because Gilles Hittinger-Roux, their friend and lawyer, suggests that they create an Endowment Fund, a mix between the Foundation and the Association. This is a legal framework in which a legal person (an individual or a collective), also called a godmother if it is a woman or a sponsor if it is a man, is used as a financing tool. , management and administration. This person receives and manages the goods in a disinterested and non-profit manner by capitalizing them in order to achieve a work, that of Daniel Angeli, all of his photographic work of art, 30 years of people history from 1966 to 1996 .


Daniel Angeli : “As I spent hours, sometimes alone, waiting for the stars, they ended up granting me an appointment. I have millions of images. Sometimes I don’t even remember. We take out photos that I don’t even remember. “


It is Mylène Demongeot who will accept to be the godmother, a long-time friend that the whole family adores, especially the children. The family is large and blended, Daniel Angeli having married four times. A first union from which he will have a daughter, Rachel, who has now passed away. A second union with Elisa from whom he had two daughters, Charlotte and Caroline. A third, with the journalist Cécile Riboulet, the mother of César and Léo, 16 and 18 years old. And a fourth marriage that lasted only two years and whose fresh divorce dates from three months. The family, his children, if it was not always easy to reconcile them with his paparazzi life, Daniel Angeli speaks about them today with a lot of tenderness. His two boys, his daughters, he would like to protect them and bequeath them a legacy, his photos, hundreds of thousands of images, the work of a lifetime. This man often dismissed and disparaged for his work is flattered and honored to have recently returned to the museum and to see his photos now presented as works of art. We can only imagine the capital importance of this sudden change of status: we go from the “image thief” pointed out to the artist shown in exhibitions. Irony of life. It is no longer magazines such as “Paris-Match” or “Jours de France” which will snatch up his photos at a price of gold, but the public of collectors. A turnaround that the 15-year-old immigrant kid of Italian origin would never have dared to imagine.


Daniel Angeli, 1966 – 1996: 30 years of the paparazzade


His mother died when he was five years old. Describing himself as a dunce at school, he continued all the same up to high school, in Buffon. His father, a butler, wanted him to enter the trade as a bellboy or something. Thanks to his connections, he got him hired as an assistant at “Jour de France” then held by Marcel Dassault. He is an intern there. He is sixteen years old. Then he changed to the DALMAS agency, where he worked first in the lab, developing photos, a position where he already saw many stars of the Cannes Film Festival on paper, before finally arriving in the field. It was quickly sent for a report by the editor-in-chief Claude Otzenberger, to cover the Parisian evenings. He takes care of the stars of the Left Bank such as Brassens, Léo Ferré, Jacques Brel. Edith Piaf.


Daniel Angeli :Jacques Brel was really nice. He was at the Olympia. Every night we went to a restaurant with him after the show. He brought so many people into the theater that it gave me the idea to do Jacques Brel on stage and on stage. It’s a bit like my first paparazzades. I then started to follow them. The German group “Here” was born and we started taking telephoto shots. Being very shy, I preferred to hide behind my case. It served me well. “


It was also the time when Daniel was in charge of a branch at Orly airport where he photographed stars from all over the world arriving in the French capital. On June 2, 1962, he was at the airport when an Air France plane crashed. He disguises himself as a porter and photographs the drama. His photos will make many Unes. His career is launched. He tells about this at the microphone of Philippe Vandel on France Info:


Daniel Angeli : “I was hitting on an air hostess when this plane crashed in Villeneuve-le-Roi. It was the first major plane crash. I had lunch in one of the terrace restaurants. There was a gentleman whose family members were all on the plane. He fainted. I quickly put on a Paris Airport coat because there was a security service and I was able to take pictures on the spot, disguised as a porter. I had a hard time getting over it. I lugged corpses whose arms fell, grilled. It was a very difficult ordeal for me. “


After his military service, he set up on his own and founded his own agency, the Angeli news agency. We are in 1968. Daniel Angeli becomes master in so-called “people” photos. He traces his schedule to that of the stars, summer in Saint-Tropez, winter in Gstaad and in between, on the Rock of Monaco and Cannes for the Festival, a childhood dream. “Today everyone is behind a rope and no one has the right to move” he said in an interview with Benjamin Locoje at Paris-Match in 2015.


