Author Archive for Marcus Bunyan

05
Jul
15

Exhibition: ‘In Light of the Past’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Exhibition dates: 3rd May – 26th July 2015

Curators: The curators of In Light of the Past: Celebrating 25 Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art are Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, and Diane Waggoner, associate curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art.

 

 

What a great title for an exhibition. Photography always evidences light of the past, we live in light of the past (the light of the Sun takes just over 8 minutes to reach Earth) and, for whatever reason, human beings never seem to learn from mistakes, in light of the past history of the human race.

My favourites in this postings are the 19th century photographs, to which I am becoming further attuned the more I look at them. There is almost a point when you become psychologically enmeshed with their light, with the serenity of the images, a quality that most contemporary photographs seem to have lost. There is a quietness to their presence, a contemplation on the nature of the world through the pencil of nature that is captivating. You only have to look at Gustave Le Gray’s The Pont du Carrousel, Paris: View to the West from the Pont des Arts (1856-1858, below) to understand the everlasting, transcendent charisma of these images. Light, space, time, eternity.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

The Collection of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington (110kb Word doc)

 

 

William Henry Fox Talbot. 'A Scene in York: York Minster from Lop Lane' 1845

 

William Henry Fox Talbot
A Scene in York: York Minster from Lop Lane
1845
Salted paper print
16.2 x 20.4 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Edward J. Lenkin Fund, Melvin and Thelma Lenkin Fund and Stephen G. Stein Fund, 2011

 

A British polymath equally adept in astronomy, chemistry, Egyptology, physics, and philosophy, Talbot spent years inventing a photographic process that created paper negatives, which were then used to make positive prints – the conceptual basis of nearly all photography until the digital age. Calotypes, as he came to call them, are softer in effect than daguerreotypes, the other process announced in 1839. Though steeped in the sciences, Talbot understood the ability of his invention to make striking works of art. Here the partially obstructed view of the cathedral rising from the confines of the city gives a sense of discovery, of having just turned the corner and encountered this scene.

 

Carleton E. Watkins. 'Piwac, Vernal Falls, 300 feet, Yosemite' 1861

 

Carleton E. Watkins
Piwac, Vernal Falls, 300 feet, Yosemite
1861
Albumen print
39.9 x 52.3 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mary and David Robinson, 1995

 

The westward expansion of America opened up new opportunities for photographers such as Watkins and William Bell. Joining government survey expeditions, hired by railroad companies, or catering to tourists and the growing demand for grand views of nature, they created photographic landscapes that reached a broad audience of scientists, businessmen, and engineers, as well as curious members of the middle class. Watkins’s photographs of the sublime Yosemite Valley, which often recall landscape paintings of similar majestic subjects, helped convince Congress to pass a bill in 1864 protecting the area from development and commercial exploitation.

 

Charles Nègre. 'Market Scene at the Port of the Hotel de Ville, Paris' before February 1852

 

Charles Nègre
Market Scene at the Port of the Hotel de Ville, Paris
before February 1852
Salted paper print
14.7 x 19.9 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2003

 

Eugène Cuvelier. 'Belle-Croix' 1860s

 

Eugène Cuvelier
Belle-Croix
1860s
Albumen print
Image: 25.4 x 34.3 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gail and Benjamin Jacobs for the Millennium Fund, 2007

 

In the second half of the nineteenth century, some photographers in France, hired by governmental agencies to make photographic inventories or simply catering to the growing demand for pictures of Paris, drew on the medium’s documentary abilities to record the nation’s architectural patrimony and the modernization of Paris. Others explored the camera’s artistic potential by capturing the ephemeral moods of nature in the French countryside. Though photographers faced difficulties in carting around heavy equipment and operating in the field, they learned how to master the elements that directly affected their pictures, from securing the right vantage point to dealing with movement, light, and changing atmospheric conditions during long exposure times.

 

Gustave Le Gray. 'The Pont du Carrousel, Paris: View to the West from the Pont des Arts' 1856-1858

 

Gustave Le Gray
The Pont du Carrousel, Paris: View to the West from the Pont des Arts
1856-1858
Albumen print
37.8 x 48.8 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 1995

 

Édouard-Denis Baldus. 'Toulon, Train Station' c. 1861

 

Édouard-Denis Baldus
Toulon, Train Station
c. 1861
Albumen print
27.4 x 43.1 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 1995

 

 

In Light of the Past: Celebrating 25 Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art, on view in the West Building from May 3 through July 26, 2015, will commemorate more than two decades of the Gallery’s robust photography program. Some 175 of the collection’s most exemplary holdings will reveal the evolution of the art of photography, from its birth in 1839 to the late 1970s. In Light of the Past is one of three stellar exhibitions that will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art’s commitment to photography acquisitions, exhibitions, scholarly catalogues, and programs.

In Light of the Past includes some of the rarest and most compelling photographs ever created,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington. “It also honors the generous support of our donors who have enabled us to achieve this new place of prominence for photography at the Gallery.”
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About the exhibition

In Light of the Past begins with exceptional 19th-century salted paper prints, daguerreotypes, and albumen prints by acclaimed early practitioners such as William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884), Roger Fenton (1819-1869), Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Albert Sands Southworth (1811-1894, and Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808-1901). It also displays works by American expeditionary photographers, including William Bell (1830-1910) and Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916).

The exhibition continues with late 19th- and early 20th-century American pictorialist photographs by Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), Clarence H. White (1871-1925), Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934), and Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966), among others, as well as European masters such as Eugène Atget (1857-1927). The exhibition also examines the international photographic modernism of artists such as Paul Strand (1890-1976), André Kertész (1894-1985), Marianne Brandt (1893-1983), László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), and Ilse Bing (1899-1998) before turning to the mid-20th century, where exceptional work by Walker Evans (1903-1975), Robert Frank (b. 1924), Harry Callahan (1912-1999), Irving Penn (1917-2009), Lee Friedlander (b. 1934), and Diane Arbus (1923-1971) will be on view.

The exhibition concludes with pictures from the 1960s and 1970s, showcasing works by photographers such as Robert Adams (b. 1937), Lewis Baltz (1945-2014), and William Eggleston (b. 1939), as well as Mel Bochner (b. 1940) and Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), which demonstrate the diverse practices that invigorated photography during these decades.”

Press release from the National Gallery of Art

 

Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes. 'The Letter' c. 1850

 

Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes
The Letter
c. 1850
Daguerreotype
Plate: 20.3 x 15.2 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 1999

 

Working together in Boston, the portrait photographers Southworth and Hawes aimed to capture the character of their subjects using the daguerreotype process. Invented in France and one of the two photographic processes introduced to the public in early 1839, the daguerreotype is made by exposing a silver-coated copper plate to light and then treating it with chemicals to bring out the image. The heyday of the technique was the 1840s and 1850s, when it was used primarily for making portraits. The daguerreotype’s long exposure time usually resulted in frontal, frozen postures and stern facial expressions; this picture’s pyramidal composition and strong sentiments of friendship and companionship are characteristic of Southworth and Hawes’s innovative approach.

 

Clarence H. White. 'The Hillside' c. 1898

 

Clarence H. White
The Hillside
c. 1898
Gum dichromate print
20.8 x 15.88 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2008

 

The Photo-Secession

At the turn of the century in America, Alfred Stieglitz and his colleague Edward Steichen led the movement to establish photography’s status as a fine art. In 1902 Stieglitz founded an organization called the Photo-Secession, consisting of young artists who shared his belief in the creative potential of the medium. Many of the photographers featured here were members of the group, including Gertrude Käsebier, Clarence White, and Alvin Langdon Coburn. Through the exhibitions Stieglitz organized in his New York gallery, called 291, and the essays he published in his influential quarterly, Camera Work, he and the Photo-Secession promoted the pictorialist aesethetic of softly textured, painterly pictures that elicit emotion and appeal to the imagination. Occasionally the photographers’ compositions refer to other works of art, such as Steichen’s portrait of his friend Auguste Rodin, whose pose recalls one of the sculptor’s most famous works, The Thinker. Influenced by the modern European and American painting, sculpture, and drawing he exhibited at 291, Stieglitz lost interest in the Photo-Secession in the early 1910s and began to explore a more straightforward expression.

 

Eugène Atget. 'Saint-Cloud' 1926

 

Eugène Atget
Saint-Cloud
1926
Albumen print
22.2 x 18.1 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon and Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2006

 

Using a cumbersome camera mounted on a tripod, Atget recorded the myriad facets of Paris and its environs at the turn of the century. Transforming ordinary scenes into poetic evocations, he created a visual compendium of the objects, architecture, and landscapes that were expressive of French culture and its history. He sold his photographs to artists, architects, and craftsmen, as well as to libraries and museums interested in the vanishing old city. Throughout his career he returned repeatedly to certain subjects and discovered that the variations caused by changing light, atmosphere, and season provided inexhaustible subjects for the perceptive photographer.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron. 'The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty' June 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron
The Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty
June 1866
Albumen print
36.1 x 26.7 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, New Century Fund, 1997

 

Ensconced in the intellectual and artistic circles of midcentury England, Cameron manipulated focus and light to create poetic pictures rich in references to literature, mythology, and history. Her monumental views of life-sized heads were unprecedented, and with them she hoped to define a new mode of photography that would rival the expressive power of painting and sculpture. The title of this work alludes to John Milton’s mid-seventeenth-century poem L’Allegro. Describing the happy life of one who finds pleasure and beauty in the countryside, the poem includes the lines:

Come, and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee,
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty.

 

Dr Guillaume-Benjamin-Amant Duchenne (de Boulogne). 'Figure 63, "Fright" from "Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (Mechanism of human physiognomy)" (1862)' 1854-1855

 

Dr Guillaume-Benjamin-Amant Duchenne (de Boulogne)
Figure 63, “Fright” from “Mécanisme de la physionomie humaine (Mechanism of human physiognomy)” (1862)
1854-1855
Albumen print
21.5 × 16 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund, 2015

 

A neurologist, physiologist, and photographer, Duchenne de Boulogne conducted a series of experiments in the mid-1850s in which he applied electrical currents to various facial muscles to study how they produce expressions of emotion. Convinced that these electrically-induced expressions accurately rendered internal feelings, he then photographed his subjects to establish a precise visual lexicon of human emotions, such as pain, surprise, fear, and sadness. In 1862 he included this photograph representing fright in a treatise on physiognomy (a pseudoscience that assumes a relationship between external appearance and internal character), which enjoyed broad popularity among artists and scientists.

 

Lewis Hine. 'An Anaemic Little Spinner in a New England Cotton Mill (North Pownal, Vermont)' 1910

 

Lewis Hine
An Anaemic Little Spinner in a New England Cotton Mill (North Pownal, Vermont)
1910
Gelatin silver print
24.1 × 19.2 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund, 2015

 

Trained as a sociologist and initially employed as a teacher, Hine used the camera both as a research tool and an instrument of social reform. One of the earliest and most influential social documentary photographers of his time, he made many pictures under the auspices of the National Child Labor Committee, an organization formed in 1904 to promote better working conditions for children. Hine’s focus on the thin, frail body of this barefoot twelve-year-old spinner, who stands before rows of bobbins in the mill where she worked, was meant to illustrate the unhealthy effects of her employment. Photographs like this one were crucial to the campaign to change American child labor laws in the early twentieth century.

 

 

In Light of the Past: Twenty-Five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art

Georgia O’Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Estate laid the foundation of the photography collection of the National Gallery of Art in 1949 with their donation of 1,650 Stieglitz photographs, an unparalleled group known as the Key Set. Yet the Gallery did not start actively acquiring photographs until 1990, when it launched an initiative to build a collection of works by European and American photographers from throughout the history of the medium and mount major exhibitions with scholarly publications. Now including nearly fifteen thousand prints, the collection encompasses the rich diversity of photographic practice from fine art to scientific and amateur photography, as well as photojournalism. It is distinguished by its large holdings of works by many of the medium’s most acclaimed masters, such as Paul Strand, Walker Evans, André Kertész, Ilse Bing, Robert Frank, Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, and Robert Adams, among others.

In Light of the Past celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1990 initiative by presenting some of the Gallery’s finest photographs made from the early 1840s to the late 1970s. It is divided into four sections arranged chronologically. The first traces the evolution of the art of photography during its first decades in the work of early British, French, and American practitioners. The second looks at the contributions of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographers, from Stieglitz and the American pictorialists to European masters such as Eugène Atget. The third section examines the international photographic modernism of the 1920s and 1930s, and the fourth features seminal mid-twentieth-century photographers. The exhibition concludes with pictures representing the varied practices of those working in the late 1960s and 1970s.
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The Nineteenth Century: The Invention of Photography

In 1839 a new means of visual representation was announced to a startled world: photography. Although the medium was immediately and enthusiastically embraced by the public at large, photographers themselves spent the ensuing decades experimenting with techniques and debating the nature of this new invention. The works in this section suggest the range of questions addressed by these earliest practitioners. Was photography best understood as an art or a science? What subjects should photographs depict, what purpose should they serve, and what should they look like? Should photographers work within the aesthetics established in other arts, such as painting, or explore characteristics that seemed unique to the medium? This first generation of photographers became part scientists as they mastered a baffling array of new processes and learned how to handle their equipment and material. Yet they also grappled with aesthetic issues, such as how to convey the tone, texture, and detail of multicolored reality in a monochrome medium. They often explored the same subjects that had fascinated artists for centuries – portraits, landscapes, genre scenes, and still lifes – but they also discovered and exploited the distinctive ways in which the camera frames and presents the world.
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Photography at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

In the late nineteenth century, improvements in technology and processing, along with the invention of small handheld cameras such as the Kodak, suddenly made it possible for anyone of middle-class means to take photographs. Many amateurs took up the camera to commemorate family, friends, and special events. Others, such as the sociologist Lewis Hine, used it as a tool for social and political change. Partially in response to the new ease of photography, more serious practitioners in America and Europe banded together to assert the artistic merit of the medium. Called pictorialists, they sought to prove that photography was just as capable of poetic, subjective expression as painting. They freely manipulated their prints to reveal their authorial control, often resulting in painterly effects, and consciously separated themselves from amateur photographers and mechanized processes.
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Photography Between the Wars

In the aftermath of World War I – the first modern, mechanized conflict – sweeping changes transformed photography. Avant-garde painters, graphic designers, and journalists turned to the medium, seeing it as the most effective tool to express the fractured, fast-paced nature of modernity and the new technological culture of the twentieth century. A wide variety of new approaches and techniques flourished during these years, especially in Europe. Photographers adopted radical cropping, unusual angles, disorienting vantage points, abstraction, collage, and darkroom alchemy to achieve what the influential Hungarian teacher László Moholy-Nagy celebrated as the “new vision.” Other photographers, such as the German August Sander or the Americans Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and Walker Evans, sought a more rigorous objectivity grounded in a precise examination of the world.
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Postwar Photography

Photography thrived in the decades after World War II, invigorated by new ideas, practices, and expanding venues for circulating and displaying pictures. Immediately after the war, many photographers sought to publish their pictures in illustrated magazines, which prospered during these years. Some, such as Gordon Parks, made photographs highlighting racial, economic, and social disparities. Others, such as Louis Faurer, Sid Grossman, and Robert Frank, turned to the street to address the conditions of modern life in pictures that expose both its beauty and brutality. Using handheld cameras and available light, they focused on the random choreography of sidewalks, making pictures that are often blurred, out of focus, or off-kilter.

