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January 8, 2017

Candid Photographs of World Leaders Gathered at The Hague in 1930

Portly statesmen have long gathered to weigh the fate of nations, cigars and brandy at the ready. But they were always sequestered far from prying eyes. The German photojournalist Erich Salomon changed all that, slipping into those smoke-filled back rooms with a small Leica camera built to shoot in low light.

Nowhere was his skill on greater display than during a 1930 meeting in the Hague over German World War I reparations. There, at 2 a.m., Salomon candidly shots exhausted Foreign Ministers after a long day of negotiations. For the first time, the public could look through the doors of power and see world leaders with their guard down.

Erich Salomon was the original "candid camera" photographer. He was famous for his ability to gain entrance to events involving dignitaries and members of high society and for making memorable photographs of them while they were not conscious of having their picture made. This gave his work its characteristic intimate, privileged sensibility, which has been greatly influential during the second half of the century.

Salomon, who was Jewish, fled Germany for the Netherlands in 1932 and continued to work as a freelance photojournalist, traveling in England, France, and Switzerland until the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940. In 1943, he was imprisoned and deported. He died at Auschwitz in 1944.


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