|Born||August 31, 1932|
Boston, United States
|Died||March 20, 2012 (aged 79)|
Vandenberg was born to Dutch parents in Boston, USA in 1932. Joining the US military and serving in the Korean War, Vandenberg later attended art school in Boston then studied photography in New York City with Alexey Brodovitch, Richard Avedon and Bruce Davidson. Taking images of poverty, urban deprivation and ethnic minorities on the streets of New York - themes already explored by Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand - Vandenberg's photographs were subsequently exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution for President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty.
Vandenberg worked as an art director for ad agency Doyle, Dane and Bernbach in New York. He was already a keen photographer before moving to London and had a photograph in the Museum of Modern Art. He moved to London in 1964 to pursue a career in photography- editorial, fashion, advertising and music. Vandenberg collaborated on the album cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Disillusioned with his commercial practice, Vandenberg eventually abandoned his business work altogether to concentrate on his personal street portraits.
Everything I made money on was fucking up the world. I philosophised myself out of the business quick. All these people tell you they want to use you, and bloody hell they do. I was tired of making a living. I wanted to live instead. –Al Vandenberg
From the 1970s onwards, Vandenberg’s own photographs—as opposed to his commercial work—were made on the streets, although the emphasis of the pictures had now changed. Where earlier he had studied depression and poverty, producing images of alienation, he now photographed people looking directly into the camera and enjoying themselves; people who attracted him and with whom he could establish a rapport. His subjects were now relaxed and responsive, sharing with him in the making of the picture. His series of high street photographs embraced the people of Singapore, Tokyo, Hollywood, New York, Hong Kong, Beijing, Laos and London, and totalled thousands of images.
Vandenberg died in Hereford, UK in 2012 having completed his third trip to China where he was preparing a body of work on its young people entitled "The Good People of China". Shortly after Vandenberg's death in 2012 his work was exhibited at Tate Britain and the V&A Museum London.
Vandenberg's estate is represented by Eric Franck Fine Art of London.
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