Born in 1904, Marcel Bovis trained at the National School of Decorative Arts in Nice but turned his attentions to photography during his military service; he took it up as a profession in 1933.
In 1927 he began to photograph Paris by night and from 1936 had his photographs published in Arts et Métiers Graphiques. That same year he exhibited his work in the Pavillon de Marsan in Paris. He soaked up the ambience of popular festivals and circuses which inspired him to collaborate with Pierre Mac Orlan in 1948 on a book called Fêtes Foraines. He was the author or co-author of Voyage dans Paris in 1941 also introduced by Mac Orlan, of several books on theatres, museums and on Paris' cultural heritage between 1945 and 1950, as well as of a polyptych on Algeria between 1952 and 1958.
He tried his hand at architectural photography as shown in his work at Bourges and Chartres, at nude photography and at various experimental techniques such as collage and photomontage.
A self-taught man, Marcel Bovis acquired, through his reading and encounters with Emmanuel Sougez in particular, technical knowledge that he was able to build on using his own personal discoveries: toning, tinting, solarisation. Along his career path he also got numerous public and private commissions. In 1951, he took part in the "Subjektive Fotografie" exhibition in Saarbrucken.
His learned background ensured he was perfectly suited to producing work with a historical photographic dimension: 150 years of French photography (1979), French photographic cameras (1993).
Through his experiences in the Rectangle from 1941 onwards, and later in Le Group des XV following its establishment in 1946, Marcel Bovis also became a keen advocate of copyright protection.