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(1928, Istanbul - October 2018, Istanbul) )

Ara Güler was born in Istanbul in 1928. The most important living representative of creative photography in Turkey today, he has a well-established international reputation. In his childhood he was greatly influenced by the cinema. As a high-school student he worked at film studios in every branch of cinema. In 1951, he graduated from the Getronagan Armenian High School and then began training in theatre and acting under Muhsin Ertugrul. He wanted to be either a director or a scriptwriter. At that time some of his stories were published in literary magazines and Armenian newspapers. He continued his education in the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University. However, on deciding to become a photo-journalist, he dropped out of university and did his military service. He began a career in journalism with the newspaper Yeni İstanbul in 1950. He became a photojournalist for Time Life in 1956 and for Paris Match and Stern in 1958. Around the same time, he joined the Magnum Agency. He did a feature on Noah's Ark and over 100 of these photographs were distributed by Magnum Photos. Also during these years he reported on Mt. Nemrut and the world was introduced to Mt. Nemrut through his photographs. Another of his important features was on the rediscovery of the forgotten city of Aphrodisias and through this it was revealed to the world. Up until 1961, he worked as head of the photography section of Hayat magazine. In the British Journal of Photography Year Book published in the UK in 1961, Güler was named one of the seven best photographers in the world. In the same year, he was accepted as a member of the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) and was its only Turkish member. In 1962, he received the ‘Master of Leica' award in Germany. In the same year he was the subject of a special issue of the journal Camera, the most important publication in the world of photography at that time. His works were exhibited at the Man and his World show in Canada in 1967; at the 10 Masters of Color Photography in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, 1968; and at the Photokina Fair in Cologne during the same year. He took the photographs for Lord Kinross's book about Haghia Sophia, published in 1971. His photograph was on the cover of the English, French and German editions of the book Picasso, Métamorphose et Unité published by Skira for Picasso's 90th birthday. In 1974 he was invited to America where he photographed many famous Americans, photos that were later exhibited under the title Creative Americans in many cities around the world. A documentary film called End of a Hero about the scrapping of the battle cruiser Yavuz was made in the same year. Photographs from this were used in articles on art and art history in Time-Life, Horizon and Newsweek, and shown around the world by Skira Publishing Company. Starting in 1989, he joined the program "A Day in the Life of..." and worked together with the world's most famous photographers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. In 1992 his photographs of the great architect Sinan's works, which he had been preparing for many years, were published in France by Edition Arthaud and by Thames & Hudson in the USA and the UK, with the title Sinan, Architect of Soliman the Magnificent. In the same year his book Living in Turkey was published by Thames & Hudson in the USA and the UK, in Singapore by the Archipelago Press under the title Turkish Style, and with the title Demeures Ottomanes de Turquie by the Albin Michel publishing company in France. In the year 2002 the French Government decorated him with the Legion d'Honneur Officier des Arts et des Lettres and in 2009 he received La Médaille de la Ville Paris from the Paris Municipality. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Yıldız Teknik University in 2004; the Presidential Culture and Arts Grand Award in 2005; the Award for Service to Culture and the Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2008; and the Outstanding Service Award of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 2009; Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lucie Foundation in the USA in 2009; and the the Award to Culture and the Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2011.

Güler has held hundreds of exhibitions of his work all over the world and published many books. He has also interviewed and photographed numerous celebrities, ranging from Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill to Arnold Toynbee, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Many examples of Ara Güler's photographic work are to be found in international institutions, such as the French National Library in Paris and the Sheldon Collection at Nebraska University as well as in private collections in Boston, Chicago and New York. His photographs are also on display at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne. Furthermore, eight doctoral theses have been written about Ara Güler, one of these for the University of Munich, in Germany.


He died in October 2018. 


Istanbul in My Memoirs


Istanbul, a city with a rich culture accumulation, which hosted many civilizations with its history of hundreds of years and accommodated countless of civilizations on its lands.


Ara Güler, who writes stories that are/will not be forgotten for generations, reflects to us such a colorful life and socio-cultural aspects of this giant metropolitan, which is always monitored carefully because of also its cultural richness, artistic, economic, strategic importance, through his own perspective with shots that offer insight into the history.


What is ignored in photos taken by Ara Güler, which turn into tale is the documentary-like and also surrealistic manner of expression of the uncertainty that is always in search.


"A city in which a sea goes through", an adjective ascribed to Istanbul, seems to be integrated with its people; however it enriched with the shots by Ara Güler in a chaotic environment that is melancholic, alone and transformed. As its name suggests, the exhibition that consists of the selection of Istanbul photos taken between years 1950 and 1988 represent the memoirs, which are not forgotten for a lifelong time and contain different feelings as they are remembered, whenever he looks to his photos.


Ara Güler is a master, who witnessed 80-year historic period of Turkey and who even expresses himself in the right shots as if he pressed trigger, while talking about himself and considers himself lucky, thinking that events in his shots came across with him. Describing the life an empty film roll given to the people, Ara Güler advises us to try to fill each moment in an excellent manner, which will guide us for long years.


Curator Beste Gürsu