‘American Masters’ turns camera on photographer
Published 6:33 pm, Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Telles had already spent time at the renowned architectural and interior photographer’s New Canaan home beginning in the 1990s. Several years ago, he sat down for a series of interviews with the 92-year-old Guerrero after the photographer moved to Florence, Arizona. Guerrero died in 2012.
Guerrero, who lived in New Canaan for nearly 50 years, was eager to talk about his career chronicling the life and work of three major American artists of the 20th century: architect Frank Lloyd Wright; New Canaan resident and sculptor Alexander Calder; and sculptor Louise Nevelson, Telles said.
“We talked so many times about those artists and it was a time in his life he wanted to go on the record about his work,” Telles said. “I hope it comes across as a conversation between friends.”
Telles’ one-hour documentary, “American Masters: Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey,” will premiere at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, on PBS stations, in part in recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
On the air
“American Masters — Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey,” will premiere 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, on PBS stations, including WNET-13 and CPTV.
Guerrero lived in New Canaan for almost 50 years from the late 1940s until the mid-1990s, carving out a career as an internationally known architectural photographer. Guerrero who is of Mexican heritage, was born and raised in a small segregated town in Mesa, Arizona, as part of a pioneer family that had been in Arizona for hundreds of years.
Telles said Guerrero’s father suggested Guerrero drop in on modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright to discuss Guerrero’s budding interest in a photography career.
At the time, Guerrero showed Wright a portfolio of images taken in art school, and had no experience photographing buildings. Despite Guerrero’s lack of a track record, they struck up a collaboration that would lead to Guerrero becoming Wright’s official photographer until the architect’s death in 1959, Guerrero’s second wife, Dixie L. Guerrero said.
“Pedro told me if he had known more about Frank Lloyd Wright at the time he wouldn’t have shown him some of the pictures that he did,” Guerrero said. “Pedro told me he told Wright, ‘I can see I have a lot to learn,’ and Wright said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll teach you.’”
Guerrero worked with Wright to photograph many modern houses, including some in New Canaan. This led to work with sculptor Alexander Calder, another New Canaan resident, and sculptor Louise Nevelson.
“He followed their careers and documented their homes and studios,” Dixie Guerrero said. “He was able to capture them in ways others hadn’t because he was able to be part of the family and they regarded him as a friend as well.”