Robert Doisneau






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        Biography
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        Robert Doisneau is one of France's most noted photographers. He is noted for the many playful and unsupposing images chronicling everyday French life. His prolific outbook over the course of several decades provides us a marvelous record of French life. His images don't seek to overcome the viewer. They are often modest in scope and playful. He is at his best with people. His images of French childhood are especially brilliant. He was influenced by the work of Kertesz, Atget, and Cartier-Bresson who also provided wonderful images of childhood. He published over 20 books providing realistic, but charming images of quiet, often personal moments in the lives of individuals. He wrote: "The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street."

        Accolades | Complete Biography | Childhood | Children | Education | Film Stock | New Gallery | Old Gallery
        Later Years Photography | Post War | Prints | Recipe | Revival | World War II


        Robert Doisneau
        Robert Doisneau
        Paris, 1992
        (Photo by Peter Hamilton - From Taschen 2013 Diary)

        • Born: 14 April 1912, Gentilly, Val-de-Marne, Paris
        • Died : 1 April 1994 (aged 81), Montrouge, Paris
        • Cause of death: Acute pancreatitis
        • Resting place: Raizeux

        • Education: École Estienne, 1929 graduate, diplomas in engraving and lithography
        • Known for: Street photography, Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (The Kiss by the Town Hall)
        • Title: Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour
        • Spouse(s): Pierrette (née Chaumaison)
        • Children: Annette (b.1942), Francine (b.1947)

        CHILDHOOD:

        Born Robert Doisneau. He studied engraving at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly, but found his training antiquated and useless upon graduation. Engraving had been a major activity before the development of photo lithography, but was much in demand after the turn of the 20th century. With his rather antiquated training, he had great difficulty obtaining work as a lithographer.

        PHOTOGRAPHY:

        Doisneau was exposed to photography in the advertising department of a pharmaceutical firm. He embraced this new-found interest in photography and largely taught himself. Outside of his job, he began to see photography as a medium for at first a hobby--recording every day life during his wanderings through the streets of Paris. He began photographing details of objects in 1930. He sold his first photo-story to the Excelsior newspaper in 1932.

        He was a camera assistant to the sculptor Andrei Vigneaux and did military service prior to taking a job as an industrial and advertising photographer for the Renault auto factory at Billancourt in 1934. He was fired in 1939 and was forced to try freelance advertising and postcard photography to earn his living. The postcards were a majot outlet for photgraphers at the time and France had Europe's largest industy. Post cards in the early 20th century served the purpose of modern greeting cards as well as vacation souvenirs, although this was changing in the 1930s. Doisneau was hired by the Rapho photo agency in 1939 and worked there for several months until the inset of World War II.

        WORLD WAR II:

        Doisneau was drafted in 1939. He was a member of the Resistance both as a soldier and as a photographer. While his training in engraving was not helpful in his attempts to get a job, it proved invluable to the Resistance. He used his engraving skills to forge passports and identification papers. He photographed the Occupation and Liberation of Paris. some of these images, especially of the liberation of Paris are photographic masterpieces. His classic photographs capture the exhilaration and joy of liberation in Paris like no other photographer.

        POST WAR PERIOD:

        Some of Doisneau's most remembered photographs were taken in the post-war era. He returned to freelance work and sold photographs to Life and other important international magazines. He joined the Alliance photo agency for a short time and began working with Rapho again in 1946. Against his better judgement Doisneau did high-society and fashion photography for Paris Vogue from 1948 to 1951. During his assignments with Vogue, the photographer became acquainted with high-society circles, for which, however, he did not have as much sympathy as he did for the common people in the streets. All through this period, however, he took realistic photographs of daily life on the streets of Paris. These are the photographs we remember him for and many of his high-society photographs are virtually forgotten. Certainly the appeal to the French was his ability to capture the simple joys of everyday life--so much more meaningful after the dark days of NAZI occupation.

        FILM STOCK:

        A French reader reports that after World War II the photographs taken by many Europeans were of poor quality. This was primarily because the film available was very poor quality. The devestation of the War had serious affected the photographic industry as well as most other industries. Doisneau's photographs, however, continued to be high quality. He probably has access to American film.

        REVIVAL:

        The photography of Robert Doisneau has enjoyed a revival in the last twenty years or so. Many of his portraits and photos of Paris from the end of World War II through the 1950's have been turned into calendars and postcards and have becomes icons of French life. Perhaps his most famous photograph is Kiss in front of the Palace of City Hall. This photograph has been reproduced by the millions and is perhaps the most famous French photograph. It became a symbol of young, boisterous love in Paris--of course the city most associated with love. The realism of Doisneau's photographs make a wonderful record of both style and lifestyle. In addition to his reportage photography, he has photographed many noted artists including Giacometti, Cocteau, Leger, Braque, and Picasso.

        THE RECIPE:

        Doisneau writes of his photography, "In fact there isn't any recipe - that would be too easy - but all these images that are growing old so gracefully were taken instinctively. I put all my trust in intuition, which contributes so much more than rational thought. This is a commendable approach, because you need courage to be stupid - it's so rare these days when there are so many intelligent people all over the place who've stopped looking because they're so knowledgeable. Yet that little extra something supplied by the model is precisely a `look,' like a legacy handed down to you from the distant past. It shoots straight along the optical axis and bores right through the photographer, the celluloid, the paper, and the viewer, like a laser beam scorching everything in its path, including, and a very good thing too, your critical faculties."

