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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Peter Liepke

Dates:  1957 -
Born:  US, MN, Minneapolis
Active:  US
Contemporary American photographer and bromoilist. 
Artist statement: 
Honestly I’m not at all interested in making any deep political, social, or philosophical statements with my photographs whatsoever. There are enough inequities, social ills, and sadness in the world already that the media covers incessantly.
“Where is it written that our sensibilities must be sullied by the seamier side of life along with our intellects? We know the world is a vale of tears. Must art pile it on in yet heavier doses? There was a time when the world thought that the artist was chosen, and that they were on a mission not to tell us what we have but what we might have if we’d only get our act together and see beyond the obvious. Art was supposed to transcend life, not imitate it.
Crap is obvious – and I for one am wearied by its presence. Show me please the light at the end of the tunnel. Show me yet once again how beauty can nourish my inner being. Don’t show me what is, show me what can be, and how I might get there – even if only in my mind – as I lose myself in a painting, a musical score, a poem, or photograph."
(Raymond Steiner, Editor Art Times Journal)
I make my photographs because quite simply I have to. They are a part of me, and who I am. My pictures are made solely by hard work, patience, and quiet observations using a 100 year old Graflex 4x5 camera, and 19th century printing processes. My methods and approach are hardly trend setting in our digital age of rapid fire cameras and gigabytes; however, I believe it brings my work back to the roots of photography in its purest form.
The inspiration for one of my 3 portfolios specifically (the children portfolio) comes from my own experience growing up, as well as raising our two boys. Riding bikes, playing baseball, going to a county fair, or having an outdoor cook out with your family… it is about illustrating the innocence and beauty of being a child with out a care in the world.
With the state of our world today is this notion of mine a complete fantasy, or reality?
I am also constantly inspired by the beauty and strength of New York City that is so thinly veiled beneath its grit. I enjoy contrast in both subject matter and the use of light. Often times I am fascinated or obsessed with trying to find and photograph a lone person, or couple, having a quiet moment by themselves while being trapped within an enormous sea of humanity as a backdrop. Depending upon what I find, my discovery can then lead me to a romantic interpretation, or in contrast a very desolate and lonely image. Even though the people in my pictures are seldom recognizable (by choice) I have learned with all of my pictures to never ask people for permission before taking the photograph. Time has shown me that when I do it rarely ever ends up being a good or honest photograph.
Peter Liepke (May 24, 2007)

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Supplemental information

Peter Liepke was born and raised in St. Louis Park Minnesota. After finishing high school he enrolled at the University of Minnesota in order to study art history. In 1979 he moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles California, attending the Art Center College of Design as a photography major.
Upon completion of his college education he opened an advertising photography studio in Los Angeles. For many years during that time his client roster included prominent agencies such as Chiat/Day, Daily & Assoc, J Walter Thompson etc., while photographing products for American Honda, Sunkist, FTD, to name a few.
In 1987 a major earthquake hit the LA metropolitan area causing considerable damage to his building and studio. The building needed considerable repair, so it was at that time he decided to close his LA based studio and make a radical change in his life. In one bold stroke he decided to move to New York City, and in 1988 started from scratch, this time instead of a product photographer, reinventing himself as a fine art portraitist.
A major turning point and opportunity came when legendary CBS News journalist Walter Cronkite granted Liepke a private portrait session, after many months of requests, and letter writing on the part of Mr Liepke. Cronkite was in turn so pleased with the resulting portrait from that session, that the image went on to grace the cover of his biography “A Reporters Life” a 32 week New York Times best seller published by Alfred Knopf. The photograph also then spawned additional portrait sittings with many other celebrities and journalists. His first solo exhibition was held in 1997 at The Museum of Television and Radio in New York.
Presently, he resides in upstate New York with his wife, and two sons. He continues to draw upon his own wonderful childhood growing up in Minnesota for the inspiration, and subject matter contained within his fine art work. While at the same time producing finely crafted prints with paper negatives, he enjoys using early turn of the century alternative printing processes for his medium such as Bromoil, Platinum Palladium, and Gum Bichromate.
His commercial work today still includes portraits. Many book covers now utilize his fine art images such as Simon & Schuster, Knopf, Bantam Doubleday, and Penguin books. Both his fine art and commercial work have been profiled often in PHOTOGRAPHIS, GRAPHIS Showcase, Photo District News, Town & Country magazine, and numerous others.
(May 2007)
The Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, CA
University of Minnesota
Solo exhibition
1997 'Portrait Of The Messenger', Museum Of Television & Radio, New York City / Chicago, IL / Los Angeles, CA (Robert Batcha - Curator)
Group exhibition
2007 Photography Now ’07,Philadephia, PA (Katherine Ware – Curator)
2006 Soho Photo National Alternative Process Exhibit, New York, NY, Honorable mention (Christopher James – Curator)
2006 The Art of Bromoil, Richmond, VA
2004 National Alternative Process Show, University of Florida, FL (Paul Karabinis - Curator)
2004 Mills Pond House Gallery, Long Island, NY, 1st Place & Best of Show award (John Stevenson - Curator)
2004 TPS Members Only Show, Austin, TX, Honorable mention (Bill Wittliff - Curator)
2003 Alternative Process Show TPS, Austin, TX (Christopher James - Curator)
2003 The National Competition, Austin, TX, Honorable mention (Stephen Perloff - Curator)
2003 Here is New York, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2003 Small Works Print Show, NY Camera Club, Distinguished Merit award (David Shonauer, Russell Hart - Curators)
2003 Port Of Call Gallery, Warwick, NY (Anthony Blomfield - Curator)
2002 Photo works National 2002, 1st Place & Best of Show award (Barbara Millstein - Curator, Brooklyn Museum)
2002 Interpeting Landscape, Fulton Street Gallery, 3rd Place award (Sandra Carpenter - Curator)  
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