Tag Archives: Tony Vaccaro

LIC veteran, photographer joins 70th D-Day anniversary in Normandy

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Troy Benson


Tony Vaccaro, a Long Island City resident, WWII veteran and photographer, traveled to Normandy Friday for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which cost over 3,000 Americans their lives.

Although there were a large number of American veterans at the June 6 commemorations, Vaccaro holds a special place because an exhibition of his war photography is the centerpiece in the The Mémorial de Caen museum in Caen, Normandy.

Photos by Tony Vaccaro

He spent time with President Barack Obama and President François Hollande of France and was honored for his contributions to the commemorations. After the D-Day ceremonies his exhibition will tour other French cities and Vaccaro is already the subject of a film made for French television.

“I’m honored to have been invited to this event and it provides me with the opportunity to remember my fellow American soldiers who did not return from these savage battles,” Vaccaro said.

After the D-Day landings Vaccaro took part in the major battles which took him and his brother soldiers from Northern France to the fall of Berlin, carrying his camera and taking what would become award-winning photographs.




2014 LIC Arts Open kicks off Wednesday

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

© Luba Lukova

The art scene in Long Island City is heating up and opening its doors during the fourth annual LIC Arts Open – a 5-day extravaganza where over 250 artists will occupy galleries, performance studios and open their studios to visitors.

The event, which this year begins Wednesday and runs through May 18, started several years ago as a two-day, open-studio event, mainly showcasing visual artists and now just keeps on getting bigger.

This year the festival has more than 85 exhibitions and events taking place, with over 160 artists holding open studios. Every event is free and open to the public.

“We were a hidden gem for years, but that’s quickly changing,” said Festival Director Richard Mazda. “Word is getting out that LIC is home to a community of tremendously talented artists, from the emerging Stef Duffy, to rising stars like Luba Lukova—who designed the festival’s poster—to the celebrated, like Matthew Barney, Murakami and legendary sculptor Joel Shapiro. LIC Arts Open continues to be a fantastic way for us to showcase the thriving arts community in Western Queens.”

The schedule for the festival is:

May 14-18, 12 -6 p.m. Exhibition hours
May 14-16, 5-10 p.m. Most openings happening by district over three days:
Wednesday: Vernon Blvd district
Thursday: Court Square district
Friday: Queens Plaza district
May 14, 7:30 -10 p.m. Opening Party
May 16, 6 – 9 p.m. 10Squared exhibition and reception at Gotham Center
May 17-18, 12-6 p.m. Open Studios
May 18, 6 – 10 p.m. Closing Party and Silent Auction

Some highlights of the 4th Annual LIC Arts Open include:

  • Luba Lukova, whose striking images are currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art and Denver Art Museum.
  • Four vacant apartments in a TF Cornerstone waterfront development overlooking LIC’s iconic Pepsi-Cola sign that will be transformed into pop-up galleries.
  • Best known for his WWII photography, and his fashion photography, Tony Vaccaro in his exhibit “The Golden Age of Formula One: Through Tony’s Lens.”
  • After laboring for years as an art fabricator for artists like Frank Stella and Louise Bourgeois, Bernard Klevickas is emerging as an artist in his own right.
  • The Sunhwa Chung/Ko-Ryo Dance Theater, reviewed in The New York Times, will premiere “Life is Every Day: So Close Yet So Far Away.”
  • Over 100 artists are creating original works for the 10Squared exhibition. During the Closing Party, the works will be sold at silent auction for charity.
  • Eleven of Matthew Barney’s assistants formed the Crew, and created a provocative, unexpectedly interactive exhibition.
  • Big Whirlygig will feature Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart), Ernie Brooks (Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers) and Peter Zaremba (Fleshtones).
  • Acclaimed comedy group Face Off Unlimited will bring BATSU!, NYC’s only live Japanese game show and a Time Out New York critics pick to LIC.
The complete festival guide can be found on here. For the latest updates on artists and exhibitions, visit licartsopen.org/new-blog, and follow @LICArtsOpen on Facebook and Twitter.

Tony Vaccaro: An incredible life in photography

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Rosa Kim


“I want a great person. Somebody who gives something to humanity.” That’s how Tony Vaccaro chose his subjects for his photography in a career spanning over 70 years. He has used this criteria to capture the essence of some of the 20th century’s most iconic figures. They include Pablo Picasso (“I wanted to see if what his wife had written about him was true. It wasn’t”), Salvador Dali (“He kept me waiting for two hours, and I scolded him for it”), Jackson Pollock (“I teased him that he would be known as a paint dripper so he painted me a face”) and Frank Lloyd Wright (“He was simply one of the greatest men I knew.”)

Visitors to Manducatis Rustica in Long Island City will be familiar with Vaccaro’s work. A large number of his celebrity photographs adorn the walls. Georgia O’Keefe, Lauren Bacall, Marcel Marceau, Max Ernst and a commanding portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright. These, however, are a mere tantalizing glimpse of over 1,000 portraits taken by Vaccaro in his career which began in the U.S. Army during World War II. His first major assignment was to photograph the impact of the Americans in Germany. These magnificent photographs formed the basis of a Taschen published book Entering Germany.

After returning to the U.S. and dropping out of college – “I felt like I knew everything,” he said – Vaccaro travelled around the country in a 1943 Chevrolet. One day he saw a copy of Business Week magazine with Fleur Cowles on the cover. He approached her for work and she hired him straight away. He started with Flair, and was quickly booked for photographic assignments by Life, Look and the other great publications of that period.

During this time Vaccaro moved from Long Island to Greenwich Village and regularly hung out at the Cedar Tavern with Pollock, Rothko, De Kooning and others.

At the same time, and for the next three decades, he began to photograph an extraordinary array of celebrities, and of course, some of the most beautiful women too; Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Liz Taylor, Maria Callas, Ali McGraw and the Europeans, Sophia Loren (“one of the greatest women I ever met”), Gina Lollabrigida (“she cooked for me”) Anna Magnani, and Anita Ekberg, the beautiful star of “La Dolce Vita.”

One of his most remembered assignments was to photograph Senator John Kennedy at home for Look magazine, just before his presidential run.

“First impressions mean a lot to me and my impression of him when we met was a man of great personal warmth and humanity,” said Vaccaro. “I also found, surprisingly, a strong expression of humility. We stayed friends until that terrible day in 1963.”

Vaccaro has been honored around the world, but especially in France and Germany. Germany put on an exhibition in major cities of photographs from his book Entering Germany.

France presented him with the Legion D’Honneur for his war photography, particularly one of a GI kissing a little French girl.

“For me it summed up liberation, and I want to have three memorials made from this image, two in Europe and one in New York,” he said.

Vaccaro sold his Manhattan penthouse and moved to Long Island City in 1972, because, to him, it represented something of the feel of the Left Bank in Paris. He still loves living in LIC. More recognition is on its way for Vaccaro, with two more books of his work being published, and a major exhibition being planned.

(Photo courtesy Tony Vaccaro and John Vachon)



LaGuardia Community College Student Photo Exhibition

| amanning@queenscourier.com

The men and women who make up Long Island City’s small businesses are the focus of LaGuardia Community College’s student photo exhibition, “Long Island City Works.” Over 100 faces, including photographer Tony Vaccaro, were captured by the school’s commercial photography students.

“The exhibition is a way for the college to recognize the workers of Long Island City at a time when the country’s economy is facing difficult times,” said Scott Sternbach, director of the commercial photography program and one of the project developers.

The exhibition will kick off on November 17 with a reception at the LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Running until February 29, viewing hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 718-482-5985.