In 1959, twenty-six young men captured a group of children on the street of Cologne, a very powerful photographic group. Maybe it's summer we feel the heat. Everything is there, everything that makes Cubism, poetry, the realism of the real picture real. We're in the same atmosphere as Helen Levitt's photos in New York. One year ago publisher Robert Delpire published one of the main books in the history of photography: Americans by Robert Frank, a book about the power of photographic language. Five years later, in 1963, that same publisher published the second book, Just as Important: Rene Burr, Les Allemands; we can never thank him enough.
But what makes Americans, who are, of course, an absolute masterpiece, constantly quoted, while Germans are rarely mentioned? In fact, as soon as we talk about the United States, a country that hates Europe without any justification, there is an immediate interest. In literature it is written, for example, by Jack Kerouac, while Nicolas Bouvier is less well known and still of the same significance; in the film company Grain De Violence by Richard Brooks (1955), while Tony Richardson's Long Distance Runner Alone is the movie of rebellion. also in photography, where photography schools systematically mark Americans, often omitting the Germans, which is undoubtedly of equal importance. Also this wonderful book will be unjustly appreciated by only a few photography experts … Germany is a subject that is much more ungrateful and difficult. We are ten years after the end of World War II, and the outcome is even more commendable. Who really cares about the life of the Germans in the early 1960s? Nobody: The topic is almost taboo, even in Europe. While everyone is passionate about the "American Way of Life", its ways, its cities, its lifestyles, its customs, its wives. But these are also among the Germans, as I say, this style of "free" photography was historically born in the United States with Ben Shahn in the 1930s, with his friend Walker Evans and in Europe with Moholy Nagy. example:
Coming out of the Germans through Rene Burr, it literally hits the power of the images and the book is full of admiration. It's not the result of some good photos, but a whole collection of page-by-page image-by-image collections. A street with a small number. a little girl running next to a parked Mesersmith, a rare car at the time; In West Berlin in 1959, one sunny day, a man who might have been Khrushchev was following modern-day rebuilt buildings, a boy selling bananas on the right, a few on the left; People in Frankfurt, on the street, on the opposite side, and on the left, a woman crosses, to the right, a man stands out. they are all in the right place (Henry Carrier-Bresson …). I could repeat these descriptions after the page. There is nothing important going on. but an exact big photo is not necessarily a "major" thing, but usually a minor one. Knowing how to see it is not as easy as it seems. The Germans also offer us this remarkable series of vertical photos: 1962 in Bonn, a little girl with a lot of "French" flowers; The Frankfurt train station, a man in a hat in the foreground of a Mercedes, passes by a young woman and a signboard from the left – a very dynamic staff. In Hamburg, 1962, in a cafe, under the watch of some lovers. And who is this woman passing the picture in front of the officials and the flags? Post Mark Engels in West Berlin, 1959 What is he doing there? An unanswered photographic moment, but one of the most beautiful. Without forgetting the group of men in Essen in 1960, with such a serious poise, it almost reminds of the characters in the photos of Erich Salomon.
Except for this last picture, the photos I mentioned are not the most well-known in the book, but they are the pursuers of me, the ones who forever marked my memory. And I can't thank Ren Burr enough for his great work, and especially for the Germans. I'm crazy about it, and Agnes de Gevion Saint-Kir didn't say the opposite. Rene Burr is one of the people who opened forever new doors in the photographic language, just as Aldus Hoxley in his book Les Portes de la Perception (1954). Undoubtedly, Rene Burr is one of the most important and up-to-date authors of the second half of the 20th century.
Excerpt from Bernard Plessau's text on the book "Les Allemands de René Burri".
Appears in the Ren Burr Catalog, L & # 39; explosion du, Editions Noir sur blanc, Collection Musée de l & # 39; Elysée and Scheidegger & Spiess, February 2020.
Renee Burr. The Germans
March 4 – April 18, 2020
13 Rue de l´Abbaye, 75006 Paris, France
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