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Robert McCabe photo exhibition on Poros

Starting on April 17 and running until May 12, the Gallery Citronne on the idyllic island of Poros is holding a major exhibition of the acclaimed photographer Robert McCabe’s work, in a display that will later travel to various European countries. In the aftermath of World War II, Robert McCabe captured a record of everyday life in Greece through his lens. His black and white pictures encapsulate life in various forms: portraits, architectural elements, and landscapes. His photos constitute homage to nature and Greek people of a long -gone elegiac era.
Gallery Citronne starts its 2010 summer period with the exhibition of the work of the American photographer Robert McCabe.

The subject of Robert McCabe’s documentary style, black and white photographs is Greece. The photographs presented in Poros were taken during McCabe’s trips to Greece in 1955 and 1957 – in a contemporary “Grand Tour” – when still an undergraduate at Princeton University with a strong interest on the legacy of cultural antiquity. Through his eyes, those of a foreign observer, he photographed the land and its people, recording the entire spectrum: portraits, scenes of everyday life, architecture, landscapes. met with the renowned photographer and discussed his upcoming exhibition, his inspirations and future projects.

Please tell us a few words about your upcoming exhibition in Poros

The exhibition is opening on April 17 at the Citronne Gallery on the harbor in Poros. I am very proud and excited to be showing my photographs under the auspices of such a fine gallery, and on an island which I have known for so many years. My first visit to Poros was in 1954.

How did you get started in photography?

My father worked for the New York Mirror. It was one of the largest picture newspapers in the U.S.. It had a large staff of photographers, and its own darkroom facilities. When I was five years old my father gave me a camera. Immediately I started looking out for newsworthy events. A few years later my brother and I set up a darkroom in the basement of our house in Rye, New York. I used to go out in the radio cars with Mirror photographers rushing to the scene of police emergency calls.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from people, from colors, from forms, from light–many different things can inspire. But I’ve discovered that conditions have to be right to be inspired. By this I mean that the same subjects do not always lead to inspiration. Part of it is internal–a mood, a psychological state. One can’t just turn it off and on.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

When I was young I used to devour the U.S. Camera Annual, Life Magazine, and the National Geographic. U.S. Camera Annual presented work by the leading photographers of the day. Many of those photographers’ work are known and respected today. Today, I often refer to the work of Costa Manos in Greece for its remarkable poetry and iconic quality.

What is next for you?

In three weeks we go to Verona to oversee the printing of my latest book titled “DeepFreeze–A Photographer’s Antarctic Odyssey in the Year 1959″. It is about a trip I made to the South Pole and publication is coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Amundsen’s expedition to the Pole. I have completed the photography for a book on New York City which I hope can be published before the end of the year. I am working with Patakis Editions on a possible book of the color photographs I took in the Greek islands for the National Geographic Magazine in 1957. And along with two collaborators I am working on a book about one of my favorite Greek archaeological sites.

What is your advice for the young and aspiring artists?

The life and work of an artist can be difficult and frustrating. Often the verdict on an artist’s greatness comes too late for him or her to even know about it. Van Gogh is the classic example of course; during his life NO ONE (except his brother) bought his paintings. Yet many artists today can succeed and prosper during their life time. The market for art works is large and diverse. But recognition can be slow in coming. Advice is hard to give. I would like to say “Stick with your vision and principles.” But that might not put food on the table, and one might have to adapt to the commercial market place. After all, many of what are recognized today as great works of art were done for commercial customers, and that goes all the way from Euphronios to Michelangelo to the present. I have enormous admiration for phtographers like the late Willy Ronis who never deviated from photography as his sole and exclusive life’s work. Willy was very generous to me with his time and helped me select the photographs for one of my books of Greek photographs.

Sunday, April 18, 2010