Paris: broad tree-lined avenues, moonlight over the River Seine and a glass of red wine on a street-front terrace. But this is not Doisneau's Paris. Delving beneath that romanticized facade, the exhibit presents a recovering post-World War II city where life is hard and the weather is bleak, but there is a shared resolve in the everyday lives captured in the photographer's lens.
The Fine Arts Center presents a retrospective of 117 black-and-white photographs by Frenchman Robert Doisneau (1912-1994). Shot from 1945 to the early 1960s, his images of Paris provide a porthole into an unfamiliar side of this well-known city.
Doisneau is famous for ubiquitous images like "Baiser de l'Htel de Ville" (Kiss at the Hotel de Ville), 1950, but he was also a respected reportage photographer. During World War II he forged documents as a member of the French resistance and after the war covered France for local and international periodicals including Vogue and LIFE.
His main love was Paris; however, his photographs do not revel in the city's physical beauty, but more in its people. Even a few postcard shots remain connected to everyday normality. In "La Seine, Quai Branly," 1961, the Eiffel Tower is shot behind 18 pairs of underwear drying on a washing line.
Doisneau's images capture humor, joy and despair, but primarily he photographed people going about their everyday lives: people drinking in a bar or chatting to friends and children playing in the streets.
The collection includes the ubiquitous "Baiser" an image that evokes the Paris we know and love: the romantic city where passion can stop time. Seen in this context, it takes on a greater power contrasted against the other images' gritty reality.
Coming away from the exhibition there is a sense of having seen a Paris lived by Parisians.
capsule Robert Doisneau's Paris
Through Jan. 2
The Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 1-5 p.m.
Adults $5; seniors $3; children ages 6-16, $2