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Victor Arimondi
November 1942 - July 2001

 
 
I just received notice of this:

A R I M O N D I - A   R E T R O S P E C T I V E 
at the 
A t e l i e r G a l l e r y 
in San Francisco
June 1st

Atelier Gallery: 2354 Market St - Penthouse San Francisco, CA 94114
415.861.8216    www.atelier142.com

and have made a page of their press release.


 
 
 
In early September of 2001 I learned that my friend Victor Arimondi had died.  This is the man who took the three black and white photos of me back in August of 2000 when I spent some time in San Francisco.  One of those photos graces the main page of my site and is among my favorites. 

Victor died in July but news of his death only just reached me.  I knew Victor from when I met him several years ago at a Tom of Finland Erotic Art Fair Weekend in Los Angeles.  He liked my look and asked if he could take some pictures of me.  After a couple of quick and casual shots he then asked if I would be available later on in the weekend for a longer and more private session.  I deflected his request just long enough to go find Durk Dehner, who runs the Tom of Finland Foundation, and ask him just who this photographer guy was - and if he was legitimate!

Durk reassured me that Victor was very legitimate and a good guy to boot.

So, I set things up with Victor such that I was up in his hotel room late that Sunday afternoon doing a photo session with him.  This was a first for me.  Sure, folks have taken my picture before but not like this.  This was an actual professional photographer of some world renown spending his time in a private photo session with me.  This was enormously flattering for me and a real (and much needed boost) to my self-confidence.

Victor had asked me to bring along several outfits so we could try different looks.  He most wanted to capture the late afternoon sunlight coming in through the windows and he made good use of it that day.

This was my first time around at this and I felt more than a bit awkward and self-conscious.  I know I am attractive but I also know I am not at the standards of the professional models Victor used to photograph for a living.  Still though, we had fun in the session and Victor came away with some good shots of me.

A few weeks later he sent them down to me and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  No, I did not give up my day job and rush to LA in the hopes of "being discovered" but I did like the fact that someone saw something visually unique enough about me to want to spend that much time photographing.

Victor and I stayed in touch after that.  He lived in San Francisco and I in San Diego so our communication was via email or his occasional postcards.  Victor liked composing his own postcards.  He would take a picture of something which interested him, develop that photo himself, then place a copy of it in a still life setting and take another photo of it.  He would then send these "photos within a photo" off to his friends.  Sometimes he would hand color them for certain effects.

In August of 2000 I found myself in San Francisco for some several days.  Usually I would come up for a weekend event and leave almost as soon as I had arrived.  Not so this time.  I drove up there from San Diego and took my time about it.  This also gave me my own wheels while I was up there so I was more free to roam the streets of San Francisco.  On one of my roamings I dropped on by Victor's apartment.

I had called ahead and made sure of the address.  Victor lived in one of those multi-story apartment buildings along Market near Duboce.  The building itself was done in the "Mexican Art Deco" style popular in the 1930's & 40's.  Even after a half century it still lent some offbeat class to the whole affair.  I'm sure Victor appreciated that as well.

I met Victor in the lobby of the apartment building and we walked up the stairs to his unit.  It was a small affair and very sparse.  It also faced Market and afforded him an excellent view of the street and the City to the south.  Victor had filled his apartment with his pictures and his artwork.  He needed little else.  Off to one side of his apartment was a small kitchen and a closet which he had set up as his own darkroom.

Almost as soon as we had sat down, Victor brought out his camera.  It never seemed far from his hand.  Even when Victor had made up lunch for the two of us he still had his camera ready.  In short order he had taken three photos of me.  That seemed to satisfy him and we got on with the meal and catching each other up on our lives.

Victor had been spending much time of late photographing the homeless in San Francisco as well as the workers about the City.  He was a great admirer of the male form and found the unposed natural masculinity of many of these men - both homeless and worker - to be very appealing visually.

He and I spent some time going through the results of his efforts and they were indeed impressive.  Impressive and painful.  Victor would come to know some of the homeless who he photographed.  In too many of their cases their stories were searingly painful.  They reminded me how just a couple of unlucky breaks could drastically alter the fortunes of any of us.  Victor documented this well in his art.

Victor also had taken up painting.  I had known him only as a photographer but he had wanted to expand his creative outlets so he began putting some of his visualizations to canvas as well.  I don't know what has become of those creations.   Nor do I know what really became of Victor in July.

I last saw Victor after dropping him off that afternoon.  He had somewhere to be and I offered to give him a ride to there.  Before we left he insisted on giving me something to mark our meeting.  I told him that his photographs were more than enough and his company alone was appreciated.  Victor was adamant though and he gave me an ashtray with a Hindu god figurine on it.  Victor was just that way.

