Robert Doisneau

From the Fictional to the Real
January 6 - February 12, 2005
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Press Release

Bruce Silverstein Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Robert Doisneau, from the Fictional to the Real, vintage photographs, 1930-1990. This exhibition focuses on rare and unseen works from the artist’s early formative years, World War II, and the latter half of the twentieth century. The show reintroduces this seminal figure and develops our understanding of his oeuvre beyond his most iconic images.


Doisneau’s photographs blurred the distinctions between the documentary and the staged in depicting everyday moments of daily Parisian life. Imbued with wit and empathy, his images of the working-class milieu were greatly influenced by 1930s photojournalism, humanistic reportage of the 1940s and 1950s and by 1960’s fashion photography.


Doisneau's adeptness in intermixing fictional elements with the real, would greatly influence the film and literature of his time and set precedence to future generations of photographers to further explore and expand on this subject.


Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) was born in Gentilly, France and in 1931, at the age of 19, became the assistant to André Vigneau, a photographer, painter, sculptor, designer, and producer of film and documentaries. Under the tutelage of Vigneau, a staunch modernist, Doisneau was exposed to the artistic movement of the Avant-garde.  At Vigneau’s studio, the young Doisneau met artists and writers such as Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Jacques Prévert. Later Doisneau would recall:


For the first time I heard people talking about Surrealism, about Le Corbusier’s “living machines,” about Moholy-Nagy, about the Siégel mannequins, about Soviet films and the first novel of someone called Céline.  It’s hard to imagine nowadays what an exciting mix of ideas this was.


Doisneau’s photographs have been the subject of major retrospectives at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, The Art Institute of Chicago, and George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. His work is widely known and is among the most recognized and beloved in the history of photography.