Our Artists

Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau photographed the private, working-class Paris and marked the 20th Century with his fascinating, moving black and white photos. Nostalgic, tender and relevant, his work invites us to take a different look at scenes of daily life.

Biography

Robert Doisneau, the budding photographer

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. In 1934, 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. This was when he met Charles Rado, the founder of the Rapho Agency. 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.

The post-War years

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 (USSR, United States, Yugoslavia,…).
In 1947, his meeting with Robert Giraud marked a turning-point in his career and the beginning of a fruitful partnership. Robert Doisneau published thirty albums, including La Banlieue de Paris (The Paris Suburbs) in 1949 (texts by Blaise Cendrars). A freelance photographer, Doisneau sold his photos to several magazines but remained a permanent contributor to Vogue from 1949 to 1952.
Sometimes amusing or ironic, often tender and nostalgic, his photos bear witness to an era, but also to a moment. A photographer of the ephemeral, Robert Doisneau had a particular affection for the trivial, as we can see in L’information scolaire (Scholastic Information) (1956) or Les enfants de la place Hébert (Children in the Place Hébert) (1957), for example.

Robert Doisneau and fame

A humanist photographer, 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 began to make a reputation for himself and 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 (Sunday morning in Arcueil, The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville…) 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, appreciated and recognised by the public and the critics worldwide. Robert Doisneau’s photographs may be found in the collections of the world’s greatest museums. His first exhibition at the MOMA in New York took place in 1951. In 2007, over 400,000 people visited the Robert Doisneau Paris en liberté exhibition at the Paris Town Hall.

Works

Les frères, (Brothers) 1934
Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville, (The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville) Paris, 1950
Les pains de Picasso, (Picasso’s bread) 1952
Prévert au guéridon, (Jacques Prévert, Paris) 1955
Les tabliers de la rue de Rivoli, (Smocks in the Rue de Rivoli) 1978

See Robert Doisneau’s photographs on the Rapho Agency (Eyedea) website

Useful links

The Atelier Doisneau website is currently under construction.

La Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau, in Gentilly

Robert Doisneau 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Cabriolet, France, 1936 Prints and posters Children in the Palais-Royal garden, 1950 Prints and posters Champ de Mars gardens, 1944 Prints and posters Rue Marcellin Berthelot, Choisy-le-Roi, 1945

> Canvas prints

Canvas prints Les chiens de La Chapelle, 1953 Canvas prints Essayez nos pédalos, Chez Gégène, 1945 Canvas prints La meute, 1969 Canvas prints Fox Terrier au Pont des Arts, 1953

> Postcards

Postcards Picasso's Bread rolls, Vallauris, France, 1952 Postcards Pupils on rue de Rivoli, Paris, 1978 Postcards 1: The inquisitive pigeon / 2: The child and the dove, 1964 Postcards With Maurice Baquet

> Greeting cards

Greeting cards Musician in the Rain, Maurice Baquet, Paris, 1957 Greeting cards Poitiers Tradition Greeting cards Lovers with leeks, Paris, 1950
Identity

Nationality(ies) : French
Born on : 14/04/1912
Died on : 01/04/1994
Profile : Photographer
Artistic current(s) : Humanist Photography
Theme(s) covered : Love - friendship, Animals, Architecture, Fine Art, Celebrities, Flowers - plants, Humour, Music - Dance, Nostalgia - Retro, Landscapes - Nature, Portraits - Characters, Sport - Leisure

Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau

Share