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 iconic images of the French photographer. Returning to his career through some of the themes that are most dear to him and immerses himself in the emotions that are aroused by his shots.

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

Robert Doisneau at the Ara Pacis Museum

The exhibition brings together over one hundred and thirty silver silver prints in black and white, from the collection of Atelier Robert Doisneau in Montrouge. In this workshop, the photographer has been printing and archiving his paintings for over fifty years. And there he died in 1994, leaving a legacy of nearly 450,000 negatives.

Gabriel Bauret writes in the catalog that accompanies the exhibitionpublished by Silvana Editoriale: “This exhibition covers the work of Robert Doisneau without chronological differences or criteria of genre or theme, bring together some of its chosen contexts: Factories, bistros, porter, venues for ceremonies, jazz clubs, schools or street scenes in general ”.

“Whether it’s the commissioned photographs or the result of his free wanderings through Paris, we see a style emerging that emerges with a certain change of mentality, which is also reflected in the photographer’s statements and writings.”

His works are the triumph of fantasy, but also of a freedom of opinion not far from surrealism, which Doisneau discovered during his apprenticeship as an assistant in the studio of advertising photographer André Vigneau in 1931; a much more concrete and exciting education than that of the Estienne school, from which he claims to have arisen with few resources to approach modernity. André Vigneau teaches him a working method, reveals the importance of composition and opens his eyes to the flourishing artistic world of the time: and Unlimited Horizon “.

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

Exhibition route

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

Concierges (1945-1953): A series of shots dedicated to the Porter of Paris. As Doisneau himself puts it, in fact, “the real Paris can not be conceived without its porter.”

Children (1934-1956): The themes photographed by Doisneau often accompany his intentions, especially the children who populate and animate the streets of the suburbs.

Occupation and Liberation (1940-1944): When Robert Doisneau finally reaches the status of independent photographer, his momentum is destroyed by war and occupation.

Après-Wars (1945-1953): The post-war rebirth takes place in the uncertain step of a child in the Les Premiers Pas or in girls dressed for Sunday morning. Or even in the smiles on the faces of The Habitants of the Rue du Transvaal.

Le Monde du travail (1935-1950): The photographer worked for five years in the Renault workshop’s advertising department, which, he says, allowed him to get to know “the world of those who wake up early”.

The Théâtre de la rue: in the street school, much richer and more fascinating than any other school, Doisneau finds a beauty, a disturbance and a brilliance that seduces him.

Interior scenes (1943-1970): Interior scenes, in which, quoted by Jean-Claude Lemagny, “the ridiculous side of situations is taken up above all by its 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 Mondays (1950-1952): In 1950, Robert Doisneau met Edmonde Charles-Roux, a journalist Vogue, and became a chronicler of Parisian life and the artistic life of the time. This section therefore collects some photographs of Doisneau as witnesses of the great dances and splendid post-war weddings.

Portraits (1942-1961): Perhaps a lesser known part of Doisneau’s work consists of several portraits, often commissioned. In front of his lens parade painters, illustrators, writers, actors, filmmakers, actors, scientists and many others.

A sure idea of ​​happiness (1945-1961): “What I was trying to show was a world where I felt good, where people were friendly, where I found the tenderness I was hoping to get. My photos were like proof that these World can exist “.

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

Bistrot (1948-1957): towed by Robert Giraud, Doisneau discovers the surroundings of bistros and banlieue Paris. The road thus makes way for the methodical exploration of the most unexpected universe, where the doisneau feels at ease.


Timetable: all Day 9.30 – 19.30. The last entry one hour before closing time.

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

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