Ara Güler A Play of Light and Shadow

Press release | Amsterdam, May 2023

This summer, Foam is thrilled to unveil the exhibition A Play of Light and Shadow, a tribute to Ara Güler, one of Turkey's most legendary photographers. His profound love for Istanbul and Turkey is evident from his evocative black and white photographs. The exhibition is a close collaboration between Foam, co-curator Ahmet Polat and the Ara Güler Museum.

man giving woman something from ship window woman with headscarf

Galata Docks, Istanbul, 1962

© Ara Güler / Ara Güler Museum.

man with moustache in hat holding drink

Tophane, Istanbul, 1958

© Ara Güler / Ara Güler Museum.

house with lights on and mountain in the back blue sky

Mount Ararat, 1965

© Ara Güler / Ara Güler Museum.

birds flying around ship

Ara Güler Museum, courtesy of Ara Güler.

© Ara Güler / Ara Güler Museum.

The exhibition provides the opportunity to explore iconic and unknown parts of Ara Güler’s oeuvre as a renowned photojournalist who captured the essence of Turkey and the world beyond. Through four sections, The Iconic, The Historic, The Ambassador, and The Personal, the visitor is immersed in Güler’s photographic practice from his iconic work as a photojournalist to his remarkable experimental work. Ara Güler A Play of Light and Shadow serves as a testament to Turkey's rich history and offers a glimpse into the ever-evolving Turkish identity.

Ara Güler (1928-2018) was a prominent photojournalist and a driving force in Turkish photography. Celebrated as ‘The Eye of Istanbul’, his poignant black and white images of this city’s inhabitants, streets and docks remain his most celebrated works. Ara Güler immortalized numerous famous artists and political figures throughout his illustrious career.


The exhibition of Ara Güler is the centrepiece of Kısmet, an initiative created and developed in close collaboration between Studio Polat and Foam. The multi-year project is inspired by longstanding cultural, diplomatic and economic ties between Turkey and the Netherlands. Kısmet delves into the diverse and intricate facets of Turkish visual culture, as seen through the lens of different generations of image makers.


The exhibition will also be accompanied by the publication A Play of Light and Shadow, with contributions from several specialists in the field. Hannibal Books is the publisher of this publication, which will be available at Foam and several bookstores.

The Ara Güler Museum and the Ara Güler Archives and Research Center

The Ara Güler Museum and the Ara Güler Archives and Research Center were established as a result of a partnership between Ara Güler and Doğuş Group. The mission of the Ara Güler Museum is to share Güler’s versatile artistic identity, inspiring life and esteemed archives with the widest possible audience. The museum aims to highlight and promote the visual, emotional and social impacts of his photography through local and international exhibitions, publications, events and collaborations. The Center works towards preserving the artist’s archives in the structure it was created during his lifetime and passing on his legacy to future generations. In addition to his photographic archive, the collection comprises Güler’s cameras, dark room equipment, books, diaries, correspondence, personal items and art collection. The Ara Güler Archives and Research Center conducts the digitization, indexing, classification, conservation and restoration of the archives.

A Play of Light and Shadow by Ara Güler can be seen from 23 June – 8 November 2023 at Foam. Open daily 10am - 6pm, Thurs/Fri 10am - 9pm.

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+ 31 (0)20 5516500

Note to editors

For information and visual material please check or contact the Press Office of Foam on +31 (0)20 5516500 /

This exhibition was made in collaboration with the Ara Güler Museum.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of main sponsor Garanti BBVA International Amsterdam.

Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the City of Amsterdam.

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