Marc Riboud, 100 years, 100 photos : from Lyon to China

Marc Riboud, 100 years, 100 photos : from Lyon to China

24 Friday
Fri, 24/02/2023

2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.



For the exhibition "Marc Riboud: 100 photographs for 100 years" at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon from February 24 to December 31, 2023, a conference will bring together Xiao Quan, photographer and famous portraitist who was Marc Riboud's assistant in China from 1993 to 1996, and Jean Loh, curator of the Marc Riboud in China retrospective from 2010 to 2013, in order to retrace the path of the humanist photographer who loved China and was a child of the country of Lyon through a projection of his iconic images and snapshots of himself in China taken by his closest collaborator during the years of reform and opening.


Marc RIBOUD (1923-2016)

Marc Riboud, born in 1923 in Lyon, began taking photographs at the World Fair in Paris in 1937 with a Kodak Vest-Pocket which his father gave him for his 14th birthday. In 1944, he participated in the fights in the Vercors. From 1945 to 1948, he studied engineering at the École Centrale de Lyon and worked in a factory. After taking a week's leave to go photographing, he decided not to return to the factory and to focus on photography. In 1953, he climbed the Eiffel Tower and took "The Painter of the Eiffel Tower", a photo he showed to Robert Capa, who helped him sell it to Life magazine: thus he joined the prestigious Magnum agency alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. The following year, Capa sent him to London "to see the girls and learn English". He did not learn English but photographed Leeds, a city he would be invited to come back to photograph in color 50 years later. In 1955, in a Range Rover, he crossed Turkey and Iran to reach Afghanistan, then he stopped for a year to photograph India and Nepal. In January 1957 he reached China and photographed Mao at close range. One of the few Western photographers to have documented China during the three decades of Maoism, he documented it during 22 trips from 1957 to 2010. In the 1960s, he covered the struggle for independence in Algeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. In 1963, in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy, he took a portrait of Fidel Castro. Between 1968 and 1969, he succeeded in entering South and North Vietnam, where he photographed Ho Chi Minh.  He has published numerous books, including "The Three Banners of China", "Huang Shan", "The Celestial Mountains", "Angkor: Buddhist Serenity", "Forty Years of Photography in China", "Tomorrow Shanghai" and "Towards the Orient", a collection which received the Nadar Prize.


XIAO Quan (photo Studio Harcourt)

Born in 1959 in Chengdu, Xiao Quan is China's most famous and celebrated portraitist photographer. In 1990, he made the last portrait of the Taiwanese author Sanmao before her death, which made him the favorite photographer of the dancer Yang Liping, whom he photographed for more than twenty years. From 1993 to 1996, he was Marc Riboud's assistant during his trips to China. In 1996, he published his best-seller "Our Generation", which includes a hundred portraits of writers (Yu Hua) and poets (Bei Dao), musicians (Tan Dun) and singers (Cui Jian), actors (Jiang Wen) and actresses (Gong Li) and filmmakers (Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige). His book will be published by Rizzoli in Italy under the title When it all began. Since 2014, he has been making portraits of ordinary people in various cities: Chongqing, Beijing, Canton, etc. His work has been exhibited many times in China and abroad, including Taiwan, France, Italy, Burma. His book "I follow my teacher Marc Riboud" published in Chinese is out of print: he is preparing a bilingual edition (Chinese-French) for 2023 to celebrate the centenary of Marc Riboud.



  • Jean Loh, curator of the Marc Riboud in China retrospective
  • Xiao Quan, photographer and portraitist