Re-Discovering René Burri’s Obsession With Pyramids

The legendary photographer is celebrated in Arles

Remember that iconic black and white photograph of Che Guevara wistfully smoking a cigar? Late Swiss photographer, Rene Burri, is the Magnum photographer behind the image.


Famed for his intimate coverage of the wars in Vietnam and Korea, Burri is easily one of the most prominent photographers of the century. But although his now-historical portraits and reportage has become world-renowned, Burri’s obsession with pyramids has been left long forgotten.  But this summer, an exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles— the critically-acclaimed photography festival in the South of France—explores his fascination for the geometric shape.


BRAZIL. Rio de Janeiro. Copacabana beach. 1958.


Curated by his widow Clotilde Burri-Blanc, The Imaginary Pyramids traces the photographer’s obsession, which dates back to 1958 when Burri travelled to Egypt for the very first time, and discovered the pyramid of Saqqara – which reminded him of the mountains from the region he grew up in.


CANADA. Montreal. Expo 67. Canadian Pulp and Paper Pavilion.


Ever since, he has been seeing (imaginary) pyramids everywhere and started photographing the motif all around the globe from Oman to New York and passing by Mexico.


The exhibition showcases 66 pieces, including rare photographs, sketches and watercolours.


TEARSHEETS. Collage and water colour. Paris – Abu Dhabi – Egypt. 21 December 1991.


Les Pyramides Imaginaires, Rencontres d’Arles, salle Henri-Comte, 2 July – 26 August

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