Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

The lesson of Countess Sonya Tolstoy

Posted in Opinion, Publications on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

One the site of Elaine Zimbel under the category of “Book Reviews” you will find ” Sophia Tolstoy – A Biography” by Alexandra Popoff dealing with Sophia Tolstoy, the wife of Leo Tolstoy. After reading about this devoted multi tasker we are full of sympathy for all she had to bear in that crazy relationship and the dignity with which she carried it off.

Then we find that she was an extraordinary & imaginative photographer who worked with an early glass plate Kodak camera, developing & printing her work in a darkroom under the mansion stairs! After you read Elaine’s review you may feel ashamed if you ever complain that you don’t have time to devote to your passion – photography.

“Song Without Words, the Photographs & Diaries of Countess Sophia Tolstoy”, by Leah Bendavid-Val. (National Geographic Society)
[Autoportraits by Countess Sophia Tolstoy]


Marilyn Monroe has no boundaries – George’s talk at the McMichael Gallery of Canadian Art

Posted in Exhibits, Opinion on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Six feet under or 600 feet under..I prefer 600.

Posted in Exhibits, Opinion, Publications on Monday, March 7th, 2011

Marble Quarry, Barre Vermont c. 1960's

This is about a print, specifically “Marble Quarry, Barre Vermont c.1960” which was requested by my late dealer Therese Dion shortly after we had closed my exhibit “Les Femmes” at her gallery here In Montreal.

I was surprised, but she told me that she had wanted to see a beautiful print of that image for a long time, but wanted Les Femmes on the wall before she pushed me to make it.

The print I finally made does everything I want a black and white print to do. Unlike digital prints, you can go beneath the surface, in fact it invites you to do that. I keep looking at it and it speaks to me.

Now Therese is gone, she was showing work right up to the end. I miss her. Until recently I thought that beautiful black & white paper would also be gone, but I hear that a new art photographic paper has been successfully tested and will be on the market soon. I can’t wait.

This print, 20”/16” printed on Agfa Classic was made by me in 2003 and has my log #3555. It is framed in black wood.

I think at 81, the title of this blog entry speaks for itself. But just in case you are confused, I had to be lowered 800 feet by cable in a bucket to photograph this wondrous environment. I was working on a Carborundum Company assignment for their legendary corporate art director, Richard DeNatale. Thanks Dick.

If you want information on acquiring this you can contact me or one of my dealers


Canada’s Copyright “Protection”

Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Intellectual Property- comments on Bill 32

George S. Zimbel, Photographer/Artist

In Canada, land of the good, the parliament will soon vote on a revision of the copyright law. It’s called Bill C-32. Sound good? Intellectual property. Sound good? Prevent the exploitation of the educational marketplace by greedy artists and their families? That doesn’t sound so good. How about giving everybody in Canada the right to use words, pictures, music etc., all that creative stuff, free for the benefit of the educational system. That sounds like a politician at work. How about textbook companies not charging for their product. How about the owner of a school bus company not being paid for the use of his fleet.

Let’s start again. Simon Alwin (fictiious name) has worked hard in business, paid his taxes, and put away a considerable fortune in stocks and bonds which he plans to give to his grandchildren so that they will be able to follow a career path that hopefully will benefit mankind. He’s that kind of guy. Grew up poor, matured rich..good. However, the government of the day has decreed that anything he made before1988 won’t belong to belongs to everybody. You can just hear him yelling on the phone to his lawyer “IT’S MY PROPERTY” THEY CAN’T DO THAT!!”

That’s what I am saying. “IT’S MY PROPERTY” THEY CAN’T DO THAT!!” After more than sixty years as a photographer/artist, I am in a harvesting mode. I want to get benefit from my work for myself, my wife and family. I want to control how it is used and what is paid for that use…and I want to pass the benefit on to my family. In the case of successful capitalists, they pass on money. Artists, pass on their work which may or may not have monetary value. Time tells and they understand that. But in our society, artists are suspect. Of what? That’s a little obscure, but it ain’t good. If I have the audacity to demand payment for my intellectual output, I am accused of being a money grabbing aesthete. Not true; I am a worker.

