“For Nell Dorr, life itself is the work of art, photography, the means of revealing life.”

Nell DorrRosa- Alone with the sea, 1929 (28.1982)

Nell DorrMother and child, 1940 (33a.1982)

Nell Dorr was immersed in the field of photography from a young age by her father Jon Jacob Becker, who ran a large portrait studio in Cleveland. It was not until 1923, when she moved to Florida with her husband and three daughters that Nell Dorr founded her own studio. She focused on her personal work and had a strong interest in photo murals, which she presented in a one-person show at Merle Sterner Gallery in New York in 1932. In New York, where she had moved to that same year, Dorr met photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen and became fully involved with the pictorial views of photography. Several years later her work was included in Steichen’s significant exhibition The Family of Man at The Museum of Modern Art.
Nell DorrNude, ca. 1939 (26.1982)
Nell DorrLillian Gish, 1908 (24.1982)

The death of her youngest daughter in 1954 brought for Dorr a focus on the relationship of mother and daughter. The publication Mother and Child, which she published that same year, reveals the deep connection between mother and child and Dorr’s talent of capturing the unspoken bond of that love. As Margaretta Mitchel phrased it in 1981She is a story teller. The photography of Nell Dorr is an impressionistic journal of a woman’s inner journey, of her many aspects and archetypes: child, maiden, bride, mother, matriarch, and muse. She does not confront her subject with her camera; she reveals it. Her pictures are windows onto a world of dreams and memories.  For Nell Dorr, life itself is the work of art, photography, the means of revealing Life.

Nell DorrBaby in big bed, 1943 (37.1982)
Nell DorrAbstract, 1968 (42.1982)

In May of this year the Gunn Memorial Library and Museum opened a retrospective of Nell Dorr’s work in her hometown Washington, Conn, a traveling exhibition that was first organized by The Massillon Museum in 2011. In it a series of oral histories with people who knew the photographer, talk about her work and life. The stories weave a picture of a deeply sensitive and caring woman.

Nell Dorr would have turned 122 today, August 27, 2015.

The Nell Dorr Estate is part of the photography collection at The Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas.

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Weegee Wednesday: Dancing is Free at a Summer Barn Dance in Central Park

Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (644.1993)

Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (14854.1993)

Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (645.1993)

Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (649.1993)

Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (242.1996)

Weegee, Dancing is Free in Central Park, July 1945 (16709.1993)

At 1 PM on Saturday, July 14, 1945, at the Mall in Central Park, in front of the bandshell, in Manhattan, the Seventeen Summer Barn Dance was held. Fortunately, (as the bombing of Japan intensified and a few days before the Potsdam Conference) a few days before Naked City was published, Weegee was there… Apparently the Seventeen Magazine sponsored dance was held, in part, because the U.S. armed forces were using a lot of the trains for World War Two troop transportation and many young people couldn’t get to summer camp.

“While Ed Durlacher’s band played old-time tunes, hundreds of young folks joined in the square dancing and in playing country games at a Summer Barn Dance held on the Mall in Central Park last Saturday afternoon.” PM, July 22, 1945, pp. m1-m3. Josh White and his four year old son, Josh Jr., also performed. According to Billboard Magazine, Maurine Cannon and Bob Field were also featured in the Barn Dance.

The Barn Dance was broadcast on WNYC radio, on a program called “Modern Music Barn Dance Central Park” (1-2 PM), after an hour long program called “Music at Work for defense workers” (12-1 PM) and before a Symphonic Matinee broadcast of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto in A-minor (2-3 PM), and a few hours before a program called “Music to Swim By” (5-6 PM), according to a Sunday, July 15, 1945 radio schedule, printed in PM.

It’s not known if Weegee’s photos were published in newspapers at the time. PM published six photos of the Barn Dance by Skippy Adelman, on Sunday July 22, 1945. The photos, perhaps their first time in print, make a delightful page spread in Weegee’s People (1946).

Weegee, Weegee’s People, 1946

Weegee Wednesdays is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Weegee Wednesdays: Everybody’s Happy!

weegee_15627_1993 copy
Weegee, Tuesday Morning, Times Square, August 1945 (15627.1993)

Weegee photographed the celebrations that marked the end of the Second World War 70 years ago this week.

On Friday, August 10, 1945 (a few days after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan), Japan made its first intention to surrender. Weegee photographed the resulting spontaneous and euphoric celebrations in the Garment District.