Upon coming down to my truck I found that the wonderful San Francisco Parking Enforcement folks had decided to stick me with a ticket.  Unjustly and something I am still haggling with them about.  But I pocketed that ticket and drove Victor to his destination.  It had been good to see him and reconnect.  I looked forward to doing more of the same in my other travels to The City.

A week or so later those photographs arrived.  They were fantastic.  I really do like how Victor was able to capture my image that afternoon.  I have shared these images with others and they are of a same mind about them.  I have also decided to use one of his photos on the main page of my site as I really think it shows well who I am.  I was very appreciative of Victor's efforts and he was happy to hear how much I liked the pictures he took that day.

Victor and I exchanged a few emails after that as well as some cards.  He more than I as he would drop me out of the blue one of his postcards or "picture or a picture" cards.  I had not heard from him for some time but that was not unusual as I knew he would be around and we would once again bump into each other at some event or happenstance.

Then on September 8th, Biron, a friend of Victor's dropped me a line to tell me of his passing.  Biron is also a photographer and shared Victor's interest in photographing me.  He had run a web search on Victor after learning of his death and found links to my site.  I am a bit surprised by this but appreciate his following through.

Biron told me of the Bay Area Reporter's carrying an obituary for Victor so I went out and got a copy of it.  I have reprinted it, with permission, below.  I think it should provide a good idea of who Victor was otherwise.

I have written all of this as a way of acknowledging the effect of Victor on my life and the effect of his passing on my life as well.  The obituary does a good job of describing Victor's life in its biographical form and I also don't pretend to know Victor any better than I do.  However, Victor did have a personal effect on me and I felt that should be shared as it is part of who he was.

I will miss him and I hope others recognize and appreciate what he was able to accomplish while he was with us.

Madoc

April '02:  Over these past few months a couple of folks have found my website in the process of searching for more information about their friend, Victor.  It has been nice to learn of how widely Victor touched people's lives.  This notice from James Scott Geras of the opening of his works is also a touching thing.  I wish them well.
 


Victor Arimondi:
A celebration of life

By Cynthia Laird
Editor
Bay Area Reporter
September 6th 2001
 

The gay community lost a legend this summer with the news that world-famous photographer Victor Arimondi died in San Francisco on July 24.  He was 58.

Born November 8, 1942 in Italy and raised in Sweden, Mr. Arimondi traveled the world, eventually settling in San Francisco.

Mr. Arimondi’s love of photography began in Sweden in 1965.  An article in the local publication Creampuff noted that after working several blue-collar jobs in Stockholm, Mr. Arimondi decided to become a model.  Within months, his photogenic Southern European features made him once of the most sought after models in Sweden, and over the next seven years, he was photographed by top designers and modeling agencies in Paris, Montreal, New York, London, Milan, and Germany.

Following a failed love affair, Mr. Arimondi decided to become a photographer.  Five years of art school, seven years of visual training on the other side of the camera, and plenty of fashion world connections gave him plenty of opportunity to build up a portfolio.

Initially, Mr. Arimondi photographed women in high fashion.  Around 1974, he began photographing nude males – not a common thing to do in the 1970s.  After sending his photos to After Dark magazine in New York City for a year, his male nudes were first published by the gay magazine in 1975.  “His striking nudes, with the distinctive Arimondi use of light and shadow, were published in After Dar regularly from 1977 through 1982,” noted the article in Creampuff.  By 1980, his reputation as a male nude photographer landed him an assignment to do a book called The Look of Men for a straight publishing house looking to capitalize on the market of women who were buying male nude magazines such as Playgirl.

“My approach to photography has never been causal,” Mr. Arimondi once said.  “Since I posed in front of the camera so many years, my experience with talented photographers made me realize a way to express my inner world.  My approach to beauty is dominated by my classical background and European style.  I came to this country to further develop my style and spirit – I believe that I have been faithful to my ideal.”

In February 1981, he opened the 511 Gallery with Jim Scrivani.  But despite all his success, he wasn't getting the kind of paid jobs he needed, and quit fashion photography.  After his retirement, he continue to capture beautiful men with his camera.

By 1987 he had grown bored with male nudes and turned his lens toward everyday construction workers in San Francisco.  Walking the streets seeking workers, eventually led him to the homeless, a photographic selection that turned off many private collectors of his male nudes.  Yet his images of the homeless are among Mr. Arimondi’s most powerful social portraits.

Today, some of Mr. Arimondi’s work is in the permanent collection of the Modern Museum of Art in Stockholm.

Bar Area Reporter publisher Bob Ross, a longtime friend of Mr. Arimondi’s, said, “Victor was one of the kindest men I've ever met.  He will be deeply missed.”

There are no plans for a memorial service at this time.

If you would like to know more about this adventure I had, then just ask!  Click on my email address here:
email me

This page was last updated on: 27 February 2003

 

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs and images on this page are copyright protected property of Madoc Pope.  If you would like to use any of my images you must contact me first before you do so.

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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!

Madoc