In the later 1950s and 1960s a number of photographers pushed these ideas further, mining the intricate social interactions of urban environments. Unlike photographers from the 1930s, these practitioners, such as Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, and Diane Arbus, sought not to reform American society but to record it in all its complexity, absurdity, and chaos. By the late 1960s and 1970s, other photographers, such as Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz, looked beyond conventional notions of natural beauty to explore the despoliation of the urban and suburban landscape. Their pictures of tract houses, highways, and motels are stripped of any artistic frills, yet they are exquisitely rendered and replete with telling details. Also starting in the 1960s, many conceptual or performance artists working in a variety of media embraced what they perceived to be photography’s neutrality and turned to it as an essential part of their experiments to expand traditional notions of art. In the late 1960s, improvements in color printing techniques led others, such as William Eggleston, to explore the artistic potential of color photography.

 

Edward Steichen. 'An Apple, A Boulder, A Mountain' 1921

 

Edward Steichen
An Apple, A Boulder, A Mountain
1921
Platinum print
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2014

 

After World War I, Steichen became disillusioned with the painterly aesthetic of his earlier work and embarked on a series of experiments to study light, form, and texture. Inverting an apple, he demonstrated how a small object, when seen in a new way, can assume the monumentality and significance of a much larger one. His close-up scrutiny of a natural form closely links this photograph with works by other American modernists of the 1920s, such as Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

 

Paul Strand. 'People, Streets of New York, 83rd and West End Avenue' 1916

 

Paul Strand
People, Streets of New York, 83rd and West End Avenue
1916
Platinum print
Image: 24.2 x 33 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 1990

 

Strand was introduced to photography in high school by his teacher Lewis Hine, who instilled in him a strong interest in social issues. In 1907, Hine took his pupil to Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery in New York, which launched Strand’s desire to become a fine art photographer. By the early 1910s, influenced by Stieglitz, he began to make clearly delineated portraits, pictures of New York, and nearly abstract still lifes. Strand came to believe that photography was a gift of science to the arts, that it was an art of selection, not translation, and that objectivity was its very essence.

 

American 20th Century. 'Untitled' c. 1930

 

American 20th Century
Untitled
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
Image: 5.7 x 10 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Robert E. Jackson, 2007

 

Snapshots

After World War I, a parade of technological improvements transformed the practice of photography. With smaller cameras, faster shutter speeds, and more sensitive film emulsions, both amateurs and more serious practitioners could now easily record motion, investigate unexpected angles and points of view, and work in dim light and inclement weather. The amateur’s less staid, more casual approach began to play an important role in the work of modernist photographers as they explored spontaneity and instantaneity, seeking to capture the cacophony and energy of modern life. Blurriness, distorted perspectives, and seemingly haphazard cropping-once considered typical amateur mistakes-were increasingly embraced as part of the modern, vibrant way of picturing the world.

 

Robert Frank. 'City of London' 1951

 

Robert Frank
City of London
1951
Gelatin silver print
23 x 33.6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Robert Frank Collection, Purchased as a Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1991

 

Robert Frank. 'Woman/Paris' 1952

 

Robert Frank
Woman/Paris
1952
Gelatin silver print in bound volume
Image: 35.1 x 25.4 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Robert Frank Collection, Gift (Partial and Promised) of Robert Frank, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1990

 

 

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Frank made several handbound volumes of photographs, exploring different ways to link his pictures through non-narrative sequences. While in Zurich in October 1952, he assembled pictures taken in Europe, South America, and the United States in a book called Black White and Things. With a brief introductory quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” – the photographs are arranged in a sophisticated sequence that uses formal repetition, conceptual contrasts, and, as here, witty juxtapositions to evoke a range of ideas …

While in Zurich in October of 1952, Frank assembled photographs taken in Europe, South America, and the United States in the preceding years into a bound book called Black White and Things. Designed by Frank’s friend Werner Zryd, and with only a brief introductory statement describing the three sections, the photographs appear in a sophisticated sequence that relies on subtle, witty juxtapositions and powerful visual formal arrangements to evoke a wide range of emotions.

Frank made three copies of this book, all identical in size, construction, and sequence. He gave one copy to his father, gave one to Edward Steichen, and kept one. The book that belonged to his father is now in a private collection; Steichen’s copy resides at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and in 1990 Frank gave his copy to the Robert Frank Collection at the National Gallery of Art.

 

Robert Frank. 'Trolley - New Orleans' 1955

 

Robert Frank
Trolley – New Orleans
1955
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 21 x 31.6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Maria and Lee Friedlander, 2001

 

Roy DeCarava. 'Mississippi Freedom Marcher, Washington, D.C.' 1963

 

Roy DeCarava
Mississippi Freedom Marcher, Washington, D.C.
1963
Gelatin silver print
Image: 25.5 x 33 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation through Robert and Joyce Menschel, 1999

 

Lee Friedlander. 'New York City' 1966

 

Lee Friedlander
New York City
1966
Gelatin silver print
Image: 13.3 x 20.6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Trellis Fund, 2001

 

Heir to the tradition of documentary photography established by Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, and Robert Frank, Friedlander focuses on the American social landscape in photographs that can seem absurd, comical, and even bleak. In dense, complex compositions, he frequently depicts surprising juxtapositions that make the viewer look twice. He has made numerous self-portraits, yet he appears in these pictures in oblique and unexpected ways, for example reflected in a mirror or window. The startling intrusion of Friedlander’s shadow onto the back of a pedestrian’s coat, at once threatening and humorous, slyly exposes the predatory nature of street photography.

 

Giovanni Anselmo. 'Entering the Work' 1971

 

Giovanni Anselmo
Entering the Work
1971
Photographic emulsion on canvas
Image: 49 x 63.5 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Glenstone in honor of Eileen and Michael Cohen, 2008

 

 

Conceptual Photography

In the 1960s, many painters and sculptors questioned the traditional emphasis on aesthetics and turned to creating art driven by ideas. Photography’s association with mechanical reproduction appealed to them as they sought to downplay the hand of the artist while promoting his or her role as idea maker. Some conceptual artists, such as Sol Lewitt and Mel Bochner, used photographs to explore an interest in perspective, scale, and mathematics. Others turned to photography as a tool to record performances and artistic undertakings, the resulting pictures acting as an integral part of those projects.

Anselmo was a member of the Italian Arte Povera group, which sought to break down the separation of art and life through experimental performances and the use of natural materials such as trees and leaves. To make this work, Anselmo set his camera up with a timed shutter release, and raced into view so that his running figure creates a modest yet heroic impression on the landscape.

 

Robert Adams. 'Colorado Springs, Colorado' 1974

 

Robert Adams
Colorado Springs, Colorado
1974
Gelatin silver print, printed 1983
Image: 15.2 x 15.2 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon and Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2006

 

For more than forty years, Adams has recorded the changing American landscape, especially the ongoing settlement of the West. Although he has photographed roads, tract houses, and strip malls that have utterly transformed the landscape, he has also captured the beauty that remains and indeed, that refuses to die, as in his poetic picture of morning fog over California hills. He is convinced, as he wrote in 1974, that “all land, no matter what has happened to it, has over it a grace, an absolutely persistent beauty.”

 

Margaret Bourke-White. 'Fort Peck Dam, Montana' 1936

 

Margaret Bourke-White
Fort Peck Dam, Montana
1936
Gelatin silver print
Image: 33.02 × 27.31 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2014

 

One of the most iconic photographs by the pioneering photojournalist Bourke-White, Fort Peck Dam, Montana was published on the cover of the inaugural issue of Life magazine on November 23, 1936. A striking representation of the machine age, the photograph depicts the stark, massive piers for an elevated highway over the spillway near the dam. The two men at the bottom of the print indicate the piers’ massive scale while revealing the vulnerable position of the worker in the modern industrial landscape.

 

György Kepes. 'Juliet with Peacock Feather and Red Leaf' 1937-1938

 

György Kepes
Juliet with Peacock Feather and Red Leaf
1937-1938
Gelatin silver print with gouache
15.7 × 11.6 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund, 2014

 

Trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, Kepes was an influential designer, educator, aesthetic theorist, and photographer. In 1930 he moved to Berlin, where he worked with László Moholy-Nagy, but eventually settled in Chicago and later Cambridge, Massachusetts. Created soon after his arrival in America, this startling photograph is both an intimate depiction of Kepes’s wife and a study of visual perception. Like the red leaf that seems to float above the image, the peacock feather – its eye carefully lined up with Juliet’s – obscures not only her vision but also the viewer’s ability to see her clearly.

 

Irving Penn. 'Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris' 1950

 

Irving Penn
Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris
1950
Platinum/palladium print, 1977
Overall: 55.1 x 37 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Irving Penn, 2002

 

One of the most influential fashion and portrait photographers of his time, Penn made pictures marked by refinement, elegance, and clarity. Trained as a painter and designer, he began to photograph in the early 1940s while working at Vogue; more than 150 of his photographs appeared on the cover of the magazine during his long career. A perfectionist, Penn explored earlier printing techniques, such as a late nineteenth-century process that used paper coated with solutions of platinum or palladium rather than silver, to achieve the subtle tonal range he desired.

 

 

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01
Jul
15

Exhibition: ‘Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980′ at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 29th March – 19th July 2015

The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Exhibition Gallery, sixth floor

 

 

Dynamic. Evocative. Essential. Surreal. Modern. Beautiful. Intelligent. Futuristic. Transitional. Vernacular (as in architecture concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings). Elitist. Monumental.

Cities in Transition. Urban Laboratories. Utopia. Here’s a posting as visual spectacle.

Marcus

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Many thankx to MoMA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

The unprecedented urbanization of Latin America after World War II became the catalyst for exceptional architectural innovation. Countries in the region dealt with the challenges of modernization – from housing rapidly growing city populations to increasing production in the inland territories – even as many were rocked by struggles between democratic and authoritarian regimes. Whole cities, from Brasilia, the new capital of Latin America’s largest country, to Ciudad Guayana, in the Venezuelan interior, were realized with breathtaking speed and became showcases for modernist architectural design. As the Cold War divided the globe into hotly contested zones of influence and the idea of a “third world” emerged, the region became key to the concept of the developing world.

As early as the 1940s, spectacular architectural designs in Brazil had captured attention worldwide. From the mid-1950s on, experimental architectural cultures appeared in a broad range of countries, from Argentina and Chile in the south to Venezuela and Mexico in the north. After the revolution in 1959, Cuba offered a countermodel to capitalist development. New attitudes toward public space, the relationship of building to landscape, and the role of the nation-state led to bold new architectural forms and solutions. Throughout the period architects in Latin America were deeply entwined with developmentalism, the doctrine that the state should promote modernization and industrialization in all aspects of life.

Latin America in Construction is itself a construction site of histories of modern architecture in Latin America. Over the last four years the curatorial team has culled archives and architectural offices throughout the region to gather original documents – design and construction drawings, models, photographs, and films – to open for reconsideration the achievements and legacy of this era. New materials have been created for the show: anthologies of period documentary films researched and edited by filmmaker Joey Forsyte, photographs by Leonardo Finotti, and large-scale interpretive models made by student teams at the University of Miami and, under the direction of the group Constructo, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. The exhibition is intended to challenge the notion of Latin America as a testing ground for ideas and methods devised in Europe and the United States. It brings to light the radical originality of architecture and urban planning in the vast region during a complex quarter century.

 

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Latin America in Construction' at MoMA, New York

 

Installation views of Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (March 29-July 19, 2015)
Photographs by Thomas Griesel
© 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

Mario Gandelsonas (American, born Argentina, 1938) Marta Minujín (Argentine, born 1943) 'Project for Transformador de cuerpos, Buenos Aires' 1966

 

Mario Gandelsonas (American, born Argentina, 1938)
Marta Minujín (Argentine, born 1943)
Project for Transformador de cuerpos, Buenos Aires
1966
Pencil and ink on paper
28 1/2 × 42″ (72.4 × 106.7 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the architects

 

Amancio Williams. 'Hospital, Corrientes, Argentina' 1948-1953

 

Amancio Williams
Hospital, Corrientes, Argentina
1948-1953
Perspective view, 1948
Oil on paper
Unframed: 25 9/16 × 37 5/8″ (65 × 95.5 cm)
Amancio Williams Archive

 

Affonso Eduardo Reidy. 'Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1934-1947

 

Affonso Eduardo Reidy
Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1934-1947
© Núcleo de Documentação e Pesquisa – Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

 

Lina Bo Bardi. 'São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), Sao Paulo, Brazil' Nd

 

Lina Bo Bardi
São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), Sao Paulo, Brazil
Nd
Drawing. Graphite, and ink on paper
Unframed: 18 9/16 x 27 ½” (47.2 x 69.8cm)
Completed 1968
© Instituto Lina Bo e Pietro Maria Bardi

 

Rogelio Salmona (Colombian, 1929–2007) Hernán Vieco (Colombian, 1924–2002) 'Social Housing Complex in San Cristobal, Bogotá, Colombia' 1963-1966

 

Rogelio Salmona (Colombian, 1929-2007)
Hernán Vieco (Colombian, 1924-2002)
Social Housing Complex in San Cristobal, Bogotá, Colombia
1963-1966
Unframed: 8 × 10″ (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Fundación Rogelio Salmona

 

Esguerra Sáenz y Samper. 'Luis Ángel Arango Library (Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango), Bogotá, Colombia'. Cover plan of concert hall. 1965

 

Esguerra Sáenz y Samper
Luis Ángel Arango Library (Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango), Bogotá, Colombia. Cover plan of concert hall
1965

 

Cuba Pavillion, Montreal, Canada, Vittorio Garatti, 1968

 

Vittorio Garatti
Cuba Pavillion, Montreal, Canada
1968
© Archivo Vittorio Garatti

 

 

Ricardo Porro
National School of Plastic Arts, Havana, Cuba
1961-1965
© Archivo Vittorio Garatti

 

Brasilia under construction, 1957. Geofoto. Arquivo Publico do Distrito Federal

 

Brasilia under construction, 1957. Geofoto. Arquivo Publico do Distrito Federal

 

Amancio Williams (Argentine, 1913-1989) 'Hall for visual spectacle and sound in space Buenos Aires, Argentina' 1942-1953

 

Amancio Williams (Argentine, 1913-1989)
Hall for visual spectacle and sound in space Buenos Aires, Argentina
1942-1953
Photomontage
Unframed: 9 7/16 × 7 1/16″ (24 × 18 cm)
Amancio Williams Archive

 

 

“On the 60th anniversary of its last major survey of modern architecture in Latin America, The Museum of Modern Art returns its focus to the region with Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980, a complex overview of the positions, debates, and architectural creativity from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego, from Mexico to Cuba to the Southern Cone, between 1955 and 1980. On view March 29 through July 19, 2015, Latin America in Construction is organized by Barry Bergdoll, Curator, and Patricio del Real, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA; Jorge Francisco Liernur, Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Carlos Eduardo Comas, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil; with the assistance of an advisory committee from across Latin America.

In 1955 MoMA staged Latin American Architecture since 1945, a landmark exhibition highlighting a decade of architectural achievements across Latin America. Latin America in Construction focuses on the subsequent quarter-century, a period of self-questioning, exploration, and complex political shifts in all the countries included: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. During these years Latin American countries created startling works that have never been fully granted their place in accounts of the history of modern architecture. Latin America in Construction brings together, for the first time, more than 500 original works that have largely never been exhibited, even in their home countries. These include architectural drawings and models, vintage photographs, and films from the period collected from architecture and film archives, universities, and architecture offices throughout the region. Highlighting the extent to which the exhibition contributes to new interpretations of Latin American architecture of the period, several research teams – in addition to the invited curators – have worked over the last five years to develop analytical models and compilations of rarely seen film footage. These historical materials will be displayed alongside newly commissioned models intended to highlight the spatial invention of some of the period’s masterworks of architecture, and to underscore the exploration of new forms of public space. Large-scale models of key structures have been commissioned for this exhibition from Constructo, a cultural organization working with the workshops of the Catholic University of Chile, along with models of buildings and their landscapes fabricated by the University of Miami, and both the exhibition and the catalogue feature a group of new photographs by the Brazilian photographer Leonardo Finotti.

