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Chas Gerretsen : Chile : The Photo Archive 1973 – 1974


The exhibition “Rewind, Reimagine, Report” will open at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile on August, 18 2023.

In 1973 Dutch photojournalist Chas Gerretsen received the prestigious ‘Robert Capa Gold Medal’ award for his images of Chile. The award was given for the coverage of the coup d’état on September 11, 1973, which the French magazine ‘Reporter-Objectif’ had published.

Reporter Objectif and the French photo agency Gamma (who acted as agent for Chas at the time) had combined the coverage of the coup with photo stories by two other Gamma photographers: Raymond Depardon (Chile 1970) and David Burnett (end of September 1973.) The images Gerretsen had taken of the Chilean coup, were published in magazines and newspapers all over the world.

Many of you may never have heard of Chas, but you have seen his photos, which are living history. Especially the photo of the Junta leader, army general Pinochet wearing dark glasses, which Chas had made one week after the coup, went viral around the world, becoming THE image of a dictator. This image was used by people to protest against fascism and dictators; political groups used the image by replacing the face of general Pinochet with that of various world leaders, e.g.: Margaret Thatcher, Barak Obama, Jair Bolsonaro and Emmanuel Macron.

In early 1975, someone in the Gamma office suggested to Chas: “Why don’t you go and find a war in Hollywood.” Gerretsen changed his photographic career; he went to Hollywood and became a well sought after portrait photographer of many famous stars in the seventies and eighties. He worked as advertising and special photographer on more than hundred films. Among them: Apocalypse Now, A Star is Born, Romancing the Stone, The Black Hole.

Gerretsen has long retired, but since a few years, he is working on his photo archive, which is stored since the 1990ies in the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam.

In 2021 “Apocalypse Now, the Lost Photo Archive” was published by Prestel Verlag/Random House to rave reviews.



One often hears or reads the names Kissinger, the CIA, Allende and Pinochet in connection with the overthrow of the Chilean government in 1973. What happened before, during and immediately after the September 11, 1973 coup d’état is today rarely discussed, let alone shown. In Chile the topic is being discussed heatedly and with great emotions.

In 2019 Gerretsen started posting photos of Chile on social media, and for many Chileans it was the first time, that they saw these historic images. It came as no surprise, that in the last three years, more and more people had been asking Chas, to publish a book, with the photographs he had made in Chile, where he lived from January 73 till after the coup; and another six months in Santiago in 1974.

Together with Dutch graphic designer -SYB- Sybren Kuiper, Gerretsen selected out of the more than 8,000 Chile images which are left in his archive, over 300 photographs, many of which have never before been published. With the cooperation of publisher ‘Editorial RM’ the Spanish version is printed right now and will be available soon. An English edition is planned for autumn, together with the Dutch publishing house ‘Lecturis’.

The book shows what Chile was like during the government of President Allende. What started as the great hope for a more supportive state entailed in 1973 almost daily clashes between the right and left, demonstrations, long lines waiting for hours to buy a kilo of basic necessities, the truckers’ strike, with the support of the interventional U.S. government. It all led up to a violent coup. In 1974, Gerretsen went twice back to see how Chile had changed under the military dictatorship.

He says, “It is impossible to put all stories in one book, for now I concentrated on the historical parts. I hope for the images to become part of the historical and political memory of Chile, and that this book, as a reminder of the past, will help future generations avoid making the same mistakes.”

Chas has invested a lot of his own time and resources to create CHILE – THE PHOTO ARCHIVE 1973 – 1974. He just finished successfully a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, to be able to realize a Spanish and also an English edition. On August 18, 2023 the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago will open: “Rewind, Reimagine, Report.” The first exhibition in Chile that brings together media of the months before and after the 1973 coup d’état. All images of this work are by Chas Gerretsen.

Article by Monika Pfandzelter


The Chile book(s):

Spanish Edition: Editorial RM
ISBN: 978-84-19233-62-2

English Edition: Lecturis
ISBN: 978-94-62264-84-7


Other publications by Chas Gerretsen:
“Starring Chas Gerretsen”
Published 2021 by Lecturis;
ISBN: 9789462264069

“Apocalypse Now, The Lost Photo Archive, by Chas Gerretsen”
Published 2021 by Prestel Verlag / Random House;
ISBN: 978-3-7913-8808-3

“Het wonderbaarlijke en vreemde leven van Chas Gerretsen”
352-page paperback, autobiography of Chas Gerretsen – his life till 1990.
Published 2021, in Dutch language, by Uitgeverij Boom-Geschiedenis
ISBN: 9789024434473


Chas Gerretsen on social media:


Museum of Memory and Human Rights
Matucana 501
8500000 Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile

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