Robert Doisneau at the Ara Pacis Museum: An Extensive Retrospective

The exhibition dedicated to Robert Doisneau at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome is an opportunity to see or review some of the most emblematic images of the French photographer. Going through his career through some of the topics most loved by him and immersing himself in the emotions that aroused his plans.

Curated by Gabriel Bauret, the exhibition will remain open until September 4, 2022offering an extra “excuse” for a stay in the Eternal City.

Robert Doisneau at the Ara Pacis Museum

The exhibition brings together more than one hundred and thirty black and white silver salt prints from the collection of the Atelier Robert Doisneau in Montrouge. It is in this workshop where the photographer has printed and archived his images for over fifty years. And here he died in 1994, leaving a legacy of about 450,000 negatives.

Gabriel Bauret writes in the catalog that accompanies the exhibitionpublished by Silvana Editoriale: “This exhibition embraces the work of Robert Doisneau without chronological distinctions or any gender or thematic criteria, bringing together some of their chosen contexts: factories, bistros, porters, places for ceremonies, jazz clubs, schools or street stages in general “.

“Whether it is commissioned photographs or the result of his free walk around Paris, we see that a style is imbued with a particular mentality, which is also reflected in the statements and writings of the photographer.”

His works are the triumph of fantasy, but also of a freedom of expression not far from surrealism, which Doisneau discovered during his apprenticeship as an assistant to the studio of the advertising photographer André Vigneau, in 1931; a much more concrete and exciting training than that of the Estienne school, from which he claims to have left with few resources to face modernity. André Vigneau teaches him a method of work, reveals the importance of composition and opens his eyes to the effervescent art world of the time.: a boundless horizon “.

Robert Doisneau, Fox-terrier at the Pont des Arts, Paris 1953 © Robert Doisneau

Exhibition itineraries

Robert Doisneau’s exhibition at the Ara Pacis Museum is divided into eleven sections.

Concierges (1945-1953): a series of plans dedicated to the porters of Paris. As Doisneau himself states, in fact, “real Paris cannot be conceived without its goalkeepers.”

Emphasize (1934-1956): The subjects photographed by Doisneau are often complicit in their intentions, particularly the children who populate and animate the suburban streets.

Occupation and release (1940-1944): When Robert Doisneau finally achieves the status of an independent photographer, his momentum is broken by war and occupation.

The postwar periods (1945-1953): The postwar renaissance is portrayed in the uncertain passage of a child to the The First Steps or in girls disguised as Sunday morning. Or back in the smiles on the faces of The Inhabitants of the Rue du Transvaal.

The world of work (1935-1950): The photographer 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”.

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.

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

From Vogue to Parisian bistros

The other sections:

Fashion and Worldliness (1950-1952): In 1950 Robert Doisneau met Edmonde Charles-Roux, a journalist from 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 testament 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 its target parade painters, illustrators, writers, actors, filmmakers, actors, scientists and many others.

A certain idea of ​​happiness (1945-1961): “What I was trying to show was 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. ”

Robert Doisneau, Mademoiselle Anita, “La Boule Rouge” cabaret, rue de Lappe, Paris 1950 © Robert Doisneau

Bistros (1948-1957): dragged by Robert Giraud, Doisneau discovers the surroundings of the bistros and suburbs Paris. The path thus gives way to the methodical exploration of the most unexpected universes where Doisneau will end up feeling at ease.


Timetable: every day from 9.30 to 19.30. Last entry one hour before closing.

The exhibition is promoted and produced by Cultura Roma, the Capitoline Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the Cassa di Risparmio di Padova and the Rovigo i Silvana Editoriale Foundation. Organizational support of Zètema Progetto Cultura.

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