Robert Doisneau

France 1912 - 1994


Robert Doisneau
Robert Doisneau
August 22, 2016
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street, said Robert Doisneau, a French photographer famous for his timeless 35mm Leica street portraits taken around Paris and its suburban areas.[1] Doisneau’s photography is considered unstaged and full of poetry and gentle humor, capable of revealing subtle personal emotions in a public environment. Robert Doisneau was seeking out and capturing, with amazing effortlessness and grace, those simple yet meaningful episodes of quotidian Parisian life. He is also known as one of the pioneers of children’s street culture photography – during his long career he was returning again and again to the topic of children at play in the city.

log into your account at home for news on music. these were many music shows at rue de rivoli last year
Robert Doisneau – Les tabliers de la rue de Rivoli, 1978 – image via

Lithographer Turned Poetic Master of Photography

Doisneau’s childhood wasn’t idyllic at all – his father died in a service in World War I when he was just four years old, while his mother passed away when he was seven. Young Robert was raised by an aunt he often used to describe as a rough and unloving person. When he was 13, he discovered his knack for visual arts and attended the École Estienne, where he graduated with degrees in engraving and lithography. By 1931, Doisneau abandoned his career as a lithographer because he felt that it wasn’t his true calling. Around the same period, he became an assistant to Andre Vigneau, a famous modernist photographer. Thanks to his practice in Vigneau’s studio, Doisneau started to develop his own photographic style and already in 1932 he sold his first photograph to the magazine Excelsior. Two years later, in 1934, he became a photographer for prestigious Renault, but he got fired in 1939 for always being late. Despite his volatile past and sometimes unreliable personality, Doisneau was soon hired by the Rapho Photographic Agency. His assignments consisted of extensive traveling through his home country and looking for stories to photograph. It was during these years that he took his first street photographs which eventually became his signature style. In 1940, Doisneau joined the French army, but he managed to stay in the photography business by producing various postcards. During the war, the artist has also used his photographic skills to forge passports for the French resistance. He stayed in the military until the very end of World War II in 1945. After the war, Doisneau has returned to full-time photography career and he started selling pictures to many magazines, including Life. In 1946, he rejoined the Rapho Photographic Agency and won the important Kodak Prize in 1947.

By 1931, Robert Doisneau abandoned his career as a lithographer because he felt the art of photography was his true calling

robert gallery contact print
Robert Doisneau – Audition au Concert Mayol, 1952 – image via

Story Behind The Kiss – Doisneau’s Most Famous Photograph

Robert Doisneau took his most famous photograph in 1950 – the image called Le Baiser de l’hôtel de ville or The Kiss shows a young couple kissing in the busy Parisian streets.[2] The identity of this couple remained unknown until 1992 when Jean and Denise Lavergne erroneously recognized themselves to be the couple in the photograph. They took Doisneau to court for taking the picture without their permission, but because of such abrupt course of events, Doisneau had to reveal that the people in the famous photograph were Françoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud, both aspiring actors in their early twenties. The young couple has stated that Doisneau was extremely polite and that he asked if they could kiss for the camera. This iconic photograph took place by the Hôtel de Ville and it got published in the issue of Life, in June 1950. When it comes to the young actors, their relationship has lasted less than a year. Delbart continued her acting career while Carteaud became a wine maker. In 1950, Françoise Delbart was given an original print of this photograph, which she sold at auction for €155,000, to an unidentified collector from Switzerland.

