"Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world."

- Bruno Barbey

b. 1941

d. 2020

French Swiss

Based in Paris, France


Bruno Barbey, a Frenchman born in Morocco in 1941, studied photography and graphic arts at the École des Arts et Métiers in Vevey, Switzerland. With the aim of capturing the spirit of a nation, he photographed the Italians between 1961 and 1964, treating them as protagonists of a small “theatrical world.”

During the 1960s, he was commissioned by Éditions Rencontre in Lausanne to report from European and African countries. He also contributed regularly to Vogue. Barbey began his relationship with Magnum Photos in 1964, becoming an associate member in 1966, and a full member in 1968, the year he documented the political unrest and student riots in Paris. A decade later, between 1979 and 1981, he photographed Poland at a turning point in its history, publishing his work in the widely acclaimed book Poland.

Over four decades, Barbey journeyed across five continents and into numerous military conflicts. Although he rejected the label of “war photographer,” he covered civil wars in Nigeria, Vietnam, the Middle East, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Kuwait. His work has appeared in most of the world’s major magazines.

Barbey is known particularly for his free and harmonious use of color. He frequently worked in Morocco, the country of his childhood. In 1999, the Petit Palais in Paris organized a large exhibition of photographs that Barbey had taken in Morocco during the previous three decades. He received many awards for his work, including the French National Order of Merit. His photographs have been exhibited internationally and are in numerous museum collections.

Bruno Barbey died in Orbais-l’Abbaye, France on November 9, 2020.

Selected works



Bruno Barbey

Bruno Barbey's career-spanning book reflects his insatiable thirst for the unknown

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