TEL AVIV.- Yakov Agor (Goldfarb) was born in Rovno, Ukraine in 1911. He took his first pictures at the age of 8, and at 19 began studying painting at the Berlin School of Art, returning to his hometown, Danzig, in 1933, following the Nazi rise to power. During World War II he designed sets for the Soviet film industry, and even participated in the war as an officer in the Polish army. In 1954 he began working as a photojournalist and a photographer of avant-garde theaters, among them Tadeusz Kantor's Polish theater company. At the end of 1958, the 47 year old Agor immigrated to Israel with his wife, dancer Helena Wolaniski, and their son, Alexander. That year an exhibition of his photographs was staged at Beit Sokolov (Journalists' House), Tel Aviv, which drew favorable responses. In 1960 he became a photographer for HaOlam HaZeh, and subsequently (between 1963 and 1980), for the weekend supplement of the daily Haaretz, mainly documenting theatrical plays and dance performances. An exhibition featuring Agor's works was curated in 1991 by Michal Heiman at the Art Gallery of Camera Obscura School of Art, Tel Aviv, and in 1995 the film, perpetuating his life and art, was directed by Sivan Arbel for Israel's Channel 2.
Agor was considered Israel's topmost culture photographer in the 1960s and 1970s. "Photographing theater," he maintained, "is like writing about the theater: You have to fathom it before you can write about it and photograph it
I usually take pictures during the general rehearsal, when the actors have no time to think about anything other than their part. I shoot live because I believe that photography of theater and ballet must be live, without posing" (from an interview, Yedioth Aharonoth, 3 Nov 1978 [Hebrew]). Agor took pictures with existing light only. Even under the harshest conditions, he adamantly objected to the use of a flash. It was this determination that spawned the look dubbed "Agorian photography"dark photographs, distinctively unstaged, portraying dark scenes and typified by an intricate interplay of light and shade."
Concurrent with the documentation of theater and dance, Agor's oeuvre also included social and political images, portraits, architectural photography, and photographs of art and sports events.
Agor stopped taking pictures at the age of 75. He passed away on January 1996, at 85.