Tony Vaccaro: A Retrospective
June 30 – September 17, 2017
Reception: Friday, June 30, 5-7pm
Monroe Gallery of Photography
112 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501
At the age of 21, Tony was drafted into the war, and by the spring of 1944 he was photographing war games in Wales. By June, now a combat infantryman in the 83rd Infantry Division, he was on a boat heading toward Omaha Beach, six days after the first landings at Normandy. Denied access to the Signal Corps, Tony was determined to photograph the war, and had his portable 35mm Argus C-3 with him from the start. For the next 272 days, Tony fought on the front lines of the war. He entered Germany in December 1944, a private in the Intelligence Platoon, tasked with going behind enemy lines at night. The HBO documentary film “Under Fire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro” tells the story of how Tony survived the war, fighting the enemy while also documenting his experience at great risk, developing his photos in combat helmets at night and hanging the negatives from tree branches. The film also encompasses a wide range of contemporary issues regarding combat photography such as the ethical challenges of witnessing and recording conflict, the ways in which combat photography helps to define how wars are perceived by the public, and the sheer difficulty of staying alive while taking photos in a war zone.
After the war, Tony remained in Germany to photograph the rebuilding of the country for Stars And Stripes magazine. Returning to the US in 1950, Tony started his career as a commercial photographer, eventually working for virtually every major publication: Look, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country, Newsweek, and many more. Tony went on to become one the most sought after photographers of his day, photographing everyone from Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren to Pablo Picasso and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Now 94, Tony still carries a camera and puts in six or seven hours without a break; creating prints in his darkroom and identifying jobs for the staff. Tony’s photographs are in numerous private and public collections including The Metropolitan in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Library of Congress in Washington.
Image: Vacaro, Georgia O’Keeffe and cheese New Mexico, 1960, 3 x 5 vintage print