Willy Ronis, Legendary Photographer of Parisians and Provençaux, Dies at 99

Willy Ronis, Legendary Photographer of Parisians and Provençaux, Dies at 99

The man who captured iconic images of Paris and Provence has passed away at 99. Born in 1910, Frenchman Willy Ronis was the man behind some of the most recognizable photographs of ordinary people in post-war France, from the little Parisian garçon running down the sidewalk with a baguette tucked under his arm to the nude in Provence hunched over a water basin.

Ronis was a champion of “humanist” photography, a movement celebrating the ordinary person and man’s similarities. Photography became his vocation accidentally. Originally hoping to become a composer, Ronis began helping his cancer-stricken father in the family portrait business, and after World War II, the young Ronis began a photography career in earnest. Because of the contacts Ronis first established under his father’s tutelage—including the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson—his career quickly gained traction. The Museum of Modern Art featured him in the exhibit “Five French Photographers” in 1953, and he continued to work in fashion and news photography up through 2001.

Ronis died in Provence on September 12, 2009. His striking black and white photographs continue to captivate audiences with stories of a common French experience.

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