Art | July 20, 2017 11:27 am

Fons Iannelli Captures Everyday Life in WWII Navy and Post-War America

Recently uncovered archive is the subject of a new exhibition at the Steven Kasher Gallery.

Sailors Playing Instruments, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Sailors Playing Instruments, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)

During World War II, renowned photographer Edward Steichen led a group of naval photographers who documented combat in the Pacific theater. Many of the photographers, including Victor Jorgensen (famously known for the V J Day Kiss in Time Square), went on to contribute to photo history, but others flew under the radar.

A young photographer named Fons Iannelli was among those lesser-known talents. His recently uncovered archive of photos are the subject of a new exhibition Fons Iannelli: War/Post-War  at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.

Iannelli got his start in photography at his father’s sculpture studio when he was 21. In 1942, he was recruited by Steichen to join the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, which was created by the U.S. Navy to document its operations for recruitment campaigns.

Fons began as an assistant and darkroom developer before he was promoted to photographer. His photos during the war documented the emotions of the men on the ship and daily life at sea. Instead of focusing on sailors engaged in combat, Ianelli’s ‘fly-on-the-wall’ style of shooting focused on camaraderie.

“He had an eye for extracting the significance from the moment,” Steven Kasher told to the New York Times.

After the war, he continued as a successful photojournalist working for numerous magazines, including McCall’s and Life, documenting life in post-war America.

His work will be on display at the Steven Kasher Gallery through August 11.

Sailors Watch as Aircraft Takes Off, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Crew Eating, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Raid Against Marcus Island, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Sailors Playing Instruments, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Sailors Aboard U.S.S. Yorktown, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Crew with Naval Torpedoes, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Aircraft’s Preparing for Take Off from U.S.S. Yorktown, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Military Aircrafts Aboard U.S.S Yorktown with Sailors Performing Exercises, 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
U.S. Navy Under American Flag, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Plane Handlers, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Men Getting in Aircraft, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
“Got a Light, Mate?”, Sailors Working Aboard U.S.S. Yorktown, ca. 1943 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Boy Smoking Cigarette (from the Kentucky Coal Miner series), Harlan County, KY, 1946 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Father and Co-Workers Playing Cards, 1947 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Second Grade Class during Reading and Writing Lesson, 1947 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Young Boys Practice with Mother (Suburban Family Series), 1947 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Weight Lifter, ca. 1946-1947 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Family Eating Dinner at Table, 1947 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Bobby Jean, two, always unsmiling and peaked, plays in the muddy yard, where diversions include a coal pile, an unused chicken coop, and a rickety privy. There are no playgrounds in Yokum Camp (from the Kentucky Coal Miner series), Harlan County, KY, 1946 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)
Young Boys Practice with Mother (Suburban Family Series), 1947 (Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York)