Archive for January, 2009

31
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘Man Ray: Unconcerned, but not indifferent’ at The Hague Museum of Photography, The Netherlands

Exhibition dates: 24th January 2009 – 19th April 2009

 

Man Ray. 'Self-portrait' 1924

 

Man Ray (1890-1976)
Self-portrait
1924

 

 

Man Ray (1890-1976) used his camera to turn photography into an art – no mean feat for a man who tried almost all his life to avoid being described as a ‘photographer’. He preferred to be identified with his work in other media: drawings, paintings and Dadaist ready-mades. The exhibition entitled Unconcerned, but not indifferent at the Hague Museum of Photography is a large-scale retrospective of Man Ray’s art and life. It links paintings, drawings and (of course) photographs to personal objects, images and documents drawn from his estate to paint a picture of a passionate artist and – whatever his own feelings about the description – a great photographer.

Unconcerned, but not indifferent is the first exhibition to reveal Man Ray’s complete creative process: from observations, ideas and sketches right through to the final works of art. By establishing the linkage between art and inspiration, it gives a new insight into the work of Man Ray. The three hundred plus items on display are drawn from the estate of the artist, which is managed by the Man Ray Trust. Some of them have never been exhibited since the artist’s death in 1976 while others are on show for the first time ever.

Man Ray’s real name was Emmanuel Radnitzky. He was born in Philadelphia (USA) in 1890. The family soon moved to New York, where his artistic talent became increasingly apparent. Photography was not yet his medium: Man Ray, as he would later call himself, concentrated on painting and became friendly with Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp, who persuaded him to move to Paris (France). There, Man Ray moved in highly productive artistic circles full of Surrealists and Dadaists. He began taking photographs of his own (and other people’s) works of art and gradually became more interested in the photographic images than in the originals – which he regularly threw away or lost once he had photographed them.

By this time, commercial and art photography had become his main source of income and he was displaying an unbridled curiosity about the potential of the medium. This prompted a great urge to experiment and the discovery or rediscovery of various techniques, such as the famous ‘rayographs’ (photograms made without the use of a camera). Man Ray left Paris to escape the Nazi occupation of France and moved to Los Angeles, where he abandoned commercial photography to concentrate entirely on painting and photographic experimentation. However, his next real surge of creativity occurred only after he returned to Paris with his wife Juliet in 1951. In the last twenty-five years of his life, he regularly harked back to his earlier work and was not afraid to quote himself. In that sense, Man Ray can be seen as a true conceptual artist: the idea behind the work of art always interested him more than its eventual execution. Man Ray died in Paris in 1976 and is buried in Montparnasse. His widow, Juliet, summed up the artist’s life in the epitaph inscribed on his tombstone: Unconcerned, but not indifferent.

The exhibition examines the four separate creative phases in Man Ray’s life. Each is closely connected with the place where he was living (New York, Los Angeles or Paris), his friends at the time and the sources of inspiration around him. Using Man Ray’s artistic legacy and – perhaps more particularly – the everyday objects that were so important to him, Unconcerned, but not indifferent reveals the world as he saw it through the lens of his camera.

The exhibition is being held in cooperation with the Man Ray Trust in Long Island, New York, and La Fábrica in Madrid.

Text from the The Hague Museum of Photography

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

 

Man Ray (1890-1976) 'Rayograph' 1921

 

Man Ray (1890-1976)
Rayograph
1921

 

Man Ray. 'Noire et blanche' 1926

 

Man Ray (1890-1976)
Noire et blanche
1926

 

Man Ray. 'La priere' (Prayer) 1930

 

Man Ray (1890-1976)
La priere (Prayer)
1930

 

Man Ray. 'Larmes' 1930

 

Man Ray (1890-1976)
Larmes (Tears)
1930

 

Man Ray.' Solarisation' 1931

 

Man Ray (1890-1976)
Solarisation
1931

 

 

The Hague Museum of Photography
Stadhouderslaan 43
2517 HV Den Haag
Phone: 31 (0)70 – 33 811 44

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26
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art, 1845-1945’ at George Eastman House, New York

Exhibition dates: 7th February 2009 – 31st May 2009

 

Alfred Steiglitz. 'Snapshot - In the New York Central Yards' Negative 1903; Printed 1910

 

Alfred Steiglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Snapshot – In the New York Central Yards
Negative 1903; Printed 1910
Photogravure

 

This photograph of a train departing from Grand Central Terminal was probably made from the 48th Street foot bridge, which crossed over the railroad yard.

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn. 'Wapping' 1904

 

Alvin Langdon Coburn (American, 1882-1966)
Wapping
1904

 

 

Pictorialism was simultaneously a movement, a philosophy, an aesthetic, and a style, resulting in some of the most spectacular photographs in the history of the medium. This exhibition shows the rise of Pictorialism in the late 19th century from a desire to elevate photography to an art form equal to painting, drawing, and watercolour, and extends the historical period generally associated with it by including its influential precursors, its persistent practitioners, and its seminal effect on photographic Modernism.

With 130 masterworks from such well-known photographers as Alvin Langdon Coburn, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Demachy, Frederick Evans, and F. Holland Day, this remarkable exhibition will illustrate the Pictorialism movement’s progression from its early influences to its lasting impact on photography and art.

Text from the George Eastman House website

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

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973) 'The Pond - Moonlight' Negative 1904; print 1906

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
The Pond – Moonlight
Negative 1904; print 1906
Photogravure

 

 

The Pond – Moonlight (also exhibited as The Pond – Moonrise) is a pictorialist photograph by Edward Steichen. The photograph was made in 1904 in Mamaroneck, New York, near the home of his friend art critic Charles Caffin. The photograph features a forest across a pond, with part of the moon appearing over the horizon in a gap in the trees. The Pond – Moonlight is an early photograph created by manually applying light-sensitive gums, giving the final print more than one colour. Only three known versions of The Pond – Moonlight are still in existence and, as a result of the hand-layering of the gums, each is unique. (Wikipedia)

 

Edward Steichen. 'Grand Prix at Longchamp, After the Races' 1907

 

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973)
Grand Prix at Longchamp, After the Races
1907
Photogravure

 

Eva Watson Schutze (American, 1867-1935) 'Woman with Lilly' 1905

 

Eva Watson Schutze (American, 1867-1935)
Woman with Lilly
1905

 

 

Eva Watson-Schütze (1867-1935) was an American photographer and painter who was one of the founding members of the Photo-Secession. …

Around the 1890s Watson began to develop a passion for photography, and soon she decided to make it her career. Between 1894 and 1896 she shared a photographic studio with Amelia Van Buren another Academy alumna in Philadelphia, and the following year she opened her own portrait studio. She quickly became known for her pictorialist style, and soon her studio was known as a gathering place for photographers who championed this aesthetic vision.

