The Power of Photography #26

This is the 26thth Part 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 ponder these works during this time.

Elliot Erwitt
New York City (Three Men in Tutu), 1956
© Elliot Erwitt

Surely one needs some weird relief in these times. I found some recently while watching the French Netflix series Call My Agent. It made me think of this brilliant photo by Elliott Erwitt, one of the funniest and seriously intelligent photographers I’ve ever met. Whenever I need to laugh, I just look at this picture.

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 flock each day hoping to make it on Broadway or in the movies. It will always remain just a dream for most, but to survive before that success occurs, they must earn a living. I’m not sure what job these guys taking a moment of escape to a bar have, but you can only imagine. But that thought always amused me and I joined her efforts hoping that her breakthrough finally comes for her.

George Dambier
Marie-Helene and Le Poisson Rouge1957

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

After retiring from photography, he left Paris to turn the family property into a beautiful little 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 has to be in the Guinness Book of Records with more frequent flyer miles than any other photographer in the history of the medium. I think he’s been to India alone more than 80-90 times in his 40+ year career. He has always been drawn to the cacophony of noise, color and smell that characterizes everyday Indian life.

Working there in the middle of the dry season, he was driving on a highway in Rajasthan when his taxi was stopped by a sudden dust storm. From the window, he saw a group of workers shielding each other from the suffocating dust and, like an automatic reflex, just jumped out of the cab and snapped one of his most coveted pictures.

A great example I think is “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. This island gave him one of the most fulfilling third acts in art history. The environment there gave him so much strength and creative impulse to do powerful work that is equal to the other highly fruitful periods of his life. There is no better example of this than in his 1979 painting Leaf and Ferns.

It just radiates energy and beauty. In his real life, Brett has stripped everything down to the essentials, even his living quarters. One of the lessons he learned from his father so that he could focus on his art without cluttering his life with too many unnecessary possessions or distractions. He had such a great eye for balancing form and light. Photographing on location and printing in his darkroom occupied most of his long and creative life.

Gianni Berengo Gardin
© Gianni Berengo Gardin/Courtesy of Galerie Peter Fetterman

Yes, it is true that Henri Cartier-Bresson held Gianni in high 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’s death.

He wasn’t the only great photographer I know who thinks Gianni is one of the greats. Sebastiao Salgado, Elliott Erwitt, Ferdinando Scianna and Willy Ronis and many other greats expressed the same feeling to me. To be held in such high esteem by so many fellow artists is truly rare.

It’s easy to see why. His more than 70-year-old work is diverse in scope and subject matter.
This beautiful human landscape with its mix of light and shadow is so subtle in its composition and exudes so much reverence and love for the land and nature.

Rene Groebli
Eye of Love #5321952

At 93, 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 first photos were taken on his honeymoon in a small hotel in Paris with his beloved wife.

The images that come to mind 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 emotion, intimacy and love of his wife Rita. They are just heartbreakingly beautiful.

Pentti Sammallahti
Pyhäjärvi, Finland (horse and stable)1982
© Pentti Sammallahti/Courtesy of Gallery Peter Fetterman

In 1959, Pentti Sammallahti attended the famous The Family of Man exhibition at Helsinki Hall with his father and announced that he knew what he wanted to do with his life: become a photographer. And that simple forward-thinking statement proved so true, and we can delight in the results of his amazing talent.

Pentti has created a wealth of photographic gems like this one. I have never seen an image that has so many exquisite levels of storytelling in such a perfect balance. It’s a miracle to see.

Sebastian Salgado
Nenet Nomads (packing sleds) South Yamal Region, Siberia, Russia2011
© Sebastian Salgado / Amazon Images/Courtesy of Peter Fetterman Gallery

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

They learned about this group of Nenets 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 tremendous lengths to have the warmest coat that could be scientifically custom made to withstand the elements for him to be project can be realized.

He gets there and it’s incredibly cold. Beyond belief and expectation. He is shaking and cannot work. The Nenets see what is happening. No verbal communication of course, 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 to be found in the project. This image was widely produced and was at the entrance to the Genesis presentation at The Science Museum in London where it was launched a few years ago.

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

I’ve been listening to Tony Bennett sing a lot lately. It just takes me out of current stresses and worries. In fact, I’m listening to him sing “Fly me to the Moon” as I write those few words.

His mastery of the Great American Songbook is second to none and he has lived such a long and interesting life. A man of great political sensitivity and human empathy, he also marched with Martin Luther King at Selma in the 1960s.

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

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

A truly rare and delicate image in Klein’s work. Something I can understand very well as an emigrant to the USA. I remember the first time I took the Staten Island Ferry when I was visiting New York for the first time. An absolutely emotional experience to see the wide view of the city with all the personal hopes and dreams that lie ahead. I can’t wait to do it again.

Peter Fetterman Gallery
2525 Michigan Avenue, #A1
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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: 7.87in x 9.06in
ISBN: 9781788841221

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