May 11, 2009

LIFE Photo Archive Online

If you haven't done it already, check out the LIFE Photo Archive hosted by Google.

When I was growing up in the mid-60's, LIFE magazine was for me the most important part of the weekly news cycle. This was because LIFE magazine had the best images of current events. Movies created big beautiful images, but it was never 'current' enough. TV was immediate, but at that time the image quality was lousy, mostly filled with still studio sets and talking heads. LIFE magazine was the grand canvas for current world news and culture. Itís almost impossible for anyone under the age of 40 to even imagine what kind of anticipation there was waiting for the current issue of LIFE magazine to show up in your mailbox once a week. Of course, all that changed rapidly as TV mobile technology improved, and then cable TV expanded the number of images, and eventually the internet came in with even more diverse and instant imagery.

So, as this is a blog about stained glass, I was curious to see what would show up in a search for 'stained glass' in the LIFE image archives. Some images I expected, like 20th century modern art related stained glass (LIFE's heyday was from about 1940-1970). In some cases, where I might expect to find something, there was nothing. For example, there are images of the National Cathedral, but no stained glass.

And there were some very odd surprises. More on that later.

One example of a totally expected image. French painter Marc Chagall working on a stained glass window, circa 1960. Expected since I remember a good number of photo essays on modern artists in the pages of LIFE.


more modern artists and a few oddities after the fold...

all images © Time, Inc.

Modern stained glass artists in LIFE

Henry Matisse in 1951 at perhaps the most famous of '20th century modern' stained glass commissions - Vence Chapel.


The stained glass artist who translated Matisse's designs was Paul Bony, from 1949.


The Robert Sowers Kennedy airport windows, from 1961. I expected this in LIFE, but not with such nice hi-res color shots. This is the commission that was recently dismantled.


Young Seigfried Reinhardt, in 1952, before he became the stained glass artist Siegfried Reinhardt. There are some 72 shots in this photo archive.


Stained Glass in LIFE - the oddities

A creepy oddity -
Dedication of a stained glass window to J. Edgar Hoover, circa 1966.


From a quick net search this seems to be taking place at Capitol Hill Methodist Church, though there is no mention of the Hoover connection on their website. No big surprise in that.

A nice oddity -
The Stained Glass House, circa 1971. This is someone's house in the woods. No further info given, other than that the Photographer was John Dominis.


And, finally, a beyond bizarre oddity -
Anti-Religious Museum, Moscow 1941, photos by Margaret Bouke-White


the windows in more detail.

Obviously not real windows, but one still cannot help but react with utter bafflement.

There are more images throughout the LIFE archive related to stained glass. There was an issue with Chartres as the cover, but the quality of the images (at least the ones online) are surpisingly poor.

Posted by Tom at May 11, 2009 09:03 PM