The exhibition is devoted to Maxim Solomon (1922-1991), one of the first journalist-photographers in Israel.
Maxim Solomon began his career in the Israeli media as a photographer for Ha'olam Hazeh, a weekly known for its irreverent style, and redefined the principles of journalistic photography in the country. In the course of his work he moved between free, subversive photography which swamped the audience with social and political questions, and photography of the establishment and the military, which operated under the watchful eyes of the government. An autodidact, he was among the young generation of photographers who joined the profession after the state was founded. In 1950, after joining the editorial board of Haolam Hazeh, he was one of the first journalist-photographers in Israel; together with Uri Avneri (the editor of Haolam Hazeh) he adopted the photographed report approach, i.e., reportage. His photographs did not accompany the report, but rather were an integral part of it; for the first time in Israel photographs were a vital and principal component of the journalistic message.
As customary at the time on the Haolam Hazeh editorial board, the photographer had both the
right and the obligation to make his voice heard, and to fight for this right. Solomon determined the photographic contents and sought the photographic angle and subjects to the best of his knowledge. He often also played the role of reporter, and wrote with a great deal of humor and cynicism. His report "An interview with a circus horse" (17.5.1951) ended with the words, "And do not forget to bring a camera; as I was moving away, I heard the voice of a horse."
After he left the Haolam Hazeh editorial board he began photographing for Bamachaneh, the IDF weekly. At the same time he began working as a freelancer for the daily papers and photographed intensively for the news pages, while adapting an approach whereby a journalist photographer can and should participate in every event, and document, expose and pose questions.
Maxim Solomon strongly believed that the photograph has historical value. Before he began working as a photographer-journalist he worked as a photographer for the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary organization active during the period of the British Mandate, documenting the arrival of
the illegal immigrant ship "Exodus" on the shores of Palestine, and clandestine meetings with Arab bodies. He created friendly ties with heads of government and the military in Israel, and took numerous portraits of them (Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weizmann in an aircraft, Yitzhak Rabin on a paratrooper's course, Uzi Gal clutching an Uzi sub-machinegun, Shimon Peres, Yigael Yadin, Rehavam Zeevi and David Ben-Gurion). He was one of the first photographers to join the first delegations to Masada, documented the beginning of work on the Heletz oilfield, as well as theatre performances, fashion shows, IDF parades, life in the ma'abarot (transit camps for new immigrants), etc.
His first love was photographing his city, Tel Aviv, its cityscapes and the passers-by, and not the well-known figures in the city's cultural and social life. In his photographs, Tel Aviv is seen from his somewhat reflective perspective, that of the urban passer-by, while underscoring humankind in the private and urban domain. He photographed the beggars, the houses and neighborhoods, parties and night life, the elderly and the frankfurter vendors, the Kassit café soccer team, etc.
Another photographic angle which shatters conventions can be seen in some of the photographs that have a sexual and sensuous nature and which were outspoken for the 50s in Israel. Among them the photograph of nude masculinity and of masculine gestures with homo-erotic connotations, which can be seen in the photographs of fishermen, workers drilling in the Heletz oilfield, and an aircraft and mechanic, etc. All these photographs were taken in a milieu that was defined as totally male at the time.
Solomon continued photographing in the 50s in a 6X6 format, of the kind popular among photographers of the 30s; this format enabled him to maintain a high aesthetic standard. It dictated long exposure during photographing, which made it possible for him to capture the less expected moment; it also gave his spectators a chance to remain another moment with the photographed objects.
Curator: Guy Raz
Opens: December 25, 2007
Closes 31 December, 2008