Charlie Chaplin is the founder of modern comedy, one of the most influential performing artists and film directors of the 20th century. His comical image with bowler hat, bamboo cane and small moustache is well known and deeply rooted worldwide. The recipient of a Special Oscar in 1928 for The Circus and an Academy Honorary Award in 1972, Chaplin made an immeasurable contribution to the development of film in the 20th century. He himself was a famous pacifist and social activist.
The Charles Chaplin photographic archive was entrusted to the Musée de l’Elysée in January 2011 by the Chaplin Association and Roy Export SAS. Some 20,000 negatives, prints and original albums cover 60 years of the professional and private life of the filmmaker. The collection includes production and set stills, as well as travel albums and portraits by well-known photographers such as James Abbe, Edward Steichen and Richard Avedon. The Musée de l’Elysée benefited from the collaboration of Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna which digitized and made available Chaplin photographic and paper archive.
In October 2015, at the invitation of Mrs. Tatyana Franck, director of the Musée de l’Elysée, Mr. Budi Tek, founder of Yuz Museum, attended a seminar in Lausanne, Switzerland. When visiting the Collections’space of the Musée de l’Elysée, Mr. Budi Tek found the curators studying precious original photographs of Chaplin and doing restoration work. The collection testifies as much to the evolution of Chaplin’s famous tramp, a mischievous dandy but a great charmer, at the beginning of his career, as to the artist at work. Some photos also show that Chaplin visited China and Bali, which coincides with Mr. Budi Tek’s background. Charlie Chaplin is beloved to Chinese audiences. Recalling this comedy master through his photographic archive and related contemporary artworks, Mr. Budi Tek believes it will enable the audience to have a better understanding about why the characters Chaplin created transcend time and become classics. His remarkable vision of cinematic art and his open-minded spirit of exploration still have far-reaching impact and enlightening significance even today. The Yuz Museum team immediately decided to collaborate with the Musée de l’Elysée and started preparations for the exhibition.