Monday, November 10, 2014

Eliot Elisofon

Eliot Elisofon

Books by Eliot Elisofon on Amzaon
Life Photographers
Smithsonian Spotlight:  Memories of a Father
"To Help the World See" Retrospective,
     Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the
     Leeds Gallery, University of Texas at Austin

To me, photography has been a challenge; to produce images that are meaningful but not dogmatic, to be artistic but not arty. It has served me as a vehicle to pay tribute to other arts: to photograph the sculpture of Africa and the temples of Egypt and India. It has also permitted me to experiment with color, a method developed principally in my own time, and to participate in its liberation from crass quasi-reality. Finally, photography has enriched my life. It has enabled me to travel … to almost every corner of the globe, using my camera as a magic carpet to see and study the meaning and beauty of civilizations and environments besides my own.
Eliot Elisofon
Popular Photography, 1962

Leslie County, Kentucky, 1949

Leslie County, Kentucky, 1949

"Leslie County, Kentucky, 1949

"Street Car Named Desire", 1947

"Waiting to Perform", 1950

Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, 1951

"Marcel Duchamp Descends Staircase", 1952

Empire State Building, 1953

"Young Girl in Swimming Pool, Mexico", 1945

"Signs in Kyoto, Japan", 1961

"Douglas A-20 Bombers, Tunisia", 1943

"Airplane Wreckage, Tunisian Desert", 1943

Biography:  Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center,
University of Texas at Austin

Photographer, artist, art collector, author, and filmmaker Eliot Elisofon was born Meyer Eliot Elicofon, the son of immigrants Sarah and Samuel Elicofon, in New York City on April 17, 1911. As a teenager, he became interested in both photography and painting. Elisofon graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1929, and at that time he dropped his first name and changed the spelling of his surname. For the next few years he worked at the New York State Workmen's Compensation Bureau while attending Fordham University at night, ultimately receiving a B.S. in 1933. Meanwhile, he continued to pursue his interest in photography, and in 1935 Elisofon, Marty Bauman, and Al Weiner opened a commercial photography studio, August and Company. As a commercial photographer, Elisofon expanded from product advertising photoraphs to fashion photography assignments for magazines such as Mademoiselle and Vogue. He was a member of the Photo League, serving as its president for a time, and he developed a strong interest in photography as social documentary. Elisofon's photographs documenting New York street scenes were exhibited in 1937 at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art in Philadelphia and at the Julian Levy Gallery in New York. In 1938, his work was exhibited at the East River Gallery and at the New School for Social Research, where he worked as an instructor. After showing his portfolio to LIFE magazine in 1937, Elisofon began receiving assignments from that magazine and others and decided to devote his career to photojournalism. He left the studio in 1938 to work as a freelance magazine photographer, producing mainly travel and glamour photographs which were published in such magazines as Fortune and Scribner's, as well as Mademoiselle, Vogue, and Glamour. For LIFE, he also produced photographic essays on a variety of subjects, ranging from military exercises to refugees to coal miners, from actresses and plays to social clubs. Elisofon also worked as a staff photographer for the Museum of Modern Art in 1939 and became skilled at photographing works of art.

Elisofon joined the LIFE staff in 1942 as a war photographer-correspondent, and during the remainder of World War II he traveled to the North African front, to Sweden and Finland, and to Hawaii and Wake Island. In the post-war years, he began working on geographical photo essays in the United States and around the world. He eventually developed a special interest in Africa and became a collector of African art and an expert in that area. As a member of the Peabody Museum of Salem's 1956 expedition to the South Pacific, led by William A. Robinson, Elisofon photographed the voyage and collected artifacts from the South Sea Islands as the expedition traced the Polynesian migration route. He was appointed a Research Fellow in Primitive Art at Harvard University in 1958, and he was a member of the Harvard Peabody Museum's 1961 expedition to film tribal life in New Guinea. Elisofon remained a staff photographer for LIFE from 1942 to 1964 and then, although he also pursued freelance and commercial work, he continued to work for LIFE on a contract basis until the magazine suspended publication at the end of 1972. During those three decades, Elisofon traveled more than a million miles on six continents, covering assignments on places, art, architecture, celebrities, food, and social subjects. He continued to do freelance work for Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Horizon, and other magazines until his death in 1973.

