With 72,000 negatives and 60 albums of prints, the collection spans more than 60 years of Milton Gendel’s life. Gendel’s series of Roman and Italian scenes, monuments and views provide an iconography as well as a social history of life in Italy from the bleak, impoverished postwar period to the boom of the Italian Miracle and the present affluent generation.
The Sicilian photos of 1950 – prints in the museum of Gibellina – were followed by as-they-are-now photos of the Roman views painted in the 18th-century by Panini, the 1960 mock “Olympic Games” at the Villa Reale of Marlia, the Biennials at Venice, the entire story of Nicky de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Monument at Garavicchio, and life and interiors of the major palaces and villas in Rome and around Italy.
Close-up sequences of art-world personalities include the artists Tancredi, Burri, Scialoja, Melotti, Dorazio, Mochetti among many others; collectors like Peggy Guggenheim and Paul Getty; and critics and historians such as John Pope-Hennessy, Giulio Carlo Argan, Bruno Zevi, John Russell, André Chastel, Carlo Pietrangeli, Federico Zeri and Carlo Bertelli as well as public functionaries concerned with the arts.
Among the most exalted of the personages represented, aside from those in arts and letters, like Mario Praz and Iris Origo, and prominent people official and otherwise, Princess Margaret of England figures large during her visits over 40 years to all parts of Italy among monuments, palaces and notables. Of particular interest is the record of her visits to the Sistine Chapel all during the restoration of the Michelangelo frescoes. There is also a substantial coverage of the British Royal family at Kensington Palace, Clarence House, Balmoral and Sandringham. The Queen, Prince Philip, the Queen Mother and the others are seen at home and out shooting and picnicking.
Selections of the most striking photographs have been shown in exhibitions, and printed in catalogues, in Italy at the Marlborough Gallery, the American Academy in Rome, the Barozzi gallery in Venice, the museum of Gibellina, and Il Ponte, Il Segno and Carlo Virgilio galleries in Rome.
In addition to the vast amount of Italian subjects the archive includes New York interiors and exteriors in Washington Square, lower 5th avenue, uptown, Long Island and elsewhere in the U.S., with personalities such as Meyer Schapiro, De Kooning, Tom Hess, Harold Rosenberg, S.I. Newhouse, Leo Castelli and many others.
European subjects include extensive series photographed in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Greece, the Mediterranean and the U.S.S.R.. Historical series include the capture of the Japanese Governor General of Formosa, General Ando, in 1945, the coronation of the King of Sikkim in 1965, and a tour of Ethiopia, in particular a Falasha village (community of Ethiopian Jews) in 1973.