Paris expo charts Soviet Union highs and lows

16th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - From the bloody battle for Stalingrad to images of an empire already in its death throes, a new Paris retrospective of the work of photographer Dmitri Baltermants tracks the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - From the bloody battle for Stalingrad to images of an empire already in its death throes, a new Paris retrospective of the work of photographer Dmitri Baltermants tracks the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

Dubbed the "Eye of the Nation", the work of Baltermants, once the official photographer to the Kremlin, has gone on show at the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie in the French capital.

Baltermants was "a brillant professional, gifted with an absolute sense of composition," said Olga Sviblova, curator of the exhibition and director of the Moscow House of Photography which is collaborating on the exhibition.

Born in 1912 in Warsaw, but raised close to Moscow, he began his career as a war photographer, before being taken on by Ogonyok, the first colour magazine, as a photo-journalist after the war.

In 1949, he was appointed official photographer to the Kremlin, becoming close to Joseph Stalin and was soon taking photos glorifying the nation's industrial achievements.

For almost half a century, his images were almost the only photos ordinary Russians were ever shown, with the Communist Party understanding the propaganda value of such pictorial images.

But if Baltermants produced photos which helped "create the myths of the Soviet regime about the life of the strongest and happiest men in the world" he also was relentless in demystifying the reality, according to Sviblova.

His images of war are taut with emotion, such as the silhouettes of women, leaning over the bodies of soldiers searching for their loved ones.

He was also one of the rare photographers to travel outside the Soviet Union, photographing the rice paddies in Vietnam.

The exhibition runs until May 4 at the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, 5 to 7, rue de Fourcy, Paris, Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, entrance EUR 6.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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