Born in Paris in 1912, Doisneau never completely detached himself from this city. It was his hunting ground, ready to be used, his chosen source of images and emotions. Paris was his world, photography his pretext, curiosity his driving force and lightness his style: nobody else could take such unforgettable photographs, capturing an imperceptible moment of balance, the fruit his rare mastery and its relentless cultivation.
Retrospective exhibits a selection of 70 prints, a set of famous images chosen for the most part from his atelier. It 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 more complex than his reputation suggests.
Robert Doisneau Born in 1912 in a northern suburb of Paris, Robert Doisneau grew up in a Petit bourgeois world he never really loved but from which he never completely detached himself. After finishing his studies he became a draughtsman at Atelier Ullman. In 1931 he was engaged as an assistant by André Vigneau. In 1934 he was employed at the Renault factories: he left this job in 1939 to join the celebrated Rapho photography agency. Between engagements he roamed the streets of Paris and the suburb where he was born. Thanks to the intellectual Robert Giraud, whom he met in 1947, he gained access to the night life of a world which was far from his own and, perhaps for this very reason, completely fascinated him. His first book, a joint project with Blaise Cendrars, La Banlieu de Paris, was published in 1949. Success soon followed; his photos became known all over the world and perhaps reluctantly, he became, the “portraitist” of a city, Paris, and of a world part real, part invented, in which it would be beautiful to live. Until 1994, the year of his demise, he lived with his camera as his constant companion, curious about this little theatre in which he was an actor.