Description

At first Werner Bischof specialized in and perfected a graphic, subtle use of light and shade on inanimate objects, but eventually became compelled to bear witness to the human suffering of post-world war Europe. His work as a photojournalist took him to south-east Asia, but Bischof always considered himself an artist. His humanistic approach towards existential human issues combined with his artistic talents made him a classic of black and white photography. Pictured here, a farmer shading himself as he looks after his grazing cows.

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

Werner Bischof was born in Switzerland in 1916. 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 the years that followed, Bischof traveled in Italy and Greece for Swiss Relief, an organization dedicated to post-war reconstruction. 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. Despite this he worked on commission in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Indochina. In 1953, he traveled throughout Mexico and Panama, and then on to a remote part of Peru, where he was engaged in making a film. Tragically, Wernor Bischof died in a road accident in the Andes on 16 May 1954.

© Werner Bischof | Magnum Photos

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