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James Fee
James Fee

James Fee

Country: United States
Birth: 1949 | Death: 2006

James Fee was an American photographer best known for his photographs of abandoned factories and lonely highways. He was born in the town of Knoxville, Iowa. Fee drove from Iowa to California after graduating from high school and settled in San Francisco. He married Sharon Kitzman in San Francisco. Fee has also lived in New York City and Los Angeles.

A Graflex Norita 66 with extension tubes, tele-extenders, and mid-century telephoto lenses was used for much of Fee's earlier personal work. The camera and equipment were stolen in the early 1990s while he was working on his "Photographs of Americana" series. Fee discovered that it was difficult to replace the camera and began experimenting with the Russian-made Kieve 90 with lens embellishments. Fee appreciated the irony of finishing the series with a Russian camera.

Because of Fee's approach to photography, museum curators gave his exhibitions titles like "American Noir" and "The Weight of Time." His photographs can be found in the permanent collections of the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, the William Benton Museum of Art, and the Getty Museum. Fee once worked with sculptor George Herms, who shared his love of the Beat Generation.

Fee later taught photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, from 1994 to 2003. He began teaching at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in 1993. Fee photographed images he thought represented declining cultural icons in the United States, such as crumbling drive-in movie theaters and rusted, abandoned cars.

During World War II, Fee's father, Russell James Fee, served in the United States Navy as a medical corpsman attached to the Marine Corps. During a tense battle on Peleliu Island in 1944, he captured images of his fellow sailors and Marines as well as the aftermath of battles. Russell Fee passed away in 1972.

In 1998, James Fee visited Peleliu Island and photographed remnants of World War II battles, such as rusted and overgrown tanks, roads, and the tip of a sunken Japanese fighter plane. He attempted to photograph the same scenes that his father had captured more than 50 years before.

Fee created an exhibit called the "Peleliu Project" in which he artistically combined his own photographs with images taken by his father. The exhibition toured the United States and was first shown at the Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica in 2001 before being permanently housed at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts.

James Fee is survived by his wife of 30 years, Elena Stoyanov (NJ), and Illya Eric Isaac Fee (CA), his son from his first marriage.

Fee was found dead in Beverly Hills, California. Hepatitis C and liver cancer were the causes of his death. At the time of his father's death, Illya Fee was by his side.

 

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