“Robert Doisneau”, the exhibition at the Ara Pacis Museum

The Ara Pacis Museum, which in addition to being a rare architectural spectacle, currently hosts until September 4, 2022 a splendid exhibition focused on the figure of Robert Doisneau, one of the greatest photographers of all time.

“Robert Doisneau”, the exhibition at the Ara Pacis Museum

Curated by Gabriel Bauret, “Robert Doisneau” is a retrospective that traces the career of the great photographer – whose most famous plan is undoubtedly the one that represents the kiss of a young couple in the crowd of the Place de l’Hôtel . de Ville – through 130 images from the collection of the Atelier Robert Doisneau in Montrouge.

Along with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau is considered one of the founding fathers of French humanist photography and street photojournalism. With its aim, it captures the daily lives of the men and women who inhabit Paris and its suburbs, with all the emotions of the gestures and situations in which they find themselves engaged.

The 130 photographs on display at the Ara Pacis Museum are printed in black and white silver salts that come directly from Montrouge, the studio where the photographer has printed and archived his images for more than 50 years, which is also where Doisneau died in 1994., leaving a legacy of about 450,000 negatives.


Special attention was paid to accessibility: for the visually impaired, a dedicated itinerary was designed, in collaboration with the Homer State Tactile Museum, with relief drawings and related audio descriptions. In addition to these supports, there is a calendar of free tactile visits, guided by specialized operators.

And also for the deaf public, free guided tours of the exhibition are offered: visitors are accompanied by interpreters of Italian Sign Language – LIS, a service made available by Department of Social Policy and Health – Department of Human Services of Rome Capitale and made by Cooperative signs of integration – Lazio.

The way to meet Robert Doisneau and his plans

The itinerary of the “Robert Doisneau” exhibition is divided into 11 sections, as follows:

Concierges (1945-1953): a series of plans dedicated to the goalkeepers of Paris because, as Doisneau states, “Real Paris cannot be conceived without its goalkeepers”. Thus were born memorable portraits such as Concierge aux lunettes, Les Concierges de la Rue du Dragon and Madame Augustin;

Children (1934-1956): the subjects photographed by Doisneau are often complicit in their intentions, particularly the children who populate and animate the suburban streets. The photographer feels at ease in his company, as evidenced by the large number of shots that have seen them as protagonists since the mid-1930s;

Occupation and liberation (1940-1944): When Robert Doisneau finally achieves independent photographer status, his momentum is broken by war and occupation. Everyday life and winters are harsh, but the Liberation will offer you the opportunity to regain the effervescence that reigned in Paris at that time, as in the plan entitled Camouflage, [Libération de Paris];

Those after the wars (1945-1953): the post-war renaissance is portrayed in the uncertain step of a child in Les Premiers Pas or in the girls disguised as Sunday mornings or in the smiles on the faces of Les Habitants on the Rue du Transvaal;

The world of work (1935-1950): Doisneau worked for five years in the advertising department of the Renault workshops which, he says, allowed him to “get to know the world of those who wake up early”. Some of the photos that Doisneau took of workers in the Paris suburbs are shown;

The Street Theater: in the street school, much richer and more captivating than any other school, Doisneau finds a beauty, a disorder, and a splendor that seduce him. From the street vendor portrayed in Les Oignons, the Pêcheur à la mouche sèche or even the Père de famille, no one escapes Doisneau’s watchful eye;

Indoor Scenes (1943-1970): interior scenes in which, quoting Jean-Claude Lemagny, “the ridiculous side of situations is accepted first and foremost by its victims. We don’t care if the models are aware that they are funny or touching ”, like Créatures de rêve;

Fashion and Worldliness (1950-1952): in 1950 Robert Doisneau met Edmonde Charles-Roux, a journalist for “Vogue” and became a chronicler of Parisian life and the artistic life of the time. This section therefore includes some photographs of Doisneau as a witness to the great dances and sumptuous post-war weddings;

Portraits (1942-1961): perhaps a lesser known part of Doisneau’s work consists of the numerous portraits, often commissioned. In front of his lens painters, illustrators, writers, actors, filmmakers, actors, scientists such as Picasso, Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Cocteau and many others with whom the photographer establishes sincere friendships that will influence the fate of his photographs;

A certain idea of ​​happiness (1945-1961)“What I was trying to show was,” Doisneau recalls, “a world where I felt good, where people were kind, where I would find the tenderness I hoped to receive.” My photos were like proof that this world can exist. ”Whether at an impromptu street dance like La Dernière Valse du 14 juillet or wedding portraits or the iconic Le Baiser at the Hôtel de Ville;

Bistros (1948-1957): dragged by Robert Giraud, Doisneau discovers the atmosphere of the bistros and suburbs of Paris; the path thus gives way to the methodical exploration of the most unexpected universes where Doisneau will end up feeling at ease; memorable portraits like that of Mademoiselle Anita will be born.

Leave a Comment