Vale René Burri

October 2010


Rene Burri. 'Men On A Rooftop, Sao Paulo', 1960


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014)
Men On A Rooftop, Sao Paulo
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos



Another strong, passionate photographer has gone. One of his best images and one of my favourites is Men on a rooftop (1960, above). For more images see my earlier posting René Burri: A Retrospective at Flo Peters Gallery, Hamburg, November 2009 – January 2010.




“When Burri left Zurich in the 1950s, he set out to discover the world and some sense of man’s smallness within it. Switzerland was landlocked, bordered by mountains; a camera was a way out. Even then, he worried about what he could do that was new – “when shutters rattle from morning to night in every corner of the world … when every continent is lit with the flash of cameras.” His job, he believes, has been to “trace the enormous social changes taking place in our age, conveying my thoughts and images of them.” And, more poetically, “to put the intensity that you yourself have experienced into the picture – otherwise it is just a document.” He retired from reporting once that intensity, that sense of the bigness of the world, was gone.”

Saturday February 7, 2004 The Guardian



René Burri. 'Ernesto Guevara (Che) Havana' 1963


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014)
Ernesto Guevara (Che) Havana
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos


Rene Burri. 'Brazil, Rio de Janeiro' 1960


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014)
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos



It is with great sadness that the Musée de l’Elysée has learned of the death of René Burri, on Monday October 20 in Zurich, at the age of 81. In his later years, René Burri wished to create a foundation for the preservation of his work. The Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne hosts the Fondation René Burri established in June 2013.

The members of the Fondation de l’Elysée as well as the Musée de l’Elysée team extend their deepest sympathies to the family. A member of Magnum, René Burri was without a doubt one of the most talented photographers of his generation. He was present wherever history was being made and an acute witness of the major events of his time.

On the occasion of his 80th year, René Burri wished to create a foundation for the conservation and promotion of his work in museums and among the public, both in Switzerland and around the world. The Musée de l’Elysée hosts the Fondation René Burri and has been working closely with the artist and his family since June 2013 toward this goal.

“Thanks to the work being undertaken by the Musée de l’Elysée, we feel confident that René Burri’s legacy, which is of universal importance, will be passed on to future generations in the best possible conditions,” says the family.

This major Swiss patrimony has been bestowed to the Musée de l’Elysée on a 20-year loan, with the possibility for renewal. The René Burri photographic archives consist of approximately 30,000 images (vintage and modern prints, contact sheets and slides), in black and white and in colour. One third of this collection has already been received by the museum and an open-air exhibition will be organised in Lausanne as early as next year.

Press release from the Musée de l’Elysée



René Burri. 'United Arab Emirates, Das Island' 1976


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014)
United Arab Emirates, Das Island
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos


Rene Burri. 'Pekin' 1989


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014)
© Rene Burri/Magnum Photos


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014) 'Nuit des images' 2013


René Burri (Swiss, 1933-2014)
Nuit des images
Musee de l’Elysee
© Reto Duriet



Musée de l’Elysée
18, avenue de l’Elysée CH
1014 Lausanne
Phone: + 41 21 316 99 11

Opening hours
Wednesday – Monday 10am – 6pm
Closed Tuesday

Musée de l’Elysée website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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