Daniel Angeli : “ I lived the first eras by making seasons: I rented a house and I took my family. My wife and children followed me. My daughters were born in Saint-Tropez because it was the season and my wife was giving birth where I was. The girls have grown up and we have always made the seasons. They had lessons in the morning with a tax collector and they skied in the afternoon.I started to earn my living thanks to the Italian stars that I photographed in France. In Italy the people press was already developed, there was a real market. In France it came late. There was only “Jour de France” or “Paris-Match. “


It was the time of the 1960s, Saint-Tropez, Bardot, La Madrague …


Daniel Angeli : “La Madrague… We were five photographers hiding in the water, waiting for her to come out to photograph her. She knew very well that we were there but she pretended not to see us. She was lying on her dock, topless. Sometimes she would send her dog to bite us but the dog would come up very quickly. “

He forged privileged links with the personalities of the time. From Aristotle Onassis to Elizabeth Taylor via John Lennon to Gianni Agnelli whom he photographs the summer of 1977 naked jumping from his boat. This photo caused a scandal at the time because the CEO of Fiat had just been kidnapped. This photo of Agnelli is one of the best known today and remains a symbol of paparazzi photography.


Daniel Angeli :I am still told about the photo of Agnelli jumping from his yacht. But I didn’t just make this image! At the time it was paid to me by Match 1500 francs. It had to be done to earn a living! This photo has been around the world. It was posted I don’t know how many times! This is not an image stolen for nothing. At that time, the CEO of Fiat France was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded a heavy ransom and during this time the boss jumped into the big blue in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. He then asked to meet me and we became friends. The first big star I came to follow was Liz Taylor. Richard Burton would get in my car with me and say: take me to the village for a drink. We didn’t have the feeling of living in their shadow because to make these images, we knew their life. We knew the habits of these people. For example, Nicholson, with whom we had funny relationships all the time, showed us his buttocks one day when we were photographing him in the port of Saint-Tropez! What I would like to say is that there was a bond with these people. It was the time of my life that I preferred. “

Her best-selling photo is that of Grace from Monaco pictured next to her car in the parking lot of the Beach, a Rover, at the wheel of which died a few weeks later. The photo of Aristotle Onassis with La Callas when the couple was supposed to be separated, Onassis being married to Jacky, made the front page of Paris-Match for 1 million francs. His best catch? Sarah Ferguson, wife of Prince Andrew, topless by a swimming pool in the south of France, alongside American financier John Bryan, who sucked her toes in 1992. The divorce will be pronounced a year later. His biggest failure: the photo of Lady Diana on the yacht with Dodi Al Fayed. His wife was about to give birth and he sent an Italian colleague on the spot. It was the biggest blow in the history of sensational photography: 3 million euros. The best kept secret? Mazarine Mitterand. The most striking encounter? Edith Piaf.


Daniel Angeli :I arrived late for the shooting appointment. All the photographers had already taken their images. I was in front of the theater when Edith Piaf’s husband came to tell me to leave. I explained and I don’t know why, he told me to come. I was a kid. I was barely 20 years old. I found myself in front of the stage, facing Edith Piaf, my camera in my hand. I was very shy. She looked at me and said in an angry and annoyed tone:

  • ” What are you doing here ? “.
  • I replied “I would like to take a photo. Could you pretend to sing? “
  • “Edith Piaf does not pretend to sing”

She waved to her musicians. The whole orchestra began to play. She sang a few notes, I took two or three photos, she stopped and I quickly left ”. This photo is unique. There is no other one on which we see Edith Piaf singing during a rehearsal. “

iCity : In Cannes, you were both the official photographer of the Festival and the paparazzi. How do we manage this double hat?


