|Irene Fay [Mine]|
Irene Fay's own experience of the photographs she made was that they stood as a path to her inner fulfillment. Both her portraits and still-life images reveal a sense of geometrics and light through which her unique story is told. "I don't intend to reveal social injustice or improve conditions; I don't liberate anybody but myself."
To purchase Irene Fay in Canada, please contact Toronto's Stephen Bulger Gallery
700 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1E7
Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Consultations available by appointment
1364 N. McDowell Blvd.
Petaluma CA 94954
|Stefan as Bridge, ©Irene Fay, c. 1936.
7 x 7.75 inches.
|Doll With Head, ©Irene Fay, c. 1970's.|
4.5 x 4.5 inches.
Born in Russia in 1914, Irene Fay lived until 1986 and
spent her formative years in Warsaw. In marking the pivotal
events of her lifetime, one must certainly take note of the day
when, during Secondary School, she wrecked a car. The automobile
her father had once promised her as a graduation gift was now
miraculously transformed into a Rolleiflex camera. The
consequence of this reproach was a love-affair with photography
which elicited her vocation and endured nearly one-half century.
Fay married while her explorations in photography began
to take early form. But life in 1930's Poland was uncertain and
she and her husband planned their escape to Switzerland.
"We arrived in Zurich with two small suitcases containing a
ball-gown, tuxedo, some toilet articles, a long fur cape, and my
jewelry (all of it)," she wrote in her essay, "The
Years With Gotthard Schuh". They managed to convince
officials they had been invited to a gala convention and their
trip would last only several days. They never returned.
Gotthard Schuh was advertising in the newspaper for a
darkroom assistant. He was Switzerland's pre-eminent
photojournalist. Irene won the job and worked with him over the
next three years. Concurrently, she took up a year-long study
with photographer Hans Finsler, who taught her the art of
photographic chemistry. By the end of the Second World War, Fay
was working in Zurich as an independent portrait photographer
and there she remained, until 1948.
Fay's next move was to The United States where she met
friends Andr» Kertesz, Lisette Model and Diane Arbus at the
famed New York camera club. Becoming naturalized in 1954, she
worked primarily as a freelance photographer. In 1973, Fay began
a ten-year relationship with the Witkin Gallery who acted as her
agent. The images she produced during her years in the U.S.
proved to be her most famous and comprise a large portion of
|Rosalie Fay Barnes, ©Irene Fay, August. 1979.,
6.125 x 5.75 inches
Behind Mask, ©Irene Fay, c. 1982.
4.375 x 4.75 inches
ABOUT THE EXHIBIT (MINE)
Entitled Mine, Fay's
collection may at first glance seem to be comprised of
altogether unrelated images, but the artist has revealed,
"...they are images which have been seen through my eyes,
and captured by my viewfinder. I play the game without rules,
and when something strikes me as deeply familiar or bizarre
beyond grasp - I shoot. My photographs are the outcome of an
intensity fuelled by a mixture of optics, chemistry and my own
mysterious needs. And the fusion of motivation and method, the
combination of style and theme is just too intricate and too
difficult to unravel. It is a secret - as though a film strip
wished to remain a puzzle rather than a solution, a riddle
rather than an answer - a toy."
Intrinsic to the photographs of Mine, is a centre of
light surrounded by darker tones. Subjects poking from their
shadowy hiding places uncover true secrets but are not borne of
conscious design. What comes through is Fay's remarkable
obsession with photography for both its science and its art.
