Posts Tagged ‘silver gelatin photograph

20
Jun
13

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: South Yarra and surrounds, 1994

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I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan but can be used freely anywhere with the proper acknowledgement. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

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*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Stained glass, cracked' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Stained glass, cracked
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'White door 1' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
White door 1
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Damien, 1994' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Damien, 1994
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Night repair' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Night repair
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Jerry holding a brush, South Yarra' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Jerry holding a brush, South Yarra
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Jerry behind safety screen, Punt Road, South Yarra' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Jerry behind safety screen, Punt Road, South Yarra
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Presence' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Presence
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Nautilus shell in cup' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Nautilus shell in cup
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Jerry with shaved head' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Jerry with shaved head
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Undergrowth' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Undergrowth
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'White door 2' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
White door 2
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Damien sitting outside his flat, South Yarra, 1994' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Damien sitting outside his flat, South Yarra, 1994
1994
Silver gelatin photograph
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Marcus Bunyan. 'Trees, capstone, shadows' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Trees, capstone, shadows
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Damien with snake' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Damien with snake
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Glass bird, Punt Road, South Yarra' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Glass bird, Punt Road, South Yarra
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Easter Sunday' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Easter Sunday
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Capstone, night, Windsor train station' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Capstone, night, Windsor train station
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Paul, cock on anvil' 1994

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Marcus Bunyan
Paul, cock on anvil
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

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12
Apr
13

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: Ignudi, 1994

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*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY- IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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This series of photographs is a reconceptualisation of Michelangelo’s Ignudi from the Sistine Chapel. The Ignudi (singular: ignudo, from the Italian adjective nudo, meaning “naked”) are the 20 athletic, nude male figures that Michelangelo painted at the four corners of the five smaller scenes of Creation. Recontextualising the figures implicitly fetches elements from other texts, the meaning of the male body based on its meaning in other contexts and ages (beauty, desire, homoeroticism, nudity, power of the body/phallus), realising a continual unfolding of texts, discourses and conversations in a field of production.

These prints are incredibly rare. There are probably 3 vintage photographs on fibre-base paper of each image at 12″ x 16″ size.

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I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan but can be used freely anywhere with the proper acknowledgement. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan. 'The Lovers (Major Arcana)' 1994 from the series 'Ignudi'

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Marcus Bunyan
The Lovers (Major Arcana)
1994
From the series Ignudi
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

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14
Nov
12

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: Circumnavigation, 1992/4

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*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE SEXUAL NUDITY- IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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The titles from this period tend to be poetic, pragmatic or composed, like Japanese haiku. The photographs are a mixture of personal narrative and universal archetype, hence the affinity to Frederick Sommer’s incantation: ‘Circumnavigation of the blood is always Circumnavigation of the world’.

I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan but can be used freely anywhere with the proper acknowledgement. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

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Marcus Bunyan
Doll on chair
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Paul on the balcony, Mcilwrick Street, Windsor
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Paul resting
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Marcus holding his cock
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Post with finial, tree
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
People who live
in glass houses
shouldn’t throw stars
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Paul, Windsor and the city
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Self portrait with punk jacket and flanny
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Release
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Circumnavigation of the blood is always Circumnavigation of the world (for Frederick Sommer)
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Release (cock, hands, cum)
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Madonna and child, skull
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

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20
Oct
12

Review: ‘Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th September – 11th November 2012

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Installation photographs of the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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Details of one of Gregory Crewdson’s works from the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

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“The American middle-class nightmare: nothing is clean, orderly, idyllic, or romantic. In his perfectly staged, hyperrealistic tableaux, photographer Gregory Crewdson reveals the claustrophobic limbo and abyss of spiritual repression that is the typical suburb. Here, hushed-up violence, alienation, isolation, and emptiness are nothing new or unfamiliar, but rather part of the everyday neighbourhood experience.”

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Gregory Crewdson, In a Lonely Place, Abrams Publishing, New York, 2011

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“I have always been fascinated by the poetic condition of twilight. By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something magical and otherworldly. My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me.”

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Gregory Crewdson

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Downfall of a dream: (n)framing the enigma in Gregory Crewdson’s
Beneath the Roses

After the excoriating, unreasonably subjective diatribe by Robert Nelson in The Age newspaper (“Unreal stills, unmoving images” Wednesday October 17 2012) I hope this piece of writing will offer greater insight into the work of this internationally renowned artist. With some reservations, I like Crewsdon’s work, I like it a lot – as do the crowds of people flocking to the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy to see the exhibition. Never have I seen so many people at the CCP looking at contemporary photography before and that can only be a good thing.

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. The early series Fireflies are small silver gelatin photographs that capture “the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night.” These are minor works that fail to transcend the ephemeral nature of photography, fail to light the imagination of the viewer when looking at these scenes of dusky desire and discontinuous lives. The series of beautiful photographs titled Sanctuary (2010) evidence the “ruin of the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini.” Wonderful photographs of doorways, temples, dilapidated stage sets with excellent use of soft miasmic light creating an atmosphere of de/generation (as though a half-remembered version of Rome had passed down through the generations) interfaced with contemporary Rome as backdrop. The digital prints show no strong specular highlights, no deep blacks but a series of transmutable grey and mid tones that add to the overall feeling of romantic ruin. It is a pity that these photographs are not printed as silver gelatin photographs, for they would have had much more depth of feeling than they presently possess. They just feel a little “thin” to me to sustain the weight of atmosphere required of them.

