Swiss photographer Werner Bischof (1916–54) is best known for his impressive black-and-white images, most of which were taken on expeditions as a reporter in postwar Europe and during the Indochina War (1946–54), and on his travels in the Far East and South America. Far too little known are Bischof’s early colour photographs, comprising studio work in fashion and advertising photography, as well as reportage from war-damaged European cities. For these, Bischof used various types of camera, including a Devin Tricolour. This elaborate colour-separation device exposed three monochrome plates in a single exposure, each of them equipped with a colour filter so that a true colour print was subsequently made by addition of the three monochrome negatives. Some 200 of Bischof’s Devin Tricolour negatives have been restored, and a selection of them is published for the first time ever in this book.
The beautifully illustrated volume is fascinating not only from a photo-historical perspective. Even these early colour images reveal Bischof’s outstanding, sensitive aesthetic that characterises his entire oeuvre. Some 100 colour plates are supplemented with texts by Clara Bouveresse, the French photography historian, Peter Pfrunder, the director of the Fotostiftung Schweiz in Winterthur, and Luc Debraine, the director of the Swiss Camera Museum in Vevey.