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Marion Post Wolcott
Photograph of Wolcott, "Up Stinking Creek, Pine Mountain, Kentucky," February 1940
Marion Post Wolcott
Marion Post Wolcott

Marion Post Wolcott

Country: United States
Birth: 1910 | Death: 1990

Marion Post (later Marion Post Wolcott) (June 7, 1910 - November 24, 1990) was a noted American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression documenting poverty and deprivation. She was born in New Jersey. Her parents split up and she was sent to boarding school, spending time at home with her mother in Greenwich Village when not at school. Here she met many artists and musicians and became interested in dance. She studied at The New School.

She trained as a teacher, and went to work in a small town in Massachusetts. Here she saw the reality of the Depression and the problems of the poor. When the school closed she went to Europe to study with her sister Helen. Helen was studying with Trude Fleischmann, a Viennese photographer. Marion showed Fleischmann some of her photographs and was told to stick to photography. While in Vienna she saw some of the Nazi attacks on the Jewish population and was horrified. Soon she and her sister had to return to America for safety. She went back to teaching but also continued her photography and became involved in the anti-fascist movement. At the New York Photo League she met Ralph Steiner and Paul Strand who encouraged her.

When she found that the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin kept sending her to do "ladies' stories," Ralph Steiner took her portfolio to show Roy Stryker, head of the Farm Security Administration, and Paul Strand wrote a letter of recommendation. Stryker was impressed by her work and hired her immediately. Her photographs for the FSA often explore the political aspects of poverty and deprivation. They also often find humour in the situations she encountered. In 1941 she met Lee Wolcott. When she had finished her assignments for the FSA she married him, and later had to fit in her photography around raising a family and a great deal of travelling and living overseas.

Source: Wikipedia


A biographical sketch by Linda Wolcott-Moore:

"As an FSA documentary photographer, I was committed to changing the attitudes of people by familiarizing America with the plight of the underprivileged, especially in rural America... FSA photographs shocked and aroused public opinion to increase support for the New Deal policies and projects, and played an important part in the social revolution of the 30s", said Marion Post Wolcott.

Beginning in September of 1938, Wolcott spent three and a half years photographing in New England, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. A photographic pioneer on America's ragged economic frontier, Wolcottt survived illness, bad weather, rattlesnakes, skepticism about a woman traveling alone and the sometimes hostile reaction of her subjects in order to fulfill her assignments from the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Unique among FSA photographers, Wolcott showed the extremes of the country's rich and poor in the late 30's, its race relations, and the fertile land formed with government assistance, which revealed the benefits of federal subsidies. Her work has a formal control, emotional reticence and keen wit.(...) Marion Post entered the 20th Century on June 7, 1910, one of two daughters of Marion (Nan) Hoyt Post and Dr. Walter Post. The Posts were a prominent family in Montclair, New Jersey where Dr. Post was the local physician, a homeopathist, in those days, the leading type of medicine. The Posts ended their marriage when Marion was a young teenager, and she and sister Helen were packed off to boarding school. At Edgewood School in Greenwich, Connecticut, removed from the trials of her parents’ bitter and heart-rending divorce, Marion thrived in a progressive atmosphere which fostered open inquiry, flexibility and individuality.

Throughout those early years, she also had a very close, loving relationship with the Post’s black housekeeper, Reasie, a relationship that gave Marion an ease and empathy with the blacks she would later photograph in the fields and juke joints of the deep South. On weekends and in the summer--whenever possible--she spent time with her mother, Nan, in her tiny Greenwich Village apartment in New York City. Nan was working with Margaret Sanger helping to set up health and birth control clinics around the country, a pioneer in her own right and an inspiration to Marion. In "The Village," mother and daughter hung out with musicians, artists, writers and members of the theatrical crowd, went to art exhibits, lectures and concerts, and after graduation from Edgewood, Marion fell in love with, and began studying, modern dance. At the same time she was working her way through school as a teacher of young children, pursuing her interest in early childhood education at the New School for Social Research, and then at New York University.

