Exhibition: ‘Witness at a Crossroads: Photographer Marc Riboud in Asia’ at The Rubin Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 16th October 2014 – 23rd March 2015


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Road to Khyber Pass' Afghanistan, 1956


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Road to Khyber Pass
Afghanistan, 1956
60 x 94cm



I am not convinced by these. There are a couple of brilliant images in the posting, such as Forbidden City (Beijing, 1957) and Photography Fair 150 Kilometers from Tokyo (Japan, 1958) but the rest vary between plain (Between Konark and Puri, Orissa, India, 1956), kitsch or is it cheesy (Road to Khyber Pass, Afghanistan, 1956) to downright obvious (Cave Dwelling, between Urgup and Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey, 1955).


Many thankx to The Rubin Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Photography Fair 150 Kilometers from Tokyo' Japan, 1958


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Photography Fair 150 Kilometers from Tokyo
Japan, 1958
40 x 50cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Darjeeling' Darjeeling, India, 1956


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Darjeeling, India, 1956
30 x 40cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Forbidden City' Beijing, 1957


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Forbidden City
Beijing, 1957
40 x 50cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Between Konark and Puri' Orissa, India, 1956


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Between Konark and Puri
Orissa, India, 1956
Vintage print
18 x 27.2cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Camel Market' Nagaur, Rajasthan, India, 1956


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Camel Market
Nagaur, Rajasthan, India, 1956
Vintage print
33.5 x 49.5cm



Marc Riboud’s first New York exhibition in over 25 Years chronicles the artist’s expeditions across Asia

Photography exhibition at Rubin Museum of Art offers rare glimpse into life at critical time in trans-regional Asian history

This October, the Rubin Museum of Art will open Witness at a Crossroads: Photographer Marc Riboud in Asia, a photography exhibition that chronicles the French artist’s journeys across Asia, with particular focus on his travels from 1955 through 1958. The first New York museum exhibition of Riboud’s work in over 25 years, Witness at a Crossroads will illustrate the artist’s perspective on the confluence of tradition and modern culture in mid-century Asia. On view from October 16, 2014 through March 23, 2015, Witness at a Crossroads will feature approximately 100 black-and-white photographs from the mid-to-late 1950s, as well as images from Riboud’s pioneering visit to China in the 1960s. The exhibition will also present ephemeral objects including press cards, contact sheets, and international magazines where photographs of Riboud’s travels were published.

Organized in thematic clusters – regionally and chronologically – the exhibition will examine Riboud’s travels across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, and Japan. Riboud’s photographs provide an honest and accessible window into the daily lives of the diverse people of the region and illuminate the tension created by cultural shifts during this period. These early images provide important context for Riboud’s later works and illuminate the influence of his experience in Asia on his career.

“Marc Riboud captured a period of significant cultural transformation and postwar modernisation through the lives of everyday individuals, creating an important living document. The exhibition provides a broad lens through which to look at trans-regional Asian dynamics and history in these critical years,” said Beth Citron, Assistant Curator at the Rubin Museum of Art. “Witness at a Crossroads is the latest exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art to illuminate the profound impact of cultures across Asia on the work of modern and contemporary artists from across the globe. Our latest exhibition affirms the institution’s commitment to providing a comprehensive view of artistic activity coming out of – and impacted by – these diverse cultures.”

Riboud left for Asia shortly after beginning his career at the photo agency Magnum. The photographer’s explorations were shaped in part by his correspondence with his mentor Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of photojournalism, who provided insight to his protégé on engaging with new cultures. The exhibition highlights common themes in Riboud’s work and underscores the artist’s use of photography to investigate culture and his ability to capture intimate glimpses of everyday life. One of the first foreign photographers allowed into China after the country’s Cultural Revolution of 1949, Riboud was a pioneer in documenting the region, as demonstrated in images such as Forbidden City (1957), where a silhouette of a figure is framed by the angular rooftops, fences, and walls. A strong sense of composition is also apparent in images like On the Backs of Ganges (1956), where bathers relaxing after a swim are divided by a draping sheet in the centre of the photograph. Works like Darjeeling (1956), a look at the Indian city on a rainy day, demonstrate Riboud’s ability to create poetic and atmospheric images of the countries he explored.


About Marc Riboud

Before beginning his career as a photographer, Marc Riboud worked as a factory engineer until 1951. After a week on holiday, during which he covered the cultural festival of Lyon, Riboud dropped his engineering job for photography and moved to Paris in 1952. He was invited by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa to join Magnum as an associate that same year.

In 1957, Riboud made his first trip to China. He returned multiple times, including a 1965 trio with writer K.S. Karol. In 1968, 1972, and 1976, Riboud made several reportages on North Vietnam in addition to continuing his travels all over the world, mostly in Asia, Africa, the U.S., and Japan. He is best known for his extensive reports on the East: The Three Banners of China (1966), Face of North Vietnam (1970), Visions of China (1981) and In China (1966). He has received many awards including two by the Overseas Press Clun, the Time-Life Achievement, the Lucie Award and the ICP Infinity Award.

Press release from The Rubin Museum of Art website


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Cave Dwelling, between Urgup and Uchisar' Cappadocia, Turkey, 1955


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Cave Dwelling, between Urgup and Uchisar
Cappadocia, Turkey, 1955
24 x 30cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Istanbul' Istanbul, Turkey, 1955


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Istanbul, Turkey, 1955
30 x 40cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Jaipur' Jaipur, India, 1956


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Jaipur, India, 1956
23.2 x 33cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'On a Train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou' China, January 1, 1957


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
On a Train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou
China, January 1, 1957
20.2 x 30cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Preparing Kites on a Sunday Morning' Ankara, Turkey, 1955


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Preparing Kites on a Sunday Morning
Ankara, Turkey, 1955
Vintage print
17 x 25.3cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Untitled' Afghanistan, 1955


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Afghanistan, 1955
Vintage print
16.2 x 23.7cm


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016) 'Street Show' Beijing, China, 1957


Marc Riboud (French, 1923-2016)
Street Show
Beijing, China, 1957
Vintage print
20.4 x 29.9cm



The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
New York City

Opening hours:
Thursday 11.00am – 5.00pm
Friday 11.00am – 10.00pm
Saturday – Sunday 11.00am – 5.00pm
Closed Mondays – Wednesdays
The museum is closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day

The Rubin Museum of Art website


Back to top

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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,906 other subscribers

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Blog Stats

  • 12,728,125 hits

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

February 2015



If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,906 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: