Jacques Legare, Belgian-American Photographer (c. 1938–1989)

Trove of negatives attributed to obscure late Belgian photographer


NEW YORK, AUGUST 16, 2006 (AP): A trunk, part of the contents of a repossessed storage unit in Paterson, New Jersey, was  found to contain camera equipment and thousands of negatives from the work of little-known Belgian photographer Jacques Legare. Legare traveled extensively in the United States in the 1970's and died in New York in 1989 after being struck by a delivery truck on Canal Street.


Details of Legare’s life are sketchy. He apparently lived in New York for a short time before spending most of the 1970s traveling extensively through the American South. returning to New York by the end of the decade. His whereabouts after that remain unknown until his death in 1989. He also apparently traveled through South America, as evidenced by some of the discovered negatives.


A suburban New York man discovered the trove of negatives at the bottom of a box of camera equipment that he won in an auction in Paterson, New Jersey. Stephen Kling, 54, of Larchmont, New York said, "I was excited I got a bargain on an old camera. I never heard of Jacques Legare. He’s a complete unknown, at least as far as I know.”


Legare’s work is a window into a vanished world of the late Sixties and beyond, of people in transition between the old and new. Many surprising details of traditional life are apparent—a girl washing clothes by hand, for instance—but modern life is seen to be taking hold and leaving the past behind (a photo of an ordinary street scene featuring a blood-streaked butcher at a soon-to-be-obsolete telephone booth in the Manhattan Meatpacking district).


Little is known of Legare’s personal life, not even if he was married or had a family. It is unknown how he supported himself while photographing, though some of the photos suggest he may have worked for a time in a commercial kitchen. The storage unit fee was automatically deducted from a savings account he had established in 1988. It was only recently that the funds in that account were finally depleted, according to Leonard Samp, manager of Big City Storage in Paterson.


© 2016 Jacques Legare Photographic Trust, LLC