Tenderloin Museum presents Peter Fortuna: A Tenderloin Story, an abbreviated retrospective featuring the photography and ephemera of Peter Fortuna. On view will be a collaged selection of original photographs, magazine tearsheets, correspondence, and digital photographs by Peter Fortuna spanning 1970-1998. Join us at Tenderloin Museum on July 6th 6-8pm for a celebration of Fortuna's unique life in photography. The opening reception will feature refreshments along with footage from the 1991 Fortuna produced film, ‘War.’
The photography career of Peter Fortuna (1970-present) presents a dark trajectory of which the photographer becomes the subject in a series of extreme highs and lows. Born in New Jersey, Fortuna was presented with a camera as a gift from his father at ten years old. Working as a commercial fashion photographer in New York City in the early 1970s, Fortuna found substantial success fueling a vast studio practice in Midtown Manhattan, and a cache of celebrity and artist contemporaries of New York’s thriving art scene. Beyond commercial photography, Fortuna’s instincts for fashion and trend inspired him to create a series of t-shirts branded ‘Fortuna t-shirts’ featuring a simple graphic of a Nikon camera. The t-shirt was wildly popular, featured in magazines internationally and picked up by Bloomingdale's.
As an American living in Paris in the late 1970s, Fortuna was at the pinnacle of his success. Continuing his commercial photography career abroad, Fortuna counted Elle, DePache-Mode, PRIVÉ, Femme Pratique, 20ans, Photo Reporter, Petticoat and Women’s Magazine among his regular clients.
Fortuna moved to San Francisco and struggled with numerous attempts at sobriety embarking on a ten year odyssey of excruciating events pierced with tragedy. Losing his lease on his apartment, frequenting recovering programs with painful relapses, and frequent trips to various emergency ward and shelters, Fortuna soon found himself homeless, living on the street struggling with alcoholism. The majority of Fortuna’s original photographs and negatives were destroyed in a flood in his friend’s Noe Valley basement. A small selection of photographs have been ‘resurrected’ as digital prints for the purpose of this exhibition, and are displayed along with original photographs, magazine tearsheets, and correspondence.
Fortuna came to the Tenderloin as a resident seeking subsidized housing while dealing with a crippling addiction, and in this community he was able to create a new life for himself. Fortuna currently resides in the Tenderloin and is celebrating 7 years of sobriety. He is working on his first nonfiction book, ‘The Myth of the Platonic Orgasm’, and the pre-production of a new film, ‘SRO’ chronicling the agonizing homeless situation in San Francisco.