Simply put an artist’s property should be treated with the protection of any other property. That is a simple concept that members of parliament of all parties should be able to understand and respect. Bill C-32 does not do this.

George S. Zimbel
Montreal 2010

IVAM “Donations” an exhibition 22 July – 12 Sept 2010

Posted in Exhibits, Opinion on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

IVAM Donations
an exhibition
22 July – 12 Sept 2010

I was honored to be invited to Valencia to attend the opening of the exhibition “IVAM Donations” , a multi-art exhibition consisting of 21 years of donations organized and curated by Consuelo Ciscar Casaban, director of IVAM with Tomas Llorens, and Boye Llorens. Spread over three galleries in the museum were paintings, sculptures, photographs and new media.

Donor artists, collectors and heirs were invited for the opening, a rare opportunity to meet and commune with a cross section of a multinational arts community. In addition to the exhibition, a massive catalog has been published by IVAM. The exhibition will run until 12 Sept 2010.

On a personal level the invitation to Valencia gave me the opportunity to make some new photographs to add to my Valencia collection started in 2000, the year of my IVAM retrospective. Also the chance to spend time with Josep Monzo who curated that show and members of the IVAM staff who were involved in the project. We share good memories. Senora Casaban was everpresent and could easily be tagged as “the hostess with the mostess.” That in addition to her conceptual skills in putting this show on the wall. Her largesse was very much appreciated by the invitees.

Every invited artist had at least one work displayed and for me that meant “Girl Twirling 1956” on the wall. For the catalog they chose “George & Elaine- last day in Valencia 2001.

I will be showing some of the new work in the coming weeks on this site. Unfortunately I can’t share the extraordinary food and wine of the excellent Valencia restaurants.


Photo League Symposium at AIPAD 2010

Posted in Exhibits, Opinion on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Boys on 93rd St. NYC 1949 [Print by gsz 1949]

At AIPAD, the mega photo event of art photography being held in NYC   this week, a panel of  photographers who were at the Photo  League in the 1940′s will be held on Sunday at noon. They include Vivian Cherry, Sonia Handelman Meyer, Arthur Leipzig, Rebecca Lepkoff, Jerry Liebling, Marvin E. Newman, Erika Stone,  Ida Wyman, and George Zimbel.  Moderators will be Catherine Evans, Chief Curator, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio and Mason Klein, Curator of Fine Arts, The Jewish Museum, New York. It will be a unique chance to get perspective on the social documentary photographers whose  work was a blessing to those people who wanted their story told and  deemed to be a threat by the U.S. government.  You come and decide…george

What Goes Around Comes around,and Goes around again

Posted in Media, Opinion on Monday, February 22nd, 2010

N&W RR 1961 Marshalling Yard                                           ©George S. Zimbel

Michael Dell, the founder of Dell computers announced that he and some colleagues have purchased the Magnum file of working prints..the entire collection. It will be housed temporarily at the  Ransom Center of the University of Texas in Austin…where all the work will be scanned front and back thereby creating an incredibly important visual archive of the 20th Century. This news made me think about a row of boxes on the top shelf of Pix Inc.’s former Park Ave. Office. They contained hundreds of prints of Erich Salomon , (1886- 1944) one of the first and most important documentary photographers of the 20th century. Where are those prints? I don’t know. No one will have to ask that question about the Magnum archive. Thank you Michael Dell.

Magnum and I seem to have crossed passed many times always in a collegial way. I knew Cornell Capa from the late 1940′s.
In  1961 Xerox Corp. decided to have a more documentary feel to their annual report and hired me to do the shoot. It worked very well and they were so enthralled with this approach that they decided to hire the entire Magnum crew for the following year! I was not too happy about that but was busy working on the Norfolk & Western project, so it was ok. Raliroads are more interesting than copy machines.

