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Robert Polidori
Robert Polidori

Robert Polidori

Country: Canada/United States
Birth: 1951

Robert Polidori is a Canadian-American photographer known for his large-scale color images of architecture, urban environments, and interiors. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Martin-Gropius-Bau museum (Berlin), and Instituto Moreira Salles (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro). His photographs are also included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), New Orleans Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Château de Versailles, Centre Pompidou (Paris), and Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris), as well as many private collections.

Described as one of "most esteemed practitioners of large-scale photography," Polidori has photographed the restoration of the Château de Versailles since the early 1980s. He has also recorded the architecture and interiors of Havana, the inner-city habitats of Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, and Amman, the post-Hurricane Katrina devastation of New Orleans, buildings emptied by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and shelled structures in Beirut. At the time of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal retrospective exhibition in 2009, curator Paulette Gagnon described his work as a "photographic account that invites us to share the historical moments it portrays, making them part of the collective memory."

Where you point the camera is the question and the picture you get is the answer to decipher.

-- Robert Polidori


Robert Polidori was born in 1951 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to a French-Canadian mother and a Corsican father. At age 9, Polidori’s family moved to the United States where his father worked as an engineer at Air Force bases and NASA installations. He grew up in Seattle, southern California, New Orleans, and Cocoa Beach, and first attended university in Florida in 1969. During his freshman year, Polidori saw Michael Snow's film Wavelength (1967 film) and, inspired to study filmmaking, moved to New York City. The following year, he was hired by the legendary Jonas Mekas and worked as the theatre manager of the Anthology Film Archives. During this time, Polidori worked on four experimental films, exhibited in 1975 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1980 he graduated with a Masters of Arts in film from State University of New York (Buffalo).

Polidori became interested in still photography while editing film frame-by-frame. Inspired by Frances Yates' description in The Art of Memory of mnemonic systems requiring the memorization of empty rooms, he purchased a large-format camera in 1982 and photographed abandoned and apartments on New York's Lower East Side. In 1983 he moved to Paris and, interested in how empty spaces revealed history, began to document the restoration of Château de Versailles as a symbol of "society’s superego". In the late 1990s, Polidori was engaged by The New Yorker to photograph Havana’s decaying architectural heritage and joined the magazine as a staff photographer in 1998. Images from his Cuban series were later published in Havana (2001) by Steidl Verlag. Also interested in inner-city habitats or "auto-constructed" growth, Polidori recorded the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the urban sprawl of Brasilia, the construction boom in Dubai, and the slums of Mumbai. In May 2001, he photographed the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant and nearby ghost town of Pripyat, Ukraine, and these images were later published as Zones of Exclusion – Pripyat and Chernobyl (2003). In 2002 Polidori was commissioned to photograph Detroit's Michigan Central Station for Metropolis (architecture magazine). Described by editor Martin C. Pedersen as "a keen observer of the built world", the magazine later published his urban images as Robert Polidori's Metropolis (2005).

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Polidori photographed the damaged homes and buildings of New Orleans, and documented the city's early restoration in 2006. Published as After the Flood (2006) by Steidl Verlag, many of these images were also exhibited at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as New Orleans after the Flood, a popular and well-attended exhibition. Exhibitions of After the Flood were also mounted in London, Venice, and Toronto, as well as in New Orleans. During this time, Polidori continued to document the restoration of Château de Versailles and these photographs, published in the three-volume Parcours Muséologique Revisité (2009), were included in his retrospective exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.

Polidori returned to Beirut in 2010 where he photographed the damaged rooms of the famous Hotel Petra, abandoned during Lebanon’s civil war. The following year, he traveled to Paris to photograph the stored art collection of Yves Saint Laurent (designer), and to Venice to photograph the fashion label Bottega Veneta's fall 2011 campaign at the Palazzo Papadopoli. From 2011 to 2015 Polidori also revisited and rephotographed Rio as well as Mumbai, including Dharavi's industrial street facade in a series of tracking shots. Exhibited as composite panoramic murals at Paul Kasmin Gallery (New York) in September 2016, these images were also published in the accompanying volume 60 Feet Road by Steidl Verlag.

