Three Men …

… two photographs, and a wall. Thanks to shihlun for picture #2!

#1: © Werner Bischof, 1951, Picasso exhibition, Tokyo
#2: © Rolf Gillhausen, ca. 1950, Three men in front of diagram

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© Werner Bischof, 1950, Sardinia

Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro presents an exhibition of Werner Bischof, curated by his son Marco Bischof.

Werner Bischof made a stop in Sardinia in the early 1950s. The island, having recently benefited from Italian land reform and eradicated a deadly outbreak of malaria, was at the time unjustly considered backward. Bischof was surprised to discover the island’s bucolic beauty, and adapted his photographic approach immediately.

Pride, humility, the sweet happiness of childhood: the wide range of emotions are reflected in the smiles, faces and hands that Bischof captures. Generations and styles blend together in this thorough portrait of a living land. He photographs the local geography inside and outside, day and night. The knowing looks of his subjects give Bischof’s images their power to arouse our empathy. Find more pictures here.

Exhibition dates:
Oct. 12 - Dec. 3, 2012

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© Werner Bischof, 1942, "Zebra woman", Zurich

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 1943. (read more)

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© Werner Bischof, 1951, Sumo fighters, Tokyo

Although top photographers now enjoy high status and good money, they were once regarded as little better than any other button pushers — elevator girls, say — and were expected to run around, snapping whatever commissioning editors told them to.

This all changed when Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour set up the Magnum Photos cooperative in 1947. Magnum created the idea of the indispensable lensman, and greatly increased the creative freedom and fees that the best in the business could command.

A key figure in Magnum’s early days was the Swiss photographer Werner Bischof. Along with the Austrian Ernst Haas, Bischof was the first new Magnum member after the four founders, joining in 1949.

In 1951, Bischof’s “Life” magazine pictures from India of the Bihar famine marked him out as the right kind of socially concerned photographer and as someone prepared to cover Magnum’s Asian beat. These factors were important in the decision to send him to Japan. (read more)

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© Werner Bischof, 1950s, Michiko Jinuma, Japan

This photograph is featured in the (fantastic) video I just posted.

"Is she ‘Americanized’? No, she takes on certain customs that come from America, she admires an American washing machine or a modern kitchen, but she doesn’t have to have one - and that seems to me to be the critical difference, this self-restraint in character." (Werner Bischof)

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In the 1950s Magnum created portfolios for "Generation X". Every photographer was given a group project: the task of portraying the new generation in the country he was visiting. The selected individuals were each interviewed using the same questionnaire, herein creating a fascinating portrait of a future generation.

"Generation X" was published throughout the world. This video highlights Werner Bischof’s trip to India and Japan and the people he photographed and interviewed on his journey.

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© Werner Bischof, May 1951, Jamshedpur / India

An employee of the Tata Steel and Iron Company. The industrial complex was founded in 1907 by Jamshedji Nassarwanyi TATA. Over the years it became the nucleus of a huge complex producing textiles, steel, electric power, chemicals, agricultural equipment, trucks, locomotives, and cement. The TATA family was also the largest private funder of technical education and scientific research in India. (see more photos here and here)

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© Werner Bischof, 1952, Kaesong / South Korea

International Press photographers covering the Korean War.

"The worst thing is to feel that as a photographer I am benefiting from someone else’s tragedy. This idea haunts me. It’s something I have to reckon with every day because I know that if I ever allowed genuine compassion to be overtaken by personal ambition, I will have sold my soul. The only way I can justify my role is to have respect for the other person’s predicament. The extent to which I do that is the extent to which I become accepted by the other; and to that extent, I can accept myself." (James Nachtwey)

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