Jack Partington

(1914 - 1987) American


Jack Partington was born in San Francisco and attended Princeton University from 1933 to 1935, before working as an assistant to Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who encouraged him to enroll at the Clarence H. White School. Upon his graduation in 1936, he was hired by New York's Roxy Theater to photograph its performances, which included dance, music, vaudeville, and other forms of popular entertainment. Drafted into the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II, he brought his camera with him and documented basic training as well as the devastation of Germany in 1945. After the war, he opened a studio in New York, where he specialized in theatrical photography and celebrity portraiture; he also worked for CBS as a television cameraman. In 1953 he turned to advertising, and produced television commercials for various agencies. His photographic work was published in many periodicals during the course of his career, including Popular Photography, The Camera, and Dance, and exhibited at Lincoln Center and ICP, among other venues.
Although he is remembered best for his charming performance images from the Roxy, one of Partington's major achievements as a photographer was his facility with carbro color printing. This process, which he learned from its inventor while at the Roxy in the late 1930s, was complicated and labor-intensive, involving specially sensitized carbon tissue and wet bromide prints. Unlike other color printing processes at time, it allowed the photographer to make a color print larger than the original negative. A pioneer of this technique, Partington employed it almost exclusively for his personal work long before color photography was accepted among fine-art photographers.
Lisa Hostetler
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 224.
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