        CHILDREN:

        Some of Doisneau's most appealing photographs are those of French childhood--perhaps the best ever taken. He took photographs on the street as well as homes and schools. Some were candid. Others were posed. As he photographed extensively from the 1930s-50s, his photographs record not only the texture of French, but developing fashion patterns before, during, and after World War II. The images provide a wonderful record of the clothes worn by children during the period and and are a truly compelling pictorial history of the years they were shot in.

        ACCOLADES:

        Doisneau won the Prix Kodak in 1947. He was awarded the Prix Niepce in 1956 and acted as a consultant to Expo '67, Canada. A short film, Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, was made in 1973. Doisneau has been the subject of major retrospectives at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and the Witkin Gallery in New York City.

        LATER YEARS:

        Doisneau was in many ways a shy and unassuming man, rather like his photography. He lived in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. He died in 1994.

        Paul Page, December, 2012

        FURTHER READING:

        Robert Doisneau
        Cover

        Robert Doisneau: Paris: New Compact Edition

        Doisneau’s work immortalized the magic of Paris for posterity; this stunning compact edition, edited by the artist’s daughters, includes over six hundred photographs. Doisneau is celebrated for his ability to infuse images of daily life with poetic nuances that have brought enduring popular appeal to his photojournalism. This collection pairs aesthetically-composed photographs alongside snapshots that offer a more personal account of Doisneau’s Paris. Organized thematically, this book—unprecedented in scope—gives an entrancing tour through the gardens of Paris, along the Seine, and amid the crowds of Parisians who live in and define their bewitching city. "An enchanting cross-section of Parisian life by one of the photographers who best captured its many charms." — The New York Times, 2005

        Available: Amazon.com

        2013 DIARY:

        Robert Doisneau
        Cover

        Paris 2013 Diary (Taschen Diaries)

        The Doisneau photos in this diary are so beautiful that many people actually re-use them as mini prints. That is the kind of quality they are though as they are made by Taschen you would expect the highest quality. These Taschen diaries are also easy to use, spiral bound and well laid out...

        More + Extensive Scans: Here

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        Gallery
        R O B E R T  D O I S N E A U


        Robert Doisneau Book Covers
        Book Cover Scans o Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Musician in the Rain by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Paris, 1950 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        La Pendule, Paris, c.1957 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Jacques Prevert Paris, 1955 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        La Cavalerie du Champs de Mars by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Les Ecoliers Curieux by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Les Pains de Picasso, c.1952 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Le Peintre du Pont des Arts, c.1953 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        La Dent by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Le Chiffon de l'Ardoise by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Les Jambes du Métro, Paris, 1971 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Fontaine Wallace by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Child, Cat and Dove by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Concierge with Spectacles by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Menilmontant, Paris 1956 by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        La Derniere Valse du 14 Juillet, 1949 by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Lapin au champ de mars by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Les Chiens de la Chapelle by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        L’information scolaire by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        L'Enfer, 1952 by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Optical Distortion, Paris, 1965 by Robert Doisneau
        © Estate of Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        La Tour Eiffel En Liberté, 1969 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        The Children of Place Hebert, 1957 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Le Ruban de la Mariee by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Venus Grabbed by the Throat, 1964 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Cabriolet, France, 1936 by Robert Doisneau
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        Robert Doisneau
        Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville, Paris, 1950 by Robert Doisneau
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        These prints are available at allposters.com

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        Recommended Reading
        R O B E R T  D O I S N E A U


        Robert Doisneau: Paris: Les Halles Market

        Doisneau's photographs of the now vanished Les Halles evoke nostalgia for the days when the vast market, which sprawled haphazardly over the center of the city, was known as the belly of Paris. Once alive with the cries of fruit-sellers, fish-vendors, butchers, and florists, the scent of brightly-colored flower bouquets intermingling with wafts of freshly baked bread, and heaving with swarms of market-goers, today there is no trace of the nine-hundred-year-old market place that used to stand in the center of Paris at Les Halles. The immense Baltard Pavilions were torn down in 1971 to make way for a modern underground shopping precinct, but Parisians still hold a special affection for days gone by when, to borrow an expression used by Émile Zola, the bustling markets formed the belly of their city.

        One such Parisian in particular was Robert Doisneau, one of the best loved French photographers of all time. Driven by his relentless curiosity and a sense of social conscience, Doisneau paced the Pavilions and their neighboring streets at length, and here he captured the heart of daily life at Les Halles. Many of Doisneau's romantic photographs have become iconic representations of twentieth-century Paris, but this volume exhibits some of his lesser-known but nonetheless extraordinary works. He had an uncanny capacity for capturing poetry in ordinary moments: a smiling fruit-seller bellows from behind a pyramid of oranges, while a fish-vendor hauls a cart of gigantic fish past a mountain of flower bouquets ready to grace Parisian dinner tables, which you can virtually smell.

        Doisneau has immortalized the bustling magic of Les Halles in his bold and busy photographs. Coinciding with the long-awaited redevelopment of this area that began in 2011, this volume plunges the reader back through time to the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the vanished era of Doisneau's Les Halles, whilst commentary from the photographers personal notebooks places his images in their economic and political context.

        Available: Amazon.co.uk

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