This iconic photograph took place by the Hôtel de Ville and it got published in the issue of Life, in June 1950

Contact Robert and his gallery for prints of Hotel de Ville. Plese call photographers to cover recent news
Robert Doisneau – Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville, 1950 – image via

Doisneau’s Later Life and Celebrity Portraits

By the late 50s, Doisneau has already achieved a lot of fame and recognition. In 1956, he won the Niépce Prize, while in 1983 he was awarded the Grand Prix National de la Photographie. A couple of years later the artist has won another prestigious award – the Balzac Prize. The 1950s were certainly Doisneau’s peak, but the 60s and the 70s were the era of visual experimentation for many photographers. In the 1970s, magazine editors started looking for new photo-reportage style that would represent a new social era. The old-style black and white documentary pictures weren’t popular anymore and magazines needed something innovative in order to maintain the public attention. Doisneau continued to work for magazines, but he started producing children’s books, advertising color photography and stunning celebrity portraits of Jean Cocteau, Fernand Léger, and Pablo Picasso. Around the same time, he started collaborating with famous poets such as Blaise Cendrars and Jacques Prévert. Robert Doisneau has even publicly appreciated Prévert and his poetry by saying that the poet has given him the confidence and inspiration to photograph everyday street scenes in Paris. Doisneau’s daughter Annette was also an important factor when it comes to his later career – from 1979 until her father’s death, Annette has worked as his personal assistant. The artist passed away in 1994, after having had a heart bypass and acute pancreatitis.

In the 70s, Doisneau continued to work for magazines, but he started producing children’s books, advertising color photos and stunning celebrity portraits

robert log home
Robert Doisneau – Les Pains de Picasso, 1952 (Left) / Professeur Charles Petre Ocularista, 1944 (Right) – images via

Exhibition History and Documentary Features

During his long and successful career, Doisneau has held many 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 also had many retrospectives at distinguished institutions, including the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, IL, George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, and the Witkin Gallery in New York. Doisneau’s unusual career is the subject of two short films – these are Le Paris de Robert Doisneau, made in 1973, and Bonjour Monsieur Doisneau, made in 1992 by the French actress and producer Sabine Azema. In 1991, the Royal Photographic Society awarded the artist an Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS), which is a special award given only to the most distinguished creators working in the realm of science or fine arts. It is also important to mention that Doisneau’s photography has gone through a certain revival since the artist’s death. His portraits and photographs dating back to the end of World War II have been transformed into calendars and postcards, which became icons of French contemporary culture.

The artist’s oldest photographs have been transformed into calendars and postcards

robert log home
Robert Doisneau – Cour Carrée du Louvre,1969 – image via

Depicting Paris and its Vibrant Lifestyle

Maybe if I were 20, success would change me. But now I’m a dinosaur of photography, humorously claimed Doisneau about the power of success.[3] The artist was known to be a shy and humble man, as well as a real artisan photographer who was dedicated to his passion simply because it was his vocation, something he was exceptionally good at. He wasn’t really goal-oriented and his slightly negligent behavior used to give headaches to some of his formal employers. However, even nowadays, in the second decade of the 21st century, Doisneau’s playful images mingling social classes and eccentrics in contemporary Paris are still highly appreciated and sought for. The artist has managed to create a charming and poetic vision of French people, culture, and lifestyle in his photos and prints of quiet, yet meaningful and memorable moments.

Robert Doisneau lived and worked in Paris, France.


  1. Helleris, Steven, (2011) 20th Century Photography, Museum Ludwig Cologne, Masters of Photography [August 21, 2016]
  2. Lucas, Dean, (2007) Kissing Couple, Famous Pictures [August 21, 2016]
  3. Gautrand, Jean-Claude, Robert Doisneau, Taschen, 2012.