Daniel Angeli : As an official photographer, we have information the paparazzi can use. For example, in 1972, I knew the date and time of Paul Newman’s arrival in Cannes. He came to present his film “On the influence of Gamma rays on the behavior of daisies” in which his wife (Joanne Woodward) played the leading role. I knew he was arriving at 6 a.m. by train. He gets off the train and I photograph him. I still had my paparazzi instincts. Today I still have that in my skin. Mylene (Demongeot) had given me an appointment for a report on the island of Porquerolles (where she resides): during the stay with her, she asks me to accompany her to the cemetery to visit her husband. I chose to take the telephoto shots, like the stolen paparazzi photos. The photo was much more beautiful. “


iCity : You tell in your book that Lennon would have offered to photograph him sitting in the toilet. You also photographed the Stones at Bianca and Jagger’s wedding in terrible shape. It looks like the stars let you shamelessly photograph them.


Daniel Angeli : It is not shamelessness. You must have known the years 1968 to understand. At that time a wind of total freedom was blowing on the part of these people. Lennon’s proposal was a bit of a joke. Besides, I didn’t do the image. Lennon embodied spiritual freedom. This year (1978), he presented two films at Cannes including one in “The Directors’ Fortnight” which showed a fly posed on the sex of his wife in close-up. In the second film, we saw a balloon rising from a park into the sky, then nothing, just the sky, all alone, filmed for almost a quarter of an hour. That was Lennon. Winks. The anecdote of the photoshoot in the bathroom was a snap. He wanted to get me on the plane afterwards, but I didn’t have a circle on me. He and Yoko were leaving for Gibraltar. I should have gone up anyway, and yet I refused because I didn’t have my wallet. I really regret it today. These stars, Liz Taylor, Lennon who were the famous people, that no longer exists. Today, we only have reality stars who are ephemeral, it’s not the same job or the same contact. What I did would no longer be feasible because the stars are no longer so accessible: there are their agents and a whole bunch of things that stand in the way. Everything exploded in the 1990s. The situation deteriorated with the arrival of German press groups in France. It was a race for money. Prices soared, we found ourselves ten to fifteen at the same time. There were no more limits, the photographers became aggressive. And the “Star Academy” later only accentuated the phenomenon. Kids would become stars for five to six weeks and then disappear. “

iCity : Have you met Serge Gainsbourg? I remember this family photo with Serge, Jane and his two daughters posing in front of a hammock.


Daniel Angeli : This photo was taken at Gassin, at Mas de Chastelas (a 5 star hotel in Saint-Tropez). Serge had made an appointment with me because we knew each other. I had stashed it with Bardot, the only photo that exists of them by the way: the two together, in the car. He had his apartment on the quays, something given by the State before Ile Saint Louis, a room with a piano. I have met him many times. It was Rostain who was very good friends with him. Gainsbourg came one day to do Sébastien’s show on la 5. I found myself with him picking up with a spoon. We smoked 6 packs of cigarettes, we both got drunk, we told each other set stories like that of Le Pen’s wife naked sweeping the floor. Once you were gone with him, you ended up in the pinks. We drank bad wine. I have been sick. All because Patrick made him wait on set. We were brought from the Côte-du-Rhône. I slept on the set, I couldn’t even get home. That evening, we had to bring Serge back as well. This is the only real contact I had with Serge. I just ran into him. At the time of the Saint-Tropez photo, he was shooting a music video. I ask him for a meeting and he tells me to come to Saint-Tropez. There, I took this photo with the whole family on a hammock. I have hundreds of photos of Serge at a premiere or on a set. But no special moments or paparazzi photos. This man had a crazy charisma. “

iCity : You are in François Mitterand’s apartment. You see him lying on his deathbed. Do you take the picture?

