Description

Werner Bischof arrived in the United States a year before his death and spent 1953 traveling across the continent. The resulting images offer a vivid portrait of the nation as it rose to become a global superpower. Though most photographers at the time still entrenched in black and white, he broke free, using colour to capture the mood, with nuance and depth.

 

I am powerless against the great magazines – I am an artist, and I will always be that

Werner Bischof
© Werner Bischof | Magnum Photos

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, Werner Bischof died in a road accident in the Andes on 16 May 1954.

© Werner Bischof | Magnum Photos

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