May 20, 2013
Anatole Saderman: photos, art and history
Exhibition features part of an impressive collection of faces from all fields
By Andrew Graham-Yooll
For the Herald
You’ve got just over a week left to see the exhibition of one of Argentina’s most remarkable portrait photographers, perhaps the best known of all here. Portraits and Self-portraits, by Russian-born Anatole Saderman (1904-1993), is still on at the Centro Cultural Recoleta (closes on February 12).
On show is a small part of the impressive collection of faces from all fields (scientists, politicians, actors, writers, etc.) that Saderman photographed and collected as from his arrival in Buenos Aires in the 1930s.
The current exhibition at Recoleta shows only some 40 pictures of artists, photographs that Saderman produced under a special arrangement.
In the knowledge that most artists would need a good image for their show catalogues and work promotion, Saderman sought them out and suggested that he would supply them with the pictures for ‘free‘ in exchange for a self-portrait.
Hence, the exhibition is a mix of photography, by Saderman, and art in the form of self-portraits of the artists. The exchange arrangement began with Eugenio Daneri, who would appear to have indirectly started the agreement by paying for a photograph with a picture, though not of himself.
There are nine photographic portraits in the show which do not have accompanying self-portraits by the artists. Some artists were sculptors, so their images are in stone or wood. The nine without their self-portraits include some big names — Raúl Soldi, Antonio Berni, Lino Enea Spilimbergo and such like — but Saderman caught them in his magic box.
Saderman was Russian-Jewish and his life story is one of the many fascinating 20th century accounts of comfortably well-off families in 19th century Moscow that were later uprooted by war and revolution.
A book about the Saderman family was published in Buenos Aires by Ediciones de la Flor in 2009, in Spanish. It is a memoir of Russia by his mother, who was the family historian of sorts.
Anatole Saderman originally translated his mother’s notes into Spanish, so they could be read by his first generation Argentine children, filmmaker son Alejandro and the late artist Irene Saderman.
The Saderman family fled Russia after the revolution of 1917 and made brief stops in Europe, the longest stay in Germany.
They arrived in Paraguay in 1927. Future photographer Anatole went to Montevideo, where he learned his photographic trade.
His letters to his family, written in Russian, describing life in Uruguay, are historic gems, which the man himself later translated into Spanish.
Hence the photographic exhibition at the Centro Cultural Recoleta combines the photographer’s art, the art of great artists, flashes of stories of their lives, and for those who want to look further, a small chunk of the history of European emigration to Argentina. Wonderful combination.
The Fundación Alon for the Arts, led by engineer Jacobo Fiterman, sponsored the exhibition and published an accompanying, heavily illustrated book, which can be inspected at the foundation at Viamonte 1465, Buenos Aires.
where & when
Retratos, autorretratos + retratos (Portraits and Self-portraits), by Anatole Saderman. At Sala 12 until February 12, 2013.
At Centro Cultural Recoleta: Junín 1930. Open Tuesday to Friday 2pm to 9pm. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 12 noon to 9pm. Closed on Mondays. Tel: 4803 1040.