“Passion and Precision: The Photographer and Grand Prix Racing 1894-1984”

P&P-cover.1The above image shows the catalog produced for the exhibition “Passion and Precision: The Photographer and Grand Prix Racing 1894-1984”  that I curated for the Long Beach Museum of Art. On the ABOUT page above I wrote that after attending the Long Beach Grand Prix in 1982:

 “I suggested the possibility of an exhibition on the history of Grand Prix photography to Kent Smith, curator at the Long Beach Museum of Art.  He immediately saw the possibilities and the two of us set to work.   The Museum approved the idea and in the Spring of 1983 I had my first photography credential  to attend the Caesar’s Palace Grand Prix.  I began interviewing people in Formula One and received extraordinarily positive responses.  Thanks to initial funding by the Long Beach Foundation  I was in Europe that summer to explore photographic archives, meet more photographers and racing people and photograph at three more Grands Prix.  I found photographic treasures and collected a wealth of information.  The Detroit Institute of Arts came on board as a second venue and with the help of the Ford Motor Company a 119 page catalog was published. The exhibition “Passion and Precision: The Photographer and Grand Prix Racing 1894-1984.” was a great success with the help of many more individuals and institutions listed in detail on the Thanks page.”

The catalog was designed by David Arthur Hadlock and the cover is a photograph by the French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue  of a Delage racecar at the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France in 1912.  It is a classic example of the photographer using a camera with focal plane shutter and panning with the action during an exposure.  That shutter “wipes” the image across the negative and results in a “distortion” of the subject.  This Lartigue image became an iconic image of the race car in motion that affected the depiction of speed in countless visual imagery.  Over laid on the Lartigue image is a picture of a Ferrari driven by Didier Pironi at speed by the American photographer Jay  J. Hector at the 1982 Detroit GP.  Hector used a special filter to create the blur and his photograph won the Best Sports Stories competition in 1983.

The catalog was produced in an edition of 1500 in 1984 so it is long out of print.  I have no catalogs available.  If you are interested you might check Amazon.com or other used book sources because occasionally a copy appears for sale.

I have permission to use excerpts from the catalog from the Long Beach Museum of Art so future posts will include selections from some of the interviews I conducted.  Association des Amis de Jacques Henri Lartigue loaned the Lartigue images for the exhibition and catalog and Jay Hector provided his.

 “Passion and Precision: The Photographer and Grand Prix Racing 1894-1984” By Dale Kistemaker and Kent James Smith. Copyright 1984 by the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation, the Long Beach Museum of Art, City of Long Beach, Department of Recreation and Human Services, Founders Society Detroit Institute of Arts.


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