Constantine Manos

Constantine Manos

Greek / American
1934 -


Constantine Manos was born in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1934. His parents, Greek immigrants, were involved in agriculture and fishing. At the age of 13, he became a member of his school's photography club and came for the first time in contact with photography. He later studied English Literature at the University of South Carolina. During his studies, he met Henri Cartier-Bresson and acquired his first Leica camera, which he used to photograph slaves’ descendants who worked on plantations. Adopting the same technique as Cartier-Bresson, Manos created black and white photographic compositions through the viewfinder and captured every random incident through his lens. In 1953, he became the official photographer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Festival in Massachusetts. The result of this collaboration was his first photographic book entitled Portrait of a Symphony, 1961, which included photos of rehearsals and performances by the orchestra at the conservatory of the city. From 1954 to 1956, he served in the US Army and after completing his military service he settled in New York where he worked for Esquire, Life and Look magazines. From 1961 to 1963, he lived in Greece and worked for the creation of the book A Greek Portfolio, which was published in 1972 (reissued in 1999), capturing ephemeral everyday moments and unusual faces of the Greek countryside with a simple, rigorous but tender look, connecting at the same time the human form with the natural landscape and the surrounding architecture. In 1963, he became a member of the international photographic agency Magnum Photos. He later moved to Boston and collaborated with Time – Life publications. Since 1974, he started working as the lead photographer of Where's Boston, a multimedia production focused on city life 200 years after the American Independence. This program was linked to his next publication entitled Bostonians. In 1982, he started taking color photos, with the aim of moving beyond documentary photography, and produced the first samples from his series American Color, which were published in a book under the same name in 1995. His color photos, with their intense colors and the detailed approach towards people’s characteristics, focused on the extravaganza and surrealism of American folk festivals and parades, and of the people he met on beaches and in other public spaces. He raised questions through his color photos by putting forward issues that at first sight seemed superficial and without any historical value. In 2003, he was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for the book American Color. In 2010, the second volume of this work, was published under the title American Color 2. His photos can be found in many museums and institutions’ collections such as at the MoMA in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the National Library of Paris, the Chrysler Art Museum in Norfolk, the George Eastman House in Rochester, the Atlanta Museum of Art and the Benaki Museum in Athens. His book A Greek Portfolio received awards at the Arles Photography Festival and the Leipzig Book Fair, while photos of his have been exhibited at exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Library of Paris and the Benaki Museum (2013), including eighty unpublished photos. Photos from the books American Color, 1995, and American Color 2, 2010, were recently featured at the exhibition American Color/Florida Pictures, 2017, at the HistoryMiami Museum in Florida.