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John R. Pepper
John R. Pepper
John R. Pepper

John R. Pepper

Country: Italy
Birth: 1958

John Randolph Pepper, (1958) is an Italian photographer, screenwriter, theatre and film director, the son of sculptress Beverly Pepper and journalist/writer Curtis Bill Pepper, editor of Newsweek and manager of its Rome office. He was born and raised in Rome; lives in Palermo and works worldwide.

Pepper started his career in Black & White analogical photography with an apprenticeship to Ugo Mulas at 14. He published his first photograph at 15 and had his first show at 17.

He studied History of Art at Princeton University, where he was also the youngest member of the exclusive painting program, '185 Nassau Street'. He then became a 'Directing Fellow' at The American Film Institute, (Los Angeles) and subsequently worked as a director in theatre and film for 20 years. For thirty years, he dedicated himself to photography while directing both theatre and film. During that time he continued to take photographs with his Leica camera always using the same Ilford HP5 film stock.

John R. Pepper, represented by the Art of Foto Gallery (St. Petersburg, Russia) and The Empty Quarter Gallery (Dubai, UAE), is a 'Cultural Ambassador' of numerous Italian Institutes of Culture in may parts of the world. Since 2008 he has exhibited his different projects 'Rome: 1969 - An Homage to Italian Neo-Realist Cinema', 'Sans Papier', 'Evaporations' in the United States, France, Italy, the Middle East and Russia. He has published three books and is represented in several major museums around the world.

Since 2015 Pepper has been working on his project 'Inhabited Deserts', where he explores deserts and their effect on time, history and people. 'Inhabited Deserts' debuted in Paris in November 2017; in September 2018, with the support of the Italian Embassy in Iran and the Italian Foreign Ministry, Pepper exhibited at the Aaran Projects Gallery in Tehran where he was one of the first Italian photographers since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In November 2018, after participating at Paris Photo with the Galerie Sophie Scheidecker, 'Inhabited Deserts' went to Tel Aviv, Israel, representing Italy at the 6th International Photo Festival 'Photo Is:Rael'.

From December 12th 2018 to February 15th Inhabited Deserts was presented at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai, U.A.E. with curatorial text by Kirill Petrin. Subsequently the show opened on March 19, 2019 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at the Art of Foto Gallery and shortly thereafter, on April 18th, it returned to Tel Aviv at the NOX Contemporary Gallery. In 2020 Inhabited Deserts will be seen in the United States and Italy.

Per John Pepper

"When talking about photography, we're talking about time. The image is fixed in time. We also talk about black and white and color, digital and film, reality and punctum - the critical concept of the French philosopher Roland Barthes, denoting the wounding, personally touching detail, which establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it.

Is a photographer an artist or not? The ones who feel they are, modestly define themselves as artisans. Still others, who do not think of themselves as photographers will snap photos relying on destiny's outcome. Finally, there are the ones who fantasize conceptual sequences snapped in extravagant situations - most of which without interest. About photography, much has been said. There are established masters, schools of thought, and many hopes. Yet whoever is sufficiently open to a vision within himself, who has cherished and assimilated the masters, will emerge with something new. Passion triumphs when backed by culture.

When looking at one of John Pepper's photographs - the one with the group of people, friends and family, in front of their home, for example - I think of Paul Strand's image in his book, published with Zavattini 'Un paese' del 1955. There is a similar gathering of characters at the doorstep of their home. Time here is not just in the shutter time and lens aperture - a sixtieth of a second at eight - but in the transformation of the people, in the process of revealing themselves. With John, however, the appearances differ from those of Strand - moved up in time as evident in the shoes and pants, the motorcycle helmet, the technology of the wheelchair and the modern necklace of the young girl.

