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René Burri
René Burri

René Burri

Country: Switzerland
Birth: 1933 | Death: 2014

René Burri is a Swiss photographer known for his photos of major political, historical and cultural events and key figures of the second half of the 20th century. Burri worked for Magnum Photos and has been photographing political, military and artistic figures and scenes since 1946. He has made portraits of Che Guevara and Pablo Picasso as well as iconic pictures of São Paulo and Brasília.

Burri studied in Zurich, Switzerland at the School of Applied Arts from 1949 to 1953, where he worked under Hans Finsler, Alfred Willimann and Johannes Itten. From 1953 to 1955 he began working as a documentary filmmaker while completing military service. During this time he also began working with Leica cameras. Then he worked for Disney as a cameraman until 1955. From 1956 to 1959 he traveled extensively to places including Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Brazil, and Japan, which led to publications in Life, Look, Stern, Paris-Match, Epoca, and New York Times, as well as a photographic essay "El Gaucho" which appeared in Du.

Burri first began working with Magnum Photos in 1955 through Werner Bischof, becoming a full member in 1959 and being elected chair of Magnum France in 1982. His first report "Touch of Music for the Deaf" on deaf-mute children was published by Life. In 1965 he assisted with the creation of Magnum Films which lead to his work on the Magnum-BBC joint production of, The Two Faces of China. In 1967 he produced a documentary on the Six-Day War in Jerusalem for German television. He produced the film Jean Tinguely in 1972.

In 1963 Burri was working in Cuba when he was able to photograph the revolutionary Che Guevara; these images of Guevara smoking a cigar have become iconic. Notably, after taking the photos, Burri remembers Guevara "scaring the hell out of him". Describing a situation where an angry Che was pacing his tiny office like "a caged tiger", while being interviewed by an American woman from Look. While "hectoring" the reporter and "chomping on his cigar", Che suddenly looked Burri straight in the eye and told him "if I catch up with your friend Andy, I'll cut his throat" (while slowly drawing his finger across his neck). Andy was Andrew St. George, a fellow Magnum photographer, who had travelled with Che in the Sierra Maestra, and then later filed reports for American intelligence.

Source: Wikipedia


René Burri studied at the School of Applied Arts in his native city of Zurich, Switzerland. From 1953 to 1955 he worked as a documentary film-maker and began to use a Leica while doing his military service.

Burri became an associate of Magnum in 1955 and received international attention for one of his first reportages, on deaf-mute children, Touch of Music for the Deaf, published in LIFE magazine.

In 1956, he traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East and then went to Latin America, where he made a series on the Gauchos that was published by Du magazine in 1959. It was also for this Swiss periodical that he photographed artists such as Picasso, Giacometti, and Le Corbusier.

He became a full member of Magnum in 1959, and started work on his book Die Deutschen, published in Switzerland in 1962, and by Robert Delpire the following year with the title Les Allemands.

In 1963, while working in Cuba, he photographed Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara during an interview with an American journalist. His images of the famous revolutionary with his cigar appeared around the world.

Burri participated in the creation of Magnum Films in 1965 and afterwards spent six months in China, where he made the film The Two Faces of China produced by the BBC. He opened the Magnum Gallery in Paris in 1962, while continuing his activities as a photographer; at the same time, he made collages and drawings.

In 1998, Burri won the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize from the German Association of Photography. A big retrospective of his work was held in 2004-2005 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and toured many other European museums.

René Burri passed away at the age of 81 on October 20, 2014.

