Discovering the retrospective of Tony Vaccaro at the City Hall of Caen, France
Born in the US from Italian parents, Tony Vaccaro spent his childhood in the small town of Bonefro (Italy). In 1925 the Mafia threatened the father to kill his only son, Tony.
The morning after, the family fled precipitously in Bonefro, Italy. In the months following his return to Italy, Tony lost first his mother and then his father. Tony was entrusted to the father’s brother and his wife along with his two sisters. In their teenage years, his uncle showed a violent attitude towards the three kids. The family situation and the signing of the Pact of Steel between the Kingdom of Italy and Nazi Germany, convinced Tony and his sisters to ask for their American passport and return to the US. In 1939, Tony arrived to NY.
This is just the beginning of the epic life of Tony Vaccaro.
In September 1943, Tony Vaccaro was enrolled in the US Army. He was in Normandy for the D-Day and from there he arrived to Berlin with the 83rd Infantry Division. During the war, he found the energy and the ability to start his career as a photographer.
After the end of the war, Tony was hired by Star and Stripes to take pictures of post-war Italy. In 1949 he went back to New York and he started to work for several magazines including Flair, Look, Life and Venture. During his career he has met and photographed Giovanni XXIII, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Enzo Ferrari, Greta Garbo, Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Maria Callas, and many other celebrities of the second half of the twentieth century. Iconic are his friendships with Alberto Burri, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.
The retrospective that City Hall and the memorial of Caen have dedicated to him is able to contain the different periods of his life and has the merit to showcase the recognizable signs that specifically characterize Vaccaro’s photographs.
‘I was born with this idea in my head that every photograph has an order. I have always believed in this.’ said Tony during the opening of his show Shots of Life. ‘Without geometry I don’t do photography. Each photograph must be in the geometry.’ He added with his Leika in his hands.
Tony Vaccaro’s work can be classified as Humanist photography, since his pictures are a combination of neo-realist description and emotional affect that both inform and move the viewer.
His last statement to us seems to confirm this:
‘In my photos what I want to see is the dignity. In my photos man is the king.’
The Michael A Vaccaro Studio created all 90 prints composing the retrospective.
The show is a mental voyage stretching from the tragedy of World War II, through the efforts of the reconstruction and to the glamour of the fashion and cinema stars of the XX century. Cruelty and vanity, beauty and desolation, courage, tears and a candid kiss all transpires from the selection showed at the City Hall of Caen.
Tony Vaccaro, Shots of Life
Until August 28th
@ the City Hall of Caen (France)
14027 Caen cedex 27
More info about Tony Vaccaro:
Article written by Mike Tree