Marc Riboud is the author of one of the most famous photos in the world: the Young girl with a flower.
A symbolic image
The whole world knows this scene. In 1967, during a demonstration in Washington against American intervention in Vietnam. For several years, America has been sending its young citizens to fight in Vietnam. To challenge President Lyndon Johnson, 100,000 gathered around the Lincoln Memorial basin, then 50,000 marched on the Pentagon.
Among them, a teenager, Jan Rose Kasmir. From the height of her 17 years, she joined the noisy crowd of protesters and parades with her floral dress. Her own weapon is a flower – a harmless weapon, which will nevertheless be charged with planetary power thanks to the snapshot taken by Marc Riboud. Remarkable for its composition, between the contrast of the fragility of the young high school student handing the chrysanthemum to the bayonets of the soldiers, this photograph also constitutes an imbalance of the cultural and social fronts of the Vietnam War.
The icon has never ceased to engage against war. In 2004, she met Marc Riboud during a demonstration in London against the American invasion of Iraq. A reunion immortalized by the photographer, who then captures the face of the fifties brandishing his own portrait dated 1967.
A first publication in Life Magazine
Marc Riboud was born in 1923 in Saint-Genis-Laval, near Lyon. At the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1937, he took his first photographs with the little Vest-Pocket offered by his father for his 14th birthday. In 1944, he took part in the fighting in the Vercors. From 1945 to 1948, he studied engineering at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon and worked in a factory, then he decided to devote himself to photography.
In 1953, he obtained his first publication in Life magazine for his photograph of a painter of the Eiffel Tower. At the invitation of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, he joined the Magnum agency.
He traveled by road to India
In 1955, via the Middle East and Afghanistan, he traveled by road to India, where he stayed for a year. From Calcutta, he went to China in 1957 for a first long stay before ending his journey in the Far East via Japan where he found the subject of his first book: Women of Japan.
In 1960, after a three-month stay in the USSR, he covered independence in Algeria and sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1968 and 1969, he carried out reports in the South as well as in North Vietnam, where he was one of the few photographers to be able to enter. In the 1980s and 1990s, he returned regularly to the East and the Far East, particularly to Angkor and Huang Shan, but also to follow the immense and rapid changes in this China he had known for thirty years.
In 2011, Marc Riboud made a donation to the National Museum of Modern Art (Centre Georges Pompidou) of a set of 192 original prints made between 1953 and 1977. His work has been crowned with prestigious prizes and museums and galleries exhibit his work in Paris, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, etc.
Marc Riboud died at the age of 93 in Paris on August 30, 2016. The heart of his archives joined the collections of the National Museum of Asian Arts – Guimet.