Friday, April 29, 2011
"Get the Picture"
We've been hearing about John Morris from friends in Paris for several years. He's the legendary photo editor of LIFE magazine during World War II, having edited Robert Capa's D-Day photos, executive editor of the Magnum photo agency, photo editor at various times of The New York Times, The Washington Post and Ladies Home Journal, for which he edited the exclusive photos of the wedding of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier, and the European correspondent of National Geographic. His autobiography is titled "Get the Picture."
He edited the indelible photo of the Viet Cong prisoner being shot in the head on the street in Saigon, photos of the moon landing, and other iconic images. He worked with Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Elliot Erwitt among others. He knew Robert Doisneau and Brassaï, and many many others, photographers, reporters, and newsmakers. He's lived in Paris for nearly 30 years. He was awarded the Legion of Honor. A couple of years ago he was instrumental in the Obama campaign in France. He's 95 years old.
We were lucky enough to be invited to a dinner with him and his lady friend at the home of a mutual friend and were thrilled to meet a man who appeared 20 years younger than his age and who had fascinating stories to tell. Before we left that evening Morris gave us an invitation to the opening party for the auction of his own personal photo collection, going on the block on April 30, 2011 at 15 avenue Montaigne.
There must have been a couple of hundred people sipping wine and looking at the incredible prints on the walls, from versions of Dorothea Lange's migrant mother to Robert Capa's gypsy wedding, to Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of his and Morris's shadows on the beach, to a happy family picture of the Kennedy brothers and sisters at JFK's wedding. We were blown away to see this incredible record of the 20th century and to have met a man who had been intimately involved in preserving it.