Monday, November 30, 2020

Monroe Gallery Sponsors FREE Streaming of "Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro"


image of poster for Underfire The Untold Story of Tony Vaccaro film

In association with the current exhibition "Tony Vaccaro at 98", Monroe Gallery is pleased to offer FREE streaming of the acclaimed documentary "Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro". 

This offer is limited, please contact the Gallery for details.

UNDERFIRE: The Untold Story of Tony Vaccaro (trailer). from Cargo Film & Releasing on Vimeo.

In 1943, with the Allied invasion of Europe imminent, a newly drafted 21-year old Tony Vaccaro applied to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He had developed a passion for photography and knew he wanted to photograph the war. “They said I was too young to do this,” Tony says, holding his finger as if taking a photo, “but not too young to do this,” turning his finger forward, pulling a gun trigger. Not one to be denied, Tony went out and purchased a $47.00 Argus C3, and carried the camera into the war with him. He would fight with the 83rd Infantry Division for the next 272 days, playing two roles – a combat infantryman on the front lines and a photographer who would take roughly 8,000 photographs of the war.

In the decades that followed the war, Tony would go on to become a renowned commercial photographer for magazines such as Look, Life, and Flair, but it is his collection of war photos, images that capture the rarely seen day-to-day reality of life as a soldier, that is his true legacy. Tony kept these photos locked away for decades in an effort to put the war behind him, and it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that this extraordinary body of work was first discovered and celebrated in Europe. In the United States, however, Tony has yet to receive his due and few people have heard of him.

The film 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.

Though the narrative spine of the film is a physical journey in which Tony brings us to the places in Europe where many of his most powerful photos were taken, over the course of the film we also trace Tony’s emotional journey from a young GI eager to record the war to an elderly man who, at 93, has become a pacifist, increasingly horrified at man’s ability to wage war. Tony believed fiercely that the Allied forces in WWII were engaged in a just war, but he vowed never to take another war photo the day the war ended, and he didn’t.

In addition to numerous interviews with Tony, interviewees include Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario; Anne Wilkes Tucker, a photography curator and curator of the comprehensive exhibition WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY; James Estrin, a Senior Photographer for the New York Times and editor of the Times’ Lens blog; and John G. Morris, who was the photo editor of Life Magazine during World War II and was Robert Capa’s editor.

Tony Vaccaro celebrates his 98th birthday on December 20, 2020.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Photography exhibition at Sioux City Art Center tells story of the American West; Features Ryan Vizzions photographs of demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline

Photo of Mary Anne Redding, curator at the Sioux City Art Center, while discussing the center's new exhibition, "Magnetic West."

Mary Anne Redding, curator at the Sioux City Art Center, while discussing the center's new exhibition, "Magnetic West." Photo by Jim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

Via Sioux City Journal
November 29, 2020

By Dolly Butz

SIOUX CITY -- Nearly 130 photographs of various aspects of Western life cover the third floor gallery space at the Sioux City Art Center.

"Magnetic West: The Enduring Allure of the American West," which is organized by the Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, is the first photography exhibition of this scale organized and presented by an Iowa museum. The exhibition explores the complicated history of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean and touches on five interwoven themes: An American Eden, Theme and Variation, Identity and Experience, Going West and Home on the Range. 

Art Center Curator Mary Anne Redding said the earliest images in the exhibition are from the 1860s and 1870s. She said those images were used to create national parks and monuments in the late 1800s. 

"That was Andrew (Wallace's) premise for starting to look at how photography influenced then and continues to influence now how we understand the West," Redding said of Wallace, the Figge's director of collections and exhibitions, who curated "Magnetic West."

Mary Anne Redding, curator at the Sioux City Art Center, gestures toward "How the West Was One" by William Wilson while discussing the center's new exhibition, "Magnetic West."

She said Wallace also wanted to bring in "contemporary photographic voices," so many female, Native American, African American and Hispanic photographers' works are featured. 

"Traditionally, we have a Western European idea of what the West is, and so, a lot the photographs in this exhibition really say there are other voices that need to be part of this narrative," she said. "I do think that is the strength of the show."

