Art

The Power of Photography #26

This is the 26th installment of the online series by Peter Fetterman Gallery called the Power of Photography highlighting hope, peace and love in the world. We invite you to enjoy and reflect on these works during this time.

Elliott Erwitt
New York City (Three Men In Tutu), 1956
© Elliott Erwitt

For sure one needs some comic relief in these times. I have found some recently in watching the French Netflix series “Call My Agent”. It made me think of this genius photograph by Elliott Erwitt, one of the wittiest and most seriously intelligent photographers I have ever met. When I need a laugh I just look at this image.

New York, like Los Angeles, is a magnet for anyone who dreams of making it in the performing arts. Hundreds of thousands of aspiring actors pour in each day with the hope of making it on Broadway or the movies. For most it will always be a just a dream, but to survive before that success happens they have to make a living. I’m not sure what day job these guys taking a moment of escape at a bar have but one can only imagine. But that thought has always kept me amused and engaged in their endeavors with the hope that their break finally comes for them.

Georges Dambier
1925-2011
Marie-Hélène et Le Poisson Rouge1957

Georges’s talent was recognized early on by the talented Hélène Lazareff, the founder of French ELLE. She encouraged his ideas to take these glorious models out into the streets of Paris away from the normal stilted shots which emanated from the rigid studio settings. With his charm and great sense of humor he elicited wonderful “performances” from them as if he were directing a movie. He had a great sense of style and design and really was the key photographer to emerge from that glorious era of French Elle. He made fashion fun and every great model at the time wanted to work with him.

After he retired from photography he left Paris to transform the family estate into a beautiful small hotel in the French countryside where he was equally successful, a nice coda to a busy and hectic career.

Steve McCurry
Dust Storm, Rajasthan, India (Vertical)1983 (Printed 2018)
© Steve McCurry/ Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

I don’t know anyone who has a greater wanderlust than Steve McCurry. He must be in the Guinness Book of Records with more frequent flyer miles than any photographer in the history of the medium. I think he has been to India alone more than 80-90 times in his 40 plus year career. He has always been attracted to the cacophony of noise, colors and smells that make up Indian daily life.

He was working there in the height of the dry season driving along a highway in Rajasthan when his taxi was forced to stop by a sudden dust storm. Out of the window he saw a group of workers protecting each other from the choking dust and just jumped out the cab like an automatic reflex and captured one of his most sought after images.

A great example I think of “Chance favors the prepared mind”.

Brett Weston
Leaf and Ferns, Hawaii1979
© Estate of Brett Weston/Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

After a long and productive career Brett Weston spent his final years on the island of Hawaii. That island gave him one of the most fulfilling third acts in the History of Art. The environment there gave him such strength and creative impulse to produce powerful work equal to the other highly fertile periods of his life. Nowhere is there a better example of this than in his 1979 image of “Leaf and Ferns”.

It just radiates energy and beauty. In his real life Brett reduced everything to its essentials even to his living environment. One of the lessons he learned from his father so that he could focus on his art without cluttering one’s life with too many unnecessary possessions or distractions. He had such a great eye for balancing forms and light. Shooting in the field and printing in his darkroom occupied most of his long and creative life.

Gianni Berengo Gardin
Tuscany1958
© Gianni Berengo Gardin/Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

Yes it is true that Henri Cartier-Bresson held Gianni in the highest regard and included him in his inaugural exhibition “My Hundred Favorite Photographs” when he opened his foundation in Paris in 2003 a year before Henri away.

He was not the only great photographer I have known who considers Gianni one of the greats. Sebastiao Salgado, Elliott Erwitt, Ferdinando Scianna and Willy Ronis amongst many other greats expressed the same sentiment to me. To be held in such high regard by so many artists of one’s fellow is rare indeed.

It’s easy to see why. His body of work taken over 70 years is varied in it’s scope and subject matter.
This beautiful human landscape with its mix of light and shadow is so subtle in its composition and emanates such reverence and love for the land and nature.

René Groebli
1927
Eye of Love #5321952

At 93 years old, dear René still exudes passion and energy for his chosen medium.

His “magnum opus”, “The Eye of Love” still resonates with such power and tenderness 70 years later since the photos were first shot on his honeymoon in a small hotel in Paris with his beloved wife.

The images to my mind and eye are up there with Stieglitz’s photos of O’Keeffe, Edward Weston’s photos of Charis Wilson and Harry Callahan’s photos of Eleanor. The wife as muse.
Rene’s photos show more than what is objectively visible. He managed to capture the emotions, the intimacy and the love for his wife Rita. They are just heartbreakingly beautiful.

Pentti Sammallahti
Pyhäjärvi, Finland (Horse and Barn)1982
© Pentti Sammallahti/Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

In 1959, Pentti Sammallahti visited the famous “The Family of Man” exhibition at the Helsinki Hall with his father and announced that he knew what he wanted to do with his life: to be a photographer. And this simple prescient pronouncement proved to be so true and we have the results of his prodigious talent to enjoy.

Pentti has created a trove of photographic gems like this one. I have never seen an image that has so many exquisite levels of story telling all in such perfect balance. It is a wonder to behold.

Sebastião Salgado
1944
Nenet Nomads (Packing Sleigh) South Yamal Region, Siberia, Russia2011
© Sebastião Salgado / Amazonas Images/Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

Each of Salgado’s epic projects is meticulously researched for years by Sebastião and his wife Lelia before they ever set foot on location to shoot.

They found out about this group of Nenet Nomads who survive by herding reindeer. This is the coldest place on earth and I remember Sebastião telling me the story of how he went to enormous length to have the warmest coat that could be scientifically custom-made in order to withstand the elements so he could fulfill his project.

He gets there and it is unbelievably cold. Beyond belief and expectations. He is shivering and cannot work. The Nenets see what is happening. Of course no verbal communication, just human connection. They cut him a reindeer coat like they wear and voila it works and he can then work and he creates some of the most beautiful images found in the project. This image was produced big and was at the entrance to the Science Museum’s presentation of “Genesis” in London where it was launched several years ago.

Herman Leonard
Tony Bennett, New York City, NY1950
© Estate of Herman Leonard/Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

I have been listening to a lot of Tony Bennett singing recently. It just transports me out of current stresses and concerns. In fact I’m listening to him singing “Fly me to the Moon” as I write these few words.

His mastery of the Great American Songbook is unrivaled and he has led such a long and interesting life. A man of great sensitivity to political concerns and human empathy he also marched with Martin Luther King in Selma in the 1960’s.

He was one of the last people Herman spoke to just before Herman passed away in 2010. Two giants, two great friends.

William Klein
1928
Staten Island Ferry, New York1954-55
© William Klein/Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery

A really rare and tender image in Klein’s body of work. Something I can really relate to as an emigrant to the USA. I remember the first time I took the Staten Island Ferry when I first visited New York. A completely emotional experience to see the vast vista of the city with all one’s personal hopes and dreams laid out before you. I actually can’t wait to do it again.

Peter Fetterman Gallery
2525 Michigan Ave, #A1
Santa Monica, CA 90404
http://www.peterfetterman.com

The Power of Photography is now a book published by ACC ART Books.

Peter Fetterman : The Power of Photography
ACC ART Books
Pages: 256 pages
Size: 7.87 in x 9.06 in
ISBN: 9781788841221
$45.00

https://www.accartbooks.com/us/book/the-power-of-photography/
www.accartbooks.com

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