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Photographer George Pickow dies in N.Y.

Dec. 19, 2010 at 11:33 AM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Photographer George Pickow, known for his album cover photographs of musicians such as Lena Horne and Louis Armstrong, has died in New York, his son said.

Pickow died of respiratory failure, his son Jon said in a New York Times report. Pickow was 88.

Pickow, who died Dec. 10, photographed the cultural ferment of New York City, particularly Greenwich Village, where he and his wife, folk singer Jean Ritchie lived after their marriage in 1950.

Pickow helped his wife collect traditional songs from singers in Appalachia and Britain, and contributed photographs to many of her books, among them "The Swapping Song Book" (Oxford University, 1952), a volume of songs from the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky.

His subjects included Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Louis Jordan and dozens of other musical performers in the last half of the 20th century.

Originally trained as a painter, Pickow also photographed many distinguished visual artists, including Thomas Hart Benton, Chaim Gross and Edward Hopper. Many of his most striking photographs were shot in black and white, and they show people plying their trades.

He was also an independent filmmaker and from the 1970s until shortly before his death, he ran a small record label called Greenhays Recordings.

Pickow was born on Feb. 11, 1922, in Los Angeles. He was raised in Brooklyn and studied painting at the Cooper Union. He made training films for the Navy during World War II.

Survivors include his widow, Jean Ritchie, and sons Jon and Peter.

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