From the mid-1940s to the 1980s, Robert Doisneau (14 April 1912 – 1 April 1994) walked the street of Paris photographing the city’s musicians.
Maurice Baquet (above) was a high achiever with high goals: musician (1st prize at the Conservatoire de Paris), skier (member of the 1936 French Olympic Team) and mountain climber (showcased in movies, including Premier de Cordée).
The collaboration between the brilliant cellist and skier Maurice Baquet and Robert Doisneau opened up a new sphere of playfulness, freedom and creativity for the photographer. When they met just after the war, they immediately began working together on a book, published in 1981 under the title Ballade pour Violoncelle et Chambre Noire. In addition to all the drollery and laughter that Doisneau’s photographs exude, the book shows all the magic of his work: montage, trick photography, photomontage, collage, warping and fractioning, etc.
“I don’t bring anyone along. Strolling around is a solitary vice. I would be far too ashamed to show my hesitations, my tracing back, and most of all, my unreasonable expectations.”
“In my ideal photography school, there would be a bouquet teacher and a music teacher. We would not train violin virtuosos, but we would explain the role of music, which sheds light on past civilisations—a very necessary further education.”
“I am putting together a reportage on Saint-Germain-des-Prés – the basement nightclubs, the crowd one finds there, and the artists – I mean, the absolute cutting edge of Western society. This new Montparnasse is very important for me who believes in archives ageing well.”
“My ear has gone fallow for classical music, but song helps me. In the street, you whistle little tunes that give you courage.”
Doisneau et la Musique is at Cité de la Musique, Paris.