Richard Kalvar, born 1944 is an American photographer who has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1977. After studying English and American literature at Cornell University in the mid-sixties, Kalvar worked in New York as assistant to French fashion photographer Jérôme Ducrot. It was during an extended trip with a camera to Europe in 1966-67 that he decided to become a photographer. After working for two years in New York, he was offered his first and last role in theatre, acting in French in Marseille and Paris, where he settled. He helped found the Viva agency in 1972, and in 1975 he became an associate member of Magnum Photos, and a full member two years later. He has subsequently served as vice president and president.
Kalvar has done extensive personal work in America, Europe and Asia, notably in France, Italy, England, Japan and the United States, supporting himself with journalistic and commercial assignments. He has a long-term unfinished project in progress in Rome.
In 1980, Kalvar presented a solo show at Agathe Gaillard gallery in Paris and has participated in many group shows. A major retrospective of his work was shown at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in 2007, accompanied by his book Earthlings.
Kalvar’s photographs are marked by a strong homogeneity of aesthetic and theme. His images frequently play on a discrepancy between the banality of a real situation and the uncanny feeling that is produced by a particular choice of timing and framing. The result of his careful framing is a state of tension between two levels of interpretation, attenuated by a touch of humour.