René Burri, Iconic Magnum Photographer, Dead at 81

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Che Guevara, Cuba, 1963
Photo: René Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine
São Paulo, Brazil, 1960
Photo: Reneé Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine
Pablo Picasso in Cannes, 1957
Photo: René Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine
Wine merchants at an auction
Photo: René Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine
Le Corbusier in his apartment in Paris, 1959
Photo: René Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine
South Korean women with American GI's, South Korea, 1961
Photo: René Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine
Winston Churchill in Zurich, 1946
Photo: René Burri/Magnum via Time Magazine

Swiss photographer René Burri, famous for his iconic portraits of Che Guevara and Pablo Picasso, died on Monday in his hometown of Zurich, aged 81, the Guardian reported. Burri’s death was confirmed by the Magnum Photo agency.

Burri was born in 1933 in Zurich. His long and distinguished photography career began in 1946 at the age of 13 when he photographed the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on a state visit to Zurich. He attended the Arts and Crafts School of Zurich after which he was hired as a cameraman by Walt Disney films. When Burri joined Magnum in 1956, he was sent on assignments to document major political events around the world.

Martin Parr, who currently serves as president of Magnum Photos told Time Magazine: “Not only was he one of the great postwar photographers, he was also one of the most generous people I have had the privilege to meet. [His] contribution to Magnum and his unrivaled ability to tell stories and entertain us over this time will be part of his enormous legacy.”

In a separate statement, the photographer’s family said “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.”

Burri leaves behind a massive archive of approximately 30,000 photographs. The collection has reportedly been bequeathed to the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne. He is survived by his second wife and three children.

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