Robert Doisneau: Paris

Robert Doisneau, Photographer , edited by Francine Deroudille. Editions Flammarion $60 (393p) ISBN 978-2-08-030491-9

Photographer Doisneau (1912–1994) had a tremendous gift not only for portraying the beauty of Paris but for capturing the charm of its citizens; some of his images have come to define Paris, even for those who've never visited. Most of the 600 photos in this classic collection feature at least one person, and the expressions on their faces are so real they feel staged. One, of a young woman finishing a roller-coaster ride, catches her with a look of "mon dieu , I thought I'd die!" The way Doisneau composes his images, focusing on a subject's "aura" ("that kind of neon light," he says, glowing around certain people) is striking. He possesses a satirical eye for humor (e.g., the shots of various sculptures doused in pigeon droppings) and the bizarre (a Monsieur Beauvoir sitting at a bar with a large bird perched on his shoulder). The chapters are broadly thematic (the one on war and politics is particularly powerful); within chapters, there are themes: e.g., butchers, the Métro, visitors observing the Mona Lisa . Doisneau's commentary appears throughout, as his photographs—whether from the 1940s or the 1990s—illustrate a society that is alternately refined, puzzling and, above all, human. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 393 pages - 978-2-08-030117-8
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