Robert Doisneau Exhibition at Kulturhuset

Le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville, Paris 1950
Robert Doisneau © Atelier Robert Doisneau
Do you recognize the above image? It is "Le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville" (The Kiss), one of photographer Robert Doisneau's most famous works. It has become a symbol for young love in Paris and has hung on many walls around the world... including in my student dorm room, where I would stare at it and dream of a wider world out there. So I was quite excited that Kulturhuset was going to have an exhibition of his work: "Robert Doisneau: the poet of the Paris suburb".
While it was a very interesting exhibition, I have to admit it wasn't what I was expecting. To start off with, even though Kulturhuset has used The Kiss in their advertisements for the exhibition, it is actually not hanging in the exhibition! The image is on their website, part of their press images for the exhibition and they even sell a poster with the photograph on it. Oh well. But I guess the reason I went to the exhibit was to see his other photographs.
While most of us have a very romanticized view of Paris, as captured in Doisneau's The Kiss, this exhibition looks at more day to day life of the city, especially in the suburbs. While not romantic, the exhibition is very interesting nonetheless. The photographs are all taken in the 1940's, 50's and 60's in, what was then, the suburbs of Paris... like Gentilly, Saint Denis and Ivry-sur-Seine.
These were the years that Paris was occupied by Nazi Germany and the period directly after when Parisians were struggling to build up their economy again. The pictures are quite grim at times, but the characters in them are fascinating and haunting. I suppose I have always had the image of people dancing in the streets at Paris' liberation and hadn't given much thought to the struggle of everyday Parisians afterwards.
So, this might not be the exhibition for you if you want that romanticized image of post war Paris, but if you are interested in great photography and to see what life was like in the Parisian suburbs then this will appeal to you. One good tip... on Mondays they have free admission. This exhibition runs until November 25th. Click here for other autumn exhibitions in Stockholm.
Kulturhuset ("the culture house") is a large complex that contains a theatre (Stadsteatern), a library, several galleries, music venues and more. It is located right on the square Sergels torg in the downtown area. The easiest way to get there from the Hotel Rival is by subway, just three stations away on the red line to T-Central (exit to Sergels torg).


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