Robert Doisneau Art Prints

Robert Doisneau immortalised Paris in black and white, its suburbs, streets, cafés and inhabitants. He photographed the private, working-class Paris, and yet he was born into a middle-class family in Gentilly on 14 April 1912. He studied Graphic Arts at the Ecole Estienne and was awarded his diploma as an engraver-lithographer in 1929. He was trained in photography by André Vigneau and sold his first photographic report on the Paris flea markets in 1932 to the Excelsior. He married Pierrette Chaumaison, with whom he had two daughters, Annette and Francine. After a negative experience as an industrial photographer for Renault at Boulogne-Billancourt, he decided in 1939 to become a freelance photographer-illustrator. In 1946, he became a freelance photographer for the well-known agency, having been an active member of the Resistance during the Second World War. Within the Rapho agency, where he remained throughout his life, Robert Doisneau produced photographic reports on a wide variety of subjects, such as topical events in Paris and the suburbs, working-class Paris, the provinces and even abroad. Robert Doisneau published thirty albums, including La Banlieue de Paris (The Paris Suburbs). Doisneau sold his photos to several magazines but remained a permanent contributor to Vogue from 1949 to 1952. A photographer of the ephemeral, Robert Doisneau had a particular affection for the trivial, as we can see in L’information scolaire (Scholastic Information) or Les enfants de la place Hébert (Children in the Place Hébert). Robert Doisneau joined the Groupe des XV during the 1950’s. Alongside Willy Ronis and other artists, he tried to promote photography as art. He won a number of prizes, including the Kodak Prize in 1947, the Niepce Prize in 1956 and, later, the “Grand Prix de la Photographie” in 1983 and the Balzac Prize in 1986. He continued to photograph anonymous passers-by and also a few personalities such as Picasso, Braque and Giacometti. Alongside this work, to earn an income, Robert Doisneau completed a considerable number of industrial and advertising commissions. But it was his personal work that brought him huge international success during the last ten years of his life. His black and white photos were shown at a large number of exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art in 1992. This was to be his last: he died in Montrouge on 1st April 1994. Robert Doisneau’s photographs may be found in the collections of the world’s greatest museums; at the MOMA in New York in 1951. In 2007, over 400,000 people visited the Robert Doisneau Paris en liberté exhibition at the Paris Town Hall.

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