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Willy Ronis's Views of Paris

Matt Schudel

Anyone with lingering mental images of the romantic balconies and side streets of Paris owes a debt of imagination to Willy Ronis.

The Hungarian-born photographer, whose sweet, unadorned pictures of Parisian life practically echo with the sound of accordion music and clinking coffee cups, has died in Paris at the grand age of 99.

Like Henri Carter-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Brassai and another Hungarian emigre, Andre Kertesz, Ronis had an eye for the small gestures and quiet corners that make Paris so eternally fascinating.

Ronis may not have been quite as famous as some of his fellow poets of the shutter, but his photographs of street scenes and interiors capture a timeless sense of the Parisian spirit. He shoots from high angles, with dramatic shadows adding to the photographs' alluring quality, and he portrays Paris in all its inimitable variety, from rain-slickened streets to the city's waterfront to intime views of nude women lounging in a lovely half-light. Paris may not be like this anymore, but Willy Ronis managed to capture the Paris of our hearts.

By Matt Schudel |  September 23, 2009; 5:42 PM ET  | Category:  Matt Schudel
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