The Images of Kosti Ruohomaa, New York Photojournalist and Iconic Maine Photographer
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.
Thanks for the post. Will have look him up before my trip to Maine in July.
I checked it out, thanks for the introduction.
I too checked it out and it is “coming soon”
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/
Courtesy of PMM
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?
Forgot to add that the camera in the photo above appears to be a Linhof Technika III.
Very interesting exhibition.
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