Archive for September, 2007

Marcel Marceau’s teacher Etienne deCroux 1956

Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Jean Seberg & Etienne deCroux, NYC 1959When I heard of the death of Marcel Marceau I thought of my experience with Etienne deCroux, Marcel Marceau’s teacher. He worked with many actors in New York during the 1950′s , including Jean Seberg and Alan Arkin. I was asked by the New York Times Drama Page to photograph him at work.
I knew that my presence at his studio would be a disturbance, because everything he did was so structured and the structure didn’t include a photographer. Rather than using a strobe I set up one flood which I bounced off the ceiling . Once everyone in the room was used to the increased light level action continued without annoying flashes…at least that was my theory.

A walk with Cornell Capa – Houston 1990′s

Posted in Exhibits, Opinion on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

I was visiting Fotofest in Houston in the 1990’s and bumped into Cornell Capa. We had both been “on the trail” during the Stevenson presidential campaigns of the 1950’s, and later he had asked me for some prints for the ICP collection which I donated rather ungraciously because I was broke.

Adlai Stevenson “The Egghead” NYC 1956
Adlai Stevenson “The Egghead” NYC 1956 ©George S. Zimbel 1956/2007

He suggested we go for a walk and along the way, asked “What do you do?” I was a bit shocked. Of course for a photographer the answer to the question “What do you do?” is: “Look at my photographs and you will know.” Maybe he meant what was I doing in Canada, but that’s not the way I took it. Sorry Cornell.

Photography doesn’t need written language to describe what it does. It can be viewed and appreciated ….or scorned, by anyone. It has been called a democratic art, usually by those who prefer elitist art, but I think the description is apt and I am happy with it.

I want to share what I have seen with anyone anywhere who wants to look. Of course millions of people can see photographs which are published and that is good, but the experience of looking at an exhibition of prints produced by a photographer is the purest way to look at the work, and I am honoured and excited each time I am asked to exhibit my work.

On the subject of exhibits, I organized and curated the first exhibition of the late B.H. “Jack” Turner, a retired farmer from Prince Edward Island Canada. He was 92, and amazed at the outpouring of interest. Then he was flabbergasted when I told him Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum had purchased four of his photo sculptures from WW1. ”There’s pictures everywhere if you can just see them.” he told me. He kept seeing them to age 100 and I hope I can do the same. Stay tuned.

George S. Zimbel
Montreal 2007

People & Animals.. or… People are animals…or….

Posted in Exhibits, Opinion on Friday, September 7th, 2007

Black Boy & Great Dane, Harlem NY 1962 As you can see from my work, I have lived among animals, both human and beast for a long time. On city streets since the 1940′s, in 1955 on the Chester Bonn Ranch in Texas, in 1957 with Jack Ryan, the County Agent in Tishomingo Okla., on our Bona Fide Farm, Prince Edward Island in the 1970′s and after 2000 with Lilly our dog, in Quebec.
So, when I received the invitation from Parc La Villette in Paris to show ” Boy & Great Dane, Harlem 1962″ I was very happy. Now that exhibition is opening and you can get the information at:

Thoughts on vintage prints

Posted in Opinion on Wednesday, September 5th, 2007


The Premie, Philadelphia General Hospital 1953
Vintage print on Dupont Varigam SG/DW paper.
9 3/8”x 7 3/8” Trimmed flush,signed au verso with stamps
Condition : Good with slight abrasions on edges.
[Logged later #3394)


At 6:30 this morning I started to think about vintage prints. I always considered the subject a commercial one. It lets photographers and their dealers charge more for a particular image. David Vestal in a column titled “Rare or Well Done?” discusses the issue of vintage and limited edition prints in his usual thoughtful and thorough manner. His conclusion is that that the age and rarity of the print has nothing to do with it’s beauty. The most beautiful print of a 50 year old image could have been made a few hours ago. I know. I have many negatives over 50 years old.

So I was wrong about vintage prints., It’s not about money, it’s about history. To my surprise accepting this thought made me change my mind and head to my vintage box from which I picked the above. I realised why vintage prints are important. It has to do with what an image looked like at the time it was made. Concepts of the good print change and this is all important from a historical viewpoint. Papers change, developers change..digimania is taking over. If it’s about photographic history the date of a print matters. If it’s about art, it doesn’t.
Some museums consider the historic critical for their collections…and then again, some do not. I once offered to make a larger print of an image that MOMA had chosen. The curator said “We have chosen this print of this image. This is  the print we want.” Contrast that to a request I got from another museum for a vintage print of “Irish Dancehall, The Bronx 1954. “We will only consider a vintage print.” Well, there is no vintage print of the photograph..the few I had printed burned in a fire at my studio. A print I made in the 1980’s is certainly better than my originals, but it will not go on their wall.

So where do I stand now? In my mind I agree that a vintage print should be more valuable; in my heart where my creative resides, I think the most magic print available should be more valuable.

These are the kinds of thoughts that torment an old photographer. There are no answers so I just keep working.

©2007 george zimbel

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