About Last Night: Inside the Burt Glinn Retrospective
As of last night, Milk Gallery has transformed into a room of visible history, and we have Burt Glinn to thank for that. At the opening of the Burt Glinn Retrospective, faces across generations came out and celebrated the work of one of the greatest analog photographers. Some of our guests found perusing the photo-clad white walls included, Lexi Boling, downtown photographer Ricky Powell, and our good pal JZ Radical.
On one of the walls, there is a photo of Fidel Castro, and a quote from Glinn that says, “What’s important is not what I make happen, but what happens to me.” We found Magnum’s (the esteemed photo agency Glinn was president of) current Creative Director Gideon Jacobs, who elaborated on this quote, “That’s a sentiment that photography is a reaction, and not so much a creative art. A lot of what makes a great photographer is knowing where to be and where to stand and how to be in the right place.” Glinn, humbly attributed his success to being at the right place at the right time, but Gideon believes there’s something more to it, “If you’re lucky over and over and over again, it’s no longer being at the right place at the right time, it’s having a knack and nose for history.”
Glinn, who passed away in 2008, has lived an incredible life, which can be easily validated once you take a look at the gallery. These black and white photographs capture breathtaking moments in history that span across politics, to the creative arts. The exhibition includes iconic images of Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol, and Castro during the Cuban revolution, who Glinn had quite the relationship with. Glinn’s wife Elena was present during the evening, and described their last trip to Cuba. “One of our finest trips was when we went to Cuba in 2001. We stayed for ten days and we spent 3.5 hours with Fidel. Burt and Fidel were exactly the same age – they were like two little guys comparing their magic tricks. They were showing each other photographs, they stayed up for hours, and Fidel printed up pictures of the revolution and he gave them to us and we gave some to him.”
The retrospective commemorates the life that Glinn lived, the moments he had bared witness to, and chose to capture and share with the world. They are his stories in remarkable abundance. Gideon made a poignant observation last night, while looking at the work, “There’s something incredible about a guy who saw so much, and always had a camera in his hand. It’s not a coincidence, I think having a camera in your hand pushes you to see, and sometimes seeing pushes you to have a camera in your hand.”
The Burt Glinn retrospective will be running at Milk Gallery until May 10.
Photography by Zlatko Blatistich