On 26 March, Atlas Gallery in Marylebone opens a new exhibition of prints from the personal archive of French photographer Marc Riboud. In 1957, Riboud was one of the only photographers to visit and document daily life in China, and this exhibition is a rare opportunity to view little-shown prints from that trip, in addition to early images of Paris, London and Leeds, taken after he became a member of the Magnum Photos co-operative in 1953.
A renowned photojournalist, Riboud is best known for his extensive documentation of the East, although his travels over many decades have incorporated Africa, South America, Japan and the United States. The style of his work is equally vast, spanning street photography, portraits, fine art and documentary.
Riboud has been granted some incredible access during his more than 60-year career: he was one of the few photographers allowed into China during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, and one of the only ones allowed to travel in North and South Vietnam in 1968/69. Perhaps his most celebrated image, taken in the US in the same era, shows a young woman holding a single daisy before a row of bayonet-wielding soldiers at a Vietnam War protest outside the Pentagon. The image was reprinted around the world and became the face of the ‘flower power’ movement.
Ben Burdett, the owner of Atlas Gallery, says of Riboud: ‘His importance as a photojournalist in the latter part of the 20th century cannot be overstated. However, he is also a photographer of lyricism, wit and vision.’ These traits are evident in his famous 1953 photo, ‘Eiffel Tower Painter’, which will be featured in the exhibition. Instead of photographing the tower in all its grandeur, he focused in on a whistling painter. The result is a perfectly composed image that captures both Paris and the light-hearted workers who make the city what it is.
It is always a privilege to view the art that is most cherished by an artist, and this exhibition is an opportunity to see the images that hold a particular resonance for Riboud personally.
Paris to Peking is at the Atlas Gallery from 26 March to 9 May; atlasgallery.com