July 1, 2022

Paris: photographer René Robert falls and dies of cold in indifference

Tuesday, January 18, around 9 p.m., photographer René Robert fell in the Parisian district of République. Not a passerby reacts to the sight of this body lying on the sidewalk. Around 6 a.m., a homeless man finally alerted the emergency services. But it’s too late.

“To René Robert, murdered in the middle of the street in Paris by the indifference of passers-by”, was moved by one of his relatives, the journalist Michel Mompontet, greeting “a gentle, sensitive and humanist friend”.

No one rescued him. René Robert died alone, frozen with cold, in a busy street in the capital. Nine hours spent on the asphalt without anyone helping him.

“No passerby stopped to see why this gentleman was lying on the sidewalk. Nobody”, still denounces Michel Mompontet.

The time for questioning

For more than 50 years, René Robert immortalized flamenco dancers. Kept them alive, in black and white, eternally glossy. And died out in general indifference.

The only outstretched hand: that of this homeless man, whom Michel Mompontet is now trying to find.

On Twitter, and in an editorial broadcast on the Franceinfo channel, Michel Mompontet paid a vibrant tribute to the Franco-Swiss artist. And himself wondered: “Am I 100% sure that if I had been confronted with this scene, I would have stopped?”

Because that is undoubtedly the real question, in the eyes of the journalist. Who hopes that this tragic news item can, at least, help to alert consciences.

“When a human is lying on the sidewalk, as rushed as we are, let’s check their condition. Let’s stop for a moment, ”he pleaded.

René Robert had dedicated his life to flamenco and had devoted three books to it. Having become a master in the art of capturing suspended moments, he summed up his work as follows: “I was just there at the right time”.

Last year, he donated thousands of photos to the National Library of France.