René Burri

Swiss, b. 1933

René Burri studied at the School of Applied Arts in his native city of Zurich, Switzerland. From 1953 to 1955 he worked as a documentary film-maker and began to use a Leica while doing his military service.

Burri became an associate of Magnum in 1955 and received international attention for one of his first reportages, on deaf-mute children, 'Touch of Music for the Deaf', published in Life magazine.

In 1956 he traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East, and then went to Latin America, where he made a series on the gauchos that was published by Du magazine in 1959. It was also for this Swiss periodical that he photographed artists such as Picasso, Giacometti and Le Corbusier. He became a full member of Magnum in 1959, and started work on his book Die Deutschen, published in Switzerland in 1962, and by Robert Delpire the following year with the title Les Allemands. In 1963, while working in Cuba, he photographed Ernesto 'Che' Guevara during an interview by an American journalist. His images of the famous revolutionary with his cigar appeared around the world.

Burri participated in the creation of Magnum Films in 1965, and afterwards spent six months in China, where he made the film The Two Faces of China produced by the BBC. He opened the Magnum Gallery in Paris in 1962, while continuing his activities as a photographer; at the same time he made collages and drawings.

In 1998 Burri won the Dr Erich Salomon Prize from the German Association of Photography. A big retrospective of his work was held in 2004-2005 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and toured many other European museums. René Burri lives and works in Zurich and Paris.



1949/53   Studied photography at Kunstgewerbeschule, Zurich, Switzerland


1967        International Film and Television Award


2008        Retrospective, Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2008        Cuba ;  Clamor, grito y amor, Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris
2007        Un Mundo, Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico D.F.
2006        Un Mundo, Museo de Bellas Artes, La Havana, Cuba
2006        Le Corbusier/Burri : dialogue - Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris, France
2005/06   Jean Tinguely & Co - Tinguely Museum, Basel, Switzerland
2006        Le Corbusier/Burri : dialogue - Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris, France
2005/06   Jean Tinguely & Co - Tinguely Museum, Basel, Switzerland; 
               Museum of History, Fribourg, Germany
2005/06   Utopia - Leica Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic, Hermès Gallery, Berlin, Germany; 
               Hermès Gallery, Los Angeles, USA; 
               Der Austellungsraum Klingental, Basel, Switzerland
2004/05   Rene Burri: Retrospective – Arengario, Milan, Italy; 
               Museum fur Gestaltung, Zurich, Switzerland; 
               Maison européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France; 
               C/O Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Musée de l'Elysée, 
               Lausanne, Switzerland; Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy
2003        Die Deutschen - Haus der Fotografie, Burghausen, Germany
2000        Luis Barragan - Architekturmuseum, Basel, Switzerland;
               Institut d'Architecture de France, Paris, France
1984        Rene Burri One World - Centre de la Photographie, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France;
               Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland; 
               Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
1982        Terre de Guerre - Paris, France
1970        Die Deutschen - Rudolf Kicken gallery, Köln, Germany; 
               Volkwang Museum, Essen, Germany
1963        First solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, USA


2004        Che Guevara Cigar Box, Phaidon Press Ltd, UK
2004        René Burri Photographs, Phaidon Press Ltd, UK; (Photographies) Phaidon Press, 
2002        Berner Blitz, Edition Dino Simonett, Switzerland
2000        Luis Barragan, Phaidon Press Inc., USA
1999        Die Deutschen: Photographien 1957-1997, Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1999        Le Corbusier, Birkhäuser, Switzerland; Princeton Architectural Press, USA
1998/04   Photo Poche, Editions Nathan, France; Actes Sud, France
1998        77 Strange Sensations, Edition Dino Simonett, Switzerland
1997        Che Guevara, Editions Nathan, France
1994/98   Cuba y Cuba, Motta Fotografia, Italy; Smithsonian Books, USA
1990        Die Deutschen: Photographien aus einem Geteilten Land 1957-1964, 
               Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1990        Werner Bischof 1916-1954, Thames & Hudson, UK; Bulfinch Press, USA
1986        Ein Amerikanischer Traum; Fotografien aus der Welt der NASA und des Pentagon,
               Verlegt bei Franz Greno/Delphi, Germany
1984/88   One World, Benteli Verlag, Switzerland;  Aperture, USA
1983        Rene Burri, Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, Italy
1979        In Search of the Holy Land, Dodd Mead & Company, USA
1976        Lost Pony, San Francisco Book Company, USA
1968/94   The Gaucho, Crown Publishers, USA; Takajarima Books, USA
1965        Koh Samui, Conzett & Huber, Switzerland
1963        Les Allemands, Delpire éditeur, France
1962        Die Deutchen, Fretz & Wasmuth Verlag, Switzerland