From Head Hog to   School Builder




Learning About the World

By Lisa Kitayama

The Kiss

"My work begins with recording an image, but it is not finished until I have made a fine print. That is my photograph," says documentary photographer George Zimbel '51, whose activities within the field of photography are extensive.

They range from acting as a photographic consultant for the Educational Facilities Laboratories of the Ford Foundation in the '60s to serving on the Canada Council National Photography Jury in the early '90s. Though his interest in photography began in high school, it was his experience at New York's Photo League in 1949 that he credits with laying the foundations for basic photographic techniques, such as developing and making prints-skills he still practices. At Columbia, he served as city editor and photographer for Spectator, and in his sophomore year, one of his photographs was featured in Life.

"You have to know about the world before you can photograph it intellectually," says Zimbel, citing his studies with such Columbia professors as Charles Van Doren GSAS '59 and Charles Frankel '37 as "an absolute turning point of my life." Upon graduation, he won a scholarship to the Alexy Brodevitch workshop at the New School in New York, after which he embarked upon an illustrious career both in the U.S. and in Canada, where he was featured in several nationwide exhibits. He eventually became a Canadian citizen.

Zimbel's works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography in New York, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée du Quebec, and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, among others.

The Instituto de Arte Moderno in Valencia, Spain, noted for its collections of twentieth century photography, is featuring a major retrospective of Zimbel's work, including some from his College days, from January 20 to March 26.

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