They appear happy and to be speaking to the photographer. Despite some apparently expensive upper-class possessions, we perceive they are of a modest condition. In Strand's photograph, there is no doubt they are of peasant culture. Motionless, they stare at the photographer with a serious gaze, though ignorant of the world of images. Today, image is consumerism. It goes beyond diffidence. Everyone can have a camera, a motorcycle helmet and Nike shoes. People are well nurtured; they have even grown in height.

With John the scene is of movement. The characters interact with ease, and the photographer is part of the game. He uses black and white film enhanced by the fine art of printing - images stemming from classical photography.

John was just a boy when he came to my house in Milan, in piazza Castello, above the studio that once belonged to Ugo. I like to think that the darkroom at that time influenced him. Who knows? However, I do believe that Ugo's work helped him to become a photographer.

His reportage in Italy is filtered through the memory of many great photographers - Diane Arbus, Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, the first Richard Avedon, and William Klein to name a few. He has also traveled through Italy, in the streets and byways of youth, finding dramatic, enlightened faces in the theater of life.

His portrait of the religious procession is most beautiful, with a perfect, compact, composition, among astonished angels and those bearing a religious float against a sharp background of light.

John lives and works in Palermo, an outward antithesis of New York. An American born and raised in Italy, it is as an Italian that he grasps the vital spirit, the soul, and the humanity of people. His choice to live in a region like Sicily, so full of contradictions and archaic values, will surely help him in chronicling the history of change in our era.

Then, apart from making art, he will have absorbed it as his own - a part of his life that will recur in defining time, space, and the evolution of the human condition."