But it is the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) that has made Crewdson truly famous. Shot using a large format camera, Crewdson makes large-scale photographs of elaborate and meticulously staged tableaux, which have been described as “micro-epics” that probe the dark corners of the psyche. Working in the manner of a film director, he leads a production crew, which includes a director of photography, special effects and lighting teams, casting director and actors. He typically makes several exposures that he later digitally combines to produce the final image. Photographs in the series of “brief encounters” include external dioramas (shot in a down at heel Western Massachusetts town), where Crewdson shuts down streets and lights the whole scene; to interior dialogues where houses are built on sound stages and the artist can control every detail of the production. Influences on these works include, but are not limited to:

David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo), Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters), the paintings of Edward Hopper, Diane Arbus (the detritus of her photographic interiors), film noir, psychoanalysis, American suburbia, the American dream, the photographs of Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and surrealism. Concepts that you could link to the work include loneliness, alienation, apathy, resignation, mystery, contemplation and confusion, identity, desire, memory and imagination.

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Now to the nuts and bolts of the matter.

Another major influence that I will add is that of the great Italian director Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita – The Sweet Life) who shot most of that film on the sets at Cinecittà studios in Rome. It is perhaps no coincidence that Crewdson, on his first overseas film shoot, shot the series Sanctuary at the very same location. Crewdson’s photographs in the series Beneath the Roses are an American form of  “The Sweet Life.” In 1961, the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther praised Fellini’s “brilliantly graphic estimation of a whole swath of society in sad decay and, eventually, a withering commentary on the tragedy of the over-civilized… Fellini is nothing if not fertile, fierce and urbane in calculating the social scene around him and packing it onto the screen. He has an uncanny eye for finding the offbeat and grotesque incident, the gross and bizarre occurrence that exposes a glaring irony. He has, too, a splendid sense of balance and a deliciously sardonic wit that not only guided his cameras but also affected the writing of the script. In sum, it is an awesome picture, licentious in content but moral and vastly sophisticated in its attitude and what it says.”1 The same could equally be said of the Crewdson and his masterpieces in Beneath the Roses. Crewdson is in love with Fellini’s gesture – of the uplifting of the characters and their simultaneous descent into “sweet” hedonism, debauchery and decadence using the metaphor of downfall (downfall links each scene in La Dolce Vita, that of a “downward spiral that Marcello sets in motion when descending the first of several staircases (including ladders) that open and close each major episode.”)2 Crewdson’s “spectacular apocalypses of social enervation”3 mimic Fellini’s gestural flourishes becoming Crewdson’s theme of America’s downfall, America as a moral wasteland. Crewdson’s is “an aesthetic of disparity” that builds up a cumulative impression on the viewer that finds resolution in an “overpowering sense of the disparity between what life has been or could be, and what it actually is.”4

Crewdson’s cinematic encounters are vast and pin sharp when seen in the flesh. No reproduction on the web can do their physical presence justice; it is the details that delight in these productions. You have to get up close and personal with the work. His dystopic landscapes are not narratives as such, not stills taken from a movie (for that implies an ongoing story) but open-ended constructions that allow the viewer to imagine the story for themselves. They do not so much evoke a narrative as invite the viewer to create one for themselves – they are an “invitation” to a narrative, one that explores the anxiety of the (American) imagination, an invitation to empathise with the dramas at play within contemporary environments. For me, Crewdson’s extra ordinary photographs are a form of enigma (a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation), the picture as master puzzle (where all the pieces fit perfectly together in stillness) that contains a riddle or hidden meaning. Clues to this reading can be found in one of the photographs from the series (Blue Period, see detail image, above) where Crewdson deliberately leaves the door of a bedside cupboard open to reveal a “Perfect PICTURE PUZZLE” box inside. The viewer has to really look into the image and understand the significance of this artefact.

Another reading that I have formulated is of the transience of space and time within Crewdson’s series. In the disquieting, anonymous townscapes people look out from their porches (or the verandas are lit and empty), they abandon their cars or walk down desolate streets hardly ever looking directly out at the viewer. The photographs become sites of mystery and wonder hardly anchored (still precisely anchored?) in time and space. This disparity is emphasised in the interior dialogues. The viewer (exterior) looks at a framed doorway or window (exterior) looking into an scene (interior) where the walls are usually covered with floral wallpaper (interior / exterior) upon which hangs a framed image of a Monet-like landscape (exterior) (see detail image, above). Exterior, exterior, interior, interior / exterior, exterior. The trees of the landscape invade the home but are framed; exterior/framed, interior/mind. There is something mysterious going on here, some reflection of an inner state of mind.

In his visual mosaics Crewdson engages our relationship with time and space to challenge the trace of experience. His tableaux act as a kind of threshold or hinge of experience – between interior and exterior, viewer and photograph. His photographs are a form of monism in which two forces (interior / exterior) try to absorb each other but ultimately lead to a state of equilibrium. It is through this “play” that the context of the photographs and their relationship to each other and the viewer are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic as much as information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the body, the world of which it is part and the dream-reason of time.5 This intertextual (n)framing (n meaning unspecified number in mathematics) encourages the viewer to explore the inbetween spaces in the non-narrative / meta-narrative,”and by leaps (intuitive leaps, poetic leaps, leaps of faith)”6 encourage escapism in the imagination of the viewer. It is up to us as viewers to seek the multiple, disparate significances of what is concealed in each photograph as “felt knowledge” (Walter Benjamin), recalling to mind the sensory data placed before our eyes, something that can be experienced but cannot be explained by man: “the single moment of the present amidst the transience of life and searching for some kind of eternal truth.”7

Finally, in a more adverse reading of the photographs from the series Beneath the Roses, I must acknowledge the physically (not mentally) static nature of the images where every detail of the mise-en-scène is fully articulated and locked down: from the perfect trickle of blood running from the woman’s vagina in Blue Period, to the reflections in mirrors, the detritus of living scattered on the bedroom floor, the dirty telephone, packed suitcases and keys in locks to the desolate looks of the participants that never engage with the viewer. Despite allusions of despair, in their efficacy (their static and certain world order), there is no real chthonic madness here, no real messiness of the capture of death, murder and the wastage of human life (famine, AIDS, cancer or the blood running over the pavement in one of Weegee’s murder scenes for example). This is Fellini’s gross and bizarre LITE. Americurbana “is being addressed with the same reserve and elegance that ensures that the institution – artistic, political, what you will – is upheld and never threatened. It is pre-eminently legible, it elicits guilt but not so much as to cause offence.”8 I must also acknowledge the male-orientated viewpoint of the photographs, where men are seated, clothed, lazy or absent and all too often women are doing the washing or cooking, are naked and vulnerable. In their portrayal of (usually) half dressed or naked females the photographs evidence a particularly male view of the world, one that his little empathy or understanding of how a female actually lives in the world. For me this portrait of the feminine simply does not work. The male photographer maintains control (and power) by remaining resolutely (in)visible.

