Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Portrait of LIFE in 1960s America by Grey Villet


Museum at Bethel Woods

April 2 - December 31, 2016

Don't miss this compelling photography exhibit of LIFE magazine photographer Grey Villet, who traveled America and the world for LIFE magazine like an observant explorer, mapping its emotional contours in the faces and lives of its people. His in-depth, personal studies of the American scene of the 1950s and ’60s illuminated the complex reality of those years with a truth that, in his own words, were "as real as real could get." His images of presidents and revolutionaries, sports heroes, and everyday people struggling for their rights tell an emotional and compelling story of an era that shaped the present. Co Curated by his wife Barbara Villet.

Barbara Villet Bio:
That I ended up being a journalist was probably bred in the bone.  My father was a j reporter   for the old NY World but in time became the Sports Editor for Fox Movietone News in the day when the weekly newsreel was the main source of visual coverage. I didn't expect to follow him, but after   Middlebury and Harvard, I found myself working on the news desk of Radio Free Europe in the middle of the Cold War.  I left that job after the Hungarian Revolution and ended up at Life as a researcher, the only opening for women there was back then. Soon enough, I was on the news desk and it was there in 1958, that I first encountered Grey Villet's work on a school bus drowning in West Virginia. I never forgot it and in l961, when I had finally earned a promotion to editor and a byline--another rarity for women back then, I met him in person in l961 on an assignment I had conceived of as part of a trilogy on Fame, Wealth and Success.  Success ended up as a benchmark essay of l6 pages in Life and is included in a volume called     Great Essays from Life.   We ended up well matched both professionally and personally, and were married the next year. Until Life folded as weekly in l972, we had what Grey described as "a great ride" working together on assignments that carried us throughout the US and abroad . In 1965, when our daughter Ann was borne, I was offered an exclusive contract to produce 3 stories a year for Life with Grey which allowed me to stay at home with Ann until both of us went off on assignment. We took her with us to England and to California when she was very small and later to South Africa when we did the World Library Book. Other books were trade productions: Viking Press picked up our work on a missionary order of nuns which was published as Those Whom God Chooses and after Life folded, I took on an extension of one of our Life essays on a Head Nurse as a book for Doubleday. More freelancing followed and I did pieces for Quest and Atlantic Monthly before taking on another book contract. Called Blood River, it was a study of South Africa in the final days of apartheid and earned a Time Notable and Book of the Year citation as well as a nomination for the Pulitzer. Grey continued to shoot for Time, Sports Illustrated and Newsweek in those years.  It has been, to quote the Stones, a Long Strange Trip, but an amazing one that tools us to 37 countries around the world, mostly for work and sometimes for fun and I have very few regrets or complaints excepting the untimely loss of the great hearted guy who was my life partner and soul mate in 2000 at age 72.  I have since spent most of my energies on preserving and advancing his historic legacy.


Each year, The Museum at Bethel Woods presents new special exhibits that explore the popular culture, politics, art, and social history of the dynamic decade of The Sixties and its legacy.

Museum information, hours, and tickets here.

Grey Villet's photographs will be included in the Monroe Gallery of Photography exhibit, booth #104, during the AIPAD Photography Show April 13 - 17, Park Avenue Armory, New York.