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Pedro E. Guerrero - The Architecture of a Life

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You recognize Frank Lloyd Wright and his work …


Alexander Calder and his art …


And Louise Nevelson and her oeuvre …



But how well do you know the man behind the camera?


Pedro E. Guerrero, a Mexican American photographer who was born and raised in segregated Mesa, Arizona, had an extraordinary, international photography career and collaborated with three of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century. Yet, in spite of being one of the most sought-after photographers of the “Mad Men” era, his story remains largely unknown.


In “American Masters — Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey,” we’ll follow Guerrero from his early years through the major events of his life, beginning with his serendipitous enrollment in photography classes and a meeting Wright at Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Arizona) in 1939. 


The documentary, often through interviews with Guerrero himself, follows Guerrero through definitive periods in American history, including his service in Italy during World War II and his work during the post-war, Mad Men era, when he became one of the most sought-after interior photographers in New York City. As the world built and rebuilt, Guerrero’s international career blossomed, and he specialized in photography of mid-century modern houses. 


Guerrero’s magazine assignments — which also led him into the homes of Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen and John Huston’s castle in Ireland — eventually led to his work with Calder after Wright’s death. However, due to Guerrero’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam War his magazine assignments ended abruptly. This led to more work with Calder, and eventually, Nevelson. After Nevelson’s death, Guerrero, now 75 years old, returned to Arizona, where he lived until his death at age 95. 

Guerrero’s second wife and archivist Dixie Legler Guerrero; Nevelson’s granddaughter, sculptor Maria Nevelson; his friends, collaborators and architectural experts, including Martin Filler, also share insights and recollections.


It’s a poignant and throughly enjoyable examination of an extraordinary life, which you can explore further online with “American Masters” in a variety of ways. In addition to a digital exhibit of Guerrero’s photography, join us on Instagram with #PedroPBS to share your own photos inspired by Guerrero’s work and encourage others to share their own local art and architecture photos. The best images will be featured on the series’ website, a video compilation on the “American Masters” YouTube channel and across PBS social media.


Friday, Sept. 18, 2015

“American Masters — Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey,” 8 p.m.



“American Masters”