About the Photographer
Swiss, b. 1946
Francois Robert was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. As a student he focused on graphic design, but pursued an interest in photography on the side. In the late 1960s he moved to Milan and later left Europe for Chicago, where he initially worked in a graphic design firm as a partner. After deciding to shift his professional focus to photography, he began by assisting photographer Robert Keeling. Soon after he began working independently and secured major contracts with clients such as Crate and Barrel.
Some of Robert's responses to assignments have been decidedly offbeat. In one instance, he was commissioned to take portraits of prominent designers, which led him to photograph just the sitter's ear in case. He was subsequently inspired to continue the project on his own, expanding it to include people besides designers. In the ten portraits represented in MoCP's collection, the respective ears are surprisingly variegated, and when this is combined with partial glimpses of the subjects' hair, the photographs turn out to provide more information about the person than one might expect.