(Released in Paris-Match in 1996. Published by Roger Théron, owner of the weekly. The mystery remains as to who took it. To read on the subject the article of Le Monde: François Mitterrand: the mystery of the last photo )


Daniel Angeli : “Jwant to do it. Yes, I do. It is very difficult to answer this question. The only photo I haven’t taken is that of Romy’s son. There is a guy who made it… Once we took the photo, we can also decide not to broadcast it… We saw horrible photos like the one of Mc Queen on his bed.

I remember Eddy Barclay’s funeral. It was the party. All his friends were there, Johnny, Carlos. There was Collaro in the living room laughing. The three of them buried Eddy. We called it “The White Funeral”. I was seated in front of him on the living room table with a bottle of very good Bordeaux. He was lying down and I was afraid of that thing. In fact it was very good: Eddy made up, in costume, I had a thought for him. Carlos, was my friend mesmer in the profession. Then there was Anconina. “

The flow of words flows, indomitable, uninterrupted, often disjointed and difficult to follow. We would like to take a break, go into a particular subject, but not possible. Mr. Angeli does not let himself be cut off or gets angry, and he is inexhaustible. When he’s gone to talk about anecdotes about his paparazzi life, he is never stopped. The phone is ringing. Elisa informs us that Daniel has two more interviews after ours. He interrupts him. ” she will wait a bit. We are here. “.And that’s true. We are fine. We’re taking a trip back in time. The cigarette smoke gradually invades the room. We open the living room window wide. Charlotte and Elisa are sitting facing me with their backs to the window. Daniel is on my left and Christophe on my right. I watch him ask his questions, he, the absolute fan of Gainsbourg and the 1960s. We can’t get over being there, sitting there listening to all these stories being told to us. My eyes sweep the walls, moving from photo to photo, from Lennon to Jagger, from Bardot to Claudia Cardinale or Liz Taylor. I imagine the scenes, I hear the crackling noises of the flashes, the calls from the photographers, the cries of the fans asking for an autograph. I try to feel the special atmosphere of those years. 30 years of hiding, waiting in the shadows, eating sandwiches, drinking beers, smoking to take care of hands and mind. These whole days of interminable waiting with equipment weighing more than 15 kilos at hand. Two cameras in the era of film, when digital did not yet exist.


Daniel Angeli :We always had two cameras because we were shooting a lot, we were afraid of missing THE perfect shot and the film rolled by at full speed. It’s not like today with digital. You can take as many photos as you want. We have inches of several gigas. But at the time, two devices were needed. In the event of a breakdown or if the film was finished, the second emergency device could be grabbed. We always kept two or three photos at the end of the film “just in case”, something would happen. “


Daniel Angeli, 2010 – 2016: from the street to the museum.

In 2010, Daniel Angeli published a book of photos full of anecdotes, “Private Lives” (at Editions Grund), prefaced by Raymond Depardon, in which he reviews his career in detail. And then comes this endowment fund project. Daniel is the founder.


Daniel Angeli : “I have four children who are very close. The two sisters and the two brothers are not from the same siblings but they get along wonderfully. Everyone has a role, president, secretary, which creates a synergy and brings an innovative look on the part of the children on my photos: Charlotte with the artistic part, César the eldest son who wants to ensure the sustainability of the images, Caroline who directs the expos. They all have ideas. It is a living force for me because my children are very active. There is a transmission taking place. “

Charlotte : “If d tomorrow we lose our father, we will always have the images that speak of him. The paparazzi photo entered the museum and as a result, now possibly recognized as a work of art, our project was unassailable. “

Daniel Angeli : We choose a photo. Each time I tell Charlotte the story surrounding this photo. She then takes this story into account to imagine how she will paint over it, the goal being to make an exhibition. “


The concept is as follows: it is about giving a second life to the photos taken by the father. Father and daughter select photos. Then the girl takes her brushes and dresses the photo with acrylic paint. Two exhibition projects are underway: one which will take place in Saint-Bath, the theme of which is that of the unseen landscapes of the island, the other around people.


