Premier Magazine Photographer Rediscovered
Guy Gillette at the Hudson River Museum
YONKERS , NY . August 8, 2006 — Since the 1940s, Guy Gillette has photographed America ’s news and newsmakers as well as the quieter moments reflective of the nation’s culture. Approximately 65 original photographs are included in Guy Gillette: Photographs at the Hudson River Museum , the photographer’s first solo museum exhibition, on view from September 30, 2006 through January 7, 2007 .
“The years of the 30s through the 70s were great years for magazine photography and for us, the photographers, who contributed,” Gillette said.
Actor, author, and photographer, Gillette saw the United States evolve through wars, shifting perspectives of culture, and a changing, exciting panoply of heroes — leaders of government, icons of film and theater, and mavens from the corporate world.
“In a good photograph, something happens,” Gillette said. From his photograph of a gravely ill Jacqueline Susann in a limo, whisked from engagement to engagement, to his quickly caught shot of President Eisenhower at a state dinner being patted on his bald pate, there is action.
Gillette has met and photographed them all. And, he has opinions. Gillette on Salvatore Dali:
I thought Dali was a bore. Always trying to look deadpan. He sought to eliminate all emotion from his public façade. I remember he flirted a great deal with the woman who was writing his profile, saying she reminded him of a Northern Italian blonde. He refused to speak English to us, even though he spoke some. Neither the writer nor I came away very happy with him.
For decades, his photographs appeared on the pages of Fortune, This Week, and Harper’s Bazaar, and the national Sunday magazine for the Herald Tribune; Theatre Arts Magazine; Life; and The New York Times Magazine. Along the way he gave up his Rollei and its square format for the Leica’s horizontal one.
Gillette’s photographs of noteworthy figures are part of a portfolio that includes interpretive series of the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, the construction of Lincoln Center , and a 6-page spread showing the life of “A Missouri Salesman.” Gillette was included in the Museum of Modern Art ’s landmark The Family of Man exhibition, curated by Edward Steichen in 1955. Trained as an actor, Guy Gillette’s stage career was halted by induction into the World War II Army. After the war, now a budding photographer, Gillette, the former actor, was sympathetic to artists such as the choreographer Agnes DeMille, who allowed him to photograph her for Dance Magazine, as she created a ballet. Photos of Audrey Hepburn, Sarah Vaughn, Elvis Presley and Rogers and Hammerstein followed. A highlight of the Hudson River Museum exhibition is a photograph of Henri Cartier-Bresson, taken by Gillette as both photographers competed for a shot of a nun at a St, Patrick’s Day Parade, leading the notoriously camera-shy Cartier-Bresson to admonish Gillette, “Photographers NEVER photograph photographers.”
A brochure accompanies the exhibition.
The Hudson River Museum is located at 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers NY. minutes from the Saw Mill River Parkway, exit 9, north or southbound.
Information and directions: 914.963.4550 and www.hrm.org.
Museum admission: Adults $5; Seniors 62 & older and children 5-16 $3. Fridays 5 to 8 pm to galleries and the planetarium free