Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika
(1906–1994)

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, thirty-six gelatin silver prints, 1930s, Benaki Museum–Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery Photographic Archive, Athens, installation view, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery, Benaki Museum, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, thirty-six gelatin silver prints, 1930s, Benaki Museum–Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery Photographic Archive, Athens, installation view, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery, Benaki Museum, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, thirty-six gelatin silver prints, 1930s, Benaki Museum–Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery Photographic Archive, Athens, installation view, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery, Benaki Museum, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Yiannis Hadjiaslanis

The archive of the painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika contains approximately one hundred personal photographs. The selection on display was taken with a Leica camera during the artist’s travels in Greece during the 1930s, as visual notes for his paintings.

As Ghika stated in a 1994 interview, his interest in photography dated back to the 1930s and was the product of his acquaintance with the photographer Émil Seraf, who had a studio in Athens, and with the critic and publisher of Cahiers d’art, Christian Zervos, with whom Hadjikyriakos-Ghika shared a close friendship. From Seraf, Ghika acquired a technical knowledge of the camera, whereas Zervos taught him to appreciate a modernist aesthetic of clean lines, frontal shots that emphasized the flatness of the image, and a framing that rendered the geometric purity and abstract quality of landscapes and objects in a manner that documented as well as constructed their formalist relationship to modern art. Ghika’s photographic practice is particularly interesting insofar as it coincides with the efforts of Greek artists of the “30s Generation” to develop a native modern idiom that emphasized a Greek “line,” the Greek light, the “modern” qualities of the landscape, the ancient ruins, as well as folk art and local traditions.

Although the prints do not bear any dates, the artist’s writings and paintings would suggest that they were taken in the 1930s. Ghika definitely took some of these while on a cruise of the Cycladic Islands, on the ship Patras II, during the 1933 Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne (CIAM)—an event in which both Zervos and Ghika played central roles.


​The photographs were published for the first time in Dionysis Fotopoulos, Ghika. Φωτογραφικές Σημειώσεις (Ghika. Photographic Notes), 1994.

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