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René Burri : Les Autres


Bildhalle is finally able to open the exhibition René Burri – Les Autres that was planned for the month of March. It shows icons of René Burris oeuvre as well as exclusive unique pieces of less known photos and impressing color works printed in the early Eighties.

“René Burri was always driven by an irrepressible zest for life and a thirst for discovering the universe, but especially by an acute awareness of the ebb and flow of things, a tenacious desire to understand the workings of the world, and the certainty of then being able to share his experiences and his analyses with his peers. Two parallel approaches can be distinguished in René Burri: on the one hand the composition, the structure and the visual impact are of indisputable economy, precision and legibility, conferring to his work a symbolic character, universal and almost eternal; on the other, each sign, each shape, each frame within the image confers an original and personal perspective of what is portrayed. The uniqueness of Burri’s visual universe, whether in black-and-white or in colour, is founded on the complementarity between these two approaches. His photographs also hold the page or the walls of a gallery like no others and have the unique power to reveal each situation to us in a single photogram.”

Marc Donnadieu (excerpt from the catalogue “René Burri, Explosion of Sight”, Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne)


RENÉ BURRI (1933-2014, CH) studied at the School of Applied Arts in his native city of Zurich. From 1953 to 1955 he worked as a documentary film-maker and began to use a Leica while doing his military service. Burri became an associate of Magnum in 1955.

In 1956 he traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East, and then went to Latin America, where he made a series on the gauchos that was published by Du magazine in 1959. It was also for this Swiss periodical that he photographed artists such as Picasso, Giacometti and Le Corbusier. He became a full member of Magnum in 1959, and started work on his book “Die Deutschen”, published in Switzerland in 1962. In 1963, while working in Cuba, he photographed Ernesto “Che” Guevara during an interview by an American journalist. His images of the famous revolutionary with his cigar appeared around the world.

In 1998 Burri won the Dr Erich Salomon Prize from the German Association of Photography. A big retrospective of his work was held in 2004-2005 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and toured many other European museums. In 2013 René Burri rediscovered his colour photos. He made a new selection of colour photos together for “Impossible Reminiscences” (Phaidon, 2013) and his exhibition “René Burri – Doppelleben” which was presented at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich and the OstLicht Gallery in Vienna the following year.

In July 2013 René Burri established his own foundation in Switzerland. It is now housed in the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. In September 2014, René Burri opened his last exhibition, “Mouvement” in Paris, at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie. René Burri passed away at the age of 81 on October, 2014.

Under the curatorship of Marc Donnadieu and Mélanie Bétrisey, the Musée de l’Elysée offered from January to May 2020 a retrospective of all of his work entitled “René Burri, the explosion of sight”


“After I left the photography class, in which all we did was photograph coffee cups under the light, I had to chase after my own images. How to position the device when everything was moving? When people walked, when everything galloped in front of me? I shouted at them to Stay still! This lasted until I started moving myself, until I managed to swim with the tide. Then, when I did manage it, the action was taking place on the other side of the street! Snaps are like taxis in the rush hour – if one isn’t fast enough, someone else will get them first.”

René Burri


René Burri : Les Autres

From September 3 to October 24, 2020


Gallery for classic and contemporary photography

Stauffacherquai 56

8004 Zurich






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