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Book Review: Foto en Copyright Vol. 2 by G.P. Fieret

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A G.P. Fieret iPhone app would be easy to design. It would be something like DoodleBuddy: you can choose where to place circular copyright stamps, and how many; select and address stamp with the artist’s full name; select and size the artist’s signature. Desaturate, add contrast and grain and there you go: a basic template for the photographer’s signature look.

But as in life art is never as easy as it looks. Behind the over-protective copyright marks, which may seem like a gimmick but was born of paranoia, the vision behind the late photographer’s unadorned images is genuine. And if particulars can be imitated, the essence is unique.

The Fotomuseum den Haag released its first collection of G.P. Fieret’s striking nudes and street photography in 2004, in an out of print edition now prized by collectors. So by popular demand, the museum has issued Foto en Copyright by G. P. Fieret Vol. 2, a selection of another 160 photographs from their archive of 2500 prints from Fieret’s studio. Sadly, the artist died in early 2009, but he left behind a vibrant and original body of work. This volume scales back a little on his trademark copyright stamp and John Hancock, though these are still well represented. But after that aesthetic jolt, the chance to see some of his prints without the distractions gives you a view straight from Fieret’s remarkable eye.

In a world full of street photographers it can be hard to stand out, and while nostalgia and unfamiliarity helps make these images from Hague streets in the ’60s strange and new to American audiences, the grainy vision, stark but also human, is always evident: in the party-hatted elderly attendees at a museum opening; in an intimate portrait of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama; in masked biddies on a parade route; in a child taking her baby doll for a stroll. And throughout, there are Fieret’s women, fully engaged with the artist, and clothed or disrobed they really do make love with their eyes to the man behind the lens.

Cats provide the occasional accent to Fieret’s human landscapes: one white feline regally stands guard as a near abstract counterpoint to the daisies gracing the black maw of an underexposed garden background. G. P. Fieret will not remain underexposed. Get this while you can.   


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About Pat Padua

Pat Padua is a writer, photographer, native Washingtonian, and Oxford comma defender. The Washington Post called him "a talented, if quirky, photographer." Pat has also contributed to the All Music Guide, Cinescene, and DCist, where he is currently senior film critic.