New book ‘The Power of Photography’ features striking images of The Beatles, Yves Saint Laurent, Jackson Pollock

Image above: Martine Franck, Pool designed by Alain Capeilleres, Le Brusc, Var, France, 1976

Born in London, Peter Fetterman was still an independent film producer in the 1980s when he started collecting 20th century photography. In 1994 he had opened his namesake gallery in Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica Center of the Arts, and it is now considered one of the most influential in the medium.

Fast forward two and a half decades and the world of galleries, like almost everything else, would be in lockdown due to severe COVID-related health restrictions. Yet as major art dealers scrambled frantically for a quick digital strategy, Fetterman cleverly launched the harrowing series online The power of photography, highlighting images whose messages were those of hope, love and peace at a time of great fear and, yes, even despair. He immediately aroused a cult following.

“The project started in March 2020,” he recalls. “I have been given the ‘understudy’ gift of full stop and time to reflect on all the wonderful photographers and their images I have encountered throughout my career. (Note: the gallery’s collections currently include works by figures such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Ansel Adams, André Kertesz, Lillian Bassman and Alfred Stieglitz.) The words “The Power of Photography” resonated in my brain and felt compelled to share what they all meant to me.

The success of the series has now led to what would seem almost inevitable, a stunningly realized book of the same name, which has just been published by the venerable ACC Art Books. It shows some of the most imposing icons of the 20th century – Malcolm X, Lennon + McCartney – captured in a distinctly humanistic style. In particular, Martha Holmes Jackson Pollock painting in his studio, 1949 conveys so intensely the tensions of the painting process of the great abstract expressionist; while that of Marc Riboud Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1964 uniquely catches him in a seemingly bereft moment of self-reflection.

Weegee’s Easter Sunday in Harlem, 1940and Cartier-Bresson Queen Charlotte Ball, 1959are also absolute stars, one a captivating portrayal of unfettered joy, the other pure elation.

Fetterman explains how, “Every image in the book has touched me deeply, and my wish is that it will do the same for others and spread much needed joy, hope and beauty in these unique times that we all live.”

Of course, these times finally allowed the galleries to be physically open again – and The power of photography will also be an exhibition, which opens June 4 at the Peter Fetterman Gallery and runs through September 4. the story.

Images above from top:

Marc Riboud, Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1964

Earlie Hudnall, Flag Girl, 1991

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Our cat Ulysses and Martine’s shadow, 1988

Martha Holmes, Jackson Pollock painting in her studio, Springs, Long Island, NY, 1949

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