Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In Focus: Ara Guler's Anatolia

Where: Sackler Gallery

When: through May 14, 2014

I mentioned in my last post that you could see the Rina Banerjee piece on your way to see something else at the Sackler.  This is the show I was on my way to see today.

It's a collection of photographs by Ara Guler, a photographer (still alive and now in his 80s) who took pictures of Turkey in the 1950s and 1960s.  He thinks of himself as a photojournalist, not as an artist, but the art world thinks differently.  His work has been the subject of several museum displays and large coffee table books.

This display was set up by undergraduates at Johns Hopkins, which apparently has a program in museum studies (oh, if I had it to do over again...).  The students were able to choose the photographs to include and write the wall notes (never knew that was the name for those - glad to know that now).  It's a great opportunity for someone looking to break into the field of museum work, which I can only imagine must be a terribly competitive field.

The photographs are interesting, although perhaps I would have found them more so, if I knew more about Turkish history.  What they did remind me of was the Charles Marville exhibit at the National Gallery.  Both of them were documenting a way of life that was passing due to modernization.  Guler also did portraits of famous people - shades of Yousuf Karsh!

Many of the photographs were of buildings falling into ruin.  I was reminded of the poem Ozymandias; everything falls into oblivion eventually, no matter how powerful.

Verdict: Worth a look.  It's only two rooms, so it doesn't take long.  Note that it's in the exhibit space by the museum store, so it's convenient for last-minute holiday shopping!

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