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November 22, 2011

22 Black and White Photographs Capture Street Life in Post-War Paris

Izraelis Bidermanas (1911-1980), who worked under the name of Izis, was a Lithuanian-Jewish photographer who worked in France and is best known for his photographs of French circuses and of Paris.

Izraelis fled Lithuania after the assassination of his parents by the Nazis to settle in Paris. Promptly, he captured the capital in its postwar picturesque atmosphere with lovers kissing, children playing but also the city’s graphic walls and gloomy ruins.

With Paris des Rêves published in 1950 and in which poets such as Jean Cocteau or André Breton had been invited to write a poem alongside one of the photographer’s image, Izis met with an important success. Close to the Surrealist movement and a friend of Marc Chagall, the Lithuanian photographer produced pictures that depicted his idealistic Paris: romantic yet distant, poetic yet grave, photographs that diffused a blurry melancholy and a tender absurdity. That is maybe why Izis, although he was recognized as a major humanist photographer, never reached Robert Doisneau or Edouard Boubat’s popularity. His Paris was too sad, too heavy-hearted for a population that needed lightness and joy in World War II’s aftermath.


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