Description

Werner Bischof set up his studio near the end of the thirties in a suburb of Zurich. After 1939, Switzerland had become an island of liberalism surrounded by a sea of fascism. Treating it as his ivory tower, Bischof devoted himself to his work as a studio photographer and portraitist, perfecting his photographic technique and training himself to be a master of seeing. Patience, care and precision were cultivated, and, as a result, a highly poetic language of images emerged.

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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