August 22, 2006
Empowered by Color on view Aug. 12 through Feb. 4
Bold color and striking compositions are at the core of Pete Turner’s extraordinary vision, producing colors so vibrant you want to lick them right off the photograph, a fellow photographer declared. George Eastman House is mounting a retrospective of this celebrated photographer’s work, titled Pete Turner: Empowered by Color, on view Aug. 12, 2006 through Feb. 4, 2007. Turner, highly revered as a leader in color photography for five decades, has not been afraid to take chances and embrace new technology, continually challenging the possibilities of color photography. Turner was named one of “the 20 most influential photographers alive today” by Photo District News, for his photographs that have graced hundreds of advertisements, magazines, and record albums.
Pete Turner: Empowered by Color showcases more than 50 world-renowned photographs representing all facets of Turner’s work, from his first African expedition in 1959 to his latest images of architectural spaces. He is a photographic visionary who has pursued his uncompromising thirst for color saturation. Turner is a master colorist who broke all the rules in a pre-computer era, using the camera and wide-angle lens as his tools. His images have influenced generations of photographers and continue to inspire the way we view the colorful world around us.
“A dramatist’s sense of event, intense and saturated coloration, and a distinct if indescribable otherness are omnipresent in Turner’s images,” noted photography critic A.D. Coleman.
Turner’s photographs have been featured in publications such as Esquire, Look, and Sports Illustrated and are in the permanent collections of major museums around the world. George Eastman House purchased for its collection its first Turner photograph in 1960 and recently acquired a major collection of Turner’s work in 2004. Turner has produced advertising photographs for hundreds of major U.S. corporations as well as album covers for numerous musicians including Quincy Jones, Count Basie, John Coltrane, and George Benson. Other unique projects include creating special-effects stills for Steven Spielberg for the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and work on the film Cleopatra, photographing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Turner, a native of Rochester, N.Y., is an alumnus of Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating 50 years ago in 1956, shortly thereafter publishing his first image in Popular Photography. A turning point in his career was a seven-month expedition to Africa in 1959, taking photographs overland from Cape Town to Cairo. During a later expedition in 1964, Turner captured the most controversial image of the time, “The Giraffe,” which was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The photograph featured a giraffe silhouetted against a brilliant red sky. Turner used both a color filter and color film, illustrating his growing interest in treating color as a graphic element. He has published two monographs with a third, The Color of Jazz: Album Cover Photographs by Pete Turner, scheduled for release September 2006, featuring legendary album covers from the 1960s and 1970s.
Pete Turner: Empowered by Color is organized by George Eastman House, under the direction of Sean Corcoran, George Eastman House assistant curator of photographs, and will embark upon an international tour after its Rochester debut. The exhibition is made possible by Epson and Nikon, with additional support by Omega Moulding, Lowepro, and Solux. Turner currently uses a Nikon D2x camera for his work, as well as the Epson printers.
“Color photographs for fine art, advertising, and photojournalism are regularly seen in glossy magazines and on museum walls,” Corcoran said. “But while commercial advertising quickly embraced color photography in the early 20th century, it took decades for fine-art photographers to welcome color. The acceptance of color photography in the fine arts in the late 20th century can be credited to a handful of photographers who championed the medium’s possibilities. Among them is Pete Turner.”
Pete Turner in Person
Pete Turner will visit George Eastman House at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, taking part in an illustrated lecture, to be followed by a booksigning, exhibition viewing, and reception. Admission at the door is $10 general admission; $8 students; free for members. Turner’s latest book is The Color of Jazz: Album Cover Photographs by Pete Turner (Rizzoli, $45), which will debut in September. The book, which features a forward by Quincy Jones, showcases 100 covers and their art in close to original size. Many of the covers are rare and out-of-print. According to the publisher, “Turner’s covers set new standards for this medium and transformed albums into art objects, sought after both for the music they contain and the cover art they display.”
For more information about the exhibition or Sept. 15 event, please visit www.eastmanhouse.org or call (585) 271-3361. Admission to George Eastman House is $8 for adults; $6 for senior citizens (60 and older); $5 for students; $3 for children (5 to 12); and free for children 4 and under and museum members.