Biography

Louis Stettner ( born in 1922 ) is a celebrated American photographer whose work includes iconic images of Paris and New York. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York but moved to Paris in the 1950s, where he now lives permanently with his family.

Louis has photographed Paris and New York for over 60 years, capturing the changes in the people, culture, and architecture of both cities. Using both black and white and color images, his work documents fleeting moments in the life of the cities, moments that often cannot be recaptured. Stettner has documented the architectural and cultural evolution of Paris and New York, making his archive of thousands of images an important resource. Few photographers have such an extensive archive of both cities, one that includes historic images of each city's most celebrated landmarks and the daily lives of its citizens.

His work has an unforced naturalistic quality to it, as he sought to capture the ordinary, every day lives of his subjects. He was particularly interested in documenting the lives of the working class in each city and he demonstrates much sensitivity in this endeavor, photographing them with great dignity. A limited amount of his work is devoted to still life and landscape images. Additionally, his paintings and sculptures tend to be abstract and in sharp contrast to his clear, vivid photographic images.

As a teenager and young man, Stettner was a regular visitor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore its photographic prints collection. His first camera was a wooden view camera and today he still shoots with film rather than moving to digital images. Stettner studied and taught at the Photo League until he went to Paris after the Second World War. He received his Bachelor of Arts, Photography & Cinema I.D.H.E.C. at Paris University. Throughout his life, he has gotten to know and work with many great photographers. Stettner visited Stieglitz's gallery - An American Place - but was too scared to speak to him. After sending Stieglitz photographs, Stieglitz sent him a handwritten letter of thanks which Stettner cherished. A little later, Stettner visited Paul Strand, who supported his artistic endeavors and encouraged him to continue photography. Later in Paris the two men became friends.

Now in his 80s, he continues to photograph with great energy. Stettner also spends significant time sculpting and painting, as well as mixing his work and “painting” on some of his photographic images.


1922
Born November 7, in Brooklyn, New York

1938-40
Abraham Lincoln High School, New York

1940-41
Enlists in the US Army, Military student engineer, Princeton University

1941-45
Combat photographer in New Guinea, Philippines and Japan

1945
Leaves US Army. Back to New York, becomes member of The Photo League and friend of Sid Grossman, a founder of the League. First meetings with Lewis Hine and Weegee

1947
Moves to Paris. Meets Brassaï, Édouard Boubat, Willy Ronis, Izis and Robert Doisneau. For The Photo League, organizes the first exhibition of postwar French photographs in New York. Travels in Italy

1947-49
Studies film at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (IDHEC), University of Paris

1948
Travels in Spain and Normandy. Regular visits to Brassaï’s apartment, Boulevard St.-Jaques

1949
First exhibition at the “Salon des Indépendants," Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Freelance photographer for Time, Fortune, Du, and other journals

1950
Receives a top award from Life magazine in a young photographers contest

1951
Meets regularly with Paul Strand in Paris

1956-57
Creative Photography fellowships in Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York

1969-73
Professor at Brooklyn College, Queens College and Cooper Union, New York

1971-79
Writes “Speaking Out” (later entitled “A Humanist View”), a monthly column of photography criticism for Camera 35

1972
Gives up freelance and advertising work

1973-79
Professor of art at C.W. Post Center, Long Island University

1974
Creative Artists Public Service (CAPS) Grant for the Workers series

1975
First Prize in the Pravda World Contest

1976
Lectures at International Center of Photography (ICP), New York

1977-89
Continues to photograph in USA and Europe. Works on series of still lifes, nudes and landscapes.

1986
Works from January to August on The Bowery series

1989
Starts the Seine series and the Manhattan Wall series

1990
Settles in Saint-Ouen, near Paris

1990-99
Numerous series, among them the Héros de Métro, Têtes de Louvre and Marché aux Puces.
Makes bronze sculptures, works on assemblages, paints and incorporates painting with photography. Continues to photograph in the streets of Europe and America.