Latin America in Construction begins with some of the most telling architectural projects of the years leading up to 1955 in drawings, models, and photographs, as well as an evocation in period films of the rapidly changing rhythm and physiognomy of urban life in major cities such as Montevideo, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, Mexico City, and Havana. These attest to the region’s breathtaking pace of change, modernization, and shift toward the metropolis. The exhibition is bookended by these historical films in the first gallery and, in the final gallery, a dynamic display of present-day snapshots of sites in the exhibition, submitted by Instagram users.

 

Urban Laboratories

Beginning in the late 1940s, planning for new campuses for the national universities of Mexico and Venezuela announced radical new thinking in which a modernist campus became not only a laboratory for new educational ideals, but also a fragment of an ideal future city that would explore themes related to local traditions and climate. The term “Cuidad Universitaria” was born, changing the relationship between university and city. Projects in Latin America in Construction range from the universities at Concepción, in Chile, and Tucámen, in Argentina, to Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, and the National University in Bogotá. From the campus laboratory to the fully realized new city, a section of the exhibition is devoted to one seminal example of modern urban planning in Latin America: Brasília. From 1956 to 1960, Oscar Niemeyer led the newly created Companhia de Urbanização da Nova Capital (NOVACAP) to move the Brazilian capital from Rio de Janeiro to the savanna of the central plateau. In a national competition to plan a city for a half-million inhabitants, the jury selected Lucio Costa’s plan, which is exhibited in Latin America in Construction alongside very different visions from Brazilian architects Villanova Artigas and Rino Levi. Costa’s design was structured around two main axes: one of civic representation, focused on the Plaza of the Three Powers, which would come to feature Niemeyer’s Congress building; the other a bowed axis centered on a complex transportation spine connecting the horizontal spread of the superquadras (urban residential superblocks). The bus terminal was placed at the intersection of the two axes, to be surrounded by the commercial, recreational, and cultural sectors, realizing a long-held modernist dream of a city centered on infrastructure and movement.

 

Cities in Transition

While the spectacular development of Brasília was heralded, transformations of older cities were just as dramatic. The exhibition looks at examples such as Rio de Janeiro, where new relations between monumental public buildings, landscape design, and natural settings were forged in a spectacular redesign recasting the image of the city and its fabled landscape; the creation of a new civic center at Santa Rosa de la Pampa in Argentina, where architecture helped restructure the administration and the experience of the country’s vast interior; and the recasting of portions of the Chilean coastline at Valparaíso to accommodate an expanded Naval Academy.

Also surveyed are buildings in the late 1950s and early 1960s that created a new permeability between interior and exterior space, eroding traditional boundaries of the public realm. Many of these buildings also have complex incorporation of diverse functions within a great urban block, notably Lucio Costa’s Jockey Club in Rio de Janeiro and the Teatro San Martín in Buenos Aires, which grew to pierce through a block in the city’s grid and incorporate a range of cultural functions. Clorindo Testa’s great Bank of London in Buenos Aires, one of the masterpieces of the period, created an entirely new type of urban building block with its theatrical linking of interior spaces to the public realm of the street and sidewalk. Compelling new ideas for cultural buildings as complex structures – not set apart from the city, but interwoven within it – are also featured, from Lina Bo Bardi’s art museum in São Paulo and Clorindo Testa and Francisco Bullrich’s National Library in Buenos Aires, to Abraham Zabludovsky and Teodoro González de León’s Tamayo Museum in Mexico City.

A look at innovations in architecture for schools throughout Latin America includes Juan O’Gorman’s projects for radically modern elementary schools across Mexico in the early 1930s, new educational buildings and programs built in the early years of the Cuban Revolution, the great open hall of João Batista Vilanova Artigas’s Architectural Faculty in São Paulo, and the intertwining of classroom spaces and a great protected playground in the Belgrano school in Córdoba, Argentina. Latin America in Construction also explores the inventive flourishing of new models of church architecture in many Latin American countries, notably those of Uruguay’s Eladio Dieste; public investment in major stadiums, leading to some of the most impressive structural achievements of advanced engineering; and the development of the coastline of every country in this exhibition, particularly as the rapid expansion of airplane travel transformed spatial relations among and within countries and fueled the development of tourism.

 

Housing

After World War II, Latin America emerged as one of the most sustained and innovative regions in terms of state investment and new thinking in housing design. One wall of the exhibition comprises a timeline of important housing initiatives intermixing state sponsored (public) housing with middle-class housing built by the private market. A major example is the United Nations-supported Proyecto Experimental de Vivienda (PREVI; Experimental Housing Project) in Lima, Peru, a neighborhood of low-cost experimental housing conceived in 1966 by the British architect and planner Peter Land. In contrast to the superblock model, PREVI proposed the development of projects that could be partially built at the outset and then extended over time by the inhabitants as they gained greater resources or changed needs. Rather than a single master plan, Land chose an array of projects, resulting in a neighborhood with units designed by emerging international talents in middle-income housing, including Christopher Alexander (USA), Kikutaki, Kurokawa, Maki (Japan), Oskar Hansen (Poland), Candilis, Josic, Woods (France), and many others. Land’s original slides are included in the exhibition.

The growing prosperity of the middle class in many Latin American countries ushered in a golden period of design for the individual family house, often combined with innovative garden design. While the emphasis of the exhibition is on public architecture and collective housing, it also includes an array of some of the most innovative and accomplished of the countless examples of architects designing houses for themselves or their family members, with examples by Agustín Hernández Navarro, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Juan O’Gorman, and Amancio Williams.

 

Export

While Latin American architectural history has largely been written in terms of the importation of styles and techniques developed in Europe and the United States, Latin America in Construction seeks to bring attention to the internationalization of many Latin American practices. Beginning with the New York World’s Fair of 1939, exhibitions have played a major role in showcasing the innovative forms and attitudes embodied in much Latin American work. Several examples of Latin American pavilions are featured in the exhibition, including Carlos Raúl Villanueva’s Venezuelan Pavilion for the 1967 Montreal Expo and Eduardo Terrazas’s Mexican Pavilion for the 1968 Triennale di Milano. More permanent and sustained exportations of Latin American architectural expertise are also examined. As countries studied new trade relationships in the realms of economy and politics, architecture in Latin America developed a more international set of practices. Seen as part of the Third World after World War II, Latin America was also an exporter of aid in the form of expertise, buildings, and plans, from Mexico providing schools to countries throughout the world (including Yugoslavia, India, and Indonesia) to Lucio Costa’s design for a new city in Nigeria.

 

Utopia

As in the rest of the world, in Latin America 20th-century utopian thinking often involved a radical embrace or rejection of the accelerating pace of industrialization and the national embrace of technology. For some, technologies offered the possibility of conceiving entirely new spatial relations – even the occupation of Antarctica, as seen in a 1981 perspective for Amancio Williams’s Project for La primera ciudad en la Antarida (The first city in Antarctica). For others, technology contained an intrinsic dystopian failure, to be addressed with sharp criticism – as seen in eight collages from the series Collages Sobre la Cuidad, (1966-70) by the Venezuelan architect Jorge Rigamonti, which reflect on the dark underside of his country’s obsession with the development of its oil economy. A number of archival photographs and materials from the School of Architecture at Valparaíso are also on view, illustrating the school’s radical refusal of the prevailing values of a technological future in the search for an architecture of poetics.”

Press release from the MoMA website

 

Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré (Peruvian, 1926–2014) 'Hotel in Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu (Project)' 1969

 

Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré (Peruvian, 1926-2014)
Hotel in Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu (Project)
1969
Perspective
© Archivo Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré

 

Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré. 'Chavez House, Lima' 1958

 

Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré
Chavez House, Lima
1958
© Archivo Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré

 

Jorge Rigamonti (Venezuelan, 1940–2008) 'Caracas Transfer Node 2' 1970

 

Jorge Rigamonti (Venezuelan, 1940-2008)
Caracas Transfer Node 2
1970
Photocollage 9 1/4 × 15″ (23.5 × 38.1 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Latin American and Caribbean Fund

 

Augusto H. Álvarez (Mexican, 1914–1995) 'Banco del Valle de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico' 1958

 

Augusto H. Álvarez (Mexican, 1914-1995)
Banco del Valle de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
1958
Unframed: 8 1/4 × 11 11/16″ (21 × 29.7 cm)
Archivo de Arquitectos Mexicanos, Facultad de Arquitectura, Universidad Nil Ató d Méi

 

Enrique de la Mora (Mexican, 1907–1978) 'Elite Building Office and Commercial Building Mexico City, Mexico' Nd

 

Enrique de la Mora (Mexican, 1907-1978)
Elite Building Office and Commercial Building Mexico City, Mexico
Nd
Drawing, pencil and sanguine on sketch paper
Unframed: 18 × 24″ (45.7 × 61 cm)
Archivo de Arquitectos Mexicanos, Fondo: Enrique de la Mora y Palomar, Ftd d Aitt Uiidd Nil Ató d Méi

 

Lucio Costa (Brazilian, born France 1902-1998) Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian, 1907-2012) Joaquim Cardozo (Brazilian, 1897-1978) 'Project Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil' 1958-1961

 

Lucio Costa (Brazilian, born France 1902-1998)
Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian, 1907-2012)
Joaquim Cardozo (Brazilian, 1897-1978)
Project Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil
1958-1961
c. 1958
Photograph, gelatin and silver
Unframed: 39 3/8 × 39 3/8″ (100 × 100 cm)
Marcel Gautherot / Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Marcel André Félix Gautherot (Brazilian, 1910-1996) 'Ministries under construction Brasilia, Brazil' c. 1958

 

Marcel André Félix Gautherot (Brazilian, 1910-1996)
Ministries under construction Brasilia, Brazil
c. 1958
Photograph, gelatin and silver
Unframed: 39 3/8 × 39 3/8″ (100 × 100 cm)
Marcel Gautherot / Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Oscar Niemeyer. Cathedral Under Construction, Brasilia, Brazil

 

Unknown photographer
Oscar Niemeyer. Cathedral Under Construction, Brasilia, Brazil
Nd

 

Marcel André Félix Gautherot (Brazilian, 1910-1996) 'Congresso Nacional, Brasília National Congress Building' 1958-1960

 

Marcel André Félix Gautherot (Brazilian, 1910-1996)
Congresso Nacional, Brasília National Congress Building
1958-1960
View of the inverted dome structure during construction c. 1958
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 39 3/8 × 39 3/8″ (100 × 100 cm)
Marcel Gautherot / Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

 

Brasília

The idea of moving Brazil’s capital from Rio de Janeiro to the central plateau was born in colonial times and a federal district was declared shortly after independence in 1889, but a site for the new city was chosen only in 1955. The following year the newly elected president, Juscelino Kubitschek, declared his intent to have Brazil advance fifty years in five. Oscar Niemeyer was named director of architecture and urbanism for the new city. He built the presidential palace and announced a national competition for an urban plan for a city of half a million inhabitants. From twenty-six entries, the international jury selected Lucio Costa’s plan. Costa’s design was structured around two main axes, one of civic symbolism, terminating in the Praça dos Três Poderes (Plaza of the three powers), the other – with a gentle curve to it – an axis of the daily functions of the city, a highway spine flanked by housing organized in verdant neighborhood blocks (superquadras). The main bus terminal was placed at the intersection of the two axes, to be surrounded by the commercial, recreational, and cultural sectors, realizing a long-held modernist dream of a city centered on infrastructure and movement. Niemeyer’s designs developed along the lines set out by Costa – a great esplanade lined with nearly identical buildings for the ministries and exceptionally sculptural designs for a cathedral, museum, and library. Although far from complete, Brasília was an irreversible reality at its inauguration in 1960.

 

Emilio Duhart. 'The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), Santiago, Chile' 1962-1966

 

Emilio Duhart
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), Santiago, Chile
1962-1966
Courtesy PUC Archivo de Originales

 

Eladio Dieste (Uruguayan, 1917-2000) 'Church in Atlantida, Uruguay' 1958

 

Eladio Dieste (Uruguayan, 1917-2000)
Church in Atlantida, Uruguay
1958
Photograph: Leonardo Finotti © Leonardo Finotti

 

Marcelo Sassón. 'Eladio Dieste at Atlantida Church, Uruguay' c. 1959

 

Marcelo Sassón
Eladio Dieste at Atlantida Church, Uruguay
c. 1959
Archivo Dieste y Montañez

 

Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. 'Plaza of the three powers, Brasilia, Brazil' 1958-1960

 

Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer
Plaza of the three powers, Brasilia, Brazil
1958-1960
Photograph: Leonardo Finotti © Leonardo Finotti

 

Rogelio Salmona. 'Torres del Parque Residencial Complex, Bogotá, Colombia' 1964-197

 

Rogelio Salmona
Torres del Parque Residencial Complex, Bogotá, Colombia
1964-197
Photograph: Leonardo Finotti © Leonardo Finotti

 

Eduardo Terrazas. 'Triennale di Milano, Mexican Pavilion' 1968

 

Eduardo Terrazas
Triennale di Milano, Mexican Pavilion
1968
Interior view with design based on Olympic logo by Terrazas and Lance Wyman and printed matter by Beatrice Trueblood
© Eduardo Terrazas Archive

 

Luis Barragán. 'Torres de Satélite (1957), Ciudad Satélite, Mexico City, Perspective view of the towers' Undated

 

Luis Barragán
Torres de Satélite (1957), Ciudad Satélite, Mexico City, Perspective view of the towers
Undated
Color chalk on cardboard
719 x 730 mm
Barragán Archives, Barragan Foundation, Switzerland
© 2014 Barragan Foundation, Switzerland / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Juan Sordo Madaleno. 'Edificio Palmas 555, Mexico City, Mexico' 1975

 

Juan Sordo Madaleno
Edificio Palmas 555, Mexico City, Mexico
1975
Photograph: Guillermo Zamora
Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos

 

Walter Weberhofer Quintana. 'View of Atlas Building, Lima' 1953

 

Walter Weberhofer Quintana
View of Atlas Building, Lima
1953
© Archive Walter Weberhofer

 

Hermano Martin Corréa, Hermano Gabriel Guarda, Patricio Gross, Raúl Ramirez. 'Benedictine Monastery Chapel, Santiago, Chile' 1964

 

Hermano Martin Corréa, Hermano Gabriel Guarda, Patricio Gross, Raúl Ramirez
Benedictine Monastery Chapel, Santiago, Chile
1964
Courtesy PUC Archivo de Originales

 

Cover of 'Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980'

 

Cover of Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980, published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

 

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28
Jun
15

Review: ‘Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection’ at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne 

Exhibition dates: 31st March – 5th July 2015

Curator: Helen Carroll

 

 

Gorgeous catalogue with luscious plates, insightful text by Bill Henson (below) and evocative poetry by John Kinsella. Stars on the front cover and silver edged pages. No expense spared in production, with money literally thrown at the project, or so it would seem.

The curator, Helen Carroll, talks about ‘wonder': “It is a capacity for wonder that makes us human”. Henson talking about ‘wonder’ and ‘love’ – about moments that change your life when looking at and breathing in great art. Then why does this exhibition feel so… well, needless? Despite some fascinating individual works of art, collectively there is little wonder on show here.

