EDITTA SHERMAN was born July 9, 1912, in Philadelphia, PA. Her craft grew under the wing of her father, Nunzio Rinaolo, a wedding photographer, working in Patterson, NJ, in the 1930’s. A trip to Rome as a teen exposed her to the great masters establishing her resolve to create life-like images with a camera.
Assisted by husband, Harold, Editta launched her professional career on Martha’s Vineyard in 1944. With a successful season behind her, they moved to New York City a year later, with their five children in tow, where she continued shooting celebrities.
In the summer of 1947 she was commissioned by the GAVERT Company to make a series of portraits for a special exhibit of their Gevalux Velour paper at the PAA annual convention in Chicago. GAVERT wanted to demonstrate “utmost realism” in camera portraits when combining their product with third-dimensional lighting and “truthful characterizations” as captured by Editta and her lens. A one-woman show, “Men of Achievement” presented portraits -- shot on 8 x 10 Ektachrome -- shown in February 1948 at Radio City in the first presentation of “Photography on Parade.”
Commenting on a subsequent exhibit of 44 “Camera Studies,” New York Times critic Jacob Deschin wrote, “the alertness, sensitivity and sympathetic understanding required in portraiture, are reflected in most of Mrs. Sherman’s camera studies…the technical methods used should be less important to the amateur visitors at the show than her evident desire to get a truthful characterization.”
Editta's studio moved to a number of midtown locations before taking residence in her skylight Studio 1208 above Carnegie Hall in 1950, which afforded her ample use of north light to incorporate into her highly stylized images. Kenneth S. Tydings, “Portrait Photography” featured her portraits throughout the book to illustrate lighting technique.
Kodak solicited Mrs. Sherman’s largest and last one-woman exhibit in Grand Central Station's mezzanine in 1967. As the intensity of her photographic work tapered photographers and filmmakers found her natural beauty and dynamic personality well matched to their interest. Able Ferrare cast Mrs. Sherman in the supporting role of the landlady in 1983 motion picture Ms.45; Andy Warhol filmed her dancing the “Dying Swan,” and she appears in two recently released films: BILL CUNNINGHAM, NEW YORK, and LOST BOHEMIA. Editta has been a regular subject of the photographer’s appearing in Francesco Scavullo’s book WOMEN, and as the captivating single model in Bill Cunningham’s book exploring architecture and fashion history: FACADES.
At her 100th birthday, an exhibit of her photographic works opened at the 25CPW gallery in New York City. Editta Sherman died a little over a year later on November 1, 2013.