Archive for December, 2008


Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from Art Blart

December 2008


Season's Greetings from Art Blart




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Review: ‘Intersection’ by Daniel Crooks at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th November – 20th December 2008


Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection No.2 (vertical plane)' 2008


Daniel Crooks
Intersection No.2 (vertical plane)



This was a magical exhibition – beautiful, insightful and mesmerising in equal parts. Five large video screens were presented in the long space of the Anna Schwartz gallery in Melbourne. The outer two videos feature striated horizontal and vertical bands of pulsating colours, fluxing up and down and from side to side, seemingly rushing past like tarmac outside a moving car. These videos add balance at each end of the installation.

The inner videos on either side of the central panel are the most figurative of the work: the video on the left-hand side reminded me of a Jackson Pollock drip painting come alive, ribbons of paint in time and space morphing backwards, finally coalescing into figures and their shadows walking across tarmac; the video on the right-hand side shows people moving across a pedestrian intersection like an animated slow motion photograph flowing anamorphically across the screen, their shadows distorted on the ground as trams pass behind them. Up close the surface of the projected video breaks down into grided squares of light, hypnotic in their blooming, shape-shifting colours.

The central panel is the key to the whole work. Intensities of colour flash and fade in time with atmospheric ambient music (by J. David Franz and Byron Scullin) that works effectively with the whole installation. Beeps of the pedestrian crossing intersection intersperse the ambient music adding an almost sonar like pinging to the atmospheric soundtrack; after-images appear and glow as the colours fade, transcending the solidity of the ever-changing single pixel of colour taken through the block of video time. The pyrotechnics of the other screens are balanced by the colours/intensities/music of this central panel.

The installation reminds me of a folded out five-panel religious altarpiece form of the 15th century. The figures, shadows and lines of the outer videos surround the pulsing heart of the central panel that, for me, took on an almost transcendent spirituality (especially when you understand the transcendence of time and space that is being achieved and how that relates to your own path in life). If you stand very still against the far wall of the gallery and look at all five videos at the same time the central panel achieves the ‘Intersection’ that Daniel Crooks is imagining. Subtle, profound and intelligent the viewer is invited to spend time, no, to transcend time in the company of this work and that is a major achievement: to reveal certain truths about our existence in these moments of time, to inhabit the space between breath – no time, no space.

Dr Marcus Bunyan


Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection No.5 (horizontal volume)' 2008


Daniel Crooks
Intersection No.5 (horizontal volume)



“The subjects of Daniel Crook’s oeuvre; the recurrence of city transport systems, lifts in high-rise buildings alongside images of the sea, invoke an idea of the world made as much of time as space and that indeed we ourselves are also made of time …

Crooks works, literally, from inside the medium, deconstructing its time-space matrix to reveal the inner truth about the subjects of video: they are purely temporal.

The five works comprising Intersection are all sourced from the same ‘volume’ of video footage. Each video is a formal variation that navigates an alternative path through the same light field, pushing its own ‘picture plane’ through the space along opposing axes.

The two most figurative videos navigate the entire volume of footage – each swapping time for the vertical or the horizontal. The second, more abstracted videos are reduced to horizontal and vertical ‘planes’. The centre work – a single pixel of information that tunnels through time – is the intersection between opposing axes, almost like the fulcrum or nodal point, and in turn acts as a pivot for the installation.” 

Catalogue notes from Daniel Crooks exhibition Intersection at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.


Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection No.4 (vertical volume)' 2008


Daniel Crooks
Intersection No.4 (vertical volume)


Daniel Crooks. 'Intersection' exhibition installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne


Intersection installation view at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne


Addendum 2019



Daniel Crooks
Static No. 12 (extract)
HD Video
Courtesy Daniel Crooks & Anna Schwartz Gallery



The Disruptor: Daniel Crooks



Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm
Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website


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Review: ‘Cindy Sherman’ at Metro Pictures Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 15th November – 23rd December 2008


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954) 'Untitled #466' 2008


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled #466
Chromogenic print
254.3  x 174.6 cm



The artist Cindy Sherman is a multifaceted evocation of human identity standing in glorious and subversive Technicolor before the blank canvas of her imagination. Poststructuralist in her physical appearance (there being no one Cindy Sherman, perhaps no Sherman at all) and post-photographic in her placement in constructed environments, Sherman challenges the ritualised notions of the performative act – and destabilises perceived notions of self, status, image and place.

