Saturday, November 27

Contemporary of several kings and presidents and documented the history of his country .. Latif Al-Ani, the most famous Iraqi photographer bid farewell to life

The Dutch Prince Claus Foundation honored Latif Al-Ani and awarded him an award for creating an archive containing unique images of various aspects of life in Iraq.

Baghdad- The Dutch Prince Claus Foundation honored him for creating the first archive of various aspects of life in Iraq, and for his major role in developing the art of documentary photography in the country.

He is the Iraqi photographer, Latif Al-Ani, who died last Thursday, November 18, at the age of 90, after a journey in the field of photography that spanned more than 70 years, in which he documented all aspects of modern Iraq.

Al-Ani is considered one of the leading photographers, along with Murad Al-Daghestani, Emre Selim and Nazim Ramzi, and his archive, which was preserved in the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, shortly after the US invasion in 2003, was subjected to looting, theft and destruction.

Al-Ani is one of the leading photographers in Iraq (communication sites)

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Latif Al-Ani was born in Karbala in 1932, and his father died when he was young. His beginnings with photography were when he was helping his brother who owns a shop on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. There he learned the basic principles of photography from a photo shop owner named Nissan, and in 1947 his brother bought him the first “Kodak” camera.

The late exhibited his works within the Iraqi pavilion at the “56th Venice Biennale”, and received the “Prince Claus” award, which said in its judging statement that “honoring Latif Al-Ani is due to his creativity, and his creation of an exceptional archive of unique historical photographs of the Iraqi society, and that his works document the history of Iraq, a modern, wealthy and forward-looking country, before it was destroyed by wars, and his honor is due to his pioneering role in the development of documentary photography in Iraq.

The site of Taq Khosra in Al-Madaen, south of Baghdad, photographed by Al-Ani (Iraqi Press)

Al-Ani was a contemporary of kings and presidents who ruled Iraq, and his photographic works are considered as a memory of all the modern and ancient periods of Iraq’s history. His first steps with professional photography were when he worked with the magazine “Ahl al-Naft” in 1954 until 1960, and it was part of the photography unit in the Iraq Petroleum Company, and he was charged with taking pictures of the manifestations of modernity and industrial transformation in the country, which made him roam around it.

The company assigned him a helicopter to be the first aerial photographer to take pictures of archaeological sites in Baghdad. His works have been shown in America, Europe and throughout the Middle East since the 1960s, when competing powers struggled for power in Iraq.

Dr. Khalil Al-Tayyar - the late, is one of the pillars of the establishment of Iraqi photography and its departure from traditional methodsThe pilot considered that Al-Ani is one of the pillars of the Iraqi art of photography (Al-Jazeera)

The photographic critic, son of his city and one of his students, artist Dr. Khalil Al-Tayyar, says that the late “is one of the pillars of the Iraqi photography establishments, with its aesthetic nature and its departure from traditional methods of photographic production.” Among their creative contemporaries are Fouad Shaker, Abdul Ali Manahi, Jassem Al-Zubaidi, Adel Qassem and others.

He believes that “they worked to update the pattern of dealing with the vocabulary of reality away from documentation and reporting, and they presented an image that possesses its aesthetic discourse, to succeed in placing the image within the genres of artistic and literary narratives.”

Al-Ani’s photographic works serve as a memory of all the modern and ancient periods of Iraq’s history (Iraqi Press)

And about the distinguished experience of the late, Al-Tayyar says, “His careful attention to the process of documenting Iraq’s landmarks and human activity in an aesthetic style in which he preserved the marriage between the spirit of spatial realism that he depicts and the artistic nature of the subjects of his pictures, which left an aesthetic impact that attracted a wide and diverse audience locally and globally.”

The pilot believes that his craftsmanship and aesthetic left him with an aesthetic margin in which he belonged to the transnational human impact, and believes that he was “the first to take the camera into the air to photograph from difficult and wide angles, in which he presented a huge achievement for the landmarks of Iraqi cities and an archival survey of monuments, landmarks, and remote and remote areas that are invisible to eyes viewers.”

This comes, in the pilot’s appreciation, as he is good at dealing with “monocular photography, since his experience was limited to black and white photography, and he maintained a special style and flavour.”

He expresses his regret for the theft and loss of his archive, including “thousands of pictures and negative films, as well as thousands of pictures of historical places and cities, pictures of public figures and people, pictures of the daily life of the Iraqi person, and artistic pictures of all of Iraq.”

He considered that this archive is one of “Iraq’s irreplaceable cultural and civilizational treasures, because the changes have become big in places and personalities.”

The late Dr. Salah Haider captures pure, high-quality, distinguished photos that are comparable to today's digital photosHaider: Al-Ani distinguished himself by capturing pure, high-quality and distinguished photos that are comparable to digital photos today (Al-Jazeera)

Paris displays his work

On December 2, 2015, the Dutch Prince Claus Foundation honored Latif Al-Ani and 10 other artists, and awarded him a prize for creating an archive containing unique images of various aspects of life in Iraq, and for his significant role in developing the art of documentary photography in Iraq.

The editor-in-chief of “Arab Photo” newspaper, Dr. Salah Haidar, said, “The late was considered an ambassador for the Iraqi image, and with his passing, the Iraqi and Arab photographic movement lost one of its pioneers and one of its distinguished and distinguished sheikhs who spent their youth and lives in photographing and documenting Iraqi life in all its details and in all fields.”

The Malwy Minaret in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, photographed by the late photographer (Iraqi Press)

Haidar confirms that his departure was “silent, leaving behind a great legacy and a rich biography, worthy of being imitated by young photographers.” He pointed out that Al-Ani loved the camera, so she did not leave him in order to document all aspects of Iraqi life from north to south before he turned Digital Photography and Editing Programs.

Regarding his photographic ability, Dr. Haidar says that he used to take “pure, high-quality and distinct images that are comparable to digital images today”, and with this feature, he charmed “those interested in the world of image, including historians, researchers and specialists.”

Another example of the work of the late photographer (Iraqi Press)

Haidar talks about the photos Al-Ani took, saying that they are “characterized by eloquence and the colors of his subjects shine despite being photographed in black and white, and attract the recipient.”

He points out that the late, with his pictures, established “his own style of photography, which is characterized by simplicity despite his distinction of the rules of successful photography,” and for this “his pictures have reserved a prominent place in international museums specialized in photography in a number of countries, and his name has become associated with the modern history of Iraq.”

Dr. Haider describes the late photographer as “a professor who has a prominent position among his peers, and he has taught many photographers on his hands, and has provided them with all the information he possesses about the art of photography, since he established the Photography Department in the Ministry of Guidance and in the Iraqi News Agency, which he contributed to founding and beyond.”

Regarding the late’s latest activities, he states that he showed his photos in a full wing at the “Paris Photo” exhibition, which is the largest exhibition specialized in photography, which opened this month, adding that he “made a film about his life by those in charge of the exhibition, and fates wanted him not to be present.”

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