Elisofon was known for his experiments with color control, and he worked as a color consultant on the films Moulin Rouge, Bell, Book and Candle, and The Greatest Story Ever Told, among others. In 1965, he directed the prologue of the film Khartoum and a portion of Man Builds for National Educational Television. Elisofon was director of creative production for the ABC documentary Africa in 1967, and in 1972 he wrote, produced, and directed a four-hour television series for Group W (Westinghouse Broadcasting Company) titled Black African Heritage.

Besides collecting tribal art and sculpture, other interests Elisofon pursued were cooking and painting, and he was able to take advantage of his worldwide travel as a photographer to develop all of these simultaneously. His photographs, watercolor paintings, and objects from his personal collection of tribal art have been exhibited throughout the United States and other countries.

Elisofon frequently lectured on a variety of subjects at museums, colleges, and clubs around the country; topics included photography, African art, and his travels. He also wrote numerous articles and essays as well as several books, including the cookbook Food Is a Four-Letter Word (1948); The Sculpture of Africa (1958); Color Photography (1961); The Nile (1964); Java Diary (1969); and Erotic Spirituality (1971). He wrote and illustrated three of a series of Crowell-Collier's children's books showing a week in the lives of children in other countries. Elisofon contributed photographs to Joseph Campbell's edition of Heinrich Zimmer's The Art of Indian Asia (1955) and Arthur Knight's The Hollywood Style (1969), among others, and he also provided illustrations for publications by Time-Life Books, including a "Foods of the World" cookbook series.

Elisofon was married twice, first to Mavis Lyons (married July 1, 1941, divorced 1946) and later to Joan Spear (married July 15, 1950, divorced 1965), with whom he had two daughters, Elin (b. 1952) and Jill (b. 1953). Throughout his life, Elisofon maintained a primary residence in New York City and a secondary one on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine. Elisofon died in New York City on April 7, 1973, as a result of a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Elisofon was a founding trustee of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art in 1964 and at the time of his death was a curatorial associate. He bequeathed to that museum not only his collection of African art, but also his photographs, transparencies, and film footage of Africa and its art. Before his death Elisofon had also donated pieces of his African and Pacific art collection to that museum, the Museum of Primitive Art in New York, the Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, and to many other institutions.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Samuel H. Gottscho

"Luna Park"

"Newark Station"

"Washington Square"

"Locomotive and Perisphere" 

"30 Rockefeller Plaza"

"Southeast from the RCA Building"

"Opening of the Empire State Building"

"Times Square at Night"

"Times Square at Night"

"Rockefeller Plaza at Night"

"RCA Building at Night"

Clamp Art Portfolio
Lee Gallery Portfolio
Museum of the City of New York Collection
"Mystic City:  Photographs of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho, 1925-1940"
Print Collection Portfolio
YouTube Video

Biography (from Wikipedia):

Samuel Gottscho was born in Brooklyn, New York.  He acquired his first camera in 1896 and took his first photograph at Coney Island.  From 1896 to 1920 he photographed part-time, specializing in houses and gardens, as he particularly enjoyed nature, rural life, and landscapes.

After attending several architectural photograph exhibitions, Gottscho decided to perfect and improve his own work and sought out several architects and landscape architects.  After twenty-three years as a traveling lace and fabric salesman, Gottscho became a professional commercial photographer at the age of 50.  His son-in-law William Schleisner joined Gottscho in his business in 1935.  During this time his photographs appeared in and on the covers of American Architect and Architecture, Architectural Record.  His portraits and architectural photography regularly appeared in articles in the New York Times. His photographs of private homes in the New York and Connecticut suburbs often appeared in home decoration magazines. From the early 1940s to the late 1960s, he was a regular contributor to the Times of illustrated articles on wildflowers.

Gottscho believed he created some of his best work at the age of 70. In 1967, his botanical work won him the New York Botanical Garden's Distinguished Service Medal.  He died in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

Approximately 29,000 of his images are held in the Gottscho-Schleisner collection at the U. S. Library of Congress.  Additionally, over 40,000 are held by the Museum of the City of New York, where an exhibition of his work titled "The Mythic City: Photographs of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho, 1925-1940," opened in November 2005.  A third major archive of his work is held by Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Louis Stettner

Louis Stettner

Louis Stettner
Louis Stettner Books on Amazon
Louis Stettner on Facebook

Art Net
Bonni Benrubi Gallery
Peter Fetterman Gallery
Jackson Fine Art Gallery
Paris Voice Article: "Louis Stettner, Black & White and No Regrets"
The Red List
YouTube Interview, 2013
YouTube:  Louis Stettner, Fotógrafo