In 1897 she wrote to photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston about her belief in women’s future in photography: “There will be a new era, and women will fly into photography.”

In 1898 six of her photographs were chosen to be exhibited at the first Philadelphia Photographic Salon, where she exhibited under the name Eva Lawrence Watson. It was through this exhibition that she became acquainted with Alfred Stieglitz, who was one of the judges for the exhibit.

In 1899 she was elected as a member of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia. Photographer and critic Joseph Keiley praised the work she exhibited that year, saying she showed “delicate taste and artistic originality”.

The following year she was a member of the jury for the Philadelphia Photographic Salon. A sign of her stature as a photographer at that time may be seen by looking at the other members of the jury, who were Alfred Stieglitz, Gertrude Kasebier, Frank Eugene and Clarence H. White.

In 1900 Johnston asked her to submit work for a groundbreaking exhibition of American women photographers in Paris. Watson objected at first, saying “It has been one of my special hobbies – and one I have been very emphatic about, not to have my work represented as ‘women’s work’. I want [my work] judged by only one standard irrespective of sex.” Johnston persisted, however, and Watson had twelve prints – the largest number of any photographer – in the show that took place in 1901.

In 1901 she married Professor Martin Schütze, a German-born and -trained lawyer who had received his Ph.D. in German literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1899. He took a teaching position in Chicago, where the couple soon moved.

That same year she was elected a member of The Linked Ring. She found the ability to correspond with some of the most progressive photographers of the day very invigorating, and she began to look for similar connections in the U.S.

In 1902 she suggested the idea of forming an association of independent and like-minded photographers to Alfred Stieglitz. They corresponded several times about this idea, and by the end of the year she joined Stieglitz as one of the founding members of the famous Photo-Secession.

About 1903 Watson-Schütze began to spend summers in Woodstock at the Byrdcliffe Colony in the Catskill Mountains of New York. She and her husband later bought land nearby and built a home they called “Hohenwiesen” (High Meadows) where she would spend most of her summer and autumn months from about 1910 until about 1925.

In 1905 Joseph Keiley wrote a lengthy article about her in Camera Work saying she was “one of the staunchest and sincerest upholders of the pictorial movement in America.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Frederick Evans. 'York Minster: In Sure and Certain Hope' 1903

 

Frederick Evans (British, 1853-1943)
York Minster: In Sure and Certain Hope
1903
Photogravure

 

 

Frederick H. Evans (26 June 1853, London – 24 June 1943, London) was a British photographer, primarily of architectural subjects. He is best known for his images of English and French cathedrals. Evans began his career as a bookseller, but retired from that to become a full-time photographer in 1898, when he adopted the platinotype technique for his photography. Platinotype images, with extensive and subtle tonal range, non glossy-images, and better resistance to deterioration than other methods available at the time, suited Evans’ subject matter. Almost as soon as he began, however, the cost of platinum – and consequently, the cost of platinum paper for his images – began to rise. Because of this cost, and because he was reluctant to adopt alternate methodologies, by 1915 Evans retired from photography altogether.

Evans’ ideal of straightforward, “perfect” photographic rendering – unretouched or modified in any way – as an ideal was well-suited to the architectural foci of his work: the ancient, historic, ornate and often quite large cathedrals, cloisters and other buildings of the English and French countryside. This perfectionism, along with his tendency to exhibit and write about his work frequently, earned for him international respect and much imitation. He ultimately became regarded as perhaps the finest architectural photographer of his, or any, era – though some professionals privately felt that the Evans’ philosophy favouring extremely literal images was restrictive of the creative expression rapidly becoming available within the growing technology of the photographic field.

Evans was also an able photographer of landscapes and portraits, and among the many notable friends and acquaintances he photographed was George Bernard Shaw, with whom he also often corresponded. Evans was a member of the Linked Ring photographic society.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

F. Holland Day. 'Ebony and Ivory' 1899

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
Ebony and Ivory
1899
Photogravure

 

Robert Demachy. 'Une Balleteuse' 1900

 

Robert Demachy (French, 1859-1936)
Une Balleteuse
1900
Gum bichromate print

 

 

Demachy was, with Émile Joachim Constant Puyo, the leader of the French Pictorial movement in France. His aesthetic sophistication and skill with the gum bichromate technique, which he revived in 1894 and pressed into the service of fine art photography, were internationally renowned. With the gum medium, he was able to achieve the appearance of a drawing or printmaking process-in this photograph, he has added marks characteristic of etching during intermediate stages of development-in order to advocate photography’s membership in the fine arts by revealing the intervention of the photographer’s hand in the printmaking stage of the photographic process. The result attested to Demachy’s mastery of his medium, but also proved his ability to unify a composition and select significant details from the myriad of facts available in his negatives. In this picture, Demachy has gently elided the background and erased the features of the left third of the image in order to emphasise the grace and delicacy of the ballet dancer that is its subject.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

 

George Eastman House
900 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607

Opening hours:
Tues – Sat 10am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm

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24
Jan
09

Review: ‘The Water Hole’ exhibition by Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger at ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 23rd December 2008 – 1st March 2009

 

“Warning. Watch your step while gazing at distant view.”

Sign at entrance to the exhibition

 

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. Entrance to 'The Waterhole' exhibition at ACCA, Melbourne, 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
Entrance to The Water Hole exhibition at ACCA, Melbourne
2009

 

 

A cave like entrance presents itself to the visitor as they enter the exhibition leading to a long winding tunnel that is lined with silver insulation foil and tree branches, lit by floor mounted electric light bulbs. The foil moves with the natural movement of air causing not a rustling of leaves but of artificial surfaces.

At the end of the tunnel the viewer enters a large installation space, confronted with a effusive pop art Garden of Eden, a Magic Forest.

It takes a while to work out what is going on, there are so many elements to the sculptural piece. The main elements are buckets, toilets, basins and drainage pipes, plumbing fittings that all lead to a bed with a drying dam in the centre of a satin bedspread: the ‘waterhole’ of the exhibition title. The waterhole is fed by water dripping from a medical bag suspended high in the air above the dam, a nice touch. The rest of the forest and pipes are dry. The installation comments on our water supplies and the ‘technologies of production’ (Foucault) that permit us to produce, transform or manipulate things. We might install rainwater tanks to catch water but if there is no water to catch in the first place then we are in trouble: we make our bed and have to lie in it, the empty basins like our catchment areas, dry and bleak.