Perhaps it is because this exhibition looks to be a cut down version of the one first shown at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2012, with many works missing from what are listed in the catalogue. Or perhaps it is the hang which at the Ian Potter Museum of Art consists of two rooms on the ground floor of the museum, one housing lighter works, the other dark works. Too dichotomous for my tastes. Nothing is ever so cut and dried.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the concept of the exhibition – light in its many guises – seems to have been tagged onto a groups of art works which are anything but about light. Or are about light in a roundabout, merry-go-round kind of way. The wall text states, “Rather than a chronological or stylistically ordered presentation, the exhibition follows a loosely intuitive flow of ideas and imagery, moving through night to day. The artists in this exhibition explore light from the perspective of the optical experience, the connection between the starts and the cycles of life on earth; and from diverse cultural, mythic and spiritual points of departure.” Apparently the works are more about the phenomena of light than about light itself.

While the art works are interesting in their own right they don’t really work together cohesively as a group to investigate the theme of the exhibition. Trying to burden a collection of art bought for investment purposes with a concept not “natural” to the work, or just a curator’s idea of what seems implicit in the work but is just a cerebral construction, simply does not work in this case. As I looked around the exhibition, I felt the works were more about the physicality of time and space (of history and place), about links in the existential chain, than they were about light. For me, this evinced Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of the ‘chronotype’ – meaning ‘the connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed’ (in literature). Perhaps the intuitive flow of ideas and imagery and the multiple points of departure work against the very idea the exhibition seeks to investigate. This is so broadly thematic (the effects of light on the world) that it needed to be more focused in its conceptualisation.

It’s also a real worry when text panels in the exhibition quote Richard Goyder, Managing Director, Wesfarmers Limited, as saying that this is the first time that Wesfarmers has showcased the contemporary art of the collection, “and the works selected for Luminous World illustrate some of the ways in which the collection has grown in recent years. For instance, the inclusion of art from New Zealand, where Wesfarmers has a significant business presence, and the heightened emphasis on representing the great diversity of contemporary Indigenous art.”

The inclusion of New Zealand art because Wesfarmers has a significant business presence – not the quality or wonder of the art work – but a business presence. And only now are they collecting contemporary Indigenous art, after the collection has been in existence for more than three decades, 1977 being the first acquisition date. At least he is being refreshingly honest about why the art work has been added to the collection, but it does not give you confidence in the choice of the art work being displayed here. Goyder, Carroll and Kinsella also proselytize about the benefits of employee’s living with this art in their daily working lives and that may be the case. But for the casual visitor to the gallery this collection of art left me feeling cold and clammy – like a fish out of water.

As the add for Reflex copy paper says with more humour than any of this work can muster, I didn’t find “enwhitenment”, or wonder, within the gallery walls. Oh, the luminosity of it all.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to The Ian Potter Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

What is the Night?

‘What is the night?’ Macbeth enquires in the banquet scene, once the ghost of Banquo has departed and his wide has dismissed their mystified guests. Deprived of sleep, and half-psychotic, he urgently needs to know the time. But this is also, implicitly, a philosophical question that hints at the ontological meaning of the night…

Macbeth, Shakespeare’s most elaborate meditation on the night, is a sustained, if not obsessive, exploration of the nocturnal as a realm of alternative values – ones that contradict and threaten to undermine those of the diurnal regime that is ostensibly the domain of politics in the early modern period. In this violent, vengeful tragedy, the language and culture of the medieval night, incarnated above all in the witches, irrupts into the more enlightened languages and culture of a purportedly post-medieval epoch. An apocalyptic night, in Macbeth’s barbaric court, is one of the forces that shape realpolitik. In the Renaissance, a period in which daily life encroaches more and more on the night, especially in public settings, in the form of elaborately lit masques at court, Macbeth thus stages the limits of enlightenment.

At a time when more systematic, socially centralized modes of illumination are increasingly disrupting older patterns of rest, including biphasic sleep – so that, for the early modern ruling class at least, night starts to feel like an extension of the day, its observe rather than its inverse – Shakespeare dramatizes the tyrannical attraction, the absolutism, of darkness. Macbeth describes a process of nocturnalization whereby the night irresistibly colonizes the day, fatally infiltrating both the state and the protagonist’s consciousness. To use a word that has some currency in the seventeenth century, but has long since fallen out of use, Shakespeare’s drama is a study of ‘benightment’.”

Matthew Beaumont. “What is the Night?” in Matthew Beaumont. Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, Chaucer to Dickens. London and New York: Verso, 2015, pp. 86-87.

 

Luminous World brings together a selection of contemporary paintings, objects and photographs from the Wesfarmers Collection in a conversation about light. Through works of scale and conceptual invention that chart the range and depth of the collection, this exhibition presents significant contemporary paintings, photographs and objects by leading Australian and New Zealand artists acquired by Wesfarmers over three decades and shared together for the first time with the Australian public.

The Potter is the fifth venue for this touring exhibition which to date has travelled to Charles Darwin University Art Gallery, Darwin; National Library of Australia, Canberra; Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide; and The Academy Gallery, University of Tasmania.

 

 

Brook Andrew. 'Replicant series: Owl' 2005 

 

Brook Andrew
Replicant series: Owl
2005
Ilfochrome print
130 x 195 cm
© Brook Andrew, reproduced courtesy of the artist and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

Brook Andrew (1970- ) is a Sydney born/Melbourne based interdisciplinary artist of Wiradjuri and Scottish heritage. Andrew’s conceptual based practice incorporates, sculpture, photography, installation, video and performance. The Replicant 2006 series reflects (literally) upon the act of looking, and consequent interchanges between nature and culture, subject and object, real and represented. These dualities fit broadly within the artist’s addressing of Australian identity, polemics and the politics of difference.

For the Replicant 2006 series Andrew borrowed taxidermied specimens from the education department at the Australian Museum, Sydney. These included native species of indigenous significance such as an owl, possum, flying fox and parrot. He shot each animal – artificially propped in their natural poses – and digitally manipulated each image so as to appear duplicated, a process that evolved out of the Kalar midday 2004 series.

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled' 2009-10 

 

Bill Henson
Untitled
2009-10
Archival inkjet pigment print
127 x 180 cm
© Bill Henson, reproduced courtesy of the artist and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

” … And yet certain things – particular experiences that we have are excpetional. They stand apart from the rest of the general activity.

What causes this apprehension of significance – of something in face powerfully apprehended yet not always fully understood?

And why is it that all of us, at some time or other, with have this ‘epiphany’ – Christian or otherwise – in the presence of some work of art, in the experiencing of a performance piece or some unexpected encounter with the true magic of a particular piece of sculpture?

When it happens, I always think of it as being as if one’s life – and everything that it contains – had just been ever so slightly changed, forever. Nothing, if you will, is ever quite the same again.

What happens, I think, is simply that we fall in love – and it’s the apprehension of unexpected beauty that causes us to fall in love.

The sheer force of such beauty can affect us as if it were an act of nature – and of course it is, for despite the arrogance of some theoreticians, culture is never outside nature.

I think that it is this intense, if often quite subtle, love for the subject, and the resultant emotional and intellectual interdependence within that relationship – be it in musical form, something in the visual arts, theatre of dance – that is responsible for – and in fact makes possible at all – these great and fortunate encounters in the arts.

Stare back into time and all kinds of very ‘personal’ things return your gaze. This has always, to me, seemed to a large extent to be what art is about. Sure, it’s personal, but it’s also millennial.

The best art always heightens our sense of mortality. This is not morbidity that I am talking about – rather, we feel more alive in the presence of great art and this is because of a profound sense of continuity – our sense of being inside nature – is expanded.

If you like, art suggests the immortal in all of us.

When we listen to Michelangeli – or, say, Jörg Demus playing Kinderszenen – and we sense that simultaneously proximate and intimate yet utterly abstract presence (was that someone? Schumann perhaps?) and at the same time sense the unbridgeable gulf that exists between ourselves and that distant past – we know that we are in the presence of something magical.

In the end I think that it is love that fuels this activity – that animates the speculative capacity in all of us – and heightens this sense of wonder.

Excerpts from Bill Henson’s speech “Reflections,” in Luminous World catalogue. Perth: Wesfarmers Limited, 2012, pp. 23-24.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

 

David Stephenson. 'Star Drawing 1996/402' 1996

 

David Stephenson
Star Drawing 1996/402
1996
40 x 40″
Cibachrome Print
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1997
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

While the subject of my photographs has shifted from the landscape of the American Southwest and Tasmania, and the minimal horizons of the Southern ocean, and the icy wastes of Antarctica, to sacred architecture and the sky at both day and night, my art has remained essentially spiritual – for more than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence. (David Stephenson, 1998)

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled 39/139' 1990-91

 

Bill Henson
Untitled 39/139
1990-91
Paris Opera Project
Type C photograph
127 × 127 cm
Series of 50
Edition of 10 + 2 A/Ps

 

Stieg Persson. 'Offret' 1998 

 

Stieg Persson
Offret
1998
Oil on canvas
183 x 167 cm
© Stieg Persson, reproduced courtesy of the artist and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

“Works focusing on light and darkness, and how light creates and reveals our world, from one of Australia’s pre-eminent corporate art collections compiled by Wesfarmers over the past 30 years, will be exhibited at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at The University of Melbourne.

The exhibition, Luminous World: Contemporary art from the Wesfarmers Collection, presents a diverse selection of contemporary paintings, photography and works of sculpture. The works traverse a diversity of cultural, aesthetic and philosophical perspectives, with the curatorial premise of how contemporary artists explore the phenomenon of light in their work.

Some 50 artists from Australia and New Zealand are featured in the exhibition including: Susan Norrie, Rosemary Laing, Howard Taylor, Dale Frank, Paddy Bedford, Bill Henson, Fiona Pardington (NZ), Brian Blanchflower, Brook Andrew, Timothy Cook and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu. Included alongside the art is a major new body of poetry by John Kinsella, written in response to works in the exhibition. These are published for the first time under the imprint of Fremantle Press in the book Luminous World, with new writing by artist Bill Henson and composer Richard Mills.

Ian Potter Museum of Art Director, Ms Kelly Gellatly said, “Luminous World highlights the strengths ofthe Wesfarmers Collection, which has generously been shared, through the tour of the exhibition, with the wider community.

“In bringing together works across a range of media by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, Luminous World successfully showcases both the depth and continuing resonance of contemporary Australian practice in a rich, open-ended and exploratory conversation about light.

“To know and experience light and its effects however, one must equally understand its other – darkness. Together, these concerns create an exhibition experience that is at once intellectual, emotional and experiential,” Ms Gellatly said.

The Wesfarmers Collection was started in 1977, and is housed in the Wesfarmers offices around Australia and shared with the community through a loan and exhibition program. A Wesfarmers and Art Gallery of Western Australia touring exhibition.”

Press release from The Ian Potter Museum of Art website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Luminous World: Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

 

 

“For more than three decades Wesfarmers has been collecting Australian art. From General Manager John Bennison’s first acquisition in 1977 of a pastoral scene by the Australian impressionist Elioth Gruner, Wesfarmers’ purpose was to accentuate the value of art in the workplace and encourage and understanding of the importance to society of supporting creative thinking and artistic vision. The company has always been committed to sharing its collection with the community through exhibitions and loans and by opening our workplaces for groups to view the art in our offices.

This is the first time Wesfarmers has showcased the contemporary art in the collection, and the works selected for Luminous World illustrate some of the ways in which the collection has grown in recent years. For instance, the inclusion of art from New Zealand, where Wesfarmers now has a significant business presence, and the heightened emphasis on representing the great diversity of contemporary indigenous art.

We thank the artists whose resonant and timeless works form part of Australia’s rich cultural heritage and hope that the Australian public will enjoy these works and marvel at the ingenuity and artistic vision they represent, as Wesfarmers does, surround by inspirational art in our daily lives.”

Richard Goyder
Managing Director, Wesfarmers Limited

 

The visual world is defined by light; everything we see is processed by the eye as patterns of brightness and colour. Monumental formations in the landscape as well as the most subtle nuances of atmosphere are made real to us by the action of light, transmitted in wavelengths as an infinitely varied register of colour that combine within the eye to shape our sense of space and form.

It is the action of light reflecting off, refracting through and being absorbed by the substance of the world that enables the eye to perceive contours, hues, and textures and mark the passing of time from day to night and season to season.

Luminous World presents a diverse selection of contemporary paintings, photography and works of sculpture, acquired by the Wesfarmers Collection over thirty years and considered through the lens of how contemporary artists variously utilise the phenomenon of light in their work.

Rather than a chronological or stylistically ordered presentation, it follows a loosely intuitive flow of ideas and imagery moving through night to day. The artists in this exhibition explore light from the perspective of the optical experience, the connection between the stars and the cycles of life on earth; and from diverse cultural, mythic and spiritual point of departure.

Published for the first time in the Luminous World catalogue are recent poems by John Kinsella, written in response to selected works in the exhibition, together with new writing by artist Bill Henson and composer Richard Mills that extend an artistic dialogue in which all can share.

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Hung fire' 1995

 

Rosalie Gascoigne
Hung fire
1995
Retro-reflective road-sign on wood
209 x 176 cm
© Rosalie Gascoigne, licensed by Viscopy 2012 and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

Elizabeth Nyumi. 'Parwalla' 2010 

 

Elizabeth Nyumi
Parwalla
2010
Acrylic on canvas
120 x 180 cm
© Elizabeth Nyumi, licensed by Viscopy 2012 and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

About Parwalla

This painting depicts the country known as Parwalla, which is Nyumi’s father’s country. This country is far to the south of Balgo in the Great Sandy Desert, west of Kiwirrkurra, and is dominated by tali (sand hills). Parwalla is a large swampy area, which fills with water after the wet season rain and consequently produces an abundance of bush foods. The majority of Nyumi’s painting shows the different bush foods, including kantjilyi (bush raisin), pura (bush tomato) and minyili (seed). The whiteish colours, which dominate the painting, represent the spinifex that grows strong and seeds after the wet season rains. These seeds are white in colour, and grow so thickly they obscure the ground and other plants below.

Biography

When Nyumi was only a very young child her mother died at Kanari soakwater close to Jupiter Well. As a young girl, Nyumi lived with her family group in their country. As a teenager she walked along the Canning Stock Route into the old mission with her father and family group. There she was given clothes and taken to Billiluna Station to be trained as a domestic worker and to work for the wives of the station managers around the region.

Nyumi commenced painting in 1987 and emerged as a leading artist in the late 1990s. She is married to the artist Palmer Gordon and has four daughters, three of whom are still living and beginning to paint with strong encouragement from Nyumi. Her elder brothers Brandy Tjungurrayi and Patrick Olodoodi are both senior lawmen and recognised artists. Nyumi is a very strong culture woman and dancer and an enthusiastic teacher of culture to children, ensuring the traditional dances and songs are kept alive.

Nyumi’s paintings are mainly concerned with the abundant bush food in the country belonging to her family. Initially, she worked with a thick brush, covering the canvas with fluent lines in tones of yellow, green and red. She has now developed a strong personal style of thick impasto dotting, to build up fields of texture heavily laden with white, in which motifs of camp sites, coolamons, digging sticks and bush tucker stand out.

 

Gretchen Albrecht. 'Pink and orange sherbet sky' 1975  

 

Gretchen Albrecht
Pink and orange sherbet sky
1975
Acrylic on canvas
166 x 177 cm
© Gretchen Albrecht, reproduced courtesy of the artist and Wesfarmers Collection of Australia

 

Rosemary Laing. 'Brumby mound #5' from the series 'One dozen unnatural disasters in the landscape' 2003

 

Rosemary Laing
Brumby mound #5 from the series One dozen unnatural disasters in the landscape
2003
C Type photograph
110 x 222 cm
© Rosemary Laing, reproduced courtesy of the artist and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

Brumby mound #5 2003 is one of a series of photographs by Rosemary Laing that explores the way European culture has often been uncomfortably imposed on an ancient land. Laing chooses a desert-scape that many identify as quintessentially Australian as the setting for her interventions. The location is the Wirrimanu community lands around Balgo in north-east Western Australia. Onto these traditional lands Laing has incongruously placed items of mass-produced furniture painted to mimic the surroundings.