Overall this is a outstanding exhibition that thoroughly deserves that accolades it is receiving. Sitting in the gallery space for an hour and a half and soaking up the atmosphere of these magnificent works has been for me one of the art experiences of 2012. Make sure that you do not miss these mesmerising prophecies.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to the artist, Gagosian Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Photography for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Special thankx to Director of the CCP Naomi Cass and Ms. James McKee from Gagosian Gallery for facilitating the availability of the media images. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

All photographs © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Installation and detail photographs Dr Marcus Bunyan

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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“In a Lonely Place presents selections from three major series by Gregory Crewdson, Fireflies (1996), Beneath the Roses (2003-2008), Sanctuary (2010) and, presented for the first time, the video Field Notes (2009). The exhibition title comes from Nicholas Ray’s 1950s film noir of the same name, one of many films that inspired Crewdson. In a Lonely Place is evocative of an underlying mood-a quiet feeling of alienation and loneliness that links the three series selected by curators Estelle Af Malmborg, Jens Erdman Rasmussen and Felix Hoffmann. In a Lonely Place presents the first comprehensive exhibition of Crewdson’s work in Australia.

In Beneath the Roses, anonymous townscapes, forest clearings and broad, desolate streets are revealed as sites of mystery and wonder; similarly, ostensibly banal interiors become the staging grounds for strange human scenarios. Crewdson’s scenes are tangibly atmospheric: visually alluring and often deeply disquieting. Never anchored precisely in time or place, these and the other narratives of Beneath the Roses are located in the dystopic landscape of the anxious American imagination. Crewdson explores the American psyche and the dramas at play within quotidian environments.

In his most recent series, Sanctuary (2010), Crewdson has taken a new direction, shooting for the first time outside the US. During a trip to Rome, he visited the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini. Crewdson discovered fragments of a past glory, with occasional unexpected views of the surrounding contemporary Roman suburbia. Cinecittà is a lonely place deserted by the film crews who once used the site to recreate settings of ancient Rome, medieval Italy and nineteenth-century New York.

In the intimate photographs of Fireflies, Crewdson portrays the mating ritual of fireflies at dusk, capturing the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night. Unlike the theatrical scale of the Beneath the Roses and Sanctuary series, Fireflies is a quiet meditation on the nature of light and desire, as the images reflect not only upon the fleeting movements of the insects in their intricate mating ritual, but upon the notion of photography itself, in capturing a single ephemeral moment.

Gregory Crewdson received a BA from the State University of New York, Purchase, New York in 1985 and an MFA in Photography from Yale School of Art, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut in 1988. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. He is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at the Yale School of Art, Yale University. Gregory Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery and White Cube Gallery.”

Press release from the Gagosian Gallery website

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Installation photographs the series Sanctuary (2010) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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1. Crowther’s review first published in The New York Times, April 20, 1961. In Fava and Vigano, 105 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

2. Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

3. Sultanik, Aaron. Film, a Modern Art. Cranbury, N.J: Cornwall Books, 1986, p.408

4. Richardson, Robert. “Waste Lands: The Breakdown of Order,” in Bondanella (ed.), Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism, p.111 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

5. Bacon, Julie Louise. “Liquid Archive: On Ambivalence,” in Liquid Archive. Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), 2012, p.119

6. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. “The Museum – A Refuge for Utopian Thought,” in Rüsen, Jörn; Fehr Michael, and Ramsbrock, Annelie (eds.). Die Unruhe der Kultur: Potentiale des Utopischen. Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2004. In German.

7. Kataoka, Mami commenting on the work of Allan Kaprow. “Transient Encounters,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p.174

8. Geczy, Adam. “A dish served lukewarm,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p.177

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Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
T: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Sunday, 1pm – 5pm

Gagosian Gallery website

Centre for Contemporary Photography website

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21
Sep
12

Exhibition: ‘Eva Besnyö 1910-2003: The Sensuous Image’ at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 22nd May – 23rd September 2012

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“Ranging from the experimental to the photojournalistic, from street scenes to portraits, and from new architecture to the aftermath of the aerial bombardment of Rotterdam, July 1940, Besnyö explored the different terrains that photography was opening up, while at the same time helping to define them. The various bodies of work make it difficult to characterize her… she seems to have no signature body of work, which is one of her abiding strengths. Just when you think you have gotten some sense of her, she slips through your fingers.”

John Yau. “Something Special About Her, Eva Besnyö at the Jeu de Paume” on the Hyperallergic website, July 8th 2012

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Eva Besnyö
Self Portrait
1932
Silver gelatin photograph
Private Collection, Berlin
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Self Portrait
Nd
Silver gelatin photograph
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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One of the purposes of this blog is to bring relatively unknown artists into the spotlight. Eva Besnyö is one such artist. Leaving the repressive atmosphere of Hungary in 1930, Besnyö joined László Moholy-Nagy, Martin Munkácsi, György Kepes and Endre Friedmann (Robert Capa) in Berlin before, sensing the danger of National Socialism, she moved to the Netherlands in 1932. After the invasion of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany in 1940 Besnyö survived four long years in hiding before obtaining false papers in 1944 that allowed her to emerge into the open. She was Jewish.

