An interview of Paul Caponigro conducted 1999 July 30-August 12, by Susan C. Larsen, for the Archives of American Art, at Caponigro's home, in Cushing, Maine.
Caponigro describes his childhood, military career, and travels through the southwest and northern California, his association with Minor White, exhibitions, publications, employment, and marriage to wife Eleanor.
Caponigro discusses the significance of his Stonehenge series of photographs; others' interpretations of his work; further exhibitions; and the role that his family's move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, has played in the evolution of his work.
Further discussion of the photographic scene in Santa Fe and its connection to American modernist photographers such as Paul Strand and Ansel Adams; travels; Guggenheim grant; the 1991 fall from a rocky ledge that was a physical and spiritual watershed in his life; and his new home in Cushing, Maine.
He recalls George Tice, Ansel Adams, Minor White, Bert Westin, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Oliver Gagliani, Beniamino Bufano, Morris Graves, Walter Chappell, Jerry Uelsmann, Carl Chiarenza, William Clift, Marie Cosindas, Peter Bunnell, John Szarkowski, Robert Singer, Beaumont Newhall, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ed Ranney, David Scheinbaum, Janet Russek, Lucien Clergue, and many others.
Biographical / Historical:
Paul Caponigro (1932- ) is a photographer and teacher from New England and New Mexico.
Originally recorded on 7 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 12 digital wav files. Duration is 5 hr., 19 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
The records of San Francisco Focus Gallery measure 11.8 linear feet and date from 1963-1987. The bulk of the collection consists of exhibition files. There are also artists files, sales information, correspondence, and scattered records of the gallery's companion bookshop.
Scope and Contents:
The records of San Francisco's Focus Gallery measure 11.8 linear feet and date from 1963-1987. The bulk of the collection consists of exhibition files. There are also artists files, sales information, correspondence, and scattered records of the gallery's companion bookshop.
Exhibition files comprise the bulk of the collection and generally contain a wide range of materials including correspondence, short biographies, forms requesting artists' background information, flyers, booklets, brochures, checklists, loan agreements, sales records, news releases, and photographs and negatives. Among the many photographers exhibited were Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Bill Brandt, Wynn Bullock, Paul Caponigro, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Robert Heinecken, Eikoh Hosoe, Annie Leibovitz, Eliot Porter, Aaron Siskind, Jerry Uelsmann, and Brett Weston.
A relatively small amount of general business correspondence includes orders and payments for photographic prints, books, and magazine subscriptions, some personal notes, and requests for information about how to submit for exhibitions and for exhibition schedules. Correspondents include customers, photographers, publishers, law firms, museum, and colleges and universities. Correspondence from the founding year contains Johnston's letters to various venues prominent in art photography, such as George Eastman House. There is also a letter to Ansel Adams requesting prints to sell or for a small opening exhibit.
Additional records include artists' files; sales and inventory records containing print and bookshop inventories, general pricing information and receipts for photographs; and printed materials including flyers and brochures, bookshop catalogs and news releases. There are also scattered administrative records, including gallery history, a file on the Toren Gallery and five owner's notebooks, as well as The Imogen Cunningham Trust files documenting Focus Gallery's interactions with the trust before and after Cunningham's death regarding photographs printed and signed by her; financial and legal files; and guest books.
Documents in the collection that pre-date the founding of the gallery are found in the Toren Gallery file and a few of the exhibition files.
The collection is arranged as 8 series.
Series 1: Administrative Records, 1963-1985 (Box 1; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1966-1987 (Boxes 1-2; 1 linear foot)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1966-1985 (Boxes 2-10; 8.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Artists Files, 1966-1978 (Boxes 10-11; 0 .5 linear feet)
Series 5: Financial and Legal Files, 1966-1987 (Box 11; 0 .2 linear feet)
Series 6: Sales and Inventories, 1966-1987 (Box 11; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1966-1987 (Boxes 11-12; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Guest Books, 1966-1970, 1978-1985 (Boxes 12-13; 0.6 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Focus Gallery was founded by Helen Head Johnson (1916-1989) in 1966 on Union Street in San Francisco. The gallery exhibited and sold primarily art photographs and other contemporary art.
Helen Head Johnston believed that photography deserved its own exhibition space. As stated in the gallery's first press release, "in seeking to encourage print collecting it (the gallery) offers not only a show place but also a market place for photographers." While retaining an emphasis on Bay Area photographers, the gallery's exhibitions soon became international in scope, featuring little known and well-established photographers through both solo and group exhibitions. With few exceptions, the gallery's policy was to feature an artist only once. To help keep the gallery going in its early days, Johnston started a bookshop mail-order business. At the time of its closing in August 1985, Focus Gallery was the longest continuously operating photography gallery in the country. The bookshop continued in another location for an additional two years.
The collection is arranged as 8 series
Series 1: Administrative records, 1963-1985, (Box 1 8 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1966-1987, undated (Box 1-2 1 linear foot)
Series 3: Exhibition files, 1966-1985 (Box 2-10 8.5 linear feet)
Series 4: Artists files, 1966-1978, undated (Box 10-11, 9 folders)
Series 5: Financial and Legal files, 1966-1987 (Box 11 6 folders)
Series 6: Sales and Inventories, 1966-1987, undated (Box 11 11 folders)
Series 7: Printed Materials, 1966-1987, undated (Box 11 and Hol 12 7 folders)
Series 8: Guest Books, 1966-1985 (Hol 12-13 6 folders)
Among the holding of the Archives of American Art is an untranscribed interview of Helen Johnston by Louise Katzman or Irene Borger in the collection Interviews of California Photographers 1981 Jun.-Nov.20.
Helen Johnston left her private photography collection to the de Saisset Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The Focus Gallery records were donated by the estate of owner Helen Johnston, care of Gerald O'Conner, executor.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Correspondence; biographical information; financial papers; clippings; exhibition catalogs and announcements. Correspondents include Ansel Adams, Rudolf Arnheim, Paul Caponigro, Ivan Chermayeff, Imogen Cunningham, Joseph Jachna, Gyorgy Kepes, Golda Lewis, Stephen Ostrow, Daniel Robbins, Naomi Savage, Alan Shestack, Jane Teller, and Hugo Weber, among others.
Biographical / Historical:
Photographer; Providence, R.I., Born 1903. Died 1991.
Lent for microfilming 1977 by Aaron Siskind.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
Photographers -- Rhode Island -- Providence Search this
Four directions in modern photography: Paul Caponigro, John T. Hill, Jerry N. Uelsmann [and] Bruce Davidson. An exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery, December 14, 1972 through February 25, 1973