Robert Doisneau (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.

Timeline

1912
Born: Gentilly in the Val-de-Marne, France
1926–1929
Studied engraving at the Ecole Estienne in Chantilly
1945
Met Pierre Betz and begins a series of reportage for the magazine Le Point. Meets Blaise Cendrars and Henri Cartier-Bresson
1956
Received Prix Niépce
1975
Invited to participate in the Rencontres d’Arles
1981
Participated in a film by F. Moscowitz, Trois jours, trois photographes with Jean-Loup Sieff and Bruno Barbey
1985
Worked on the film Poète and piéton by Francois Porcile
1986
Participated in the Atget colloquium at the Collège de France
1986
First video film for French television Antenne 2. Receives the Prix Balzak
1992
Appeared in the film Bonjour Monsieur Doisneau directed by Sabine Azéma in celebration of his 80th birthday
1994
Lived in the Paris suburb of Montrouge until his death

Exhibitions

1996
Solo exhibition, Montpellier Photo-Visions, Galerie Municipale de la Pllotographie; Isetan Museum of' Art, Tokyo; Daimaru Museum, Osaka,Japan.
1995
Solo exhibition, A Homage to Robert Doisneau, Galerie du Chateau d'Eau h Toulouse.
1995
Solo exhibition, Doisneau 40//44, Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Lyons, Lyons, France.
1990
Solo exhibition, La Science de Doisneau, Jardin des Plantes, Paris.
1989
Solo exhibition, Doisneau-Renault, Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris.
1988
Solo exhibition, A Hormage to Robert Doisneau, Villa Medicis, Rome.
1987
St.-Denis, Musée de St.-Denis. (Solo)
1986
Group exhilbition, De Vogue à femme, Rencontres Inter- nationales de la Photographie d'Arles.
1984
Robert Doisneau, Photographe du di- manche Institut Lumiére, Lyons. (Solo)
1983
Solo exhilbition of 120 photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing.
1982
Portraits, Fondation Nationale de la Photo- graphie, Lyons. (Solo)
1981
Witkin Gallery, New York. (Solo)
1980
Amsterdam (Solo)
1979
Para;s, les passants qui passent Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. (Solo)
1977
Exhibition with Guy le Querrec, Carlos Freire, Claude Rahnond-Dityvon, Bernard Descamps, and Jean Lattés, Six Photographes en quête de banlieue, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
1976
Exhibition with Brassai', Cartier-Bresson, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, Izis, and Marc Riboud, Kraków.
1975
Witkin Gallery, New York; Musée des Arts (Solo)
1974
University of California at Davis. (Solo)
1972
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester; New York. (Solo)
1971
Participated in traveling exhibition in France with Jacques Dubois and Roger Lecotté.
1968
Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris. (Solo)
1968
Exhibition with D. Brihat, J. P. Sudre, and L. Clergue, Musée Cantini de Marseilles.
1965
Exhibition with Daniel Frasnay, Jean Lattés, Jeanine Niépce, Roger Pic, and Will), Ronis, Six Photographes et Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.
1965
Exhibition with Henri Cartier-Bresson and André Vigneau, Musée Réattu, Aries.
1960
Solo exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, Chicago
1951
Exhibition with Brassaï, Willy Ronis, and Izis, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
1947
Salon de la Photo, Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris.

Literature

1942
Illustrated his first book on science called Les Nouveaux Destins de l’intelligence français