Werner Bischof

Swiss photographer Werner Bischof spent the majority of his youth in Switzerland before he was able to travel internationally and make his work known. He studied photography at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich in 1933, under Hans Finsler and Alfred Willimann. By the age of 20 he opened his own studio in Zurich and worked in fashion and advertising. He yearned to travel outside of Switzerland, but the onset of World War II prevented him to do so.

At 26 he began working for Du magazine, which helped him develop a humanist journalism style of photography. His interest in humanism intensified when, after 1945, he was able to travel to Germany, France, Holland, Italy, as well as Eastern Europe, and observe the damage the war had caused. Photographs from these trips were selected by Life magazine in the late 40s. The magazine then asked Bischof to cover the Winter Olympics in St. Maritz.

Bischof continued to travel for the rest of his life, making up for the lost opportunity of his youth. He became a member of Magnum in 1949, alongside Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, David Seymour, and Ernst Haas. He worked on assignments documenting everyday life in the cultures of India, Japan, Korea, China, and the Americas. Tragically, in 1954 Bischof and two others were killed in a car accident in the Andes of Peru. His stunning images of global culture preserve his memory.

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