Antonia Mulas, Todi, May 5, 2012
 

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Marna Clarke
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Germany / United States
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Ruth Bernhard (October 14, 1905 – December 18, 2006) was a German-born American photographer. She was born in Berlin to Lucian Bernhard and Gertrude Hoffmann. Lucian Bernhard was known for his poster and typeface design, many of which bear his name and are still in use. Bernhard's parents divorced when she was 2 years old and she only met her mother twice after the divorce. She was raised by two schoolteacher sisters and their mother. Bernhard's father Lucian was a major proponent of Ruth's work, and advised her frequently. Bernhard studied art history and typography at the Berlin Academy of Art from 1925 to 1927 before moving to New York City to join her father. She worked as an assistant to Ralph Steiner in Delineator magazine, but he terminated her employment for indifferent performance. Using the severance pay, Bernhard bought her own camera equipment. By the late-1920s, while living in Manhattan, Bernhard was heavily involved in the lesbian sub-culture of the artistic community, becoming friends with photographer Berenice Abbott and her lover, critic Elizabeth McCausland. Her first realization that she was attracted to other women occurred on New Year's Eve 1928 when she met the painter Patti Light. She wrote about her "bisexual escapades" in her memoir. In 1934 Bernhard began photographing women in the nude. It would be this art form for which she would eventually become best known. In 1935, she chanced to meet Edward Weston on the beach in Santa Monica. She would later say: "I was unprepared for the experience of seeing his pictures for the first time. It was overwhelming. It was lightning in the darkness ... here before me was indisputable evidence of what I had thought possible—an intensely vital artist whose medium was photography." 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The two moved in together, and remained together for the next ten years in Carmel, California. Here, Bernhard worked with Group f/64. Soon, finding Carmel a difficult place in which to earn a living, they moved to Hollywood where she fashioned a career as a commercial photographer. In 1953, they moved to San Francisco where she became a colleague of photographers such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, and Wynn Bullock. Most of Bernhard's work is studio-based, ranging from simple still lifes to complex nudes. In the 1940s she worked with the conchologist Jean Schwengel. She worked almost exclusively in black-and-white, though there are rumors that she had done some color work as well. She also is known for her lesbian themed works, most notably Two Forms (1962). In that work, a black woman and a white woman who were real-life lovers are featured with their nude bodies pressed against one another. In 1967, Bernhard began a teaching career. This same year, Bernhard met United States Air Force Colonel Price Rice, an African American man ten years younger than her, and the two became lovers. They would remain together until his death in 1999. In her 90s, Bernhard cooperated with biographer Margaretta K. Mitchell in the book Ruth Bernhard, Between Art and Life, publicly revealing her many affairs with women and men throughout her lifetime. A departure was a collaboration with Melvin Van Peebles (as "Melvin Van"), then a young cable car gripman (driver) in San Francisco. Van Peebles wrote the text and Bernhard took the unposed photographs for The Big Heart, a book about life on the cable cars. In the early 1980s, Bernhard started to work with Carol Williams, owner of Photography West Gallery in Carmel, California. Bernhard told Williams that she knew there would be a book of her photography after her death, but hoped one could be published during her lifetime. Williams approached New York Graphics Society, and several other photographic book publishers, but was advised that "only Ansel Adams could sell black-and-white photography books." Bernhard and Williams decided to sell five limited edition prints to raise the necessary funds to publish a superior quality book of Ruth Bernhard nudes. The ensuing edition was produced by David Gray Gardner of Gardner Lithograph, (also the printer of Adams's books) and was called The Eternal Body. It won Photography Book of the Year in 1986 from Friends of Photography. This book was often credited by Ruth Bernhard as being an immeasurable help to her future career and public recognition. The Eternal Body was reprinted by Chronicle Books and later as a deluxe limited Centennial Edition in celebration of Ruth Bernhard's 100th birthday in October 2005. Carol Williams credited Ruth Bernhard with encouraging her to venture into book publishing, and later published several other photographic monographs. In the 1980s Bernhard also started to work with Joe Folberg. Folberg bought Vision Gallery from Douglas Elliott (who founded it in 1979) in San Francisco in 1982. Bernhard and Folberg worked together until Folberg's death. The gallery split with Debra Heimerdinger taking over operations in North America and Folberg's son Neil moving the "Vision Gallery" to Jerusalem. In 1984 Ruth worked with filmmaker Robert Burrill on her autobiographic film entitled, Illuminations: Ruth Bernhard, Photographer. The film premièred in 1989 at the Kabuki Theater in San Francisco and on local PBS station KQED in 1991. Bernhard was inducted into the Women's Caucus for Art in 1981. Bernhard was hailed by Ansel Adams as "the greatest photographer of the nude". Bernhard died in San Francisco at age 101.Source: Wikipedia
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
Madame d’Ora
Austria
1881 | † 1963
