Van Leo’s collection captures the majesty of Cairene pysche

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The first time I heard of the late Armenian photographer Van Leo was in 2002 when I was a student at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Cairo was Van Leo’s home and is the natural location for a vast collection of his portraits of mid-twentieth-century cosmopolitan Cairene society and hundreds of his self-portraits. Reconstructing Van Leo’s life a posteriori to answer the question of who he was might sound like a formidable task. However, his work, especially that of his early days, is indeed worth revisiting. The current fascination with his portraits is both a result of present concerns…

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