"Brooklyn Bridge" - 1986
"Girl Playing in Light Circles" - 1958
"Commuters, Evening Train" - 1958
"Subway Series" - 1946
"Lower Second Avenue, New York" - 1954
"Entrance to Central Waiting Hall" - 1958
"Janet, Athens New York" - 1998
"Pigalle" - 1949
"Spiritual America, Midtown Manhattan" - 1998
"The Great White Way, Times Square at Night" - 1954
"Sailor, Times Square" - 1951
"Place Saint Augustin" - 1993
"Scambia" - 1991
"World Trade Center" - 1978

Special thanks to Louis Stettner for allowing me to reproduce his photographs, here, on my blog.  Without his kind cooperation and generosity this blog entry would not have been possible.  No further use of these photographs is allowed without his permission.

Biography (Source:  Wikipedia, Janet Stettner, and Louis Stettner's web site):

Louis Stettner was born on November 7, 1922, in Brooklyn, New York where he was raised as one of four children. His father was a cabinet maker and Louis learned the trade when young, using the money to support his growing love of photography.  He was given a box camera as a child and his love affair with photography began.  His family went on trips to Manhattan and visited museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he began his love of art.

At 18, in 1940, Stettner enlisted in the army and became a combat photographer in the Pacific.  Back from the war he joined the Photo League in New York.  Stettner visited Paris in 1946 and, in 1947, moved there.  From 1947 to 1949 he studied at the "Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques" in Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in Photography & Cinema.  He went back and forth between New York and Paris for almost two decades and finally settled permanently in Saint-Ouen, near Paris, in 1990.  Stettner still frequently returns to New York.

Stettner's professional work in Paris began with capturing life in the post-war recovery.  He captured the everyday lives of his subjects.  In the tradition of the Photo League, he wanted to investigate the bonds that connected people regardless of class.  In 1947 he was asked by the same Photo League to organize an exhibition of French photographers in New York.  He gathered the works of some of the greatest photographers of the era, including Doisneau, Brassaï, Boubat, Izis, and Ronis.  The show was a big success and was largely reviewed in the annual issue of U.S. Camera.  Stettner had begun a series of regular meetings with Brassaï who was a great mentor and had significant influence on his work.  In 1949, Stettner had his first exhibition at the “Salon des Indépendants" at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

In 1951 his work was included in the famous Subjektive Fotografie exhibition in Germany.  During the 1950s he free-lanced for Time, Life, Fortune, and Du (Germany).  While in Paris he reconnected with Paul Strand who had also left New York because of political intolerance of the McCarthy era -- Strand had been a founder of the Photo League that would be blacklisted then banned during those years.

In the 1970s Stettner spent more time in New York City where he taught at Brooklyn College, Queens College, and Cooper Union.

In his own work, Stettner focused on documenting the lives of the working class in both Paris and New York.  He has photographed Paris and New York for over 60 years, capturing the changes in the people and culture of both cities.  Stettner has documented the cultural evolution of Paris and New York, making his archive of thousands of images an important resource.  Few photographers have such an extensive archive of both cities.

He felt and still believes that the cities belong to the people that live there, not the tourists and visitors.  His upbringing caused him to take great care in capturing the simple human dignity of the working class.  Additionally, his paintings and sculptures tend to be abstract and in sharp contrast to his clear, vivid photographic images.

Now in his 90s, he continues to photograph with great energy.  Stettner also spends significant time sculpting and painting, as well as mixing his work and “painting” on some of his photographic images.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Leonard Freed

Leonard Freed by Michael Auer, 1987

"Photography is like life... What does it all mean? I don't know - but you get an impression, a feeling.... An impression of walking through the street, walking through the park, walking through life. I'm very suspicious of people who say they know what it means."

". . .a good photograph must have the element of good design: Everything within the photograph has to be essential. It's never like a painting where you can have it perfect. It shouldn't be absolutely perfect. That would kill it."

