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Ara Güler receives the Leica Hall of Fame Award

The lifework of the famous Magnum photographer Ara Güler will be honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame Award and his photography will be celebrated by a major exhibition in the Leica Masters of Photography Gallery in the course of photokina 2016.

Ara Güler, arguably Turkey’s most eminent photographer, impressively portrayed life in the city of Istanbul, his birthplace and home, for over 60 years. He is world famous for his incomparable black-and-white images of the metropolis on the shores of the Bosporus from the 1950s and 1960s. Ara Güler (87) is also well known for his work as a reporter and photojournalist covering political affairs around the world and for his photographic interviews with many prominent politicians and artists of the period, for instance Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, Alfred Hitchcock, Willy Brandt, Maria Callas, Bertrand Russell, Pablo Picasso, Indira Gandhi and Winston Churchill.

‘In his own unique way, Ara Güler documented everyday life and captured moments of change both big and small in the only city in the world that sits astride two continents, and thus earned the nickname ‘The Eye of Istanbul’. The power of Ara Güler’s images of his city and his photographs documenting important political events of recent history clearly illustrate the decisive role he has played in the evolution of 20th century photography. We have therefore chosen to honour his notable and outstanding work as a photographer with the Leica Hall of Fame Award’, explains Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Chief Representative Leica Galleries International.

Ara Güler was born in Istanbul on 16 August 1928. After attending courses at drama school and abandoning his university studies in economics, he made the decision to begin a career as a photojournalist. Although Güler began work as a self-taught photographer, he soon became well known for his work for Turkish publications. His work as a reporter and photojournalist took him and his Leica around the world on assignments for numerous international magazines. In 1961, he was employed as head of the photographic department at the Turkish magazine ‘Hayat’ (‘Life’).

He sees himself as a ‘visual historian’ who ‘captures what happens around him’. He dislikes being described as an artist and, in his own words, ‘photography is not an art, it is more important than art’. His work has won him numerous awards: in 1961, ‘Photography Annual’ described him as one of the world’s seven best photographers. He was awarded the title ‘Master of Leica’ in 1962 and, in 1999, was honoured with the Turkish ‘Photographer of the Century’ award.

The Leica Hall of Fame Award will be presented to Ara Güler in Istanbul at the end of this year. Visitors to photokina 2016 will have the opportunity to view the exhibition celebrating the photographer and his work in the Leica Masters of Photography Gallery (Hall 1). The exhibition is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from 20 to 25 September.

The Leica Hall of Fame Award

The Leica Hall of Fame Award, first awarded in 2011, shares the tradition of earlier awards instituted by Leica Camera AG and honours exceptional photographers for their particular contributions to the photographic genre or invaluable services to the Leica brand. The award is a non-competitive award judged exclusively on merit. Previous winners of this prestigious award are the Magnum photographer Steve McCurry, Barbara Klemm, for many years editorial photographer at the ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’, and Nick Út, for his momentous documentation of contemporary history in his images of the Vietnam war. Other prominent photographers honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame Award are René Burri († 2014), famous for his emotive images captured before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Thomas Hoepker, who documented people and events of contemporary history with his Leica M and decisively influenced the genre of reportage photography in the second half of the 20th century.