By Amy Skalmusky, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This month, visitors to the Centro Cultural Justiça Federal (The Federal Justice Cultural Center) will get a view of the world through the insightful lens of Marc Riboud. Riboud, considered by many to be one of the greatest photojournalists of the 20th century, has traveled the world capturing striking images of everything from the atrocities of war to the delicacy of everyday life.
The exhibit includes some of the most emblematic photos from a career that has spanned over five decades. On display are two of his best-known works. The first, taken in Paris in 1953, captures a painter gracefully perched on the Eiffel Tower with the city far below. The second, taken in Washington in 1967, depicts a girl, Jane Rose Kasmir, offering a single flower to a row of soldiers with raised rifles during an anti-Vietnam war demonstration.
Riboud was born in Lyon, France in 1923, the fifth of seven children. His interest in photography began at 14, spurred by a random gift of a Vest Pocket Kodak from his father.
However, he would not pursue photography as a career until the age of 27, instead spending two years in the French Resistance, then studying engineering and graduating from Ecole Centrale in Lyon, and finally accepting a position at a factory in the nearby town of Villeurbanne. But when Riboud took a week-long holiday from his job to visit (and photograph) a drama festival held in Lyon, he decided to drop everything and devote himself to photography.
In 1952, Riboud moved to Paris and met Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, two of the founders of Magnum Photos. Bresson and Capa were impressed by his work, and invited him to join the agency. Everything Riboud was to learn about the job of photographing came from the Magnum team of Cartier-Bresson, Capa, and David “Chim” Seymour.
Magnum was one of the first photographic cooperatives, owned and administered entirely by members, among whom have included Ansel Adams, Dorthea Lange, David Hurn, and Sebastião Salgado. With Capa’s help, Riboud landed his first published picture in Life magazine.
From that point on, Riboud traveled extensively as a photojournalist. He made his way through India, China on numerous occasions, USSR, Africa, Algeria, North and South Vietnam, Cambodia, Poland and Czechoslovakia. His photos capture the people and activities of each location as well as document historical moments – the Cultural Revolution in China and the war in Vietnam, among others.
Although he has worked primarily in black and white, Riboud has also created a significant body of color photography; of these, particularly notable are his pictures of the Huang Shan Mountain Range in eastern China. These photos were the subject of his 1990 book “Capital of Heaven”, which was commissioned by Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
The Huang Shan photos are among the 40 on exhibit at the Centro Cultural Justiça Federal until December 5th. For the Riboud enthusiasts, 20 additional photos taken during his 2009 visit to the Maré Favela in Rio de Janeiro are on display at the Casa do Saber until February 4th, 2011.
Place: Centro Cultural Justiça Federal, Av. Rio Branco 241, Centro
Date: Until December 5, 2010.
Time: Tuesday to Friday, Noon to 7PM