By Giorgia Ferro
If you’ve missed cultural activities during lockdown take advantage of the important retrospective dedicated to the great Parisian photographer Robert Doisneau (Gentilly, April 14, 1912 – Montrouge, April 1, 1994) running until July 21st 2020 at Palazzo Pallavicini. Famous for his poetic approach to street photography, author of Le baiser de l ‘hôtel de ville, one of the most famous images in the history of post-war photography.
143 works are on display in the prestigious rooms of Via San Felice, all from the Atelier. The exhibition is the result of an ambitious 1986 project by Francine Deroudille and her sister Annette, the daughters of Robert Doisneau, who selected from 450 thousand negatives produced in over 60 years of the artist’s activity, the images of the exhibition that narrate the artist’s exciting autobiographical story.
In this show you may see the post-war gray suburbs of Paris, factories, small shops full of knick knacks, the lonely or rebellious children, the war on the side of the Resistance, Parisians at work or in celebration, the French countryside, the meetings with artists and the celebrities of the era. Most interesting is also the world of fashion and the eccentric characters encountered in Parisian cafes, protagonists of a photographic storytelling of a world that “has nothing to do with reality, but is infinitely more interesting”.
“The world I was trying to show was a world where I would feel good, where people would be kind, where I would find the tenderness I wanted to receive. My photos were proof that this world could exist.” (R. Doisneau)
Doisneau does not capture life as it appears, but as he wants it to be. Rebellious in nature, his work is imbued with moments of disobedience and rejection of established rules, with playful and ironic juxtapositions of traditional and nonconformist elements. The works on display are imbued with double and triple meanings, references and layers of humour and symbolisms. A true observer of his surroundings, his works capture moments of intimate reflection on the Parisian 1950s and the exuberance and contradictions of post-war European society.
Influenced by the work of André Kertész, Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau confers importance and dignity to street culture, with a particular attention for children, capturing moments of freedom and play outside the control of the parents, transmitting us a fascinating vision of humanity.
At a time when street culture is not a leitmotiv due to current events, this exhibition is a pleasure to the eye and to the soul allowing us to smile at carefree moments immortalized by Doisneau’s lens and his meticulous observational spirit, one of a kind.