Chas Gerretsen is one of these lesser known famous figures. Chas who? is the most likely question you may get when mentioning a visit to the first ever Chas Gerretsen retrospective exhibition of his work and life exhibited in the Nederlands Fotomuseum, in Rotterdam: “Chas in de hoofdrol” or “Chas in the main role” in English. And yet… he walked into Vietnam and fame during the Tet Offensive and became a freelance reporter. The year was 1968. Then later, he went into Cambodia from Paris, in 1970, the year Gilles Caron disappeared, as part of the too many “unofficial casualties among correspondents covering the war in Indochina  since 1965”. He flew helicopters, visited the Karens, camped in front of Angkor Wat with the troops, all this before being even recognised as a correspondent and joining Gamma in 1972. He became however famous for his coverage of the September 1973 coup d’état in Chile. His famous photograph of General Pinochet was already mentioned here and has become an icon: A group of relaxed and cool, pleasant gentlemen, the embodiment of friendliness and joie de vivre. Pinochet did not like the photo, according to his own words, as it was “making him resemble too much a Latin American Dictator”… no comments needed. Chas was close to the action, on both sides, during those events, as one of the few present. Later on, and for 6 months in 1976, he became the set photographer in The Philippines of “Apocalypse Now”. An irony for a war photographer to take photographs of a fake war on film. and double irony when the title photography of the exhibit is Dennis Hopper as a war photographer taking a picture… of Chas Gerretsen, taking a picture of him… mirrors, mirrors…in any case, a deserved retrospective for yet another grand monsieur of war photography.

Dennis Hopper during the filming of Apocalypse Now, 1976 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Pinochet and his merry men, Chile, 1973 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Cambodian child soldier, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 1970 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Salvador Allende on the way to La Moneda presidential palace, 4 September 1973 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
The heads of the Chilean army during the suppression of the ‘El Tancazo’ coup attempt. Santiago de Chile, 29 June 1973 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
4 September 1973, before the storm ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
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