Exploring elements of the New Vision and New Objectivity in her work, Besnyö explored “the different terrains that photography was opening up” through various bodies of work: “ranging from experimental to the photojournalistic, from street scenes to portraits, and from new architecture to the aftermath of the aerial bombardment of Rotterdam.” As John Yau observes in the quote at the top of the posting, “The various bodies of work make it difficult to characterize her… she seems to have no signature body of work, which is one of her abiding strengths. Just when you think you have gotten some sense of her, she slips through your fingers.”

Continuing the conversation from my recent review of the work of Pat Brassington (where I noted that curators and collectors alike try to pigeon hole artists into one particular style, mainly so that they can compartmentalise and order the work that they produce: such and such produces this kind of work – and that the work produced in this style is not necessarily their best), Besnyö can be seen to be a transmogrifying artist, one that experimented and investigated the same themes through different subject matter – hence no signature body of work. One of my friends observed that this kind of art making could be mistaken for a strange form of nihilism (in which nothing in the world has a real existence). It could be argued that the artist keeps changing subject matter, just dabbling really, pleasing herself with the images that she took, without committing to a particular style. Without seeing the 120 vintage prints it is hard to make a judgement.

From the work posted here it would seem that for Besnyö, observation and exploration of the lines of sight of life were the most critical guide to her art. In other words her shifting viewpoints create a multi-dimensional narrative that coalesces in a holistic journey that challenges our point of view in a changing world. As Victor Burgin notes in Thinking Photography, “The structure of presentation – point-of-view and frame – is intimately implicated in the reproduction of ideology (the ‘frame of mind’ of our ‘points-of-view’)” (1982, pp.146). The frame of mind of our points of view…. this is what Eva’s work challenges, the reproduction of our own ideology. Her morphology (the philosophical study of forms and structures) challenges the cameras and our own point of view. As Paul Virilio observes,

“In calling his first photographs of his surroundings ‘points of view’, around 1820, their inventor, Nicéphore Nièpce came as close as possible to Littré’s rigorous definition: ‘The point of view is a collection of objects to which the eye is directed and on which it rests within a certain distance.'” (Virilio, Paul. The Vision Machine (trans. Julie Rose). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, p.19.)

Besnyö changes the collection of objects to which the eye is directed as she also changes the distance and feeling of the objects upon which the eye rests. Notice how in most of the photographs the human subjects all have their back to the camera or are looking away from the instrument of objectification (or looking down into it). Even in the two self portraits Besnyö – formal in one with bobbed hair and skirt, wild in the other with a shock of tousled hair – she avoids the gaze of the camera. Like most of her subjects she remains hard to pin down. What Besnyö does so well (and why she isn’t just pleasing herself) is to construct a mythology of the city, a mythology of life which resonates through the ages. She creates a visual acoustics (if you like), a vibration of being that is commensurate with an understanding of the vulnerability of existence.

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

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [boy with a violoncello, Balaton, Hungary]
1931
Silver gelatin photograph
29.4 x 24.3 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Gypsies
1931
Silver gelatin photograph
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Der Monteur am Ladenfenster
Berlin, 1931
Silver gelatin photograph
20.1 x 17.7 cm
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam.
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Starnberger Straße
Berlin, 1931
Silver gelatin photograph
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [Shadow play]
Hungary 1931
Silver gelatin photograph
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [dockers on the Spree]
Berlin, 1931
Silver gelatin photograph
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [Vertigo #3]
Nd
Silver gelatin photograph
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö (1910–2003) is one of those women who found in photography not just a profession but also a form of liberation, and of those cosmopolitan avant-garde artists who chose Europe as their playing field for both play and work. Immediately after her photographic training in the studio of József Pécsi in Budapest, Eva Besnyö left the repressive, antiprogressive environment of her native Hungary for ever. Then aged 20, she decided, like her compatriots László Moholy-Nagy, Martin Munkácsi, György Kepes and Endre Friedmann (Robert Capa), to go to Berlin. As soon as she arrived in autumn 1930, she discovered there a dynamic photographic scene, open to experimentation and placed under the double sign of the New Vision and the New Objectivity, whose modern language would allow her to develop her personal style.

Of Jewish origins, Eva Besnyö, who foresaw the threat of National Socialism, moved to the Netherlands in 1932 where she met again her companion the film director John Fernhout. There she was welcomed into the circle of international artists around the painter Charley Toorop, and rapidly became known in Amsterdam, where she had her own photographic studio. A solo exhibition at the Kunstzaal van Lier in 1933 gained the attention notably of the Dutch followers of the “Neues Bauen” (New Building), whose architecture she recorded, in a highly personal manner, over a long period. The invasion of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany in 1940 marked a dramatic turning point in Eva Besnyö’s life. If she managed to come out of hiding in 1944, thanks to an invented genealogy, the traces of this experience would remain acute throughout the postwar decades. During the 1950s and 60s, her family life led her to abandon street photography for commissions. Finally, in the twilight of her career, the photographer militated in the Dolle Mina feminist movement, whose street actions she chronicled in the 1970s.

With more than 120 vintage prints, some modern prints and numerous documents, this first French retrospective devoted to Eva Besnyö aims to show the public the different facets of her work, which is situated between New Vision, New Objectivity and social documentary, at the crossroads between poetry and political activism.

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With other eyes

In 1929, during her second year of apprenticeship to József Pécsi, portrait and advertising photograper in Budapest, Eva Besnyö received the book of photographs Die Welt ist schön (The World is Beautiful), published a few months earlier in Munich. Its author, Albert Renger-Patzsch, is the precursor of New Objectivity in photography. While pictorialism reigned in Hungary, Eva Besnyö discovered the world with other eyes: from up close and under unexpected angles. With these new models in mind and her Rolleiflex in hand, she strode along the banks of the Danube in search of subjects and daring viewpoints, showing concern for a precise, close-up description of the most diverse objects, as well as a taste for fragmentation and for the repetition of the motif in the frame.

