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Patrick D. Pagnano

( 1947 - 2018 )

Patrick D. Pagnano, an uncompromising street photographer, became passionate about photography while attending Columbia College Chicago, graduating with a BA in photography. He studied under James Newberry, founder of the photography program and David Avison, as well as guest professors such as Harold Allen from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Here he developed his approach to shooting on the street —a “stream of consciousness” exploration — a narrative technique similar to the three photographers Pat most respected: Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand and Walker Evans.

He strove to capture the essence of a moment, yet wanted to leave the viewer with the thought that there was a larger story beyond the photograph. The changing environment was key to Pat in its role as to how it affected the people within his camera frame.

In 2002 he published Shot on the Street, a book featuring sixty color images of his New York City street work. The Center For documentary Studies Double Take Magazine wrote: The book “is a collection of images by one of those whose social curiosity took them into the daily rush of New York City’s streets. Shot during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Pagnano’s images are reminiscent of Helen Levitt’s street photographs…replete with the colors and patterns of the day, the poetics of social interaction, and the visual ironies born of the relationship between an urban space and its inhabitants.” In the introduction to this book, he wrote: “The street’s influence and energy never ceases. It is not only felt outside, but permeates the interiors of its structures and minds of its inhabitants.” 

Patrick’s photographs have been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago,Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York Cultural Center, 3M Corporation and Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, among others. His work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, Dreyfus Corporation, 3M Corporation, the Helmut Gernsheim Collection, as well as private collections. His photographs have been featured in photography magazines including Aperture Number 96, Popular Photography, Popular Photography’s S.L.R.

Most recently, BRIC Arts “Brooklyn Photographs” exhibition in September 2017 featured Patrick’s Empire Roller Disco series that memorialized the disco era in Brooklyn. In early 2018, Benrubi Gallery, New York City,presented this series as a solo exhibition in their Project Space.

Patrick also achieved success as a photojournalist and commercial photographer, doing assignments for CBS, HBO and Fortune, Forbes, Business Week and Financial World magazines as well as The New York Times and an impressive list of Fortune 500 corporations. 

In 1996 Pat was awarded a prestigious assignment that marked a highlight in his career as a journalist: still photographer for "CBS Reports: The Last Revolutionary," accompanying Dan Rather to Cuba to document his interviews with Fidel Castro. Mr. Rather and the crew got "unprecedented access to Cuba and to Castro” visiting the sites of pivotal events in the Cuban leader's career, including the Bay of Pigs and the Sierra Maestra mountains.

Patrick D. Pagnano passed away on October 7, 2018 as a result of complications after heart surgery. His wife Kari Pagnano survives him; they were married in Chicago 44 years ago.

See all photos by Patrick D. Pagnano