Ever heard of a photographer called Izis? Neither had I, until I got word than an exhibit of his work was coming to Tokyo. I figured I’d probably seen some of his photographs before, but when I went through the exhibit today I realized all of his work was new to me. I was happy to get acquainted.
Born Izraëlis Bidermanas in Lithuania in 1911, Izis arrived in Paris at the age of 19 to study painting. Being Jewish, he fled the city when the Nazis invaded but it was during this exile that he learned photography. Praised in particular for capturing the poetry of the streets of Paris, Izis was part of the French humanist movement that focused on scenes of everyday life. While he is now considered a major name in French photography, he never achieved the same fame as his contemporaries Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Brassai. In fact, he died in 1980 without ever having a major exhibition. I hope that excuses my ignorance a little.
I particularly liked his many photographs of people asleep on the streets of Paris, and mused that someone ought to do a similar series here in Tokyo where there’s no shortage of public sleeping. I also liked the moody Désert de Retz series shot in 1951 in a ruined garden. His color photographs from the early sixties of Marc Chagall at work on the Opéra de Paris Garnier were also a pleasant surprise.
You’ll have to hurry if you want to see the exhibit, イジス写真展 －パリに見た夢－ IZIS PARIS DES RÊVES, because it closes next Monday, October 15.
Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi 7th Floor New Galleries
Address: 1-4-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Admission：Adults and university students ￥700／High-school and middle-school students ￥500／children 12 and under free.
Hours: 10:00 to 19:00 Friday, Saturday and Sunday; 18:00 on Monday. Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to closing.