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Richard Kalvar
Richard Kalvar

Richard Kalvar

Country: United States
Birth: 1944

Richard Kalvar (born 1944) is an American photographer who has been associated with Magnum Photos since 1975. Kalvar was born in Brooklyn, New York. A trip to Europe in 1966 with a Pentax camera given him by French fashion photographer Jérôme Ducrot (with whom Kalvar worked in New York as an assistant) inspired him to become a photographer. On his return to New York he worked at Modernage photo lab. Two years later he moved to Paris and joined Agence Vu photography agency.

Kalvar has worked around the world, especially in England, France, Italy, Japan and the United States and has had a solo exhibition at Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.

Source: Wikipedia


Ambiguity is at the forefront of Richard Kalvar’s photography. Kalvar, who describes context as the “enemy”, seeks mystery and multiple meaning through surprising framing and meticulous timing. He describes his approach as “more like poetry than photojournalism – it attacks on the emotional level.”

Kalvar has published a number of solo books: Portrait de Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 1993; Earthlings (Terriens), 2007; Drôles de vie!, 2008; Richard Kalvar: Photo Poche, 2018; Richard Kalvar: Photofile (the English-language version of Photo Poche), 2019; and Magnum, la Storia, le Immagini: Richard Kalvar, 2019. He has had important exhibitions in the US, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, and has participated in multiple group books and exhibitions in America and Europe, notably Centre Pompidou Album Photographique 1, 1979, L’Usine, 1987, and in several Magnum books, most recently Magnum Contact Sheets, 2013, Magnum Analog Recovery, 2017 and Magnum Manifesto, 2017.

Kalvar’s work has appeared in Geo, The Paris Review, Creative Camera, Aperture, Zoom, Newsweek, and Photo, among many others. Editorial assignments and even commercial work have given Kalvar an additional opportunity to do personal photography. He did many documentary stories that allowed him to disengage from documentary mode when the occasion arose.

Kalvar joined Magnum as an associate member in 1975, and became a full member two years later. He subsequently served several times as vice president, and once as president of the agency.

Source: Magnum Photos


Kalvar has done extensive personal work in America, Europe and Asia, notably in France, Italy, England, Japan and the United States, supporting himself with journalistic and commercial assignments. He has a long-term unfinished project in progress in Rome.

In 1980, Kalvar presented a solo show at Agathe Gaillard gallery in Paris and has participated in many group shows. A major retrospective of his work was shown at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in 2007, accompanied by his book Earthlings. Kalvar’s photographs are marked by a strong homogeneity of aesthetic and theme. His images frequently play on a discrepancy between the banality of a real situation and the uncanny feeling that is produced by a particular choice of timing and framing. The result of his careful framing is a state of tension between two levels of interpretation, attenuated by a touch of humour.

Source: Sedition Art


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