The viewer is left with a sense of displacement when looking at these tableaux. The absence/presence of the artist leads the viewer to the binary opposite of rational/emotional – knowing these personae and places are constructions, distortions of a perceived reality yet emotionally attached to every wrinkle, every fold of the body at once repulsive yet seductive.

They are masterworks in the manner of Rembrandt’s self portraits – deeply personal images that he painted over many years that examined the many identities of his psyche – yet somehow different. Sherman investigates the same territories of the mind and body but with no true author, no authoritative meaning and no one subject at their beating heart. Her goal is subversive.

As Roy Boyne has observed, “The movement from the self as arcanum to the citational self, has, effectively, been welcomed, particularly in the work of Judith Butler, but also in the archetypal sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. There is a powerful logic behind this approbation. When self-identity is no longer seen as, even minimally, a fixed essence, this does not mean that the forces of identity formation can therefore be easily resisted, but it does mean that the necessity for incessant repetition of identity formation by the forces of a disciplinary society creates major opportunities for subversion and appropriation. In the repeated semi-permanences of the citational self, there is more than a little scope for counter-performances marked, for example, by irony and contempt.”1

Counter performances are what Sherman achieves magnificently. She challenges a regularised and constrained repetition of norms and as she becomes her camera (“her extraordinary relationship with her camera”) she subverts its masculine disembodied gaze, the camera’s power to produce normative, powerful bodies.2 As the viewer slips ‘in the frame’ of the photograph they take on a mental process of elision much as Sherman has done when making the images – deviating from the moral rules that are impressed from without3 by living and breathing through every fold, every fingernail, every sequin of their constructed being.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

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


  1. Boyne, Roy. “Citation and Subjectivity: Towards a Return of the Embodied Will,” in Featherstone, Mike (ed.,). Body Modification. London: Sage, 2000, p. 212
  2. “To the extent that the camera figures tacitly as an instrument of transubstantiation, it assumes the place of the phallus, as that which controls the field of signification. The camera thus trades on the masculine privilege of the disembodied gaze, the gaze that has the power to produce bodies, but which itself has no body.”
    Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter. New York: Routledge, 1993, p. 136
  3. “Universal human nature is not a very human thing. By acquiring it, the person becomes a kind of construct, built up not from inner psychic propensities but from moral rules that are impressed upon him from without.”
    Goffman, Erving. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behaviour. London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1972, pp. 44-45



Rembrandt van Rijn


Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
Self-portrait as the apostle Paul (left)
Self-portrait as Zeuxis laughing (right)


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954) 'Untitled #464' 2008


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled #464
Chromogenic print
214.3 x 152.4 cm



For her first exhibition of new work since 2004, Cindy Sherman will show a series of colour photographs that continues her investigation into distorted ideas of beauty, self-image and ageing. Typical of Sherman, these works are at once alarming and amusing, distasteful and poignant.

Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has developed an extraordinary relationship with her camera. A remarkable performer, subtle distortions of her face and body are captured on camera and leave the artist unrecognisable to the audience. Her ability to drastically manipulate her age or weight, or coax the most delicate expressions from her face, is uncanny. Each image is overloaded with detail, every nuance caught by the artist’s eye. No prosthetic nose or breast, fake fingernail, sequin, wrinkle or bulge goes unnoticed by Sherman.

Sherman shoots alone in her studio acting as author, director, actor, make-up artist, hairstylist and wardrobe mistress. Each character is shot in front of a “green screen” then digitally inserted onto backgrounds shot separately. Adding to the complexity, Sherman leaves details slightly askew at each point in the process, undermining the narrative and forcing the viewer to confront the staged aspect of the work.

Press release at Metro Pictures Gallery


Installation view of 'Cindy Sherman' exhibition at Metro Pictures Gallery, New York, 2008


Installation view of Cindy Sherman exhibition at Metro Pictures Gallery, New York, 2008


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954) 'Untitled' 2008


Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Chromogenic print
177.8 x 161.3 cm



Metro Pictures Gallery
519 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm

Metro Pictures Gallery website


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Review: ‘The Art of Existence’ exhibition by Les Kossatz at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd November – 8th March 2009


Les Kossatz. 'Digger's glory box' 1965


Les Kossatz
Digger’s glory box
Silk, felt, canvas, cardboard, wood, brass, ink, fibre-tipped pen and synthetic polymer paint
106.0 x 76.0 x 7.0 cm
Courtesy the artist
Photographer: Viki Petherbridge
© Les Kossatz



