Saturday, 14 April 2012

Joyeux Anniversaire Robert Doisneau!

When I think of Robert Doisneau, I think of that B&W image of a man and woman in a passionate embrace amid the hustle and bustle of Paris, known as '
Le Basier de L'Hotel de Ville' ("The Kiss by the Town Hall", 1950) - a picture which symbolised love, captured quite befittingly in the city of romance. An image which was later reproduced in the late 80s/early 90s on posters, and hung on millions of walls across the world.

Doisneau was a pioneer of photojournalism, his work synonymous with French street life, documenting people and places, such as a couple in a bistro or an accordion player - unstaged, full of emotion, with an almost poetic context, creating a nostalgic photo diary of Paris and its suburbs, frozen in time. He was a storyteller who often used humour to depict his subjects, such as two shaggy dogs with their tongues hanging out perched on their hind legs in the street ("Les Chiens de la Chapelle",1953), and more notably the iconic image of Picasso at a breakfast table with his hands depicted as bread rolls ("Picasso and the Loaves",1952).

Doisneau briefly worked for Vogue from 1949-52, but later moved on to produce images for advertising campaigns in the 60s, and in 1979, a retrospective of his works was published - "Trois secondes d'éternité" ("Three Seconds of Eternity"). The photo tome is one of over twenty books published containing his work.

On the centenary of his birth today, 14 April, Google doodle is celebrating four of his most iconic photographs - "Le Remorqueur du Champ de Mars (Tug on the Champ de Mars), 1943", "Trois petits enfants blancs (Three little white children), 1971", "Le baiser de l'hotel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall), 1950" and "Le Chien a Roulettes (Dog on Wheels), 1977".

As someone who adores Paris and all the romantic notions attached with it - such as strolling hand in hand up Montmarte Hill under magical amber street lights (like stepping back in time), and sipping Café au lait in Les Deux Magots (Saint-Germain-des-Prés), where Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir lived out their modern love affair against a cafe back-drop in the 50s - Doisneau's work has always invoked my own memories of stolen moments in la ville de l'amour.

Which is why this image (below) taken by him in 1971 - "Les jambes du Métro" (The Legs of the Metro) - hangs in an antique-frame on my bedroom wall. For me it captures the saucy, flirty side of Paris and its beautiful Métro art nouveau entrances which have become iconic symbols of the metropolis I fell in love with.... many Parisian moons ago.

All Images © Robert Doisneau


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