Werner Bischof trained in graphic design and photography at the Zürich School of Arts and Crafts, and adhered to the style of New Objectivity early on. Though he moved to Paris in 1939, the war began soon after and he returned to his home country of Switzerland to be conscripted. This image of a tree, taken in Switzerland in 1941, is a signature of the quiet simplicity of his work, despite the war that was then raging around the world.

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.

Bischof e devoted much of his working life to looking for order and tranquility in traditional culture. He also worked on commission in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and south-east Asia. 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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