Peter Cunningham (photographer)

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Peter Cunningham is an American photographer who is best known for his concert and theatre photographs made in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s.

Family and education[edit]

Cunningham is the eldest son of the American cloud physicist Robert M. Cunningham and his Austrian-born wife Claire Steinhardt, a chemist and high school teacher.[1] He graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in 1965 and studied anthropology at Wesleyan University before taking up photography in 1969.[2][3] Cunningham acted as assistant to Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1975 when the French photographer spent several weeks touring and photographing in New Jersey.[4] He lives in NoHo with his wife, Ara Fitzgerald.[5]

Music photography[edit]

In his early career Cunningham specialized in photographing musicians and theatrical performances and concerts.[4]: 119  Cunningham was the house photographer at the New York cabaret The Bottom Line.[6] In 1973, as his first professional assignment, he shot Bruce Springsteen's first publicity photographs for Columbia Records.[7] In 1982 Cunningham shot the first publicity photographs of Madonna for Warner Brothers. A number of images from the photo session were lost and were exhibited for the first time in 2016 after having been rediscovered.[8]

Other work[edit]

Cunningham is a Zen practitioner and a student of Bernie Glassman of the Zen Peacemaker Order.[9] He participated in and photographed the first "interfaith meditation retreat" at the Auschwitz concentration camp led by Glassman in 1997.[10] Cunningham began visiting Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy with his parents as a small child and returns to the island annually to photograph.[11]


  1. ^ Cunningham, Robert M. (2 January 2005). "Robert M. Cunningham: Fogseeker". Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Creative CV". Peter Cunningham. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Robert M. Cunningham Obituary". 15 April 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Gambaccini, Peter (1984). Getting to the top in photography. New York, N.Y.: Amphoto. ISBN 978-0-8174-3906-4.
  5. ^ Jacobson, Aileen (20 April 2020). "NoHo, Manhattan: A Place to 'Live and Work and Create'". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Janis Ian solves photo mystery". Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen Considered. 31 July 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  7. ^ Wender, Jessie (24 July 2012). "Bruce Springsteen: Stories behind the photographs". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Malaga : Madonna, The Birth of the Myth". The Eye of Photography. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  9. ^ Shambhala Sun (7 May 2013). "The Dude, the Zen master and the photographer". Lion's Roar. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  10. ^ Cunningham, Peter (Spring 1997). "Bearing Witness: Notes from Auschwitz". Tricycle. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  11. ^ Landry, Mike (14 January 2014). "Chasing Their Shadows". Visual Arts News. Retrieved 2 August 2016.

External links[edit]