The Fred Fehl photographs collection consists of photographs and published materials related to Fehl's work documenting dance and theater performances, mainly in New York City. The majority of the photographs are black and white 5" x 7" prints. Ballet companies that are well represented are the American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet Company, and the New York City Ballet. There are also published materials that feature Fehl's photography as reproduced in newspapers, magazines, programs, and other media.
Biographical/historical: Photographer Fred Fehl (1906-1995) was born and educated in Vienna and settled in New York in 1939 after fleeing from Nazi occupied territory Austria in 1938. Early in his career he worked as a children's photographer to support himself while he pursued his true passion of documenting theater and stage productions. Since his arrival in the United States, Fehl avidly documented the performing arts and devoted his life to capturing the ephemeral nature of dance and theater. He became known as a pioneer in the taking of candid photographs during performances through the use of existing stage lighting, and has documented many productions from Broadway, the New York City Opera and Ballet, and American Ballet Theater, as well as unique performances which would otherwise have been visually lost. Fehl made his career as a performance photographer, covering theater, dance, opera, and music for more than forty years. He published several books of his photography, including Stars of the Ballet and Dance in Performance Photographs (1984) and At New York City Ballet (1991).
Content: The Fred Fehl photographs collection is arranged by format into two series: photographic prints and published materials. The subseries are then arranged alphabetically.
The collection is predominantly comprised of black and white 5" x 7" to 16" x 20" prints that capture dance performances, mostly in New York City, from 1940-1993. Best represented are the American Ballet Theatre; the Joffrey Ballet Comapny; the Harkness Ballet; the Bolshoi Ballet; and the New York City Ballet. Numerous other dance companies are also represented, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo; and the Martha Graham Dance Company.
In addition to photographs of performances, there are occasional shots of rehearsals, studio shots, and individual dancer portraits. One subseries is comprised of televised ballet productions from the 1960s. At the end of the New York City Ballet prints, there is one folder of xerox copies of George Balanchine photographs. These copies are numbered and have their own inventory preceding them within the folder. This inventory is available on the archives portal as an additional resource. Additionally there is a small amount of New York City Ballet negatives located at the end of the NYCB print series and are arranged by numbers designated by Fehl.
The second series, Published materials, represents Fehl's dance photography as reproduced in newspapers, magazines and other media. Included are clippings, magazine covers, sound recording covers, and book covers. Some of these publications were on display at an exhibition of Fehl's career in 1976 at the NYPL's Library of the Performing Arts.
Extent: 27 boxes (18.14 linear feet)
Extent: Approximately 5,500 images in 27 boxes : prints and negatives, some color ; 41 x 51 cm. or smaller
Extent: 4 posters : color ; 51 x 67 cm. or smaller