Robert Doisneau: the legendary photograph at Spazio Oberdan in Milan
Robert Doisneau loved Paris and Parisians, they were his obsession, he couldn’t help but photograph them, in such a way as to make them immortal, present them as if they were still here, despite the fact that they were shot in the 1950s.
The City of Lights has a certain texture in his photos, seeming to almost have a sort of solidity, that is not just the result of the chemical process that imprints the image on paper. The most notable in this sense are his series on the Eiffel Tower, where you can almost feel the iron of which it is assembled, and the series that features the small streets, where you can almost feel the pulse of daily life even after 60 years. Doisneau’s photos tell simple stories: people crossing the street, cars waiting at a traffic light, pigeons serenely cooing on statues that have languished over time.
However, when he focuses in on Parisians, he is able to bring together an infinite series of “characters” that crystallise the French capital in a time/space dimension without borders An innkeeper, the nude ballerinas of the Mayol Concert, accordion players and retired admirals. All of them are part of the larger picture of Paris that Doisneau wants to restore for us. For him, the human figure is encapsulated through a glance, in truth, this glance is the photographer’s weapon. Considering a series of photographs of the Louvre or the “Le Regard Oblique”, in which the photographer captures a couple who are observing something, while, in turn, we are observing this moment, captured forever, through a play of mirrors that seems to extend the photo beyond its physical frame and bring it into the here and now.
At the end, the famous “Bacio dell’Hotel de Ville” seems to be overly studied, too phony to be a true representation of Robert Doisneau’s art. The true nature of this photographer should probably be sought elsewhere and makes us realise that the power of communication can be dangerous, when it almost obliges us to associate an artist with a single work. It is like discovering, quite by chance, that Van Gogh is not all sunflowers and Degas is not all dancers.
The exhibition is laid out according to themes and not in chronological order at Spazio Oberdan in Milan through 5 May.
It is open every day except Mondays (with the exception of Monday, 1 April) from 10:00am to 7:30pm, extended to 10:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, refer to the website www.doisneaumilano.it.