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Guide to the Countdown to Eternity: Photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s, 1989

Collection Overview

Repository

Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier

KA.0097

Creator - Photographer

Fernandez, Benedict J., 1936-

Creator - Contributor

Neier, Aryeh, 1937-

Creator - Contributor

Olton, Charles S., 1938-

Title

Countdown to Eternity: Photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s

Extent

0.1 linear ft: 1 folder (4 copies of booklet)

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Countdown to Eternity: Photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s, KA.0097, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical note

Born and raised in Spanish Harlem in New York City, Benedict J. Fernandez (1936- ) created his first major work photographing shipyard workers while working at Bethlehem Steel in Hoboken, New Jersey. In the early 1960s Fernandez enrolled in Alexey Brodovitch's Design Laboratory and turned to photography full time. Brodovitch, a well-known art director and graphic designer, became Fernandez's mentor and champion, hiring him to work as darkroom technician at Parsons School of Design. By the late 1960s Fernandez was running his own workshops at Parsons and teaching night classes at The New School. During this period, as he gained increasing prominence as a documentary photographer of the anti-war and civil rights protest movements, Fernandez also led the Photo Film Workshop, offering free classes to inner city youths.

After Parsons merged with The New School in 1970, Fernandez led the Photography program. In 1980, he created the school's first four-year undergraduate Photography major and served as chair from 1981-1994. Fernandez brought renowned photographers to join the faculty and to guest lecture in the department, including Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, Philippe Halsman, Arnold Newman, and George Tice, among others. Fernandez also founded the Focus program, which grew into a series of international workshops and exchange programs; and founded the Leica Medal of Excellence photography award.

Fernandez has received a host of awards and honors, and his work is held in permanent collections in many museums, including the Smithsonian, the National Portrait Gallery, the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the King Center, the University of Tokyo, and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

Fernandez's photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr., taken in the last year of King's life, were first produced by Kodak in a limited edition of 50 numbered portfolios of 12 black and white prints titled "Countdown to Eternity." A popular exhibition of the same title consisting of 80 black and white prints by Fernandez continues to travel around the United States and internationally.

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Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of four copies of an oversized introductory booklet produced in 1989 for "Countdown to Eternity: Photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960's," a limited-edition portfolio of 12 prints by Benedict J. Fernandez. The portfolio was sponsored by the Professional Photography Division, Eastman Kodak Company: Rochester, New York. The booklet includes a biographical note about Fernandez and a remembrance by him, as well as short essays by Aryeh Neir of the Americas Watch Committee, and Charles S. Olton, dean of Parsons School of Design. Each booklet is signed by Fernandez.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - August 2, 2010

66 5th Ave./
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Countdown to Eternity: Photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s, KA.0097, box __, folder __, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Possibly transferred to the archives by the Parsons School of Design Dean's Office in 1994.

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Related Materials

The New School Archives holds an audiotape and transcript of an oral history interview conducted with Benedict J. Fernandez in 1994, in the Parsons School of Design Centenary oral history project (PC.07.01.01). The prints from this collection are in the New School Art Collection.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Personal Name(s)

  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 -- Pictorial works

Subject(s)

  • Photography.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder
Introductory booklet 
k_OSx-1 8

Collection Guide Last Updated: 10/25/2016

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