As soon as she finished her studies, Eva Besnyö went to Berlin on the advice of the painter and photographer György Kepes – and against the wishes of her father who would have preferred that she chose Paris. The Berlin years, between 1930 and 1932, were for her those of a political and aesthetic awakening. Besides the influence of the revolutionary aesthetic of Russian cinema, she came under that of the New Vision, which took off with László Moholy-Nagy and his book Painting Photography Film (1925), using a whole stylistic grammar, advocating downward perspectives or low-angle shots, a taste for the isolated object and its repetition, as well as optical manipulations revealing an unknown, but very real, world. The activity of the town or the empty crossroads of Starnberger Straße, portraits and images of summer on the banks of Lake Wannsee count among Besnyö’s most successful compositions.

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Worker and social photography

At the Marxist Workers’ School in Berlin, Eva Besnyö schooled her social and political conscience. In her circle of friends gathered around fellow Hungarian György Kepes, she discussed passionately the role of the workers’ movements. In Berlin, as earlier in Budapest, Eva Besnyö took her camera to the principal sites of trade and business, where she photographed labourers hard at work: dockers on the Spree, coalmen in the street, fitters perched on ladders; in the city centre, she followed the workers at Alexanderplatz, in around 1930 the largest construction site in Europe. In Hungary, where she returned from time to time from Berlin, she carried out an extraordinary documentary project on the people of Kiserdö, in the suburbs of Budapest. Blessed with a heightened political awareness, she had already understood by 1932 that, as a Jew, her future was not in this country, and left Berlin for Amsterdam.

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New Vision and New Building

In 1933, the solo show devoted by the Kunstzaal van Lier to Eva Besnyö just one year after her arrival in Amsterdam aroused the enthusiasm of numerous architects – her principal clients in the years to come. Mostly members of the group de 8 in Amsterdam and the radical abstract collective Opbouw in Rotterdam, they discerned in her images, which emphasised the functional side of objects, their structure and their texture, a suitable approach for explaining their buildings.

Equipped with a Linhof 9 x 12 cm plate camera acquired especially for the purpose, Eva Besnyö went to building sites and photographed public and private buildings, notably the studios of the Dutch radio station AVRO at Hilversum, the Cineac cinema in Amsterdam and a summer house in Groet, in the north of the country. Become, in the 1930s, the preferred photographer of Dutch New Building, Eva Besnyö made most of her income at the time from architectural photography.

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Bergen and Westkapelle

From Amsterdam, where from 1935 to 1939 she shared a studio at Keizersgracht 522 with the photographer Carel Blazer and the architect Alexander Bodon, Eva Besnyö went regularly to Bergen and Westkapelle, two villages where many artists gathered. In Bergen, north of Amsterdam, Charley Toorop, Expressionist painter and mother of the film director John Fernhout, whom Eva had married in 1933, held an artistic salon in the De Vlerken studio. It was at Westkapelle, a centuries-old village built on a polder in Zealand, that the family often spent their holidays. In this landscape shaped by the natural elements, Eva Besnyö returned to a free photographic practice, with views of vast beaches of white sand, of black silhouettes against a background of old windmills and cut-out shadows.

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Rotterdam

In July 1940, Eva Besnyö photographed the old town of Rotterdam destroyed by German airforce bombing. Far from classic photo-journalism, these images of ruins and traces of devastation – from which, in retrospect, she distanced herself – are today silent, bare statements of the wounds and scars of history.

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Dolle Mina

The Dolle Mina feminist movement gathered both men and women, mainly from the student protest movement. In the 1970s, Eva Besnyö militated actively within it, alongside sympathisers of all ages. In a second phase, she focused on photographic documentation of the movement’s actions and activities, taking responsibility for sending out images daily, like a press agency.

Text by Marion Beckers and Elisabeth Moortgat, curators of the exhibition

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled
1934
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [Summer house in Groet, North Holland. Architects Merkelbach & Karsten]
1934
18.2 x 24.2 cm
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Stadion, Berlin, 1931
1931
16.8 x 23.9 cm
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [Lieshout, The Netherlands]
1954
Silver gelatin photograph
25.3 x 17.7 cm
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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“In 1930, when Eva Besnyö arrived in Berlin at the age of only twenty, a certificate of successful apprenticeship from a recognised Budapest photographic studio in her bag, she had made two momentous decisions already: to turn photography into her profession and to put fascist Hungary behind her forever.

Like her Hungarian colleagues Moholy-Nagy, Kepes and Munkacsi and – a little later – Capa, Besnyö experienced Berlin as a metropolis of deeply satisfying artistic experimentation and democratic ways of life. She had found work with the press photographer Dr. Peter Weller and roamed the city with her camera during the day, searching for motifs on construction sites, by Lake Wannsee, at the zoo or in the sports stadiums, and her photographs were published – albeit, as was customary at the time, under the name of the studio. Besnyö’s best-known photo originates from those years: the gypsy boy with a cello on his back – an image of the homeless tramp that has become familiar all over the world.

Eva Besnyö had a keen political sense, evidenced by the fact that she fled in good time from anti-Semitic, National Socialist persecution, leaving Berlin for Amsterdam in autumn 1932. Supported by the circle surrounding woman painter Charley Toorop, filmmaker Joris Ivens and designer Gerrit Rietveld, Besnyö – meanwhile married to cameraman John Fernhout – soon enjoyed public recognition as a photographer. An individual exhibition in the internationally respected Van Lier art gallery in 1933 made her reputation in the Netherlands practically overnight. Besnyö experienced a further breakthrough with her architectural photography only a few years later: translating the idea of functionalist “New Building” into a “New Seeing.” In the second half of the 30s, Besnyö demonstrated an intense commitment to cultural politics, eg. at the anti-Olympiad exhibition “D-O-O-D” (De Olympiade onder Diktatuur) in 1936; in the following year, 1937, she was curator of the international exhibition “foto ’37” in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The invasion of German troops in May 1940 meant that as a Jew, Eva Besnyö was compelled to go into hiding underground. She was attracted to a world view shaped by humanism in the post-war years, and her photographs became stylistically decisive for neo-Realism and immensely suitable for the moralising exhibition, the “Family of Man” (1955). The mother of two children, she had experienced the classic female conflict between bringing up children and a profession career as a crucial and very personal test. Consequentially, Besnyö became an activist in the Dutch women’s movement “Dolle Mina” during the 70s, making a public commitment to equal rights and documenting demonstrations and street protests on camera.

