In August I had the pleasure of speaking with Dennis Stock on the phone about an exhibition of his work in Woodstock, N.Y. At age 81 he was still thoughtful, articulate and humorous. This morning, Magnum announced the sad news that the master of photography had died late last night. Listen to part of the phone conversation here (and please forgive the audio quality):
"You gotta love the medium..."
Venice Beach Rock Festival, Calif., 1968.
Hear Stock discuss this photo:
Read more after the jump!
At age 19, after three years in the Navy, Stock enrolled at the New School for Social Research, where the famous Berenice Abbott was an instructor. In his words, school wasn't his "cup of tea." So Abbott referred Stock to the also famous Eugene Smith, who hired the young photographer, then fired him weeks later, saying, "You ought to work for a man like Gjon Mili, who'd really kick your ass in."
At the end of a four-year apprenticeship with Mili, Stock won Life's Young Photographer contest for a series on immigrants. After that, he was invited by Robert Capa to join Magnum — at the time a fledgling photo agency. Among his contemporaries in the agency was the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson.
He observed and imitated, but he also brought something new to the world of photojournalism: an insatiable curiosity, a somewhat reckless spirit and a youthful energy. He documented James Dean, a series that was immortalized after the actor's untimely death. He captured the spirit of the Woodstock generation and New York's jazz scene. Later in life, his work evolved to encompass calmer, color abstracts.
Stock was photographing during what he called the "golden age of photography." He lived and worked among some of the century's greatest photographers and of course ranks among them. Learn more about Stock in this earlier blog post. And check out his portfolio on Magnum.
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