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The Images of Kosti Ruohomaa, New York Photojournalist and Iconic Maine Photographer
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May 1, 2021 18:10:57   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine has acquired some 45,000 images created by Kosti Ruohomaa during his almost 20 year career as an acclaimed photojournalist with the Black Star Publishing Company in Manhattan. Black Star was started in 1935 by refugees from the Nazi regime, and quickly rose to prominence in association with Life Magazine publisher Henry Luce and others. This was at a time when photojournalism was developing as a new medium in the States. Black Star’s stable of notable photographers included Robert Capa, Andreas Feininger, Germaine Krull, Philippe Halsman, Martin Munkácsi, Kurt Severin, W. Eugene Smith, Marion Post-Wolcott, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Charles Moore, James Nachtwey, Lee Lockwood, Mario Giacomelli and Spider Martin.

Ruohomaa was born in 1916 in Massachusetts to Finnish immigrants but moved to a farm near Rockland, Maine at an early age. As a young man he quickly carved out a place for himself in the commercial art world. He joined Black Star in 1944 and his work from around the country and world soon appeared on the covers and in the pages of Life, Look, Time, Saturday Evening Post, and The National Geographic. Edward Steichen chose one of his photographs for inclusion in the Family of Man, a photo essay celebrating the universal aspects of the human experience presented in 1955 at MoMA. The exhibition subsequently toured the world for about eight years.

However, Ruohomaa’s camera was never far from Maine. His passion for his roots, his rustic early life, and his poet’s eye led him to portray Maine folk life. Sadly, he died in 1961 at the age of 47.

In 2017, Black Star (which still owns the copyright to Ruohomaa’s work) donated the archive of his images in various film formats, together with his notes, to the Museum. The Museum is creating high resolution digital images of the photographs (most of which have never been published) in a collection database to share with the world.

The evolving exhibition, entitled Kosti Comes Home, can be accessed on the Museum's web site.

Two books about Ruohomaa's work, Night Train at Wiscasset Station and Kosti Ruohomaa: The Photographer Poet, are out of print but still available in various editions from Amazon.

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May 2, 2021 08:13:42   #
GeorgeK Loc: NNJ
 
Thanks for the post. Will have look him up before my trip to Maine in July.

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May 2, 2021 08:18:04   #
guardineer
 
I checked it out, thanks for the introduction.

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May 2, 2021 11:01:40   #
cyclespeed Loc: Calgary, Alberta Canada
 
I too checked it out and it is “coming soon”

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May 2, 2021 11:41:34   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
There are several old links out there, and the exhibition is evolving, but this should work.

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti/kosti-comes-home-exhibit/

At the top right of the screen click on menu, and that will lead to the individual galleries.

The Museum also has an extensive collection of photographs from other artists.

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/photography-collections/

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May 2, 2021 12:21:22   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
According to Wikipedia, in 2003, Black Star's archive of 292,000 prints, created by more than 6,000 photographers was acquired by Jimmy Pattison, a Canadian businessperson. In 2005, he donated it to Ryerson University in Toronto. In 2012, the Ryerson Image Centre was opened to house the collection.

The Center remains closed due to Covid, but a few photos from their Black Star collection is on line:

https://ryersonimagecentre.ca/collection/black-star-collection/

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May 2, 2021 14:39:34   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
Kosti and camera and a news clip about the project from 2018.

https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/local/207/he-may-have-been-maines-greatest-photographer-and-hes-ready-for-his-close-up/97-519278078

Courtesy of PMM
Courtesy of PMM...

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May 2, 2021 15:02:44   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
An article on Monhegan Island appeared in the February 1959 issue of National Geographic. Kosti's notes for this assignment can be viewed here:

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti/portfolio/on-assignment/

Courtesy of PMM
Courtesy of PMM...

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May 2, 2021 23:03:21   #
ygelman Loc: new -- North of Poughkeepsie!
 
I looked at a few of his photographs from "On Assignment." Very appealing. What is your connection to the Museum?

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May 2, 2021 23:19:10   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
ygelman wrote:
I looked at a few of his photographs from "On Assignment." Very appealing. What is your connection to the Museum?


None really, my wife and I are just admirers of their efforts to preserve and make accessible the work of past photographers. Searsport is about an hour away from Mount Desert Island.

We did "adopt" some historic post cards from our hometown of Somesville so they could be digitized and added to the online collection.

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.pastperfectonline.com/advancedsearch?utf8=%E2%9C%93&advanceSearchActivated=true&firstTimeSearch=true&search_include_objects=true&search_include_photos=true&search_include_archives=true&search_include_library=true&search_include_creators=true&search_include_people=true&search_include_containers=true&searchcat_1=&searchcat_2=&searchcat_3=&searchcat_4=&searchcat_5=&searchcat_6=Somesville&searchcat_7=by&searchcat_8=&searchButton=Search

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May 3, 2021 01:04:41   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
Forgot to add that the camera in the photo above appears to be a Linhof Technika III.

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May 3, 2021 11:13:08   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
New link from the museum with some additional material:

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti/

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May 4, 2021 14:35:15   #
topcat Loc: Alameda, CA
 
Very interesting exhibition.

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May 31, 2021 13:20:15   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
The Museum has added some new images, including this collaboration between Ruohomaa and his friend Andrew Wyeth.

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti/2021/05/25/andrew-wyeths-deserted-house/

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Aug 28, 2021 09:54:30   #
MDI Mainer Loc: Mount Desert, Maine
 
The Penobscot Marine Museum has added some now galleries of Ruohomaa's work.

https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/kosti/kosti-assignments/

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