Featured image: Robert Doisneau’s Portrait – Photo Credits Bracha L. Ettinger

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Bercy par Robert DoisneauBercy Village, Paris, FranceSolo
2016Doisneau-Lartigue un autre portrait du chevalHaras National du Pin en Normandie, FranceGroup
2016Robert Doisneau - le merveilleux quotidienArengario di Monza, ItalySolo
2014Robert DoisneauGl Holtegaard, HolteSolo
2014LoveCamera Work, BerlinGroup
2014Augen Auf! 100 Jahre Leica FotografieDeichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2014Paisaje Urbano En La Colección De Fotografía Del IvamIVAM - Institut Valencià d'Art Modern,ValenciaGroup
2014Bielefeld Contemporary - Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Bielefelder PrivatsammlungenBielefelder Kunstverein, BielefeldGroup
2014A InusitadaMuseu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand - MASP, São PauloGroup
2014Nouvelle GénérationFRAC - Nord-Pas de Calais, DunkerqueGroup
2013Robert Doisneau: France in the 20th CenturyCatherine Couturier Gallery, Houston, TXSolo
2013Robert Doisneau - Paris en liberté Palazzo Ducale, GenoaSolo
2013Robert Doisneau - Meesterlijk Straatfotograaf Nederlands Fotomuseum, RotterdamSolo
2013Decisive MomentsHonolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HIGroup
2013Revoir RéattuMusée Réattu, ArlesGroup
2013PortraitsNorton Gallery, TokyoGroup
2013Tattoo - The Face Of FreedomLutz Teutloff Galerie, BielefeldGroup
2013Why not live for Art? II - 9 collectors reveal their treasuresTokyo Opera City Art Gallery,TokyoGroup
2013Faces and FacetsPrinceton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJGroup
2013The Aesthetics of Photography - Five ElementsTokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography,TokyoGroup
2013Act Natural: PhotographyTelfair Museums, Savannah, GAGroup
2013Fantastic MachineryIstanbul Modern, IstanbulGroup
2013Treasures: the art of collectingQueensland Centre for Photography, Bulimba , QLDGroup
2013I Love You ... Me No MoreMUba Eugène Leroy, TourcoingGroup
2012Robert Doisneau. Paris en libertéPalazzo delle Esposizioni, RomeSolo
2012Robert Doisneau - ParisZen Foto, TokyoSolo
2012Robert Doisneau Centennial RetrospectiveTokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, TokyoSolo
2012Deck the WallsCatherine Couturier Gallery, Houston, TXGroup
2012WomenStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Delpire & Co.Aperture Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Beyond Words: Photography in The New YorkerUCCA - Ullens Center for Contemporary Art,BeijingGroup
2012At Home Living with Art & DesignThe Columns, SeoulGroup
2012Visions of France: Three Postwar PhotographersVirginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VAGroup
2012Conmigo, yo mismo, yoMuseo Picasso Málaga, MálagaGroup
2011Simplemente Doisneau - FotografíasCentro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos AiresSolo
2011Robert DoisneauChâteau de Malbrouck , ManderenSolo
2011Robert Doisneau - The Best of DoisenauGalerie Tanit, MunichSolo
2011Westlich Foto - & Kamrea AuktionWestLicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie, ViennaGroup
2011Eyes On Paris - Paris Im Fotobuch 1890 Bis HeuteDeichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2011Eating AnimalsAckland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NCGroup
2011Four Portfolios of the Twentieth CenturyThe Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FLGroup
2011Eye,object: Photographs From the Collection of Jonathan WilliamsStephen Daiter Gallery,Chicago, ILGroup
2011Alberto Giacometti: Neu GesehenBündner Kunstmuseum Chur, ChurGroup
2011NightBruce Silverstein Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2011Food for Thought: A Group ExhibitionRobert Mann Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2011The Fleeting Glimpse: Selections in Modern and Contemporary Photography from the Virginia Museum of Fine ArtsVirginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VAGroup
2011Our Favorites Part.2 -Photographs and PaintingsZeit-Foto Salon, TokyoGroup
2010Robert Doisneau, Dal mestiere all'opera eForma - Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, MilanSolo
2010Robert Doisneau - les tatouages du milieuMusée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon sur SaôneSolo
2010Robert Doisneau - Solo ExhibitGalerie Claude Bernard, ParisSolo
2010Robert DoisneauFondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, ParisSolo