Selected Solo Exhibitions

1954
Limelight Gallery, New York

1958
E. Leitz Gallery, New York

1959
Moderna Museet, Stockholm

1964
Village Camera Club, New York

1971
International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York

1974
Neikrug Gallery, New York

1975
Gallery 1199, New York

1979
Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, Montana

1980
Milwaukee Center for Photography

1982
Photographer’s Gallery, London

1983
Berner Photo-Galerie, Bern Midtown Y Gallery, New York

1985
Neikrug Gallery, New York

1986
Centre de la Photographie, Geneva

1987
Photofind Gallery, New York

1988
Photofind Gallery, New York
Union Square Gallery, New York

1989
Comptoir de la Photographie, Paris
Kate Heller Gallery, London
Galerie Berenson, Berlin

1990
Galerie Agathe Gaillard, Paris
Galería Zaragoza, Spain
Vision Gallery, San Francisco

1992
Centre de la Photographie, Geneva
Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Photography Gallery, Málaga

1996
Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York
Espace 1789, Saint-Ouen
E.J. Klejman, Saint-Ouen

1997
Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen (catalogue)
Galerie Marion Meyer, Paris

1998
Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York
Philippe Laumont Gallery, New York
Galerie Marion Meyer, Paris
Tatar/Alexander Gallery, Toronto

2007
"Louis Stettner: Photographies – Peintures – Sculptures" La Galerie du Saint – James, Bouliac, France

2008
"Wisdom Cries Out in the Streets," Marrakech "Tresor des Rues"; Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, NY

2009
Retrospective, Base sous-marine, (Photographs, paintings, and sculpture), Bordeaux
Paris/ New York, Johanne Breede Gallery, Berlin

2010
AD-Galerie, (Photographs, paintings, and sculpture), Genolier, Switzerland (May)

 

Selected Group Exhibitions

1949
“Salon des Indépendants,” Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

1951
"Subjektive Fotografie," Saarbrüken

1960
"Photography in the Fine Arts," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1967
“The Camera as Witness,” Expo ’67, Montreal

1973
Witkin Gallery, New York

1981
Photograph Gallery, New York

1983
“Die fotografische Sammlung,” Museum Folkwang, Essen

1984
”Subjective Photography: Images of the 50’s,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, traveled to University of Houston, Texas; Museum Folkwang, Edden (catalogue); Västerbottons Museum, Umeå, Sweden; Kulturhuset, Stockholm; Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

1985
“City Lights,” International Center of Photography, New York

1988
“Master Photographs from Photography in Fine Arts 1959-67,” International Center of Photography, New York
1990
“American Photographs 1940-1990,” Museum voor Fotografie, Antwerp (catalogue)

1994
“84-94,” Centre de la Photographie, Geneva

1996
“Paris-Fotografien: Dick Arentz, Ilse Bing, Brassaï, André Kertesz, Inge Morath, Louis Stettner, Sabine Weiss,” Galerie Utermann, Dortmund

1997
”City of Ambition,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

2006
"Full House: Views of the Whitney's Collection at 75," Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York

 

Selected Books and Portfolios

Paris-New York, portfolio of 10 photographs, introduction by Brassaï (Paris: Two Cities Publications, 1949)

Workers, portfolio of 24 photographs (New York: Stettner Studio 1974)

Women, portfolio of 22 photographs (New York: Stettner Studio 1976)

Sur le Tas, book of 156 photographs introduction by François Cavanna (Paris: Cercle d’Art, 1979)

Early Joys : Photographs from 1947-1972, introduction by Brassaï (New York: Janet Iffland Publisher, 1987)

Sous le ciel de Paris, introduction by François Cavanna (Paris : Parigramme, 1994)

Louis Stettner’s New York 1950s-1990s, introduction by Barbara Einzig (New York: Rizzoli, 1996)

Louis Stettner, introuctions by François Bernheim (Paris : Nathan, Collection Photo Poche, 1998)


Selected Essays and Books by Louis Stettner

35mm Photography, editor (U.S. Camera Co., 1956)

History of the Nude in American Photography, editor (New York: Fawcett Publications, 1966)

Weegee the Famous, editor (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978)

“Cézanne’s Apple and the Photo League,” Aperture, no. 112 (Fall 1988), pp. 14-35


Recent Reference Works

Michèle and Michel Auer, Encyclopédie de la Photographie (Geneva : Editions Camera Obscura, 1985)

Le Dictionnnaire Mondial de la Photographie (Paris : Larousse, 1994)

Keith F. Davis, An American Century of Photography (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998)


 

 

© 2007 Louis Stettner