Drawing not only upon Doisneau's previously unpublished archives but also on conversations with the photographer in his final years, this book examines every aspect of Doisneau's work, including the techniques he used. Emphasized are his periods of engagement with the birth of photojournalism in the 1930s; with humanist social realism in the 1940s and 1950s; and with montage and art brut in the 1960s. The photographs, made by Doisneau on his own and while working for Vogue, Life, and other well-known magazines, reveal how the familiar is swept away, a theme germane to city-dwellers everywhere.
Peter Hamilton portrays Doisneau's "telescopic" life as a series of vignettes, fortuitous encounters, and friendships with a cast of larger-than-life characters, including Blaise Cendrars, Fernand Léger, Jacques Prévert, and Robert Giraud. Doisneau grew up at the edge of the Parisian banlieue, a zone between town and country to which he continually returned in order to capture the life of a place where, as he said, "you went either to play, to make love, or to commit suicide." He came of age along with his profession, and Hamilton not only details this social history but in a personal and resonant style includes Doisneau's own voice, chronicling his developing perception of his life's work as a collection of images that constitute "a surrealist project," "a little theater" of the worlds he passed through.
Illustrated with more than four hundred photographs in duotone, many published for the first time, Robert Doisneau: A Photographer's Life resembles what Doisneau loved most, "the flower that grows between the railway tracks, infinitely more interesting than flowers in vases."
500 duotne and 20 full-color illustrations
9 1/2 x 9 1/2"