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DELPIRE, Robert

Robert DELPIREBorn in 1928 in France. Lives and works in France.

Intending to go into medicine but irrevocably drawn to the arts, at the age of 23 Robert Delpire founded Neuf, an arts magazine for doctors, including such authors as Breton, Prévert, Miller, Picasso, Michaux and Sartre. In the early 1950s he became the publisher of future photography legends such as Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, Doisneau, Lartigue and Bischof. In 1958 he published Robert Frank’s legendary work The Americans.

Robert Delpire has won the Arts Graphiques gold medal and the Nadar prize several times. He created the graphic image for the magazine L’Oeil in 1955 and was its art director for eight years.

In the early 1960s he opened a gallery where he exhibited Smith, Koudelka, Kühn, Sander, Michals and Bourdin. The advertising agency he started as a part of the Advico group dealt with many international accounts. As creative director he was twice awarded the Grand Prix de la Publicité.

The films he has produced include Corps Profond directed by Lalou and Barrère, William Klein’s Muhammad Ali: The Greatest and Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, winner of the Jean Vigo prize in 1967. He has also directed many advertising films and a 30-minute TV film on the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

In July 1982 in conjunction with Minister of Culture Jack Lang, he founded the National Photography Centre (CNP). Here he began publishing Photo Poche, the first paperback photography series. He also directed television programmes including Une Minute pour une image and Contacts, and produced films. Over 150 of his theme exhibitions, among them Identités, Botanica and Vanités, and monographic shows on Irving Penn, Robert Frank, William Klein and others, have toured the world.

He continued to head it until its most recent publisher, Actes Sud, took over in 2004. As art director for the Fait & Cause gallery, which specialises in social issues, he organised and designed exhibitions for leading museums (São Paulo, the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, the Helsinki Museum and the Luxembourg in Paris, where Earth from the Air was an unprecedented success in the history of photography). The most recent exhibition was an exhaustive retrospective of Henri Cartier-Bresson at the French National Library in 2003, which subsequently toured the world. Robert Delpire is a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Robert Delpire presented his work at the Rencontres d’Arles in 2010, where he presented a retrospective Delpire & Cie. He also took part in the collective exhibition Nouvel Observateur, Special photo (Robert Delpire took over the editing of Spécial Photo No. 8, called “All alone”).