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Photographic poem about Greece lost

23 May 2013 / 19:05:01  GRReporter
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A glimpse into the past through the exhibition "A Greek portfolio - 50 years later", by American photographer of Greek origin Constantine Manos, presented by the Benaki Museum in Athens from 22 May to 25 August.

The photographer was born in the city of Columbia, South Carolina, in 1934, in a family of Greek immigrants. At the age of 13, he enrolled in the school photography club. Later, he studied English literature at the university of the specific state and worked as photographer for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in parallel. The young man visited Greece for the first time in 1961 while he was searching for his descent. He travelled around the country with his camera and captured the true face of Greece of the time. The result of this personal journey was publicly presented in 1972, when he published a book entitled "A Greek Portfolio".

In 1963, he became a member of the international news agency Magnum. Today, his photographs appear in permanent collections of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Benaki Museum in Athens and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. In 2003, Manos won the Leica Medal of Excellence Award for his colourful pictures and his long-time contribution to American Colour.

The first part of the exhibition is a selection of photos from the photographer’s book "A Greek Portfolio". He presents in it his view of a friendly observer, who is absorbed in the daily life of the Greek countryside. The selection of the photographs is the work of Yiannis Dimou. In the second part of the exhibition, the visitors will be able to see 219 photographs that were taken in the 1960s but remained unpublished. The photographs crystallize ephemeral moments of the day in a simple, almost ascetic way in which we can see a lot of tenderness. Local critics point out that the work of Manos allows young photographers to look at the Greek countryside from a new angle.

"Like the works of great poets, Constantine Manos’ photographs have a unique value over time. We find in them epic dimensions, even in the most modest phenomena of life inherent in the relationship of man with his environment," states the head of the Benaki Museum Angelos Delivorria. Manos’ photographs bear not only aesthetical intensity but ethnological and historical value as well. They have retained the original spirit of Greece from the middle of the 20th century before mass tourism and industrialization changed the face of the country for ever.

Tags: Nine musesPhotographyExhibitionConstantine Manos
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