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Constantine Manos | A Greek portfolio | 50 years later

Constantine Manos

Opening: 15.11.2014, at 11.30΄
Exhibition duration: 15.11.2014-14.2.2015

The Society of Cretan Historical Studies is rounding off its cycle of temporary exhibitions for 2014 with a retrospective exhibition from the Benaki Museum entitled Constantine Manos / A Greek Portfolio / 50 Years Later. The exhibition was curated last year by Yannis Dimou. Grounded in the fruitful collaboration between the Historical Museum and the Benaki Museum, this succeeds the temporary exhibition  Domenicos Theotocopoulos between Venice and Rome held to mark El Greco Year (2014), which is being transferred to the Benaki Museum and will open in Pireos St. on 20th November 2014.

In the new temporary exhibition at the Historical Museum of Crete, ninety-four (94) photographs from the lens of distinguished photographer Constantine Manos transport us to the remote villages and islands of Greece of the 1960s – with an emphasis on Crete – where Manos invites us as travelling companions in a scene of rural simplicity and tranquillity. Beyond ethnological and historical interest, the poetic skill of Manos' lens creates diachronic images reflecting the uniqueness of the landscape and its inhabitants.

Constantine Manos | A GREEK PORTFOLIO |50 Year Later will open in the Temporary Exhibition Rooms at the Historical Museum of Crete at 11:00am on Saturday 1th November, and will run to 14th February 2015.

Responsibility for the outstanding presentation of the exhibition in Heraklion lies with the Historical Museum of Crete and the Regional Authority of Crete. Together with the team at the Historical Museum, it was designed and curated by Ms. Aliki Tsirgialou, head of the Benaki Museum Photographic Archive. Of the exhibition at the Historical Museum, Aliki Tsirgialou writes:

“On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the multiple-award winning A Greek Portfolio, Constantine Manos re-examines the images he took during the years 1961-1964 (and which he added to in 1967), when he wandered his ancestral land from end to end in a manner that was “leisurely and unplanned, that of a friendly observer” and offers us a different take on his material. The large vintage prints derive from the images that Manos himself selected in 1972 for the book. On the contrary, the smaller frames include photographs chosen from the 219 original prints that the artist recently donated to the Photographic Archive of the Benaki Museum and which were not incorporated in the layout of A Greek Portfolio. These two sections interact with each other, since in their totality they present a worthwhile sample of Manos’ artistic intent. Although they have not had the same exposure, these images that are revealed by Manos for the first time reflect, in no small part due to his poetic abilities, the uniqueness of the land and its inhabitants. The manner in which he approaches his subjects stands out from the prevailing photographic trends of that time, and it operates as a starting point for new photographers as they attempt to capture the Greek countryside”.

The exhibition catalogue will be on sale at the HMC Shop, along with K. Manos' albums A Greek Portfolio and American Color.


Constantine Manos was born in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A., of Greek immigrant parents. His photographic career began in the school camera club at the age of thirteen, and within several years he was a working professional. While at the university Manos discovered Henri Cartier-Bresson and his work. Having found his mentor, he immediately acquired his first Leica, with which he made his first serious pictures on a small island off the coast of South Carolina inhabited by descendants of plantation slaves. At the age of nineteen he was hired as the official photographer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the home of its summer festival. His connection with the orchestra would ultimately lead to his first book, Portrait of A Symphony, published in 1961 and photographed entirely in Symphony Hall during live concerts and rehearsals.

Graduating from the University of South Carolina with a BA in English Literature in 1954, Manos joined the U. S. Army for his compulsory two years of duty. Following his military service he moved to New York, where he worked for Esquire, Life, and Look. From 1961 through 1963 Manos lived in Greece, where he made the photographs for his book A Greek Portfolio - first published in 1972. The book won awards at Arles and at the Leipzig Book Fair. A new edition of the book was published in 1999, accompanied by a major exhibition at the Benaki Museum in Athens. Concurrent exhibitions of pictures from A Greek Portfolio were held at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, and other venues.

Returning from Greece, Manos settled in Boston and completed many assignments for Time-Life books, including their book on Athens.  In 1974 he was the chief photographer for Where's Boston?, a multimedia production that documented the city on the 200th anniversary of American Independence from England and provided photographs  for his book Bostonians and a large outdoor exhibition of 152 pictures, which captured in black and white the richness and variety of the citizens of that city.

In late 1963 Manos joined Magnum Photos. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, the George Eastman House in Rochester, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Benaki Museum in Athens.

In 1982 Manos switched his personal work from black and white to color. Work from Manos' ongoing color project first appeared in his book American Color, published in 1995. In 2000 his book American Color 2, a continuation of his color work in the U. S., was published. In 2003 Manos was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for his color from a worldwide field of 250 entrants.