As a world-renowned photojournalist and celebrated member of Magnum photo agency, René Burri’s photographs have had a huge influence on our visual understanding of the major political and cultural events of the second half of the twentieth century. From his iconic shot of Che Guevara smoking a cigar, to his beautifully composed photographs of the construction of Brasilia, his black-and-white photography is ingrained in the collective consciousness.
Previously less-known are his colour photographs that he has continually taken alongside his black-and-white work. This book introduces, for the first time, a retrospective of his personal selection of colour photographs.
With a selection – edited in close collaboration with Burri – of solely colour photographs, colour remains at the centre of this book. The photographs are arranged according to a colour selection rather than date, place or topic. It also includes childhood paintings by Burri that reveal an early understanding and appreciation of colour.
The photographs, sometimes seemingly abstract, sometimes documentary, capture fleeting moments in people’s everyday lives and the vitality or atmosphere of a certain place and time. These moments, frozen by Burri’s camera, are intimate portraits of the people and places Burri has come across throughout his extraordinary career that has taken him across the globe, from the 1950s to now.
From his stories and memories, the book reveals the world through Burri’s eyes, and demonstrates how he filters the world around him through his camera lens.
In a back section with photograph thumbnails and captions, Burri – with his signature charisma – talks openly about the inspirations, motivations and events around each photograph, giving readers a great insight into how one of the world’s best-loved photographers works.
René Burri was born in Zurich in 1933 and spent his early years studying composition, colour and design at the School for 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. Shortly after joining Magnum, his first reportage appeared in Life magazine. He continues to photograph and publish his work today.