Top positive review
A wonderful collection of mainly unfamiliar images
on 30 June 2012
I have long known the name of Robert Doisneau and he was responsible for one of the most iconic images of WW2. It was taken at the time of the liberation of Paris and shows a couple having a celebratory kiss (a later version is shown on the cover, but it does not possess the impact or sense of exhilaration of the original). It is often compared to a similar image taken in London on VE day almost a year later, although I cannot currently recall the photographer in that instance.
Although Doisneau was no less a talent than Lartigue, Atget, Cartier-Bresson and several others who were either French or working in France during the early to middle decades of the Twentieth Century, his images are perhaps less familiar outside of France than those of the others. He concentrated on street photography and largely his interest was less the weird and wonderful than the everyday scene. The images here are presented by chapter and generally themed. One group was taken during the German occupation and not only shows German troops (if caught, he could have been shot) but also of the Resistance fighters shooting in the streets of Paris in an attempt to rid them of the occupier. We know the outcome of that! He did take risks but they paid dividends in that an important phase of history was recorded for all time.
Doisneau definitely possessed the ability not only to see what was happening around him but to photograph it in such a way as to make it interesting for the viewer, and to be something of beauty. He was not as varied a photographer as was Cartier-Bresson or the Hungarian-born Kertesz (who often worked in France) who both might photograph anything, but Doisneau was more interested in people whether at work, play or just watching others. That in no way devalues his art and skill, or limits his importance.
This one of several published by the German firm of Taschen, this time in English, and their output can be directly compared with Thames & Hudson. The book isn't large in size but it provides an excellent cross-section of the work of a master photographer. Get it, if only to help with your own imagery and perception.