Source: Magnum Photos

 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

William Henry Fox Talbot
United Kingdom
1800 | † 1877
William Henry Fox Talbot was born on 11 February 1800 in Melbury, Dorset, into a well-connected family. His father died when he was less than a year old and he and his mother lived in a succession of homes until she remarried in 1804. Talbot went to Cambridge University in 1817. In 1832, he married Constance Mundy and the same year was elected as MP for Chippenham. In 1833, while visiting Lake Como in Italy, his lack of success at sketching the scenery prompted him to dream up a new machine with light-sensitive paper that would make the sketches for him automatically. On his return to England, he began work on this project at his home at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. Thomas Wedgwood had already made photograms - silhouettes of leaves and other objects - but these faded quickly. In 1827, Joseph Nicéphore de Niepce had produced pictures on bitumen, and in January 1839, Louis Daguerre displayed his 'Daguerreotypes' - pictures on silver plates - to the French Academy of Sciences. Three weeks later, Fox Talbot reported his 'art of photogenic drawing' to the Royal Society. His process based the prints on paper that had been made light sensitive, rather than bitumen or copper-paper. Fox Talbot went on to develop the three primary elements of photography: developing, fixing, and printing. Although simply exposing photographic paper to the light produced an image, it required extremely long exposure times. By accident, he discovered that there was an image after a very short exposure. Although he could not see it, he found he could chemically develop it into a useful negative. The image on this negative was then fixed with a chemical solution. This removed the light-sensitive silver and enabled the picture to be viewed in bright light. With the negative image, Fox Talbot realised he could repeat the process of printing from the negative. Consequently, his process could make any number of positive prints, unlike the Daguerreotypes. He called this the 'calotype' and patented the process in 1841. The following year was rewarded with a medal from the Royal Society for his work. Fox Talbot was also an eminent mathematician, an astronomer and archaeologist, who translated the cuneiform inscriptions from Nineveh. He died on 11 September 1877. Source: BBC
Jean-Daniel Lorieux
French artist, Jean-Daniel Lorieux, is one of the masters of photography of his generation, earning much respect in the realm of fashion photography. Jean-Daniel Lorieux, was born on January 21st 1937 in the 16e arrondissement of Paris. He is the great-grandson of Théodore-Marie Lorieux, vice-president of the Conseil Général des Ponts et Chaussées and Jules Goüin. He studied engineering with the Jesuits at "L'école Arts et Métiers" in Paris and then went to the "Cours Simon". (Theatre) He did his military service in Algeria alongside the spahis as a photographer/filmmaker - in charge of photographing the corpses of rebels slaughtered for identification in the region of Mostaganem. For a while he worked for the Studio Harcourt as an industrial photographer and he remembers it as being a real "photographic factory" with a Stakhanovite like tempo. He has been working as a photographer for twenty years with fashion magazines like Vogue and L'Officiel. He also worked with Andy Warhol at the Factory (Andy Warhol's New York City Studio). He launched the modeling career of Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz (Future wife of Nicolas Sarkozy), who then became his assistant. Friend of Bernadette and Claude Chirac, he directed the poster campaign of Jacques Chirac, then Prime Minister, for the legislative elections of 1988. Lorieux worked for the advertising campaigns of Dior, Lanvin, Rabanne, Ricci, Céline and Cardin, among others. He photographed many personalities like Jacques Chirac, Nelson Mandela, Mohamed V, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Charles Aznavour, David Lynch, Isabelle Adjani, Claudia Cardinale, Carla Bruni, Karen Mulder, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Milla Jovovich... In 2008, he worked on an exhibition on the theme "The Master and Marguerite" at the request of Russian billionaire Yevgeny Iakovlev, with Isabelle Adjani as Marguerite. He has also released a series of books and a documentary film, retracing the atypical path of the artist and his creative pursuits. In addition to photographic creations, Jean-Daniel Lorieux produces films and paintings that parallel his distinctive style of photography, making use of sharp lines, bold colors, and his signature highly contrasted visual compositions. His work has been exhibited worldwide but mostly in the United States and in Europe. He is also a Knight of the Order of the Arts and Letters (1997), a knight of the Legion d'Honneur (2003) and decorated of the Maintien de l'ordre for spending two years in Algeria during the war.
Michael Ackerman
Israel/United States
