Smith Andersen North is pleased to announce our exhibition of photographs by Ira H. Latour.

WORLD VIEWS. Photographs by Ira H. Latour.




Please join us for the opening reception for the photographer: Saturday, September 5th from 6:00 to 8:30PM. Smith Andersen North, San Rafael


Born in New York City on Nov. 28, 1919, Latour comes from a long line of artists. His grandfather, William Latour, learned daguerreotype photography in the early 1850s, not long after Louis Daguerre had invented the process. William’s son, Ira H. Latour Sr., co-founded the California Photographers’ Association in San Francisco in 1903. In 1929, the young Latour began private lessons with painter and set designer Joseph Rous Paget-Fredericks, whom he credits with opening his eyes to the arts of the world and to the joys of creativity. That same year, Latour began Saturday classes in photography at the California College of Arts and Crafts. The 12-year-old Latour had watched Ansel Adams photograph the Easter Sunrise Service in Yosemite National Park in 1933 and in 1936, Latour joined a special course in photography taught by Hungarian painter and photographer Nicholas Ház for whom Adams served as a teaching assistant. Latour enrolled full time at the CCAC for one year and then transferred to the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) due to its reputation as the most progressive art school in the West.


In order to fulfill his military duty under the nation’s first peacetime draft, Latour volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1940. He ended up in a fighter squadron bound for Europe. With no instruction whatsoever, Latour was put in charge of aerial photography and the gun cameras. Latour managed to obtain aerial fight sequences and still photographs that are used on television and in a wide range of books on World War II and aviation history.


After the war, Latour returned to the California School of Fine Arts, enrolling in the first class of the photography department launched by Ansel Adams in the fall of 1945. In the spring of 1946, Latour enrolled at UC Berkeley. Here Latour met writer and Groucho Marx protégé Gene Thompson. Together, Thompson and Latour edited the university’s humor magazine, The Pelican. In 1950, after they both graduated, the two headed for Paris to work as a photojournalism team documenting the reconstruction of Europe for the Marshall Plan. Latour became director of photography at the Headquarters, Europe Special Activities Division in Nuremberg. His office maintained the photographic files of the Nuremberg trials.


In 1955, Latour accepted a position teaching photography at what is now San Francisco State University. He spent his summers traveling abroad, mostly in Spain. There he photographed and filmed bullfights that were broadcast in Germany and the United States. He also photographed flamenco dancers, ibex hunting in the Sierra de Gredos, and the architecture of Antonio Gaudí. As was his experience in World War II, “Spain was a very important part of my life,” says Latour. “It brought me to focus on basic elements of philosophy and existence. It became the key to many other subjects. It opened doors.”


In 1959, Latour resigned his tenured position at San Francisco State to accept an offer from the International Media Company to set up a motion picture production studio in Germany. After completing the International Media Company’s first documentary, Antonio Gaudí, in 1964, Latour returned home. He accepted an offer from Chico State College to start a film program, but the program was never officially approved, so Latour was given a position in the Department of Art, where he was instrumental in the rapid expansion of its art history program. Latour had a distinguished teaching career for 23 years at CSU, Chico. He became professor emeritus of art and art history in 1991. The university honored Latour when he retired in 1991 by dedicating the Ira Latour Visual Resources Center.


Ira Latour has shown his work across Europe and in Guam, Mexico, Japan, and China, and his works are represented in public collections such as the New York Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Library of Congress.


Source: Stephen Metzger, The Art of Ira Latour, (Chico Statements. A Magazine from California State University, Chico, Spring 2009), pp. 12-17.


For additional information, please contact Stefan Kirkeby at 415 455 9733, or e-mail: info@smithandersennorth.com