This first retrospective exhibition, showing approximately 120 vintage prints, aims to introduce the public to the life and work of this emigrant and “Berliner by choice”, a convinced cosmopolitan and the “Grande Dame” of Dutch photography. “Like many other talents, that of Eva Besnyö was lost to Germany and its creative art as a direct consequence of the National Socialists’ racial mania.” (Karl Steinorth, DGPh, 1999)”

Press release from the Jeu de Paume website

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Eva Besnyö
Narda, Amsterdam
1937
Private collection, Berlin
40 x 50 cm
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [The shadow of John Fernhout, Westkapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands]
1933
25.3 x 20.4 cm
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled
Berlin, 1931
17.4 x 17.4 cm
Collection Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [John Fernout with Rolleiflex at the Baltic seaside]
1932
44.2 x 39.5 cm
Private collection, Berlin
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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Eva Besnyö
Untitled [Magda, Balaton, Hungary]
1932
40.5 x 30.6 cm
Collection Iara Brusse, Amsterdam
© Eva Besnyö / Maria Austria Instituut Amsterdam

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12
Sep
12

Exhibition: ‘Famous in the Fifties: Photographs by Daniel Farson’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 19th March – 16th September 2012

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My god, how beautiful is the young Adam Faith!

Since I didn’t know some of these people I have posted brief biographies. From the biographies we find that most mingled in the same artistic and theatrical circles in Soho, where Farson also hung out. Farson’s photographs are candid and show a deep affection for the subject being photographed: strong, vibrant characters that lived life to the full. He had a good eye did Daniel Farson. The photograph of Shelagh Delaney (1959, below) is a beauty, perfectly capturing one of those dank English days, where the mist envelopes the earth and chills one to the bone, standing outside pebble-dashed council houses in some windswept part of England. I remember it only too well.

Many thankx to the National Portrait Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Estate of Daniel Farson and the National Portrait Gallery.

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Daniel Farson
Adam Faith
1962
Silver gelatin photograph
© Estate of Daniel Farson

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Terence “Terry” Nelhams-Wright, known as Adam Faith (23 June 1940 – 8 March 2003), was a British teen idol, singer, actor, and financial journalist. He was one of the most charted acts of the 1960s. He became the first UK artist to lodge his initial seven hits in the Top 5. He was also one of the first UK acts to record original songs regularly….

Faith became one of Britain’s significant early pop stars. At the time, he was distinctive for his hiccupping glottal stops and exaggerated pronunciation. He did not write his own material, and much of his early success was through partnership with songwriter Les Vandyke and John Barry, whose arrangements were inspired by the pizzicato arrangements for Buddy Holly’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”

His debut album Adam was released on 4 November 1960 to critical acclaim for the inventiveness of Barry’s arrangements and Faith’s own performances. The material ranged from standards such as “Summertime”, “Hit The Road to Dreamland” and “Singin’ in the Rain” to more contemporary songs, such as Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s “I’m a Man”, Johnny Worth’s “Fare Thee Well My Pretty Maid”, and Howard Guyton’s “Wonderful Time”. Still 20 and living with his parents, he bought a house in Hampton Court for £6,000, where he moved with his family from their house in Acton. In December 1960, he became the first pop artist to appear on the TV interview series Face to Face with John Freeman.

Faith made six further albums and 35 singles, with a total of 24 chart entries, of which 11 made the UK Top Ten, including his two No. 1’s. Ten of the eleven singles that made the Top Ten actually also made the Top Five. Faith managed to lodge twenty consecutive single releases on the UK singles chart, starting with “What Do You Want?” in November 1959 and culminating with “I Love Being in Love With You” in mid-1964; this was quite a feat for a British artist of Faith’s era.

Text from Wikipedia

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Daniel Farson
Cyril Connolly and Lady Caroline Blackwood
c. 1953
Silver gelatin photograph
© Michael Parkin / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Cyril Vernon Connolly (10 September 1903 – 26 November 1974) was an English intellectual, literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon (1940-1949) and wrote Enemies of Promise (1938), which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth.

Connolly did his best work as a critic. Like Edmund Wilson in the United States, he wielded enormous influence. An astute and often witty commentator, with great gifts for often cruel mimicry, Connolly informed the thinking and attitudes of a generation. In The Unquiet Grave he writes: “Approaching forty, sense of total failure: … Never will I make that extra effort to live according to reality which alone makes good writing possible: hence the manic-depressiveness of my style, – which is either bright, cruel and superficial; or pessimistic; moth-eaten with self-pity.”

As editor of Horizon, Connolly gave a platform to a wide range of distinguished and emerging writers. He was robust in his criticism of the decline of the Mandarin and perhaps too effusive in his welcome of the New Vernacular. Kenneth Tynan, writing in the March 1954 Harper’s Bazaar, praised Connolly’s style as “one of the most glittering of English literary possessions.”

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The Lady Caroline Maureen Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood
 (16 July 1931 – 14 February 1996) was a writer and artist’s muse, and the eldest child of the 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava and the brewery heiress Maureen Guinness.

A well-known figure in the literary world through her journalism and her novels, Caroline Blackwood was equally well known for her high-profile marriages, first to the artist Lucian Freud, then to the composer Israel Citkowitz and finally to the poet Robert Lowell, who described her as “a mermaid who dines upon the bones of her winded lovers.” Her novels are known for their wit and intelligence, and one in particular is scathingly autobiographical in describing her unhappy childhood.