Dora Philippine Kallmus, also known as Madame D'Ora or Madame d'Ora, was an Austrian fashion and portrait photographer. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1881 to a Jewish family, into a privileged background and coming of age amidst the creative and intellectual atmosphere of fin-de-siècle Vienna, Kallmus was extremely well cultured. Her father was a lawyer. Her sister, Anna, was born in 1878 and deported in 1941 during the Holocaust. Although her mother, Malvine (née Sonnenberg), died when she was young, her family remained an important source of emotional and financial support throughout her career. At age 23 while on a trip to the Côte d’Azur, she purchased her first camera, a Kodak box camera. She became interested in the photography field while assisting the son of the painter Hans Makart, and in 1905 she was the first woman to be admitted to theory courses at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Graphic Training Institute), which in 1908 granted women access to other courses in photography. That same year she became a member of the Association of Austrian photographers. She was the first woman photographer in Vienna to open her own studio and in May 1906, she was listed in the commercial register as a photographer for the first time. She established her studio called the Atelier d’Ora or Madame D'Ora-Benda with Arthur Benda. The name was based on the pseudonym "Madame d'Ora", which she used professionally. Self-styled simply as d’Ora, she initially took portraits of friends and members from her social circle. In the autumn of 1909, an exhibition of her work received a lively response from the press. Critics both praised the artistic style of her portraits and emphasized the prominent individuals who streamed in to view the show. Over the course of her lifetime, d’Ora turned her lens on many artists, including Josephine Baker, Colette, Gustav Klimt, Tamara de Lempicka, and Pablo Picasso, among others. Alongside these commissions, she also photographed members of the Habsburg family and Viennese aristocracy, the Rothschild family, and other prominent cultural figures and politicians. D’Ora had close ties to avant-garde artistic circles and captured members of the Expressionist dance movement with her lens, including Anita Berber and Sebastian Droste. Fashion and glamor subjects were another important mainstay of her business. She regularly photographed Wiener Werkstätte fashion models and the designer Emilie Flöge of the Schwestern Flöge salon wearing artistic reform dresses. When d’Ora moved to Paris in 1925, she shifted her focus to fashion, covering the couture scene and leading lights of the period until 1940. She befriended key figures, such as the French milliner Madame Agnès and the Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, as well as the top fashion magazine editors of the day. She also helped create and sustain glamorous images for a variety of celebrities, including Cecil Beaton, Maurice Chevalier, and Colette. When the Nazis seized control of Paris in 1940, she was forced to close her studio and flee. She spent the war years in a semi-underground existence living in Ardèche in the southeast of France. Her sister Anna Kallmus, along with other family and friends, died in the Chełmno concentration camp. After World War II, d’Ora returned to Paris, profoundly affected by personal losses. While she lacked an elegant studio in Paris, d’Ora’s lasting connections to wealthy clients remained and many of them returned to her. While she accepted portrait commissions, mostly for financial stability, she also pushed into new, sometimes darker directions. Around 1948, she embarked on an astonishing series of photographs in displaced persons or refugee camps, which was commissioned by the United Nations. From around 1949 to 1958, d’Ora worked on a project, which she called “my big final work.” She visited numerous slaughterhouses in Paris, and amid the pools of blood and deathly screams, she stood in an elegant suit and a hat photographing the butchered animals hundreds of times. She died on 28 October 1963. Four years prior, she had sustained injuries after being hit by a motorcycle in Paris, resulting in her returning to Vienna.Source: Wikipedia
André Kertész
Hungary
1894 | † 1985
André Kertész, born Kertész Andor, was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his groundbreaking contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay. In the early years of his career, his then-unorthodox camera angles and style prevented his work from gaining wider recognition. Kertész never felt that he had gained the worldwide recognition he deserved. Today he is considered one of the seminal figures of photojournalism. Expected by his family to work as a stockbroker, Kertész pursued photography independently as an autodidact, and his early work was published primarily in magazines, a major market in those years. This continued until much later in his life, when Kertész stopped accepting commissions. He served briefly in World War I and moved to Paris in 1925, then the artistic capital of the world, against the wishes of his family. In Paris he worked for France's first illustrated magazine called VU. Involved with many young immigrant artists and the Dada movement, he achieved critical and commercial success. Due to German persecution of the Jews and the threat of World War II, Kertész decided to emigrate to the United States in 1936, where he had to rebuild his reputation through commissioned work. In the 1940s and 1950s, he stopped working for magazines and began to achieve greater international success. His career is generally divided into four periods, based on where he was working and his work was most prominently known. They are called the Hungarian period, the French period, the American period and, toward the end of his life, the International period. Source: Wikipedia André Kertész (1894–1985) has been hailed as one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century. Working