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Legendary Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Guler dies at 90

Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Guler died after a heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 90, following a five-day treatment for kidney failure at an Istanbul hospital, the Turkish media reported.

The world-renowned photographer, particularly famous for his iconic black-and-white pictures of Istanbul, was announced to have died after being admitted to the intensive care unit late on Wednesday night at the private Florence Nightingale hospital.

Dubbed as “the Eye of Istanbul”, Guler was named as one of the top seven photographers in the world by the British Journal of Photography Year Book 1968. Among the countless awards he received were the “Master of Leica”, a title awarded by the camera company Leica to only 38 artists in the world, and Légion d’Honneur from France.

Guler held hundreds of exhibitions all over the world. He also carried out interviews paired with photoshoots with numerous celebrities ranging from Alfred Hitchcock, Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill to Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

His work was collected by prominent museums around the world such as the National Library of France, the George Eastman Museum in the U.S., University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Museum Ludwig and Das Imaginäre Photo-Museum, both in Cologne.

Guler was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1928 to Armenian parents. After working at film studios in his high school years and taking acting classes, he started his career as a journalist in 1950 at the Yeni Istanbul daily. 

One of the most significant stories he covered was an interview series with a group of Armenian fishermen working in the Kumkapi district about their daily life. He said in an interview that it was one of his most important works at the time.

He attended Istanbul University Faculty of Economy while he worked in the media. In the 1950s, he worked for Time Life, Paris Match, Stern and the Magnum agency.

Speaking to the media, Guler had said “They call me ‘the photographer of Istanbul’, but I am a world citizen. I am a photojournalist of the world.”

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