René Burri, Pablo Picasso (1957), Villa La Californie, Cannes, France
René Burri, Pablo Picasso (1957), Villa La Californie, Cannes, France

Find Utopia with René Burri in Switzerland

The Swiss-born Magnum photographer is the subject of an artist-themed retrospective in Geneva

You would expect to see at least one painting or sculpture in an exhibition focussing on Picasso, Giacometti and Klein. Yet, Utopia, at the Museum of the Swiss Abroad on the outskirts Geneva until 15 December, consists solely of photographs.

The show is dedicated to the work of our favourite Swiss Magnum photographer, René Burri and features “intimate and powerful portraits of five artists who contributed to the revival of the utopian ideal: Le Corbusier, Giacometti, Jean Tinguely, Klein and Picasso.”

While Le Corbusier built housing with clear social ambitions, and Picasso prized a certain humanistic, peaceful quality, this Utopian link isn't immediately obvious. Indeed, the title is borrowed from an earlier Burri show, which displayed his shots of Niemeyer's Brasilia and Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse housing project. Perhaps, for this exhibition, the Swiss nationality of three of the five artists helps.

 

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Titles aside, this emphasis on Burri's artistic portraits is still enlightening. Stephen Shore acknowledges here that his time spent in Warhol's Factory improved his own artistic technique; the same might be true of Burri. Despite taking numerous news assignments for Magnum, the photographer always kept an interest in more rarefied artistic pursuits, and perhaps it was this interest that elevated Burri's photographs above those of his contemporaries. If you are in Geneva, you can decide for yourself. For more on the show, go here.

If you like what you see, then consider our limited-edition print of Pablo Picasso at La Ville Californe by René Burri.

 

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Also take a look at our masterful career overview, Photographs, and our more recent title, Impossible Reminiscences, which reproduces the, until now, largely unpublished colour photographs of the great photographer. And, as you probably know, we have some great Picasso and Le Corbusier books too.