Dominique Darbois

Portrait of Dominique   Darbois

Dominique Darbois (5 April 1925, Paris, France – 6 Sept 2014, Paris) was a French photojournalist and author who became professional photographer in 1946, starting her journalism work in Cambodia.

The lovechild of Philippe Stern and Madeleine Schawb -- a novelist publishing under the name Madeleine Sabine, who was then married; Stern later married another photographer, Thérèse Le Prat, in 1944 --, she was was active in the Free French Forces during the Nazi occupation of France, and was imprisoned for two years in the Cité de Muette housing estate in Drancy near Paris, receiving in 1944 the Croix de Guerre for her activity with the French Resistance.

Dominique Darbois covered numerous countries during her life, including Laos, Indonesia, USSR, Australia, Mexico, Guatemala, Algeria, Iran, Cuba, USA and the Congo, and was granted the French “Prix Exploration” in 1952. During the Algerian Independence War, she became involved in the Réseau Jeanson, helping Algerian anti-colonialist forces.

From 1962 to 1965, she documented the treasures of the Kabul Art Museum, Afghanistan, a now disappeared collection that reflected centuries of civilization and conquest in central and southern Asia from Neolithic times to Alexander the Great through the coming and spread of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Her work, who had started many years earliers, was published in L’Afghanistan et son art (Editions Cercle d’Art, Paris, 1968; Afghanistan und Seine Kunst, Artia Press, Prague, 1968), and later on in the exhibition catalog Kaboul, Le Passé Confisqué (Éditions Findakly, Paris Musées, 2002).

From 1952 through 1978, she completed 20 books for the collection Les Enfants du Monde [Children of the World], with the publishing group Fernand Nathan in Paris. In addition, Dominique Darbois published her photographs on Amazon Indians, African sculpture, Chinese landscape painting, Egyptian art, and Oriental carpets.

Photography historian Francoise Denoyelle has penned an exhaustive and vibrant hommage to an exceptional woman and photographer, 'Hommage a Dominique Darbois', 9Lives Magazine, 7 Sept 2018 (in French). She is currently (2023) completing a book about Dominique Darbois' life and work.