Werner Bischof

Werner Bischof was born in 1916, Switzerland. He studied photography with Hans Finsler in his native Zurich at the School for Arts and Crafts, after his studies he opened a photography and advertising studio. In 1942 he became a freelancer for Du magazine. And received international recognition after the publication of his 1945 reportage on the devastation caused by the Second World War.


In the years that followed, Bischof traveled around Europe for Swiss Relief, an organization dedicated to post-war reconstruction. After his trips around Europe he worked for Picture Post, The Observer, Illustrated, and Epoca. He was the first photographer to join Magnum with the founding members Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, David Seymour, and Ernst Haas in 1949.


Disliking the 'superficiality and sensationalism' of the magazine business, he devoted much of his working life to looking for order and tranquility in traditional culture. He was sent to India to report on famine by Life magazine (1951), and further he worked in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Indochina. The images from these reportages were used in major picture magazines throughout the world.


Tragically, Bischof died in a road accident in the Andes on 16 May 1954, only nine days before Magnum founder Robert Capa lost his life in Indochina. Bischof's book Japan (1954) was awarded the Prix Nadar in 1955.


Bischof's work is part of many important collections, such as those of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.