David Drew Zingg

Instituto Moreira Salles

The color in modern brazilian photojournalism

Brazilian first colors
DAVID DREW ZINGG (1923-2000)  Born in Montclair, USA, David Zingg attended Columbia University, where he would later teach journalism. He was a reporter and photographer for Look Magazine and had alread worked for other American publications such as Life, Esquire and Vogue when he came to Rio de Janeiro for the first time, in 1959. His “discovery” of Brazilian culture happened in a unusual way, as his whole trajectory in the country would become since that: he was part of the crew on the yacht Ondine, which was participating in a boat race from Buenos Aires to Rio, and the trip ended, magically, during the Carnival days. Zingg then began traveling regularly between USA and Brazil until decide to left behind his American life definitely.  His articles on Brazilian events, including the construction of Brasília, were published in American and British magazines. He became close friend of a large number of artists and was known as the perfect model of "bon vivant". He was there for the opening night of Show de Bossa Nova, starring Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes at the nightclub Au Bon Gourmet, and helped to organize the famous show Bossa Nova Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York, in 1962.

On the background: Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Catacumba favela.

The Catacumba favela no longer exists. The removal of its population of about 6,000 people integrated a large project of "des-favelização" of the Southern Zone, which begun in the 1940s and whose boom was the end of the 1960s, during the military dictatorship. The inhabitants of Praia do Pinto and Ilha das Dragas, also in Lagoa, Largo da Memória, in Leblon, and Morro do Pasmado, in Botafogo, despite the fact that many of them have jobs in the region, were also forced to relocate. In the early 1970s these areas were already completely clean out of irregular occupations and their former residents living in distant housing complexes, which in a short time would become favelas.

After being reforested, the favela area was transformed into the Catacumba Park. In its surroundings, in the fringes of the lagoon, several luxury buildings appeared and now compose the urban landscape.

David Zingg debuted in the press as a reporter. He was one of Look's editors between 1953 and 1958, when he decided to become a photographer. He already had published then some of the best photographers in the world - as he have declared -, so he quickly established a style, allowing himself to experience, for example, the slow shooting, adding dynamism to his portraits. In this period, while in Brazil the printing industry was still in its infancy, the American press was using the color photography in large scale.

Zingg formed with George Love and Lew Parrella the set of North American photographers that pointed out ways for definitive changes in Brazilian photojournalism. Working in Realidade magazine in the 1960s, they incorporated into the practices of this publication, one of the most read of the period, procedures and approaches unknow by the local press professionals untill that moment.

The One Hundred Thousand March took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 1968. It served as part of the military dictatorship's justifications to promulgate Institutional Law Number 5 (AI-5), opening the way to the regime's hardest moment. AI-5 was in force until December 1978. March of one hundred thousand

The 1970´s

“Photography is history,” David Zingg wrote, “and that is its fundamental function. The machine shows the present day to those who wish to see the present day. But it also shows yesterday to those who wish to learn. …It seems to me that the duty of a photographer in Brazil is to press on in registering suffering and pleasure, the beautiful and the ironic. Only time and the public will decide the meaning that photographs truly hold.”

“Fotografia é história, e é essa sua função fundamental. A máquina mostra os dias de hoje àqueles que queiram ver os dias de hoje. Mas a máquina também mostra o ontem àqueles que queiram aprender. (…). O dever de um fotógrafo no Brasil, me parece, é insistir no registro do sofrimento e do prazer, do belo e do irônico. Só o tempo e o público decidirão o significado que as fotografias realmente têm.”
David Zingg

David Zingg worked with some of the most important magazines in Brazil – Manchete, Veja, Realidade, Claudia, Playboy, Quatro Rodas and Isto É – as well as Brazil’s leading newspapers and was director of photography on the film Memórias de Helena, directed by David Neves (1968). In 1978 he moved to São Paulo, working as consultant and writer for the Folha de S. Paulo and penning the column “Tio Dave” (Uncle Dave) from 1987 to 2000. Zingg also took part in the hard rock band Joelho de Porco, notorious for its humorous lyrics.

"In 1958 I was editor and one of the three or four people who headed Look magazine. Then one fine day a friend of mine invited me to make a boat race from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro. I arrived in Rio and was amazed. It was carnival season."

Image on image
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, David Zingg used his free time between commissioned trips to produce photographic essays with elements of urban iconography, almost always popular, in various parts of Brazil and abroad.The common element to all these images are the subvertion of posters, signs, banners and various types of inscription´s original sense, constantly remembering how noisy - simultaneously poetic, bizarre, lyrical, funny, melancholic - has become the human visual panorama since the advent of "modernity". The four photos of this sequence are part of the exhibition David Drew Zingg: Image on image, held by IMS in 2015. The show specifically explored the graphic series, where Zingg experimented at the threshold of the color blow up.

David Drew Zingg died on July 28th, 2000, in São Paulo. His collection, comprising over 150,000 photographs (mainly color slides), documents and personal items, was passed on to the Instituto Moreira Salles in 2012, following an agreement with his descendants.

Credits: Story

David Drew Zingg - the color in the modern Brazilian photojournalism
Edition: Rachel Rezende

David Drew Zingg: Image on image
Curation: Tiago Mesquita


Brazil is not for beginners: Lew Parrella, George Love and David Zingg, American photographers in the Realidade magazine (1966-1968)

Guia do IMS - Cadão Volpato. Tradução Flora Thomson-DeVeaux.

Acknowledgements: Ângelo Manjabosco, Joanna Balabram and Thaiane Koppe

Credits: All media
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