Izis: Army of Shadows 1942-1945
For several years Manuel Bidermanas'' Son of Izis'' had wanted to honor the city of Ambazac, France, by offering his father’s personal photo laboratory. The project came together when the Espace Izis opened its doors last April in Ambazac, where the photographer and his family took refuge during the German occupation of France.
In addition to the permanent collection, the Espace Izis will host temporary photography exhibitions.
The programming for this exhibition was a given, inescapable in more ways than one. If the series Ceux de Grammont powerfully conveys the time of the French Resistance, it is also considered the foundation of the work of one of the most talented photographers of his generation.
Summer 1944. Having taken refuge in Ambazac with his wife and child since May 1941, Izis first joined the Resistance while working as a switchboard operator at the Beaupuy camp in Limoges. On August 21, 1944, Limoges was liberated. A few days later, Izis decided to photograph these heroes of the secret army.
“I couldn’t take professional portraits with artificial light and artistic poses. So I invented a kind of photography, new to me at least. I pinned a piece of white paper against the wall of a small room between two telephone calls, then I started taking their portraits,” Izis later recalled. It was in this makeshift studio that Izis produced a unique series. More than one hundred photographs of resistance fighters from Grammont, with helmets, weapons, unshaven, wearing képis and berets. They are vivid pictures, raw, authentic and moving. Realism and truth, power and humanity, intensity and sensitivity come together in a masterly osmosis.
To persuade the fighters, Izis promised to give each of them a copy of their portrait.
Izraëlis Bidermanas, alias IZIS was born in Marijampole, Lithuania in 1911. He died in Paris in 1980.
Les Maquisards : Ceux de Grammont vus par Izis
From June 18th 2012
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