You'll see Diné photographer William Wilson's self-portraits and a New Mexico moonrise by Ansel Adams, as well as photographs that touch on different aspects of Western life, including rodeo, architecture, car culture and demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Rider on horse faces aremed law enforcement, Standing Rock protest, 2016
Ryan Vizzions: "Defend The Sacred": Standing Rock, Cannon Ball, North Dakota, 2016

"In a lot of ways, these issues have never been resolved and we're still trying to figure it out," said Redding, who also worked with the Sioux City Public Museum to select 14 additional photographs for an auxiliary exhibition, which grounds the issues depicted in "Magnetic West" in Siouxland. 

Redding said the kinds of photographs included in "Magnetic West," which range from gelatin silver photographs to digital prints, are just as diverse as the subject matter. She pointed to a photograph of the Cerrillos Hills outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was taken by movie director Wim Wenders when he was scouting movie locations in the Southwest.

"It's so cinematic and it's just so romantic," she said. 

What really ties the whole show together, Redding said, are the same locations and iconic symbols of the West that photographers, both amateur and professional, are drawn to again and again, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and American bison.

"There's something for everyone to see. There's so many different points of entry," said Redding, who noted this is the last chance to see the exhibition, which debuted at the Figge over the summer. "It's here now through January 17, and then, all these photographs go back to their original owners, be it other museums, private collectors, the Figge."

Monday, November 23, 2020

Photography under fire TONY VACCARO


Cover of Pasatiempo magazine with Tony Vaccaro photograph of Girls on a balcony in Puerto Rico

Via Pasatiempo

The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment, and Culture

November 20, 2020

By Jason Strykowski

Private First Class Tony Vaccaro, of the 83rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, taught himself to take photographs while under enemy fire. Deployed for 272 days in the Western Front during World War II, Vaccaro snapped 8,000 pictures. Many were of his fellow American soldiers. Others captured street scenes of war-torn France and Germany. “Bullets came right toward me, but somehow the one that kills never came about,” Vaccaro says. “I was scratched by bullets a few times, but I never had a bullet that injured me seriously.” Vaccaro survived the war to become a prolific and successful photographer.

“He’s among the most versatile photographers of his generation because he photographed war under live fire — European-style street photography — but, then fashion, storytelling, and documentary,” says the co-owner of Monroe Gallery, Sid Monroe. “He was game for any assignment.” Over time, Vaccaro would receive many.

To celebrate Vaccaro’s upcoming birthday, a new retrospective exhibition on his work opens at the Monroe Gallery on Friday, Nov. 20, called Tony Vaccaro at 98. To mark the occasion, the gallery holds a Zoom call with Vaccaro at 5:30 p.m. that day.

In April, Vaccaro fell ill with CoViD-19. He dismissed the illness as a mere “cough,” and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As we spoke, he pointed out photographs in his Long Island City home and studio. All told, his archive holds hundreds of thousands of negatives, and the number keeps growing. He still goes out most days and captures the city using the same Leica he purchased in Germany 70 years ago.

Vaccaro was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1922 and later moved to Italy following the death of his parents. He returned to the United States and was later drafted into the Army. Vaccaro already had his first camera and hoped to employ his skills for the Signal Corps, but he was told that he was too young. He reasoned that if he could squeeze a rifle trigger, he could squeeze a shutter button, but the Signal Corps was not convinced. Vaccaro was assigned to the infantry and brought his lightweight Argus C3 with him. (The little camera was often referred to as “the brick” for its rectangular shape.)

At the time, other war photographers moved slowly and carried bulky equipment. Often, they were forced to stage their pictures, reenacting important moments. Vaccaro, though, was a soldier first and photographer second. The fight was his priority, and he only took photos when he wasn’t forced to hold his rifle. When Vaccaro could shoot, he captured the brutal realties of war because he lived through them. “I shot from anywhere,” Vaccaro says. “From a foxhole. Standing up. Lying down. From the top of the trees. I would climb trees and take pictures there.”

There’s a powerful rawness to Vaccaro’s war photos. The black-andwhite images are steeped in contrast, not just between light and dark, but also between serenity and atrocity. “You have to be cold-blooded. You have to be a son of a bitch,” Vaccaro says of taking pictures during a war, in the documentary Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC Tony Vaccaro (2016). Although the scenes of warfare were tragic, Vaccaro put aside his feelings and acted as the consummate photographer.

