“I don’t photograph life as it is, but life as I would like it to be.” – Robert Doisneau
Robert Doisneau, the photo-poet of the Paris of the 1950s, would have hated the Paris of 2010. He was already pretty gloomy about the Paris of the 1970s and 1980s. There are no more “nooks and crannies,” he complained. “Clutter has been outlawed.”
Doisneau’s best-known work is The Kiss: the image of a pair of young lovers snogging in front of the Paris town hall in 1950 which adorned a million student bedrooms from the 1980s. He never liked the photograph, perhaps because he had posed it, as he had to confess when it became the subject of two lawsuits in the early 1990s.
The more typical Doisneau images of the 1950s are unposed, but painstakingly stalked and framed – shots of children, prostitutes or market porters, and other street-dwellers in the unfashionable, unswept parts of town.