Manoel de Oliveira Fotógrafo

House of Cinema
23 OUT 2020 - 18 ABR 2021

The more than one hundred photographs on display in the exhibition Manoel de Oliveira Photographer are one of the great surprises that the director's personal archive, deposited entirely at Serralves, had been holding in reserve. Produced between the late 1930s and the mid-1950s, these images, stored for several decades and mostly unpublished, reveal not only an unknown facet of Oliveira — his activity as a photographer —, but also open up new perspectives on how his filmmaking developed.


Oliveira’s passage through the static image was a decisive stage in his career as a filmmaker. In dialogue with both pictorialism, constructivism and Bauhaus' experiments, his photographs are halfway between exploring the classical values of composition and the modernist spirit running through the entire first phase of his film work.


Used mostly artistically, photography was an instrument of formal research and experimentation for Oliveira: another way of questioning, in a relationship as direct as complementary to the films, and to building his own visual language.


These images now on display will certainly add a new chapter to the history of Portuguese photography of the 1940s. They are, above all, a precious instrument to better understand the way Oliveira took on directing photography in his own films for a period of ten years. They also contextualize, from a broader perspective, the strict composition and framing that, in general, feature in all his films. Looking at these images, there is no point in trying to find out where the photographer begins and the filmmaker ends; nor to strictly define the extent to which the former may sometimes have taken the place of the latter. What is important, though, is to question how this coexistence between two ways of seeing and thinking is embodied in his work.


Curated by António Preto, Director of the Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira.


All photographs on display belong to Collection Manoel de Oliveira, Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira — Fundação de Serralves, Porto.


Sem título, Manoel de Oliveira, c. 1944 © Acervo Manoel de Oliveira – Fundação de Serralves


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The more than one hundred photographs on display in the exhibition Manoel de Oliveira Photographer are one of the great surprises that the director's personal archive, deposited entirely at Serralves, had been holding in reserve. Produced between the late 1930s and the mid-1950s, these images, stored for several decades and mostly unpublished, reveal not only an unknown facet of Oliveira — his activity as a photographer —, but also open up new perspectives on how his filmmaking developed.


Oliveira’s passage through the static image was a decisive stage in his career as a filmmaker. In dialogue with both pictorialism, constructivism and Bauhaus' experiments, his photographs are halfway between exploring the classical values of composition and the modernist spirit running through the entire first phase of his film work.


Used mostly artistically, photography was an instrument of formal research and experimentation for Oliveira: another way of questioning, in a relationship as direct as complementary to the films, and to building his own visual language.


These images now on display will certainly add a new chapter to the history of Portuguese photography of the 1940s. They are, above all, a precious instrument to better understand the way Oliveira took on directing photography in his own films for a period of ten years. They also contextualize, from a broader perspective, the strict composition and framing that, in general, feature in all his films. Looking at these images, there is no point in trying to find out where the photographer begins and the filmmaker ends; nor to strictly define the extent to which the former may sometimes have taken the place of the latter. What is important, though, is to question how this coexistence between two ways of seeing and thinking is embodied in his work.


Curated by António Preto, Director of the Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira.


All photographs on display belong to Collection Manoel de Oliveira, Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira — Fundação de Serralves, Porto.


Sem título, Manoel de Oliveira, c. 1944 © Acervo Manoel de Oliveira – Fundação de Serralves