Tim Mantoani Brings Home the Stories ‘Behind Photographs’

For the first time, some of the large-size Polaroids are being publicly displayed.

Here’s just one example of what viewers have been savoring from San Diego-based photographer Tim Mantoani’s clever project “Behind Photographs.”


Pictured above is Elliott Erwitt, holding “Felix, Gladys and Rover,” a famous photo he snapped in Central Park back in 1974. In the notes, he admits that he has been unable to keep track of where, from there, went the woman and her two dogs.

Mantoani, shooting fellow photographers with their most iconic or personal favorite pic, enhanced the nostalgic feel of his years-long side project by using giant 20-by-24-inch print-format Polaroid cameras. From the series came a 2012 book and now, this holiday season, 31 out of about 150 total photos are on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla, Calif. From the program notes:

William Wegman appears with a life-size photograph of his Weimaraner dog, Bobbin. Nick Ut presents his Pulitzer Prize-winning image of a young girl during a napalm attack in Vietnam. Michael Halsband poses with his double portrait of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, both sporting boxing gloves…

This is the first time Mantoani’s original Polaroids have been publicly shown. The MCA exhibit runs through Jan. 10.

By coincidence, Erwitt, now 87, has his own show running at the moment as well, at the Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis through Jan.9. “Regarding Elliott,” featuring 39 prints, is his second show at that location. Elliott also this fall unveiled the Havana Club 7 Fellowship, which will select and send annually to Cuba a chosen photographer. And the manner in which the fellowship will continue forward is most innovative:

Seven photos of each fellow will be sold to support the next photographer joining the fellowship and thus offering each photographer the opportunity to benefit the next in line to carry on the legacy. In addition to the proceeds from print sales, Havana Club 7 will fund a similar amount to give more photographers the chance to tell the story of Cuba.

[Photo of Erwitt, used with permission]