07 May 2015

Burt Glinn Retrospective

Contact sheet images of a bikini-clad Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Suddenly Last Summer (1959) cover the windows at Milk Gallery. Compelling to look at, they are the work of Burt Glinn.

“Burt Glinn: Retrospective” is a sampling of images taken by the noted photographer. From American high school students and British aristocrats to Fidel Castro and Robert Kennedy to the Beats and the Rat Pack, Glinn captured some of the defining people and moments of his day.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1925, he received his first camera—a Kodak Monitor folding camera—from his aunt on his 12th birthday. From then on photography became his passion. He served as an artilleryman in the US Army during World War II and studied at Harvard where he shot photos for the Harvard Crimson. After graduation Glinn worked as an assistant at Life Magazine before he, Eve Arnold, and Dennis Stock were asked to join Magnum Photos in 1951, the first Americans to be invited. Three years later he became a full member and would later serve twice as Magnum’s president. During his half-century long career, Glinn's work took him around the globe and earned him high praise including the Mathew Brady Award for Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1959 for his colour series of the South Seas. The man who once said, “The most important thing that a photographer like me can have is luck” passed away in 2008.

The photos in the exhibit are striking and leave you wanting more (I’d especially like to see some of Glinn’s colour work). While I enjoyed the images of famous people—Jack Kerouac flirting at a party, an exquisite portrait of Twiggy—my favourite may have been this image above, “Delinquents run from a cop, Snoqualmie, WA.” The shadowy figures seem like something out of Peter Pan, two lost boys being chased by Captain Hook (look at the cop’s right hand). And you can almost hear the scream coming from the one boy's open mouth. It’s just wonderful and a perfect example of why Glinn was such a great photographer.

“Burt Glinn: Retrospective” is at Milk Gallery through May 10. For more info, visit here.

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