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Fritz Henle's Photographs Exhibited


Jan. 27, 2006 – An exhibition of the photographs of Fritz Henle will open on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Maria Henle Studio, 5 Company Street, St. Croix. Fritz Henle's photographs are familiar to many of us. The master photographer first came here on a fashion assignment for Holiday magazine in 1948. Smitten by the unspoiled beauty of the islands and the gentility of the local people, he forsook the rat race of New York in the 1950s, sold his Madison Avenue darkroom, and became a permanent St. Croix resident in 1958.
From that time till his death in 1993, Fritz was a ubiquitous personality here; handsome in his Jim Tillet shirts, bandana tied neatly at his neck, Rollei camera bag always over his shoulder. The black and white images he took of the islands in the late 40s and early 50s have become icons, capturing the innocence and allure he found in that earlier time. But what many of us who remember him do not realize is that Henle's career began long before he stepped off the plane in St. Croix.
Born in Germany in 1909, Fritz picked up the camera of his surgeon father, himself a gifted amateur, as a teenager: he never put it down. His first professional assignment at age 19 was to photograph a series of locks in Bremen. Completing a year of photo school in Munich in 1931, he went to work in Florence; his beautiful pictures of Italian cities and countrysides soon won him lengthy assignments to India, China and Japan. In 1936, with his international reputation growing, he fled his home base in now-Nazi Germany for the U.S.A.
In his newly established New York studio, he became a successful fashion and portrait photographer. Always willing to travel, he freelanced for many magazines: Life, Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, and Mademoiselle among them. His talents were employed by major corporations: US Steel, the Cities Service, Nabisco, United Airlines, and Alcoa Steamship Company to name a few. These varied assignments, as well as his own creative work, took him to Mexico, pre-war Paris, across the United States, throughout the Caribbean and repeatedly to Europe after 1960. He was a frequent contributor to photography magazines and published 19 books of his work.
In the exhibition "Classic Photographs," daughter Maria Henle gives her Studio walls over to a sampling of stunning black and white prints covering the length of the photographer's 60-year career. Some are familiar; others have never been shown here before. This exhibit is a preview of a similar one planned for later this year at Throckmorton Fine Art in New York.


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