As the Great Depression began to impact the working people around her, she witnessed dramatic class differences among those living in the small Massachusetts town where she was then teaching.(...) Soon after, in 1932, Marion traveled to Europe to study dance in Paris, and later, child psychology at the University of Vienna. There she met Trude Fleischmann, a Viennese photographer with whom her sister Helen was studying. Upon seeing Marion's first photographic images, Trude encouraged her to continue. "Sis," you've got a good eye," she exclaimed, a line Marion Post would never forget, although she was quite reticent about encroaching upon the territory of her sister, Helen, long considered the artist in the family. Meanwhile, a horrified young Marion and Helen were witnessing the rise of Nazism and Fascism in Europe. Of their friends, again many were musicians, artists, and young intellectuals. Many also were Jewish, and Marion watched as swastikas burned in front of the homes of her anti-Nazi friends, and their fields and fences were set ablaze. She was further rocked by the assassination, during the winter of 1933-34, of Austrian Chancelor Dolfuss and the bombing of apartments of socialist workers near Vienna. Lending a hand, she spent several months working in the local schools with the children of Austrian workers. It was too dangerous, however, for her to stay; the University of Vienna had been closed, and Marion was told either to return home or give up her small allowance. Back in the States, she took a teaching position at the progressive Hessian Hills School at Croton-on-Hudson.

Here she began taking more photographs and making her first prints. Close to New York, she also became active in the League Against War and Fascism, and, together with Helen, helped Jews, including Trude Fleischmann, leave Europe and immigrate to the United States. She had friends in the socially and politically concerned Group Theatre who became both subjects and clients, and she published her first work in Stage Magazine. Encouraged by her progress, a year later, at twenty-five, Marion moved to New York and began freelancing, even landing a picture on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. She also began attending meetings of the New York Photo League, an important organization that was influencing many of the country's best young photographers. There Marion met Ralph Steiner and Paul Strand who, upon seeing her work, asked her to join a group of serious young photographers who met at Steiner's apartment to discuss and critique each other's photography.(...)

Needing more certain wages, Marion accepted a position as a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. As a young woman, however, she was required to do stories on the latest fashion and events for the ladies' page, hardly compelling assignments for a young woman of 25 with her background and experiences! Mentioning her frustrations to Ralph Steiner one day, he took her portfolio with him to Washington, to Roy Stryker, head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker was impressed, asked to meet her. So, armed with letters of recommendation from no less than Paul Strand and Ralph Steiner, Marion Post set off for Washington. She was hired immediately, and joined the ranks of the other FSA photographers, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, and Arthur Rothstein, among them. From 1938 through 1941, Marion produced many of the most vividly moving of the more than 100,000 images in the FSA archives, reflecting her many years of social and political involvement, her strength and independence, and her deep sensitivity to the children and families of the less fortunate. The Farm Security Administration had been mandated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to assist American farmers who had suffered grievously during the Depression. Families were stranded and starving; soil was worn out, unfit for production.(...)

Segregation and discrimination; humiliation and condescension; labor movements; eroded, worn-out land; dirty, sick, malnourished children; overcrowded schools. She traveled primarily alone, got tired and lonely and sick and burned out. She had to wrap her camera in hot water bottles to keep the shutters from freezing; write captions at night in flimsy motel rooms while fending off the men trying to enter through the transoms; deal with southern social workers, suspicious cops, chiggers and mosquitoes; mud, heat, and humidity.(...)