Other elements of the forest have an environmental theme, the installation developed by the artists in response to the extensive drought most of Australia (and it particular Melbourne) is experiencing. Here are spiders with hairy legs and mobile phones for bodies infesting the installation, plumbing fittings with natural seeds sprouting from their ends, brightly coloured crystal forms fed each day with water by gallery staff so that they grow. An upside down umbrella with Polar bear images printed on it’s material has imaginary water draining down a bamboo pipe into a bucket; empty water bottles form a large nest with broken eggs inside; artificial plants, bones, crabs, seaweed and flying stuffed owls are form some of the other elements in the installation.

Climbing a few steps we enter a ‘bird’ watching gallery replete with binoculars to observe the humans in the forest as much as the forest itself. A water cooler sits incongruously in this watching space, silent and somehow complicit in its ironical presence.

The viewer then moves to another room. 4 video projectors display another water themed installation on the gallery walls, the videos meeting in the middle of the walls and reflecting each other. Ambient music accompanies images of rain!, spurting water, owls and plastic pipes, plastic flowers and plastic horses as the viewer relaxes on a waterbed in the middle of the space. The effect of the music and images is quite meditative when combined with the gentle rocking of the waterbed, the projections of the video forming kaleidoscopic ‘Northern lights’ on the ceiling of the gallery. This room is an extension of the themes of the large installation.

Moving forward the viewer enters another room – the meditation room. This room is most effective in encouraging contemplation of the different planes of our existence and our orientation in (environmental) space. Three beds are present, one suspended from the ceiling by four metal rods. Climbing onto this bed the movement from side to side caused by your weight makes you feel seasick and slightly disorientated. Above the second table is a wonderful mobile made of twigs, branches, dried leaves, plastic flowers, beads, plastic bags, baby dummies and jewellery moving gently in the breeze. Lying on the table with the mobile about a foot above your head things drift in and out of view as you change the focus of your eyes – close, mid, far and then onto the moving shadows on the ceiling.

The most effective bed has a small meteorite suspended in a net bag above it. The viewer slides underneath the ‘rock’ placing the meteorite about a foot or so above your face. The meteorite is brown, dark and heavy, swinging slightly above your ‘third eye’. You feel its weight pressing down on your energy, on your life force and you feel how old this object is, how far it has traveled, how fragile and mortal you are. It is a sobering and enlightening experience but what an experience it is!

Entering the final room small colour photos of people being hugged from behind and lifted into the air, laughing, line the gallery walls. These are the weakest elements of the exhibition and seem to bear no relation to all that has passed before. Running off of this gallery is an alcove that is a dead end, a full stop to the exhibition with an installation Desalination plant for tears. A cheap Formica desk sits at the end of the space. Perched above the desk is a tv showing live black and white images of the earlier bird watching gallery – the watcher now the watched. On the desk itself is a microscope (with slide of human tears), pencil, a candle for heat under a glass flask of water (looking like a spider from the large installation!) and various glass test tubes and vials. A diagram explains the working of a Desalination plant for tears, an analogous reference to the desalination plant earmarked for Wonthaggi, south-east of Melbourne. Irony is present (again) in the 2 leaves grown at Singapore Airport by desalinated water (2008), two framed, brown dead leaves, and in the Tear system diagram where glands have turned into forests and the eye into a lake (see below).

This is a magical and poignant exhibition that is a joy for children and adults alike. Children love it running around exploring the environments. Adults love it for it’s magical, witty and intelligent response to the problems facing our planet and our lives. Go and enjoy this interplanetary collision. Highly recommended!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

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Many thankx to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for allowing me to publish the photographs and text in the posting.

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. 'The Waterhole' 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
The Water Hole
2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. 'The Waterhole' 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
The Water Hole
2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. 'The Waterhole' 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
The Water Hole
2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. Installation view of waterbed at 'The Waterhole' exhibition at ACCA, 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
Installation view of waterbed at The Water Hole exhibition at ACCA, Melbourne
2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. Installation view of 'Desalination plant for tears' from 'The Water Hole' exhibition at ACCA, Melbourne, 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. Installation view of 'Desalination plant for tears' (detail) from 'The Water Hole' exhibition at ACCA, Melbourne, 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
Installation view of Desalination plant for tears from The Water Hole exhibition at ACCA, Melbourne
2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger. Diagram from 'Desalination plant for tears' from the exhibition 'The Water Hole' at ACCA, Melbourne, 2009

 

Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger
Diagram from Desalination plant for tears from the exhibition The Water Hole at ACCA, Melbourne
2009

 

 

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street
Southbank
Victoria 3006
Australia

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends and Public Holidays 11am – 6pm
Monday by appointment
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday

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18
Jan
09

Review: ‘Framing Conflict – Iraq and Afghanistan’ exhibition by Lyndell Brown and Charles Green at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 5th Nov 2008 – 1st Feb 2009

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'Afghan traders with soldiers, market, Tarin Kowt base, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.' 2007-08

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Afghan traders with soldiers, market, Tarin Kowt base, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
2007-08
From The approaching storm series 2007-09
Digital colour inkjet photograph
155 × 107.5 cm

 

 

Despite one brilliant photograph and some interesting small painted canvases this exhibition is a disappointment. No use beating around the figurative bush in the landscape so to speak, talking plainly will suffice. Firstly, let’s examine the photographs. Thirteen large format colour photographs are presented in the exhibition out of an archive of “thousands of photographs Brown and Green created on tour”1 from which the paintings are derived.

Most of the photographs are inconsequential and need not have been taken. Relying on the usual trope of painters who take photographs they are shot at night, dusk or dawn when the shadows are long, the colours lush supposedly adding ‘mystique’ to the scene being portrayed. In some cases they are more like paintings than the paintings themselves. Perhaps this was the artist’s plan, the reverse marriage of photography and painting where one becomes the other, but this does little to advance photography as art. There is nothing new or interesting here: sure, some of the photographs are beautiful in the formal representation of a vast and fractured landscape but the pre-visualisation is weak: bland responses to the machines, industry, people and places of the conflict. Go look at the Andreas Gursky photographs at the National Gallery of Victoria to see world-class photography taking reality to the limit, head on.

Too often in these thirteen images the same image is repeated with variants – three images of the an aircraft having it’s propeller changed show a lack of ideas or artefacts to photograph – presented out of the thousands taken seems incongruous. The fact that only one photograph is reproduced in the catalogue is also instructive.

Some images are just unsuccessful. For example the photograph Dusk, ship’s bridge with two sailors, northern Gulf is of a formulaic geometry that neither holds the viewers attention nor gives a deeper insight into their lives aboard ship and begs the question why was the photograph taken in the first place? The dark space has little physical or metaphysical illumination and seems purely to be an exercise in formalism. The photograph Dusk, ships’ bridge with sailor, northern Gulf is more successful in the use of light and shade as they play across the form of a sailor, his head resting pensively in his hand, red life vests adding a splash of colour to the bottom right of the photograph.

