TIM GIDAL (1909-1996)

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PONT TRANSBORDEUR, MARSEILLE, 1930 by TIM GIDAL (1909-1996) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley





Born Nachum Gidalewitsch in Munich, 1909, Tim Gidal has been recognised as one of the founding forefathers of photo-journalism. His first picture story The Vagabond Congress' was published by Muncher Illustrierte Presse when he was just twenty years old. Like many of his associates, Gidal's journey into photography began with empty pockets.

The introduction of the first Leica in 1924 gave birth to a new crop of illustrated magazines, which served as a suitably new and exciting livelihood for many boisterous young journalists. Armed with the first pocket-sized cameras, Gidal, along with Andre Kertesz, Wolfgang Weber, Felix Man, set about introducing their lenses to previously unattainable scenes, shaping the future of photography as they went.

Having been brought up in a religious family with strong Zionist convictions, Gidal eventually settled in Jerusalem in 1936 after playing an active role in the Bau Weiss Youth Movement. However Palestine had little interest in candid photo-journalism, and instead favoured kitsch propaganda. After a two year struggle to make ends meet Gidal eventually sold the first of many stories to the newly thriving magazine 'Picture Post'. The success led Gidal to London where he would stay for two years before embarking on a trip by sea back to Palestine, through Bombay, Basrah and Iraq producing many memorable pictures along the way.

After growing tired of war-torn Palestine Gidal joined the Eighth Army as a military photographer where he was donned Tim' by his fellow officers. After a string of successful photo stories published by the army's magazine 'Parade', the honorary Captain Gidal was sent to cover North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and the wider Middle East before eventually being sent to Mountbatten's headquarters in Burma, where the photographer contracted typhus.

Gidal returned to Jerusalem where he married Sonia Epstein and had a son, Peter. He was invalided out of the army and began to redraft his future as an art theorist, joining the reputable New School for Social Research, New York, in 1947, where he remained until 1968. Two years later Gidal divorced his wife and concentrated his efforts on writing 'Modern Photojournalism, Origin and Evolution 1910-30' (1972).

After remarrying in 1980, Gidal devoted the remaining years of his life to securing his place in the history of photojournalism. He exhibited extensively throughout Europe and Israel with the support of his second wife Pia Lis. He died on 4 October 1996.

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