"Captured just before it vanishes, and locked in the
mysterious darkness of the camera, the image becomes mine. A
glimpse of life seen through light has been selected and reduced
to a transparent square, and a bit of immense universe seems to
have become easier to store. Perhaps it is my dream to possess a
perfectly arranged miniature world of my own, always at my
Speaking of Mine in 1984, "Mine is a universe which
can consist of: a sewing box; a leaf in Puerto Rico; an open
kitchen drawer. Mine are snow and rain and a moon over a
rooftop, or a barn isolated from the landscape by fog; roses -
their petals wide open, hollyhocks, dendelion puffs,
cauliflower; mushrooms or weeping willows swinging thousands of
leaves over a little white bench. Mine too are film squares of
faces that have passed through my life: of my brothers walking
with me through Yorkshire moors - through rocks, heather and
grazing sheep. And especially, Mine are Stefan and my two
daughters, Jani and Ann and their children."
"Should a disaster occur or should another war force
me to part with these films again, they would not be lost; they
have become part of me. Now, when I think about picture taking,
I feel it is a great circular process; of unending cycles of
opposites moving toward completion - of reality and fantasy, of
good and evil, of heat and frost, of rest and motion. A voyage
toward that meeting place between imagination and knowledge
which is arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging
small ones, and which I hope to make mine."
|Lola, New Kingston, N.Y., ©Irene
Fay, c. 1970.
9.375 x 8.75 inches.
|Emile's Hair, ©Irene
7.25 x 7.75 inches.
|Independent Bathing Suit, ©Irene
3.375 x 3.375 inches.
|His Shirt, c. 1978
©Irene Fay, c. 1978.
4.75 x 4.75 inches
IRENE FAY (1914-1986)
Private commissions numbering approximately 3000 between 1937
and 1984, as outlined below:
||Studio located in
New York City. Privately commissioned portraits, numbering more
||Studio located in
Zurich, Switzerland. Portraits of preeminent artists and writers
including Friedrich Derenmatt, Herman Haller, Felix Sxalten
and Julian Tuwim.
||Studio Located in
Warsaw, Poland. Polish Repertory Theater commissioned portraits
of the leading actors of the time, subsequently creating a
permanent exhibition installation of the work. Private
commissions included a portrait of the great comedian, Dimsha.
||Lot Polski Airlines.
Advertising and promotional photography, Warsaw Poland.
Inc., New York, N.Y.
||Soho Photo Gallery,
New York, N.Y.
||Jersey City Museum,
Jersey City, N.J. (review by David Shirey, New York Times,
Center, Arkville, New York
Jersey City, N.J.
||Camera Club of New
York, New York, N.Y. (review by Jain Kelly, Popular
Photography, September, 1973)
||Agfa, Warsaw, Poland
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
||Witkin Gallery Inc.,
New York, N.Y. (agent for Irene Fay, 1973-1983)
Woods Hole, Massachusets
("Out of the House" Exhibition), New York, N.Y.
||Hunt Insitute For
Botanical Documentation, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh,
New York, N.Y. (review by A.D Coleman, Popular Photography,
Library, New York, N.Y.
|Daybook From a Kitchen Drawer,
book of her photographs and recipes, New York, Adama Books, c.
|Reflections from the Third
Day, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation,
Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsyvania, 1978.
England"(photo essay), New York Times, November
|Sie und Er Magazine,
Switzerland, frequent photo covers, 1945-1947.
|Nasz Przeglad, Polish
daily newspaper, review and photographs, 1938.
Polish Literary magazine, frequent publication, 1938
|Kino Magazine, Warsaw,
Poland, frequent photo covers, 1938.
|Isles of the Gods, book,
co-authored with Gotthard Schuh, 1938.
|Gotthard Schuh Photographic
Studio, Zurich, Switzerland; studied esthetics and in-depth
darkroom procedures, 1935-1938.
|Hans Finsler Photographic
Studio, Zurich, Switzerland; studied theory of photographic
|Academy of Fine Arts, Zurich,
Switzerland; diploma in Interior Design, 1935.
|University of Dresden, Dresden,
Germany; studied art history of the Flemish School and
|Self Portrait, ©Irene Fay, c.
9 x 6.625 inches.
Fay, c. 1978.
Double-Sided/24 images. 19.5x14.5 inches.