The brilliant photograph of the group is View from Chinook, Helmand province, Afghanistan. This really is a monstrous photograph. With the large black mass of the helicopter in the foreground of the image containing little detail, the eye is drawn upwards to the windscreen through which a mountain range rises, with spines like the back of a Stegosaurus. To the right a road, guarded by a desolate looking pillbox and yellow barrier, meanders into the distance. Dead flies on the windscreen look like small bullet holes until you realise what they are. This is the image that finally evidences a disquieting beauty present in the vast and ancient landscape.

Turning to the paintings we can say that some of the small 31cm x 31cm paintings work well. From an ‘original’ photograph the artist selects and crops a final image that they work up into a highly detailed oil painting. Distilled (as the artist’s like to put it) from the ‘original’ photographs, the paintings become a “merging of a contemporary sense of composition – borrowed from photography, film and video – with the textures and processes of traditional oil painting.”2

“These works were developed by the artists to be something akin to “Hitchcockian clues” which create the sense of looking out at a scene but being distanced from the action. To some degree the entire suite of small pictures participate in developing this intrigue, by showing an array of ambiguous scenes in which direct action is never present, or is obscured by limited perspectives … The artists noted that the war zones they witnessed were low in action but high in tension”3

To an extent this tension builds in some of the small paintings: the small size lends an intimate, intense quality and forces the viewer to engage with highly detailed renditions of textures of clothing, material, skin and hair and the distorted scale of the ships and aeroplanes portrayed. In these intense visions the painting seems less like a photograph and more like a new way of seeing. However, this occurs only occasionally within the group of small paintings.

If we think of a photograph in the traditional sense as a portrayal of reality, then a distillation of that photograph (the removal of impurities from, an increase in the concentration of) must mean that these paintings are a double truth, a concentrated essence of the ‘original’ photograph that changes that essence into something new. Unfortunately most of these small canvases show limited viewpoints of distilled landscapes that do not lead to ambiguous enigmas, but to the screen of the camera overlaid by a skein of paint, a patina of posing.

This feeling is only amplified in the three large ‘History’ paintings. The three paintings seem static, lifeless, over fussy and lacking insight into the condition of the ‘machine’ that they are attempting to portray. It’s a bit like the ‘Emperors New Clothes’, the lack of substance in the paintings overlaid with the semantics of History painting (“a traditional genre that focused on mythological, biblical, historical and military subjects”) used to confirm their existence and supposed insight into the doubled, framed reality. As Robert Nelson noted in his review of 2008 art in Melbourne in The Age newspaper it would seem that painting is sliding into terminal decline. These paintings only seem to confirm that view.

Here was a golden opportunity to try something fresh in terms of war as conflict – both in photography and painting – to frame the discourse in an eloquent, innovative manner. Most of this work is not interesting because it does not seem to be showing, or being discursive about anything beyond a personal whim. Because an artist can talk about some things, doesn’t mean that he can make comments about other things that have any value. Although the artist was looking to portray landscapes of globalisation and entropy, there are more interesting ways of doing this, rather than the nature of the transcription used here.

Here was a golden opportunity to try something fresh in terms of war as conflict – both in photography and painting – to frame the discourse in an eloquent, innovative manner. Most of this work is not interesting because it does not seem to be showing, or being discursive about anything beyond a personal whim. Because an artist can talk about some things, doesn’t mean that he can make comments about other things that have any value. Although the artist was looking to portray landscapes of globalisation and entropy, there are more interesting ways of doing this, rather than the nature of the transcription used here.

“It is very good to copy what one sees: it is much better to draw what you can’t see any more but in your memory. It is a transformation in which imagination and memory work together. You only reproduce what struck you, that is to say, the necessary. That way your memory and your fantasy are freed from the tyranny of nature.”4

No thinking but the putting away of intellect and the reliance on memory and imagination, memory and fantasy to ‘distil’ the essence. This is what needed to happen both in the photographs and paintings – leaving posturing aside (perhaps an ‘unofficial war artist’ would have had more success!) to uncover the transformation of landscape that the theatre of this environment richly deserves.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

References

1. Heywood, Warwick. Framing Conflict: Iraq and Afghanistan exhibition catalogue. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 2008, p. 6
2. Heywood, Warwick. Framing Conflict: Iraq and Afghanistan exhibition catalogue. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 2008, p. 6
3. Heywood, Warwick. Framing Conflict: Iraq and Afghanistan exhibition catalogue. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 2008, p. 11
4. Degas, Edgar quoted in Halligan, Marion. “Between the brushstrokes,” in A2 section, The Saturday Age newspaper, January 17th 2008, p. 18

 

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'Afghan National Army perimeter post with chair, Tarin Kowt base, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan' 2007-08

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Afghan National Army perimeter post with chair, Tarin Kowt base, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
2007-08
From The approaching storm series 2007-09
Digital colour inkjet photograph
111.5 × 151.5 cm

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'Dusk, ship's bridge with two sailors, northern Gulf' 2007-08

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Dusk, ship’s bridge with two sailors, northern Gulf
2007-08
Digital colour inkjet photograph

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. "Late afternoon, flight line, military installation, Middle East" 2007

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Late afternoon, flight line, military installation, Middle East
2007
Oil on linen

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. "Market, Camp Holland, Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan." 2007

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Market, Camp Holland, Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
2007
Oil on linen

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'View from Chinook, Helmand province, Afghanistan' 2007-08

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
View from Chinook, Helmand province, Afghanistan
2007-08
From The approaching storm series 2007-09
Digital colour inkjet photograph
111.5 × 151.5 cm

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'View from Chinook, Helmand province, Afghanistan' 2007

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
View from Chinook, Helmand province, Afghanistan
2007
Oil on linen

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'Trolley, propeller change, on flightline at night, military installation, Gulf' 2007-2008

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Trolley, propeller change, on flightline at night, military installation, Gulf
2007-2008
From The approaching storm series 2007-09
Digital colour inkjet photograph
87.0 × 87.4 cm

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. 'History painting: market, Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan' 2007

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
History painting: market, Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
2007
Oil on linen

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. Installation view of photographs from the exhibition 'Framing Conflict' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Installation view of photographs from the exhibition Framing Conflict at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne
2009

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green. Installation view of paintings from the exhibition 'Framing Conflict' at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne 2009

 

Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
Installation view of paintings from the exhibition Framing Conflict at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne
2009

 

 

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

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

The Ian Potter Museum of Art website

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16
Jan
09

Sculpture: ‘Entropa’ by David Cerny on view at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium

Date: 16th January 2009

 

David Cerny. "Entropa" 2009

 

David Cerný
Entropa
2009

 

 

The idea was simple but good. So effective that he convinced the presidency of the European Council, which this semester is headed by the Czech Republic, to give its blessing and the 500,000 Euros needed to finance it. Czech artist David Cerný promised the following: a collaboration between 27 artists from the European Community who would put forth their vision from their own countries. France was portrayed as a labor strike, Spain as a slab of concrete and Italy into a soccer field … Belgium appears as a chocolate box, Denmark constructed with Lego and the map of Sweden below a box that looks like the ones Ikea uses.

