Robert Doisneau was a French photojournalism pioneer with a prolific collection of images. Born on 14 April 1912 in Gentilly, Val-de-Marne, Doisneau's parents died when he was seven, after which he was raised by an unloving aunt. When he was 13, Doisneau attended the École Estienne, a craft school in Paris where he graduated with diplomas in engraving and lithography. During this time he had his first contact with the art world, taking Still Life and Figure Drawing classes.
Doisneau started taking photographs as an amateur at the age of 16, but he was so shy that he only dared to photograph cobble stones, before eventually mustering up enough courage to document photographs of children and finally adults. At the end of the 1920s, Doisneau started working as a camera assistant for an advertising company and was rapidly promoted to staff photographer.
The next ten years saw Doisneau working as assistants to various photographers whilst he simultaneously worked on his own advertising photography. Whilst working for the Renault car factory, Doisneau developed an interest in human figures in his work. After being hired by Charles Rado of the Rapho photo agency in 1939, Doisneau began travelling throughout France in search of photo opportunities. This marked the beginning of Doisneau's career as a street photographer.
Influenced by the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Eugène Atget, Robert Doisneau's black and white images presents a charming vision of the quiet and awkward moments that constitute human life. He is most renowned for his 1950 image "Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville" (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville) of a couple liplocking in a busy Parisian street.
Doisneau remained shy and humble even after the success of his works, and lived a quiet life in Southern Paris until his death in 1994, two weeks before his 82nd birthday.
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