For a single decade Westport was the center of an exploding evolution in photography and education. Richard Avedon showed
how he had photographed The Beatles with psychedelic effects for LOOK magazine. Irving Penn set up a studio with his camera focused on a still life of pouring wine. Alfred Eisenstaedt explained how he took the cover shots for many of the
first issues of LIFE Magazine.
Ten of America’s greatest photographers gathered in Connecticut in 1962 to teach the world to take pictures and to show students how some of the most memorable photographs of the twentieth century had been created. The school they founded, Famous
Photographers School, closed its doors in 1974, and for fifty years its legacy of historic photographs was all but forgotten, carefully stored in filing cabinet drawers in an industrial warehouse. Now, for the first time, photographs from this forgotten archive are on exhibit at Artists’ Market in Norwalk, and a unique window into the past has been opened at last.
In 1948 Westport’s Albert Dorne and the great American illustrator Norman Rockwell came up with the idea for a correspondence school for art, and with a group of their colleagues they founded Famous Artists School. The timing was perfect: servicemen were
coming home from war and America was growing fast. Within ten years the school was one of the most successful of its kind, and expansion plans included building a state-of-the-art headquarters on the riverside in Westport (now home to Save the Children) and branching out into other fields of art and education. Schools were organized for writers, for illustrators and for cartoonists, and ten of the greatest photographers of the time were recruited as the guiding faculty of Famous Photographers School.
Today their names are legendary and read like the chapters in a history book of photography: Avedon, Penn, and Eisenstaedt; Philippe Halsman and Bert Stern, Frank Lloyd Wright’s photographer Ezra Stoller, and the founder of the National Press Photographers Association, Joseph Costa. Today, photographs by these historic figures are seen more often in books and museums than on gallery walls, so an opportunity to see and collect vintage prints that were made over fifty years ago, pictures that were selected to teach future generations of photographers the secrets of the masters, is not to be missed.