The only problem is that behind this work of art, which has caused great controversy reducing Greece to a huge fire, Romania into a Dracula castle, there is only one creative mind, that of David Cerný. Cerný, who also invented 26 false names of European artists that had supposedly collaborated with him, recognises that he knew the truth would come out and says that economic restrictions and lack of time motivated him to do the whole work by himself.

Czech Deputy Prime Minister, Alexandr Vondra, has confessed feeling “surprisingly sorry” after discovering that the only author of Entropa is Cerný and not 27 artists, as had been stipulated in the contract with the artist.

“David Cerný is the only person responsible for not fulfilling his commitment”, said Vondra, who added that the Czech presidency is analysing what to do with the installation, which has already been placed at the Justus Lipsius building of the EU Council building and which was supposed to be inaugurated on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Cerný, known for his sculptures such as Freud hanging in the middle of the streets in Prague or for painting a rose on a Soviet tank, has laughed all along and said that he wanted to prove “that Europe could laugh at itself”.

Cerný, who also invented 26 false names of European artists that had supposedly collaborated with him, recognises that he knew the truth would come out and says that economic restrictions and lack of time motivated him to do the whole work by himself.

Text from the ArtDaily.org website

 

The installation consists of a giant jigsaw map – or a kind of plastic frame which keeps the elements of a miniature model in place – with a “cliché and stereotype” of each one of the EU’s 27 member states. Each country was announced to be sculptured by a different national artist.

You you can see Polish priests lifting the flag of the gay movement, a clear reference to the iconic image of the American soldiers planting the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima. France is pointedly represented by a map of France covered with the inscription “Strike!” The Netherlands have sunk beneath the sea with only minarets of mosques appearing above the surface…

When the EU officials saw the work and felt offended, Czech Deputy Prime Minister Vonda firstly defended the project as a way of confronting prejudice and “a space for the free expression of artists from 27 countries.” At least, this was his reaction before they found out it is all one big hoax of Czech art David Czerny, who made the sculpture entirely on his own.”

Text from the Servaas in Shanghai blog [Online] Cited 15/01/2009

 

David Cerny. "Entropa" (detail) 2009

 

David Cerny
Entropa (detail)
2009

 

 

Europe is unified by its history, culture and, in recent years, also by a jointly created political structure. More or less diverse countries are intertwined by a network of multi-dimensional relationships that, in effect, results in an intricate whole. From within, we tend to focus on the differences between the individual European countries. These differences include thousands of important and unimportant things ranging from geographical situation to gastronomy and everyday habits.

The EU puzzle is both a metaphor and a celebration of this diversity. It comprises the building blocks oft he political, economic and cultural relationships with which we ‘toy’ but which will be passed on to our children. The task of today is to create building blocks with the best possible characteristics.

Self-reflection, critical thinking and the capacity to perceive oneself as well as the outside world with a sense of imny are the hallmarks of European thinking. This art project that originated on the occasion of Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union attempts to present Europe as a whole from the perspectives of 27 artists from the individual EU Member States. Their projects share the playful analysis of national stereotypes as well as original characteristics of the individual cultural identities.

That much is stated in an official booklet of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However Entropa is not a real pan-European work by artists-provocateurs, but a mystification. At first glance, it looks like a project to decorate official space, which has degenerated to an unhindered display of national traumas and complexes. Individual states in the European Union puzzle are presented by non-existent artists. They have their names, artificially created identities, and some have their own Web sites. Each of them is the author of a text explaining their motivation to take part in the common project. That all was created by David Cerny, Kristof Kintera and Tomas Pospiszyl, with the help of a large team of colleagues from the Czech Republic and abroad.

The original intention was indeed to ask 27 European artists for participation. But it became apparent that this plan cannot be realised, due to time, production, and financial constraints. The team therefore, without the knowledge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, decided to create fictitious artists who would represent various European national and artistic stereotypes. We apologise to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and their departments that we did not inform them of the true state of affairs and thus misguided them. We did not want them to bear the responsibility for this kind of politically incorrect satire. We knew the truth would come out. But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself.

At the beginning stood the question: What do we really know about Europe? We have information about some states, we only know various tourist clichés about others. We know basically nothing about several of them. The art works, by artificially constructed artists from the 27 EU countries, show how difficult and fragmented Europe as a whole can seem from the perspective of the Czech Republic. We do not want to insult anybody, just point at the difficulty of communication without having the ability of being ironic.

Grotesque hyperbole and mystification belongs among the trademarks of Czech culture and creating false identities is one of the strategies of contemporary art. The images of individual parts of Entropa use artistic techniques often characterised by provocation. The piece thus also lampoons the socially activist art that balances on  the verge between would-be controversial attacks on national character and undisturbing decoration of an official space. We believe that the environment of Brussels is capable of  ironic self-reflection, we believe in the sense of humour of European nations and their representatives.

Text from the David Cerny website

 

 

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14
Jan
09

Lecture/Performance: Hans Aarsman at The Photographers Gallery, London

Date: 21st January 2009

 

Hans Aarsman. 1236 sheets of negatives from the 1980s, thrown away on 19 August 2004

 

Hans Aarsman
1236 sheets of negatives from the 1980s, thrown away on 19 August 2004
2004

 

 

Hans Aarsman presents From Ugly to Pretty and Back Again. The Mysterious Ways of Beauty in Photography.

In this lecture Hans Aarsman examines the myriad of questions involved in taking photographs for purposes as varied as advertising, documentation and personal mementos. How does our understanding of the beauty in these images differ depending their final resting place, be it Ebay, family album, specialist magazines or museums collections. Through his own experiences Aarsman asks if, and how, artistic ambitions, aesthetics and useful photography can coincide.

Hans Aarsman (b.1951, NL) worked as a photojournalist until 1994. He currently works as a writer, in particular on photography, and is co-founder of the magazine Useful Photography. Aarsman displayed, and invited contributions to, his project Photography Against Consumerism here at The Photographers’ Gallery last July. He is based in Amsterdam.

