Two wheels, Paris and Doisneau’s lens

Doisneau 1

Recently I bought a book of Robert Doisneau’s images. The frequent references to bicycles struck me. They often pop up as a workhorse, a beast of burden, but occasionally as an object of fun and excitement (and in the case of Tati’s bike below, an exploration of two wheeled anatomy). Sadly I couldn’t find a copy of ‘Cyclists a la vache noire’ (an image of cyclists preparing to race), but here are a short selection of bike themed images through the lens of one the greatest street photographers. Couldn’t resist the image at the bottom (L’anfer) – he also had a wry eye and a typically healthy Gallic attitude to figures of authority.

tatis bike


Cavalry on the Champ de mars


Robert Doisneau: 1912-1994 (Taschen Icons) is available from good bookshops for £6.99

2 replies »

  1. I love his photos and that he manages to be sentimental without being hokey. It really captures the spirit of the French. One thing I’m struck by regarding bicycles (and similarly when looking at photography set in China) is that the bicycle is such a more practical machine than it is in the U.S… When people can’t afford cars, they use bikes. Including in place of a “work truck” like the gardener above.

    By the way, have you seen Jacques Tati’s “Jour de Fête”?

    • The bike is an excellent work machine and its a shame we don’t see more employed this way (health/fitness/cost/efficacy – you name it. For urban use, bikes are ideal).

      I haven’t seen “Jour de Fête’. I shall look it up now!

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