Nationality: Hungarian | Born: 1908 - Died: 1997
Francis Haar born as Haár Ferenc was a Hungarian socio-photographer. He studied interior architecture at Hungarian Royal National School of Arts and Crafts between 1924 and 1927. His master was Gyula Kaesz.He started working as an interior architect and poster designer in 1928, and taught himself photography. In 1930 he became acquainted with Munka-kör (Work Circle) led by socialist avant-garde poet and visual artist Lajos Kassák, who just returned from Vienna. Kassák pointed out that the photography is more than the painting and can access to such part of reality that cannot be accessed by painters. Kassák's motto was photography is the real child of our age not the painting. That was a life long inspiration to Francis. He became an active and leading member of the Munka Kör, his partners in socio-photography were among others Sándor Gönci, Árpád Szélpál and Lajos Lengyel, who later became renowned graphic artist and book designer. The first socio photo exhibition ever in Hungary was held in 1932, which brought the first success to Francis. His first photo studio was opened in Budapest in 1934. Some of his photos were exhibited at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in 1937, so Francis Haar decided to move to Paris where he established himself as a portrait photographer. However in 1939 he was invited by Hiroshi Kawazoe to Japan and the International Cultural Society of Japan (Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai) officially arranged his trip. With help of Japanese friends he opened and operated his photo studio in Tokyo between 1940 and 42. The Haar family was evacuated to Karuizawa in 1943 and they spent 3 years there. He became the photographer of Yank, the Army Weekly magazine of the U.S. occupation forces in Japan, and subsequently filmmaker with U.S. Public Health and Welfare Section (1946-48). Again his Tokyo photo studio was opened in 1946 and was in active business until 1956. His wife Irene opened the famous restaurant Irene's Hungaria in Ginza, downtown Tokyo, which was frequented by celebrities, intellectuals, army men and sports people from all over the world besides the Japanese. Accepting a challenge he moved and worked as photographer for the Container Corporation of America, Chicago from 1956 until 1959. He returned to Tokyo and operated his photo studio again for a year. 1960 brought a great decision and the Haars moved to Hawai'i and Francis started his photo studio there. He taught photography at the University of Hawai'i between 1965 and 1985. He became the production photographer for the Kennedy Theater, the University of Hawai'i Drama Department. Francis Haar died at the age of 89 in Honolulu.
Author: Francis Haar, Tom Haar
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Year: 2001 - Pages: 149
Francis Haar [1908-1997] practiced his art of photography and filmmaking in three distinctly different worlds. He started his first studio in his native Budapest; later he moved to Paris and from there he was invited to Japan. After twenty years working in the Orient -- interrupted by three years of activity in Chicago -- he settled in Honolulu in 1960. He brought with him from these previous experiences priceless riches and memories, reflected in all of his contemporary work.
He emerged from the same artistic and cultural milieu which nurtured Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Gyorgy Kepes, with whom he enjoyed a personal and artistic friendship. As with so many Hungarians, he became fluent and expert in the 'Language of Vision' and enthralled with the 'Vision of Motion.' When expressing himself verbally, his Hungarian accent is unmitigated, but when speaking visually, in photography or in cinematography, his message resonates with overtones from Japan and reverberates with the cosmopolitan sophistication of European and American big-city environments. Like other sensitive and receptive newcomers to Hawai'i, he became deeply attracted to the study of Hawaiian culture.