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Swiss photography A master of poetic realism

René Groebli is the missing link for Swiss photography in the second half of the 20th century. He combines the romantic in photography with the vision of the technicians, the modernists.

His pictures not only summed up the times, they gave you a sense of the time. Only the greatest visionaries in America and Germany understood these new characters, and the artistic statements they made along with Groebli became a lexicon for the medium of the future.

René Groebli, born in 1927 in Zurich, spent only a half year studying in Hans Finsler's class at the (photography) trade craft school in Zurich. Then he served an apprenticeship as a documentary cameraman. Groebli wanted to understand the essence of movement and the tantalizing energy of seeing things anew. He visited London and Paris, where he began his big project "Rail Magic". His work "The Eye of Love" is a poem to his young wife and tells of a trip to France in the character and lexicon of French poetic realism. For two years he succeeded in finding work as a war reporter.

He gave up photojournalism after a brief stint and established a photo studio in the mid-1950s for advertising and industrial photography. Groebli specialized in color photography and experimentation with the dye-transfer process. A US magazine honored him in 1957 as "Master of Color".

(Text: Daniele Muscionico, from the preface of the illustrated book, Early Work, 1945-1955, Zurich: Sturm & Drang Verlag, 2015)

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