When envisioning Paris, the mind’s eye will most likely conjure visions of bustling café terrasses, smoky jazz clubs and, of course, photographer Robert Doisneau’s 1950 photo, Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (Kiss by the Town Hall). At the time Doisneau took that iconic shot for Life magazine, he’d already been recruited to join Magnum, the legendary photo agency founded in 1947 by four prominent lensmen: Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David ‘Chim’ Seymour. The quartet, who’d produced stunning photo-reportage during World War 2, applied the same philosophy to the streets of Paris after the Liberation, thus changing the face of photography forever.
Starting in the pre-Magnum days of the 1930s, this ‘coffee table’ tome chronicles the often extraordinary everyday life of the city and its citizens, as captured by Capa et al and the many talented photographers who joined them at the agency, which is still one of the world’s biggest. From humble bouchers and unnamed Resistance fighters, to Christian Dior and Marguerite Duras, the 270 images collected herein chronicle the entire Parisian milleau, and feature such readily identifiable landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe as backdrops. An evocative dream of a book that true Francophiles will cherish.
Paris Magnum, Edited by Eric Hazan. Published by Flammarion. List price is €50.
This book is available at the France Today bookstore
From France Today magazine