Since 2015, Polidori and his family live in Ojai, California.

Source: Wikipedia


My photos are physical graphic records. A lot of the places I’ve photographed simply won’t exist – many have already ceased to exist in the state that they were photographed in. They’ve been bulldozed over. Photography is collective memory – that’s its nature...

-- Robert Polidori


 

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George Zimbel
United States / Canada
1929
George S. Zimbel (born July 15, 1929) is an American-Canadian documentary photographer. He has worked professionally since the late 1940s, mainly as a freelancer. He was part of the Photo League and is one of its last surviving members. Born in Massachusetts, he settled in Canada about 1971. His works have been shown with increasing frequency since 2000, and examples of his work are part of several permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. George Zimbel has been described as a humanist. He has published several books of his photographs and in 2016 was the subject of a documentary retrospective film co-directed by his son Matt Zimbel and distributed by the National Film Board of Canada. Born George Sydney Zimbel in Woburn, Massachusetts, son of a dry goods store owner, he attended Woburn High School and was the school's yearbook photographer. He later studied at the Photo League under John Ebstel. George Zimbel then enrolled in Columbia University in New York where he became the school's news photographer. There he met art student Garry Winogrand and introduced Winogrand to photography. They used the school's darkroom late at night to avoid crowding at other times of the day, and they called themselves the "Midnight to Dawn Club". Both Zimbel and Winogrand later both studied under Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research on scholarships in 1951. He next met Edward Steichen, the then curator of the Museum of Modern Art who showed Zimbel original prints by early masters of photography, and this sealed his decision to take up photography as a career. On Steichen's advice, he had a stint as a photographer with the US Army and spent 2 years in Europe during the restoration period following World War II. On his return to America, he became a freelance photographer. One of his early opportunities was the famous Marilyn Monroe shoot on Lexington Avenue in 1954 to promote her film The Seven Year Itch, at which Monroe wore her famous white dress. Zimbel never sold any of these images and packed them away until 1976, whereupon he printed them and began to show them in solo exhibitions. He was married to Elaine Sernovitz in 1955. A professional writer, she has collaborated with George Zimbel on travelogues and other works. George and Elaine Zimbel had four children including jazz musician Matt Zimbel, founder of Manteca. Matt Zimbel co-produced and co-directed (with Jean-Francois Gratton) a documentary film about his father called Zimbelism, released in 2016. In 1971, Zimbel and his family moved to the small community of Argyle Shore, Queens County, Prince Edward Island where they raised animals for the next 10 years at a farm they called "Bona Fide Farm". After their children moved away, he and his wife relocated to Montreal, where they still reside. Though he was widely published in publications such as the New York Times, Look, Redbook and Architectural Digest in the 1950s and 60s, he did not become widely recognized until a retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted at the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern in Spain in 2000. Since then he has had several major shows around the world.Source: Wikipedia The American-Canadian humanist photographer George S. Zimbel is one of the last elders of photography faithful to the legacy of the Photo League, who in the fifties imbued their pictures with a personal commitment towards the people and the social landscapes they documented. Zimbel’s work is collected by major museums internationally, he has published numerous books and in 2016 he was the subject of an award winning feature documentary on his work called Zimbelism. George’s collection is now managed by his children. The collection consisting of prints printed by George, negatives and colour slides is in the process of being cataloged. Cataloging of the prints has been completed. The thousands of colour slides, and hundred of thousand negatives will be an on going project. In an era of increased manipulation of the photographic image by computer technology, Zimbel’s commitment to the “straight” photograph has become stronger. He sees the early 21st century as a period in which classic photography will have it’s last flowering. "My work begins with recording an image, but it is not finished until I have made a fine print. That is my photograph. A lot goes into a finished documentary photograph: a very personal view of life, a knowledge of technique, and of course, information. It is the information that grabs the viewer, but it is the photographer’s art that holds them." – George S. ZimbelSource: georgezimbel.com
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