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Eliot Porter, Monument Valley, Utah, 1940, gelatin silver print, 7 1/4 x 9 1/2".

Eliot Porter

Paula Cooper Gallery | 534 West 21st Street

Eliot Porter, Monument Valley, Utah, 1940, gelatin silver print, 7 1/4 x 9 1/2".

Eliot Porter was eleven years old when his parents gave him a box camera for Christmas. In the woods behind his house in Illinois, what most fascinated his boyhood imagination were weeds, wildflowers, insects, and birds. Starting then and for the rest of his life, he photographed bitterns, red-winged blackbirds, and marsh wrens, among other bird species. At twelve, Porter created moody pictures of majestic ospreys in Maine, dramatic studies in the mechanics of flight that capture the predatory fish hawk in muscular moments of taking off and landing. Finding the resulting images too muddy, however, he slowly began to refine his process. He tried a folding camera with a faster shutter speed. He bought a Leica. Eventually, at the behest of the photographers Ansel Adams (his first mentor) and Alfred Stieglitz (his first dealer), and under the influence of the painters Fairfield Porter

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