Heide Museum of Modern Art has brought together nearly 100 pieces of work by the Australian artist Les Kossatz in an eclectic survey show, appropriately titled The Art of Existence. Featuring sculpture, painting and mixed media from the 1960s to the present the exhibition is appropriately titled because Kossatz’s work addresses certain archetypal themes that affect human existence:

His life-long fascination with the natural world and desire to understand both its human and animal inhabitants; exploration of the systems of knowledge and codes of behaviour that structure individual and communal life; and his critical and playful reflections on contemporary behaviour and the mysteries of existence.”1

Strong symbolic paintings are the focus of the work in the 1960s, paintings that address the shocking brutality of war and its aftermath, when soldiers return home. To the observation that these are of the ‘pop-style’ school of painting suggested by the Heide website I feel these works are also influenced by the collage of Cubism, the boxes of Joseph Cornell and the dismembered bodies of Francis Bacon. They engage with the symbolism of war and remembrance: memory, myth, and the banality of heroism and sacrifice.

The key work in this series is the painting Diggers throne (1966). This is a powerful disturbing image, effervescent and unnerving at the same time. It features a disembodied arm on the hand of a throne, surrounded by a wonderful kaleidoscopic assemblage of pictorial planes, artefacts and memories – an English flag, the flag of St George, a crown, medals and the words RSL. The arm reminds me of the Francis Bacon painting Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) as it rests, roughly drawn in pencil on the arm of the throne, drawing the eye back up into nothingness.

The Diggers throne painting also features these prophetic words:

“throne slow to rot
and twisted the memory
becomes sacred.
Bloody was the truth
And this a chair.”

All other work in this period seems to flow through this painting – the other large paintings, the small canvases featuring individual medals and the less successful hanging banners. But it is to this work we return again and again as a viewer, trying to decipher and reconcile our inner conflicts about the painting.

As we move into the 1970s the work changes focus and direction. There emerges a concern with the desecration of the Australian landscape investigated in a series of large paintings and sculptures. In Packaged landscape 1 (1976) a steel suitcase with leather straps, slightly ajar, fulminates with artificial gum leaves trying to escape the strictures of the trap. In Caged landscape (1972) nature is again trapped behind steel wire, weighed in the balance on a set of miniature scales. The paintings feature trees that are surrounded by concrete and the rabbit becomes a powerful symbol for Kossatz – a suffering beast, strung up on fences, a plague in a pitted landscape of chopped down trees, erosion and empty holes.

Into this vernacular emerges the key symbol of the artist’s oeuvre – the sheep. In 1972 Kossatz began a series of sculptures of sheep, “initially inspired by the experience of nursing an injured ram.” For Kossatz “the sheep represent the hardship of pioneer existence, the grazing industries prosperity, environmental concerns and the sheep act as narrative devices, potent metaphors for human behaviour.”2

The first sheep presented ‘in show’ is Ram in Sling (1973, below). In this sculpture a metal bar is suspended in mid-air and from this bar heavy wire mesh drops to support the fleecy stomach and neck of the ram almost seeming to strangle it in the process, it’s metal feet just touching the ground. Again the scales of justice seem to weigh nature in the balance.

The themes life and death, order and chaos are further developed in the work Hard slide (1980, below) where a sheep emerges mid-air from a trapdoor, two more tumble down a wooden slide end over end and another disappears into the ground through a wooden trapdoor opening. Sacrifice seems to be a consistent theme with both the earlier paintings and the metallised sheep:

“The completed life cycle, down the trapdoor, down the chute, after sacrifice by shearing.” ~ Daniel Thomas 1994

Further sculptures of sheep, both small maquettes and large sculptures follow in the next room of the exhibition. This is the artist is full flow, featuring the inventive taking of 2D things into the round, investigating the key themes of his work: the contrast between nature and artifice, or humanity.

The small maquettes of sheep feature races, gantries, sluices, pens, trapdoors and paddocks. Sheep tumble in a cataclysmic maelstrom, falling with flailing legs into the darkness of the holding pen below. These are my favourite works – small, intimate, detailed, dark bronzes of serious intensity – the sheep becoming a theatre of the absurd, suspended, weighed and balancing in the performance of ritualised acts, a cacophony of flesh at once both intricate and unsettling. Their skins lay flayed and lifeless disappearing into the ‘unearth’ of the slated wooden floor of the shearing shed. The sheep “can be viewed metaphorically as a commentary of the existential situation of the individual and collective behaviour.”3 As Kossatz himself has noted, “It is hard to bring a piece of landscape inside and give it a living animated form. The sheep somehow gives me this quality of landscape.”

