He is not the most famous photographer of his time, but if history is kind to him Willy Ronis (1910-2009) will be even more iconic as the years go by. Among professional photo circles, Ronis is already significant. The famous, infamous and iconic photos reflect a long and distinguished career as a photojournalist and an artist.
Working in the golden age of photography that encompassed so much of the 20th Century, Ronis was the first French photographer to work for Life magazine. By 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.”
Ronis' nudes and fashion work (for Vogue and Le Jardin des modes) show his appreciation for natural beauty and it is this artistic side that has elevated his work to legendary status.