Werner Bischof – a short biography

Biography

Childhood

26.04.1916

Born on 26 April in Zurich, Switzerland. Childhood in Zurich, Kilchberg and Waldshut (Germany). His father is director of a pharmaceuticals factory and a keen amateur photographer. His mother dies prematurely in 1931.

1932

Enrolls at the Kunstgewerbeschule
Zürich (Zurich School of Applied Arts) where he studies in Hans Finsler’s (Professor from the Bauhaus movement) newly established photography class, graduating in 1936.

Biography

Studio photographer

1936

Opens “Fotografik” studio in Zurich. Works for advertising agency Amstutz & Herdeg. Receives a commission for the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition.

1939

Goes to Paris, France to become a painter but returns to Switzerland when the Second World War breaks out. Spends over two years doing military service.

1942

Photographer for the cultural monthly magazine Du under the legendary editor-in-chief Arnold Kübler. Publication of studio works: fashion, advertising, abstract photos. First major photo essays from 1943. Member of the Allianz group of artists.

Biography

Documentary photographer

1945

Begins a photographic documentation of post-war Europe commissioned by Swiss Relief (a suborganisation of the Red Cross): Southern Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland. Starts using color.

1946

Travels in Germany, Italy and Greece. Meets his future wife Rosellina Mandel in Milan. Publishes his portfolio “24 Photos”.

1947

Travels to Hungary and Romania.

1948

Travels to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland and Norway. Completes photographic documentation of post-war Europe.
17 Wbjapan

Photojournalist

1949

Becomes a member of Magnum Photos (Paris & New York). Travels in Germany, Italy, Great Britain and France. Works for Picture Post, Illustrated, Observer, Life, Epoca and Du. Marries Rosellina Mandel.

1950

Designs the book “Mutter und Kind” for Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund (Swiss grocery distributor). Further travels in Europe, including Iceland. Birth of his first son Marco.

1951

Spends six months in India. His report on the famine in Bihar province for Life (American photo magazine) brings international recognition. Visits Sikkim. Goes for one year to Japan. While there, makes short trips to Korea and Okinawa.

1952

In Tokyo with Rosellina, working for Life magazine. Travels via Hong Kong to Indochina (Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia) for three months as war correspondent for Paris Match (French photo magazine), returning via India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Biography

Search for new forms of expression

1953

Back in Zürich, selects Asia photos for an exhibition and publication “Menschen im Fernen Osten”. Plans an extended journey through South America. Sails for New York. Spends four months documenting new highways in various US states.

1954

Drives from New York to Mexico City with Rosellina, then continues alone. Flies to Panama, Santiago de Chile and Lima reporting for Magnum Photos.

16.05.1954

On 16th of May Werner Bischof (38) is killed when his vehicle plunges into a ravine in the Peruvian Andes. Nine days later his second son Daniel is born in Zurich.

Werner Bischof Estate
Am Wasser 55
CH-8049 Zurich
Switzerland
info@wernerbischof.com

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