Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Sartre Shooting a Gun in Their First Photo Together (1929)


In late 2012, an exhibition called Shoot! Existential Photography was held in London. And it traced the history of an unusual attraction that started appearing in European fairgrounds after World War I — the photographic shooting gallery. It worked something like this: A contestant paid a little money, and tried to hit the center of a target with a gun. If he or she hit the target, a camera took a photo, and instead of winning a little toy, the contestant received a snapshot of him or herself shooting the gun. According to the exhibition, this side-show “fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Man Ray and Lee Miller.” You can see a gallery of photos here. But above, we have a picture of de Beauvoir and Sartre at the shooting gallery together. Taken at the Porte d’Orléans fairground in Paris in June, 1929 — the same year the young philosophers met — this photograph is, according to the blog Avec Beauvoir, the couple’s first picture together. Do note that de Beauvoir apparently hit the target with her eyes closed. You can click the image to see it in a larger format.

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