Werner Bischof

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Werner Bischof (26 April 1916 – 16 May 1954) was a Swiss photographer and photojournalist. He became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1949, the first new photographer to join its original founders.[1]:445 Bischof's book Japan (1954) was awarded the Prix Nadar in 1955.[2]

Life and work[edit]

Bischof was born in Zürich, Switzerland. When he was six years old, the family moved to Waldshut, Germany, where he subsequently went to school. In 1932, having abandoned studies to become a teacher, he enrolled at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zürich, where he graduated cum laude in 1936.

From 1939 on, he worked as an independent photographer for various magazines, in particular, du, based in Zürich. He travelled extensively from 1945 to 1949 through nearly all European countries from France to Romania and from Norway to Greece. His works on the devastation in post-war Europe established him as one of the foremost photojournalists of his time.[citation needed]

He was associated into Magnum Photos in 1948 and became a full member in 1949.[1]:454 At that time Magnum was composed of just five other photographers, its founders Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, David Seymour, and Ernst Haas.[1]:454

The focus of much of Bischof's post-war humanist photography was showing the poverty and despair around him in Europe, tempered with his desire to travel the world, conveying the beauty of nature and humanity.

In 1951, he went to India, freelancing for Life,[3] and then to Japan and Korea. For Paris Match he worked as a war reporter in Vietnam. In 1954, he travelled through Mexico and Panama, before flying to Peru, where he embarked on a trip through the Andes to the Amazonas on 14 May. On 16 May his car fell off a cliff on a mountain road in the Andes, and all three passengers were killed.


Publications by Bischof[edit]

  • Japan. Zurich: Manesse, 1954. (in German)
    • Japan. London: Sylvan, 1954. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1954.
    • Japon. Paris: Delpire, 1954. (in French)
  • Indiens Pas Mort,(with Pierre Verger and Robert Frank), Zurich: Conzett & Huber, 1956.
  • Carnet de Route.Zurich: Conzett & Huber, 1957.
  • Werner Bischof: Europa 1945 - 1950. Zürich: Tages-Anzeiger, 1990. OCLC 845274917
  • After the War. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1997. ISBN 1-56098-721-9. Foreword by Miriam Mafai.
  • Werner Bischof. Phaidon 55's. London: Phaidon, 2001. ISBN 0-7148-4041-6. Text by Claude Cookman.
  • Questions to My Father: A Tribute to Werner Bischof. London: Trolley, 2004. ISBN 1-904563-25-2. Edited by Marco Bischof.

Publications about Bischof[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Manchester, William (1989). In Our Time: The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers. W W Norton & Co Inc. ISBN 0-393-02767-8. 
  2. ^ a b Warren, Lynne (2005). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, 3-Volume Set. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 9781135205430. 
  3. ^ Though never a staffer on LIFE, he was a valuable contributor: Loengard, John (1998). Life photographers: what they saw. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-8212-2455-7. 

External links[edit]