René Burri

WEDNESDAY: Art = Photographic Art

René Burri

“I never thought I would become a photographer”

“I never thought I would become a photographer”. This is what he said, but I would reply, you don’t become a photographer, you are born a photographer, and it is just a matter of days when the day comes you realize that this is what you were born to do.

Every week I receive the newsletter with the Magnum Featured Photographer and among the most impressive photographs I recall, there is René Burri’s. I received the e-mail on April 29, 2011 and I still remember the picture attached very clearly. An impressive street view, the multitude but also microscopic nature of this multitude seen from the height of a skyscraper. I since then followed René Burri’s photography and his street photography is what I admire the most.

René Burri, Men on Rooftop Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1960

René Burri, Training Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1966

René Burri is one of the most influential photojournalists to have worked in the second half of the 20th Century. He has been able to provide us with a unique documentation of that historical period, particularly in  São Paulo and Brasília and Cuba.

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.

René Burri, Plaza José Marti Havana, Cuba, 1993

René Burri, Sao Paulo Brasilien, 1960

René Burri, Leonforte Sicily, Italy, 1956


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