£5.00/ £3.50 concessions

 

 

The Photographers Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street
London
W1F 7LW

Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday: 10.00 – 18.00
Thursday: 10.00 – 20.00 during exhibitions
Sunday: 11.00 – 18.00

The Photographers Gallery website

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14
Jan
09

Review: ‘Bettina Speckner’ jewellery at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 13th January – 7th February 2009

Opening: Tuesday 13th January 2009

 

Bettina Speckner.

 

 

“I never work with the intention to decorate things or to make them look prettier. I try to discover the soul of an object or the essence of a photograph – I want to shape something new which appeals to me and to other people far beyond the optical appearance.”

Bettina Speckner

 

Bettina Speckner opening crowd at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne

 

Bettina Speckner opening crowd at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne

 

 

A very social crowd was in attendance for the opening of an exhibition by German jeweller Bettina Speckner at Gallery Funaki in Melbourne. The jewellery was certainly ravishingly made: refined, beautiful and with an elegance to most of the pieces. Interspersed between the jewellery were colour photographs of about A4 size that featured empty chairs, red benches, huts in the landscape and plants. These photographs seemed to have a very loose association to the form and imagery of the jewellery and were very minor photographs. I was not sure of their actual relevance to the pieces themselves.

Speckner uses a lot of imagery in her jewellery – tintype portraits from the Victorian era, grey etched images of gardens and vases studded with jewels and crystalline forms that have an almost solarised graphite feel to them and flowers, statues, pillars and cows etched into enamel. In these sites of intervention she seeks to make new worlds – inner/outer worlds that e-merge out of the material / worlds that are present and have ‘presence’.

The best work combines enamel, intaglio, jewels and photographic processes together. The art transcends the materials of each and coalesces in objects that transport the viewer – forming other associations, new insights into the condition of the object.

As the artist sees, this is not so much about the memories, cultural significance and semiotics embedded in the photograph but about making something new. For me this is where the problems lies.

Is it inevitable that there is a history and association present with these images or is the viewer culturally able to see them as new objects – in a postmodern sense?

It is almost as though Speckner does want these associations present between the jewellery and the images, why else put the colour photographs between the jewellery – or is this another example of her dissociative technique coming into play. Speckner seems to have purchased the memory of the object (which it still holds) but then wants to completely overwrite it – is this possible?

Personally I don’t think this is fully possible. While no ‘grand narrative’ is present in some of these images (some images seem to be so removed from their context that we will never be able to place them again) in other pieces the images overpower the art. The ‘trace’ of memory and identity, an entity for a split second before a camera, their unique state in this singular tintype, their actual presence and life not so easily destroyed!

When an artist seeks to justify work without fully understanding the cultural implications of the use of such images, even saying she seeks to find the soul of an object when the soul may already exist in another form, then in my eyes the work is unresolved, the vision uneven. Despite the beauty of the art, its refinement and great craftmanship there is something lacking at the heart of these works – perhaps a deeper understanding that the soul can reside in optical appearance, that less may be more and that transcendence is more than skin deep.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

 

Bettina Speckner.

 

Bettina Speckner.

 

Bettina Speckner.

 

Bettina Speckner.

 

 

Gallery Funaki
4 Crossley St.,
Melbourne 3000
03 9662 9446

Opening hours:
Tues-Friday 11 – 5pm
Sat 11 – 4pm

Gallery Funaki website

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12
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘Edward Steichen In High Fashion: The Conde Nast Years, 1923 – 1937’ at the International Centre of Photography, New York

Exhibition dates: 16th January – 3rd May 2009

 

Edward Steichen. 'Gloria Swanson' 1924

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Gloria Swanson (Vanity Fair, February 1, 1924)
1924
Gelatin silver print
The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Courtesy of Condé Nast Archive, Condé Nast Publications, Inc, New York/ Paul Hawryluk, Dawn Lucas and Rachael Smalley

 

 

As part of the International Center of Photography’s 2009 Year of Fashion, the museum will host a retrospective of Edward Steichen’s fashion and celebrity portraiture. Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937, will be on view at ICP (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from January 16 through May 3, 2009. It will feature 175 vintage photographs, drawn mainly from the extensive archive of original prints at Condé Nast, along with a selection of important prints from the collection of the George Eastman House Museum. This will be the first exhibition in which the full range of his fashion photography and celebrity portraiture will be shown, including many images that have never been exhibited before. Having previously traveled throughout Europe, the exhibition will be presented on its North American tour in this version only at ICP.

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was already a famed Pictorialist photographer and painter in the United States and abroad when he was offered the position of chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair by Condé Nast. Upon assuming the job, the forty-four year old artist began one of the most lucrative and controversial careers in photography. To Alfred Stieglitz and his followers, Steichen was seen as damaging the cause of photography as a fine art by agreeing to do commercial editorial work. Nevertheless, Steichen’s years at Condé Nast magazines were extraordinarily prolific and inspired. He began by applying the soft focus style he had helped create to the photography of fashion. But soon he revolutionised the field, banishing the gauzy light of the Pictorialist era and replacing it with the clean, crisp lines of Modernism. In the process he changed the presentation of the fashionable woman from that of a distant, romantic creature to that of a much more direct, appealing, independent figure. At the same time he created lasting portraits of hundreds of leading personalities in movies, theatre, literature, politics, music, and sports, including Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Colette, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Jack Dempsey, Noel Coward, Greta Garbo, Dorothy Parker, and Cecil B. De Mille.

from the ArtDaily.org website

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

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'On George Baher's yacht' 1928

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
On George Baher’s yacht
1928
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive

 

Edward Steichen. 'Gary Cooper' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Gary Cooper
1930
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Joan Crawford' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Joan Crawford
1932
Gelatin silver print
© 1932 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Princess Nathalie Paley wearing sandals by Shoecraft' 1934

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Princess Nathalie Paley wearing sandals by Shoecraft
1934
Gelatin silver print
© 1934 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Sinclair Lewis' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Sinclair Lewis
1932
Gelatin silver print
© 1932 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Patricia Bowman' 1932

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Patricia Bowman
1932
Gelatin silver print
© 1932 Condé Nast

 

 

“An exhibition of 175 works by Edward Steichen drawn largely from the Condé Nast archives, this is the first presentation to give serious consideration to the full range of Steichen’s fashion images. Organised by the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, in conjunction with the International Center of Photography, the exhibition will open at ICP after an extensive tour in Europe. Steichen’s approach to fashion photography was formative and over the course of his career he changed public perceptions of the American woman. An architect of American Modernism and a Pictorialist, Steichen exhibited his fashion images alongside his art photographs. Steichen’s crisp, detailed, high-key style revolutionised fashion photography, and his influence is felt in the field to this day – Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Bruce Weber are among his stylistic successors.”

