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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Laverne L. Bovair

Dates:  1914, 16 October - 1991, 12 July

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Laverne L. Bovair
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Mr. Laverne Bovair was born on October 16, 1914, and spent his active years as a pictorialist in Detroit. As a youth he was associated with an amateur theatrical company, where he learned how to design and construct stage sets. This experience served him well years later when he took up the camera as a hobby and decided to specialize in creating and photographing table top still lifes. He wrote an article on the subject for the April 1952 issue of thePSA Journal that explained his technique and reproduced some of his images.
Among them was his R.P.M., which, unlike the fabricated scenes in the others, simply pictured a spinning top. Bovair framed the top at a dramatic angle and lit it strongly, producing a modernist celebration of speed and dynamism. This image, in fact, may have been his most known, as it was also reproduced in at least one salon catalog and thePSA Journal twice.
Bovair was a die maker by trade, perhaps working in the city’s automobile industry. He was active in the Detroit Photographic Guild, serving as its treasurer in 1947, and was part of a group who became known for making their prints "big, blue and glossy." Their pictures measured nearly 16 by 20 inches, filling up the standard-size salon mount, they were toned blue, and they featured a high-gloss surface. Such characteristics worked best with modernist imagery and reveal how catholic the pictorial movement had become by the middle of the twentieth century. Curiously, the institute’s print of R.P.M. is toned brown instead of blue.
Bovair saw his bold photographs accepted in at least nineteen salons between 1945 and 1954, including those in Detroit, New York, and Montreal. He died on July 12, 1991. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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