Robert Doisneau and Paris, an encounter between two inseparable partners: one of the greatest French photographers, and the city that he loved and immortalised with his lens.
Over 240 original photographs taken by Doisneau in the Ville Lumière between 1934 and 1991, grouped by themes around his favourite subjects, are displayed in a major anthological retrospective at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni from 29 September 2012 to 10 February 2013.
The exhibition takes the visitor on a fascinating tour of the gardens of Paris, along the Seine, in the city streets, through the suburbs, and into the bistrots, fashion houses and art galleries of the French capital.
Of course, his real subject matter in these glorious black and white photographs are the people of Paris themselves: the men, women and children, the lovers and animals, and their way of life in this timeless city.
Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), who liked to compare himself to Atget, photographed the Parisian suburbs in an effort to "capture the treasures that his contemporaries unwittingly transmitted".
His Paris is both humanistic and generous, but also sublime, revealing itself in the naked reality of daily existence. No one has ever come closer than Doisneau to capturing the (occasionally revisited) truth of the Parisians' daily life. His role as intimate spectator has given us what feels today like a huge family album in which the players take immense joy in identifying themselves and one another.
Doisneau, who has become something of a household name today, graduated from the Ecole Estienne and discovered photography as a young man while working in an advertising agency specializing in pharmaceutical products. After working with Vigneau, he went on to become the official photographer for the Renault motor works in 1934, but he was sacked five years later on the grounds that he so rarely showed up for work. He became a free-lance photographer and illustrator in 1939, and joined the Rapho agency on a permanent basis in 1946. The Chateau d'Eau Gallery in Toulouse held an exhibition of his work in 1974, and it was in the 'seventies that he finally began to achieve recognition. Since then, his photographs have been published, reproduced and sold throughout the world.
The author of a large number of photographs, focusing principally on Paris, Doisneau was to become the most illustrious exponent of "humanist" photography in France. His pictures today are held by some of the greatest collections in France, the United States and Great Britain and they are regularly exhibited throughout the world.
After being presented at the Hotel de la Ville in Paris and then in Japan, at the Mitsukoshi Museum in Tokyo and at the Isetan Museum in Kyoto, the exhibition entitled Robert Doisneau – Paris en Liberté is now arrived in Italy for the very first time, to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. The Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome hosts the event from 29 September 2012 to 10 February thanks to a joint initiative by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo, the Atelier Doisneau, the Fratelli Alinari Fondazione per la Storia della Fotografia and Civita, with the patronage of the Ville de Paris and of Roma Capitale.
The exhibition will then by travelling to Milan, where it will be hosted at the city's Spazio Oberdan from 15 February to 1 May 2013, on the initiative of the Provincia di Milano and of other promoter organizations.
In both cities the exhibition will be accompanied by a series of tie-in events devoted to Paris and to photography, starting with an unprecedented film retrospective and other cultural events.
This exhibition is the first in a cycle of major shows devoted to Great French Photographers of the 20th Century, promoted by the Fondazione Alinari in conjunction with the Ville de Paris.