His favorite photo, though, is one that depicts hope and love. The Kiss of Liberation features an American sergeant kneeling and kissing a small girl on the cheek in St. Briac, France, in 1944. The photo brims with compassion and perhaps pointed toward Vaccaro’s future in the medium.

“After the war, he decided to stick with photography because he knew he had an eye for it,” says Tony Vaccaro archives manager and Vaccaro’s daughter-in-law, Maria Vaccaro. “He signed up to work for a magazine run by the Army called Stars and Stripes, and he became one of the staffers.” Vaccaro, in his early 20s, purchased a used Army Jeep and traveled across Europe to document the recovering continent.

Vaccaro had the experience, skill, and, apparently the boldness to walk into the New York offices of Look and Life magazines to ask for a job. One of his photos, a dead solider buried in the snow, impressed an editor at the magazines, who asked Vaccaro if he could shoot celebrities with the same kind of vision. Vaccaro could, and would, for the next few decades.

Working freelance for Look, Vaccaro took portraits of Sophia Loren, President John F. Kennedy, Pablo Picasso, Enzo Ferrari, and Georgia O’Keeffe, among many others. As with his war photographs, Vaccaro’s portraits are present and of the moment. “He was absolutely charming. He was this suave, debonair Italian. He could talk his way into anything,” Monroe says. “There’s nothing between him and his subjects.” For Vaccaro, the people he photographed kept his mind off the atrocities of the war.

For almost four decades, Vaccaro worked as a freelance photographer all across the world. He traveled by camel up the Nile River and took a helicopter to the South Pole. Much of his war photography, though, remained unheralded until a 1998 exhibition laid the groundwork for a Taschen book called Entering Germany 1944-1949.

Six years ago, Vaccaro turned his negatives over his son Frank and daughter-in-law. All told, he documented the 20th century with more than a million negatives. “He kept everything in rolled-up paper in Kodak boxes,” Maria Vaccaro says. The family moved his studio to his apartment in Long Island City where they are working on the archives.

“When you’re a photographer, a serious photographer, you take chances, and you try to do the best you can,” Vaccaro says. “There was not another photographer better than me during the war.”

“I shot from anywhere. From a foxhole. Standing up. Lying down. From the top of the trees. I would climb trees and take pictures there.”

Monday, November 16, 2020



Monroe Gallery of Photography will be closed to visitors November 16 - November 30 under state mandated health orders. We are working remotely and are available online, via email and telephone.

Gallery operations will continue, with framing and shipping schedules unaffected. 

"Tony Vaccaro at 98" is currently available for viewing on-line with a special short tribute video, please visit

These procedures may change at any time based on updated guidance from the state. We appreciate your patience as we all navigate this difficult situation. We extend our concern and gratitude to our community, near and far.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veteran's Day: Tony Vaccaro at 98

UNDERFIRE: The Untold Story of Tony Vaccaro (trailer). from Cargo Film & Releasing on Vimeo.


Tony Vaccaro, nearing age 98, is is one of the few people alive who can claim to have survived the Battle of Normandy and COVID-19. A new exhibition, "Tony Vaccaro at 98", illustrates his will to live and advance the power of beauty in this life. The exhibit opens on-line and in the Gallery Friday, November 20.

Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1922, Tony Vaccaro spent the first years of his life in the village of Bonefro, Italy after his family left America under threat from the Mafia. His mother died during childbirth a few years before tuberculosis claimed his father. By age 5, he was an orphan in Italy, raised by an uncaring aunt and enduring beatings from an uncle. By World War II he was an American G.I., drafted into the war, and 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 he photographed his personal witness to the brutality of war.

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.

