René Burri talks Moscow, Picasso and kids

Photographers' Gallery posts its Burri talk online, alongside ones with Cartier-Bresson and Don McCullin
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René Burri
René Burri

London's Photographers' Gallery first began showing works in 1971 and has, since then, displayed works by some of the world's most important cameramen and women. It has also hosted plenty of talks; yet until recently, the appreciation of these discussions has been limited to those lucky enough to attend gallery events.

However, just as 'digital' has changed all aspects of photography, so too has it widened the potential reach of any talks programme. The gallery has been uploading its discussions to the audio sharing site SoundCloud for some time now, and it's just added this great René Burri clip recorded during his UK visit and talk in April.

It's a fairly short excerpt from his talk at the gallery, which took place back in April, to promote his new book with us, Impossible Reminiscences. Still, Burri packs in the anecdotes, recalling how, when commissioned to shoot Ronald Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev in Moscow, he was first subjected to a week's 'education', courtesy of the Kremlin, then shoved to the back of the photocall when the Soviets decided (rightly or wrongly) a couple of good TV broadcasts were apparently worth 5,000 or so ardent snappers.

 

Burri talks about one shot he captured in Moscow during that assignment, of two girls who'd wandered away from a Kremlin welcoming parade, as a way to discuss the importance of childlike contemplation, and the overall importance of a visual arts education. Quoting Picasso - one of his idols - Burri says the artist claimed "it took me a whole life to draw like a child."

 

 

Moscow, USSR, 1988 by René Burri
Moscow, USSR, 1988 by René Burri

 

Listen to the full clip above. You can also take in a 1973 interview with Henri Cartier-Bresson, wherein the Magnum co-founder explains why Robert Capa told him to hide his surrealist influences, as well as Don McCullin's more recent interview, during which the great war photographer praises his old Sunday Times editor, Sir Harry Evans, among other things.

If, as we suspect, you like what you hear, consider Impossible Reminiscences, which features largely unpublished colour photographs of the world's greatest living humanist photographer, and René Burri Photographs - his equally wonderful book of black and white photographs. Be sure to also check out Magnum Stories, which features the work of Cartier-Bresson and others.


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