Micha Bar-Am was born in Berlin in 1930 and moved with his family to Israel (then Palestine) in 1936. Active in the pre-state underground he worked at Haifa Port and was drafted in 1948 when the Jewish-Arab Conflict turned into an all-out war.
In 1949 he co-founded the Kibbutz Malkiya in the Galilee. Soon after, Bar-Am moved to Kibbutz Gesher-Haziv. In the early 1950s, using borrowed cameras, Bar-Am began to record life on the kibbutz and joined archeological expeditions in the Judean Desert in search of ancient Dead Sea scrolls.
After the 1956 Sinai Campaign, Bar-Am published his first book, Across Sinai and was offered to join the editorial staff of Bamachane as photographer and writer. In 1961 he was assigned the Eichmann Trial. In 1966 Bar-Am began as a free-lancer and met with Cornell Capa with whom he would cover the 1967 Six Day War.
In 1968 Bar-Am was invited to join Magnum and he became the Contracted Middle East photographic correspondent for the New York Times until 1992.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Bar-Am covered the conflict from Suez to the Golan Heights.
In 1974 Bar-Am was a founding member of the ICP in New York and becomes active as photographic curator.
1977 – establishes the department of Photography at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which he heads until 1992.
1982 – covers the war in Lebanon, which results in an exhibition and book.
1985-1986 – Nieman fellow at Harvard University.
2000 – The Israel Prize for Visual Arts “for his lifelong recording of the social and cultural scene in Israel and its ongoing conflicts with a critical eye and an indelible style”.
Married to Orna, artist. Their sons are Ahuvia, a professor of classics; Barak, an artist; and Nimrod, a doctor of philosophy.
AWARDS | Recognitions
1959 Capa-Chim award, First Prize, Tel Aviv
1985 IBM Fellowship, Aspen, Colorado
Golden Flamingo for Photographic Poster, Arles
1985-86 Nieman Fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1993 Enrique Kavlin Prize, Israel Museum
2000 Israel Prize for Visual Arts
Solo Exhibitions (Selected)
1975 Micha Bar-Am: Photographs
1979 Jews in Egypt, Spring 1979
1981 1981 Micha Bar-Am
1982 1982 Israel Diary 1956–1982
1985 Micha Bar-Am
1990 Israel: The Stormy Years
1992 Patterns of Jewish Life 1996 The Last War
1998 Israel: A Photobiography
1998 Israel: Die ersten 50 Jahre – Eine Fotobiographie
2000 Micha Bar-Am : Fotografie
Israel Museum, Jerusalem Curator: Marc Scheps (Leaflet, Poster)
Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv
G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Los Angeles
Curator: David Fahey
International Center of Photography (ICP), New York
Curator: Cornell Capa
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
(With Robert Capa) Barbican Center, London Curator: Rosalyn Wilder
Tel Aviv Museum of Art Curator: Michael Levin
International Center of Photography (ICP), New York (traveled to Los Angeles, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma City)
Berlin, Hamburg, Halle, Dresden Stadthaus Ulm
I’ve been photographing for nearly fifty years now, mostly in Israel, and often on assignment. The initiative for a story may be mine or an editor’s, but it is usually prompted by events in the news or at the center of public debate. Within this professional framework, which offers me a platform and a pretext for being involved, I range widely. I keep my internal eye open for that other, metaphorical image that transcends illustration to achieve a wholeness of its own. I strive for the elusive entity that is both evidence and evocation, public record and personal vision.
I have adopted Robert Capa’s saying: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you weren’t close enough.” But in retrospect I add a corollary: If you’re too close, you lose perspective. It is not easy to be fair with the facts and keep your own convictions out of the picture. It is almost impossible to be both a participant in events and their observer, witness, interpreter. The effort brings great frustration, and equally great reward.