In 1941, Marion met the man she wanted to marry--Lee Wolcott, a handsome, bright assistant to Henry Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture under President Roosevelt. Marion completed her assignments and left the FSA in order to raise a family, tend their farms, and later to live and travel extensively overseas. Both passionate, eager, curious, intellectual, they developed interesting modern art and music collections; had interesting, involved friends; were deeply committed to the raising and educating of four accomplished children, and with mentoring their grandchildren. Although she did not again work as a "professional," largely due to the demands of family and overseas living and traveling, she captured numerous serious images of farming in rural Virginia, and later in Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. Upon returning to the States, she taught and photographed American Indian children in New Mexico, did a series on the ‘70’s counter-culture in Isla Vista, California, and in Mendocino, California. She also was actively involved with the photography communities in both San Francisco and Santa Barbara where she helped, encouraged, and inspired, and was loved by many younger artists, worked with museum and gallery curators, and, in the 80’s, at the urging of the same, undertook a massive project to produce an archive of fine prints of her work of both the FSA and later years.(...)

Letter from Paul Strand:

"Dear Roy
It gives me pleasure to give this note of introduction to Marion Post because I know her work well. She is a young photographer of considerable experience who has made a number of very good photographs on social themes in the South and elsewhere... I feel that if you have any place for a conscientious and talented photographer, you will do well to give her an opportunity."

--Paul Strand 6-20-38

Marion's favorite image:

"I guess if I had to pick one, just one, favorite image, it would be the Negro Man Going Up the Stairs of the Movie Theatre. I think it says the most about me, about what I was trying to do and trying to say." (Conversation with her daughter, Linda)

 

