A Storied Lens: The Photographic World of Norman Fortier

Exhibition Date: 2005

Yachting scenes a central interest of gifted photographer’s work

This exhibition showed the enormous breadth of Fortier’s work. It highlighted the images of an important New Bedford photographer that are essential pieces of American industrial, maritime, and marine history as well as works of art.

"Cotton Blossom IV" beam-reaching under full sail
Photo by Norman Fortier #2004.11.9031.1

 A Storied Lens displayed about 75 of the most outstanding images from the Fortier Collection and focused on his black-and-white work during the years 1946-1974. A lecture series and several education activities complemented the exhibition.

Norman Fortier became an avid amateur marine photographer as a young man. As it was decades before formal photography study programs, Fortier was self-taught. He served as a U.S. Navy photographer during World War II. Returning to the New Bedford region after the war, he set up his own commercial photo studio. He was very much a generalist, doing advertising work, portraiture, and aerial assignments. The images Fortier produced for such clients as the Hathaway Manufacturing Company, Revere Copper and Brass, and Wamsutta Mills testified to both his brilliance as a technician and his uncanny sense of composition.

The exhibition remained on view through the Spring of 2006 and was presented in honor of Eliot S. Knowles, president of Merchants National Bank, 1967-1975, and president of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society—New Bedford Whaling Museum, 1973-1977. A Storied Lens was sponsored in part by the Kenneth T. and Mildred S. Gammons Foundation and Bank of America.