2010Foto- & Kamera - AuktionWestLicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie, ViennaGroup
2010Classic FrenchStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2009Vintage And Contemporary PhotographsArteF Fine Art Photography Gallery, ZurichSolo
2009Something for EveryoneHamiltons Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Rêves en noir et blancGalerie E.G.P., ParisGroup
2009In Focus: The WorkerJ. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2009Uma Aventura Moderna - Coleção de Arte RenaultMuseu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, São PauloGroup
2009Une sélection d'artistesGalerie Claude Bernard, ParisGroup
2009Isabelle Huppert: Woman of Many FacesUCCA - Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, BeijingGroup
2009Photography on the StreetSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOGroup
2008Secret CityMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonGroup
2008Mujeres en pluralFundacion Canal, MadridGroup
2008Fotógrafos da Vida ModernaMuseu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo,São PauloGroup
2008Gallery SelectionsHamiltons Gallery, LondonGroup
2008The Photograph: Painted, posed and of the momentNational Gallery of Modern Art,MumbaiGroup
2008The Photograph: Painted, posed and of the momentNational Gallery of Modern Art, New DelhiGroup
2008The Story Goes On – Contemporary Artists in the Wake of Van GoghMODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, DebrecenGroup
2007Robert DoisneauGalerie Christophe Gaillard, ParisSolo
2007Robert Doisneau — The Past RecapturedMacau Museum of Art, MacaoSolo
2007Robert Doisneau - Solo ShowHelsinki Art Museum, HelsinkiSolo
2007Private CollectionsJackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GAGroup
2007A revoir - la photographie francaiseMusée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon sur SaôneGroup
2007Isabelle Huppert: Woman of Many FacesACMI - Australian Centre for the Moving Image,Melbourne, VICGroup
2007People From Dmytro Andrievskiy CollectionNational Art Museum of Ukraine, Kiev, KievGroup
2007Blanche et noire est la ruePhoto4, ParisGroup
2007L'adhésion ça a du bon !Centre d'art image (imatge), AgrèveGroup
2006Robert DoisneauGraphikmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster, MünsterSolo
2006Witness to the MomentThe Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FLGroup
2006Busy going crazy. the Sylvio Perlstein collectionLa Maison Rouge, ParisGroup
2006In the Face of History - European Photographers in the 20th CenturyBarbican Art Gallery,LondonGroup
2006Medium FotografieStampa, BaselGroup
2006My CollectionMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaGroup
2006RuesMarion Meyer Contemporain, ParisGroup
2005ROBERT DOISNEAU - Paris DoisneauGalerie Claude Bernard, ParisSolo
2005Robert Doisneau´s ParisBoca Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FLSolo
2005Robert Doisneau: From the Fictional to the RealBruce Silverstein Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2005La máquina y el juglar. Obras de la colección RenaultMuseo Tamayo, Mexico CityGroup
2005De la comtesse De Castiglione à Cindy ShermanGalerie de France, ParisGroup
2005Selektion # 1 - GruppenaustellungGalerie F5,6 für Fotografie, MunichGroup
2005Hablando con las manos - Fotografías de la Colección BuhlMuseo Guggenheim de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo, BilbaoGroup
2005Superstars - Das Prinzip Prominenz. Von Warhol bis MadonnaKunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), ViennaGroup
2005Des Deux Cotes Du Rhin -MovementMuseum Ludwig, CologneGroup
2005Storie di sguardi - FormaCentro Internazionale di Fotografia, MilanGroup
2005Paris - Photographs from a Time That WasThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2005BIG BANG - Centre PompidouMusée National d´Art Moderne, ParisGroup
2005(my private) HeroesMARTa Herford, HerfordGroup
2005Accrochage de groupe - une sélection d´artistes…Galerie Claude Bernard, ParisGroup
2005La Photographie á l'ÉpreuveIAC - Institut d'art contemporain Villeurbanne, Rhône-Alpes,VilleurbanneGroup
2004Portraits AutoportraitsPhotographies - Guy Ledune, BrusselsGroup
2004D’une Image Qui Ne Serait Pas Du Semblant. La Photographie Ecrite. 1950-2005Passage de Retz, ParisGroup
2004Robert Doisneau et Roland Giraud - L’œil et la plume, une histoire d’amitié Galerie 1900-2000, ParisGroup
2004Paris des photographes - Fotografien aus der Sammlung des Centre Georges PompidouKunstmuseum Kloster unserer lieben Frauen Magdeburg, MagdeburgGroup
