Vachon, John 1914-1975

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VACHON, John 1914-1975

PERSONAL: Born May 19, 1914, in St. Paul, MN; died April 20, 1975, in New York, NY; married; wife's name, Penny (deceased); married Françoise Fourestier; children: (first marriage) Brian, Ann, Gail; (second marriage) Christine, Michael. Education: St. Thomas College, B.A., 1934.

CAREER: Farm Security Administration, Washington, DC, assistant messenger, 1936-37, junior file clerk, unofficial photographer, 1937-40, junior photographer, 1940-42; Office of War Information, Washington, DC, photographer, 1942-43; Standard Oil Company, NJ, photographer, 1943; Jersey Standard, NJ, 1945-47; Life, New York, NY, staff photographer, 1947-48; Look, New York, NY, staff photographer, 1948-71; freelance photographer, New York, NY, 1971-75. Minneapolis Art Institute, visiting lecturer in photography, 1975. Exhibitions: Work included in permanent collections at New York Public Library, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Minneapolis Art Institute, Minneapolis, MN. Individual exhibition at Imageworks, Cambridge, MA, 1972. Military service: U.S. Army, 1943-45.

AWARDS, HONORS: Guggenheim fellowship, 1973.


(With Arthur Rothstein and Roy Stryker) Just before the War: Urban America from 1935 to 1941 as Seen by Photographers of the Farm Security Administration, introduction by Thomas Garver, [Boston, MA], 1968.

John Vachon Memorial Portfolio, [New York, NY], 1977.

Poland, 1946: The Photographs and Letters of John Vachon, edited by Ann Vachon, introduction by Brian Moore, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1995.

SIDELIGHTS: John Vachon first became interested in photography while working as an assistant messenger for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) under Roy Stryker. Stryker gave him a chance to become a photographer for the FSA, a profession Vachon had no experience in. Vachon first tried to copy the style of Walker Evans, but in 1941 he developed his own style while photographing the western United States for the FSA. Vachon later became a photographer for Life and then Look, but he remains most known for the photographs he took for the FSA.



Contemporary Photographers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.*