But we must also remember that this strictly a white man’s view of the Australian landscape. Nowhere does this work comment on the disenfranchisement of the native people’s of this land – the destruction of native habitats that the sheep brought about, the starvation that they caused to Aboriginal people just as they bought riches to the pastoralists and the country that mined the land with this amorphous mass of flesh.

Recent work in the exhibition returns to the earlier social themes of memory, war, remembrance, religion, shrines, atomic clouds and temples but it is the work of the late 1970s – 1980s that is the most cogent. As Kossatz ponders the nature of existence on this planet he does not see a definitive answer but emphasises the journey we take, not the arrival. Here is something that we should all ponder, giving time to the nature of our personal journey in this life, on this earth.

Here also is an exhibition worthy our time and attention as part of that journey. Go visit!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,074

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


  1. From the Heide website
  2. From wall notes to the exhibition
  3. From wall notes to the exhibition


Postscript 2018

The late Les Kossatz (1943-2011) was a well known Melbourne-based artist and academic whose work is represented in many regional and state galleries and the National Gallery of Australia. He studied art at the Melbourne Teachers’ College and the RMIT, and went on to teach at the RMIT and Monash University. Kossatz’s first significant commission was for the stained glass windows at the Monash University Chapel in Melbourne. Later commissions included works for the Australian War Memorial, the High Court, the Ian Potter Foundation at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Darling Harbour Authority, Sydney. His sculpture, Ainslie’s Sheep, commissioned by Arts ACT in 2000, is a popular national capital landmark in the centre of Civic. A major retrospective of Kossatz’s work was held in 2009 at the Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne.

Text from the High Court of Australia website

Francis Bacon. 'Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X' 1953


Francis Bacon
Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X


Les Kossatz. "Ram in sling" 1973


Les Kossatz
Ram in sling
Cast and fabricated stainless steel and sheepskin
129.3 x 126.5 x 66.0 cm
Heide Museum of Modern Art Collection
Purchased from John and Sunday Reed 1980
© Les Kossatz


Les Kossatz. 'Trophy room' 1975


Les Kossatz
Trophy room
Colour lithograph
74.0 x 76.0 cm (sheet)
Courtesy the artist
Photographer: Viki Petherbridge
© Les Kossatz



The art of existence is the first exhibition to review Les Kossatz’s contribution to Australian art in a career that spans the 1960s to today. Kossatz’s consistently experimental approach to media and techniques is revealed in works that display a lifelong fascination with humanity and the interaction of man and nature. His paintings, sculptures and works on paper stimulate a questioning and exploration of such concerns, which form the basis of this artist’s practice.

Les Kossatz’s early works of the 1960s draw on his training and ability to work across a diversity of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking and glass. Early paintings and etchings on the theme of the emptiness of memorials to the Australian ‘digger’ or soldiers were succeeded by images and objects offering impressions of the world around the artist – the rural domain and interior life of St Andrews in Victoria where Kossatz lived and worked. Such works demonstrated his determination to pursue a figurative practice at a time when abstract art had been imported to Australia and was considered the avant garde.

Remaining a staunchly independent artist, at the start of the 1970s Kossatz painted images of rabbits and sheep from St Andrews. In addition, the practice of working in three dimensions was to become more significant. Kossatz continued to develop familiar themes in the creation of installations and cast objects. Although he has produced drawings and prints across his career, working with sculpture has, since the early 1970s, been his primary mode of art-making. Large scale cast and assembled objects show Kossatz pursuing related themes of caged and packaged landscapes, shrines to the harvest and the still life.

The art of existence surveys Kossatz’s monumental life-sized sheep sculptures, which he began making in 1972 from casts of animal parts, and for which he is best known. These include Hard slide (1980), his prize-winning commission in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Kossatz has won numerous commissions for outdoor sculptures that employ the sheep as literal and metaphorical beings. Kossatz’s work across three decades reveals a number of ongoing engagements, such as his observations of human behaviour and at times its similar manifestation in animals; the beliefs that sustain individuals and communities (such as religion, music and politics); and the forms of the landscape and our understanding of these relationships.

