Paul Fusco, photographer of crowds watching RFK’s funeral train, dies at 89

He traveled the world for Look magazine, but his most memorable images came on a single day in 1968.

Paul Fusco, who traveled the world as a photojournalist but whose most indelible images, portraying a nation in mourning, were captured on a single day in 1968 as he rode aboard Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral train from New York to Washington, died July 15 at an assisted-living facility in San Anselmo, Calif. He was 89.

In Memoriam : Paul Fusco (1930-2020)

It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of our great colleague and friend Paul Fusco. Paul has been a member of the Magnum community since 1973 and will be remembered by his colleagues for his incredible kindness, and the deep sensitivity and humanity that he brought to his photography. Empathizing with his subjects, and photographing them with much respect, Paul covered stories ranging from police brutality in New York to the long-term effects of the Chernobyl disaster and people living with AIDS in California. In 1968 he photographed the spectators lined along the route of Bobby Kennedy’s funeral train from New York to Washington, capturing the emotion of the nation and becoming one of the most celebrated series of photographs of the time.

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The duty of a photojournalist, according to many, is to remain detached in a moment of crisis, to compartmentalize scenes of violence and war from the goings on of everyday life. As suggested by Italian journalist Mario Calabresi in his extraordinary book

As suggested by Italian journalist Mario Calabresi in his extraordinary book Eyes Wide Open, however, the best storytellers are those who allow themselves to be submerged within often painful events, to forgo absolute objectivity in favor of something rarer: a precarious marriage of impartiality and intimate involvement. In interviews with ten photographers who have not only documented but in many ways shaped the course of history—Steve McCurry, Josef Koudelka, Don McCullin, Elliott Erwitt, Paul Fusco, Alex Webb, Gabriele Basilico, Abbas, Paolo Pellegrin, and Sebastiao Salgado

R.F.K., R.I.P., Revisited

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In Paul Fusco’s photographs (here and at the gallery) of the people along the tracks, as the Kennedy funeral train passes, it is not only the faces and the clothes that catch the eye, it is the hands.

Check it out here.