This is where the story get’s complex. Those of you who have read my bio know that my uncle, the architect B.Sumner Gruzen was a very big influence on my work. His son Jordan, now one of the principals in Gruzen Samton Architects has a son Alex who attended the Village Community School in a class taught by my friend  Sari Grossman who was the former picture editor of Argosy magazine. She  had decided to make a career in early childhood education. Too bad for the photographers and good for the children. Alex and his friend Christopher Gonzalez Aller were in her class. Sari remembers them as “little terrors.” Christopher is the son of Peggy Mahoney Gonzalez Aller of Madrid, a  longtime friend of my wife Elaine Sernovitz Zimbel. They both worked at the United Nations from 1953 – 1955.  Christopher is now an expert in Old Master Paintings and lives in Madrid. Alex is now Senior Vice President Consumer Products Group at Dell Computers in Austin Texas. And now you see why I am writing this and why I am sending Alex Gruzen a copy of my catalogue “George S. Zimbel, IVAM 2000″ to give to Michael Dell. He really values documentary photography. It’s like family


A Good Man..the first post of 2010

Posted in Opinion on Monday, January 11th, 2010

Banker Toensmeyer

Jon Toensmeyer was a banker at the Hanover bank in New York, located at 250 Park Avenue. It handled corporate accounts such as the Archdiocese of New York, Union Carbide, Kodak , and other giants.

As a young freelancer I had plenty of trouble with banks..they didn’t like freelancers, and I think they like them less now.  I mentioned this to my friend, Willard Block who I believe was working at  CBS, another Hanover account.  He suggested that I go see them. Well, I did, and of course I wasn’t corporate, I wasn’t rich, I wasn’t in any category that a corporate bank  would welcome, so they politely told me that I couldn’t open an account with them.

As I started to morosely exit, a white haired gentleman behind a beautiful desk in the bank officer’s section motioned for me to come over.

“What’s the problem young man?” he asked. I told him.

“What’s that in your hand?” I told him. It was my portfolio..all 11/14″ b/w prints.  “Let me take a look.” he said. I did.   He went through it slowly and then said “fine work”. I think we would be happy to have you as a customer. ”

He set up an account, and later when he ascertained that I was working pretty regularly, he would always ask to see new work. In one of these sessions when I complained that it was  good to work on the Kodak account, but bad to wait  more than  90 days to get paid (some things never change), he  laughed and said  “J.Walter Thompson been paid for your work for Kodak in 30 days and invested that money in 90 day notes, so let’s do a turnabout”. He pulled out a small stack of blank notes and said ” When you finish a job and have it billed out, you can fill in one of these and get immediate credit. Don’t forget to cover it when you finally get paid” . I did and he did.

He later became one of the sponsors for our adopted daughter Jodi,  and soon after retired . He made sure I was passed on to his successor who used to delight in inviting me to lunch in the corporate dining room where my long hair and beard  turned a few well barbered heads.

New Year’s Eve Times Square 1950 ..some things never change-

Posted in Opinion on Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Times Square  1950 ©G. Zimbel

Thanksgiving USA 1946

Posted in Opinion, Publications on Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Football_Butch #54 & the coaches _Woburn  Mass 1946Thanksgiving Day morning in Woburn Mass. was time for the traditional football competition between the adjacent towns of Winchester & Woburn. I remember  that #54′s nickname was “Butch.” I don’t  remember his last name.

The camera was my 4/5″ Speed Graphic with a Graphex shutter and a 4.7 Ektar 127mm Kodak Lens. Yes, Kodak  did make some lenses during wartime. There was no chrome on this camera..all  flat black. It was the  wartime model.

The negative & the original print have disappeared, but I am still here and was able to scan from the first yearbook at our high school which I miraculously still have. I was the photographer…big surprise.

So Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the States. I think Woburn won the game.


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