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George S Zimbel

In an era of increased manipulation of the photographic image by computer technology, George Zimbel’s commitment to the straight photograph has become stronger. A hallmark of his approach is non-intervention. He photographs what is really happening and feels that serious observation is more important than creating a scene.

When he exhibits his work, the walls are hung with photographs from the 1940’s through to 2009, always printed by himself. At 80 years old, he has been photographing for over 65 years with an eye that is life positive. He regularly produces new work.

An alumnus of Columbia University, the Photo League and the Alexy Brodovitch Seminar, he honed his craft in New York City, working for national magazines (Look, The New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Architectural Forum). Always parallel to assignments he was at work on self initiated projects. These included diverse subjects such as 1950’s European Photographs, Readers from libraries to submarines, Politics in the U.S. and Canada, Marilyn Monroe in Seven Year Itch, and the ongoing story of his family.

The Zimbels operated Bona Fide Farm on Prince Edward Island from 1971-1980. After moving to Montreal in 1980 he has been printing and exhibiting from his extensive archive and has had many solo exhibitions at galleries and museums. In 2000, he was honoured with the largest photography exhibit ever shown at Institut Valencia D’Art Modern in Spain. A major catalogue was issued at that time.

In 2001 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of Canadian Photographers in Communications and was shortlisted for the Roloff Beny Award for best Canadian photographic book. In 2004, he had a retrospective exhibition at Confederation Centre Museum and later that year was a major presence in the Marilyn Monroe exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. He was subsequently featured in the PBS American Master’s production “Marilyn Monroe: Still Life.” In 2005 he had a retrospective exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo and the Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University followed by publication of his book "Bourbon Street New Orleans 1955". In 2006 he was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.

His work is in the collections of National Gallery of Canada, Musée national des Beaux-Arts du Quebec, Musée des beaux Arts de Montreal, Musée D’art Contemporain de Montreal, Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Museum of Modern Art N.Y.C., The Jewish Museum, International Center of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Institut Valencia D’Art Modern, Brooklyn Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art & Musée National d’Histoire d’art de Luxembourg.

"A lot goes into a finished documentary photograph: a very personal view of life, a knowledge of technique, and of course information. It is the information that grabs the viewer, but it is the photographer's art that holds them" - George S. Zimbel


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