Attar Abbas

Iranian/French Photographer | Born: 1944 - Died: 2018

Abbas Attar, better known by his mononym Abbas, was an Iranian photographer known for his photojournalism in Biafra, Vietnam and South Africa in the 1970s, and for his extensive essays on religions in later years. He was a member of Sipa Press from 1971 to 1973, a member of Gamma from 1974 to 1980, and joined Magnum Photos in 1981.

Attar, an Iranian transplanted to Paris, dedicated his photographic work to the political and social coverage of the developing southern nations. Since 1970, his major works have been published in world magazines and include wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Ulster, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa with an essay on apartheid.

From 1978 to 1980, he photographed the revolution in Iran, and returned in 1997 after a 17-year voluntary exile. His book iranDiary 1971-2002 (2002) is a critical interpretation of its history, photographed and written as a personal diary.

From 1983 to 1986, he travelled throughout Mexico, photographing the country as if he were writing a novel. An exhibition and a book, Return to Mexico, journeys beyond the mask (1992), which includes his travel diaries, helped him define his aesthetics in photography.

From 1987 to 1994, he photographed the resurgence of Islam from the Xinjiang to Morocco. His book and exhibition Allah O Akbar, a journey through militant Islam (1994) exposes the internal tensions within Muslim societies, torn between a mythical past and a desire for modernization and democracy. The book drew additional attention after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

When the year 2000 became a landmark in the universal calendar, Christianity was the symbol of the strength of Western civilization. Faces of Christianity, a photographic journey (2000) and a touring exhibit, explored this religion as a political, a ritual and a spiritual phenomenon.

From 2000 to 2002 he worked on Animism. In our world defined by science and technology, the work looked at why irrational rituals make a strong come-back. He abandoned this project on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

His book, In Whose Name? The Islamic World after 9/11 (2009), is a seven-year quest within 16 countries : opposed by governments who hunt them mercilessly, the jihadists lose many battles, but are they not winning the war to control the mind of the people, with the "creeping islamisation" of all Muslim societies?

From 2008 to 2010 Abbas travelled the world of Buddhism, photographing with the same sceptical eye for his book Les Enfants du lotus, voyage chez les bouddhistes (2011). In 2011, he began a similar long-term project on Hinduism which he concluded in 2013.

Before his death, Abbas was working on documenting Judaism around the world.

He died in Paris on 25 April 2018, aged 74.

About his photography Abbas wrote:
"My photography is a reflection, which comes to life in action and leads to meditation. Spontaneity – the suspended moment – intervenes during action, in the viewfinder. A reflection on the subject precedes it. A meditation on finality follows it, and it is here, during this exalting and fragile moment, that the real photographic writing develops, sequencing the images. For this reason a writer's spirit is necessary to this enterprise. Isn't photography "writing with light"? But with the difference that while the writer possesses his word, the photographer is himself possessed by his photo, by the limit of the real which he must transcend so as not to become its prisoner."

Source: Wikipedia


Born a photographer, Abbas is an Iranian transplanted to Paris. He has dedicated himself to documenting the political and social life of societies in conflict. In his major work since 1970 he has covered wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa during apartheid.

From 1978 to 1980, Abbas photographed the revolution in Iran, to which he returned in 1997 after seventeen years of voluntary exile. His book Iran Diary 1971-2002 is a critical interpretation of Iranian history, photographed and written as a private journal.

During his years of exile Abbas traveled constantly. Between 1983 and 1986 he journeyed through Mexico, attempting to photograph a country as a novelist might write about it. The resulting exhibition and book, Return to Mexico: Journeys Beyond the Mask, helped define his photographic aesthetic.

From 1987 to 1994, he focused on the resurgence of Islam throughout the world. Allah O Akbar: A Journey Through Militant Islam, the subsequent book and exhibition, spanning twenty-nine countries and four continents, attracted special attention after the 9/11 attacks by Islamic jihadists. A later book, Faces of Christianity: A Photographic Journey (2000), and touring show explored Christianity as a political, ritual and spiritual phenomenon.

Abbas' concern with religion led him in 2000 to begin a project on animism, in which he sought to discover why non-rational ritual has re-emerged in a world increasingly defined by science and technology. He abandoned this undertaking in 2002, on the first anniversary of 9/11, to start a new long-term project about the clash of religions, defined as culture rather than faith, which he believes are turning into political ideologies and therefore one of the sources of the strategic struggles of the contemporary world.

From 2008 to 2010 Abbas travelled the world of Buddhism, photographing with the same sceptical eye. In 2011 he started a similar long term project on Hinduism.

A member of Sipa from 1971 to 1973, then of Gamma from 1974 to 1980, Abbas joined Magnum Photos in 1981 and became a member in 1985.

