Minneapois Institute of Arts
New Pictures at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

ENTRY POSTED Jun 4, 2012

Werner Bischof’s “dream of purity”

By virtue of the medium, photographers share their insight more directly than other artists through various platforms.  Many work for newspapers to share images across a wide viewer base, conveying concern for human conditions in representations of crises – war, famine, poverty, natural devastation or human-made suffering – as well as with relatable moments during more peaceful times.  Yet, the role of a photojournalist can vary from a photographer not shooting for an employer, requiring a balance of internal and external pressures to produce certain images.

Werner Bischof struggled with the sensationalist expectation often pushed on photojournalists.  In one letter to his wife, Rosellina, he confessed, “This story-chasing has become hard to take – not physically, but mentally.”  However, he attempted to produce a sincere vision of events during his few years of work, prior to his accidental death in 1954 while on assignment in Lima, Peru.

Bischof wrote,  “The artist is a person whom nature has endowed with an exceptional sensitivity, who conveys the impressions his environment makes on him in terms of his own world. The requirements for this are a solid technical training, the study of the different means of expression and, not least, enormous willpower to prevail over all doubts; it is a hard road, and fortune smiles upon few.”


 Werner Bischof
In The Court of The Meiji Temple, Japan, 1951
Gift of Frederick B. Scheel

View Bischof’s  gelatin silver print “In the Court of the Meiji Temple, Tokyo, Japan” from 1951 on display at the MIA again, soon.


This image is presented as a “thumbnail” because it is protected by copyright. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts respects the rights of artists who retain the copyright to their work

Jen Dolen, Photography & New Media intern

Category: Inside Stories of the Collection


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