Ronis died at a Paris hospital where he had been admitted days earlier, said Stephane Ledoux, the president of the Eyedea photo agency.
Lovers, nudes and scenes from Paris streets were the mainstay of Ronis' photographs, which reflect the so-called humanist school of photography in an award-winning career that began in the 1930s and reaped honors for him in France and abroad.
In a wheelchair and on dialysis for some time, the mustachioed Ronis nevertheless managed to address the crowd at the annual Arles photographic exhibition in July, where he was honored.
Willy Ronis (August 14, 1910 - September 12, 2009) was a French photographer, the best-known of whose work shows life in post-war Paris and Provence.
Ronis was born in Paris; his father was a Jewish refugee from Odessa who opened a photography studio in Montmartre, and his mother was a refugee from Lithuania who gave piano lessons. The boy's early interest was music and he hoped to become a composer. Returning from compulsory military service in 1932, his violin studies were put on hold because his father's cancer required Ronis to take over the family portrait business; Ronis' passion for music has been observed in his photographs. His father died in 1936, whereupon the business collapsed and Ronis went freelance, his first photographs being published in Regards. In 1937 he met David Szymin and Robert Capa, and did his first work for Plaisir de France; in 1938–39 he reported on a strike at Citroën and traveled in the Balkans. With Cartier-Bresson, Ronis belonged to Association des Écrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires, and remained a man of the left.
The work of photographers, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams inspired Ronis to begin exploring photography. After his father's death, in 1949, Ronis closed the studio and joined the photo agency Rapho, with Brassaï, Robert Doisneau and Ergy Landau.
Ronis became the first French photographer to work for Life. In 1953, Edward Steichen included Ronis, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Izis, and Brassaï in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art titled Five French Photographers. In 1955, Ronis was included in the Family of Man exhibition. The Venice Biennale awarded him its Gold Medal in 1957. Ronis began teaching in the 1950s, and taught at the School of Fine Arts in Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Saint Charles, Marseilles. In 1979 he was awarded the Grand Prix des Arts et Lettres for Photography by the Minister for Culture. Ronis won the Prix Nadar in 1981 for his photobook, Sur le fil du hasard.
Provençal Nude by Willy Ronis, 1949.
Ronis' wife, the Communist militant painter Marie-Anne Lansiaux (1910–91), was the subject of his well-known 1949 photograph, Nu provençal (Provençal nude). The photograph, taken in a house that he and Anne Marie had just bought in Gordes, showed Marie-Anne washing at a basin with a water pitcher on the floor and an open window through which the viewer can see a garden, this is noted for its ability to convey an easy feeling of Provençal life. The photograph was a "huge success"; Ronis would comment, "The destiny of this image, published constantly around the world, still astonishes me." Ronis lived in Provence from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Late in her life, Ronis photographed Marie-Anne suffering from Alzheimer's disease, sitting alone in a hospital yard.
Ronis' nudes and fashion work (for Vogue and Le Jardin des modes) show his appreciation for natural beauty; meanwhile, he remained a principled news photographer, resigning from Rapho for a twenty-five year period when he objected to the hostile captioning by the New York Times to his photograph of a strike.
Despite stiff competition from Robert Doisneau and others, the Oxford Companion to the Photograph terms Ronis "the photographer of Paris par excellence".
Ronis continued to live and work in Paris, although he stopped photography in 2001, since he required a cane to walk and could not move around with his camera. He also worked on books for the Taschen publishing company.
Ronis passed away in the early hours of September 12, 2009, at the age of 99.
* Photo-reportage et chasse aux images. Paris: Publications Photo-Cinéma Paul Montel, 1951.
* Belleville-Ménilmontant. Grenoble: Arthaud, 1954. Paris: Arthaud, 1984. ISBN 2700304861. Paris: Arthaud, 1989. Paris: Hoëbeke, 1999. ISBN 2842300815.
* Îles de Paris. [N.p.]: Arthaud, 1957.
* Paris. [Paris]: Arthaud, 1962.
* Paris in Colour. London: Allen & Unwin, 1964.
* Paris in Color. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1964.
* Sur le fil du hasard. Paris: Contrejour, 1980. ISBN 2859490337.
* Willy Ronis. [N.p.]: Galerie municipale du Château d'eau, c.1981. ISBN 2903116199.
* Willy Ronis. Paris: P. Belfond, 1983. ISBN 2714416047.
* Willy Ronis par Willy Ronis. Paris: Association française pour la diffusion du patrimoine photographique, 1985.
* Mon Paris. Paris: Denoël, 1985. ISBN 2207231666.
* La Traversée de Belleville. Paris: Le Bar floréal, 1990.
* Willy Ronis. Paris: Centre national de la photographie, 1991. ISBN 2867540666.
* Willy Ronis, 1934-1987. Paris: Editions Treville, 1991. ISBN 4845706881.
* Portrait de Saint-Benoît-du-Sault. Paris: Calmann-Lévy; Versailles: Editions P. Olivieri, 1992.
* Toutes belles. Paris: Editions Hoëbeke, 1992. ISBN 2905292490.
* Willy Ronis: Photographs, 1926-1995. Oxford: Museum of Modern Art, 1995.
* Willy Ronis: 70 ans de déclics. Paris: Musées de la ville de Paris, 1996. ISBN 2879003180.
* A nous la vie! 1936–1958. Paris: Hoëbeke, 1996. ISBN 2842300092.
* Vivement Noël! Paris: Hoëbeke, 1996. ISBN 2842300203.
* Autoportrait. Cognac: Fata Morgana, 1996. ISBN 2851944118.
* Les Sorties du dimanche. Paris: Nathan, 1997. ISBN 2097542042.
* Provence. Paris: Hoëbeke, 1998. ISBN 284230036X.
* Sundays by the River. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999. ISBN 1560988878.
* Willy Ronis: Marie-Anne, Vincent et moi. Trézélan: Filigranes éd., 1999. ISBN 2910682765.
* Sur le fil du hasard, rétrospective: Willy Ronis photographies. Antony: Maison des Arts, 1999.
* Belleville Ménilmontant. Paris: Hoëbeke, 1999. ISBN 2842300815.
* Mémoire textile. Strasbourg: La Nuée bleue, 2000. ISBN 2716505381.
* Willy Ronis for Press Freedom. London: Reporters without borders, 2001. ISBN 2908830612.
* Derrière l'objectif de Willy Ronis: Photos et propos. Paris: Hoëbeke, 2001. ISBN 2842301234.
* Willy Ronis 55. London: Phaidon, 2002. ISBN 0-7148-4167-6.
* Willy Ronis: "La vie en passant". Munich: Prestel, 2004. ISBN 3791329308.
* Le Val et les bords de Marne. Paris: Terrebleue, 2004. ISBN 2913019307.
* Willy Ronis: Stolen Moments / Gestohlene Augenblicke / Instants dérobés. Cologne: Taschen, 2005. ISBN 3-8228-3958-2.
* Willy Ronis: Paris, éternellement. Paris: Hoëbeke, 2005. ISBN 2842302451.
* Willy Ronis. Barcelona: Obra Social Fundacioń "La Caixa", 2006. ISBN 8476649010.
* Ce jour-la. Paris: Mercure de France, 2006. ISBN 2715226616. Paris: Gallimard, 2008. ISBN 9782070358625.
* Les Chats de Willy Ronis. Paris: Flammarion, 2007. ISBN 2081206870.
* Nues. Paris: Terre bleue, 2008. ISBN 9782909953229.