Like a typical Magnum photographer, Werner Bischof’s drive to discover new sights to behold and new stories to tell led him through dangerous war-zones, frenetic capital cities and tranquil terrain alike, but for the Swiss photographer, it was out in nature that he felt most at ease. Throughout his short career, and wherever he traveled in the world, Bischof found beauty in fauna and foliage; some of his most popular and collected works are of trees, plants, and landscapes.

I felt compelled to venture forth and explore the true face of the world

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

© Werner Bischof | Magnum Photos

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