Susan Sontag, New York City by Jill Krementz
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Gelatin silver print
Signed and dated, in ink, au recto
Titled, dated, and annotated, in pencil, with artist stamp, in ink, au verso
Printed in 1974
Jill Krementz (born February 19, 1940) is a well-known photographer and author. She has published 31 books, mostly of photography and children's books.
Krementz grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and moved to New York City in her late teens. In 1961 she received a Nikon camera as a twenty-first birthday present, and continued to build a career as a photographer and photojournalist. In the 1960s she worked as a photographer for the New York Herald-Tribune. Her color photography of the "March on the Pentagon" was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. In 1965, she spent a year taking photographs in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Her photojournalist works have appeared in the New York Observer.
Krementz later specialized in photographing writers. A major profile of her - written by Dorothy Gelatt - was published in the Spring 1975 issue of 35mm Photography (Ziff-Davis Publishing Company). According to the article, Krementz decided in 1970 to "...fill the author picture vacuum...". Working only with the aid of a secretary she built and ran a large library of photographs of authors. Most of her photographs at that time were in black and white. The article described her as working with a minimum of photographic equipment (two 35mm camera bodies and three lenses) and having her prints made by Erika Leone at the Meridian photographic laboratory. At the time the article was written, "...the Krementz stock list of authors totalled roughly 542...". Four years later, her count was over 800.
Krementz's photographs were exhibited at Nikon House Gallery in New York the mid-1970s. In 1980 her book The Writer's Image (David R. Godine, Boston) was published, featuring black-and-white photographs, with a preface written by Kurt Vonnegut, and an introduction by Trudy Butner Krisher. In 1984 Krementz was awarded the Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award for “creatively produced books, works that make a difference.”
In 2004, a major exhibition of her work was held at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. Writers Unbound featured warm, intimate portraits of authors in their homes and at their desks. Krementz is the widow of author Kurt Vonnegut and has one daughter, Lily.
Jill Krementz established herself as a photojournalist in the 1960s, a time that had her covering diverse and important historical and cultural events including the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights unrest in the United States, the funeral of Malcolm X, Andy Warhol’s parties, as well as shooting for stories internationally. However, it is the hundreds of portraits of writers that make up the majority of Jill Krementz’s body of work.
Krementz’s author portraits began out of necessity; early in her career, she would snap pictures of writers for books and other publications, cannily holding onto the copyright for each photo so that she could license usage to media outlets. This growing inventory of niche portraits resulted in the 1975 photobook, The Writer’s Desk, which featured a who’s-who of prominent literary figures from the era.
This listing is for a rare, vintage print; a photograph of Susan Sontag as featured in The Writer’s Desk. About her portrait of Sontag, Krementz said, “She likes to write and have a life and people. Even though it was so long ago in 1974, it's so Susan: books, galleys, a great intelligence at work.”
Learn more about Susan Sontag, the subject of this photo.
Putting Words to Paper, Through the Lens - The New York Times, January 2017