1967
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His family moves to New York in 1974. Lives and works in Warsaw. Since his first exhibition, in 1999, Michael Ackerman has made his mark by bringing a new, radical and unique approach. His work on Varanasi, entitled "End Time City," breaks away from all sorts of exoticism or any anecdotal attempt at description, to question time and death with a freedom granted by a distance from the panoramic – whose usage he renewed – to squares or rectangles. In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Michael Ackerman seeks – and finds – in the world he traverses, reflections of his personal malaise, doubts and anguish. He received the Nadar Award for his book "End Time City" in 1999, and the Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in 1998. In 2009, he won the SCAM Roger Pic Award for his series "Departure, Poland". 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Which also has a musical definition: The prolongation of a tone in one chord into the following chord, usually producing a temporary dissonance. This prolongation of tone, an ongoing search, gives the work continuity, as does the dissonance, which can be restlessness or loss. I won’t talk much here about the emotional drive behind the work, or the personal ramifications, but that’s my hesitation, not Michael’s. There’s a picture in Half Life of the photographer and a woman, both with shaved heads, a troubled mirroring, a last strange union. The photograph is a pact: see you now, see you later, so long... In the last few years, such goodbyes have given way to a series of welcomings, explorations of the concrete changes and dream states of immediate family, wife and child. These pictures, deeply caring but by necessity fearless, reverberate with bluntness, warmth, shock, matter of fact erotics, and of course love, which when regarded honestly, includes a steamer trunk of contradictions. So, there is fear mixed in with the fearlessness, the joy includes some trepidation, the innocence is utterly real, but tangled and fleeting. How disappointing it would be if a photographer so open to the wrenching truths of the world would suddenly pull all punches when faced with the most intimate situation of all. How unfortunate it would be, for all of us, if investigations of intimacy were left to the whitewashers and the advertisers, the puritans and the pornographers. And so, in the recent work, new tightropes are stretched and new risks are taken. But in looking back at Michael’s work as a whole, I’m reminded that one of the great challenges artists face is when to pull back from the proverbial edge - those addicted to pushing the envelope sometimes fall into a negative trap which has its own complacency. A kind or subtle or purely beautiful image might actually be the risk that they can’t seem to take. The walking of tightropes has always been integral to Michael’s work, but I don’t see him falling into that dark trap, which is why the work is thorny but never cynical, heavy but also sweet. Beyond all of that, I still don’t understand how the pictures happen, how he gets them. It certainly isn’t about the equipment, the cameras come and go, sometimes literally broken but still pressed into use. I think Michael feels that taking pictures and taking chances should be kindred enterprises. I’ve met few artists less uptight about the technology and intricacies of gear and production, though he does of course become completely intimate with what he needs in order to get at what he feels. Once I heard him suggest in a Q & A that he just doesn’t care about technique, but knowing the time and tortures he’s given over to darkroom work, I thought that was a touch disingenuous. He meant that technique and technology are never the core of the matter, and that he doesn’t like to be precious about them. And he needs accidents; they might reveal something, break something open. Sometimes they might go too far and the image itself is obliterated: again, necessary risk. I’ve seen him photograph without putting the camera to his eye, as if to confirm that what he was after wasn’t primarily even about seeing. (That too is deceptive; with time, some photographers know what the camera is getting, regardless of where it’s held). Maybe I mean that compared to many other photographers, Michael’s work isn’t so concerned with sight itself. If he could have been a writer, painter, or a musician, that might have worked too. In any case, the results speak for themselves, and the results are often kind of insane. Sadly, because of the madness of these photographs and the digital times we’ve entered, people increasingly assume that certain pictures must be computer manipulations. Michael is no purist, but that simply isn’t what is going on here. Do you see how it matters that even if these are accidents of light and the distorting lens, they are things that somehow happened, that were? They come out of the real; however unlikely or impossible, they are measurements - not constructions. They