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Smith Andersen North honors Ira Latour (1919-2015), who passed away last week at the age of 96.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Ira Latour

1919 - 2015


SMITH ANDERSEN NORTH honors friend and photographer Ira Latour, who passed away last week at the age of 96. Ira Latour was a dedicated photographer, teacher and filmmaker and was one of the “three musketeers”, along with Cameron Macauley and William Heick, who spearheaded the publication of The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955, with the help of Victoria Whyte Ball and Ken Ball. There will be a public memorial for Latour on Tuesday, August 11 at Trinity Hall, Chico State University, 1pm. 


Click here to view images by Ira Latour.


Self-Portrait with Ansel Adams' print of Latour, 2000


Biography, courtesy of The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955 by Victoria Whyte Ball & Ken Ball


Ira Latour was a third generation photographer. His grandfather William Latour was one of the youngest recorded professional daguerreotypists. William’s son, Ira H. Latour, St. was co-founder of the California Photographers’ Association in San Francisco in 1902. He taught photography to his own son, and in 1928 gave Ira H. Latour Jr., his first camera. 


The next year, 1929, the young Latour began Saturday classes at the California College of Arts & Crafts (CCAC). In 1932, he saw the f.64 Group exhibit at San Francisco’s de Young Museum. He met Ansel Adams in 1934 and in 1936 studied with him briefly. An accomplished painter, Latour was commissioned to paint a mural for the Mexican Government’s Pavilion at the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. He was just 18 years old. 


Latour joined the Army in 1941. Perhaps because of his study with Ansel Adams, he was put in charge of aerial photography and gun cameras in a squadron  of P-38 fighter planes. In the summer of 1942, the shipped out in the third echelon to Europe and served 12 campaigns from North Africa through Europe. Latour’s photographs from WWII have appeared in numerous books on the history of military aviation. After his discharge in 1945, Latour returned to California and enrolled in Ansel Adams’ founding class of the Department of Photography at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA). He transferred to U.C. Berkeley and received a B.A., working part-time in the ASUC Photography Department under Homer Page. When Page departed for New York, Latour took over at director. 


In 1950, Latour and writer Gene Thompson set off to work in Paris as a photojournalism team on assignments for the Marsha2015. ll Plan on the reconstruction of Europe. From 1951 to 1955, Latour was a Director of Photography for Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe. During these years, he documented the German Wirtschaftswunder, as seen in Latour’s exhibit, Post-World War II Europe: The Marshall Plan Years. 


Latour returned to the U.S.and engaged in a distinguished teaching career. From 1955-59 he taught photography at San Francisco State University.


Latour and his future wife, Teresita “Terri” Pangelinan first met in San Francisco in 1961, and were later married in Berne, Switzerland in 1965. They had one son, Marcus, their pride and joy. 

The Latours relocated to Chico, California where Ira taught art history for 23 years at Chico State University. He retired in 1991.


Latour has received many awards, grants, and honors. Among them are the California State Universities Chancellor Grant, 1970; the Ansel Adams research fellowship, 1999, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; and the San Francisco Elder Arts, Elder Artist of the Year, 2003. 


Latour’s photographs have been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, England, Israel, Mexico, Guam, Japan, and China. His work is in the collections of the Josef Sudek House of Photography in Prague; the National Museum, Beijing, China; the New York Museum of Modern Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, Rochester; and the National Museum of Art, the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Latour also had a prolific filmmaking career, producing many films including an award-winning film about the Spanish architect Antonio Guadi that was aired nationally on PBS. 


Latour passed away on July 19, 2015. He was 96 years old. 


Ira Latour, The Orient Express, 1952


Ira Latour, El Alcazar, Toledo, Spain, 1953 


Ira Latour, Nuremberg, Germany, c. 1953


Ira Latour, De Luto, Santa Cruz, Seville, 1953


Ira Latour, White Glove, Paris, 1953


Ira Latour, Henry Miller, Big Sur, CA 1950


Ira Latour, Edward Weston at his home at Wildcat Hill near Carmel, California, 1950.