Saturday, August 24, 2013

Guy Gillette 1922 - 2013: "In a good photograph, something happens”



Via Country Life Daily News

Famed photojournalist Guy Gillette Sr.  passed away on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, just two months shy of his 91st birthday.

Over 50 years in the photojournalism industry, Gillette created a portfolio of art that remains in circulation today. His work has graced the pages and covers of Fortune, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, the New York Times, just to name a few. His work includes images of Jacqueline Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn and Queen Elizabeth, and was featured in the 1955 landmark “The Family of Man” photography exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Gillette’s works remain in high demand today, as galleries and movie studios routinely request the use of his images.
A coffee table book, written by Andy Wilkinson, about the work of Gillette is being published by the University of Oklahoma Press this month. Through his research Wilkinson visits the history of Houston County as seen through the eyes of Guy Gillette, Sr. This book utilizes the pictures that Gillette took on his father-in-law’s ranch in Lovelady and around Houston County in the 1940s. The pictures not only document ranching in East Texas but small-town life, like Sunday School, homecoming dinners and Saturdays downtown. It was these pictures that would open the doors in New York for Guy Gillette, Sr. to become a celebrated photojournalist.

Guy Gillette, Sr. is the father of national cowboy personalities and Camp Street Cafe owners, Guy and Pip Gillette.


Arnolds, Cafe, Lovelady, Texas, 1956
Arnolds, Cafe, Lovelady, Texas, 1956

“The years of the 30s through the 70s were great years for magazine photography and for us, the photographers, who contributed,” Gillette had 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 sad. 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 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."

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, Marian Anderson, Sarah Vaughn, Elvis Presley and Rogers and Hammerstein followed. A highlight of his career 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.”

Monroe Gallery of Photography will feature a very special tribute exhibition of Guy Gillette's photographs in November/December. Contact the gallery for further information.