Lazhar Mansouri Algerian, 1932-1985

"As more and more work comes to light, so do the names of remarkable artists, well known to their contemporaries, now known within a global framework. Lazhar Mansouri (1932-1985) is one."

- Holland Cotter, The New York Times, 2007

Lazhar Mansouri (1932-1985) was an Algerian photographer active from the late 1950s through the 1970s in Aïn Beïda (Aurés Mountains region, Northern Algeria). During this period, he owned and operated a photography studio and created an archive of local everyday people and rarely photographed indigenous tribes.


Mansouri first encountered photography as a child while accompanying his grandmother to a local bazaar, where he met a photographer operating a studio in the back of a barber shop. The same photographer later hired him as an apprentice, allowing Mansouri an introduction to the craft. After his training, he left to open his own small studio in the back of a grocery store. Mansouri’s photo studio served thousands of Algerians with their photographic needs from id card photos to documenting family occasions. From the images reflected, Mansouri photographed weddings, births, children, graduations, portraits, friends, and family.


The Mansouri studio was highly active during the last years of the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), and after the Provisional Executive of France declared Algeria’s independence on July 5, 1962, Mansouri continued to fulfill the photographic needs of the growing community in Aïn Beïda. During the early 1980s and after Mansouri's death, his family considered the necessity of burning what could be deemed as controversial negatives. Luckily, part of the patrimony was saved by another photographer from the region who saw its historic importance. It is estimated that the archive included at one time tens of thousands of negatives.

Lazhar Mansouri's photographs are documented in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art and the Hirsch Library of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. His photographs have recently been included in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK), Tate Modern (London, UK), and Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY, USA). His work is in numerous public and private collections include the US State Department (Algiers), the Qatar Museums, and more.