are measurements, but in the end, of the interior as much as of the world. But like I said, Michael’s not a purist, and in his impure searching, he occasionally walks a thin line between accepting pure actuality and giving it a nudge. We argue about it. I don’t know what to make of the picture where someone else’s old portrait of Anna Akhmatova is held up and rephotographed. I guess Michael wanted to invite her into that streetscape, felt she was part of his history or emotional landscape; maybe he just loved her profile and wondered, what the hell, why not? Sometimes the work is funny. The absurdly mismatched nude couple in the book aren’t funny but they are, as is the man who wears a monocle made of smoke. The Coney Island hotdog signs reading ‘Franks’ and the American flag they stutter towards comprise a whimsical tribute to one particular, beloved photographer; first name - Robert. Occasional whimsy aside though, Half Life is a rough ride through damaged places and situations. And what’s it like to be with Michael when he’s photographing such things? Well, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, or easy, or pleasant. Sometimes artists push their work, and their luck along with it. Sometimes Michael just plunges in. I was crossing the street with him on the Lower East side once when a woman suddenly appeared, coming towards us in the intersection. Something in her presence struck us instantly with force -- she might have been beautiful or she might have been mutilated -- we had no time to register anything; but he lunged and got off one picture as I stood by and winced. I doubt she noticed at all, but what if she had? (The picture is in Fiction; it appears to be of a ghost in a miniskirt, perhaps with a black eye.) Such pictures do not come out of discretion, or delicacy, or fair exchange. In many of Michael’s pictures mutual understanding simply may or may not have existed. There is a harshness to this observation; it troubles me, and yet I can say that Michael’s pictures are always, deeply made without judgment, in total acceptance. That in itself is a kind of love. And the subjects obviously extend him enormous trust. (Well... except when they don’t. Walking with Michael on a street in Krakow, he photographed another approaching woman, a middle-aged matron. She yelled angrily at him in Polish; he kept walking but yelled back, in Polish: “You’re beautiful.”) It is probably no accident then that the gesture of the embrace recurs again and again in Michael’s work. Which leads me to what may be my favorite set of pictures that Michael has taken, of the couple on the stairs: To what do we owe this strange and tender record ? And what is the record of? An older man and his young girlfriend collapsed in drunken surrender… or perhaps a father and son broken together on a subway staircase ? Who is holding who up? Was the man once a boxer? If the younger one is in fact a woman, is she his lover? The stairs are at once unyielding and rippling, bending and unbending. This couple, whatever their relationship and circumstance, are attended to then in a series of photographs, equally harsh and gentle, unwrapped over time. But what time is given - minutes, hours, or an unending day or an unending night? You can just about hear the tinny loudspeakers in the background of the train station, and thinking of stations, I am reminded that the 13th station is the descent from the cross. The actual circumstances, the truth of it, the year and the gender, hardly matter, don’t matter at all. At its best, the work speaks past such details, and even beyond photography.
Vanessa Marsh
United States
1978
Vanessa Marsh is a visual artist working in Oakland, CA. Originally from Seattle, WA, her favorite pastimes are hiking in mossy forests and watching re-runs of NOVA. In 2002 she moved to San Francisco to go to grad school at California College of the Arts and earned her MFA two years later. She moved to Oakland in 2010 where she now lives with her boyfriend and two cats. Some of her favorite places to have exhibited her work include the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco, Foley Gallery in New York, and the Sun Valley Art Center in Ketchum, ID. She has spent time making work at the Headlands Center for the Arts, The MacDowell Colony, Kala Art Institute and was AIR at Rayko Photo Center. In the spring of 2018 she was an artist in residence at Jentel Foundation in Banner, WY. About The Sun Beneath the Sky The Sun Beneath the Sky is a series of Lumen prints featuring imagined landscapes highlighted by soft glowing light. In the images, seen and unseen suns illuminate transparent layers of mountains and volcanoes creating dreamlike and atmospheric places.The Sun Beneath the Sky continues my use of cut paper, multiple exposures and dodging and burning techniques to create invented photographic landscapes. First cut paper masks traced from the silhouettes of real mountain ranges are layered on top of silver gelatin paper. The paper is then exposed to sunlight at intervals and then processed to fix the image. The resulting photographs are pastel and ethereal. Through this series I am reflecting upon the nature of light, atmosphere, geology and time. Falling
