Carl Sandburg: Photograph by Lee Balterman
It would be hard to find a less theoretical artist than eighty six year-old Lee Balterman. Balterman made his living as a Chicago-based photographer for Time, Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and other top magazines, producing memorable, even iconic celebrity portraits. For example, his photographic portraits have included an ebullient President Eisenhower on a campaign swing, a ghostly Carl Sandburg staring into space in a lonely firehouse (see above) and a “Shaft”-era Isaac Hayes, conducting business by phone in the plush luxury of his white limousine.
Lee Balterman’s Chicago may be long gone, but it’s still a very interesting place to visit. “I’m crazy about pictures,” he says. “I went around with a camera, and when I saw something — boom! You know, real fast.” And unlike some of his peers in the history of local street photography, he always preferred people to buildings. “Yeah, I like people,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. “More or less.”
Lee Balterman: Photographs of 1940’s Chicago Life
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