Who Was Benoit Gysemburgh? - Pacific Standard

Who Was Benoit Gysemburgh?

If you said "a famous photographer," you'd be half right.
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Gysembergh in Chad, 1990.

Gysembergh in Chad, 1990.

When he died earlier this month at the sadly premature age of 59 (cancer), the French photojournalist had spent most of his life as a senior photographer with the famous magazine Paris Match. There, he created some of the last century's most iconic images—if you happen to be French. This close-up of an Israeli soldier fighting in the 1982 Lebanon war was among his most recognized. He covered the Rwandan genocide in a way that made it possible to look directly at such an event, and understand it slightly better, which is no easy thing to do. He is credited with tracking down and getting a rare photograph of Vietnamese businessman Huynh Thuy Le, who is better known as the older man in Marguerite Duras' The Lover. Years later, Gysemburghwas widely rumored to have helped Fidel Castro's daughter Alina get out of Cuba, using false papers. All in all, quite a life.

None of which feels particularly central to anything in the United States. Gysembergh was a French guy who took pictures for a French magazine, about events that were interesting to French readers. So it's not a shock that an English-language search for his name, via the usual news filters, doesn't produce much. His work's importance to historical records doesn't make it any less obscure online—depending on that search's language. Makes one wonder whom else we've missed.

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