The words ‘brumby mound’ in her title are a reference to the introduced horses (or brumbies) that are feral and roam uncontrolled, much like the spread of furniture. The seductive beauty of these panoramic images shows the vast spectacle of the Australian bush and makes the disjunction of the natural and the unnatural all the more apparent. (Text from the NGV website)

 

Howard Taylor. 'Bushfire sun' 1996 

 

Howard Taylor
Bushfire sun
1996
Oil on canvas
122 x 152 cm
© Howard Taylor, courtesy of the artist’s estate and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

Michael Riley. 'Untitled' from the series 'Cloud [Feather]' 2000

 

Michael Riley
Untitled from the series Cloud [Feather]
2000
Inkjet print on banner paper
86 x 120 cm
© Michael Riley Foundation, licensed by Viscopy 2012 and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

“Feathers float – so do clouds – and dreams.

Feather – a Wiradjuri word for feather and wing are the same, Gawuurra. Probably Cowra, the name of a town to the south, comes from this. In contemporary Aboriginal practices of other groups, feather-appendage is extended in meaning to string tassel, sacred string marking a journey, connecting landscapes, people, family lineages, and, importantly, the embryo cord linking child and mother.

A wing of the eagle hawk, Malyan, a skin name, a scary dream-being overhead. Is it guardian angel or assassin? In the south-east, a feather left behind is often evidence of such a spiritual visit.

At the funeral of actor and activist Bob Maza in 2000, his son held his father’s Bible and recollected his words, ‘to dare to dream your dreams’. It’s interesting that Michael Riley chose to avoid the word ‘dream’ in naming his final photographic work cloud (2000), avoiding glib connections to ‘Dreamtime’. What rolls past our eyes and through our senses is the culmination of self-examination. In a series of poetic photographic texts made increasingly poignant through events in his personal life, these are dreams of childhood memories in Dubbo, New South Wales: dreams of floating, of release…

cloud appears as more personal and free. A floating feather; a sweeping wing; a vigilant angel; the cows from ‘the mission’ farm; a single Australian Plague Locust in flight, referring to the cyclical swarms of locusts; a comforting Bible; and a graceful emblematic returning boomerang. The boomerang is really the only overtly Aboriginal image in the series and the locust is one of the few native species left that is visible and cannot be swept aside. It persists…

Through the large, simply superimposed images of cloud, Michael was trying to minimalise things, to distil his ideas about physical reality and spirit. All are dichotomously connected to Dubbo and Riley and are also universal. They are not about a place but a state, the surrealistic cow with mud and manure on its hoofs floating by. In contrast to Empire’s scenes of a decayed, overworked and desolated landscape, there is no physical land in the cloud imagery.

Aboriginal creation stories begin with a sunrise and follow the journeys of an original being across a physical, seasonal and emotional landscape – seeing, experiencing, and naming this and that plant, animal, climatic occurrence and emotional feelings. Religious song cycles follow this progression. Michael’s set of large, single-subject memories can almost be thought of as a Wiradjuri song cycle of his land and his life.”

Extract from Djon Mundine. Wungguli – Shadow : Photographing the spirit and Michael Riley” on the Michael Riley: sights unseen National Gallery of Australia website.

 

Paddy Bedford. 'Merrmerrji–Queensland creek' 2005 

 

Paddy Bedford
Merrmerrji-Queensland creek
2005
Ochre and synthetic binder on composition board
80 x 100 cm
© Paddy Bedford, reproduced courtesy of the artist’s estate and Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art

 

 

“Paddy Bedford was a senior Gija lawman born at Bedford Downs Station in the East Kimberly region. Like many indigenous artists, he lived a long life as a stockman before he looked upon the Turkey Creek elders – Rover Thomas and Paddy Jiminji – to begin painting. Bedford’s first works were made with the inception of the Jirrawun Aboriginal Art Cooperative in 1997.

The distinctive minimalist style of his work is but a mask to the multifarious layers of meaning. Bedford’s paintings are inspired by the distinctive landscape and stories of his country in the East Kimberly region of Western Australia, as he depicts from an aerial perspective the traditional dreamings of the Cockatoo, Emu and Turkey; the massacres of local Aboriginal people during the colonial period; as well as episodes from his own life as a stockman and as a senior elder of his community.

Merrmerrji- Queensland Creek, 2005 is characteristically sparse in composition with bold forms, a rhythmic application of dotted fluid lines and a powerfully imposing colour palate, which is gained from a wet-on-wet mixture of white and ochre pigments suspended in a fast drying acrylic medium. The effect is a pearly radiant luminosity, an ambience of the sacred.” (Text from the Annette Larkin Fine Art website)

 

 

The Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne,
Swanston Street (between Elgin and Faraday Streets)
Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria
Tel: +61 3 8344 5148

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5 pm

The Ian Potter Museum of Art website

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24
Jun
15

Exhibition: ‘Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars’ at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City

Exhibition dates: 20th June – 27th September 2015

 

Even after nearly six years of making this website, I still get a thrill bringing you the next posting.

And what a posting it is.

Even as their countrymen lay starving in the cities and dying on the fields of battle in World War One, the Romanov’s still kept spending. Oh how the once mighty fell in a heap of their own making. But sometimes you just need a bit of dynastic, debauched (and beautiful) bling to brighten your capitalist day … and to remind you that nothing lasts forever and karma will always have its way.

As a t-shirt in an op-shop that I saw today said, “Workers … possess the power.” And that is why governments, tyrants and despotic royalty will always be afraid of them.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Pavel Ovchinnikov. 'The Holy Virgin of Kazan, Saint Prince Aleksandr Nevskii, Saint Mary Magdalene' 1891

 

Pavel Ovchinnikov (1830-1888)
The Holy Virgin of Kazan, Saint Prince Aleksandr Nevskii, Saint Mary Magdalene
1891
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt.
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Pavel Ovchinnikov (1830-1888), Russian jeweller, silversmith, goldsmith, enameller, merchant, industrialist. Hallmark: П.О. or П.Овчинниковъ in a rectangle. Trained in his brother’s workshop and opened a factory in Moscow, where he revived the art of enamelling and worked in the Neo-Russian style. Official purveyor to Tsar Alexander III, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and King Christian IX of Denmark. Awarded the Légion d’honneur and the Order of the Iron Crown. Member of the Moscow City Duma.

Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский; pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪrɐˈslavʲɪtɕ ˈnʲɛfskʲɪj] Ukrainian: Олександр Ярославович Не́вський); 13 May 1221 – 14 November 1263) served as Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most difficult times in Kievan Rus’ history.

Commonly regarded as a key figure of medieval Rus’, Alexander – the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest – rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over German and Swedish invaders while agreeing to pay tribute to the powerful Golden Horde. He was proclaimed as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolite Macarius in 1547. Popular polls rank Alexander Nevsky as the greatest Russian hero in history.

 

Russian. 'Imperial Diamond Brooch' 1890–1910

 

Russian
Imperial Diamond Brooch
1890-1910
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Russian. 'Crown Brooch' 1890-1910

 

Russian
Crown Brooch
1890-1910
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Elephant Box' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Elephant Box
before 1899
Nephrite, ivory, gold, rubies, diamonds
3.75 x 4 (diameter) in. (9.53 x 10.16 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Upon the death of Hiskias Pendin in 1882, Carl Fabergé took sole responsibility for running the company. Carl was awarded the title Master Goldsmith, which permitted him to use his own hallmark in addition to that of the firm. Carl Fabergé’s reputation was so high that the normal three-day examination was waived. For several years, Carl Faberge’s main assistant in the designing of jewellery was his younger brother, Agathon Faberge (1862-1895), who had also trained in Dresden.

Carl and Agathon were a sensation at the Pan-Russian Exhibition held in Moscow in 1882. Carl was awarded a gold medal and the St. Stanisias Medal. One of the Fabergé pieces displayed was a replica of a 4th-century BC gold bangle from the Scythian Treasure in the Hermitage. The Tsar declared that he could not distinguish the Fabergé’s work from the original and ordered that objects by the House of Fabergé should be displayed in the Hermitage as examples of superb contemporary Russian craftsmanship. The House of Fabergé with its range of jewels was now within the focus of Russia’s Imperial Court.

When Peter Carl took over the House, there was a move from producing jewellery in the then fashionable French 18th century style, to becoming artist-jewellers. Having acquired the title of Supplier to the Court from Tsar Alexander III on May 1, 1885, Fabergé had full access to the important Hermitage Collection, where he was able not only to study but also to find inspiration for developing his unique style. Influenced by the jewelled bouquets created by the eighteenth century goldsmiths, Jean-Jacques Duval and Jérémie Pauzié, Fabergé re-worked their ideas, combining them with his accurate observations and fascination for Japanese art. This resulted in reviving the lost art of enamelling and concentrating on setting every single stone in a piece to its best advantage. Indeed, it was not unusual for Agathon to make ten or more wax models so that all possibilities could be exhausted before deciding on a final design. Shortly after Agathon joined the firm, the House introduced objects deluxe: gold bejewelled items embellished with enamel ranging from electric bell pushes to cigarette cases, including objects de fantaisie.

In 1885, Tsar Alexander III gave the House of Fabergé the title; ‘Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown’.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Elephant Box' (detail) before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Elephant Box (detail)
before 1899
Nephrite, ivory, gold, rubies, diamonds
3.75 x 4 (diameter) in. (9.53 x 10.16 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Monumental Kovsh' 1899–1908

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Monumental Kovsh
1899-1908
Silver, chrysoprase, amethyst
15 x 27.5 x 12.25 in. (38.10 x 69.85 x 31.12 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Monumental Kovsh' (detail) 1899-1908

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Monumental Kovsh (detail)
1899-1908
Silver, chrysoprase, amethyst
15 x 27.5 x 12.25 in. (38.10 x 69.85 x 31.12 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

The Kovsh is a traditional drinking vessel or ladle from Russia. It was oval-shaped like a boat with a single handle and may be shaped like a water bird or a norse longship. Originally the Kovsh made from wood and used to serve and drink mead, with specimens excavated from as early as the tenth century. Metal Kovsh began to appear around the 14th century, although it also continued to be carved out of wood and was frequently brightly painted in peasant motifs. By the 17th century, the Kovsh was often an ornament rather than a practical vessel, and in the 19th century it was elaborately cast in precious metals for presentation as an official gift of the tsarist government.

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Star Frame' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Star Frame
before 1899
Gold, enamel, pearls, glass, ivory
3 x 2.625 x 3.5625 (diameter) in (7.62 x 6.67 x 9.05 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Star Frame' (detail) before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Star Frame (detail)
before 1899
Gold, enamel, pearls, glass, ivory
3 x 2.625 x 3.5625 (diameter) in (7.62 x 6.67 x 9.05 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840–1917). 'Plate' 1899–1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Plate
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Feodor Ivanovich Rückert, Russian silver- and goldsmith of German origin, Fabergé workmaster. Born in Moscow in 1840. Worked with Carl Fabergé from 1887. His mark Ф.Р. (F.R. in Russian Cyrillic) can be found on cloisonné enamel objects made in Moscow, sold independently or by Fabergé.

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840–1917). 'Plate' (detail) 1899–1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Plate (detail)
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

“More than 230 rare and storied treasures created by the House of Fabergé will be celebrated in a new exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars will be on view from June 20 through September 27, 2015. The exhibition, drawn from the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, will showcase Karl Fabergé’s fine craftsmanship in pieces of jewelry and adornments once belonging to the Russian Imperial family.

“This exhibition represents a double honor for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art – the opportunity to collaborate with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and to showcase the largest Fabergé collection outside of Russia,” said E. Michael Whittington, OKCMOA President and CEO. “The technical and artistic virtuosity of the Fabergé workshop is without parallel. Individually, these objects are breathtaking. Collectively, they represent a unique window into an empire and subsequent revolution that dramatically altered 20th century history. We are proud to present such an extraordinary collection of treasures to our community.”

From dazzling Imperial Easter eggs to delicate flower ornaments and from enchanting animal sculptures to cigarette cases, photograph frames and desk clocks, Fabergé often turned the most mundane objects into miniature works of art. The vast majority of his designs were never repeated, and most pieces were made entirely by hand. The success of his business was inextricably linked to the patronage of the Romanov dynasty and the close ties among the British, Danish and Russian royal families, who often exchanged works by Fabergé as personal gifts.

The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg of 1912, which will be on view at OKCMOA, was a gift to Empress Alexandra from her husband, Emperor Nicholas II. The egg commemorates their son, Alexsei, who nearly died the previous year of hemophilia. For the shell, craftsmen joined six wedges of highly prized lapis lazuli and hid the seams with an elaborate gold filigree encasement. Inside the egg, a diamond encrusted Romanov family crest frames a two-sided portrait of the young child.

These objects were associated with refinement and luxury because the House of Fabergé was known for accepting nothing less than perfection as well as for being business savvy. Beyond the elegant showrooms in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, hundreds of the country’s finest goldsmiths, enamellers, stone carvers, gem cutters and jewelers were at work creating innovative and complex designs that could not be readily imitated.

The presence of the Romanov family – Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra and their five children – is most intimately felt in the exhibition through the display of more than 40 family photographs held in enameled Fabergé frames. These family photographs and jewels were some of the only possessions the Romanovs took with them when they were forced out of St. Petersburg during the Revolution. In an effort to preserve their wealth, the Romanov daughters are said to have sewn Fabergé jewels into their undergarments. In the end, their diamond-lined corsets managed to prolong their execution and sealed the fate for the inevitable fall of the dynasty.”

Press release from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Christ Pantocrator,' 1914–17

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Christ Pantocrator
1914-17
Oil on panel, silver gilt, filigree silver, precious and semiprecious stones, seed pearls
11.875 x 10.125 in. (30.16 x 25.72 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

In Christian iconography, Christ Pantocrator refers to a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator or Pantokrator (Greek: Παντοκράτωρ) is, used in this context, a translation of one of many names of God in Judaism. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek as the Septuagint, Pantokrator was used both for YHWH Sabaoth “Lord of Hosts” and for El Shaddai “God Almighty”. In the New Testament, Pantokrator is used once by Paul (2 Cor 6:18). Aside from that one occurrence, the author of the Book of Revelation is the only New Testament author to use the word Pantokrator. The author of Revelation uses the word nine times, and while the references to God and Christ in Revelation are at times interchangeable, Pantokrator appears to be reserved for God alone.

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846–1920). 'Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg' 1903

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Vasilii Zuiev, Painter of miniatures Russian , 1870-unknown
Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg
1903
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Peter, the Great Egg, is a jewelled Easter egg made under the supervision of the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in 1903, for the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. Tsar Nicholas presented the egg to his wife, the Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna. Made in the Rococo style, the Peter the Great Egg celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg in 1703.

Executed in gold, the curves are set with diamonds and rubies. The body of the egg is covered in laurel leaves and bulrushes that are chased in 14-carat green gold. These symbolize the source of the “living waters”. The spikyheads are set with square rubies. White enamel ribbons inscribed with historical details encircle the egg. On the top of the egg is an enameled wreath which encircles Nicholas II’s monogram. The bottom of the egg is adorned with the double-headed imperial eagle, made of black enamel and crowned with two diamonds.

The paintings representing the “before” and “after” of St. Petersburg in 1703 and 1903. The front painting features the extravagant Winter Palace, the official residence of Nicholas II two hundred years after the founding of St. Petersburg. Opposite this, on the back of the egg, is a painting of the log cabin believed to be built by Peter the Great himself, representative of the founding of St. Petersburg on the banks of the Neva River. On the sides of the egg are portraits of Peter the Great in 1703 and Nicholas II in 1903. Each of the miniatures is covered by rock crystal. The dates 1703 and 1903, worked in diamonds, appear on either side of the lid above the paintings of the log cabin and Winter Palace, respectively.

