(French, April 14, 1912–April 1, 1994) was a photographer born in Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France. His father died when he was four years old, and his mother died when he was seven years old; he was raised by an aunt. When he was age 13, he attended École Estienne and graduated with degrees in engraving and lithography.
In 1931, Doisneau left behind his career as a lithographer and became an assistant to André Vigneau
(French, 1892–1968), the Modernist photographer. In 1932, Doisneau sold his first photograph to the magazine Excelsior
. In 1934, he became a photographer for Renault, but he was fired in 1939 for always being late. Doisneau was soon hired by the Rapho Photographic Agency to travel through France, looking for stories to photograph. It was during this time that he took his first street photographs, for which he would become famous. In 1940, Doisneau joined the French army ; he stayed in the photography business during this time by producing postcards. The artist also used his skills to forge passports for the French Resistance. He stayed in the military until the end of World War II in 1945.
After the war, Doisneau returned full-time to photography and sold pictures to many magazines, including Life
. In 1946, he rejoined the Rapho Photographic Agency and stayed with the group for the rest of his career. Doisneau won the Kodak Prize in 1947. His most famous photograph for Life
, the 1950 image Le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville
, showed a couple kissing in the busy Paris streets. In 1956, he won the Niépce Prize, and, in 1983, he was awarded the Grand Prix National de la Photographie. The artist won the Balzac Prize in 1986.
Doisneau held solo and group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY, at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, France, and at the Isetan Museum of Art in Tokyo, Japan. He has had many retrospectives at distinguished institutions, including the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, France, the Art Institute of Chicago, IL, George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, and the Witkin Gallery in New York. Other famous works by the artist include the 1942 photograph Le Cheval Tombé
and Le Violoncelliste
(1957). Doisneau died in Paris in 1994.