2004French Photography of the 1930s and 1940sZabriskie Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2004IV Biennale Internationale de la Photographie et des Arts Visuels de LiègeBiennale internationale de la Photographie et des Arts visuels, LiègeGroup
2003Robert Doisneau alebo cesta jedným storočímSlovak National Gallery, Slovenská Národná Galéria (SNG), BratislavaSolo
2003Robert Doisneau - Inauguration - PhotographiesGalerie Claude Bernard, ParisSolo
2003Robert Doisneau - Sala EFTIEscuela de Fotografía. Centro de imagen, MadridSolo
2003Künstlerphotographien - Berühmte Photographen portraitieren berühmte Künstler Galerie Pudelko, Bonn Group
2003La vita delle formeGalleria Civica di Modena, ModenaGroup
2003Looking at Photographs - 125 photographs from the Museum of Modern Art, New YorkThe State Hermitage Museum, St. PetersburgGroup
2003fables de l'identitéCentre national de la photographie, ParisGroup
2003Les choix dCBFondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, ParisGroup
2002Deux Oiseaux Robert Doisneau, IzisKiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, KiyosatoSolo
2002Un tal Robert DoisneauMNBA - Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes Santiago Chile, SantiagoSolo
2002Robert Doisneau's ParisPortland Museum of Art, Portland, MESolo
2002Picasso im ObjektivGalerie Jeanne, MunichGroup
2002Paris Photographs from the Manfred Heiting CollectionMFAH - Museum of Fine Arts Houston,Houston, TXGroup
2002A Thousand Hounds - A Walk with the Dogs through the History of PhotographyNorton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FLGroup
1998In the Cold: Photography 1945 - 1965Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SAGroup
1998Ficciones íntimasFundación Joan Miró, BarcelonaGroup
1997The Last Party: Nightworld in PhotographsSerge Sorokko Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1996Alberto Giacometti von Photographen gesehenKunsthalle Wien (Museumsquartier), ViennaGroup
1996By NightFondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, ParisGroup
1995Robert DoisneauMusée Carnavalet, ParisSolo
1995Robert Doisneau Solo ShowVictor Barsokevitsch Photographic Centre, KuopioSolo
1995Robert Doisneau and Elliott Erwitt: On Modern LifeBirmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, ALGroup
1994Robert Doisneau - Centre PompidouMusée National d´Art Moderne, ParisSolo
1994Robert Doisneau : une rétrospectiveMusée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QCSolo
1994Robert DoisneauLe Chateau d'Eau, ToulouseSolo
1989Robert Doisneau Solo ExhibitMusée de l´Elysée, LausanneSolo
1989Holiday Invitational - ArtSpaceVirginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables (Miami), FLGroup
1989Une histoire de collections : dons 1984-1989Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal,Montreal, QCGroup
1988ParisFFI - Fotografie Forum international, FrankfurtSolo
1988The Dog ShowJan Kesner Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1988Picasso porträtteradModerna Museet, StockholmGroup
1988Captured Moments: Kertesz, Doisneau, BoubatSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOGroup
1986Masterpieces of 20th Century PhotographyCornerhouse, ManchesterGroup
1985VariantsMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1985French Photographs by Edouard Boubat & Robert DoisneauMuscarelle Museum of Art,Williamsburg, VAGroup
1984Three Master Photographers in France - ArtSpaceVirginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables (Miami), FLGroup
1982Les choix de l œil : la photographie depuis 1940Musee du Bas-Saint-Laurent, Rivière-du-Loup, QCGroup
1981Les choix de l œil : la photographie depuis 1940Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, QCGroup
1980Looking for Picasso: Photographs of the ArtistICP - International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1974Robert Doisneau, Edmund Teske, Danny LyonHenry Art Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
1971Photographs of WomenMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1964The Photographer's EyeMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1954Photographs by Robert Doisneau The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
1953Postwar European PhotographyMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1951Five French PhotographersMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
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