Known as the “father of Iraqi photography,” Latif al Ani (born 1932) was the first photographer to capture cosmopolitan life in 1950s–70s Iraq, and his black-and-white images constitute a unique visual account of the country during its belle époque. Al Ani portrayed Iraq’s culture in all of its abundance and complexity: besides documenting its westernized everyday life, the political culture and industry, he also captured images of Iraq from the air, for the Iraq Petroleum Company. Under Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime, however, Al Ani ceased photographing.
Today, his photographs give testimony to an era long gone. His exhibition at the Iraq Pavilion during the Venice biennale in 2016 focused on works from the early period of his career, which reveal both Iraq’s modernizing trends and the retention of ancient traditions as particular themes of Al Ani’s work.