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Magnum photographer René Burri dies [update]

René Burri, a photographer with photography agency Magnum Photos, dies

News has emerged of the death of 81-year-old René Burri, a photographer with Magnum Photos. The news broke this afternoon (Monday 20 October). In an email sent to members of the press the agency said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Magnum photographer René Burri who passed away today”. An official statement has not yet been released.

The Swiss photographer, who began working with Magnum as an associate in 1955 and became a full member in 1959, was well known for his work in Cuba, including his iconic portraits of Che Guevara.

In addition to his work in Latin America, Burri, who lived and worked between Zurich and Paris, travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East during his lengthy career, photographing artists such as Picasso, Giacometti and Le Corbusier, and contributing to publications including the Swiss magazine duLife, Stern, Paris-Match, and The New York Times, among others.

He also worked as a documentary filmmaker, participating in the creation of Magnum Films in 1965.

Of Burri’s book, Impossible Reminiscences, published by Phaidon last year [2013], Martin Parr commented: “[This book]…easily demonstrates that he is a master of colour as well as black and white, and one of the great figures of 20th century photography”.

When approached by BJP for his thoughts about Burri, Parr said: “Not only was he one of the great post war photographers, he was also one of the most generous people I have had the privilege to meet. His contribution to Magnum and his unrivalled ability to tell stories and entertain us over this time will be part of his enormous legacy. We will also remember with great affection the many group photos he has taken at the [Magnum] meetings, and when he signed a book, his patience and good humour and incredible drawings, often with paints were quite exceptional.”

A statement released by Burri’s family paid tribute to the photographer’s work: “The famous Swiss photographer René Burri left us today at the age of 81 after a long illness. He leaves behind an important body of work on recent history, which has been published in countless newspapers, journals, magazines, exhibitions and books all over the world… With René Burri the world of photography loses one of its most powerful artists, a true humanist, who skillfully documented from behind the scenes the suffering and joy of human kind.”

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