Bischof, JAPAN. Tokyo. Courtyard of the Meiji shrine. 1951.

Bischof, JAPAN. Tokyo. Courtyard of the Meiji shrine. 1951.

Article published on Time Out Switzerland 11 February 2016: Link

He was on the lookout for those moments where he could capture the essence of humanity with a click. Swiss photographer Werner Bischof (1916-1954) travelled to many different countries to find rays of hope in a world traumatised by wars and conflicts. He died in a car accident in the Andes at the age of 38.

Photojournalist who gained fame at an early age after WWII, Werner Bischof joined Magnum Photos, founded by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  The agency’s purpose was to allow photographers to regain control of the pictures that they sent in undeveloped films to their editors, sight unseen.

Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne celebrates the centenary of the birth of a legend whose search for the truth was remarkably enhanced by the eye of an artist. Marco Bischof, who was only three when his father died and who is the guardian of the Bischof estate, has mounted an exhibition entitled Point de vue (Viewpoint) which reveals the itinerary of an artist seized by the dramatic events his time, but who graduated to becoming an artist again.

Bischof’s experimentations at art school in Zurich were followed by the years during which the photographer captured the devastation left by WWII and postwar zones of conflict. But a more mellow period sets in after his time in Japan, where suddenly the images find a quiet beauty again.

A second exhibition, produced by the Musée de l’Elysée and entitled Helvetica focuses exclusively on Bischof’s Swiss years, on his training and work in fashion and advertising before becoming a press photographer during the war years in Switzerland. It is the subject of the first publication of the “Collection – Musée de l’Elysée”, under the stewardship of the insolently young Tatiana Franck, niece of Martine Franck, the last wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne

27 January – 1 May 2016

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, was an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London, before moving to Switzerland and becoming an arts journalist.

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