Text from Wikipedia

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Daniel Farson
Nina Hamnett
1952
Silver gelatin photograph
© Michael Parkin / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Nina Hamnett (14 February 1890 – 16 December 1956) was a Welsh artist and writer, and an expert on sailors’ chanteys, who became known as the Queen of Bohemia.

Flamboyantly unconventional, and openly bisexual, Nina Hamnett once danced nude on a Montparnasse café table just for the “hell of it”. She drank heavily, was sexually promiscuous, and kept numerous lovers and close associations within the artistic community. Very quickly, she became a well-known bohemian personality throughout Paris and modeled for many artists. Her reputation soon reached back to London, where for a time, she went to work making or decorating fabrics, clothes, murals, furniture, and rugs at the Omega Workshops, which was directed by Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant.

Her artistic creations were widely exhibited during World War I including at the Royal Academy in London as well as the Salon d’Automne in Paris. Back in England, she taught at the Westminster Technical Institute from 1917 to 1918. After divorcing Kristian, she took up with another free spirit, composer E. J. Moeran. From the mid 1920s until the end of World War II, the area known as Fitzrovia was London’s main Bohemian artistic centre. The place took its name from the popular Fitzroy Tavern on the corner of Charlotte and Windmill Streets that formed the area’s centre. Home of the café life in Fitzrovia, it was Nina Hamnett’s favourite hangout as well as that of her friend from her home town, Augustus John, and later another Welshman, the poet Dylan Thomas.

In 1932 Hamnett published Laughing Torso, a tale of her bohemian life, which became a bestseller in the United Kingdom and United States. The notorious occultist Aleister Crowley unsuccessfully sued her and the publisher for libel over allegations of Black Magic made in her book. Although she won the case, the situation profoundly affected her for the remainder of her life. Alcoholism would soon overtake her many talents and the tragic Queen of the Fitzroy spent a good part of the last few decades of her life at the bar, (usually that of the Fitzroy Tavern in Fitzrovia), trading anecdotes for drinks.

Nina Hamnett died in 1956 from complications after falling out her apartment window and being impaled on the fence forty feet below. The great debate has always been whether or not it was a suicide attempt or merely a drunken accident. Her last words were, “Why don’t they let me die?”

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Daniel Farson
Lucian Freud and Brendan Behan
1952
Silver gelatin photograph
© Estate of Daniel Farson

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Lucian Michael Freud (8 December 1922 – 20 July 2011) was a German-born British painter. Known chiefly for his thickly impastoed portrait and figure paintings, he was widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time. His works are noted for their psychological penetration, and for their often discomforting examination of the relationship between artist and model.

From the 1950s, he began to work in portraiture, often nudes (though his first full length nude was not painted until 1966), to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, and by the middle of the decade developed a much more free style using large hogs-hair brushes, with an intense concentration of the texture and colour of flesh, and much thicker paint, including impasto. With this technique, he would often clean his brush after each stroke when painting flesh, so that the colour remained constantly variable. He also started to paint standing up, which continued until old age, when he switched to a high chair. The colours of non-flesh areas in these paintings are typically muted, while the flesh becomes increasingly highly and variably coloured. By about 1960, Freud had established the style that he would use, with some changes, for the rest of his career. The portraits in the new style often used an over life-size scale from the start, but were mostly relatively small heads or half-lengths. Later portraits were often very much larger, and appealed to galleries and collectors. In his late career he often followed a portrait by producing an etching of the subject in a different pose, drawing directly onto the plate, with the sitter in his view.[17]

Freud’s portraits often depict only the sitter, sometimes sprawled naked on the floor or on a bed or alternatively juxtaposed with something else, as in Girl With a White Dog (1951-52) and Naked Man With Rat (1977-78). According to Edward Chaney, “The distinctive, recumbent manner in which Freud poses so many of his sitters suggests the conscious of unconscious influence both of his grandfather’s psychoanalytical couch and of the Egyptian mummy, his dreaming figures, clothed or nude, staring into space until (if ever) brought back to health and/or consciousness. The particular application of this supine pose to freaks, friends, wives, mistresses, dogs, daughters and mother alike (the latter regularly depicted after her suicide attempt and eventually, literally mummy-like in death), tends to support this hypothesis.” 

“I paint people,” Freud said, “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

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Brendan Francis Behan (9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish.

In 1954, Behan’s first play The Quare Fellow was produced in Dublin. It was well received, however, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London, that gained Behan a wider reputation – this was helped by a famous drunken interview on BBC television. In 1958, Behan’s play in the Irish language An Giall had its debut at Dublin’s Damer Theatre. Later, The Hostage, Behan’s English language adaptation of An Giall, met with great success internationally. Behan’s autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide best seller. Behan was known for his drink problem, which resulted in him suffering from diabetes, which ultimately resulted in his death on 20 March 1964.

“There’s no bad publicity except an obituary,” he once said.

Text from Wikipedia

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Daniel Farson
Robert Graves
1954
Silver gelatin photograph
© Estate of Daniel Farson

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Robert von Ranke Graves (also known as Robert Ranke Graves and most commonly Robert Graves) (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985) was an English poet, scholar/translator/writer of antiquity specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works. Graves’s poems – together with his translations and innovative analysis and interpretations of the Greek myths, his memoir of his early life, including his role in the First World War, Good-Bye to All That, and his speculative study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess – have never been out of print.

He earned his living from writing, particularly popular historical novels such as I, ClaudiusKing JesusThe Golden Fleece, and Count Belisarius. He also was a prominent translator of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek texts; his versions of The Twelve Caesars and The Golden Ass remain popular today for their clarity and entertaining style. On 11 November 1985, Graves was among 16 Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner. The inscription on the stone was written by friend and fellow Great War poet Wilfred Owen. It reads: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.” Of the 16 poets, Graves was the only one still living at the time of the commemoration ceremony.

