The Briscoe Center presents two incredible photographic collections that showcase the work of Fons Iannelli and Shepard Sherbell. Iannelli captured the American imagination during World War II with his intimate portrayal of US servicemen in the Pacific Theater. He went on to document postwar American life with exacting and sympathetic detail. Sherbell’s wide-ranging career in photojournalism included the countercultural revolutions in Britain and America during the 1960s, Washington politics in America during the 1970s, and the twilight of Soviet Russia in the 1980s and 1990s. The collections include over a thousand prints taken by each photographer.
“These two photographers shared wildly different eras, interests, and assignments, but they are united by their phenomenal ability to capture the past in ways that scholars will rely on for decades to come,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “I’m grateful to the support of Helene and Ari Bousbib, Edward Farbenblum, Barry H. Garfinkel, Sandra Geller, Daniel V. Klein, Valerie Levy, and Susan and Josef Yunger, as well as the coordination of James Garfinkel, to bring these outstanding collections to the center.”
Born in 1917, Fons Iannelli began photographing at his father’s sculpture studio in Chicago, Illinois. During the 1930s, Iannelli trained as an apprentice to Gordon Coster, a prominent local photographer. He opened his own studio in 1940 and two years later was recruited by the US Navy to document and publicize its operations during the Second World War. His photographs were published in US Navy War Photographs: Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Harbor (1945).
After the war, Iannelli worked for McCall’s, Life, Fortune, Collier’s, and The Saturday Evening Post. His images of postwar consumerist society were sympathetic to its aspirational qualities while also candid about the elusive nature of middle-class security for many poorer Americans. Iannelli was a technical pioneer in his industry and is credited with developing a rapid rewind function for Leica cameras. He died in 1988.
Shepard Sherbell was born New York City in 1944. During the 1960s he documented the “Swingin’ Sixties” in London, England, creating portraits of many of the era’s most popular musical acts including the Beatles, the Who, and the Rolling Stones. He went on to cover the White House and Capitol Hill during the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Sherbell also covered conflicts and news stories in Grenada, Libya, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Western Europe, Haiti, and Iran.
Sherbell’s book Soviets: Pictures from the End of the USSR documented his time living in Russia between 1991 and 1993. Later a resident of Manhattan, he was an eyewitness to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and his photographs from that day were published globally. He died in 2018.