Carol Fonde


"The Romance in Local Beach Landscapes"


Published: Sunday, January 16, 1994

"PEOPLE think of Long Island as the expressway and fast food," Carol Fonde, a photographer, said in an interview in her apartment in Manhattan. An exhibition of her photographs at the Inter-Media Art Center in Huntington through March 5 presents a different view. Her images depict a feast for the eye, where the only honking sound comes from wild geese. Through her lens Long Island is an unspoiled natural paradise where the light itself seems gilded.

"It was a very romantic, Old World childhood," Ms. Fonde said.

From the age of 7, Ms. Fonde roamed the shore and what she called the "enchanted forest," taking pictures of swans, sunsets and trees' moving in the wind.

Ms. Fonde studied photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and earned an M.F.A. from Indiana University. In 1980 she moved to New York City, to an urban reality for which she was unprepared. "New York was hard for me. There was nothing of the beautiful, bucolic landscape, no vista, just concrete."

Cut off from the wellsprings of her imagination, she found herself unable to take photographs and made a living as a color printer. She gradually established a reputation as "one of the best color printers in the country," Bruce Davidson, the photojournalist, said.

In the last 12 years Ms. Fonde has produced exhibition-quality color prints for photographers like Richard Avedon, Annie Liebovitz, Horst P. Horst, Mary Ellen Mark, Helmut Newton, Hiro and Scavullo. A photographer for the Magnum agency, Gilles Peress, said: "Without Carol Fonde I would simply not shoot color. She is the most remarkable color printer I have met. Her prints have soul."

Mr. Davidson, chairman of the photography department at the Parsons School of Design and the New School, said: "Carol is not just a technician. She's really an artist who approaches her craft with spirit and meaning." For magazine assignments and books of photographs, Mr. Davidson entrusts hundreds of rolls of film to Ms. Fonde to print. "Carol is a midwife who creates the body of the work," he said. "It's born through her."

In addition to printing others' work, Ms. Fonde shoots portraits of artists, actors and musicians. Portraits shown in Huntington depict Jules Shear, a singer and songwriter, and Donnette Thayer, a singer. Record companies like Warner Brothers and Atlantic commission Ms. Fonde's moody portraits for album covers. Her picture of Philip Glass has a grainy Pointillist quality like Chuck Close's well-known paintings of the composer. These portraits, many taken in Manhattan clubs with very low light and a hand-held camera, have an air of mystery and psychological tension like movie stills.

The artist has two business cards. The one that she uses most frequently describes her as a custom color printer, a darkroom wizard who can make a positive marvel out of any negative. The other card lists her profession as photographer, which Mr. Davidson called "the best-kept secret in New York."

The new exhibition, of people and places illuminated by the soft light of love, merges printer and photographer, the successful career woman and the little girl who rambled throughout Lloyd Neck with a Brownie camera in her hand.

(Original article contained photographs)


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