Robert Delpire and André Martin
© D.R.

Born in Paris in 1926, he spent his childhood in Ménilmontant, a neighborhood in Paris.

Robert Delpire studied at the Lycée Voltaire where he practiced photography and basketball.

1947: Enrols in medical school, and wears No. 9 on the medical school basketball team (A.S.M.) - five-time French university champion.

1949: He is asked to take over the Maison de la Médecine newsletter, an art magazine for doctors. He teams up with Pierre Faucheux (layout, graphics, printing) and Michel Ragon (choice of authors and texts).
The first issue of NEUF appeared in June 1950, determining his entire approach to publishing.

1955: He created the visual formula for L'Œil magazine, for which he was artistic director for 8 years.

Robert Delpire and Robert Frank
© D.R.

In 1958, he published Robert Frank's Les Américains.

In 1963, he opened a gallery at 13, rue de l'Abbaye, in Paris, where he exhibited (often for the first time in Europe) the great names in photography: W. Eugene Smith, Heinrich Kühn, August Sander, Duane Michals, Josef Koudelka, Guy Bourdin... illustration: André François, Savignac, Alain Le Foll, R.O. Blechman… and graphic design: Herb Lubalin, Milton Glaser, Paul Davis, Push Pin Studios…

Logo by Herb Lubalin, 1960

At the same time, he set up the Delpire advertising agency, which handled numerous international accounts as part of the Advico group. As Creative Director, he twice won the Grand Prix de la Publicité (BNP in 1968 and Citroën in 1975).

He has produced several films, including Corps profond by Etienne Lalou and Igor Barrère, winner of the Golden Lion in Venice, Cassius le Grand and Qui êtes-vous Polly Maggoo?  by William Klein, winner of the 1967 Jean Vigo prize, as well as numerous advertising films.

In 1967, he directed Flagrants délits, a 30-minute film on the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Jeanloup Sieff, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Delpire, Sarah Moon
and Martine Franck
© D.R

In 1977/78, he conceived and directed the Spécial Photo series for Le Nouvel Observateur.

In July 1982, at the request of French Culture Minister Jack Lang, he founded the Centre National de la Photographie (CNP), which he directed until 1996.
At the Palais de Tokyo, then from 1993 at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, he produced over one hundred and fifty thematic exhibitions (Identités, Botanica, Vanités, etc.) and monographic exhibitions (Irving Penn, Robert Frank, William Klein, etc.), which toured the world.

Josef Koudelka and Robert Delpire
© D.R.

Robert Delpire and André François
© Sarah Moon

At the head of the CNP, he created Photo Poche, the first collection of pocket books devoted to photography, which he continued to direct until his death in 2017.

He initiated two television programs: Contacts, based on an idea by William Klein, and One minute for one image, based on an idea by Agnès Varda.

In 1997, with Michel Christolhomme, he founded Fait & Cause, a gallery specializing in social issues, and was its artistic director.

In 2002, he was appointed President of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, created by Martine Franck, Henri Cartier-Bresson and their daughter Mélanie.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sarah Moon
and Robert Frank
© Robert Delpire

In 2003, he organized the retrospective exhibition on the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, De qui s'agit-il ?, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

In 2009, a retrospective exhibition, Delpire & Cie, was held at the Rencontres internationales de la photographie d'Arles, and at the Maison européenne de la Photographie in Paris. The film Le montreur d'images, a portrait directed by Sarah Moon, is shown at the Rencontres d'Arles and on Arte.

His herbariums, to which he has devoted part of his time since 1999, are presented in these two exhibitions, as well as at the Château de Chambord, under the title Tant qu'il y aura des feuilles (as long as there are leaves).

In 2012, the Delpire publishing house was acquired by Libella, and became delpire & co in 2020.

Robert Delpire died in Paris in 2017.

He is Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, Médaille d'or des Arts Graphiques, and was awarded the Prix Nadar several times.

A catalog raisonné of Robert Delpire's work is in preparation and will be published to mark the centenary of his birth in 2026.

Robert Delpire and Erik Orsenna,
Le montreur d’images
© Sarah Moon