Introduction to the exhibition written by Zara Stanhope, Guest Curator, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2008


Les Kossatz. "Hard slide" 1980


Les Kossatz
Hard slide
Sheepskins, aluminium, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga sp.), leather, steel
372.0 x 100.0 x 304.0 cm (installation)


Les Kossatz. "Guggenheim spiral" 1983


Les Kossatz
Guggenheim spiral



Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road
Bulleen Victoria 3105 Australia
Phone: +61 3 9850 1500

Opening hours:
(Heide II and Heide III)
Tue – Fri 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Sat/Sun/Public Holidays 12.00 noon – 5.00 pm

Heide Museum of Modern Art website


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Quotation: The virtual and the real

December 2008



“As actual space is increasingly made to resemble virtual constructions, so too does the virtual become more real. People go on about computer graphics and simulation programs achieving an ever greater degree of realism, but I think it is not because the programs are getting better at emulating the world but because the real world is increasingly based on these programs.”

Stephen Haley. ‘Place into Space’. Melbourne: Nellie Castan Gallery, 2008, p.19. Exhibition catalogue.




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Exhibition: ‘Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor’ at Phoenix Art Museum

30th November – 8th March 2009


Linda Connor. "Prayer Flag and Chortens, Ladakh, India 1988"


Linda Connor (b. 1944)
Prayer Flag and Chortens, Ladakh, India 1988
Silver gelatin print


Linda Connor (b. 1944) 'Windows and Thangkas, Ladakh' 1988


Linda Connor (b. 1944)
Windows and Thangkas, Ladakh
Silver gelatin print


Linda Connor (b. 1944) 'Library of Prayer Books, Ladakh, India' 1988


Linda Connor (b. 1944)
Library of Prayer Books, Ladakh, India
Silver gelatin print



Connor’s photographs reveal the essence of her subjects, yielding a sense of timelessness while visually evoking the intangible. She uses a distinctive technique. A large-format view camera allows her to achieve remarkable clarity and rich detail. Her prints are created by direct contact of the 8×10-inch negative on printing out paper, exposed and developed using sunlight …

Connor embraces a wide range of subject matter, connecting the physical and the spiritual world. Just as sacred art evokes deep meaning even without an explicit understanding, Connor hopes her photographs serve a similar metaphorical function. Upon entering Chartres Cathedral, for example, one feels transported into another realm, regardless of religious beliefs. Connor’s images share this transformative nature as they transcend the boundaries of subject, culture, and time. She brings an equal amount of attention to a rock in the desert as she does when she photographs a temple.

Text from the Phoenix Art Museum website

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


Linda Connor is an American photographer who photographs spiritual and exotic locations including India, Mexico, Thailand,Ireland, Peru, and Nepal. Her photographs appear in a number of books, including Spiral Journey, a catalog of her exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in 1990 and Odyssey: Photographs by Linda Connor, published by Chronicle Books in 2008. Connor was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1976 and 1988 and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979. Connor’s work is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.


Linda Connor. 'Portal Figures, Chartres Cathedral, France' 1989


Linda Connor (b. 1944)
Portal Figures, Chartres Cathedral, France
Silver gelatin print



Doris and John Norton Gallery for the Center for Creative Photography, Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA

Opening hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10am – 5pm
Wednesday: 10am – 9pm
Thursday:10am – 5pm
Friday: 10 am – 5 pm
(First Friday: 10am – 10pm)
Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 12 – 5pm

Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson
27th March – 21st June 2009

Phoenix Art Museum website


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New work: Marcus Bunyan ‘Discarded Views’ 2008

December 2008


Marcus Bunyan. "Untitled" from the series 'Discarded Views' 2008


Marcus Bunyan. "Discarded" from the series 'Discarded Views' 2008


Marcus Bunyan. "Untitled" from the series 'Discarded Views' 2008


Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Images from the series Discarded Views
28 images in the series



“Everything to be believed is an image of truth.”

William Blake



dirty, fragile colour slides
found in an op shop,
rescued, re-visioned

Tasmania 1971 – Melbourne 2008

discarded image
discarded earth



Marcus Bunyan website


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Book: Robert Frank ‘The Americans’ (1st Scalo edition)

December 2008


Robert Frank. The Americans (1st Scalo edition)


The Americans. Photographs by Robert Frank. Introduction by Jack Kerouac. Scalo, Zürich/D.A.P., New York, 1993.
First Scalo edition. 179 pp. Oblong quarto. Hardbound in photo-illustrated dust jacket. Black-and-white reproductions.