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Soon after Aperture magazine was founded by many of these same individuals. White volunteered for and was approved as editor, and the first issue appeared in April 1952. Aperture quickly became one of the most influential magazines about photography, and White remained as editor until 1975. Near the end of 1952 White's father, from whom he had been estranged for many years, died in Long Beach, California. In 1953 Walter Chappell introduced White to the I Ching, an ancient Chinese book of philosophy and divination, and White continued to be influenced by and refer to this text throughout the rest of his life. He was especially intrigued by the concepts of yin and yang, in which apparently opposite or contrary forces may be conceived as complementary. Later that same year a reorganization at CSFS resulted in White's teaching role being cut back, and as a result he began to think about a change in his employment. 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By 1955 White was fully engaged in teaching, having been appointed as instructor at the new four-year photography program at RIT as well as conducting classes and workshops at Ohio University and Indiana University. Walter Chappell moved to Rochester later in the year to work at the George Eastman House. Chappell engaged White in long discussions about various Eastern religions and philosophies. White began practicing Zen meditation and adopted a Japanese style of decoration in his house. Over the next two years the discussions between White and Chappell metamorphosed into lengthy discourses about the writing and philosophy of George Gurdjieff. White gradually became an adherent of Gurdjieff's teachings and started to incorporate Gurdjieff's thinking into the design and implementation of his workshops. Gurdjieff's concepts, for White, were not just intellectual exercises but guides to experience, and they greatly influenced much of his approach to teaching and photography throughout the rest of his life. During this same period White began making his first color images. Although he is better known for his black-and-white photography, he produced many color photographs. His archive contains nearly 9,000 35mm transparencies taken between 1955 and 1975. In 1959 White mounted a large exhibition of 115 photos of his Sequence 13/Return to the Bud at the George Eastman House. It was his largest exhibition to date. It later traveled to the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. White was invited to teach a 10-days', all-expense paid workshop in Portland to accompany the exhibition. He took advantage of the funding to photograph landscapes and did nature studies across the country. From his experience in Portland he developed the idea for a full-time residential workshop in Rochester in which students would learn through both formal sessions and, following a combination of thinking from Gurdjieff and from Zen, through an understanding gained by the discipline of such tasks as household chores and early morning workouts. He would continue this style of residential teaching until he died. In the early 1960s White also studied hypnosis and incorporated the practice into some of his teachings as a way of helping students experience photographs. White continued to teach extensively both privately and at RIT for the next several years. During this time he traveled across the U.S. in the summers taking photographs along the way. In his journal he referred to himself during this period as "The Wanderer," which had both literal and metaphorical meanings due to his search for understanding life. In 1962 he met Michael Hoffman, who became a friend, colleague and, later, assumed the editorship of Aperture magazine. White later named Hoffman to be the executor of his will. In 1965 White was invited to help design a newly formed program in visual arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. After being appointed as a Visiting Professor, White moved to the Boston area and purchased a 12-room house in suburban Arlington so he could increase the size of his residential workshops for selected students. Soon after moving to the Boston area, he completed a different kind of sequence called Slow Dance, which he would later integrate into his teachings. He continued to explore how people understand and interpret photography and began to incorporate techniques of Gestalt psychology into his teachings. In order to help his students experience the meaning of "equivalence," he started requiring them to draw certain subjects as well as photograph them. White began to experience periodic discomfort in his chest in 1966, and his doctor diagnosed his ailment as angina. His symptoms continued throughout the rest of his life, leading him to intensify his study of spiritual matters and meditation. He turned to astrology in an attempt to increase his understanding about life, and his interest in it became so significant that he required all of his current and prospective students to have their horoscopes completed. By this point in his life White's unorthodox teaching methods were well established, and students who went through his workshops were both mystified and enlightened by the experience. One student who later became a Zen monk said "I really wanted to learn to see the way he did, to capture my subjects in a way that didn't render them lifeless and two-dimensional. I didn't realize that Minor was teaching us exactly that: not only to see images, but to feel them, smell them, taste them. He was teaching us how to be photography." White began writing the text for Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations, which was the first monograph of his photographs, in late 1966, and three years later the book was published by Aperture. It included 243 of his photographs and text, including poems, notes from his journal and other writings. Peter Bunnell, who was one of White's early students and then Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote a lengthy biography of White for the book. During this same time White completed Sequence 1968, a series of landscape images from his recent travels. During the next several years White conceived of and directed four major themed photography exhibitions at MIT, starting with "Light7" in 1968 and followed by "Be-ing without Clothes" in 1970, "Octave of Prayer" in 1972 and "Celebrations" in 1974. Anyone could submit images for the shows, and White spent a great deal of time personally reviewing all of the submissions and selecting the final images. White continued to teach extensively and make his own photographs even though his health was declining. He devoted more and more time to his writing and began a long text he called "Consciousness in Photography and the Creative Audience," in which he referred to his 1965 sequence Slow Dance and advanced the idea that certain states of heightened awareness were necessary to truly read a photograph and understand its meaning. In order to complete this work he applied for and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970, and Consciousness in Photography and the Creative Audience became required reading for a new course he taught at MIT called "Creative Audience." in 1971 he traveled to Puerto Rico to explore more of his color photography, and in 1974 and 1975 he journeyed to Peru to teach and to further his own Gurdjieff studies. In 1975 White traveled to England to lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum and to teach classes at various colleges. He continued on a hectic travel schedule for several weeks, then flew directly to the University of Arizona in Tucson to take part in a symposium there. When he returned to Boston after nearly six weeks of travel, he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized for several weeks. After this White's focus turned even more inward, and he photographed very little. He spent much of his time with his student Abe Frajndlich, who made a series of situational portraits of White around his home and in his garden. A few months before his death White published a short article in Parabola magazine called "The Diamond Lens of Fable" in which he associated himself with Gilgamesh, Jason and King Arthur, all heroes of old tales about lifelong quests. On June 24, 1976, White died of a second heart attack while working at his home. He bequeathed all of his personal archives and papers, along with a large collection of his photographs, to Princeton University. He left his house to Aperture so they could continue the work he started there. Source: Wikipedia
Flor Garduño
Mexico
1957
Flor Garduño was born in Mexico and studied visual arts at the Academy of San Carlos (UNAM), where she focused on the search for the structural aspects of form and space. She became especially interested in the work of Kati Horna, a Hungarian photographer whose communicative dimension of her photographs had a great impact on the development of Garduño's aesthetic. She gave up her studies to work as a darkroom assistant for Manuel Álvarez Bravo, one of Mexico's most prestigious photographers, with whom she strengthened her photographic skills. Since then, Garduño has received numerable prizes, and her work has been exposed and published around the world. Garduño's photos depict the landscapes of Central and South America -- and the people whose ancestors were indigenous to the region. Her photos depict subjects that could have existed in a time long before the present moment, and through photographing them, brings the Indian land of America to the present moment. She addresses time -- past, present, and future -- simultaneously through her photographs. Through her photos we witness the slow procession from life to death, interrupted by comic accidents, childish play, liturgical ceremonies, and erotic repose. Though many themes traverse Garduño's body of work, all ultimately reach the point of incense where, uncertainly, nature, and art blend so that mankind may have a margin of whimsy, freedom, or significance on the face of the gods.Source: Peter Fetterman Gallery Flor Garduño (Born Mexico City, Mexico, 1957) studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Mexico City.  In 1979 she became an assistant to Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Between 1981 and 1982 she traveled with a team of photographers organized by Mariana Yampolsky. The team photographed rural villages throughout Mexico for reading primers published by the Secretariat of Education for Indigenous Communities.  This experience as well as her association with Kati Horn influenced Garduño's photographs, which are usually of country locales and towns depicted in strange and mysterious ways typical of Surrealism in Mexican photography.  Garduño had her first one-person exhibition in 1982 at the Galeria Jose Clemente Orozco in Mexico City.  In 1985, a compendium of six years of her work was published entitled "Magia del Juego Eterno" and in 1987 another book entitled "Bestiarium" was published.  In 1986 she participated in the first photographic exhibition of the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana and in the inauguration of the Kahlo-Coronel Gallery in Mexico City. In 1986 and 1988 she was included in several traveling exhibitions "Reserved for Export" and "Realidades Mágicas" that were seen in the United States and Europe.  1996 Image and Memory, Latin american Photography, 1880-1992  Itinerary: El Museo del Barrio, New York.  Art Gallery of the University of Scranton, PA.  Lowe Art Museum, Florida.  Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.  Crocker Art Museum, CA.  Meadows Museum, Tx.  Akron Art Museum, OH. Her one-person shows were in Paris in 1986, the Museum Volkenkunde de Rotterdam in 1989, the Field Museum of Chicago in 1990 and Montreal in 1991.  Since 1989 she has dedicated herself to photographing the images that appear in her one-person exhibition and monograph, "Witnesses of Time".  The exhibition started at the Americas Society in 1993 and will be traveling across the country to the Museum of Photographic Arts in California as well as various other venues.  Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; and Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico.Source: Throckmorton Fine Art Galleries in the USA:   Peter Fetterman Gallery   Throckmorton Fine Art   Fahey/Klein Gallery   Holden Luntz Gallery   Etherton Gallery   Andrew Smith Gallery
