Robert Doisneau: From Craft to Art. 2010.
Banlieue de Paris"/"Suburbs of Paris" (Martin Parr , The Photobook , vol 1, page 187/201. Andrew Roth , Book of 101 Books , page 132. 802 photo books from the M. + M. Auer collection , page 336). "Robert Doisneau (1912–1994) is one of the most important representatives of humanistic photography. For many years he has been looked upon as the minstrel of picturesque Paris, with a charming eye and a unique sense of the unexpected visual anecdote. As a result he has been championed as a poet of the "pure" moment. Doisneau`s oeuvre is however much deeper and complex than that reputation suggests. Contemplating his work as a whole, one discovers Doisneau`s pleasure in creating a language to capture the treasures of everyday life. The sensitivity and naturalism of his approach slowly reveal themselves: his images of the modest architecture of the Parisian suburbs for example display gravity, irony and even a degree of hard-heartedness. The Fondation Cartier-Bresson has organized an exhibition of around 100 original prints from Doisneau`s estate. From Craft to Art, the catalogue for the upcoming exhibition, presents these treasures alongside a new version of Jean-François Chevrier`s essay, first published in 1983, which explores Doisneau`s rare ability to capture "the shining melancholy that separates an individual from the crowd". (from the publisher) Co-published with Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris.***************
AVIGNON.- The Campredon Centre d'Art in Isle sur la Sorge, near Avignon, France, hosts the exhibition "From Art to Craft. Palm Springs, 1960" by the photographer Robert Doisneau, presenting hundreds of black and white images, many of them not shown before in public, together with documents, magazines and personal objects of the author selected by his daughter and the responsibles of his workshop. Next to these images, the exhibition shows other fifty color photographs from the book "Palm Springs", taken by Doisneau in 1960 commissioned by Fortune magazine and that still had not been exposed. The exhibition, which is done in collaboration with diChroma photography, opens on October 26 and will be open until February 8, 2014.
From Craft to Art exhibits a selection of about one hundred original prints, famous images set alongside some previously unseen in public, chosen for the most part from his atelier and from important private collections in France. This extensive selection, further enriched with personal documents and testimonies lovingly collected by the photographer’s daughter, provides us with an updated critical rereading, showing us how the apparent spontaneous beauty of his images was, in actual fact, the fruit of considerable work. In practical terms, Doisneau followed through from professional craft to artwork with unexpected seriousness, capturing fragments on film of a world to which he wished to bear witness. Robert Doisneau is one of the most important representatives of humanistic photography. For many years he has been looked upon as the minstrel of picturesque Paris, with a charming eye and a unique sense of the unexpected visual anecdote. As a result he has been championed as a poet of the "pure" moment. Doisneau's oeuvre is however much deeper and complex than that reputation suggests.
But aside from the streets of Paris, where he encountered and portrayed lovers and children, Doisneau also produced some remarkable and unexpected colour photographs. In 1960, the magazine Fortune engaged the French photographer to reveal the life of an exceptional city, born like a brilliantly coloured flower in the middle of the Californian desert: Palm Springs. Doisneau accepted the challenge and amid the desert sands, palms and cobalt blue sky, the noisy inhabitants' flashy attire, cocktails and golf courses, he created his own personal American dream, not in black and white but in an explosion of colour.
These images from the album Palm Springs 1960, reveal a little-known side of this great photographer and even the most seasoned experts will be surprised and carried away by a festive and ironic universe.
Besides, Doisneau always approached his work with a little self mockery, perhaps it was his antidote to the anguish of not being a jester, a tight-rope walker, a magician as he was too much of a realist: and here lies the paradox of one who wished to carry out his work like a street artist, with the chaste joy and fun of an artist malgré lui.
Born in 1912 in a northern suburb of Paris, Robert Doisneau grew up in a world he never wanted really but from which also himself never completely separated. After completing his studies he worked as a draftsman at the Atelier Ullmann and, in 1931, was hired as an assistant by the artist André Vigneau. In 1934 he worked as an industrial photographer and advertising in the Renault factory, but left this work five years later to join the famous photo agency Rapho. While working on their assignments, he walked the streets of Paris and the neighborhood where he was born. Thanks to journalist Robert Giraud, whom he met in 1947, Doisneau could enter the worlds of nightlife and the intellectuals whom he was away and, perhaps for this very reason, both fascinated him. His first book, a joint project with Blaise Cendrars, " The Banlieu de Paris" ( The suburbs of Paris), was published in 1949. After the great success of this book the photos of Doisneau started to be known around the world and he became, almost inadvertently, the "portraitist" of a city, Paris and of a world partly real and partly invented, in which would be nice to live. Until 1994, the year of his death, he lived with his camera as his constant companion, always looking with curiously at this small theater in which he was an actor.
Du métier à l'oeuvre
January 13 - April 18, 2010
Robert Doisneau has long been perceived as the bard of a ‘picturesque Paris’. A brilliant photo-illustrator, he knew better than anyone how to capture the pleasant image or the unexpected anecdote and was recognised for both his professionalism and the simple poetry of the spontaneous image. But Doisneau’s work is infinitely more complex.
The Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson is showing about 100 original prints chosen among the treasures of his archive and in various public and private collections. The images were shot between 1930 and 1966 in Paris and in its suburbs. This reinterpretation aims to show how Robert Doisneau went “from craft to art”, with an unsuspected gravity, by recording on the negative the world he wanted to inscribe for ever.
The catalogue, published by Steidl, begins with an introduction by Agnès Sire, curator of the exhibition and a revised version of Jean-François Chevrier’s essay, first published in 1983, which explores Doisneau’s work. This book introduces a new vision of the famous photographer who claimed to photograph to survive. ‘This feeling of the inadequacy of the photographic record [which] is fundamental in an art proceeding from emotion’, combined with a need for realism, is what gives Doisneau’s pictures their strength.
There was a real bond between him and Henri Cartier-Bresson; if they were equally childlike in their joking, they were just as ready to consult each other on professional questions. ‘Our friendship is lost in the darkness of time’, wrote Cartier-Bresson in 1995. ‘We will no longer have his laugh, full of compassion, nor his hard-hitting retorts, so funny and profound. Never told twice: each time a surprise. But his deep kindness, his love for all beings and for a simple life will always exist in his work’. They did not have the same conception of photography, given the difficulty of ‘conjugating’ Doisneau’s ‘imperfect of the objective’ (imparfait de l’objectif) with the ‘imagination, from life’ (imaginaire d’après nature) of Cartier-Bresson, who was more inclined to rigour, influenced by painting and drawing and averse to reframing.
Robert Doisneau was born in 1912 in the Paris suburb of Gentilly, where he grew up in the dull environment of a middle class family. At 15 he entered the Ecole Estienne where he studied engraving and lithography. After graduating he started designing labels and advertising for pharmaceutical products. In 1931 he became camera assistant to the sculptor André Vigneau. After that, he spent five years as a salaried employee at Renault factories and joined the Rapho Agency. Between two assignments, he keeps wandering around Paris and its suburbs, fascinated by this “little theatre”. He met the poet Robert Giraud in 1947 and trough him became familiar with the night world, tramps, bars, les Halles… His first book, concocted with Blaise Cendrars, La Banlieue de Paris is published in 1949.
Doisneau always took an ironic approach to his work, which for him was only an antidote to the anxiety of not being. Juggler, tightrope walker, illusionist to achieve even more realism: such is the deceptive paradox of someone who wanted to ‘carry off his tricks like the sidewalk artists’, with the modest lucidity of an artist in spite of himself.
Wie kent Doisneau niet? Frans klassieker en de fotograaf van ‘De kus voor Hotel de Ville’. Een van die foto’s die als poster heel wat muren heeft gesierd.
Doisneau is een meester in het op een aangename manier laten zien van het mooie in de mens. Hij maakte foto’s van het uitgaansleven, kinderen, verliefde stellen, gekke bruidjes en alles wat je verder aan hartverwarmends tegenkomt. In de loop der jaren hebben zijn foto’s als extra een mooi nostalgisch randje gekregen. In dit boek vind je de kus eens niet, evenmin als een aantal andere evergreens die hij op zijn naam kon schrijven.
Dit boek geeft een breder beeld van zijn werk en dan blijkt lang niet alles geschikt voor aan de muur. Doisneau heeft zich niet alleen laten meevoeren door romantiek, plezier, vermaak en humor, maar ook door minder aangename emoties. Zo is een aantal foto’s uit de oorlogstijd opgenomen, bijvoorbeeld van voor bombardementen schuilende Parijzenaars. We zien ook foto’s van zwervers, waarvan één door zijn humor uiteindelijk toch bekendheid heeft gekregen. De armoede tijdens en na de oorlog speelt in dit boek een grote rol.
We zien niet alleen een groter palet aan emoties, het is ook lang niet altijd zo licht verteerbaar gefotografeerd als we van hem gewend zijn. Inhoud gaat vaak boven vorm, al herken je overal minstens een beetje zijn hang naar het pittoreske.
Dat geldt voor het boek zelf niet, dat heel fraai is uitgegeven. Met de stoffen kaft, het rode lintje erin, en het crèmekleurige papier zou je denken een uitgave van een halve eeuw geleden in handen te hebben. De relatief recente teksten en de geweldige Tritonedrukkwaliteit van de kleine fotootjes verraden dat het van nu moet zijn.
Cachan, 1948 © Atelier Robert Doisneau
Soccer, Choisy le Roi, 1945 © Atelier Robert Doisneau
African Games, 1945 © Atelier Robert Doisneau
The Melted Car, 1944 © Atelier Robert Doisneau
Le nez au carreau, 1953 © Atelier Robert Doisneau
Tati's Bike, 1949 © Atelier Robert Doisneau
Robert Doisneau by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, 1986 © Magnum Photos