As an antidote to man’s inhumanity, Tony focused his lens on those who gave of themselves: artists, writers, movie stars, and the beauty of fashion. By focusing on the splendor of life, Tony replaced the images of horror embedded in his eyes. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Library of Congress Magazine: Great Photographs


Via Library of Congress magazine
November/December 2020

photo of then-Cassius Clay at lunch counter surrounded by fans with Malcolm X taking a picture in Miami, 1964
Bob Gomel. “Black Muslim Leader Malcolm X Photographing Cassius Clay Surrounded By 
Fans After He Beat Sonny Liston For The Heavyweight Championship, Miami, February, 1964.” Gelatin Silver Print. © Bob Gomel, Used By Permission. 

Malcolm X and Cassius Clay

Memorable photographs often capture historic moments, such as this meeting of two consequential figures.

On Feb. 25, 1964, Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Afterward, Clay’s family and friends gathered for a victory celebration at a diner in Miami. They were accompanied by Life magazine photographer Bob Gomel and Clay’s own photographer, Howard Bingham.

Gomel climbed up on the counter to record Malcolm X, civil rights activist and a leader of the Nation of Islam, aiming his camera at a tuxedo-clad Clay. The next day, Clay announced his conversion to Islam.

He would adopt a new name, Cassius X, which later changed to Muhammad Ali.

—Beverly Brannan and Adam Silvia

Monroe Gallery of Photography was honored to work with the Library of Congress on their acquisition for their permanent collection  of Bob Gomel's iconic photograph.

Monday, November 2, 2020

As a selection of presidential campaign photographs go on show in the US, curators Sid and Michelle Monroe offer an insight into the making of these images


Via AnOther



November 2, 2020

By Miss Rosen

The Stories Behind Five Iconic Presidential Campaign Photographs

photo of Robert Kennedy with aides including former prizefighter Tony Zale and (right of Kennedy) NFL stars Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, and Deacon Jones in red convertible, 1968

©Bill Eppridge: Bobby Kennedy campaigns in Indiana during May of 1968, with various aides and friends: former prizefighter Tony Zale and (right of Kennedy) NFL stars Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, and Deacon Jones   Courtesy of Monroe Gallery

Since its invention almost two centuries ago, photography has become both art and artifact, artifice and evidence, documenting the world in which we live. Granted access to the most exclusive of spaces, photojournalists play an extraordinary role in writing a first draft of history, recording it even as it unfolds. In bearing witness to historic events, their images have the power to shape and shift public opinion without uttering a single word, and while some may strive to be objective, such a task is arguably impossible.

The media plays an integral role in US presidential elections, from what it chooses to cover to how it frames the stories it tells. The new exhibition, The Campaign, curated by gallerists Sid and Michelle Monroe, explores how images inform our perception of candidates running for the highest office in the world. Featuring work by Bill Eppridge, Irving Haberman, Cornell Capa, Bill Ray, John Loengard, Alfred Eisenstaedt, and Neil Leifer, among others, The Campaign illustrates how the photography has become an inextricable part of the political narrative over the past 75 years.

“What struck us when we were curating the show is that the themes of restoration of the country, corruption of my opponent, aspiration for the young, civil inequities, working people’s inequities, these keep recycling almost as if all of these issues are a part of the American personality,” says Monroe. “Each campaign seems to decide and direct which part they are going to amplify.” Here, the Monroes offer an insight into the making of five iconic images of the US presidential race.

“Bill Eppridge was a sweetheart. His career spanned everything from Vietnam, Civil Rights, and sports, but he as fate as would have it was the photographer who captured Robert Kennedy’s assassination [on 6 June 1968] so he was on the campaign from the beginning to the bitter end.

“This image was an outtake. It was never published. Bill brought it to us and he wasn’t even sure who everybody was in the picture so we had this wonderful time reconstructing it because he didn’t have notes. RFK made a point of campaigning in a convertible in every town and city he went into. He was warned and he said. ‘If they want to get me, they’re going to get me.’

“Bill said that at night Bobby would travel with members of his family, put them to bed in the hotel, then come down and seek out journalists who had been in Vietnam because he wanted to know everything about what they had seen and what they thought. Bill said he struggled because it became very difficult to be not emotional and not to get connected to this campaign.”

photo of Senator John F Kennedy and his sisters walking with Governor Michael V Di Salle and Governor Abraham A Ribicoff and women in hats,  Los Angeles, CA, 1960

©Grey Villet: Senator John F Kennedy and his sisters walking with Governor Michael V Di Salle and Governor Abraham A Ribicoff, Los Angeles, CA, 1960  Courtesy of Monroe Gallery

“Grey Villet was a South African photographer who came to America. He was very quiet. He wasn’t as swashbuckling as a lot of the Life photographers were but he was extremely versatile. When you think about the versatility required in covering a presidential campaign, a riot, a rocket liftoff to space – the profession doesn’t get enough credit for what it requires of what we consider artists.