Text from the International Centre of Photography website

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Evening shoes by Vida Moore' 1927

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Evening shoes by Vida Moore
1927
Gelatin silver print
© 1927 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Model posing for Beauty Primer on hand and nail care' 1934

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Model posing for Beauty Primer on hand and nail care
1934
Gelatin silver print
© 1934 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Anna May Wong' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Anna May Wong
1930
Gelatin silver print
© 1930 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Sylvia Sidney' 1929

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Sylvia Sidney
1929
Gelatin silver print
© 1929 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Pola Negri' 1925

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Pola Negri
1925
Gelatin silver print
© 1925 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Loretta Young' 1931

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Loretta Young
1931
Gelatin silver print
© 1931 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Mary Heberden' 1935

 

Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Mary Heberden
1935
Gelatin silver print
© 1935 Condé Nast

 

Edward Steichen. 'Katharine Hepburn wearing a coat by Clare Potter' 1933

 

Edward Steichen
Katharine Hepburn wearing a coat by Clare Potter
1933
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy Condé Nast Archive

 

 

International Centre of Photography website

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06
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise’ at the Smithsonian, Washington D.C.

Exhibition dates: 30th January 2009 – 28th February 2010

 

Addison Scurlock. 'Family portrait' c. 1925

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Family portrait
c. 1925
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

 

I so wish I was visiting Washington to see this exhibition!

If you get chance have a look through the Smithsonian NMAG Archives Center, ‘Portraits of a City: The Scurlock Photographic Studio’s Legacy to Washington, D.C.’ What a record of cultural and personal history, memory and a wonderful example of how photography can transcend time and space.

Click on the links at the top of the page or use the ‘General Resources: Browse all Scurlock images’ button at the left of page.

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

 

 

For over 80 years, the Scurlock photography studio catalogued the lives of the black middle class of Washington, D.C. (The exhibit, The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise, is on view at the National Museum of American History through November 15, 2009. Thanks to Lonnie Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which co-organised the exhibit).

 

Addison Scurlock. 'Howard University Players' c. 1933

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Howard University Players
c. 1933
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

 

A Scurlock camera was “present at almost every significant event in the African-American community,” recalls former D.C. Councilwoman Charlene Drew Jarvis, whose father, Howard University physician Charles Drew, was a Scurlock subject many times. Dashing all over town – to baptisms and weddings, to balls and cotillions, to high-school graduations and to countless events at Howard, where he was the official photographer – Addison Scurlock became black Washington’s “photographic Boswell – the keeper of the visual memory of the community in all its quotidian ordinariness and occasional flashes of grandeur and moment,” says Jeffrey Fearing, a historian who is also a Scurlock relative.

The Scurlock Studio grew as the segregated city became a mecca for black artists and thinkers even before the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. U Street became known as “Black Broadway,” as its jazz clubs welcomed talents including Duke Ellington (who lived nearby), Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey. They and other entertainers received the Scurlock treatment, along with the likes of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington; soon no black dignitary’s visit to Washington was complete without a Scurlock sitting. George Scurlock would say it took him a while to realise that his buddy Mercer Ellington’s birthday parties – with Mercer’s dad (a.k.a. the Duke) playing “Happy Birthday” at the piano – were anything special.

At a time when minstrel caricature was common, Scurlock’s pictures captured black culture in its complexity and showed black people as they saw themselves. “The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise,” an exhibition presented through this month by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, features images of young ballerinas in tutus, of handsomely dressed families in front of fine houses and couples in gowns and white tie at the NAACP’s winter ball.

Extract from David Zax. “The Scurlock Studio: Picture of Prosperity,” in the Smithsonian Magazine published on Smithsonian.com website February 2010

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'Effie Moore Dancers' c. 1920s

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Effie Moore Dancers
c. 1920s
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'Effie Moore Dancers' c. 1920s

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Effie Moore Dancers
c. 1920s
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'Dunbar High School Champion Basketball Team' 1922

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Dunbar High School Champion Basketball Team
1922
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

The photograph features a young Charles Drew, fourth from the right, before earning his place in history for his pioneering work in developing the blood bank concept

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'Charles Drew with the first mobile blood collecting unit [Charles Drew and Red Cross Medical Team]' February 1941

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Charles Drew with the first mobile blood collecting unit [Charles Drew and Red Cross Medical Team]
February 1941
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

Photographed nearly twenty years after his championship basketball season, Dr. Drew had recently been granted his doctorate and was spearheading the “Blood for Britain” program instituted in World War II to save the lives of Allied forces.

 

 

Charles Drew

Charles Richard Drew (June 3, 1904 – April 1, 1950) was an American physician, surgeon, and medical researcher. He researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage, and applied his expert knowledge to developing large-scale blood banks early in World War II. This allowed medics to save thousands of lives of the Allied forces. The research and development aspect of his blood storage work is disputed. As the most prominent African American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, and resigned his position with American Red Cross, which maintained the policy until 1950.

Early life and education

Drew was born in 1904 into an African-American middle-class family in Washington, D.C. His father, Richard, was a carpet layer and his mother, Nora Burrell, was a teacher. Drew and his siblings grew up in D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighbourhood and he graduated from Dunbar High School in 1922. Drew won an athletics scholarship to Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1926. An outstanding athlete at Amherst, Drew also joined Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He attended medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, receiving his MDCM in 1933, and ranked 2nd in his class of 127 students. A few years later, Drew did graduate work at Columbia University, where he earned his Doctor of Medical Science degree, becoming the first African American to do so.

Academic career

In 1941, Drew’s distinction in his profession was recognised when he became the first African-American surgeon selected to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery. Drew had a lengthy research and teaching career and became a chief surgeon.

Blood plasma for British project

In late 1940, before the U.S. entered World War II and just after earning his doctorate, Drew was recruited by John Scudder to help set up and administer an early prototype program for blood storage and preservation. He was to collect, test, and transport large quantities of blood plasma for distribution in the United Kingdom. Drew went to New York City as the medical director of the United States’ Blood for Britain project. The Blood for Britain project was a project to aid British soldiers and civilians by giving U.S. blood to the United Kingdom.

Drew started what would be later known as bloodmobiles, which were trucks containing refrigerators of stored blood; this allowed for greater mobility in terms of transportation as well as prospective donations.

