Tuesday, April 9, 2013

René Burri at The Photographers Gallery, London

René Burri - Cuba, 1963. Ernesto Guevara (Che)

If you happen to be in London on Wednesday April 24 there is a chance to go along to The Photographer's Gallery and hear René Burri talk about his practice which has prevailed over fifty years. This is a not be missed chance to meet a man who not only is a great photographer but a delightful and generous individual.

Magnum photographer René Burri has built a body of work that traces some of the world’s most historically significant moments from East Germany and the USSR before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, throughout China and Cuba over several decades, and in Vietnam and the Suez Crisis.  Alongside his iconic black-and-white photojournalist assignments, Burri would take a separate camera with colour film. Published for the first time, these colour images reveal the private, more reflective side of his photographic personality.

René Burri was born in Zurich in 1933 and spent his early years studying colour, composition and design at the renowned School of Arts and Crafts in Zurich. It was during his military service that Burri first used a Leica camera. Shortly after, he also developed an interest in film, and from 1953-55 he worked as a documentary filmmaker.
Burri’s life changed forever when the well-known photographer Werner Bischof introduced him to the prestigious photography agency Magnum Photos. After joining Magnum in 1959, his first reportage appeared in Life magazine and he subsequently worked for major news magazines including Look, Bunte, Stern, Geo, Paris Match, Schweizer Illustrierte and Du. Burri received the Dr. Erich Salomon Prize from the German Society of Photography in 1998 in recognition of his lifetime achievement as photojournalist. He lives in Paris.

René Burri will be signing copies of his new book Impossible Reminiscences in the bookshop prior to his talk -  Wed 24 April 17.00-18.00.

René Burri - São Paulo, Brazil, 1960

In my 2007 bookwork, A Short History of Photography, I referenced René Burri's São Paulo image above with one of my own photographs which to say the least was very much a pale imitation of his stunning work. René was kind enough to sign his page in my book and made this comment - Dear Harvey, some of us are luckier than others, you got a woman between two men - I had to "deal" with 4 men on a roof!!  Thanks René!

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