WOW! One of the seminal books of photography and signed as well.

“It was Frank’s ‘The Americans’ that made the photographic book into an art form in its own right. Frank was following a lead set by [Wright] Morris’ book (‘The Inhabitants’) and, especially, by Evans’ ‘American Photographs’, both of which are designed to let pictures play off each other in a way that controls and reinforces their effect on the viewer. Even Klein’s ‘New York’ book displays this tendency. But Frank’s goes much further, creating a denser, richer, deeper structure of images than any book before it.”

Colin Westerbeck in Michel Frizot, et. al., The New History of Photography.

Estimated: $1200 – 1400



photoeye auctions


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Book: Daniel Dorling, Mark Newman and Anna Barford ‘The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way We Live’

December 2008


The Atlas of the Real World



In Atlas of the Real World, global inequities in the third millennium are mad strikingly visible. The book uses a clever mapping formula, massive amounts of data and a whole lot of computer power to produce 366 maps that stretch, twist and shrink the boundaries of nations according to how much they have of whatever is being mapped: money, disease, doctors, televisions, endangered animals …

The atlas (which builds on the free maps available at the website uses the simplest means to get across the most profound facts. Each country is brightly colour-coded and the maps are overlaid on a natural-looking ocean bed. The effect is a little like looking into a funfair mirror – you know what you’re seeing, but it takes a moment to work out what’s happened to it …

In the most extreme cases, the map no longer looks like the planet Earth: the map of people killed by volcanoes (302) shows two large round islands – Colombia and North Africa – and a small atoll of shrunken Asian nations …

They’re not really maps in the old-fashioned sense, but visual renderings of complex and sometimes frightening realities, perfectly suited to our supposedly post-literate age … As a wake up call, it’s not quite on the level of the first photograph of the Earth from space – the “blue marble” that inspired a generation of environmentalists. But it’s a reminder that everything we do, from fighting wars (map 318) to selling toys (129, 130), we do on the planet.

In visual form, statistics that seem like abstract numbers are transformed into a reality that can be as ugly as an Africa swollen with HIV cases (269), as hopeful as strong worldwide growth in education (226), or as simple as the fact America, and the rest of the West, could stand to go on a diet.

Jenny Sinclair1

1. Sinclair, Jenny. “Inequality unfolds in warped world,” in A2, The Age newspaper, Melbourne. Saturday November 29th 2008.


Daniel Dorling, Mark Newman and Anna Barford
The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way We Live
416 pages
Thames and Hudson 2008




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Exhibition: ‘Potraiture Now: Feature Photography’ at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington

Exhibition dates: 26th November 2008 – 27th September 2009


Jocelyn Lee. "Untitled (Kara on Easter)" 1999


Jocelyn Lee
Untitled (Kara on Easter)
Chromogenic print
 Jocelyn Lee



“America is a snapshot culture. Armed with a portable camera and a spirit of inquiry, we revel in the images that we create. Although we often treat still photographs – including portraits – as ephemeral fragments to be discarded or replaced by the next image, there are portrait photographers today who create pictures that defy an easy death. Often working on a specific commission or editorial assignment, these photographers compose portraits that cause us to pause and reflect.”

Portraiture Now: Feature Photography focuses on six photographers who, by working on assignment for publications such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, each bring their distinctive “take” on contemporary portraiture to a broad audience. Critically acclaimed for their independent fine-art work, these photographers – Katy Grannan, Jocelyn Lee, Ryan McGinley, Steve Pyke, Martin Schoeller, and Alec Soth – have also pursued a variety of editorial projects, taking advantage of the opportunities and grappling with the parameters that these assignments introduce. Their work builds upon a longstanding tradition of photographic portraiture for the popular press and highlights creative possibilities for twenty-first-century portrayal. The exhibition has additional portraits not included in this website; it opened on November 26, 2008, and closed on September 27, 2009.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website




Alec Soth
Part of the Niagara project
Pigmented ink print
Collection of the artist
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York City
© Alec Soth



National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Eighth and F Streets, NW
Washington D.C.

Opening hours:
11.30 am – 7.00 pm daily

National Portrait Gallery website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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December 2008