Weegee, [Celebration in the Garment Center after the Japanese offer to surrender], August 10, 1945 (15619.1993)

Weegee, Celebration in the Garment Center on Japanese offer to surrender, August 10, 1945 (15617.1993)

Weegee wrote on the back of the photo above: “Photo made Friday Aug 10, about 2:20 P.M. on 8th Ave and 35th St. looking north. Celebration in Garment Center, as Japanese offer to surrender.” (This is the closest thing we have to Exif data, it’s rare for prints to have this specificity, it would be a dream come true if all Weegee photos had this type of info written on them.)

weegee_15614_1993 copy
Weegee, Garment Center, August 1945 (15614.1993)

On Tuesday, August 14th, after news of Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration reached New York (Wikipedia) and as the 14th turned into the 15th, Weegee photographed the end of World War Two celebrations, perhaps first downtown, in Little Italy and Chinatown, and then concluding in Times Square.

Weegee, [War Over!], August 1945 (15629.1993)

Weegee, Little Bobby De Marco, age 7 months, at Second Ave. and 9th St., East Side, Tuesday night, after 7 PM, August 1945 (15670.1993)

weegee_2095_1993 copy
Weegee, Tuesday Morning, Times Square, August 1945 (2095.1993)

Weegee, Everybody’s Happy, August 1945 (15648.1993)

Weegee, [Dog at end of war celebrations], August, 1945 (15615.1993)

Weegee Wednesdays is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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World Elephant Day

Marilyn Bridges, Elephants, Zambia (2013.111.15)

Yes, every day is a day, (and many days are many days). For example, there’s Croissant Day and Fun at Work Day (?) (January 30), Darwin Day (February 12), Imaging Technician’s Day (February 30), Pinhole Photography Day (the last Sunday in April), International Jazz Day (April 30), International Museum Day (May 18), World Turtle Day (May 23), National Doughnut Day (June 3), there’s even a New Jersey Day (June 24), Take Your Dog to Work Day (June 24 or 26), World UFO Day(s) (June 24 and July 2), National Ice Cream Day (July 19), Photography Day (August 19), National Honey Bee Day (third Saturday in August), Vesuvius Day (August 24), National Coffee Day (September 29), International Sloth Day (October 19th), World Chocolate Day (October 28), National Cat Day (October 29), and more… Nevertheless, few animals are more deserving of a day of awareness than elephants.

Arthur Rothstein, “With a 500mm telephoto lens, I caught this herd of elephants in a remote area of Kenya. Poaching and environmental hazards are making this a rare sight.” 1970 (216.1989) [45 years later, that’s even more tragic and true.]

“On August 12, 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.”

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August 6, 1945

Carl MydansHiroshima, directly after the fog cleared. Catholic Church in foreground, 1945 (1395.2005)

Bernard Hoffman
, [Residents wander cleared streets bisecting the ruins of buildings reduced to piles of rubble by the atomic bomb, dropped a few months earlier], 1945 (1784.2005)

Unidentified Photographer, [Charred boy’s jacket found near Hiroshima City Hall], November 5, 1945 (2006.1.406)

Unidentified Photographer, [Damaged turbo-generator and electrical panel of Chugoku Electric Company, Minami Sendamachi Substation, Hiroshima], November 18, 1945 (2006.1.96)

Seventy years ago today, on Monday morning, August 6, 1945 at 8:15 AM, the United States dropped the first of two atomic bombs on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later the second bomb hit Nagasaki, officially ending World War II only nine days after the first bomb was dropped and Japan surrendered. Due to the chaos and devastation after the explosions, an official death toll was impossible, but it is estimated that the number of people killed exceeds 200,000.

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Weegee Wednesdays: Weegee and Louis

Weegee (1899-1968), [Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars: Billy Kyle, Trummy Young, Louis Armstrong, Barrett Deems, Barney Bigard], ca. 1953-1955 (9440.1993)

Weegee, [Trummy Young and Louis Armstrong], ca. 1953-1955

Weegee, [Louis Armstrong and Arvell Shaw], ca. 1953-1955

Weegee, [Trummy Young, Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton], ca. 1953-1955

To commemorate Louis Armstrong’s 114th birthday anniversary, the above are four uncommon, unsurpassed and un-cropped photos of Louis Armstrong performing, presumably at the Basin Street jazz club in the middle of the 1950s. (Perhaps these great artists, Weegee and Louis Armstrong, have a few things in common.) Armstrong was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 1, 1901, two years after Weegee, and both grew up very poor and worked a variety of jobs to help support their families. Armstrong and his wife Lucille lived in Corona, Queens, New York from 1943 onward, while Weegee lived in Manhattan for most of his life. Armstrong died on July 6, 1971, two and a half years after Weegee, who died December 27, 1968.

