New Book ‘The Power of Photography’ Boasts Striking Images of The Beatles, Yves Saint Laurent, Jackson Pollock

Above image: Martine Franck, Swimming Pool Designed by Alain Capeilleres, Le Brusc, Var, France, 1976

Born in London, Peter Fetterman was still an independent film producer back in the ’80s when he started collecting 20th Century photography. By 1994 he had opened his namesake gallery at Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica Center of the Arts, and it is now regarded as one of the most influential in the medium.

Fast forward two-and-a-half decades and the gallery world, much like nearly everything else, would go into lockdown due to severe COVID health restrictions. Yet while major art dealers were frantically scrambling for a quick-fix digital strategy, Fetterman smartly launched the poignant online series The Power of Photography, highlighting images whose messages were ones of hope, love and peace in a time of great fear and, yes, even hopelessness. It straight-away garnered a genuine cult following.

“The project began in March of 2020,” he recalls. “I was given a ‘silver lining’ gift of a complete shutdown and the time to reflect on all the wonderful photographers and their images that I had encountered throughout my career. (Note: the gallery’s holdings currently include works by the considerable likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado, Ansel Adams, André Kertesz, Lillian Bassman and Alfred Stieglitz.) The words ‘The Power of Photography’ reverberated in my brain and I felt compelled to share what they all had meant to me.”

The success of the series has now led to what would seem almost inevitable, a stunningly realized book of the same name, which has just been released by the venerable ACC Art Books. In it, we see some of the towering icons of the 20th Century – Malcolm X, Lennon + McCartney – captured in a distinctly humanist style. In particular, Martha Holmes’ Jackson Pollock painting in his studio, 1949 so intently conveys the tensions of the great Abstract Expressionist’s painting process; while Marc Riboud’s Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1964 uniquely catches him in a seemingly private moment of self-reflection.

Weegee’s Easter Sunday in Harlem, 1940, and Cartier-Bresson’s Queen Charlotte’s Ball, 1959, are also absolute standouts, one a captivating depiction of unfettered joy, the other of sheer exhilaration.

Fetterman explains how, “Each image in the book touched me in a profound way, and my wish is that it will do the same to others and spread some much needed joy and hope and beauty in these unique times we are all living through.”

Of course, these times have finally allowed for galleries to be physically open again – and The Power of Photography will also be an exhibit, opening June 4 at the Peter Fetterman Gallery, and running through September 4. But the book itself will surely go down as one of the most vivid visual documents of what were arguably the most transformative one-hundred years in human history.

Above images from top:

Marc Riboud, Yves Saint-Laurent, Paris, 1964

Earlie Hudnall, Girl with Flag, 1991

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Our Cat Ulysses and Martine’s Shadow, 1988

Martha Holmes, Jackson Pollock Painting in his Studio, Springs, Long Island, NY, 1949

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