Sameer Makarius

Nets of Mar del Plata’s Fishermen


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Sameer Makarius 1924–2009
Original title
Redes de pescadores de Mar del Plata
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Image: 296 × 230 mm
Presented by Karim Makarius 2011


Nets of Mar del Plata's Fishermen depicts six fishing nets laid out in parallel rows on a sandy beach. The shot is angled so that the nets stretch from the bottom left-hand corner of the image to the top right-hand corner where the top of the picture meets the distant horizon line. This compositional device serves to exaggerate the sense of spatial recession within the image, an effect that contrasts with the flat, blank margin on the left-hand side of the print. The intricate criss-cross texture of the nets and long lines of circular floats to which they are attached form decorative patterns on the sand’s even surface, heightened by the tonal contrast between the darker netting and the paler beach. Part of a group of photographs taken by Makarius in Buenos Aires during the 1950s, Nets of Mar del Plata's Fishermen reveals his interest in blurring the boundaries between representation and abstraction through photographic means.

Makarius was one of the most prolific photographers in Buenos Aires during the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Cairo in 1924 to an Egyptian father and a German mother, Makarius lived in Berlin as a child, and later Budapest, before moving to Argentina in 1953 where he lived until his death in 2009. While in Budapest during the Second World War, Makarius studied art and began his career as an abstract painter, before turning to photography in the mid-1940s. Quite soon after arriving in Buenos Aires in 1953, Makarius started to record life in the city with his camera. He photographed the city in exhaustive detail, from its best known monuments and buildings to its parks, bars, theatres, lottery shops and hoisting cranes, often homing in on everyday details such as door handles, canaries in cages, or flapping laundry in the street. He visited every neighbourhood in the city, photographing its street vendors, football matches, families on their Sunday afternoon outings, the horse races – any subject that caught his eye. From Liniers to Constitucio´n, from Recoleta to the parks in Palermo, Makarius went everywhere, but especially to La Boca, a working-class riverside neighbourhood located in the capital’s south-eastern corner, once the favoured destination of Italian immigrants.

Makarius’s work is characterised by a classic documentary style that demonstrates not only a sensitive attention to details, but also an awareness of the ability of each image to transcend its subject matter and convey an essence of the city depicted. Some of his compositions, with their oblique angles and cropped viewpoints, show the influence of avant-garde photography from Europe, and in particular constructivist photography, which Makarius would have been familiar with from his time in Germany and Hungary.

The artist published his exhaustive visual chronicles of Buenos Aires in 1960 in his first book Buenos Aires y su gente (Buenos Aires and its People), followed by a second book Buenos Aires, mi ciudad (Buenos Aires, My City) published in 1963.

Further reading
Córdova Iturburu, ‘Introduction’, in Sameer Makarius, Buenos Aires y su gente, Buenos Aires 1960, unpaginated.
Sameer Makarius, Buenos Aires, mi ciudad, Buenos Aires 1963.
Sameer Makarius, Makarius: Retratos / Portraits, ed. by María Torres, Buenos Aires 2007.

Iria Candela and Gaia Tedone
June 2012

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