Source: Magnum Photos

David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

More Great Photographers To Discover

Alvaro Ybarra Zavala
Nationality: Spanish
Born: 1979
Alvaro Ybarra Zavala, is based in Spain. He took up a career in photography while at university, aged 19, focussing on issues of social conflict. He has now exclusively joined the Reportage by Getty Images roster, having previously worked with Agence Vu (December 2005 - March 2009), and as a freelance photographer before that. His key bodies of work to date have included conflict coverage in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, (…)
 
Hilary Duffy
Nationality: American
Hilary began her photography career in news and travel for The Tico Times while she lived in Costa Rica in the 1990's. Over the course of seven years, she immersed herself in the culture of Costa Rica as an educator and honed her photography skills.

In 2000, Hilary graduated from the International Center of Photography's Documentary/PJ Program and later assisted the Maine Photo Workshops in Havana, Cuba. Compelled to share photography with local youth, she (…)
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
Hilary Duffy
 
Steve McCurry
Nationality: American
Born: 1950

Steve McCurry has been a one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name. Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to (…)
 
Christophe Jacrot
Nationality: French
Born: 1960
From christophejacrot.com
In my opinion, there are two ways of capturing the world for a photographer; on the one hand grasping its horror, and on the other sublimating it. I have chosen the second. More specifically, I like the way rain, snow and “bad weather” awaken a feeling of romantic fiction within me, mainly in the big cities. (climatic excesses are another topic). I (…)
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
Christophe Jacrot
 
Anders Petersen
Nationality: Swedish
Born: 1944

Anders Petersen was born 1944 in Stockholm, Sweden. 14 years old his family moved to Karlstad in Värmland, where he met the artists ?Karin Bodland and Lars Sjögren.
In 1961 he stayed for some time in Hamburg in order to learn German and trying to write and paint. He didn’t take any pictures.

Five years later he met Christer Strömholm and became a student at his School of Photography in Stockholm. Strömholm was not just his teacher but also a close friend. (…)
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
Anders Petersen
 
Inge Morath
Nationality: Austrian/American
Born: 1923 - Died: 2002
Inge Morath, the daughter of a scientist, was born in Austria on 27th May 1923. The family moved to Nazi Germany and as a teenager she was sent to the force labour camp at Tempelhof for refusing to join the Hitler Youth. Morath graduated from Berlin University in 1944. After the Second World War she worked as an interpreter for the United States Information Service before joining the RWR radio network. Morath also contributed articles to the literary magazine Der Optimist. (…)
 
C.E. Morse
Nationality: American
Born: 1952
I was born in Camden, Maine and loved vintage cars since I can remember; I bought my 1936 Pontiac at age 15 as soon as I had my driver's license. I didn't pick up a camera until I was in college at Rhode Island School of Design. I remembered all the incredible images that I used to see in vintage auto boneyards while I was sourcing parts for my '36 Pontiac and various other classic cars that I had collected,including a '29 Essex, a'41 Packard & 'a 54 Nash, so I started to (…)
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
C.E. Morse
 
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Nationality: American
Born: 1907 - Died: 1977
Lee Miller, 1907-1977, first entered the world of photography as a model in New York to photographers such as Edward Steichen, Arnold Genthe and George Hoyninguen-Huene.

In 1929 Miller moved to Paris and became the assistant, and lover, of Man Ray. Together, they produced some of the most significant works of both of their careers, including rediscovering the solarisation technique in Man Ray’s darkroom. She quickly became established as both surrealist artist and (…)
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
Elizabeth (Lee) Miller
 
 Xetobyte
Nationality: Italian
Born: 1990
Xetobyte is a 20 year old Italy student who creates Surreal Artworks. All of his photo manipulations where the darkness is dominating, rather than brightness.
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 Xetobyte
 
Mark Citret
Nationality: American
Born: 1949
Mark Citret was born in 1949 in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in San Francisco. He began photographing seriously in 1968, and received both his BA and MA in Art from San Francisco State University.

Most of Citret's work is not specific to any locale or subject matter. Still, he has worked on many photographic projects over the course of his career, and continues to do so. From 1973 to 1975 he lived in and photographed Halcott Center, a farming valley in New York'(…)
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
Mark Citret
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
Join our newsletter
Be up-to-date with call for entries, deadlines and other news about exhibitions, galleries, publications, & special events
 
NEW! All About Photo Awards 2019 Magazine
All About Photo Awards 2019
 
 
 
The Jules Maeght Gallery is a contemporary art gallery who seeks to engage the San Francisco community by infusing European artists, young and established alike, into a diverse, multimedia dialogue.
 
TAKES U TO THE NEXT LEVEL
 
Since 2005, your guide through contemporary art from a French perspective to let you make exciting choices