Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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24 Church Street, Box 2452, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 | 508-696-6300
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PERFECT WAITS: Allan Gerson’s Martha’s Vineyard Photography

About the artist

Artist photograph by Edward Keating

Photographer Allan Gerson (1945–2019) explored the hidden structure and character of our natural and man-made environment. He compared his artistic method to meditation: becoming one with the subject he captured so that a doorway, for example, was no longer merely an object one takes for granted, but the entry point to a higher consciousness. The results were striking, imbuing the breath of life into the inanimate. For Gerson, who understood much of his family’s history through photos recovered during his parents’ escape from Nazi-occupied Poland, photography was also the connecting point to a life story. He was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan at the end of World War II. Gerson’s works are held in prominent permanent and private collections across the globe, including the International Photography Hall of Fame Museum, the University of Mississippi Art Museum, The German Embassy in Washington and the Morocco Royal Palace in Rabat. His photographs of the Sahara and the two great clocks at the Musée D’Orsay and the King Hassan II Mosque were featured in exhibitions at the embassies of France and Morocco. This series led him to experiment with reproducing photographs on jewelry. Apart from photography, Gerson had a prominent international law practice which evolved from his work as a senior counsel at the US State Department and Department of Justice. He is widely recognized as the first American attorney to successfully sue a foreign government for complicity in acts of terrorism. His experience on behalf of the Pan Am 103/ Lockerbie families is recounted in The Price of Terror: How the Families of Pan Am 103 Brought Libya to Justice. The distinguished author and photographer Jay Dusard has remarked that Gerson “consistently cuts to the most fundamental elements of complex legal issues and he approaches his photography with the same precision.” He was married to the award-winning food writer, Joan Nathan, and was the father of their three children, Daniela, Merissa, and David.


On ALLAN GERSON from the late Pulitzer Prize winning photographer EDWARD KEATING (1956-2021):

“His strong palette and bold use of color, often used sparingly, was matched by an equal comfortability with black and white. He was not much of a fan of symmetry, but preferred corralling messy scenes into a chaos that gave his work an edginess, an energy that wouldn’t quit. Still, there was a sense of order in all his photographs, so even if the viewer is left hanging, the works were definitive and felt “finished.”… Allan’s work shows many twentieth century influences, artists who broke down subject matter, chopped it up, often smudged out detail to get to shape and color and line. Mondrian, Klee, Miro, Kertész, Pollock, Ernst. They dissected the world, abstracted it, looked for patterns or chaos, all in a palpable need to get to the bottom of something. He was searching for something, some meaning in the details of life that might shed light on the larger truths of the world. And in the end, it was a big trick, because in the end it had much less to do with the world than it had to do with him and who he was. You knew what he believed in and what he thought about things. Allan Gerson: world traveler, at the border, at the concentration camp, family man, lawyer, illegal immigrant, a lover of silly sunsets. He was a fighter, but had mastered the rules of engagement so that everything worked for him in the end, except for that goddamn disease he faced in the end that neither he nor anyone else saw coming.”


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