Werner Bischof


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(1916–54), Swiss photographer, initially influenced by his father, an ambitious amateur. Training under Hans Finsler at the Zurich Design School gave him mastery of practical, impeccably staged object and product photography, and he opened a ‘Foto-Grafik’ studio in Zurich. In 1942 he joined the staff of the journal Du, working initially in fashion. In 1945 he took up photojournalism, travelling through Europe to document the effects of war and publishing in international magazines. In 1948 he joined Magnum, and in 1951 co-founded the Council of Swiss Photographers. That year he made his international breakthrough with the photo-essay Hunger in India for Life. Bischof's approach was humanistic, documenting war, hunger, and misery in an aesthetically detached way. Particularly his images of children transcend suffering by their compositional poise and precision. His last years were spent travelling in Asia, the USA, and South America. He died in a road accident in the Andes.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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