Getting the Picture: The Photography of Jon Naar


Jon Naar is an internationally acclaimed photographer and the author of twelve books, including the awarding-winning Getting the Picture (2005), the iconic Faith of Graffiti (1974), and the best-selling Design for a Limited Planet (1976).

Published in the world’s leading magazines, Naar's photography has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre, Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and many other collections worldwide. As the New York Times photography critic wrote perceptively in 1965, “Jon Naar’s photography is characterized by a flair for design and an eye for the unexpected, his pictures generate the kind of excitement that one associates with discovery of newness in the familiar.”

In a recent review of his exhibition—"Jon Naar Signature Photography"—at the New Jersey State Museum, he is described as a flaneur, a person who likes to wander around the city looking in shop windows, at street signs, billboards, marketplaces, and at passers-by.

“I began to get the picture as a weekend shooter in Greenwich Village in the 60’s and became a full-time professional photographer exactly fifty years ago in Munich, Germany, with one of my first photographs taken there in black-and-white, of Shadows of Children on Swings against the backdrop of an amusement park trailer. It was later selected for inclusion in the Met’s Photography and the Fine Arts exhibition and for the museum’s permanent collection.”

This was an auspicious beginning to an ongoing brilliant career in which he has photographed some of the world’s leading artists and other celebrities, including Andy Warhol, Melba Moore, Josef Albers, Henry Moore, and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his cabinet.

“In many ways I still consider myself a street photographer, as I try to capture the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time and the place, the light and the shadows where I live or where I travel. As I describe in my book of that title, Getting the Picture is a combination of three main elements: having the ability to see, inspired in my case, I believe, by looking at an early age in London and Paris at paintings rather than photographs—Giotto, Vermeer, Seurat, Cezanne, Matisse; developing a keen sense of composition and design; and acquiring the technical skills to put all of these elements together in an aesthetically harmonious picture. It is a wonderful gift to have inherited and an even greater pleasure to share it with the viewers of my work at presentations, master classes, workshops, exhibitions, books, and via my website”




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