Weegee, With “Satchmo,” Louis Armstrong, ca. 1953-1955 [20627.1993]

Weegee Wednesdays is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Female Fotographer Fridays: Gerda Taro – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Unidentified Photographer, Gerda Taro, Guadalajara Front, July 1937

Gerta Pohorylle, aka Gerda Taro, was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on August 1, 1910. After attending the Königin-Charlotte Realschule in Stuttgart, the Internat Villa Florissant in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Höhere Handelsschule (Business College) in Stuttgart, and the Gaudig Schul in Leipzig, she had to flee to Paris in 1933, where she was first employed as a secretary to the psychoanalyst René Spitz. She soon met André Friedmann and started photographing; in the spring of 1936, they reinvented themselves as Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. From August 1936 on, Taro became a pioneering photojournalist whose brief career consisted almost exclusively of dramatic photographs from the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. Her photographs were widely reproduced in the French and international press. Taro worked alongside Capa, and the two collaborated closely. While covering the crucial Battle of Brunete on July 25, 1937, Taro was struck by a tank and died the next day. She was the first female photographer to be killed while reporting on war.

The Mexican Suitcase, New York: ICP, p. 426

ms091, MS 91, Mexican Suitcase, Spain, Spanish Civil War,
Fred Stein, [Gerda Taro, Paris], 1935, © Estate of Fred Stein

A Gerda Taro Chronology:

August 1, 1910 [105 years ago tomorrow]
Born Gerta Pohorylle in Stuttgart, Germany.

Attends the Königin-Charlotte Realschule in Stuttgart; Internat Villa Florissant in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the Höhere Handelsschule (Business College) in Stuttgart.

Moves to Leipzig and attends the Gaudig Schule.

Placed in “protective” custody by the Nazi government for association with anti-Nazi political activists. In September/ October, she emigrates to Paris, where she lives near the Square de Port-Royal and is employed as a secretary to the psychoanalyst René Spitz.

September 1934

Meets Hungarian-born Endre Ernö Friedmann, who calls himself André in Paris and later becomes Robert Capa.

January 1935
Moves to Rue Peclet.

April 1935
Probably attends a clandestine meeting with the musician and educator Alfred Schmidt-Sas, with whom she was involved in political resistance activities in 1933 (he is murdered by the Nazis in 1943). Moves to the home of Fred and Lilo Stein, Rue Caulaincourt, and does some darkroom work with Fred Stein.

Summer 1935
During a camping trip to the French island of Sainte-Marguerite, André and Gerta fall in love. He begins instructing her in photography. Shortly after, she becomes a sort of business manager for André’s career as a photojournalist.

September 1935
André and Gerta live and work together in Paris in a small apartment near the Eiffel Tower.

October 1935
André’s friend Maria Eisner, founder Of Alliance Photo hires Gerta as an assistant.

February 1936
Gerta receives her first press card, from the Amsterdam-based photographic agency A.B.C Press-Service.

Spring 1936
André and Gerta move to the Hôtel de Blois at Rue Vavin and invent the persona of Robert Capa, a famous and successful American photographer. Thereafter, Gerta presents André’s work under the pseudonym Robert Capa and she adopts the name Gerda Taro.

July 17, 1936
The Spanish Civil War begins.

August 1936
Capa and Taro cover the war in Spain for Vu, arriving in Barcelona on August 5. There Taro photographs the people preparing to defend their city, including a series of images of militiawomen training on the beach outside Barcelona. Mid-month the couple head for the Aragón front, where they stay for a week, then travel on to Madrid. A few days later, they continue south to the Córdoba front, stopping at Toledo and Alcázar.

Gerda Taro, [Republic militiawomen training on the beach, outside Barcelona], August 1936, (368.2002)

Gerda Taro, [Republican militiawoman training on the beach, outside Barcelona], August 1936 (452.1986)

September 1936
On the Cordoba front, while Taro and Capa photograph a group of Republican militiamen at Cerro Muriano, Capa snaps his most famous image, The Falling Soldier (September 5). During the last week of September, the pair return to Paris via Alcázar and Barcelona.

October 1936

Taro and Capa photograph a massive civil-defense drill in Paris.

November-December 1936
Taro travels to Naples to visit fellow Leipziger Georg Kuritzkes, whom she inspires to join the newly formed International Brigades.

