Serge Gainsbourg Fêted in Photos and Film

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A disillusioned painter, Serge Gainsbourg became one of the most influential singer/songwriters of the 1960s, ‘70s, and ’80s by putting real yet provocative thoughts about sex, life, and death to song. Lover of Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, father of actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg — with whom he recorded the bizarre but supposedly punning duet “Lemon Incest” — and composer of popular tunes for Petula Clark, Juliette Greco, and Dionne Warwick, Gainsbourg had a keen eye for photography and worked with some of the best practitioners of the medium in his day.

Coinciding with the European release of graphic novelist and filmmaker Joann Sfar’s biopic Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) , Fifty One Fine Art Photography in Antwerp, Belgium chose to celebrate its tenth anniversary with an exhibition of photographs by William Klein, JL Sieff, Tony Frank, Helmut Newton, Pierre Terrasson, Claude Gassian, Bert Stern, Alain Trellu, and others of the chain-smoking, serious-drinking, and wildly womanizing Gainsbourg. In the pictures and film, the man behind the ultimate love song, “Je t’aime…moi non plus,” which was censored by radio stations and criticized by the Pope for its explicit lyrics and simulated female orgasm (by Birkin), goes from ravishing young dude to helpless old drunk — a tragic tale of life in the fast lane during rebellious times.

Click through the gallery of Gainsbourg images, the UK film trailer, and multiple clips from the movie.

Tony Frank, Serge in a striped shirt on Rue de Verneuil ,1969. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Tony Frank

Claude Gassian, Serge Gainsbourg, 1988. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Claude Gassian

Claude Gassian, Serge Gainsbourg, 1988. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Claude Gassian

William Klein, Love on the beat , 1984. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © William Klein

Claude Gassian, Serge & Jane, Paris, 1974. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Claude Gassian

Alain Trellu, Serge Gainsbourg & Marianne Faithfull, London, 1982. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Alain Trellu

Claude Gassian, Serge Gainsbourg, Paris, 1989. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Claude Gassian

Tony Frank, Serge fumant (Serge smoking), 1969. Courtesy Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp. © Tony Frank