Edouard Boubat (1923-1999) left behind an extensive and rich photography archive. Having witnessed the horrors of conflict firsthand, Boubat’s later work revels in the lighter side of life, focusing on the minutiae of daily life and its pleasures.
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Tournesols, France, 1987
Cafe De Flore, Saint Germain Des Pres, Paris, 1953
Inde, Madras, 1971
Edouard Boubat was born in Paris on 23 September 1923, the son of an army chef. His first training in the arts was from 1938, at the École Estienne in Paris where he studied photo-engraving. During the Second World War he worked as a photogravure printer but, in 1943, he was forced to endure two years of labour at a factory in Leipzig, Germany. When he was twenty-three he sold one of his prize possessions, a six volume dictionary, in order to buy his first camera. A year later his first professional photograph was exhibited at the Salon ‘Internationale de la Photographie’ and he was awarded the Kodak prize.
Boubat’s photography continued to go from strength to strength and, in 1950, was first published in the Swiss magazine Camera. Then, in 1951, he was employed by the French publication Réalités, where he worked for just under two decades.
Like most of his generation, Boubat had been profoundly affected by conflict. He had grown up listening to the horrors of the First World War from his father, and his own experiences compounded his hatred of it. Emerging into the bleak reality of post-war French life, photography became a way for Boubat to exorcise these demons. This was true for other photographers at the time, particularly Boubat’s contemporary, Robert Doisneau. They first exhibited together in 1951, and together they presented a view of France as a country of romance, beauty and greatness again: they deliberately ignored the poverty and misery caused by the Second World War. This attitude coloured Boubat’s photography throughout his career, as he travelled the world for Réalités and other publications, eschewing war-zones and instead focusing on the minutiae of daily life and its pleasures.
Boubat died in Paris in 1999, leaving behind an extensive and rich photography archive. His work revels in the lighter side of life, leaving grittier photography to other photojournalists.