February 1937
Mid-month, Capa and Taro return to Spain and photograph in the coastal town of Almería, where the streets are crowded with refugees from Málaga. In Almería, they make their series of photographs of the battleship Jaimie I and then trek along the southern front at Motril and Calahonda. Around this time, they produce an extensive photo-story on the ancient mercury mines of Almadén. They return to Madrid, where they photograph Loyalist trenches in University City. In late February, the pair begin to publish as REPORTAGE CAPA & TARO; the first major photo-story under this by-line appears in Regards, March 18, 1937. Capa returns to Paris and Taro remains in Spain; she is now under contract to the daily French newspaper Ce Soir. The couple’s romance loses momentum. Taro stays at the Casa de Alianza, an expropriated villa in Madrid used by the Alianza de Inteletuales Antifascistas.

Gerda Taro, [Marines playing musical instruments on board the Battleship Jaime I, Ameria, Spain], February 1937 (2002.1.10)

March 1937

Taro begins to stamp works produced outside of her collaboration with Capa as PHOTO TARO. The change marks her growing independence from him. Taro’s work is published regularly in Regards, Ce Soir and Volks-Illustrierte. She covers the Battle of Guadalajara (March 8-23), witnessing the Loyalist victory over Mussolini’s troops and producing the first major reportage to be published as PHOTO TARO (Regards, April 8, 1937). She also photographs on the Jarama front, then travels to Valencia to cover the new People’s Army. She returns to Paris and photographs the huge funeral of the victims of a police raid at Clichy.

April 1937
Taro and Capa wait in Paris for authorization papers for an assignment in Bilbao. By mid-month, they are back in Madrid, Taro travels to the Jarama front and visits the crew of The Spanish Earth, a documentary film by Joris lvens. The couple stay at the Hotel Florida in Madrid, where they keep company with Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and Herbert Matthews from the New York Times. By April 22 or 23, Taro and Capa are back in Paris.

May 1937
During the May Day demonstration in Paris, Capa photographs Taro buying some lilies of the valley (a picture from that series will later be used for the dedication in Death in the Making). Capa goes to Bilbao. Taro also returns to Spain and is already in town when the fascists begin bombing Valencia on May 14. She travels solo to the city to photograph the results of the nightly attacks on the civilian population. At the end of the month, she meets up with Capa and they travel together to the Navacerrada Pass outside Segovia, where they photograph the Loyalist offensive made famous by Hemingway in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

June 1937
Taro and Capa return from the Segovia front and photograph and film in and around Madrid, including a series on workers in a munitions factory. In Carabanchel, a working-class suburb of Madrid, they photograph and film a series on the dinamiteros. On June 16, they cover the funeral of the Republican general Lukacs in Valencia. On June 24 they arrive at the headquarters of the Chapaiev Battalion in Peñarroya on the Córdoba front. Capa films and Taro photographs a reenactment of the battalion’s victory over the fascists at La Granjuela. At the end of June, Taro photographs some fascist deserters near Blasquez.

Gerda Taro, [Blind street musicians, Madrid], June 1937 (498.2002)

July 1937
Taro and Capa cover the opening of the Second International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture in Valencia on July 4. Capa returns to Paris while Taro follows the congress to Madrid and resettles at the Alianza. She covers the Battle of Brunete (July 6), west of Madrid, proving with her pictures that the Republicans have captured the town. On July 7, she rejoins the writers’ congress for an excursion to the Guadalajara front. Back in Paris for a brief vacation, she celebrates Bastille Day with Capa. She returns to Madrid a few days later, then travels with Ted Allan to a battle site located between Villanueva de la Cañada and Brunete. There, on July 25, one day before her return to Paris, Taro and Allan find themselves in the midst of a panicked retreat. They jump onto a moving car and are both hit when a Loyalist tank crashes into the car. Taro dies early the next morning in a field hospital of the 35th Division at El Escorial. She is the first female photographer to be killed while reporting on war.

Gum, Inc., Woman Photographer Crushed by Loyalist Tank, 1938 (2010.40.1)

July 27-28, 1937
Taro’s body is laid out at the Alianza in Madrid. Writers, artists, and military delegations pay their respects. The next day, her body is transported to the Alianza in Valencia, where Rubio Hidalgo, chief of the press bureau, delivers the official condolences of the Republican government.

July 29, 1931
The writer Paul Nizan escorts Taro’s coffin to Paris, where the French Communist Party (PCF) declares her an antifascist martyr.

July 31, 1937
Taro’s body is laid out at the Maison de la Culture in Paris.

August 1, 1937
After securing a burial plot for Gerda Taro in Père Lachaise cemetery, the PCF holds her funeral on the day that would have been her twenty-seventh birthday.

Gerda Taro, New York: ICP, 2007, pp. 162-163

Regards, Photo by Gerda Taro, “Guernica! Almeria! Et Demain?”, June 10, 1937 (2007.82.10)

Female Photographer Fridays is an occasional series that highlights the work and life of female photographers, published on Fridays.

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