The Swiss photographer René Burri is considered to be one of the best known and most respected photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries. His portfolios shot as a photojournalist at political hot spots around the world, for example of the divided and later reunited city of Berlin, and evocative portraits like those of the Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che' Guevara with a cigar, the sculptors and painters Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti or the architect Le Corbusier founded his fame. Today, some of his images stand as valuable documents of contemporary history. And now, Leica Camera AG honours the lifework of the 80-year old Leica photographer, who has been a member of the Magnum agency for over fifty years, with the Leica Hall of Fame Award.
On 26 June 2013, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and majority shareholder at Leica Camera AG, presented the award in the form of a Leica M Monochrom to the value of 6,800 euros to Burri in Zurich before an audience of numerous guests invited by Leica Camera AG and the Zurich University of the Arts. The body of the camera is engraved with the name of the award and the signature of the award winner. The award ceremony took place in the course of the exhibition titled ‘René Burri - A Double Life' that is showing until 13 October 2013 in the ‘Museum für Gestaltung Zurich' and features around 200, in part previously unpublished, contemporary documents captured by Burri in black and white and, for the first time, shows some of his work in colour.
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann explained the reasons for the decision, ‘René Burri has created images that are now irremovably engraved in the photographic consciousness of our world. His portraits of Picasso, Giacometti, Le Corbusier or Guevara have long since become iconic, just like their subjects. René Burri's work has played a decisive role in changing the face of 20th-century photography. The links between René Burri and Leica have been inseparable since the beginning of his unique career as a photographer.'
At the event, Olivier Bachmann, Director of Leica Camera AG in Switzerland, also the venue for the award ceremony, acknowledged Burri's work: ‘It was only logical that René Burri and his lifework should be honoured here in his home country and by this exhibition in the ‘Museum für Gestaltung Zurich', the place where he studied photography in the 1950s and began his unparalleled career.'