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Posted by on Jul 21, 2008 in Arts & Entertainment | 5 comments

Bringing Back a Black-and-White World

A London gallery next week will show pictures of Johnny Cash, an American legend, some of them unseen for almost half a century. Taken by my friend Marvin Koner, they show, not the familiar man in black with a life-scarred face, but a smooth-skinned 27-year-old at the brink of a career that would sear his voice and music into America’s memory.

Koner was one of the young men who came back from World War II to pioneer an era of available-light photography that transformed pictures in magazines from frozen images with studio lighting to exciting depictions of life in motion, just as movies were moving from Hollywood sound stages to the grainy reality of Italian Neorealism and the French Nouvelle Vague.

In their work, the 1950s and 1960s still live. A slide show on Koner’s website brings back Martin Luther King, JFK, Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor and unremembered people of the era through the eyes of a man with a 35mm camera and an artist’s sensibility,

The pictures of Johnny Cash, discovered in a closet after more than 40 years, are part of that lost-and-found-again world that a new generation can rediscover now and marvel at how young and alive historical figures once were.

Cross-posted from my blog.