Bruce Silverstein Gallery Portfolio
Clark Gallery Portfolio
Contact:  Leonard Freed on YouTube
Denver Post Photo Blog:  Leonard Freed's Photographs of the March on Washington
Lee Gallery Portfolio
Leica Gallery:  Leonard Freed, The Italians 
Leonard Freed Jews of Amsterdam Photography on YouTube
Leonard Freed Page on Facebook
Magnum Photos Portfolio
Museum of Modern Art Collection
New York Times Lens:  The Photographer and His Printer, Partners in Art and Love
Selection of Leonard Freed Books on Amazon
The Red List:  Leonard Freed Portfolio
Time Lightbox:  Behind New York City's "Police Work"

The Italians:

"Farm Women, Bay of Naples", Naples 1958

"Fish", Naples 1958

"Bride", Naples 1958

"St. Peter's Square", Rome 2000

"Sicilian Nobleman at Home", Trapani 1975

"Priests, Snowball Fight", Vatican 1958

"Jewelry Store", Rome 1958

"Soldiers", Florence 1958

"Boy with Donkies", Sicily 1974


"Religious Jews at Home in Mea Shearim", Jerusalem 1967

"Hassidic Jews Celebrating", Jerusalem 1972

"A Bedouin Boy with His Sister", Negev Desert 1967

United States:

"Jewish Hassidic Wedding", 1954

"Hassidic Boys in Classroom" 1954

"Flag, Republican Convention", Dallas 1984

"Men, Triangle in Synagogue", Brooklyn 1954

"Harlem Father", New York City 1963

"Wall Street", New York City 1956

A Jazz Funeral for a Musician Who Died", New Orleans 1963

Special thanks to Brigitte Freed and Elke Susannah Freed for allowing me to reproduce Leonard Freed's photographs, here, on my blog.  Without their kind cooperation and generosity this blog entry would not have been possible.  No further use of these photographs is allowed without their permission.



Biography (Source:  Brill Gallery):

Leonard Freed was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1929 to a working class family of radical Jews from Eastern Europe. Freed took trips to Europe and North Africa in the early 50s and thought he wanted to become a painter. He studied in Alexei Brodovitch’s design laboratory. Eventually Freed was intrigued by photography and how it could tell stories and explore life. Edward Steichen, then Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art learned of Freed’s work and told him that he was one of the three best young photographers he had seen. Steichen advised Freed to remain an amateur and bought three of Freed’s photos for the Museum.

In the early 60s Freed was living in the Netherlands when the photographs of the Civil Rights Movement in European newspapers compelled him to return to the United States. Freed was struck at what he saw as images of blacks in America that were often in the form of caricature. Freed set to create a body of work that refuted those caricatures and emphasized the individuality of his subjects. His subtle and thoughtful images comment on the unfairness of enforced segregation and provide context for some of the meaningful events that took place in America in the 1950s and 60s. Freed became famous with his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement as he offered photos of Harlem Streets, early images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the publication of his book Black in White America in 1968.

In 1972 Leonard Freed joined the highly regarded group of Magnum photographers with whom he remained active until his death. He has worked on international assignments for the major international press including: Life, Look, Paris Match, Die Zeist, Der Spiegel, London Sunday Times Magazine, New York Times Magazine, GEO, L’Express, Fortune, etc.

Photography became Freed’s way of exploring complex issues such as societal violence and racial discrimination. In 1980 his book Police Work made statements about police brutality in words and pictures. Through photography Freed confronted the Ku Klux Klan, German Society, and his own Jewish roots through numerous exhibits, books and films. More than 10 books have been published on Freed’s work and several are for sale at the Brill Gallery. Freed’s photos are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Smithsonian, Getty Museum, Jewish Museum, High Museum, etc. and various university, corporate and individual collections. Major exhibits of Freed's photographs will take place at the Muse'e de l 'Elyse'e in Lausanne, Switzerland and at the Leica Gallery in NYC in 2007.

Obituary (Souce:  Amanda Hopkinson, The Guardian, December 6, 2006):

The name of the American Leonard Freed, who has died aged 77, became synonymous with that of the "concerned photographer". In the wake of the second world war, photojournalism became increasingly involved with human rights and, in Freed's case, with civil rights in his homeland. As a documentarist of the situation of African-Americans, he always had an eye for the unexpected and upbeat, often in the grimmest of circumstances.

He followed the years of struggle against segregation and discrimination by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), photographing Martin Luther King Jr and his great march across the US from Alabama to Washington; equally, his image of children playing around a water hydrant in New York became an icon, along with those of daily life in that city, still effectively segregated by ghettoisation in the 1950s and 60s.

