Death of Michel Birot
Michel Birot was born in Aurillac, France. After studying in Toulouse, he joined the photo lab at the Agence Delpire in Paris in 1975, working with some of the country’s biggest magazines. Throughout his career in fashion and advertising photography, he stayed true to his civil libertarian principles in the tradition of la nouvelle photographie.
In 1995, Birot covered the Rugby World Cup, a sport that had long been his passion. In 1997, with his companion, Hélène, he founded the magazine Attitude Rugby, which looked more like an art magazine than the typical sports paper. He invited intellectuals and writers to contribute texts that would accompany his black-and-white photographs shot in the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, capturing the players’ virile power and connection to the earth. His photographs were exhibited several times at the Galerie Photo4 in Paris, like abstract murals, as formally rigorous as the masterpieces of Weston, Dieuzaide or Gibson.
Birot was nicknamed “The Eye of Rugby,” and he liked to say that rugby for him was means to enter into the family of man: “I chose rugby as a passion the way others chose lions in Africa or inner cities across the world. Only time gives meaning to our work.”
Birot died in Ivry-sur-Seine on December 27 surrounded by his family. His photographs will live on, not only for their aesthetic qualities, but for their human warmth.