Drew created a central location for the blood collection process where donors could go to give blood. He made sure all blood plasma was tested before it was shipped out. He ensured that only skilled personnel handled blood plasma to avoid the possibility of contamination. The Blood for Britain program operated successfully for five months, with total collections of almost 15,000 people donating blood, and with over 5,500 vials of blood plasma. As a result, the Blood Transfusion Betterment Association applauded Drew for his work. Out of his work came the American Red Cross Blood Bank.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'Murray Brothers Printing Company' 1925

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Murray Brothers Printing Company
1925
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

The Murray Brothers Printing Company, 1925, was home to The Washington Tribune newspaper and steps away from the entrepreneurial F.H.M. Murray’s other business, the Murray Palace Casino.

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'YWCA camp for girls, Highland Beach Girls, Maryland' 1930-31

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
YWCA camp for girls, Highland Beach Girls, Maryland
1930-31
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'YWCA camp for girls, Highland Beach Girls, Maryland' 1930-31

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
YWCA camp for girls, Highland Beach Girls, Maryland
1930-31
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964) 'Picketing Gone with the Wind outside Lincoln Theatre' 1947

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Picketing Gone with the Wind outside Lincoln Theatre
1947
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

Rufus Byars, minstrel performer and manager of the theatre is the stooped figure to the left.

 

 

Nearly a century’s worth of photographs from the Scurlock studio form a vivid portrait of black Washington, D.C., in all its guises – its challenges and its victories, its dignity and its determination. The exhibition features more than 100 images created by one of the premiere African American studios in the country and one of the longest-running black businesses in Washington. Highlights include cameras and equipment from the studio and period artefacts from Washington.

Beginning in the early 20th century and continuing into the 1990s, Addison Scurlock, followed by his sons, Robert and George, used their cameras to document and celebrate a community unique in the world. They captured weddings, baptisms, graduations, sporting events, civil protests, high-society affairs, and visiting dignitaries. It was for portraiture, however, that the Scurlocks became renowned; they continue to be recognised today by scholars and artists as among the very best of 20th-century photographers who recorded the rapid changes in African American urban communities nationwide.

Text from the Smithsonian website

 

Addison Scurlock. "Miss Vinita Lewis" c.1940

 

Addison Scurlock (American, 1883-1964)
Miss Vinita Lewis
c. 1940
Courtesy of the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
© Scurlock

 

 

Smithsonian National Museum of American History 
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Opening hours:
Open 10 am – 5.30 pm daily

Smithsonian Institution website

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05
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘Steam and Steel: The Photographs of O. Winston Link’ at George Eastman Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 11th October 2008 – 25th January 2009

 

O. Winston Link. 'Hot Shot Eastbound, at the Iaeger Drive-In. W.V. Aug. 2, 1956'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
Hot Shot Eastbound, at the Iaeger Drive-In. W.V. Aug. 2, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

Link pasted the plane into the negative at a later stage

 

 

I have to admit to a very large amount of admiration for this photographer. He is brilliant, simply the best photographer of trains and their cultural surrounds that the world has ever seen. He persevered within his photographic projects through thick and thin. I feel a special affinity toward this man as I love trains, planes, ships and trucks (although I am yet to use trains in my work).

As with all great photographers he pursued his goals with passion, a unique eye and the ability to produce a ‘signature’ photograph that could only be his. His photographs are timeless remembrances of the history and culture of the era. The above image combines all the elements of 1950s America – the drive in, the couple, the speed, the convertible car, night and the ambiguous slightly sinister rocket like plane. Planes, trains and automobiles are the stuff of legend for me, a child of the 1950s. The lighting of the train is incredible, with rows of flash set off at just the right moment. The precision and skill to do this and the resulting tableaux have few equals. When I first saw this image I was amazed and still am today!

O. Winston Link had a deep respect for the people and machines he was photographing – capturing a vanishing world before it all but disappeared. Thank god there was someone with vision and foresight to accomplish this task so that these incredible and indelible images will forever transcend the time in which they were taken, to give joy to the people that look at them.

Marcus Bunyan

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

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) 'Maud Bows to the Virginia Creeper, Green Cove, Virginia, October 27, 1956'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
Maud Bows to the Virginia Creeper, Green Cove, Virginia, October 27, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
15 1/2 x 19 3/8 in. (39.37 x 49.21 cm)
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

 

The Abingdon Branch of the N&W led Link to another approach in his documentation of the railroad. Since the trains did not run at night, all of the images had to be made in daylight, making this branch the source of many of his genre scenes and colour images. The branch was short but steep, including the highest point of any passenger train in the east. With top speeds of 25 mph, it earned the nickname “Virginia Creeper.”

Link found the slow pace and setting the most bucolic of the entire N&W system. He wrote, “There was beauty at every curve and every bridge.” The line crept by cascading waterways and across high wooden trestles. Although the entire branch was abandoned in 1978, the railbed has since become a hiking trail, with Green Cove the only station remaining and restored to the look of this photograph.

Text from the Akron Art Museum website

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) '"Giant Oak," Max Meadows, Va., Dec. 30, 1957'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
“Giant Oak,” Max Meadows, Va., Dec. 30, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

 

“Ogle Winston Link, known commonly as O. Winston Link, has been revered by many as the most important railroad photographer of all time. He is best known for his black-and-white photography and sound recordings of the last days of steam locomotive railroading in the United States in the late 1950s. A true American master, Link produced night-time photographs of the railroad over a five-year period that ended when the last steam locomotive of the Norfolk & Western Railway was taken out of service in May 1960.

This exhibition features more than 100 framed photographs as well as Link’s actual photographic and lighting equipment, plus his personal notebooks detailing set-ups, formulas, and exposure details.”

Text from the George Eastman Museum website

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) 'NW1635, The Birmingham Special, arriving at Rural Retreat, Va.' 1957

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
NW1635, The Birmingham Special, arriving at Rural Retreat, Va.
1957
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) '"The Birmingham Special Crosses Bridge 201," near Radford, Va., Dec. 17, 1957'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
“The Birmingham Special Crosses Bridge 201,” near Radford, Va., Dec. 17, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) '"Second Pigeon Creek Shifter and Icicles," near Gilbert, W.Va., March 16, 1960'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
“Second Pigeon Creek Shifter and Icicles,” near Gilbert, W.Va., March 16, 1960
1960
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

Unknown photographer. '"Link Sets Up Two View Cameras at Bridge 8," Watauga, Va., Nov. 1, 1957'

 

Unknown photographer
“Link Sets Up Two View Cameras at Bridge 8,” Watauga, Va., Nov. 1, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
Thomas H. Garver/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

 

George Eastman Museum
900 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14607, USA

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

O. Winston Link Museum

George Eastman House 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: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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