René Burri – Explosions of Sight

René Burri – Explosions of Sight

The entire Burri: this book presents for the first time the full range of René Burri's creative force and interests



Title Information

Edited by Mélanie Bétrisey and Marc Donnadieu. With contributions by Mélanie Bétrisey, Daniel Bischof, Clara Bouveresse, Marc Donnadieu, Julie Enckell Julliard, Werner Jeker, Hans-Michael Koetzle, and Bernard Plossu

1st edition

, 2020


240 pages, 106 color and 148 b/w illustrations

21 x 27 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-845-4

In cooperation with Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne


A member of the famous artist-owned photo agency Magnum Photos, Swiss photographer René Burri (1933–2014) found himself wherever history was happening during the late twentieth century. His countless travels took him across Europe and the Americas to the Middle East to Japan and China to document the twentieth century’s major events. His extraordinary sense for people and their personalities resulted in remarkably candid portraits of celebrities, such as architects Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, and Luis Barragán; artists Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, and Jean Tinguely; and Che Guevara, whose 1963 portrait with a cigar is one of the world’s most famous and widely reproduced photographic portraits.

Published to coincide with a major exhibition at Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, René Burri—Explosions of Sight draws from Burri’s vast archive. With the museum, Burri staged both his first exhibition and his first major retrospective and maintained a close relationship throughout his life, entrusting it also with the conservation of his estate. The book brings together for the first time Burri’s entire body of work, both photographic and nonphotographic, including previously unpublished archival documents, as well as book designs, exhibition projects, travel diaries, collages, watercolors, and objects Burri collected. In doing so, it offers a new and uniquely intimate view of one of the world’s greatest photographers.


Mélanie Bétrisey is assistant curator and in charge of the René Burri Collection at Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne.

Marc Donnadieu is chief curator in the exhibitions department at Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne.


Deutsche Ausgabe

Authors & Editors

"The volume serves up just enough of all aspects of Burri's work to fill you up. It's a delight." Paulina Szczesniak, Züritipp


"An intimate portrait of this stubbornly searching photographer." Martina Pfeifer Steiner,


"This illustrated book shows a lot of unknown insights and proves Burri's passion in many areas and his humor, even beyond his known icons." Leica Fotografie International


"A carefully designed illustrated book, supplemented with informative and entertaining essays by various authors." Heinz Storrer, Schweizer Familie


"This book is the first to show Burri's drawings, collages and graphics in a bundled form, and presents them together with some classic pictures from journeys to all parts of the world since the 1950s." Jonis Hartmann, Textem


"An extensively illustrated reading book that provides deep insights into Burri's working methods and impressively illustrates how creatively and playfully he dealt with the medium of photography." Patrick Brakoswky, Schwarzweiss 135


"The book, which goes far beyond the goal of a regular exhibition catalog, not only sketches Burri's path as a photographer. His artistic work as a graphic artist and cinéaste is also discussed. It should not be missing from any bibliothèque." Burkhard Maus, Blog Menschmaus

"The work contains a wealth of new and previously unpublished details. An excellent resource for anyone interested in this creative man." Horst Tress, Köllefornia

"The show and the catalog make the people behind the photo artist accessible. They make it possible to learn more about the man wearing the Borsalino hat." Nadia Bendinelli, swiss-architects


«Un ouvrage offrant, à l’instar de l’exposition du Musée de Lausanne qu’il accompagne, une unique et magnifique rétrospective tant de l’œuvre que de la vie de ce photographe d’exception que fut, durant sa longue carrière de plus de 60 ans, René Burri. » Philippe-Emmanuel Krautter, Lexnews