“In this era, every single one of these photographers was largely self-taught. For that versatility, they didn’t study to be specialised so when it came to an assignment this is where the innovation, artistry, athleticism, creativity would come in. Grey made this wonderful image that captures the aura of the Kennedy Mystique.

“We have this image of Kennedy commanding the campaign but the reality was the 1960 Democratic National Convention was highly contested between Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson.  The photograph shows Kennedy with his sisters in the background, other politicians with him, and women in these wonderful hats. He is bringing the full Kennedy Mystique into the convention to sway those delegates in a way that Johnson couldn’t. Johnson was much more gruff and brash and Kennedy was trying to put on a show.”

photo of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy in hotel conferring during 1960 Democratic convention

© Hank Walker/The Life Picture Collection: Presidential candidate John F Kennedy planning convention strategy with his brother and campaign manager, Robert, Hotel Biltmore, Los Angeles, CA, 1960  Courtesy of Monroe Gallery

“In the 1960 presidential campaign, John F Kennedy’s platform was that we are now a ‘New America’. We’re a younger, more aspirational people and we’re going to have to come together. Nixon’s strategy was the Southern Strategy [which appealed to white supremacy to increase Republican turnout in the South, just as the Civil Rights Movement was reaching new heights and segregation was being dismantled]. Nixon wanted to divide and invoke the fear the racial equality will change our lives and traditions forever.

“This photograph was made just when Kennendy was telling his brother Robert that for strategic reasons he has agreed with his advisors to name [then Texas Senator] Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate. Hank Walker, working for Life magazine, said he took one photograph in that room and left immediately afterwards because of the tension. He stepped outside and shut the door. When the discussion was over, moments later, RFK came out and slammed his fist into his open palm, over and over again, saying, ‘Shit! Shit! Shit!’”

Joe Biden looking out window near his oSenate office in 1988

© Joe McNally: Joe Biden, 1988  Courtesy of Monroe Gallery

“Joe Biden was a Democratic candidate for President in 1987. One of the factors that ended his campaign was the discovery of a life-threatening aneurysm. He was out of commission for some time. The photograph was taken upon his return, just outside his Senate office. Biden came back as a hero who could speak to both sides of the aisle.

“Joe McNally, who is a very down to earth New Yorker, will tell you what’s what. He walked away saying, ‘This is the real deal. Biden is a genuine nice guy. I saw how he was received, but also just how he spent time with me. It’s a cliche but he’s a regular Joe.’”

Brooks Kraft: President Barack Obama campaigns in the rain, Glen Allen, Virginia, 2012

© Brooks Kraft: President Barack Obama campaigns in the rain, Glen Allen, Virginia, 2012  Courtesy of Monroe Gallery

“Brooks Kraft covered both Obama presidential campaigns; he also covered the White House for Time magazine. What’s remarkable is that this rally was cut short because it rained torrentially. The circumstance speaks volumes about Obama as a candidate and as a President: that he went head first into the campaign. It’s a very heroic pose. It’s very rock and roll.

“It also speaks to the fitness of a photographer not to be daunted by the rain, to stick it out, to be looking for something different. It’s a transcendent image and one of those moments any photographer would look back at and say, ‘I can’t believe I got that.’ You position yourself to be available something like this should something like this present itself.

“We hear this over and over again from journalists: they’re cold, they’re wet, they’re hungry, they’re pushed around, they’re abused, they’re spit on. It’s really a missionary kind of dedication. We feel so devoted to these photographers. It’s so vital to our democracy to tell these stories – and to tell them unimpeded, which has been increasingly tampered with. As Orwell said, ‘Much of what is important for us to see and read we are not meant to know.’”

The Campaign is on view online and at Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, through November 15, 2020.