Daniel Angeli : ” VS The photos that have been seen and reviewed suddenly take on a whole new dimension with what my daughter does on them. “

Charlotte : “It’s complicated to take a picture of daddy and paint on it: in ten years I can’t see myself hearing my children say to me” hey mum, I’m going to take one of your canvases and paint over it “! IThere is a need to balance these two intermingling arts: art and photography. There is a very long choice to be made. The world of Art is hungry for anecdotes and legends about stars. This gives new life to my father’s photos. “


Charlotte shows us one of her paintings: on a photo of Chagall and his wife taken by Daniel Angeli, she painted elements drawn from the paintings of the famous painter.


Daniel Angeli : It is thanks to a stroke of luck that I was able to take this photo. I worked on Travolta and had rented a boat in Cap d’Antibes. I hear lapping around the boat and I recognize the painter swimming around my boat. I made two images. “

Charlotte : We made a black and white photo print from a color negative at the base and I pasted this reproduction on a zinc plate. “

Daniel Angeli : These are photos that have a story and she treats them with her art. “

Charlotte : Chagall always put a blue bird on his paintings, so I painted one in the photo. I have a bit of the nerve to do Chagall on Chagall: you have to consider it not as a copy but as a wink. “

This is exactly the idea of the father and the daughter. Tell the story of the photo through painting.


Street photos by the window…


More and more smoke pervades the room. I get up to take a break. I walk over to the open living room window and lean in to see the view. From the apartment we can see the top of the Eiffel Tower and the rooftops of Paris. At the foot of the building, a bus stop, a letter box, a pedestrian crossing. At the foot of the window, on the floor, Daniel Angeli’s photo equipment. It is from there that, on the small balcony, he photographs the street and its anonymous passers-by.

Daniel Angeli : “I need to take pictures. I am not really retired. I have been a still photographer on films. I do the news of Mylène Demongeot. I started taking thousands of photos from the street. I have 10,000 in my computer. I photograph people in the street. I have the impression of taking myself for Cartier Bresson, but with an eye of the 5th. What I do there allows me to kill boredom. I photograph the loneliness of old people like I am a bit of a part of it and sometimes funny situations. Myresearch is more of a showdown. There is a risk, but if someone recognizes themselves, the photo will be removed. The art world is a protection: this is the case with war photographers. What I do is risky but it excites me. It’s the way people dress that is fascinating. The bus stop is a very funny thing because sometimes you only see the feet sticking out and depending on the season, the clothes change. I have a fisherman who walked past my house. In the heart of the La Défense district! J‘ve done “Private Lives”, now I’m doing “Public Lives”: while stealing images. What I like is stealing images. “


7:30 p.m. We arrived at 3:00 p.m. Over four hours of sharing, chatting like old friends over coffee. It’s time to say goodbye. We are exhausted but so happy. We leave each other kissing, happy to have shared this exceptional moment, welcomed with so much generosity. Daniel is on the phone for an interview. We are still chatting a little on the pallet with Charlotte and Elisa whom we thank from the bottom of our hearts for all this time given to two complete strangers. We promise to meet again, to have dinner together one evening. We are already two floors down the staircase with the soft carpet covering the wooden steps when we hear Daniel Angeli calling us. He hung up the phone. We go up quickly. “So, what did you think of my daughter’s paintings?” “. Daniel Angeli is certainly a photographer, but above all a father.


Mini Proust questionnaire:

iCity : A place on Earth?

Daniel Angeli : Saint Bart…


iCity : The best scoop of recent years?

Daniel Angeli : Holland in helmet leaving Julie Gayet’s place.


iCity : The most important value in your eyes?

Daniel Angeli : Respect for space private. I have never shot someone at his house or a child. I was in a public space all the time: the street, the water …