Born in 1933 in Zurich, Switzerland.
Lives and works in Zurich and Paris.
After training at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich, René Burri shot several documentaries from 1953-1955. He began taking photographs with a Leica during his military service.
He became an associate of Magnum in 1955. “Touch of Music for the Deaf”, the first of his reports on deaf-mute children, was published in Life and brought him international recognition.
In 1956, he travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East, then went to Latin America, where he did a series on the gauchos, which appeared in Du in 1959. For this Swiss periodical, he also photographed several artists (Picasso, Giacometti and Le Corbusier). Burri became a full member of Magnum in 1959, and published Die Deutschen (“Germans”) in Switzerland in 1962; the following year, the album was published as Les Allemands. In 1963, he went to Cuba and photographed Ernesto “Che” Guevara; these portraits were published all over the world. In 1965, he helped to set up Magnum Films and directed Two Faces of China for the BBC.
As well as running the Magnum gallery, which had opened in Paris in 1962, he continued working as a photographer as well as making collages and drawing. In 1998, the German Photography Association bestowed on him the Erich Salomon Award; and in 2004-2005, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris staged a vast retrospective of his work, which then toured numerous museums in Europe and Latin America.
René Burri presented his work at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2007, taking part in the collective exhibition Madame la Présidente and in 2009: Blackout New York – 11/09/1965 at the Atelier des Forges.