Skrebneski Graces Erie Art Museum

The Erie Art Museum brings the iconic works of Victor Skrebneski to the Main Gallery, opening July 13. Chicago-based photographer Victor Skrebneski shares some of his best and favorite photographs from over six decades of photography, including many recognizable images.

Born in Chicago in 1929, Skrebneski studied painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Lázló Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design in Chicago. There he showed some of his photographs to Harry Callahan, who complemented Skrebneski’s unique cropping and urged him to visit magazine editors in New York City. “It wasn’t a decision of mine to switch to photography, it’s just what happened. Photography was something I fell into and decided I wanted to do for the rest of my life, because I liked it.” He spent a few months in New York in the early 1950s, but when he received a chance call from Marshall Field’s Department Store he returned to Chicago. In 1952, he opened his LaSalle Street studio in Chicago and remains there, working, today.

By 1962, Skrebneski had become the exclusive photographer for Estée Lauder. He has continued to work for the fashion industry, photographing for haute couture’s elite, including Chanel, Givenchy, Christian Dior, Saks Fifth Avenue and magazines such as Town and Country and Vogue. “In fashion, concentrate on the face to make sure the girl is beautiful,” Skrebneski says. “In portrait photographs, concentrate on the face to get the soul of the person.” His elegant photographs still grace the walls of Ralph Lauren stores today.

In addition to his commercial work, Skrebneski is well known for his studio portraits, such as his “black turtleneck series” of celebrities. “Photographing celebrities is easy,” he says. “They’re very cooperative.” He has an enduring love for what he calls the “big modern movements”—surrealism, cubism, dada—and the individual artists and photographers whose work has defined these movements. “What I do is instinctive; it isn’t plotted and planned,” he says. “It’s just compiling everything that I have ever seen into a thought. And I use that thought when I need it.”

Lyricism, elegance, timelessness and classicism are the hallmarks of Skrebneski’s style. “Black, white and grey are my favorite colors.” Many of his commercial photographs are in color, much of his own work is in black and white. Motion blur is another Skrebneski signature. “In the fifties, I started to use motion in my photographs. I would use slow shutter speed and have everything blurry. I loved blurry.”

Skrebneski says very little about his own work. “I avoid talking about my photographs and the way that I work. I’m passionate about my photographs—I prefer not to explain the images. My favorite photograph is the next one.”

The public is invited to celebrate the iconic work of Victor Skrebneski at a special opening Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. Visitors are invited to be among the first to see the exhibit and meet the artist.


About the Erie Art Museum

The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings, including an outstanding 1839 Greek Revival Bank. It maintains an ambitious program of 15 to 18 changing exhibitions annually, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical  and contemporary and including folk art, contemporary craft, multidisciplinary installations, community-based work, as well at traditional media.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 6,000 objects, which includes significant works in American ceramics, Tibetan painting, Indian bronzes, contemporary baskets, and a variety of other categories.

The Museum offers a wide range of education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a wide variety of classes for the community. Performing arts are showcased in the 24-year-old Contemporary Music Series, which represents national and international performers of serious music with an emphasis on composer/performers, and a popular annual two-day Blues & Jazz festival.

The Erie Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, free on Wednesdays, $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students and $2 for children under 12.

For additional information on the Erie Art Museum, visit online at or call (814) 459-5477.





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