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Summary Article: Doisneau, Robert
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

French photographer. He is known for his sensitive and often witty depictions of ordinary people and everyday situations within the environs of Paris. His often reproduced image Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville/The Kiss at the Hôtel de Ville was taken for Life magazine 1950.

Training Doisneau was born and grew up in a suburb of Paris. At 13 he entered the Ecole Estienne, a craft school for the printing industry in the Gobelins district of Paris. He learned lithography and engraving and became adept at hand-lettering, a skill that enabled him to get a job 1929 in a graphic-art studio, the Atelier Ullmann. A little later he became an advertising photographer there, and in 1931–32 was assistant to the advertising and fashion photographer André Vigneau.

Career By now Doisneau had begun to take pictures of whatever caught his eye, particularly of children playing in the street or on wasteland. He spent 1933–37 working in the advertising department of the Renault car firm, where he became an active trade unionist. Deciding on freelance photography, he joined the Rapho Agency just before the outbreak of World War II 1939. He served in the French army until invalided out 1940. During the German occupation, he forged documents for the Resistance.

After the war, as well as rejoining Rapho, he joined Alliance-Photo and produced work for several of the picture magazines popular at the time. In 1949 he began, rather uneasily, working for Vogue. The same year saw the publication of his book of photographs of ordinary people, La Banlieue de Paris, with text by the novelist Blaise Cendrars. At about this time too he began to be known internationally, mainly for his photo-stories in Life magazine, particularly the sequence from which The Kiss at the Hôtel de Ville is taken. From the 1950s onwards, he worked on many projects for books. Some 40 books of his photographs have been published, including a few for children, and there have been many exhibitions.

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