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‘I photograph the light' Roger Humbert: Swiss pioneer of concrete photography

The Basel-based photographer and art designer Roger Humbert is a leading avant-garde photographer in Switzerland. He was part of a small group of artists who invented the concrete photography movement in the 1950s, using light in dramatic ways. 

Humbert, who turned 90 in December 2019, trained as a photographer and graphic designerexternal link and worked in these fields until he began to experiment with his art form in the 1950s. He started to make images without a camera, instead using light sources to produce luminograms – a method to create images by directing light onto photographic paper. “I photograph the light,” he said.

By removing the traditional subject from in front of the camera lens and replacing it with images of light and shadow, he created new shapes and forms on paper known as 'photograms'.

He experimented with different temperatures of light to see how it influenced his images. He used stencils and other objects as instruments to complement the aesthetics of his design.

Because of the technical nature of his work, Humbert has been described as a natural scientist in the field of photography.

Roger Humbert's works are archived at the Fotostiftung Schweizexternal link (Swiss Foundation for Photography) near Zurich and he has had his work exhibited at numerous international museums, including the Peter C. Ruppert Collection in Würzburg and the Museum of Art and Historyexternal link Geneva. 

Humbert lives and works today in Basel.

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