René Groebli

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  ajroyle 3 years, 9 months ago.

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    Ian McNab

    Like Gianni Berengo Gardin, whom we discussed a little while ago, René Groebli now seems almost unknown among English-speaking photographers. He is Swiss photographer (born 1927). His BW photographs are terrific:

    A selection:

    His website:

    (In particular have a look on his site at “The Eye Of Love” and “Nudes”.)

    His dye-transfer colour photographs were also greatly admired. (There are great examples of this commercial work on his website in the “Industry” gallery.)

    There’s some detailed info about his life here (in French). And this is a translation from the entry in the German Wikipedia (translated by Google, with my corrections to the grammar!):

    René Groebli began a photography course in the photo studio of Theo Vonow in Zurich in 1944, and then moved to the specialist photography class run by the renowned photographer, Hans Finsler at the Zurich School (now Zurich University of the Arts ). He also worked with Ernst Scheidegger, Anita Niesz and others.

    From 1946 to 1948 he trained as a documentary cameraman, and graduated with a diploma from Central Film & Gloria Film, Zurich. As a photojournalist he did commissions for the Zurich Week, and later for the London agency Black Star. His photographs were published in Life, Picture Post, Time and other international publications. His first two books were “Rail Magic” (1949), a poetic essay, and the series “The Eye of Love” (1954).

    Edward Steichen included photographs by René Groebli and the Swiss photographers Gotthard Schuh, Werner Bischof and Robert Frank in his exhibition “The Family of Man” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

    In 1954 he was admitted to the College of Swiss Photographers. Shortly afterwards, he gave up photojournalism, and in the mid-1950s, established a studio for advertising and industrial photography. There, Groebli specialized in colour photography and experimented with the dye-transfer process . The American Magazine Annual Color honoured him in 1957 as “Master of Color” for his commercial colour work.

    In 1959 he and Hans-Peter Roth-Grieder founded the Turnus Film AG in Zurich.

    Groebli was the teacher of Roland Gretler. Rolf Lyssy , Anna Halm Schudel, Michael Reinhard, who all worked as his assistants. From the early 1980s, he did not do any commercial work, but went back to his free artistic essays in black and white.

    Towards the end of the 20th and during the first decade of the 21st century, he has worked on his image archive and digitized his most important photographs made in the course of 60 years work.


    Tom Seaton

    Wow! Superb. So different and exciting compared to the images presented last week.

    The last two I especially admire with the penultimate one raising the hairs at the back of my neck.


    Ian McNab

    The work is stunning, isn’t it, Tom? Do have a look at his website (especially the two galleries I mentioned) – I’m sure you’ll be delighted!


    Tom Seaton

    Just finished looking at the web site galleries, Ian, stunning as you say. Fantastically inventive and emotive.

    Both the two galleries you commend are superb. Female X is ‘interesting’ but another I liked was ‘Peru’, especially the

    pictures of the people. Thanks for the reference, the best hour I’ve spent for some time – I was supposed to be remounting my prints

    for the Annuals!




    Even though this is a private forum I will reserve my comments on pictures last week for verbal dissemination.

    The whole thing about work like Groebli’s, the thing we should take away from looking at it is that it is all from his own life and his own imagination. Of course we are influenced by others, but don’t copy (if you do don’t show anyone), don’t go to the same places as others, be yourself. You pick up a pen and you write your own words, why should a camera be any different?

    New member Susan posted some photos the other day. I was very impressed with the football picture; so unassuming, so fresh and it places you right there, on the touchline. For me it reaches parts your glossy “usual” sports shot of “stars” never will. I delight in finding something like this when I’m judging and I delight in telling the assembly why it is a good picture.

    We do have work like this in our clubs and I think we have much that we can learn from and admire in that work. This is why we need to tap into it more.

    National are so full of copy-cat and “genre” and derivative stuff that you have to search hard for something inspirational, which means getting beyond the gloss that (naturally) all the successful pictures have.

    Last night I met a man who has paid £250 to take “those” kingfisher pictures that we have all seen. Why? His own shots of mantids were superb, different and beautifully detailed (no artefacts), but he must have thought he had to have his “own” kingfisher shots and get some surefire points.

    No, most of all, be yourself.

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