The Ara Guler Museum has reopened after being closed for months due to the pandemic. It now offers two exhibits: one that brings together a famous photographer with a prominent Turkish writer, and the other comprises photos of Istanbul.
Ara Guler is, unquestionably, Turkey’s most famous photographer. The celebrated Armenian-Turk called himself a photojournalist and did not believe in photography as an art form.
During his illustrious life, Guler worked as a correspondent for Time-Life in Turkey and the Near East, as well as receiving commissions from Paris Match, Stern, and the Sunday Times. He was also part of Paris’s famed Magnum Photo Agency. He photographed far and wide, travelling extensively and shooting luminaries such as Indira Gandhi, Salvador Dali, Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, Alfred Hitchcock and more.
Shortly before his death in 2018, a modest but well-stocked museum in his name opened in Istanbul’s Bomontiada at the old beer factory’s basement, across from the courtyard entrance.
The museum had remained closed for months due to the pandemic, but reopened on September 1 with two new exhibitions. Visitors are welcome every day until 6pm, except on Mondays.
“Ayni Ruyanin Icinde (Inside the Same Dream)” pairs the photographer’s prints with quotes from the Turkish author, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, while “Hayalimdeki Istanbul ya bir Vapurdur ya bir Kus (The Istanbul of My Dreams is Either a Boat or a Bird)” brings together numerous photographs Guler took of Istanbul.
“Our architects did not stray from tradition [when building mosques]. They already knew the beauty and the nobility of what they built. That’s why they wandered around Sinan [the Architect]’s trail with the condition that they would sometimes go back further.” –– Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Five Cities
“What kept the composition were the views, the architecture in as much as it remained, they were all ours. They were erected with us, they existed with us.” –– Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Five Cities
“Many changes entered our lives in the past one hundred years. We discovered the sea and the Bosporus as if they were a new climate. No matter what rose garden we loot, we cannot add anything to the waters of the Bosporus. Unless, that is, the play of light, the blue expanse doesn’t change on its own, the rising and setting suns don’t turn these waters into golden and lilac mosaics….” –– Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, As I Lived
“Istanbul resembles those generously natured beauties on which all ornaments, all fabrics look good.” –– Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Five Cities
“Hardship, pain, they are not as rare as you imagine them to be; especially once you shed [the finer things from] your life; we are ready to find you all kinds of desperation!” –– Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, As I Lived