Freed spent years photographing behind the scenes with the police department in the 1970s; when his famous resulting exhibition, The Spectre of Violence, was shown at London's Photographers' Gallery in 1973 it was as though the viewers were coming upon the actual scene of a murder. They entered the gallery through black curtains, and a flash went off as they found a corpse at the bottom of a stairwell; the surrounding scenes were mounted on hardboard backing, dramatically involving the audience in a lifesized restaging.

Stylistically, this series was in the arresting, flashlit tradition of an earlier New York photographer, Weegee (Arthur Fellig). But 1972 was also the year in which Freed joined Magnum, the Paris-based photo agency founded in 1948 by Bob Capa, George Rodger, "Chim" Seymour and Henri Cartier-Bresson. It was to be a lifelong relationship, for Magnum photographers have always adhered to their own humanistic precepts and social awarenesses.

Preferring - like most of his fellow Magnum members - to work in black and white, and using available light, Freed contributed to the key picture magazines of the postwar period, including Life, Look, Fortune, Libération, L'Express, GEO, Paris-Match, Die Zeit, Der Spiegel and the Sunday Times magazine. He also shot four films for Dutch, Belgium and Japanese television, including The Negro in America (1968) and Joey Goes to Wigstock (1992).

Born into a humble Jewish family of East European extraction in Brooklyn, Freed originally wanted to become an artist. He attended the New School and studied with the legendary art director of Harper's Bazaar, Alexey Brodovitch - and it was in Brodovitch's "design laboratory" that Freed discovered his true vocation. As soon as he finished his studies, he took off for two years, hitch-hiking through Europe and north Africa. This led in 1959 to his first book, Joden von Amsterdam (Jews of Amsterdam), a first one-man photo exhibition, at Hilversum in the Netherlands, and his decision to become a full-time freelancer shortly afterwards.

The interest in the Jewish diaspora and in Israel became a revisited theme for Freed. In 1965 he published Deutsche Juden Heute (German Jews Today), and in 1967 and 1973 he covered the six-day and Yom Kippur wars in the Middle East. There followed Black and White in America (1968); Seltsame Spiele (Strange Games, together with Shinkichi Tajiri, 1970); Made in Germany (1970); Police Work (1980; expanded as New York Police, 1990); and a major retrospective work, Leonard Freed: Photographies 1954-1990 (1991).

Exhibitions accompanied and alternated with the books and films. These ranged from What is Man?, shown at the Benedictine convent at Cockfosters, north London, to Native Americans, a group show at the state capitol building in Albany, New York. The former was cast in the mould of The Family of Man, Edward Steichen's travelling exhibition which intended to demonstrate, less than a decade after the second world war, that "People are people the world over: everywhere different and everywhere the same." Perhaps What is Man was Freed's response to Steichen, who, as director of the Museum of Modern Art, had first told Freed that he was one of the three best emerging photographers he had met. Purchasing three images for his prestigious collection there, Steichen warned Freed that the other two had "turned commercial" and that he should either remain an amateur or "preferably, become a truck driver".

Clearly, Freed chose neither option, determining instead to turn his vocation into a career. At the 1967 opening of the Concerned Photographer exhibition, curated by Cornell Capa and in which he showed with five of his peers, he announced: "Suddenly, I feel as if I belong to a tradition. To see life, see the world, be witness to great events, peer into the faces of the poor, the mad, to understand the shadows of the jungle, hidden things, to see, to rejoice in seeing, to be spiritually enriched." It was a journey that took him to document Asian immigrants in Newcastle and oil workers in the North Sea, travellers in eastern Europe and Hassidic communities and black people in New York slums - always pursuing content and context over form and subjectivity.

Sue Davies, founder director of London's Photographers' Gallery, has informal memories of how Freed spent time in London in the early 1970s - "in my family album I have a picture he took at a wedding reception of my husband John waving a chicken leg in the air."

Jimmy Fox, picture editor at Magnum's Paris office, recalls the small, dark, crinkle-haired man with big glasses thus: "During 38 years Leonard Freed was always polite, efficient, cooperative and smiling. He was open to other opinions and had a great interest in human behaviour, without being malicious or self-appropriating. The description 'Concerned photographer' fitted him like a glove."

Freed himself claimed that "Photography is still in its infancy ... challenging in that [it leaves] one free to be original." But, in truth, he and his Magnum colleagues are among those who brought the medium to maturity. He is survived by his wife, Brigitte Klueck, whom he married in 1958, and daughter Elke.

Leonard Freed, photographer, born October 23, 1929; died November 30, 2006