Join us on February 14th at 4pm EST for a special panel discussion about the life and legacy of John Brook. As part of our current exhibition, Return to Riverrun we invite you to spend a Sunday afternoon with Thomas Adams, Szari Lewis Bourque, Jean Gibran, David Herwaldt and Pat Nelson.
This event is FREE to Griffin Members. Not a Member? Get more information about our Membership levels.
JOHN BROOK: AN ARTIST WITH A MESSAGE
At the age of 5, under the tutelage of his father, John Brook began taking photographs. In elementary school, much to the chagrin of his teachers, he had a picture of them published in Mademoiselle magazine. After WWII ended, he graduated from Harvard and opened a portrait studio in a fine art district on Boston’s Newbury Street. Within six months his group portrait of the controversial Boston abstract expressionist painters was published in the nationally renowned ARTnews magazine. He became a well-known portraitist with a unique style, which set him apart from the formulary approaches used by other portraitists, and became known as a fine art photographer who diffused light to create ethereal images.
Brook’s ascent as a nationally recognized portraitist and fine art photographer was meteoric. During the mid-twentieth century when photography was demeaned as art, his reputation grew. He was a photographer during turbulent times – the Joseph McCarthy hearings in the US Senate, the Korean War, the race for space after Sputnik, riots protesting racial injustice, three assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the Beatnik generation.
How did this bookish, insular, eccentric man, who preferred music over photography, and eschewed formal training as an artist, become a celebrated photographer — only to be lost in the miasma of history? Today, his imagery continues to resonate. His images are fantasies captured and preserved in silver gelatin. They depict the cycle of love between and among people. As John Brook wrote in his introduction to A Long the Riverrun, “Why does anyone want less than a world of love?” This was and continues to be his message.
These five panelists, friends, and colleagues of John Brook will share their memories of Brook as an artist and a friend, as well as the contemporaneous Boston photo scene.
Thomas L. Adams, former owner of an art gallery in Portland, Maine, founder of the Adams Center for Photographic Research and Study at the Institute of Art and Design at New England College, Manchester, NH, and President of the John Brook Archive.
Szari Lewis Bourque, whose portraits of her with her husband, Jean Bourque, a Boston artist, appear in John Brook’s A Long the Riverrun
Jean Gibran, Biographer & memorialist, Jean Gibran and her late husband, artist Kahlil G. Gibran (1922-2008), were John Brook’s good friends. Jean is also an Incorporator of the Brook Archive
David Herwaldt, graphic designer, photographer, and educator, who as a 19-year-old MIT student, interviewed John Brook on two occasions. His 1973 interviews give insight into John Brook’s vision, techniques, and objectives for his photographic work. David is also a John Brook Archive team member.
Pat Nelson, writer, editor, photographer, and friend of John Brook. Pat is also the Secretary of the John Brook Archive.