intuitively, he captured the poetry of modern urban life with its quiet, often overlooked incidents and odd, occasionally comic, or even bizarre juxtapositions. He endeavored "to give meaning to everything" about him with his camera, "to make photographs as by reflection in a mirror, unmanipulated and direct as in life." Combining this seemingly artless spontaneity with a sophisticated understanding of composition, Kertész created a purely photographic idiom that celebrates direct observation of the everyday. Neither a surrealist, nor a strict photojournalist, he nevertheless infused his best images with strong tenets of both. "You don't see" the things you photograph, he explained, "you feel them." Born Kertész Andor in Budapest, he received his first camera in 1912 and immediately began to make intimate portraits of family and friends, studies of the Hungarian countryside, and scenes of daily life behind the battle lines of World War I. Seeking to make a living through photography, he moved in 1925 to Paris, where he established a successful career as a photojournalist. Buoyed by this accomplishment and inspired by the vibrant artistic community of the French capital, he created some of the most intriguing and celebrated images of the period. In 1936 Kertész relocated to New York in order to further his career. Captivated by the rich visual spectacle of the city and awed by its scale, he used the camera to record both his fascination with, and sense of alienation from, his new surroundings. The images attest to a complicated personal history borne through the political upheavals of two wars and life in three countries. He died at age ninety-one. This exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of Kertész's rich and varied career. Source: The International Center of Photography
William Carrick
Scotland / Russia
1827 | † 1878
William Carrick was a Scottish-Russian artist and photographer. The son of a timber merchant, Andrew Carrick (died 1860), and Jessie née Lauder, he was born in Edinburgh on 23 December 1827. Only a few weeks old, the Carrick family took William with them to the port of Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland. Andrew had been trading with this port for some time, and the family would stay there for 16 years. In 1844, the family moved to Saint Petersburg, where William became a student at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, studying architecture under the renowned Alexander Brullov. By 1853 he had completed his studies there, moving to Rome to undertake further studies. Although his family's business collapsed during the Crimean War, in 1856 William Carrick returned to Saint Petersburg to become a photographer. However, in the summer of the following year he departed for Edinburgh to gain more experience of photography. There he met the photographic technician John MacGregor. In October, he returned to Russia, taking MacGregor with him in the aim of establishing a business and career. He opened a studio (or atelier) at 19 Malaya Morskaya Street, Saint Petersburg, making MacGregor his assistant. Carrick quickly made a name for himself capturing pictures of Russian life and pioneering Russian ethnographic photography, obtaining the patronage of Grand Duke Konstantine Nicholaievich of Russia. In 1862, Nicholas Alexandrovich, Tsesarevich of Russia ordered him a portrait, and was satisfied with it, therefore granted him with a diamond ring. In 1865, Count Mihaly Zichy hired Carrick to take pictures of his watercolours, in order to resell them as prints. Carrick did similar business with other artists, Ivan Kramskoi, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Nikolai Ge; after his death in 1879 many of these were published in his Album of Russian Artists. Carrick and MacGregor made several rural expeditions, including in 1871 a monthlong trip to Simbirsk province. He amassed a large collection of photographs depicting the lives of Russian and Mordovian peasants. In 1872 his colleague MacGregor died, leaving Carrick in despair. Despite this, Carrick continued his work. In 1876, he became photographer of the Academy of Arts, obtaining a studio in the Academy for his photography. An exhibition of his works was held in the Russian capital in 1869, followed by exhibitions at London (1876) and Paris (1878), all to great acclaim. Carrick died of pneumonia, at Saint Petersburg, on 11 November 1878. William Carrick was noted in Russia for his height, which was 6 foot and 4 inches. He had married once, to one Aleksandra Grigorievna Markelova (1832–1916), fathering by her two sons, Dmitry and Valery, whilst adopting her son Grigory from an earlier marriage. He trained Grigory as a photographer, while Valery went on to become a famous caricaturist. His wife Aleksandra, nicknamed Sashura, was a liberal and a nihilist, and for a time the only female journalist at the Peterburskie Vedomosti (Saint Petersburg Times).Source: Wikipedia
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Diana Cheren Nygren is a fine art photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her work explores the relationship of people to their physical environment and landscape as a setting for human activity. Her photographs address serious social questions through a blend of documentary practice, invention, and humor.
Exclusive Interview with  Castro Frank
Castro Frank is a Los Angeles based visual artist who has translated his personal experiences of growing up in the San Fernando Valley into a signature journalistic and candid approach to photography.
Exclusive Interview with Emerald Arguelles
Emerald Arguelles is a photographer and editor based in Savannah, GA. As a young visual artist, Emerald has become an internationally recognized photographer through her explorations and capturing of Black America.
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