Below each painting are fluttering enamel ribbons with inscriptions in black Cyrillic letters. The inscriptions include: “The Emperor Peter the Great, born in 1672, founding St. Petersburg in 1703″, “The first little house of the Emperor Peter the Great in 1703″, “The Emperor Nicholas II born in the 1868 ascended the throne in 1894″ and “The Winter Palace of His Imperial Majesty in 1903.”

The surprise is that when the egg is opened, a mechanism within raises a miniature gold model of Peter the Great’s monument on the Neva, resting on a base of sapphire. The model was made by Gerogii Malychevin. The reason for this choice of surprise is the story of a legend from the 19th century that says enemy forces will never take St. Petersburg while the “Bronze Horseman” stands in the middle of the city.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg' (detail) 1903

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Vasilii Zuiev, Painter of miniatures Russian , 1870-unknown
Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg (detail)
1903
Gold, platinum, diamonds, rubies, enamel, bronze, sapphire, watercolor on ivory, rock crystal
4.25 x 3.125 (diameter) in. (10.80 x 7.94 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg' 1912

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Henrik Wigström Russian, 1862-1923
Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg
1912
Lapis lazuli, gold, diamonds, platinum or silver
5.75 x 4 (diameter) in. (on stand) (14.61 x 10.16 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg, created by workmaster Henrik Wigström, has six lapis lazuli segments with doubleheaded eagles, winged caryatids, hanging canopies, scrolls, flower baskets, and sprays that conceal the joints. It is set with a large solitaire diamond at the base, and a table diamond (a thin, flat diamond) on top over the Cyrillic monogram AF (for Alexandra Feodorovna) and the date 1912. The surprise found inside is a portrait painted on ivory, front and back, of the tsesarevich in a diamond-set, double-headed eagle standing on a lapis lazuli pedestal. In addition to assisting Perkhin with 26 imperial eggs, Henrik Wigström produced 20 to 21 additional eggs between 1906 and 1916, including this masterpiece.

Henrik Immanuel Wigström (1862-1923) was one of the most important Fabergé workmasters along with Michael Perchin. Perchin was the head workmaster from 1886 until his death in 1903, when he was succeeded by his chief assistant Henrik Wigstrom. These two workmasters were responsible for almost all the imperial Easter eggs.

Once in Madsén’s employment, his master’s trade with Russia, as well as his numerous business contacts here, brought him to work in St. Petersburg. It is unknown who employed Wigström on his arrival in the capital, but Wigström became assistant in 1884, at the age of 22, to Perchin, whose shop at that time was already working exclusively for Fabergé. Wigström became head workmaster at Fabergé after Perchin’s death in 1903. The number of craftsmen in Wigström’s workshop diminished drastically with the outbreak of World War I. By 1918, the Revolution forced the complete closing of the House of Fabergé. Aged 56, Wigström retreated almost empty-handed to his summer house, on Finnish territory, and died there in 1923.

His art is similar to Perchin’s but tends to be in the Louis XVI, Empire, or neo-classical style. Nearly all the Fabergé hardstone animals, figures and flowers from that time period were produced under his supervision.

 

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Imperial Pelican Easter Egg' 1897

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Johannes Zehngraf, Painter of miniatures Russian, 1857-1908
Imperial Pelican Easter Egg
1897
Gold, diamonds, enamel, pearls, watercolor on ivory
4 x 2.125 (diameter) in. (10.16 x 5.40 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Michael Evlampievich Perchin (Russian: Михаил Евлампьевич Перхин) (1860-1903) was born in Okulovskaya in Olonets Governorate (now Republic of Karelia) and died in St. Petersburg. He was one of the most important Fabergé workmasters along with Henrik Wigström. Perchin became the leading workmaster in the House of Fabergé in 1886 and supervised production of the eggs until his death in 1903. The eggs he was responsible for were marked with his initials.

He worked initially as a journeyman in the workshop of Erik August Kollin. In 1884 he qualified as a master craftsman and his artistic potential must have been obvious to Fabergé who appointed him head workmaster in 1886. His workshop produced all types of objets de fantasie in gold, enamel and hard stones. All the important commissions of the time, including some of the Imperial Easter Eggs, the renowned “Fabergé eggs”, were made in his workshop. His period as head Fabergé workmaster is generally acknowledged to be the most artistically innovative, with a huge range of styles from neo-Rococo to Renaissance.

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Imperial Pelican Easter Egg' (detail) 1897

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Johannes Zehngraf, Painter of miniatures Russian , 1857-1908
Imperial Pelican Easter Egg (detail)
1897
Gold, diamonds, enamel, pearls, watercolor on ivory
4 x 2.125 (diameter) in. (10.16 x 5.40 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Johannes Zehngraf (born April 18, 1857 in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark; † February 7, 1908 in Berlin) was a Danish painter of miniatures and chief miniaturist in the house of Carl Peter Fabergé in St. Petersburg. He was the son of painter and photographer Christian Antoni Zehngraf  and Rebecca de Lemos and married on January 27, 1880 in Aalborg Caroline Ludovica Lund (* June 30, 1856; † after 1908), the daughter of Carl Ludvig Lund and Pouline Elisabeth Poulsen.

Zehngraf  learned in Aalborg with his father the art of photography and worked at first as a photographer, later in Aarhus, Odense and Malmö (1886-1889). The small-scale retouching his photographs led him then to miniature painting. As a miniaturist he settled down in 1889 in Berlin and counted the European royal houses to its customers. He led the photographic realism with their richness of detail in his painting. Portraits of the Russian Emperor Alexander III., His wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Danish Princess Thyra and a series of portraits of eleven miniature effigies of the Danish King Christian IX family testify to his skill. He painted, among others, the thumbnails on the Lily of the Valley Faberge Egg (1898)

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits' 1915

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Henrik Wigström, Workmaster Russian, 1862-1923
Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits
1915
Silver, enamel, gold, mother-of-pearl, watercolor on ivory, velvet lining
3 x 2.375 (diameter) in. (7.62 x 6.03 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits' (detail) 1915

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Henrik Wigström, Workmaster Russian, 1862-1923
Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits (detail)
1915
Silver, enamel, gold, mother-of-pearl, watercolor on ivory, velvet lining
3 x 2.375 (diameter) in. (7.62 x 6.03 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Ring Box' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Ring Box
before 1899
Gold, ruby, silk
1 (height) in. (2.54 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Rooster' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Rooster
c. 1900
Carnelian, diamonds, gold
1.5 x 0.5 x 1.25 in. (3.81 x 1.27 x 3.18 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Rooster' (detail) c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Rooster (detail)
c. 1900
Carnelian, diamonds, gold
1.5 x 0.5 x 1.25 in. (3.81 x 1.27 x 3.18 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Miniature Easter Egg Pendant' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Miniature Easter Egg Pendant
c. 1900
Gold, enamel, diamonds, sapphires
0.75 (height) x 0.5 (diameter) in. (1.91 x 1.27 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Miniature Easter Egg Pendant' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Miniature Easter Egg Pendant
c. 1900
Chalcedony, gold, diamonds
1.35 x 0.875 (diameter) in. (3.18 x 2.22 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Cane Handle' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Parasol Handle
before 1899
Bowenite, gold, diamonds, pearls, enamel
3¼ H x 1½ W (8.26 cm x 3.81 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Cane Handle' (detail) before 1899

 

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Parasol Handle (detail)
before 1899
Bowenite, gold, diamonds, pearls, enamel
3¼ H x 1½ W (8.26 cm x 3.81 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

The tapering, pentagonal parasol handle has panels of pink guilloché enamel painted with dendritic motifs within opaque-white enamel borders. A diamond is centered on each panel and Louis XVI-style floral decorations are set between the panels. Atop the handle is a brilliant-cut diamond finial in a rose-cut diamond surround with diamond-set fillets.

Marks : Early initials of workmaster Mikhail Perkhin, assay mark of St. Petersburg before 1899, 56 zolotnik

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Statuette of a Sailor' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Statuette of a Sailor
c. 1900
Agate, obsidian, aventurine quartz, lapis lazuli, sapphire
4.625 x 2.5 in. (11.75 x 6.35 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840–1917). 'Loving Cup' 1899-1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Loving Cup
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917) 'Loving Cup' 1899-1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Loving Cup
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917) 'Loving Cup' (detail) 1899-1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Loving Cup (detail)
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday: noon – 5 pm
Closed: Monday and Major Holidays

Oklahoma City Museum of Art website

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21
Jun
15

Exhibition: ‘Modernités. Photographie brésilienne (1940-1964)’ at the Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris

Exhibition dates: 6th May – 26th July 2015

Curators: Antonio Pinto Ribeiro, Ludger Derenthal and Samuel Titan Jr.

 

 

Another exhibition on an unusual subject that this website likes supporting: this time Brazilian photography, of which I know very little.

The feeling I get from the photographs in this posting is of an overwhelming interest in avant-garde, urban photography and humanist photography. The standout is the work of José Medeiros (1921-1990), especially the two photographs of an initiation ritual in Salvador. Their force majeure, their irresistible compulsion (presence, ritual), composition and complexity stand them head and shoulders above any of the other works in the posting.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Thomaz Farkas. 'Monumental steps of the gallery Prestes Maia, São Paulo' 1946

 

Thomaz Farkas (1924-2011)
Monumental steps of the gallery Prestes Maia, São Paulo
Escalier monumental de la Galerie Prestes Maia, São Paulo

1946
Gelatin Silver photograph
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Thomaz Farkas. 'Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro' 1947

 

Thomaz Farkas (1924-2011)
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Plage de Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro

1947
Gelatin Silver photograph
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Thomaz Farkas. 'Tiles, São Paulo' 1945

 

Thomaz Farkas (1924-2011)
Tiles, São Paulo
Tuiles, São Paulo

1945
Gelatin Silver photograph
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Thomaz Farkas. 'Interior façade of the building São Borja, Rio de Janeiro' c. 1945

 

Thomaz Farkas (1924-2011)
Interior façade of the building São Borja, Rio de Janeiro
Façade intérieure du bâtiment São Borja, Rio de Janeiro

c. 1945
Gelatin Silver photograph
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

P004TF075628-WEB

 

Thomaz Farkas (1924-2011)
Construction Site, Brasília
Chantier de construction, Brasília
c. 1958
Gelatin Silver photograph
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -) 'Construction engines in Villares plant, São Caetano do Sul, São Paulo' 1960

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -)
Construction engines in Villares plant, São Caetano do Sul, São Paulo
Construction de moteurs à l’usine Villares, São Caetano do Sul, São Paulo

1960
Contemporary digital print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -) 'Brown Boveri Electric Industry S / A Osasco, São Paulo' c. 1960

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -)
Brown Boveri Electric Industry S / A Osasco, São Paulo
Industrie Electrique Brown Boveri S/A Osasco, São Paulo

c. 1960
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -) 'Mercedes Benz booth at the International Exhibition of Industry and Commerce São Cristóvão (project Henri Maluf), Rio de Janeiro' 1960

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -)
Mercedes Benz booth at the International Exhibition of Industry and Commerce São Cristóvão (project Henri Maluf), Rio de Janeiro
Stand de Mercedes Benz lors de l’Exposition internationale d’industrie et de commerce de São Cristovão (projet de Henri Maluf), Rio de Janeiro

1960
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -) 'Eletroradiobras Store (architectural project Majer Botkowski), São Paulo' c. 1956

 

Hans Gunter Flieg (1923 -)
Eletroradiobras Store (architectural project Majer Botkowski), São Paulo
Magasin Eletroradiobras (projet architectural de Majer Botkowski), São Paulo

c. 1956
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

 

“History has taught us that cosmopolitism, people’s mobility and globalised artistic movements are not necessarily recent phenomenons. The exhibition titled Modernités. Photographie brésilienne (1940-1964) aims to demonstrate how contemporaneity does not emerge from a void but is built via continuities and ruptures. At the beginning of the 1940s, during the Second World War, Brazil was a destination of choice for thousands of emigrants. The country went through a unique modernisation process affecting all sectors of Brazilian society.

The exhibition explores this extraordinary transformation through the eyes of four photographers with very different styles and sensibilities. Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996) was a Parisian from a working class background who greatly admired Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe’s work; he had access to Brasília as early as 1958, thanks to his friendship with Oscar Niemeyer. Hans Gunter Flieg (1923) fled nazism as a German Jew and came to Brazil in 1939 where he specialised in photographing industries. Thomas Farkas (1924-2011), a Hungarian who emigrated to Brazil, is probably the most well-known of these four photographers, and the most avant-garde of this group since he was interested in photography as a work of art from a very young age. Finally, José Medeiros (1921-1990), a photojournalist who was born in a poor State with very little cultural tradition, had learnt photography by working with the Carioca newspapers. He was attentive to the changes and ruptures in all the social classes.

This exhibition allows the perception of a moment in history: the untouched Amazonia, the beaches and daily life in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the carnival, football, African religions and their initiation rituals, river ports and the Northern fishermen, industries and factories, baroque churches, Indian tribes, mechanical machinery, popular festivals, modernist buildings and Brasília, the new capital. These wideranging themes sketch a portrait of Brazil during a particular era that ended with the beginning of the military dictatorship in 1964. Through the lens of these four artists whose practices and origins were so diverse, we can also anticipate notions of alterity and cosmopolitism that define our world today.”

Press release from the Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian website

 

Modernités. Photographie brésilienne (1940-1964)

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996) 'Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro' c. 1967

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996)
Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro
Stade du Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro

c. 1967
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996) 'Palace of the National Congress, Brasília' 1960

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996)
Palace of the National Congress, Brasília
Palais du Congrès National, Brasília

1960
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996) 'Palace of the National Congress, Brasília' 1960

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996)
Palace of the National Congress, Brasília
Palais du Congrès National, Brasília

1960
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996) 'Jangadeiro, Aquiraz Ceará' 1950

 

Marcel Gautherot (1910-1996)
Jangadeiro, Aquiraz Ceará
Jangadeiro, Aquiraz Etat du Ceará

1950
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Man sitting in a cafe, probably in Northeast Brazil' Nd

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Man sitting in a cafe, probably in Northeast Brazil
Homme assis dans un café, probablement dans le Nordeste

Nd
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Carnival in the nightclub Au Bon Gourmet, Rio de Janeiro' 1952

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Carnival in the nightclub Au Bon Gourmet, Rio de Janeiro
Carnaval dans la boîte Au Bon Gourmet, Rio de Janeiro

1952
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Novice during the initiation ritual of the holy daughters, Salvador' 1951

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Novice during the initiation ritual of the holy daughters, Salvador
Novice pendant le rituel d’initiation des filles-de-saint, Salvador

1951
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Oscar Niemeyer, Vinicius de Moraes, his wife Lila and Tom Jobim Bôscoli (background), behind the scenes of the first performance of Orfeu da Conceição, Rio de Janeiro' 1956

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Oscar Niemeyer, Vinicius de Moraes, his wife Lila and Tom Jobim Bôscoli (background), behind the scenes of the first performance of Orfeu da Conceição, Rio de Janeiro
Oscar Niemeyer, Vinicius de Moraes, son épouse Lila Bôscoli et Tom Jobim (au fond), dans les coulisses de la première représentation de Orfeu da Conceição , Rio de Janeiro

1956
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Novice painted with white dots that allude to Oxalá, the god of creation, and with red feathers (ekodidé), the initiation ritual, Salvador' 1951

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Novice painted with white dots that allude to Oxalá, the god of creation, and with red feathers (ekodidé), the initiation ritual, Salvador
Novice peinte de points blancs qui font référence à Oxalá, dieu de la création, elle porte la plume rouge (ekodidé) du rituel d’initiation, Salavador

1951
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Pedra da Gávea, Morro dos Dois Irmãos and the beaches of Ipanema and of Leblon, Rio de Janeiro' c. 1955

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Pedra da Gávea, Morro dos Dois Irmãos and the beaches of Ipanema and of Leblon, Rio de Janeiro
c. 1955
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990) 'Woman on a bicycle crossing the railroad tracks, Rio de Janeiro' 1942

 

José Medeiros (1921-1990)
Woman on a bicycle crossing the railroad tracks, Rio de Janeiro
Femme à vélo traversant les rails du tramway, Rio de Janeiro 

1942
Contemporary silver gelatin print
Courtesy of the artist and the Instituto Moreira Salles

 

 

Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian – Délégation en France
39 bd de la Tour Maubourg 75007 Paris

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18
Jun
15

Postcards: This is a real photograph

June 2015

 

A selection of black and white postcards that I recently purchased in a secondhand shop. It was fun investigating the publishers and places, especially as three of them contain my surname (and probably ancestor), John Bunyan. I particularly like the series by Raphael Tuck & Sons of the Guards Chapel at the bottom of the posting… that and the fact that some of them state and guarantee: ‘This is a real photograph’.

