Werner Bischof • Photographer Profile • Magnum Photos

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"I felt compelled to venture forth and explore the true face of the world. Leading a satisfying life of plenty had blinded many of us to the immense hardships beyond our borders"

- Werner Bischof

b. 1916

d. 1954

Swiss

Estates

Werner Bischof was born in Switzerland. He studied photography with Hans Finsler in his native Zurich at the School for Arts and Crafts, then opened a photography and advertising studio. In 1942, he became a freelancer for Du magazine, which published his first major photo essays in 1943. Bischof received international recognition after the publication of his 1945 reportage on the devastation caused by the Second World War.

In the years that followed, Bischof traveled in Italy and Greece for Swiss Relief, an organization dedicated to post-war reconstruction. In 1948, he photographed the Winter Olympics in St Moritz for LIFE magazine. After trips to Eastern Europe, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, he worked for Picture Post, The Observer, Illustrated, and Epoca. He was the first photographer to join Magnum with the founding members in 1949.

Disliking the ‘superficiality and sensationalism’ of the magazine business, he devoted much of his working life to looking for order and tranquility in traditional culture, something that did not endear him to picture editors looking for hot topical material. Nonetheless, he found himself sent to report on the famine in India by Life magazine (1951), and he went on to work in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Indochina. The images from these reportages were used in major picture magazines throughout the world.

In the autumn of 1953, Bischof created a series of expansively composed color photographs of the USA. The following year he traveled throughout Mexico and Panama, and then on to a remote part of Peru, where he was engaged in making a film. Tragically, Bischof died in a road accident in the Andes on 16 May 1954, only nine days before Magnum founder Robert Capa lost his life in Indochina.

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Selected works

Travel

The Photographs of Early Magnum Member Werner Bischof

Werner Bischof

A selection of photographs from the short-lived career of Swiss photographer Werner Bischof prior to his death in 1954

Open story

From the Magnum Shop

Most Recent

Current Exhibition
Brescia, Italy

Magnum’s First/Magnum: La première fois

Magnum Photographers
Until Jun 11

Current Exhibition
Cremona, Italy

Magnum LIFE

Magnum Photographers
Until Jun 10

Theme | 14 Stories

Magnum at 70: What’s On

Upcoming Exhibition
New York, USA

Early Magnum: On & In New York

Magnum Photographers
Mar 29 - Apr 28

Theory & Practice

100 Years of Werner Bischof

Magnum Photographers

Theme | 19 Stories

Migration and Refuge

Past Exhibition
London, United Kingdom

I Welcome: an Amnesty International & Magnum Photos exhibition

Magnum Photographers
Until Dec 18, 2016

Arts & Culture

The Magnum Gift Guide

Magnum Photographers

Current Exhibition
Den Haag, The Netherlands

Werner Bischof: Point of View

Werner Bischof
Until May 7

Past Square print

Conditions of the Heart: on Empathy and Connection in Photography

Magnum Photographers
Until Nov 4, 2016

Theme | 4 Stories

PRINT SALES EXHIBITIONS

Past Exhibition
Eschborn, Germany

Magnum Contact Sheets

Magnum Photographers
Until Aug 19, 2016

Past Exhibition
München, Germany

Werner Bischof: Point of View

Werner Bischof
Until Sep 11, 2016

Past Exhibition
Stuttgart, Germany

Odyssey Europe

Magnum Photographers
Until Jul 9, 2016

Past Exhibition
Reggio Emilia, Italy

EXILE

Magnum Photographers
Until Jul 10, 2016

Past Square print

The (More or Less) Decisive Moments

Magnum Photographers
Until Jun 11, 2016

Arts & Culture

Questions to My Father

Werner Bischof

Past Exhibition
Monschau, Germany

Magnum’s First

Magnum Photographers
Until Oct 3, 2016

Theory & Practice

Werner Bischof: A Deceptive Simplicity

Werner Bischof

Past Square print
Online Only,

Up Close & Personal

Magnum Photographers
Until Nov 13, 2015