Exhibition: – 15 Jan 2022
Fri 19 Nov 17:00
1405 Paseo de Peralta
NM 87501 Santa Fe
Exhibition: 19 November 2021 – 15 January 2021
Opening reception: Friday, 19 November, 5-7pm
Obscura Gallery is honored to debut an exclusive gallery exhibition of vintage, one-of-akind
Polaroid prints made during Paul’s tenure with the Polaroid Corporation in the 1960’s.
In 1959, Ansel Adams introduced the Polaroid Corporation to Paul’s work and that following year Paul became a consultant to the company, testing out their Type 55 negative/positive film, and their Type 53 positive film on his 4 x 5 view camera using a Polaroid back. The 44 images in the exhibition were created in New England as well as Ireland and a majority of the prints were created on Polaroid Type 53 which does not produce a negative and creates a one-of-a-kind positive print. The project came to a close in 1969 with a selection of images created in Ireland, when that same year Paul began his Guggenheim fellowship photographing in that country. Other than exhibiting the work at the Polaroid Corporation and a couple of universities or non-profits this is the first extensive gallery exhibition of this unique work.
In 1988 this project was published by the Polaroid Corporation in the book "Seasons", which also included a biographical essay written by the photographer and shares the course of his artistic development during these early years – telling the story of how he began his passion for photography at a very young age, alongside his passion for the piano and classical music.
Paul recalls how he first worked as a photographer during his army service from 1952-55, during which he was stationed at San Francisco’s Presidio in which he met his first mentor, Benjamin Chin who worked the darkroom and ended up introducing Paul to the photographic work of the West Coast luminaries Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Minor White and Imogen Cunningham whom had a profound effect on him because of their work’s 'glowing luminosity' and 'strong emotional power'. It was Bennie who helped Paul demystify the Ansel Adams zone system and eventually introduced Paul to later mentors Ansel and Minor of whom he wound up having a long, important relationship with each.
Paul writes in "Seasons": I had been inspired by Ansel and Minor but once again found it was necessary to separate myself from the world of ideas and influences and seek my own way into the heart of the matter. Although I respected influence, I looked for its deeper roots in order to separate it from personalities.
It was when Paul moved back to Boston in 1959 after spending time with Minor White in Rochester that Ansel Adams came to a Boston gallery exhibition of Paul’s nature studies. Ansel himself was a consultant for Polaroid, and brought with him several Polaroid associates to the exhibition and he suggested they consider hiring Paul parttime.
Once he was hired for several days each month, Caponigro tested Polaroid blackand-white film products and cameras and provided technical feedback on behalf of thecommunity of fine-art photographers. This was a pivotal period in Paul’s career, he was finally able to give up doing commercial photography, which gave him the freedom devote himself full-time to art photography.
Paul’s tenure with Polaroid in the 1960’s was also a very prolific time in Paul’s career, as this is when many of his iconic images were made. It’s no wonder that the subject matter of the Polaroids parallels many of these images with similar subject matter made in New England at some of his most profound image locations including Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts.
The Polaroid project resulted in many incarnations of his masterpieces such as nature studies, landscapes and still lifes, while others resulted in new avenues for the artist. This same timeframe brought equal prolific experiences including the marriage to his then wife Eleanor, the birth of his son, John Paul, and the granting of the Guggenheim Fellowship. This grant made it possible for him to venture to Ireland and photograph the mystery of the ancient stones, which is when his tenure with Polaroid ended. Some of his last images for Polaroid were made in Ireland in 1969, and the many other images he made there under the Guggenheim grant eventually culminated into the book, "Megaliths".
Paul Caponigro is best known for spiritual renditions that occur in natural forms, landscapes, and still lifes which culminated into over a dozen books by the artist published throughout the span of his career. He had his first solo exhibition at the George Eastman House in 1958 attributed to Minor White’s tenor there and from there he has showed at prominent museums and galleries for over sixty years. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and three National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants.
In recognition of a career spanning nearly seventy years, and a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography, Caponigro was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship in 2001 and in 2020 was the Honoree for the Achievement in Fine Art presented by the Lucie Awards.
All the artists’ images in the exhibition: here