Marcus

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Please click on the photograph for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Léon & Lévy. 'Dunkerque - L'Eglise Saint-Eloi' c. 1901-1920

 

Léon & Lévy (French)
Dunkerque – L’Eglise Saint-Eloi
c. 1901-1920
LL 10 of the theme France
Carte Postale

 

Léon & Lévy was a French printer and a photograph editing company located in Paris. It was founded in 1864 and specialized in stereoscopic views and picture postcards of locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. The trade mark of the enterprise was “L.L.” (“LL”). The firm was one of the most important postcard editors in France… Léon & Lévy was founded in 1864 by Isaac and his son-in-law Moyse Léon. Isaac was also known as “Georges Lévy” at that time (to increase profits, he is known as J. Lévy, 1833-1913) .

With Levy sons, Abraham Lucien and Gaspard Ernest, the company will resolutely move towards the market of the postcard: the brand “LL” is filed in 1901 – we often confuse it with the signature “L & L” studio Lehnert & Landrock which was created three years later in Tunis: Lévy publishes numerous clichés and uses the same recipes and the same patterns as Lehnert. But Levy became the second largest publisher of postcards in France, producing 40 to 50,000 snapshots.

 

Léon & Lévy. 'Paris - Le Palais de Justice - La Facade' c. 1901-1920

 

Léon & Lévy (French)
Paris – Le Palais de Justice – La Façade
c. 1901-1920
LL 802 of the theme France
Levy Fils & Cie, Paris to verso
Carte Postale

 

Léon & Lévy. 'Amiens - Le Cathédrale - Vie de Saint-Jean-Baptiste' c. 1901-1920

 

Léon & Lévy (French)
Amiens – Le Cathédrale – Vie de Saint-Jean-Baptiste
c. 1901-1920
LL 194 of the theme France
Levy Fils & Cie, Paris to verso
Carte Postale

 

J. Valentine & Co. (British, 1825-1963) 'Inveraray Castle and Duniquaich' Nd

 

J. Valentine & Co. Ltd (British, 1825 – 1963)
Inveraray Castle and Duniquaich
Nd
Valentine Series
Lithograph post card

 

J. Salmon Ltd, Sevenoaks (British, 1880 -) 'The Moot Hall, Elstow, Nr. Bedford' After 1912

 

J. Salmon Ltd, Sevenoaks (British, 1880 -)
The Moot Hall, Elstow, Nr. Bedford
After 1912
Salmon Series
Real Photo. Printed in England
Post card

 

Unknown maker (Denmark) 'Horsens. Caroline Amelie Lund' Nd

 

Unknown maker (Danish)
Horsens. Caroline Amelie Lund
Nd
Lithograph post card

 

Caroline Amalie park is in everyday speech called “The Grove”. The park beautifully connects Horsens Museum and Horsens Art Museum. In the park, you can find the old water tower, designed by the known architect Viggo Norn. In the spring, a colour symphony of crocus sprouts through the grass, and later you can enjoy yourself in the shades of the beeches.

 

James Valentine, photographer (Scottish, 12 June 1815 - 19 June 1879) 'Rosslyn Castle and Chapel' Nd

 

James Valentine, photographer (Scottish, 12 June 1815 – 19 June 1879)
Rosslyn Castle and Chapel
Nd
Lithograph post card

 

H. Coates, Wisbech (British) 'The Derwent and Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath' Nd

 

H. Coates, Wisbech (British)
The Derwent and Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath
Nd
Lithograph post card

 

The Heights of Abraham, based in Matlock Bath, Peak District, offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape as well as providing a wonderful location for a family day out. The park first opened its gates in 1780 and boasts having the country’s first ‘Alpine Style’ cable car system, which was installed in 1984… The Heights of Abraham was named after the area of Quebec where Major General James P. Wolfe met his end during the Seven Years War, the British victory of which paved the way for the further expansion of the British Empire in Canada.

Originally designed as a Regency style ‘Savage Garden’ the park reflects the thoughts of the day from such as Shelley and Wordsworth, who extolled the virtues of promoting the wonderment of nature and the beauty of the environment. Even 200 years after opening the gates for the first time, many of the routes around the gardens remain as originally intended.

 

Unknown maker (British) 'Bedford. The Bunyan Meeting' Nd

 

Unknown maker (British)
Bedford. The Bunyan Meeting
Nd
This is a real photograph
Post card

 

Dallaporte (Portugal) 'Batalha - Mosteiro, Fachada das Capelas Imperfeitas [Monastery of Batalha, façade of the Imperfect Chapels]' Nd

 

 

Dallaporte (Portugal)
Batalha – Mosteiro, Fachada das Capelas Imperfeitas [Monastery of Batalha, façade of the Imperfect Chapels]
Nd
Colecçâo passaporte “LOTY”
Photograph, post card

 

The Monastery of Batalha (Portuguese: Mosteiro da Batalha), literally the Monastery of the Battle, is a Dominican convent in the civil parish of Batalha, in the district of Leiria, in the Centro Region region of Portugal. Originally, and officially known, as the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory (Portuguese: Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória), it was erected in commemoration of the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota, and would serve as the burial church of the 15th-Century Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royals. It is one of the best and original examples of Late Gothic architecture in Portugal, intermingled with the Manueline style.

 

F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate (British, 1959 - 1970) 'Old Sarum, Chapel Of St Nicholas at angle of Wall, Castle well in foreground' 1913

 

F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate (British, 1959 – 1970)
Old Sarum, Chapel Of St Nicholas at angle of Wall, Castle well in foreground
1913
Frith’s series, Negative 65298
Lithograph postcard

 

 

Francis Frith (also spelled Frances Frith, 7 October 1822 – 25 February 1898) was an English photographer of the Middle East and many towns in the United Kingdom. Frith was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, attending Quaker schools at Ackworth and Quaker Camp Hill in Birmingham (ca. 1828-1838), before he started in the cutlery business. Leaving in 1850 to start a photographic studio in Liverpool, known as Frith & Hayward. A successful grocer, and later, printer, Frith fostered an interest in photography, becoming a founding member of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853. Frith sold his companies in 1855 in order to dedicate himself entirely to photography. He journeyed to the Middle East on three occasions, the first of which was a trip to Egypt in 1856 with very large cameras (16″ x 20″). He used thecollodion process, a major technical achievement in hot and dusty conditions…

When he had finished his travels in the Middle East in 1859, he opened the firm of Francis Frith & Co. in Reigate, Surrey, as the world’s first specialist photographic publisher. In 1860, he married Mary Ann Rosling (sister of Alfred Rosling, the first treasurer of the Photographic Society) and embarked upon a colossal project – to photograph every town and village in the United Kingdom; in particular, notable historical or interesting sights. Initially he took the photographs himself, but as success came, he hired people to help him and set about establishing his postcard company, a firm that became one of the largest photographic studios in the world. Within a few years, over two thousand shops throughout the United Kingdom were selling his postcards.

His family continued the firm, which was finally sold in 1968 and closed in 1970. Following closure of the business, Bill Jay, one of Britain’s first photography historians, identified the archive as being nationally important, and “at risk”. Jay managed to persuade Rothmans, the tobacco company, to purchase the archive to ensure its safety. Frith was re-launched in 1976 as The Francis Frith Collection by John Buck, a Rothmans executive, with the intention of making the Frith photographs available to as wide an audience as possible. In 1977, John Buck bought the archive from Rothmans and has continued to run it as an independent business since that time – trading as The Francis Frith Collection. The company website enables visitors to browse free of charge over 125,000 Frith photographs depicting some 7,000 cities, towns and villages. (Text from Wikipedia)

 

Photochrom Co. Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, Kent (British) 'Ely Cathedral, Choir, East' Nd

 

Photochrom Co. Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, Kent (British)
Ely Cathedral, Choir, East
Nd
Photograph, postcard 3826

 

Photochrom Co. Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, Kent (British) 'Ely Cathedral, Choir, East' Nd

 

Photochrom Co. Ltd., Tunbridge Wells, Kent (British)
Ely Cathedral, Choir, East (verso)
Nd
Photograph, postcard 3826

 

Léon & Lévy (French) 'Carisbrooke Castle - King Charles I Window' c. 1901-1920

 

Léon & Lévy (French)
Carisbrooke Castle – King Charles I Window
c. 1901-1920
LL 18 of the theme Britain
Printed in France
Lithograph post card

 

Léon & Lévy. 'Armentières - L'Eglise Saint Roch' c. 1883-1916

 

Léon & Lévy (French)
Armentières – L’Eglise Saint Roch
c. 1883-1916
LL 13 of the theme France
Levy Fils & Cie, Paris to verso
Carte Postale

 

According to a brochure published for the centenary of the Saint-Roch church, it was built in the heart of a working-class neighborhood in 1883 and 1884, at the initiative of the Dean Berteloot, who also built the churches of the Sacred Heart (1879) and St. Joseph (1884), in other districts of Armentières workers; the land is given free by the contractor César Debosque-Donte; the construction of the church is financed by a family of textile industrialists, the Cardon; the building is due to the architect Paul Destombes Roubaix, who is also the author of the churches of St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart; Simple originally emergency church, it was erected in parish church from 1886. Devastated in 1916 by the bombings of World War II, it was rebuilt in 1930 on the same plane as that of the original church and within a similar style.

 

Luigi Grassi, Milano (Italy) 'Milano, Facciata della Cattedrale [Facade of Milan Cathedral]' Nd

 

Luigi Grassi, Milano (Italian)
Milano, Facciata della Cattedrale [Facade of Milan Cathedral]
Nd
Cartolina Postale, 07 19042
Lithograph post card

 

Unknown maker (F.W.H.) (British) 'Roof of Chancel, Rosslyn Chapel' Nd

 

Unknown maker (F.W.H.) (British)
Roof of Chancel, Rosslyn Chapel
Nd
Lithograph post card

 

L. Roisin, Barcelona (Lucien Édouard Roisin Besnard, Paris, 1876 - Paris ou Barcelone, 1943) 'Gibraltar - Southport Gate' Nd

 

L. Roisin, Barcelona (Lucien Édouard Roisin Besnard, Paris, 1876 – Paris or Barcelona, 1943)
Gibraltar – Southport Gate
Nd
Lithograph post card, 53. 425

 

 

Edward Lucien Roisin Besnard (L. Roisin) (Paris, 1876 – Paris or Barcelona, 1943) French photographer and editor, based in Barcelone at the end of the First World War. Known in Spain for his trade postcards: La casa de la postal. Thanks to the high production work Roisin, it is possible to see the evolution of Spanish landscapes over thirty years. Most of his work is preserved with historical photographic archives of the Institute of photographic study of Catalogne.

His first Spanish postcards date from 1918. Roisin was not only in Barcelona, ​​as in World War II, much of his family perished and our photographer was accompanied by two of his nephews, who held an important role in the family business and in the fate of the archives. His contract with Toldra finished he chose to remain on Spanish soil, and he acquires a local business in the Rambla de Santa Monica where he founded his magazine “the postal casa.” 7 He specializes in postcards geographical vocation. Accompanied by his nephew, they will make many trips by sharing tasks. Throughout the Spanish peninsula, Edward Lucien Roisin Besnard, with his urban experience, is responsible for photographing cities, shooting of the smallest villages and countryside and delegates to his nephew the task to photograph the inhabitants. The niece meanwhile will sell the cards in the family trade.

The beginning of the second war contributes to damage the health of Lucien Roisin Besnard who returns to France where he died in 1943. At his death, his family will continue to hold the stock until the year 1962. The Roisin work almost disappear even going for a short stay on the shelves of a secondhand store, to finally find refuge in the Institute’s archives Photographic Studies of Catalonia (it will not let less than 30,000 negatives, 77,000 photos or 40,000 postcards). The remaining shots is preserved in the National Archives of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

La casa de la postal

“The house of the postcard” was an eminently famous place whose reputation was well established and which featured prominently in all tourist guides. Roisin sold hundreds of thousands of postcards drawn from the photographs taken during his long wanderings through all Spain (Catalonia, Pontemeude, Andalusia, Malaga) and over a period of more than twenty years. Roisin boasted to offer the public a comprehensive view, a complete inventory of sites and places of interest in all the Spanish provinces. The business was a success and at certain times over 10 vendors were recruited to deal with the request of a customer as well as local tourism. In the 1930s, “The postal casa”, always at the cutting edge, inaugurated the sale of products completely innovative as flyers accordions who associated a choice of a dozen postcards and gathering views of the same subject taken from different angles. The counterfeiting phenomenon is not new, and to preserve, Roisin was soon appear on its productions, a stamp that guaranteed its customers about the authenticity of the products they were acquiring. The fame of Roisin was such that when a publication was published concerning Spain in the world, it was almost certain that the photographic credit the photo was derived from “the postal casa”. (Text Google translated from the French Wikipedia)

 

Lilywhite Ltd., (British) 'Bunyan's Door. Elstow Church. Bedford' Nd

 

Lilywhite Ltd., (British)
Bunyan’s Door. Elstow Church. Bedford
Nd
Guaranteed Real Photo and British Manufacture
Post card 28A

 

Unknown maker (British) 'Bunyan's Chair and Prison Door' Nd

 

Unknown maker (British)
Bunyan’s Chair and Prison Door
Nd
Photograph, post card

 

Unknown maker (Italian) 'Milano - Arco della Pace' Nd

 

Unknown maker (Italian)
Milano – Arco della Pace
Nd
Lithograph post card

 

 

Porta Sempione (“Simplon Gate”) is a city gate of Milan, Italy. The name “Porta Sempione” is used both to refer to the gate proper and to the surrounding district (“quartiere”), a part of the Zone 1 division (the historic city centre), including the major avenue of Corso Sempione. The gate is marked by a landmark triumphal arch called Arco della Pace (“Arch of Peace”), dating back to the 19th century, but its origins can be traced back to a gate of the Roman walls of Milan.

The Arch of Peace is a monument neoclassical Milan, located in the center of the large area of Piazza Sempione. It was started in 1807 by Luigi Cagnola under the pressure of the town of Milan and of Napoleon. It was completed in 1838. The bronze chariot of Peace is by Abbondio Sangiorgio (1798-1879), the four wins equestrian bronze were made on the model of John Putti (1771-1847) while the marble sculptures are works of most representative neoclassical sculptors present in Milan in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, many of whom trained at the school of Camillo Pacetti (1758-1826); among these, we note the statues of History and Poetry of Louis Purchasing.

