Joe Alterio's blog on illustration, comix, design, animation, and other bouts of total awesomeness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rest On Your Laurels

I was informed the other day that my dad, Brian Alterio has had some of his photographic work from the 1970s entered into the Government Art Collection of the United Kingdom. I understand that this is akin to having your work added to the Smithsonian National Art Archive collection here, so it's huge honor. Most notable among entrants is the image above, the irony of which is that my dad doesn't have a print of this image anymore, or even the negative. I had to email the GAC and beg them for a scanned file, which at 150K, is the biggest file size I could get out of their greasy little hands. So it truly belongs to The State now, I guess.

As a part of the neo-verite school that was bubbling around Britain at the time, alternatively called the Young British Photographers and the Romantic Realists, my dad was but a small cog in the upswell of recognition that photography was an art form best taken on the fly with little fuss, moving away from the staid tired images of previous generations and into more visceral iconic images. From my dad's blurb:

"I was first introduced to photography while trolling the stacks at the library as an under grad at the Mass College of Art in 1966. I happened across a book by Alfred Stieglitz the seminal figure in American photography in the early 20th century. Struck by the power of his images, I urgently set about buying a cheap, rudimentary, yet effective, range finder camera.

From that point onward the trajectory was steep and powerful until I found myself in England in 1972. Coincidentally, the precise point in time when British creative photography was about to make it's second mark in history other than the obvious and great historical figures that populate the books in our libraries and bookshelves today.

At that time I always carried my trusty Lieca everywhere I went day and night every day 365 days a year. Inspired by my predecessors and stimulated by the now famous cadre of young British photographers that would hang out at the offices of Creative Camera in London, I would shoot dozens of rolls of B/W per day and return home to process them.

That period was one of great influence and inspiration in both directions. I had the pleasure to meet and befriend one of the great yet here-to-fore unsung giants of that time Paddy Summerfield in Oxford. Paddy's approach was so unique and powerful as to be the undiscovered avante garde of that period. We shared many hours of hotly debated topics that ranged from Herri Cartier Bresson's "decisive moment" to and including the purity on the frame edge at the precise time of exposure."

I'm gratified at this turn of events of multiple fronts, not the least of which is that I'm really happy for my dad. Once I was born, and then later my sister, my dad stopped shooting and actually got a real job and career. When we were growing up, he would occasionally take us out shooting, but it wasn't as often as probably he would like: he had a lot of his plate at the time, from sustaining a family to managing a crumbling marriage. I can't help but feel partially responsible by my mere existence for my dad not being more renowned than he is. But that's enough Psychology-by-Blogger; I'm just glad he actually is getting some recognition for his vision.

My dad's mention of Paddy Summerfield lends me to add one more link, Paddy's photographic site. He's still shooting, and some of his work is truly amazing, especially the 'handheld' series under 'portrait. It's visionary work, check it out.

Congrats, pop. I love ya.

1 comment:

Ben-chan said...

That is so cool I don't know what to say! Congratulations to your dad and, by association, you.