René Burri (1933–2014) studied the foundations of photography in Hans Finsler’s legendary photography class at the Zürcher Kunstgewerbeschule (today Zurich University of the Arts), beginning in 1949. But he quickly broke away from the cool and sober photographic approach that was taught there, committed to the trend known as “New Objectivity.” While still a student, he began making portraits of people. In the late 1950s, Burri then rapidly established himself as a “concerned photographer,” achieving his breakthrough with the work Die Deutschen (The Germans). Countless milestones in photojournalism followed, with extended photo spreads published under his name in the magazine DU. Burri took many trips to the scenes of world events, turning out powerful photo-reportages of historical developments as well as snapshots of everyday life. In 1959, he became a full member of the Magnum Photo Agency, whose fortunes he would influence for the rest of his life. The edition is a perfect example of Burri’s gift for composing pictures graphically and yet pressing the shutter at the “decisive moment.”
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