Launch Slideshow

Pedro E. Guerrero's Work

Pedro E. Guerrero's Work

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    One of Guerrero's favorite photos is of Wright in the site where the Guggenheim Museum would go up in New York, "which I photographed without his knowledge," he says.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    Diamond Gas Station, ca 1950s, location unknown

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    The Living Garage, 1958, Greenwich, Conn.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    Yale Hockey Rink by Eero Saarinen Architect, 1958, New Haven, Conn.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    IBM Office Building, 1961, New York State

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    United Church of Rowayton by Joseph Salerno Architect, 1962, Rowayton, Conn.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    Bruce Graham House by Bruce Graham Architect, 1963, Rehobeth Beach, Del.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    Luthold House by Allen Gelbin Architect, 1966, New Canaan, Conn.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    Day House by John Black Lee Architect, 1970, New Canaan, Conn.

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    Pedro E. Guerrero, Courtesy Edward Cella Art+Architecture

    Self Portrait, Manhattan studio, 1950

Did you ever displease him?
Only once in all the years that we knew each other—and that was almost 20 years—did he find a photograph of mine that did not suit him. And the reason it didn’t ... was because he didn’t recognize it as his. He just said, “You have taken my work and made it part of your own. I want you to get me that photograph or I don’t ever want to see it again.” But I figured he was 72; he would never remember. So the next time I brought him a bunch of photographs, I brought that photograph also. And he said, “I thought I told you [that] I never wanted to see this photo again.”’ I said, “I’m sorry, but I thought you might have forgotten.” He said, “You bring a negative and you bring the print and you bring a pair of scissors and you and I will cut it up tomorrow.” My only regret was that I didn’t keep a copy of the kind of photographs as an example of what Mr. Wright didn’t like.


Did you ever displease him? by ARCHITECT magazine

What would he think of today’s photos of his work?
A lot of photography that is being done ... [of Wright’s buildings] by present-day photographers, are doing just want just Mr. Wright would have objected to strenuously. And that is using details of a window or a light fixture or any other element in his architecture and making an abstract composition of their own. He would have absolutely gone wild. He was an egotist; there was no question about it. But he had a right to be. I never knew anybody else that I thought so deserved being arrogant and egotistical.


What would he think of today’s photos of his work? by ARCHITECT magazine

As you went on from Wright to photograph the works of other architects, did you develop a philosophy of how architectural photography should be done?
I took what I learned from pleasing Frank Lloyd Wright and tried to apply it to this new approach to architecture, the International style, the Modernist style. I decided that since they were composing in three dimensions that there was an element of sculpture to their work and I approached it that way. I wanted to give it depth. I had moved to New Canaan, Conn., which was a hotbed of Modernists—the Harvard Five and so on. But I moved there not because they were there, but because I liked the town. I found a cheap place to live and moved my family there—only to find Marcel Breuer and all these people of the Harvard school. And we became friends.

But I made it a point as long as Mr. Wright lived not to give myself over to any one of them. I didn’t want Mr. Wright to call and say, “Bring your cameras. I want to see you in Wisconsin next week,’’ and to have to tell him, “I can’t. I’m doing a job for Philip Johnson.” Out of loyalty to him, I tried to avoid getting involved with anyone else, unless a magazine called me to photograph, say Marcel Breuer or Edward Durrell Stone, or any of those people, which I did for assignments, but not the way I worked with Mr. Wright. In many cases, when I was working with the magazines, I was limited to the number of photographs that I could take. The art director had in mind four photographs over three pages. He didn’t to see any more than four or six photographs. I didn’t have the freedom with the magazines that I had with Frank Lloyd Wright. (But Wright wasn’t that lucrative. The magazines paid more.)

The careers of Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller paralleled yours—did you ever cross paths with them?
I left the Art Center School [in Los Angeles] with the intention of coming back but I didn’t. The Art Center School said to not tell anybody that I had gone there. They did not want me to claim that I went there because they figured that I wasn’t fully trained yet. When I got to New York, those of us who had gone to the Art Center School and were now in New York became a group to guide [former] students. At one point, the director of the school who had been so angry when I left, wrote me and said, “I want you to leave New York and come to live in California. Julius Shulman has all of the architectural work sewn up and he needs competition.” But I didn’t want to leave New York, and if Julius had it that good—good for him. We had never met, but I admired his photography when I saw it. He did some work for Frank Lloyd Wright too; Ezra Stoller did some work for Frank Lloyd Wright. I don’t want to say anything negative about him [Ezra Stoller] but … he wanted to be called Frank Lloyd Wright’s photographer.

Did your work differ from theirs?
I look at the work that was done then, say Taliesin West, which was where I got started, where I did my best work I think, and I see what Ezra has done. I don’t think he brought anything to Taliesin West that I hadn’t done a better job of, as far as I was concerned. Julius did do some of the California Wright work. I was never competition to Julius.