The Allen and Helen Hermes Art Series (HAS) of the Mark Twain Library is presenting a talk by David Heald, director of photographic services at the Guggenheim Museum, on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 3 p.m. Mr. Heald’s presentation, “Edward Steichen and Paul Caponigro — Seeing the Redding Landscape,” will feature the work of these two giants of 20th Century photography.
“I want to highlight work that both of these men made in Redding, but will show work from all phases their careers, including a brief video clip of each artist speaking about his work,” said Mr. Heald.
Mr. Steichen, who lived from 1879 to 1973, spent 45 of those years in Redding. He was once deemed the best known and highest paid photographer in the world. His well-earned titles were many: First Modern Fashion Photographer, award-winning war photographer and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented to him by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
After World War II Mr. Steichen served as director of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. While at MOMA, he assembled and curated “The Family of Man,” an exhibit of photographs that traveled to 69 countries where it was viewed by nine million people. The companion book sold 2 1/2 million copies, a record for its time. Mr. Steichen’s photograph of Greta Garbo, one of many celebrities he captured on film, is considered a definitive portrait of the iconic and elusive actress.
It was in 1928 that Steichen purchased the farm he called Umpawaug on what is today Topstone Road. While there he turned his eye to nature, specifically the world around him in Redding. After his death, Mr. Steichen’s farm became Topstone Park, enjoyed by young and old in Redding today.
Paul Caponigro, another world renowned photographer who made Redding his home — from 1967 to 1973 — was born in Boston in 1932. By the age of 13, he was eagerly exploring the world around him with a camera, a passion that would blossom into a career that has spanned more than 60 years and earned him recognition as one of the foremost landscape photographers in America. Today his prints are considered among the finest ever created in photography.
Says David Stroud, an art critic and photographer himself, “They awaken us to the beauty of objects, the moods of a landscape, and sensitize our vision to the subtleties of light.”
The wide range of subjects Mr. Caponigro photographed over his long career include powerful images of Stonehenge and numerous other megalithic monuments of the British Isles, haunting views of the shrines and sacred gardens of Japan, and the sky, streams and forests of his native New England. While living in Redding the photographer created a famous series of views of the Redding woods. These haunting and subtle black and white photographs were made along the banks of Little River, where he lived for six years.
Mr. Caponigro’s work appears in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and is a member of the Royal Photographic Society, London. His work in Great Britain and Ireland will be featured in a major exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art scheduled for 2014. Mr. Caponigro, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, currently lives and works in Cushing, Maine.
David Heald has been chief photographer at the Guggenheim since 1985. His work is represented in a number of private and public collections including the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Art and Bibilioteque Natalionale, Paris. His book, Architecture of Silence, written about the Cistercian architecture of France, was named one of the finest architectural books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. Mr. Heald lives in Redding where he serves on the Board of Trustees of the Redding Land Trust.
Following Mr. Heald’s presentation and question and answer session, light refreshments will be served. Admission is free though reservations are requested since space is limited. For those wishing to attend, the library has a signup sheet at the front desk. Registration is also accepted by phoning the library at 203-938-2545.