Richard Turchetti (b.)
First name: Richard ;
Middle name: ;
Last name: Turchetti ;
Member: Non-member ;
Begin: 2020 ;
Growing up in Rochester, NY, the subject of photography was inescapable. This was a one-industry town where almost every household had been, in some way, affected by the gigantic Eastman Kodak Company. Arguably, the greatest merchandiser of American technology in the 20th century, Kodak set a standard of excellence and innovation that has rarely been equaled. As a youth I had a steady diet of industry shop talk from my amazing father who loved photography as much as he was devoted to his administrative occupation at “The Great Yellow Mother” as it was sarcastically and affectionately known by the folks of Rochester. This, of course, referring to the garish chrome yellow branding on all things Kodak.
My father’s first employment was as a lens grinder with the prestigious Wollensack Optical Co. My uncle was employed at the Graflex Corp. in camera production, and together they shared an interest in photography that, unfortunately, did not spark my fascination until many years later. I regrettably never took advantage of the beautiful dark room in our basement, and ignored the myriad opportunities of learning the skills for making images. But my talents were still nurtured and developed by my parents; my father used to take me to art classes with him where we both learned gouache and easel painting, side by side. It wasn’t until after college, when I moved to Los Angeles, that I began to seriously pursue fine art – with photography still in the distance.
A new exposure to acrylic painting and silk screening allowed me to explore combinations of medium on large canvases with geometric motifs. Following an aesthetic trend of the day, these were well received at the L.A. Art Association Gallery, but sales were sporadic. I also exhibited at the Antoinette Maillard Gallery in San Francisco. My painting images were hard-edge and minimal, perhaps appealing to a very limited end of the collector spectrum. And I personally felt there was much more to be said in a two dimensional surface.
Since my drawing skills were under-developed, I needed another device for communicating form and figures. I had reached a creative impasse that suddenly changed after moving to NYC in the 1980s. I began to think of photography as a drawing tool; I could express my artistic vision with one click of a camera lens. The immediacy and ease of capturing infinite objects and ideas brought me to an accelerated pace of learning a craft that I had dismissed so many years ago. Making up for lost time, I really was on a marathon of photo exploration. It was almost as if my late father’s spirit was guiding me – it was the great second chance that we all wish for.
I enrolled in photo courses at the School of Visual Arts in NY, and under the expert tutelage of the esteemed Cora Wright Kennedy I found a solid footing in the technical aspects of picture taking. This accomplished author and photographer believed in my work, and that was all I needed to go the extra mile.
I moved into a small studio at the Chelsea Hotel, which I outfitted with a fully functioning darkroom. I had a carpenter build a portable surface over the tub for chemical trays, placed the enlarger on a dresser, and covered the French doors with black-out drapes. There was no turning back – this was now a commitment! My enthusiasm overtook any inconvenience of living in these conditions. But I can’t imagine a fulfilled life otherwise.
After exploring endless subject matter and techniques, I gravitated to the moody and romantic images of the great Pictorialists of the early 20th century. These timeless, dream-like studies of a vanished age speak to me from the past. They are documents of a fragile world of grace and beauty where even the mundane appears with transcendence. The great masters like Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz lived without the clutter and complication of digital technology and distraction of a shrill population. In 1910, one could point a camera in any direction and find a masterpiece of imagery to capture. Far more effort is required today!
I could best define my photography as Neo-Pictorialism: “…projecting an emotional intent into the viewer’s realm of imagination.” The early Pictorialists manipulated their luminous images with toning and textures to emulate the oil paintings of the day. I have found updated techniques for similar effects, hoping to breathe new life into this venerable tradition of photography. As my journey continues, I am in constant wonder of the vast possibilities that lie ahead.
Digital-born document number:
Record birth date:
November 21, 2020
Last updated: November 22, 2020 at 1:21 am