 

F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate (British, 1959 - 1970) 'Windsor Castle, Long Walk, Copper Horse' Nd

 

F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate (British, 1959 – 1970)
Windsor Castle, Long Walk, Copper Horse
Nd
Frith’s series
Lithograph postcard

 

The R. A. (Postcards) Ltd., (British) 'The Guildhall, Worcester' Nd

 

The R. A. (Postcards) Ltd., (British)
The Guildhall, Worcester
Nd
The Seal of Excellence Series
This is a Real Photograph
Photograph, post card

 

Nels (Belgium, 1898 - ) 'S. A. des Grottes de Han-sur-Lesse et de Rochefort - Le Trophée [Caves of Han-sur-Lesse and Rochefort - The Trophy]' Nd

 

Nels (Belgium, 1898 – )
S. A. des Grottes de Han-sur-Lesse et de Rochefort – Le Trophée
[Caves of Han-sur-Lesse and Rochefort – The Trophy]

Nd
Lithograph post card

 

This publishing house was founded by Edward Nels in 1898. Their goal was to spread geographic knowledge while producing maps, guide books, and photographic and printed souvenirs. They soon became the largest producer of postcards in Belgium, and they also published many cards of the Congo and of Luxembourg. Though they produced a variety of card types, most were as collotypes, many of which were hand colored in a dull pallet. Ernest Thill, who had ben the manager of the firm took over from Nels in 1913 and added his name to the company. In the 1960’s to 1975 they were purchased by a French firm, but they are now publishing postcards under their own name again, though for the most part they are now printed in Italy.

 

L. Caron (French, editor) B & G, Lyon (Publisher) 'Amiens - Cathedral' Nd

 

L. Caron (French, editor)
B & G, Lyon (Publisher)
Amiens – Cathedral
Amiens et les environs – Cathédrale dans sous ses détails – Eglises et Châteaux de Picardie
[Amiens and surrounding area – Cathedral detail – Churches and castles of Picardie]
Nd
3000 Vues éditées par L. Caron, photo, a Amiens
3000 views edited by L. Caron, photo, in Amiens
Lithograph post card

 

The Cairo Postcard Trust (Joseph Max Lichtenstern, Egypt) 'Heliopolis - Monument of the first Aviateur (Oseri)' c. 1910

 

The Cairo Postcard Trust (Joseph Max Lichtenstern, Egypt)
Heliopolis – Monument of the first Aviateur (Oseri)
c. 1910
Serie 634
Lithograph post card

 

Joseph Max Lichtenstern moved to Egypt from Vienna in 1893 and took up permanent residence there in 1897. In 1899 he began publishing postcards under the name, Cairo Postcard Trust, but also issued black & white postcards under his own name. Two years later he teamed up with David Harari to form an importing business. They would also take up the publishing of postcards. Between 1904 and 1908 they seem to have taken on another partner, changing their name to Lichtenstern, Harari & Co., but they continued to use their original name, Lichtenstern & Harari on postcards. After Harari left in 1912 the firm was sold to Max H. Rudman, who had been a publisher from at least 1905. Lichtenstern continued to have some business dealings with Rudman, but after he returned to Vienna in 1914 for a visit, he ended up serving in the Austrian Army for the duration of World War One. There was a continuing relationship between this firm and the Cairo Postcard Trust but the specifics are uncertain.

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, West End' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, West End' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, West End (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series A
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons was a business started by Raphael Tuck and his wife in Bishopsgate in the City of London on October 1866, selling pictures and greeting cards, and eventually selling postcards, the latter being the most successful. Their business was one of the most well known in the ‘postcard boom’ of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Their contributions left a lasting effect on most of the artistic world. During The Blitz, the company headquarters, Raphael House, was destroyed including the originals for most of their series. The company never fully recovered.

Raphael was married to the former Ernestine Lissner in March 1848. She gave birth to seven children, four boys and three girls, all born in Prussia prior to their migration to England. As the family of seven children grew, the children provided more help to the business. Raphael sent out his sons, Herman, Adolph and Gustave to bring in more business. Herman and Adolph also went on selling trips, and at the end of the day they would check the results of the day’s work. The one with the higher sales would have the bigger egg next morning for breakfast. Three of the four sons participated in the firm established by their father. Their second son, Adolph, was chairman and managing director of Raphael Tuck and Sons, Ltd. until his death on 3 July 1926…

Raphael had received training in graphic arts in his home country; and, although he was not an artist himself, he had a flair for commercial art that prompted his interest in this new field. Upon coming to England, he caught the imagination of the public in such a way that he was able to create a new graphic arts business. He was so successful at it that, according to the The Times, he “opened up a new field of labor for artists, lithographers, engravers, printers, ink and paste board makers, and several other trade classes.”

Tuck’s continued to run very successful postcard competitions through the early 1900s with the focus changing to collectors of Tuck postcards rather than the artists whose work was depicted. The top part of the 1903 Tuck Exchange Register pictured above announces the second of Tuck’s prize competitions which began in 1900. The prize competitions aroused much interest. The first contest winner turned in a collection of 20, 364 cards over the 18-month duration of the contest. The second prize competition winner submitted 25, 239 cards. In 1914 the fourth prize competition was announced. The competitions were a novel and effective marketing technique. (Text from Wikipedia)

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, The Font' (front and verso) Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, The Font' (front and verso) Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, The Font (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series B
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, South East corner of Nave' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, South East corner of Nave' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, South East corner of Nave (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series B
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, The Pulpit' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, The Pulpit' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, The Pulpit (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series A
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, Roberts & Kitchener Memorials' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, Roberts & Kitchener Memorials' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, Roberts & Kitchener Memorials (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series B, South West Corner
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, Nave Mosaics' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, Nave Mosaics' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, Nave Mosaics (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series A
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, Credence Table and Pissina' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, Credence Table and Pissina' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, Credence Table and Pissina (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series A
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, S. E. Wall of Sanctuary' Nd

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, S. E. Wall of Sanctuary' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, S. E. Wall of Sanctuary (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series A
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British) 'The Guard's Chapel, The East End' Nd

 

Raphael Tuck & Sons (British)
The Guard’s Chapel, The East End (front and verso)
Nd
The Guard’s Chapel Series A
Tuck’s Post Card
Art publishers to their majesties the King and Queen and to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
Carte Postale
Photogravure Postcard

 

 

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14
Jun
15

Exhibition: ‘Gordon Parks: Segregation Story’ at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Exhibition dates: 15th November 2014 – 21st June 2015

 

The more I see of this man’s work, the more I admire it.

A sense of history, truth and injustice; a sense of beauty, colour and disenfranchisement; above all, a sense of composition and knowing the right time to take a photograph to tell the story. It’s all there, right in front of us, in almost every photograph. Photographs of institutionalised racism and the American apartheid, “the state of being apart”, laid bare for all to see.

From the languid curl and mass of the red sofa on which Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama (1956) sit, which makes them seem very small and which forms the horizontal plane, intersected by the three generations of family photos from top to bottom – youth, age, family … to the blank stare of the nanny holding the white child while the mother looks on in Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia (1956). I love the amorphous mass of black at the right hand side of the this image. From the neon delightful, downward pointing arrow of ‘Colored Entrance’ in Department Store, Mobile, Alabama (1956) to the ‘WHITE ONLY’ obelisk in At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama (1956). And so the story flows on like some great river, unstoppable, unquenchable…

But then we have two of the most intimate moments of beauty that brings me to tears as I write this, the two photographs at the bottom of the posting Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama (1956). Just look at the light that Parks uses, this drawing with light. And then the use of depth of field, colour, composition (horizontal, vertical and diagonal elements) that leads the eye into these images and the utter, what can you say, engagement – no – quiescent knowingness on the children’s faces (like an old soul in a young body). This is a wondrous thing.

Notice how the photographer has pre-exposed the sheet of film so that the highlights in both images do not blow out. Pre-exposing the film lessens the contrast range allowing shadow detail and highlight areas to be held in balance. Also notice how in both images the photographer lets the eye settle in the centre of the image – in the photograph of the boy, the out of focus stairs in the distance; in the photograph of the three girls, the bonnet of the red car – before he then pulls our gaze back and to the right of the image to let the viewer focus on the faces of his subjects. In both photographs we have vertical elements (a door jam and a telegraph post) coming out of the red colours in the images and this vertically is reinforced in the image of the three girls by the rising ladder of the back of the chair. Masterful image making, this push and pull, this bravura art of creation.

Surely, Gordon Parks ranks up there with the greatest photographers of the 20th century.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to the High Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Many thanx also to Carlos Eguiguren for sending me his portrait of Gordon Parks taken in New York in 1985, which reveals a wonderful vulnerability within the artist.

 

 

Carlos Eguiguren. 'Gordon Parks, New York' 1985

 

Carlos Eguiguren
Gordon Parks, New York
1985
4 x 5 transparency film
© Carlos Eguiguren

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

This portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton Sr., aged 82 and 70, served as the opening image of Parks’s photo essay. The well-dressed couple stares directly into the camera, asserting their status as patriarch and matriarch of their extensive Southern family. Photography is featured prominently within the image: a framed portrait, made shortly after the couple was married in 1906, hangs on the wall behind them, while family snapshots, including some of the Thorntons’ nine children and nineteen grandchildren, are proudly displayed on the coffee table in the foreground.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia
1956
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Department Store, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Department Store, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Joanne Wilson, one of the Thorntons’ daughters, is shown standing with her niece in front of a department store in downtown Mobile. The pair is impeccably dressed in light, summery frocks. The jarring neon of the “Colored Entrance” sign looming above them clashes with the two young women’s elegant appearance, transforming a casual afternoon outing into an example of overt discrimination. Notice the fallen strap of Wilson’s slip. Though this detail might appear discordant with the rest of the picture, its inclusion may have been strategic: it allowed Parks to emphasize the humanity of his subjects.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

A group of children peers across a chain-link fence into a whites-only playground with a Ferris wheel. Although they had access to a “separate but equal” recreational area in their own neighborhood, this photograph captures the allure of this other, inaccessible space. The children, likely innocent to the cruel implications of their exclusion, longingly reach their hands out to the mysterious and forbidden arena beyond. The pristinely manicured lawn on the other side of the fence contrasts with the overgrowth of weeds in the foreground, suggesting the persistent reality of racial inequality.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

The Jim Crow laws established in the South ensured that public amenities remained racially segregated. These laws applied to schools, public transportation, restaurants, recreational facilities, and even drinking fountains, as shown here. The photograph documents the prevalence of such prejudice, while at the same time capturing a scene of compassion. Here, a gentleman helps one of the young girls reach the fountain to have a refreshing drink of water.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-Shopping, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-Shopping, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

“RARE PHOTOS BY GORDON PARKS PREMIERE AT HIGH MUSEUM OF ART

Featuring works created for Parks’ powerful 1956 Life magazine photo essay that have never been publicly exhibited.

The High Museum of Art presents rarely seen photographs by trailblazing African American artist and filmmaker Gordon Parks in Gordon Parks: Segregation Story on view November 15, 2014 through June 21, 2015.

The exhibition, presented in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation, features more than 40 of Parks’ color prints – most on view for the first time – created for a powerful and influential 1950s Life magazine article documenting the lives of an extended African-American family in segregated Alabama. The series represents one of Parks’ earliest social documentary studies on color film. The High will acquire 12 of the color prints featured in the exhibition, supplementing the two Parks works – both gelatin silver prints – already owned by the High. These works augment the Museum’s extensive collection of Civil Rights era photography, one of the most significant in the nation.

Following the publication of the Life article, many of the photos Parks shot for the essay were stored away and presumed lost for more than 50 years until they were rediscovered in 2012 (six years after Parks’ death). Though a small selection of these images has been previously exhibited, the High’s presentation brings to light a significant number that have never before been displayed publicly. As the first African-American photographer for Life magazine, Parks published some of the 20th century’s most iconic social justice-themed photo essays and became widely celebrated for his black-and-white photography, the dominant medium of his era. The photographs that Parks created for Life’s 1956 photo essay The Restraints: Open and Hidden are remarkable for their vibrant color and their intimate exploration of shared human experience.

The images provide a unique perspective on one of America’s most controversial periods. Rather than capturing momentous scenes of the struggle for civil rights, Parks portrayed a family going about daily life in unjust circumstances. Parks believed empathy to be vital to the undoing of racial prejudice. His corresponding approach to the Life project eschewed the journalistic norms of the day and represented an important chapter in Parks’ career-long endeavor to use the camera as his “weapon of choice” for social change. The Restraints: Open and Hidden gave Parks his first national platform to challenge segregation. The images he created offered a deeper look at life in the Jim Crow South, transcending stereotypes to reveal a common humanity.

“Parks’ images brought the segregated South to the public consciousness in a very poignant way – not only in color, but also through the eyes of one of the century’s most influential documentarians,” said Brett Abbott, exhibition curator and Keough Family curator of photography and head of collections at the High. “To present these works in Atlanta, one of the centers of the Civil Rights Movement, is a rare and exciting opportunity for the High. It is also a privilege to add Parks’ images to our collection, which will allow the High to share his unique perspective with generations of visitors to come.”
.

A Day in the Life

For The Restraints: Open and Hidden, Parks focused on the everyday activities of the related Thornton, Causey and Tanner families in and near Mobile, Ala. The images present scenes of Sunday church services, family gatherings, farm work, domestic duties, child’s play, window shopping and at-home haircuts – all in the context of the restraints of the Jim Crow South.

Key images in the exhibition include:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile Alabama (1956)
  • Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama (1956)
  • Department Store, Mobile Alabama (1956)
  • Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia (1956)
  • Willie Causey, Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama, Shady Grove, Alabama (1956)
    .

About Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas. He grew up poor and faced racial discrimination. Parks was initially drawn to photography as a young man after seeing images of migrant workers published in a magazine, which made him realize photography’s potential to alter perspective. Parks became a self-taught photographer after purchasing his first camera at a pawnshop, and he honed his skills during a stint as a society and fashion photographer in Chicago. After earning a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for his gritty photographs of that city’s South Side, the Farm Security Administration hired Parks in the early 1940s to document the current social conditions of the nation.

By 1944, Parks was the only black photographer working for Vogue, and he joined Life magazine in 1948 as the first African-American staff photographer. In 1970, Parks co-founded Essence magazine and served as the editorial director for the first three years of its publication. Parks later became Hollywood’s first major black director when he released the film adaptation of his autobiographical novel The Learning Tree, for which he also composed the musical score, however he is best known as the director of the 1971 hit movie Shaft. Parks received the National Medal of Arts in 1988 and received more than 50 honorary doctorates over the course of his career. He died in 2006.
.

About The Gordon Parks Foundation

The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks, makes it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.” The Foundation is a division of The Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.”

Press release from the High Museum of Art

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Store Front, Mobile Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Store Front, Mobile Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Willie Causey, Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Willie Causey, Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Black Classroom, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Black Classroom, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Although this photograph was taken in the 1950s, the wood-paneled interior, with a wood-burning stove at its center, is reminiscent of an earlier time. Parks’s photograph of the segregated schoolhouse, here emptied of its students, evokes both the poetic and prosaic: springtime sunlight streams through the missing slats on the doors, while scraps of paper, rope, and other detritus litter the uneven floorboards. One of the Thorntons’ daughters, Allie Lee Causey, taught elementary-grade students in this dilapidated, four-room structure. After Parks’s article was published in Life, Mrs. Causey, who was quoted speaking out against segregation, was suspended from her job. She never held a teaching position again.

 

 

High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree Street,
N.E. Atlanta, GA 30309

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Sunday – 12 noon – 5 pm

High Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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