Tuesday, October 21, 2014

René Burri, 1933 - 2014 RIP


Swiss photographer René Burri known for his photos of major political, historical and cultural events and key figures of the second half of the 20th century died on Monday aged 81. Burri was a member of 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.

René Burri was born in Switzerland in 1933 where he learned to play with his father’s camera. By the time he was 20, he was already a trained photographer of the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts and began documenting life as a cadet during his two years in military service.
Only after this did he have some contact with formal photography studios and starting his own projects. Before long he was published in French magazine Science & Vie and embarked on a trip to Paris to personally show his work to Magnum Photos.
David Seymour co-founder of Magnum was so impressed that he made Burri an associate member of the agency and arranged further assignments for him.

René Burri was a master of colour as well as black and white photography, one of the great figures of 20th century photography”. A true gentleman, he will be sorely missed.

When in 2007 I made my bookwork A Short History of Photography I asked a number of the photographers to sign their pages. The book included a tribute to René Burri's famous picture of the men on the roof made in São Paulo, Brazil in 1960. René graciously wrote: Dear Harvey, some of us are luckier than others, you got a woman between two men, I had to "deal" with four men on a roof!! Thanks, René Burri.

René Burri - São Paulo, 1960

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