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FRANCES PELLEGRINI--1950's Fashion Photos for Sale.   BIDDINGTON'S ART GALLERY--Paintings, Sculpture & Photographs.

Creative Process at Biddington's
 CATS Frances Pellegrini fashion photo


BIDDINGTON'S CREATIVE PROCESS interviews fashion photographer and New York City chronicler Frances Pellegrini.

"Frances Pellegrini had a successful commercial career in New York from the late 1940's through the 1980's. Pellegrini pioneered her roles as a photographer and an independent business woman. She was a contemporary of the movement that saw photographers like Margaret Bourke White and Walker Evans lend artistic ability to commercial purpose. Pellegrini herself worked for a decade at Harpers' Bazaar with legendary art director Alexei Brodovitch. Her images reflect an elegantly understated style and modern sensibility. Before starting her commercial career, Pellegrini joined the historic Photo League and worked with photographers Dan Weiner and Sid Grossman; their use of photography as a tool for social change and personal expression are ideas found in Pellegrini's early work that never disappear entirely. Pellegrini's street works are intuitive, loosely handled and depict an intimacy with the city."
Bunny Harvey from Wellesley Artists: New York

Frances Pellegrini: My path to photography was roundabout: I was at Wellesley for a time; then I moved down to New York to study at Cooper Union. My studies were interrupted when World War II broke out, and I went to work for Western Electric at quite a good factory job soldering relays and circuitry. I showed some aptitude for it--I liked math a lot--and was trained further as an electrical engineer to design circuits for testing.

Frances Pellegrini: When the war ended, I took a British freighter--a 40-day trip to Shanghai--to join my fiance Bruno Pellegrini. We were married in China and lived there for about 9 months before returning to New York.

Frances Pellegrini: We had settled in Greenwich Village, and one day a friend of my husband came over with a 4 X 5 format sheet film camera. I was fascinated by it.

Frances Pellegrini New York City photo Frances Pellegrini New York City photos

Frances Pellegrini: I decided to get a camera of my own--a Rolliflex. My first photos were of New York City. By then I had two small children; I would take photos when I was out wandering around with the children. These photographs--the 3rd Avenue El Series--were done 1950-1951.

Frances Pellegrini New York City photo

Frances Pellegrini: My professional career began in photo-reportage--writing and illustrating articles. Soon I gravitated toward fashion.

Frances Pellegrini corset fashion photo

Frances Pellegrini: I remember my first fashion photographic assignment: The magazine needed some photos done quickly. (I believe one of their usual photographers had not delivered as planned.) I was dispatched uptown in a taxi to take a photograph of a model in a fancy Upper Eastside apartment. I remember wanting to take a really good picture. The shoot went fine. But on the way back to the office, I made the taxi stop so I could be sick. I hadn't realized until then how much it all meant to me.

Frances Pellegrini fashion photo with piano

Frances Pellegrini: Eventually I set up my own studio with my husband Bruno. We did both editorial and advertising photography. Our editorial clients were magazines such as Harpers' Bazaar, Glamour, Seventeen, Modern Bride & Woman's Day.

Frances Pellegrini: For fashion work during the 50's the deliverable item was a silver gelatin print. At that time, color was very expensive, so it was simply not used. The client would have some idea of what they wanted, but they gave me quite a lot of latitude.

Frances Pellegrini fashion black corset photo

Frances Pellegrini: We had a wonderful studio in a white clapboard building behind a brownstone on 40th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. That building had a low ceiling and the light would bounce off of it wonderfully. The light in that building had its own character When I moved to a more grand location later in my career, I had to have artificial walls mounted on rollers built to achieve the right effect.

Frances Pellegrini fashion smoker photo Frances Pellegrini: I worked with many marvelous models. Evelyn Tripp and Georgia Hamilton were two of my favorites; if they were modeling, I always knew the pictures would be perfect.

Frances Pellegrini fashion photo in Central Park

Frances Pellegrini: You don't have to pose a good model--she will instinctively know how to relate to whatever prop you provide. This photo with the tree was shot in Central Park. The model took the pose, and I shot the picture

Frances Pellegrini photographer Frances Pellegrini: I didn't crop my images or manipulate them much--nothing more extensive than toning down a white dress that was getting too much light. I have never consciously composed a photograph. I never thought of my photography as art. Certain things were simple. I just wanted to take a good picture.


View original 1950's silver gelatin prints of Frances Pellegrini's photographic images offered for sale at Biddington's.
Price range: $2,000-$3,000


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auction--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

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Downloading or printing for online or print reproduction of any materials without specific written permission from Biddington's, Inc. is prohibited.

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