Text from Wikipedia

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“A new display of photographs by legendary Soho figure, Daniel Farson will open at the National Portrait Gallery on 19 March. Famous in the Fifties: Photographs by Daniel Farson will celebrate the multi-faceted career of Farson who worked as a Picture Post photographer, television presenter, and writer.

The sixteen portraits on display include artist Lucian Freud and writer Brendan Behan in Dublin, Cyril Connolly and Lady Caroline Blackwood on Old Compton Street in Soho, artist and illustrator Nina Hamnett, actress Barbara Windsor, artist Graham Sutherland and actor Richard Burton. Writer Anthony Carson, critic John Davenport, photographer John Deakin and poet David Wright are all photographed opposite the French pub in Soho where Farson was a regular. An unpublished photograph of Kingsley Amis and his family is included along with a copy of Panorama, the magazine established by Farson at the University of Cambridge. The jackets of five books written by Farson will be displayed alongside his portraits of their subjects including Graham Sutherland and Gilbert and George. A portrait of Adam Faith inscribed by Farson, ‘I put him on TV first’, illustrates his impact as a pioneering television interviewer. The last exhibition of Farson’s work was in 1997, the year of his death, organized by Robin Muir for Roy Miles. This will be the first solo display of photographs by Farson at the National Portrait Gallery.

Born in Kensington in 1927, Farson was the only child of American-born journalist and adventurer, Negley Farson, and his wife, Enid Eveleen a niece of the author Bram Stoker. He became a political correspondent for the Central Press Agency in Fleet Street at the age of just seventeen and in 1947 he enlisted in the American Army Air Corps gaining experience on the army’s Stars and Stripes magazine supplement. Whilst attending Cambridge University in 1949, Farson established the magazine Panorama which in turn helped him secure a job as a staff photographer for Picture Post in 1951. In the early 1950s he began his affiliation with Soho, where he found acceptance of his homosexuality and later struggled with alcoholism. In 1956 Farson joined commercial television in its infancy, presented his own series and became a television personality. He was under contract with Associated-Rediffusion for eight years, which he described as, ‘one of the busiest and happiest times of my life’. In 1962 Farson bought a pub, the Waterman’s Arms, on the Isle of Dogs where he successfully revived music hall acts. However, this did not prevent bankruptcy and in 1964 Farson moved to his parents’ former homein north Devon. It was here and later in Appledore, Devon, that Farson wrote twenty-seven books, including biographies of his great uncle, Bram Stoker, and his autobiography Never a Normal Man (1997), published in the year in which he died.”

Press release from the National Portrait Gallery website

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Daniel Farson
Richard Burton
1954
Silver gelatin photograph
© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Daniel Farson
Joan Littlewood
1963
Silver gelatin photograph
© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Joan Maud Littlewood (6 October 1914 – 20 September 2002) was an English theatre director, noted for her work in developing the left-wing Theatre Workshop. She has been called “The Mother of Modern Theatre.” Littlewood and her company lived and slept in the Theatre Royal while it was restored. Productions of The Alchemist and Richard II, the latter of which starred Harry H. Corbett as the King, established the reputation of the company. The works for which she is now best remembered are probably Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey (1958), which gained critical acclaim, and the satirical musical Oh, What a Lovely War! (1965), her stage adaptation of a work for radio by Charles Chilton. Both were subsequently made into films. Theatre Workshop also championed the work of Irish playwright Brendan Behan, and Littlewood is often rumoured to have a significant role in his work. She also conceived and developed along with architect Cedric Price the Fun Palace, an experimental model of participatory social environment that, although never realized, has become an important influence in Architecture of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Text from Wikipedia

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Daniel Farson
Shelagh Delaney
1959
Silver gelatin photograph
© Estate of Daniel Farson

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Shelagh Delaney (25 November 1938 – 20 November 2011) was an English dramatist and screenwriter, best known for her debut work, A Taste of Honey (1958). A Taste of Honey, first performed on 27 May 1958, is set in her native Salford. “I had strong ideas about what I wanted to see in the theatre. We used to object to plays where the factory workers came cap in hand and call the boss ‘sir’. Usually North Country people are shown as gormless, whereas in actual fact, they are very alive and cynical.”

Reuniting the original cast, the play subsequently enjoyed a run of 368 performances in the West End from January 1959; it was also seen on Broadway, with Joan Plowright as Jo and Angela Lansbury as her mother. It is “probably the most performed play by a post-war British woman playwright.” Breaking new ground in touching on issues like homosexuality “this earthily realistic, moving story of a reluctant teenage mother-to-be … raises issues which were later to become prime concerns of feminist writers.”

Text from Wikipedia

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Daniel Farson
Gilbert & George
1990
Silver gelatin photograph
© Estate of Daniel Farson

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National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
London, WC2H 0HE

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday, Saturday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Thursday – Friday 10am – 9pm

National Portrait Gallery website

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10
Aug
12

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: within, 1992/4

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The titles from this period tend to be poetic, pragmatic or composed, like Japanese haiku. The two photographs How will it be when you have changed and Tell me your face before you were born (1994, below) were included in the seminal exhibition Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS’ at the National Gallery of Australia in 1994. The floater (1992-94) is one of the best black and white photographs I ever took.

I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan but can be used freely anywhere with the proper acknowledgement. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

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Marcus Bunyan
Gryphon, Luna Park, St Kilda
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Paul, Windsor railway station
1992-94

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Marcus Bunyan
Night, Windsor
1992-94

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Marcus Bunyan
The dusty city
Stillness
blossoms and mist within
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Afterlife
1992-94

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Marcus Bunyan
The face of man
in the surface of Moon
blinks
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
How will it be when you have changed
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Tell me your face before you were born
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
The floater
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Keyhole, Source, Form No. 1, Fredrick White
1993
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Gryphon and palms, St Kilda
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan
Untitled [divinity]
1992-94
Silver gelatin photograph

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘The Songs of Eternity’ 1994

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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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