BEHIND THE LENS
March 19, 1925 - June 9, 2011
"Gleb Derujinsky began his photographic career in the 1950s when he was brought into the select ranks of Harper’s Bazaar magazine by its infamous editor Carmel Snow and art director Alexey Brodovitch. Alongside of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Derujinsky’s approach to photography, which was always deeply observant of the unfolding of real time, was harnessed to fashion by Snow and Brodovitch in a vital way.
Derujinsky’s best fashion photographs are typified by the frisson between high fashion in the 1950s and 1960s with the dynamism of locations and urban scenarios."
Louis Vuitton Fashion Photography by Charlotte Cotton, Martin Harrison and Michel Mallard, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2014, p342 “Gleb Derujinsky”
Biography by Andrea Derujinsky and Carol Green
Welcome to the World of Derujinsky. This is a name once known in Russian aristocratic circles when Gleb Derujinsky Sr. and another even more famous relative of ours, composer Rimsky-Korsakov, were establishing themselves in the Arts. Gleb Sr. was a sculptor, a contemporary and friend of Rodin. They both became prominent artists, and like Rodin, the work of Gleb Derujinsky Sr. continues to be displayed in museums and private collections worldwide.
Gleb Derujinsky Jr. was named after his famous father and inherited the family’s artistic genes. But Gleb also lived with the spirit of the brilliant renegade he was. At 6, he started shooting, developing and printing his own photos. By the age of ten, he built his own enlarger and by the time he was fifteen, he was the youngest member of the New York Camera Club. There, he met some of the founding members of the prestigious group -- Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz among them.
After serving in World War II - a staff sergeant by 19 - Gleb opened his own photography studio in New York City shooting for Esquire, Look, Life, Glamour,Town and Country, The New York Times Magazine and ultimately exclusively forHarper’s Bazaar. Gleb Derujinsky became one of the most sought-after fashion photographers of the era.
His was the era of European haute couture with fashion designers Balenciaga and Pierre Balmain at the top of their game and Yves-Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld just starting out. Handpicked by Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, Gleb became one of a select group of photographers who shot for the magazine. Gleb competed with Avedon for plum assignments, convincing Snow to endorse his outlandish ideas and expenditures. Snow sent Gleb around the world to photograph beautiful models styled by fashion editor Diana Vreeland in expensive gowns, juxtaposed against the rough sands of a far-off desert, a junkyard of cars, a cityscape or airport. Air travel was far from routine, and nothing like this had ever been done before. Gleb Derujinsky was always ahead of this time.
Handsome and brash, exciting and inspiring to work with, Gleb was dubbed “the White Russian”. He worked extensively with top models Ruth Neumann and Carmen Dell'Orefice. They became a triumvirate of kindred spirits knowing that fashion was only part of the story Gleb “painted” through his photos. In 1957, Gleb took Ruth Neumann and Nena Von Schlebrügge on the trip around the world - including a mountaintop in Turkey – to commemorate the inauguration of Pan Am’s Boeing 707. Ruth would be his muse from the seaside harbors of China, to the Nara Deer Park in Japan, and throughout Thailand, Spain and Greece. Gleb Derujinsky was a romantic, and Ruth Neumann became his wife. Carmen Dell’Orefice is still modeling today, a record in the fashion industry. Gleb’s brilliant photographs of the 1957 Paris Collections became a 25-page spread inHarper’s Bazaar.
Gleb saw things that other people didn't. He taught me how to see through his eyes. I remember an entire summer camping out with him. He'd ask what I saw in the rock tapestries of Lake Powell or the natural sculptures of Monument Valley. There was a little airport where he would go gliding, leaving my sister and me parked on a picnic blanket while he soared the skies. We talked to daddy through a box, a radio that sat next to us on the blanket. He could hear us and we could hear him, but he was off gliding high above us on hot summer days. He was never without a camera, a jacket with lots of pockets for lenses and filters, and a silver aluminum case for other camera equipment. This is how I grew up, none the wiser about who he was or the photographs and reputation he had created long before I was born.
Gleb Derujinsky lived life to its fullest. Dad married again, to Wallis, my other mother for 42 years, and moved to Colorado. He was a husband and father, photographer, world traveler, award-winning cinematographer and commercial director, jewelry designer, musician, jazz buff, ski instructor, race car driver for Ferrari America, and one of the best sail-plane pilots in the country. He even designed and built carbon fiber bicycles for the U. S. Olympic team. He died as he lived, gone in the blink of an eye, the snap of a shutter.
I'm Andrea Derujinsky, and I thank you for supporting this worthwhile Derujinsky adventure.
For more information pertaining to Gleb Derujinsky, please contact me here.
Many thanks for your appreciation and interest in Gleb's work and contribution to Art, Photography and History.