>> Max Penson, 1925 - 1945
may 17 - june 22
17 may - 22 june
>> Max Penson
For a long time Max Pensonís name was practically unknown although his work deserves to be mentioned alongside that of A. Grinberg, G. Zelma, A. Rodchenko, A. Shakhet and other great Russian photographers.
Max Pensonís archive is truly unique. Even though a considerable portion of this was destroyed and much has perished owing to poor conservation conditions, there are still several thousand negatives and original prints.
Max Penson created his remarkable photographs in a small domestic photo laboratory which for many years did not even have running water. His prints were. His audience and critics were his own family circle.
Max Pensonís works, done for himself, with no thought of any possible public exhibition, record the overwhelming alterations to traditional everyday life which occured in Uzbekistan during the years from the 1920s to the 1940s. The work itself mirrors this stormy history and the changes in art and ideology that influenced Soviet photography during this period.

Max Penson

Born in 1893 in the small town of Velizh, in what is now Belorussia, in a poor family, he learned to read and write by himself. From 1907 to 1911 he attended the Velizh Public School and later the School of Ceramic Arts in Mirgorod, in the Province of Poltava. His poor means led him to leave school and move to Vilno where he managed to be accepted to the Antokolski Foundationís School of Applied Arts. In 1915 the artist fled his hometown of Velizh in Belorussia during the Russian pogroms and World War II, to settle in Kokand in Central Asia, where he made a living as an accountant and a drawing teacher until 1917. Director of the Applied Arts Laboratories in Kokand for the following five years, his life as a painter and artist changed dramatically when he received a camera as a present from the District of Kokand. In 1923 he moved to Tachkent in Uzbekistan and started to join photographers directing professional studios. Inclined to photo reportage, from 1926 to 1948 Penson worked as a professional photographer for the newspaper Pravda Vostoka (the Truth of the East) and from 1940 to 1945 he worked for the Red Army. His only solo exhibition is dated 1939 for the 15th Anniversary of the Uzbek Soviet Republic, and his more than 300 stills were collected and published in a catalogue by his friend Alexandre Rodtchenko. In 1940, admiring his extraordinary work Sergei Eisenstein wrote : ęIt is virtually impossible to speak about the city of Fergana without mentioning the omnipresent Penson who traveled all over Uzbekistan with his camera. His unparalleled photo archives contain material that enables us to trace a period in the republicís history, year by year and page by page. His whole artistic development, his whole destiny, was tied up with this wonderful republicĽ. Max Pensonís work is composed of thousands of negative films and original plates; unfortunately, most of these have been destroyed or deteriorated because badly preserved.


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