Bernard Pierre Wolff


Bernard Pierre Wolff

Biography:

Bernard Pierre Wolff was born in France on 26 November 1930 and became interested in film, photography and graphic design. He was Henri Langlois's assistant at the Cinémathèque Française and left Paris for New York in 1958. He worked there as a graphic designer and then as a photographer, first for conferences, soon for portraits, landscapes and mainly street scenes.

During the following years, he travelled to Africa, South-America and India, for the UNO or the UNICEF. His photos were good but under the influence of his sketcher education. But in 1974, while attending a photo training course by Charles Harbutt, he - in his own words - suddenly understood how to take a picture.

He left for another trip to India in 1975, took part in several exhibitions in New York and Paris, visited Portugal, Spain, Italy and France in 1977. His pictures were published in the New York Times, the Herald Tribune, Modern Photography, Zoom, Photo, Photo Magazine...

His first book, "Friends and Friends of Friends", was published in 1978, the same year he travelled to Italy to photograph tombstones. The covers of "Closer" and "LWTUA" were among the pictures he took in Genova cemetry, Il Staglieno.

In 1980 he went back to India, taking photos that will appear in his second book, "En Inde", in 1982. His third book, "New York Macadam", was published the following year. In 1983 and 1984, his trips brought him to Japan, Paris, London and Africa.

Ill, he went back to New York to work on a book of colour photographs, and he died of AIDS on January 28 of 1985. The Espace Photographique de Paris organized a tribute exhibition at the begining of 1986. The Maison Européenne De La Photographie in Paris named its auditorium "Bernard Pierre Wolff".

Bernard Pierre Wolff

His art:

Most Wolff's B&W pictures that were published have been taken "live" in the streets (with his discreet Leica), or are portraits. He was fascinated by people on the edge, countries like India or Japan, or cities like New York or London, where everything is possible.

His pictures are focused on men, and they talk to the heart as well as to the eye. They contain joy, despair, friendship, pride, madness, beauty and ugliness, often a real sense of humour and a kind of poetry.

He managed to capture what he had seen in a second, with the right angle and the right light, rendering the original atmosphere with superb accuracy. His pictures often include a part of mystery, and push the viewer to recreate a story around the image.

His work:

Below are the books of his photos and the two Zoom magazines where the photos on the Genova cemetery were published. Other photos were published in various magazines including the french magazine Photo (No 158, Nov 1980, on New York; No 166, Jul 1981, on India; No 176, May 1982, on Japan):

Friends and Friends of Friends
EP Dutton, 1978

Friends Friends Friends

En Inde
Chêne, 1982

En Inde

New York Macadam
Chêne, 1983

NY Macadam

Bernard Pierre Wolff
Espace Photo Paris, Exhibition 1986

EPP

Zoom 65 (french edition)
Sep-Oct 1979

Zoom 65

Zoom 10 (british edition)
Mar-Apr 1980

Zoom 10

And here is a selection of photos:

Cairo

Staglieno

Staglieno

Staglieno

Staglieno

Staglieno

Staglieno

Staglieno

Staglieno

Karnataka

London

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

New York

Quito

Tokyo

Tokyo

Tokyo

Tokyo

Tokyo

Varanasi

Varanasi

Varanasi

Venice (Ca)

And here is a very rare colour photo:

Varanasi

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Update 2014-10-25    Copyright © Michel ENKIRI