Marc Riboud, Photojournalist Who Found Grace in the Turbulent, Dies at 93
Marc Riboud, a celebrated French photojournalist who captured moments of grace even in the most fraught situations around the world, died in Paris on Tuesday. He was 93.
The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Catherine Chaine, said.
Riboud’s career of more than 60 years carried him routinely to turbulent places throughout Asia and Africa in the 1950s and ‘60s, but he may be best remembered for two photographs taken in the developed world.
The first, from 1953, is of a workman poised like an angel in overalls between a lattice of girders while painting the Eiffel Tower — one hand raising a paintbrush, one leg bent in a seemingly Chaplinesque attitude.
The second, from 1967, is of a young woman presenting a flower to a phalanx of bayonet-wielding members of the National Guard during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at the Pentagon.
Both images were published in Life magazine during what is often called the golden age of photojournalism, an era Riboud (pronounced REE-boo) exemplified.
A protégé of Henri Cartier-Bresson, he was on the front lines of world events, from wars to anti-war demonstrations. Even so, Riboud did not consider himself a record keeper.
“I have shot very rarely news,” he once said.
Rather than portray the military parades or political leaders of the Soviet Union, for example, he was drawn to anonymous citizens sitting in the snow, holding miniature chess boards and absorbed in their books.
Of the many hundreds of shots he published from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Pakistan and Turkey, only a handful are of figures written about by historians.
Born on June 24, 1923, in St.-Genis-Laval, near Lyon, he was the fifth and, by his account, the most shy of seven children from a bourgeois family that expected him to take up a respectable vocation. It was his father, an enthusiastic traveler and amateur photographer, who led him astray by giving him a vest-pocket Kodak when Marc was a teenager.
His first photographs were of the Paris Exposition in 1937. After World War II, in which he fought around Vercors as a member of the Resistance, Riboud studied mechanical engineering at the École Centrale in Lyon. He took a factory job in the nearby town of Villeurbanne after graduating in 1948.
Not until he found himself taking pictures of a cultural festival in Lyon during a one-week vacation in 1951 did he at last decide to commit to the unstable life of a freelance photojournalist. He moved to Paris in 1952.
There he met Cartier-Bresson, who became his mentor. Already a celebrity in his field, this “salutary tyrant,” as Riboud called him, dictated “which books to read, what political ideas I should have, which museums and galleries to visit.”
“He taught me about life and about the art of photography,” Riboud said.
Among the lessons imparted was that “good photography” is dependent on “good geometry.” The Eiffel Tower photograph from 1953, the first that Riboud published, proves how well the pupil absorbed the lesson. In a radio interview more than 50 years later, he still recalled the English-language caption given to the image by the Life copy writers: “Blithe-ful on the Eiffel.”
In 1953, Cartier-Bresson nominated his protégé to join Magnum, the photo collective he had helped found. Until 1979, when he left to go out on his own, Riboud traveled and photographed for the agency constantly.
In 1955, he drove a specially equipped Land Rover to Calcutta from Paris, staying for a year in India. He was also one of the first Westerners to photograph in China and spent three months in the Soviet Union in 1960.
Throughout the 1950s and ‘60s he documented the anti-colonial independence movements in Algeria and West Africa, and during the Vietnam War he was among the few able to move easily between the North and South.
In the United States, he documented not only protests against the Vietnam War but also a pensive Maureen Dean listening to her husband, Nixon aide John W. Dean, testify at the Watergate hearings in 1973.
在美国，他不但纪录了反越战抗议活动，还捕捉到毛琳·迪恩(Maureen Dean)在忧心忡忡地听着她的丈夫、尼克松的助手约翰·W·迪恩(John W. Dean)的讲话，当时他在1973年的水门事件听证会上接受问讯。
Among the events he documented in recent decades were the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran; the Solidarity movement in Poland; the trial of Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief in Lyon during World War II; the end of apartheid in South Africa; and the mood in the United States before the election of President Barack Obama.
最近几十年他纪录过的事件包括阿亚图拉鲁霍拉·霍梅尼(Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini)回到伊朗；波兰团结工会；二战期间的里昂盖世太保头子克劳斯·巴比(Klaus Barbie)受审；贝拉克·奥巴马总统当选前美国的气氛。
In 1961, he married Barbara Chase, an American sculptor, poet and novelist. The marriage ended in divorce in the 1980s. Besides his second wife, Chaine, a journalist and author, Riboud is survived by two sons from his first marriage, David and Alexei; and, from his second marriage, a daughter, Clémence, and a son, Théo.
“My vision of the world is simple,” Riboud said when he was in his 80s. “Tomorrow, each new day, I want to see the city, take new photographs, meet people and wander alone.”