Dirk Roseport
Belgium
1955
Advertising creative director and self-taught photographer. Inspired by Jem Southam, Jonathan Smith, Mark Rothko, Mies van der Rohe, Mihokajioka, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Annie Leibovitz, Asako Naharashi and new discoveries every day... Roseport focuses on projects that he fills out thematically over several years. CLOSER TO THE GODS Closer To The Gods was created during the Covid era when, like many photographers, he fell back on previously created material; inhospitable plateaus and glaciers of Iceland, the mountain landscapes of the Pyrenees and the high altitude deserts of Ladakh. In Closer To The Gods, these are portrayed hard and directly in powerful, high-contrast black-and-white photography. Nature does not invite here, she imposes. Compelling, ominous, at times almost menacing. It is a nature that impresses and often looks as if it could insidiously swallow and crush us at any moment. TRANSCENDENTAL TRANQUILITY In his project Transcendental Tranquility he brings us seascapes, distilled to their essence, authentic without any post-processing. It all has to happen in the camera. If it doesn't happen there, it goes into the trash. Sometimes the oceans are no longer recognizable and they become Rothkosian color impressions, but his goal is not to show an ocean. The point is to create a scene that induces a state of tranquility in which what is perceived as troublesome in the psyche falls away. Nature does not impose itself here, but invites the viewer to drown in it and regain the peace that we so often lack today. Roseport sees the Transcendental Tranquility project as the antithesis of the Closer To The Gods work. FADING MEMORIES Always exploring, Roseport also created the Fading Memories project that invites viewers to create their own stories. Roseport: "As time passes, memories fade. What was once sharp, clear and vivid in our minds becomes blurred. Shapes and colors disappear. Bits and pieces are gone never to return. With Fading Memories, I try to visualize this feeling of losing the details. The images take on a dreamlike surreal atmosphere. And usually we will remember what has been forgotten, more beautifully - if hard or soft - than it actually was. That's what we do. That's how we survive. In Fading Memories, I know the story behind the image. The place. The time. The people. The viewers don't. There is an analogy here with projective tests like Rorschach, when ambigious stimuli reveal hidden emotions and internal conflicts. Thanks to what the viewers don't see, the images suggest more open stories than the ones I know. More open stories than they would see if the images were intact. So their minds will create their own story. Immediately. I invite them not to stop it. Have Fading Memories challenge their imagination."
Elizabeth Bourne
United States
1964
I describe myself as an artist using a camera rather than as a photographer since I am more concerned with creating an emotional connection with the viewer rather than technical perfection. After living most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, I went to Greenland in 2017 and everything changed. I fell in love with the high arctic. In 2018 I had artist residencies in both Svalbard and Iceland. In 2019, at a time when most people my age are thinking about retirement and grandchildren, I packed seven suitcases, and moved to Longyearbyen. Now I live in the world's northernmost town on the archipelago of Svalbard. I work almost exclusively in the arctic. My work, both painting and photography, have been exhibited nationally and internationally. In 2019 I was honored to receive the Vision Excellence Award from the Miami Photography Center during Art Basel Miami for best work in a series. Svalbard: Land without Borders which is an ongoing project. My work has been collected by Adobe, Corel Draw, and the City of Seattle. About the work: In the arctic, glaciers ten thousand years old rise in shimmering cliffs of light. These ice rivers calve towering icebergs with life spans of only two years. The paleocrystic beauty of the high arctic is as rich as any Tahitian sunset. There is a struggle between those who would exploit the arctic, and those who would preserve it. I have chosen to document these changes in Svalbard, the last land without borders on our planet. My goal is to engage a heart-felt reaction in the viewer. I believe the artist must have a passion for her subject, and a core need to communicate that passion. My hope is that my work will show the arctic's beauty so that people will choose to preserve it. We need the ice. Not just for environmental reasons, but also to maintain the last truly wild, untouched place on our crowded planet.
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AAP Magazine #22: Streets
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