Riviera Cocktail

Edward Quinn - Photographer - Nice


In the 1950s, the Côte d’Azur was host to a social and cultural spectacle of unparalleled grandezza. Film stars, ex-Kings and minor royalty, starlets, painters, gamblers, shipping tycoons, directors, politicians, pin-up girls, producers, writers, prima donnas, stars of the French chanson, and opera divas transformed the postwar French Riviera into a sparkling “cocktail”, which can still be enjoyed today thanks to the legacy of photographer Edward Quinn (1920-1997).

With the perfect blend of persistence and discretion, Quinn spent over a decade exploring the social jungle on the Côte d’Azur and unearthing incomparable gems in this epicentre of high life, big business, art, music and literature. His all-embracing, exciting and stirring record of life on the Riviera includes 140,000 negatives, thousands of contact sheets and as many prints in all formats.

Edward Quinn - Riviera Cocktail exploits the entire spectrum of the photographer’s Côte d’Azur chronicles, the rich holdings of the Edward Quinn Archive, and the equally rich experience, knowledge, passion and humour of “Ted’s” widow Gret Quinn. The result is a filmed history of society, photography and art spanning an entire era and including protagonists like Brigitte Bardot, Marlon Brando, Maurice Chevalier, Jean Cocteau, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Kim Novak, Frank Sinatra and, especially, Pablo Picasso. Over a period of 20 years, Edward Quinn recorded every conceivable facet of Picasso’s life and art.

From the start, Gret Quinn was her husband’s indispensable partner, not only processing the images but also managing the archive, which includes “stars” from Aimée, Anouk to Zanuck, Darryl, representatives of “culture” from Aragon, Louis to Warhol, Andy, and “celebrities” from Adenauer, Konrad to Zita, ex-Empress of Austria. The film begins its journey through the 1950s with the Edward Quinn Archive and its multi-faceted holdings that testify to the visual and emotional potential of Quinn’s photographs. Film footage about and with Edward Quinn is excerpted from a television documentary by the filmmaker, made three years before the photographer’s death. The footage eloquently demonstrates the skill, tact and diplomacy that led to Quinn’s unrivalled status on the Riviera.

RIVIERA COCKTAIL is a journey through time with Edward and Gret Quinn; it is also, in a sense, a music film that even integrates footage of Franco Ambrosetti and the group ”European Legacy” improvising the film score while watching Quinn’s work on screen; their sound is as contemporary as it is nostalgic, capturing the era now known as the “Golden Fifties”.


Edward Quinn, 1920 - 1997

Edward Quinn was born in Dublin in 1920. During the Second World War he made a living playing the guitar and singing with a band in Belfast. He later joined the Royal Air Force, became a navigator and flew missions for the Berlin Airlift.

After the war he worked as navigator for various charter airlines, while teaching himself the ropes as a photographer in his spare time. On one of his flights he met his future wife Gret, from Switzerland, and moved in with her in Monaco, where he began working as a professional photographer for various agencies and newspapers. From then on he lived on the Côte d’Azur, the playground in the Golden Fifties of stars, managers, nobility and artists, capturing on celluloid such celebrities as Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, Aristotle Onassis and many more. His friendship with Pablo Picasso began in 1951 and lasted until the artist’s death in 1973. The extensive body of photographs that emerged during those two decades led to numerous exhibitions, books and films on Picasso. In the 1960s, Quinn devoted himself more and more to working with artists, including Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali and David Hockney. Similar to his relationship with Picasso, Quinn also enjoyed extended, close contact with Georg Baselitz, whom he met in the late 1980s.