Georgi Zelma
Russia
1906 | † 1984
Georgi Zelma was born in Tashkent in 1906. The family moved to Moscow in 1921 and Zelma eventually found work at the Proletkino film studios. Later he joined the Russfoto Agency and from 1924 to 1927 was their correspondent in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia. A large number of his photographs appeared in Pravda. Zelma served in the Red Army (1927-29) before working briefly in Tashkent. In 1930 Zelma joined Souizfoto Agency and his assignments included taking photographs of collective farms and military exercises. His pictures often appeared in the propaganda magazine, USSR in Construction. During the Second World War Zelma worked for Izvestia and took photographs in Moldova, Odessa and the Ukraine. He also covered the battle of Stalingrad. After the war Zelma worked for the magazine Ogonek and the Novosti Press Agency. Georgi Zelma died in 1984. Source: Spartacus Educational Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1906, Georgii Anatolevich Zelma moved to Moscow with his family in 1921, where he began taking pictures with an old 9 x 12 Kodak camera. His first experiences as a photographer took place at the Proletkino film studios and during theater repetitions for the magazine Teatr. He soon joined the Russfoto agency. From 1924 to 1927, he returned to his homeland as a correspondent for Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia in order to document Islamic culture being reformed by Soviet socialist reconstruction. This work was published in Pravda Vostoka. In 1927, Zelma was enlisted in the ranks of the Red Army, serving in Moscow. After the demobilization in 1929, he returned to Tashkent and worked briefly for the Uzbek cinema chronicles. In Moscow, he entered the team of Soiuzfoto and received a Leica. Through the 1930s, he was sent on assignment to the mines and factories in the Donbass region, to Collective Farms in Tula province and to the Soviet Military maneuvers in the Black Sea region. He worked with Roman Karmen on the stories The USSR from the Air and Ten Years of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Iakutia, which were published in the propaganda magazine “USSR in Construction”. For this magazine he also collaborated with Max Alpert and Aleksandr Rodchenko. During World War II, he was a correspondent for Isvestiia stationed at the front-line campaigns in Moldova, Odessa, and Ukraine. His most memorable photographs are of the Battle of Stalingrad, where he spent the severe winter of 1942-43. After the war, Zelma worked for the magazine Ogonek and from 1962 for the Novosti press agency. He died in 1984. Source: Lumiere Gallery
Sabine Weiss
Switzerland
1924
Sabine Weiss was born in Switzerland in 1924. In 1942, she wonders what she will do with her life, and decides that she should become a photographer because it is what she loves to do. She is the daughter of a mother who showed her art galleries and Roman churches at a very young age, and of a researcher chemist father who loved to see her print her little photos with the resources available at the time. From 1942 until 1945 she was an apprentice at Boissonnas in Geneva, house of a dynasty of photographers that celebrated its 80th birthday. In 1945 Sabine Weiss moved to a studio in Geneva, but in 1946 she decided to leave the city of her childhood to live in Paris. She knew there was no turning back. She asked Willy Maywald to become her assistant. In 1949, she met the painter Hugh Weiss and realized right away that she would spend her life with him. Sabine Weiss left Maywald, where she mastered her craft and started a long career, experimenting fashion, photojournalism, advertising and everything else she was asked to do. During her free time, she liked to immortalize the depths of man in all simplicity. Her photographs moved Edward Steichen when preparing his major exhibition "The Family of Man" therefore he decided to present three of her images. In recent years, Sabine Weiss has dedicated her time to exhibitions that showcase the humanist side of her work because it meant a lot to her. Key dates 1924 July 23rd Birth at Gingolph in Switzerland, Naturalized French in 1995. 1942-45 Apprentice at Boissonas in Geneva 1945 Swiss diploma of photography 1946 Settles permanently in Paris 1946-50 Assistant of Willy Maywald 1950 Weds the American artist Hugh Weiss 1951 Works for several advertising agencies 1952-61 Contract with Vogue Magazine (Fashion and Assignments) 1952 Enters the Agency Rapho 1952 Free-lance for major magazines in the USA and in Europe like Paris Match, Life, Time, Newsweek, Town And Country, Fortune, Holiday, European Travel And Life, Esquire... covering countries in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia. Most recent exhibitions: 2014 Vannes, Festival de la Photo de Mer "Portugal, 1954" 2014 Zürich, Photobastei, Rétrospective 2014 Genève, Galerie Patrick Cramer, Portraits d’artistes (Giacometti et Miro) 2014 Salon de la Photo, Paris, Porte de Versailles, rétrospective « Chère Sabine » (Tribute to the photographer's 90th birthday) Decorations 1987 Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters) 1999 Officier des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) 2010 Ordre national du Mérite (French National Order of Merit) Discover Sabine Weiss' Interview
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Exclusive Interview with Graeme Williams
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