Archive for April, 2009

28
Apr
09

The Donora Digital Collection

April 2009

 

A shot of the Wire Works Acid Plant from across the Monongahela River nd

 

Unknown photographer
A shot of the Wire Works Acid Plant from across the Monongahela River
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

 

I stumbled across this digital collection quite by accident when researching something entirely different and was amazed by some of the powerful images that reflect life in a Pennsylvanian industrial town. Sadly, the The Donora Digital Collection website is now no longer online.

The last photograph is one of the most painful and emotive I have seen in a long time. Man in suit underneath train

Sitting in a suit under a train this photograph says nothing but everything about this man’s life. He sits in the dirt, crumpled suit, dirty shirt, filthy hands, head bowed, one armed with his left suit sleeve hanging limply at his side, eyes daubed with dark rings staring straight at the camera under glowering lids. This is me this is who I am! he declares. Sitting in the dirt in a suit under a train.

Perhaps he was a odd job worker in the town, but he doesn’t wear a labourers clothes and the suit is incongruous with his dirty hand. Perhaps he was a hobo (A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagrant, especially one who is impoverished) hopping from town to town on the railcars hoping not to get caught. From the photograph it looks like the 1920s. The dark shadow of the train looms menacingly over him and two steel poles lay abandoned by the tracks. I can’t make out what the writing says directly above him and I am unsure whether it is written on the side of the train or on the photograph itself.

But it is his text… the marking an anonymous epitaph for his life: “I was here, I lived.”

And I thank God he did.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Looking toward the Zinc Works in Donora, PA from Webster, PA, 1948

 

Unknown photographer
Looking toward the Zinc Works in Donora, PA from Webster, PA
1948
Gelatin silver print

 

Open Hearth and Rod Yard nd

 

Unknown photographer
Open Hearth and Rod Yard
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Wire workers in mill near large cables, August, 29, 1925

 

Unknown photographer
Wire workers in mill near large cables, August, 29, 1925
1925
Gelatin silver print

 

Acid storage area nd

 

Unknown photographer
Acid storage area
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

 

“The month of October, 2008 marks the 60th Anniversary of a 1948 Donora smog incident that claimed the lives of at least 21 people and sickened thousands. All signs pointed towards the emissions from the world’s largest zinc mill and a weather inversion that encompassed the geographical horseshoe of the Mon Valley. Sixty years later a museum opened on McKean Avenue to preserve and share the unique history of Donora, PA and to celebrate the clean air movement that followed. This Digital Collection is the site of a special exhibit devoted to the arduous process of digitally preserving and cataloging hundreds of the primary source materials that have survived the test of time. These materials provide special insight into industrial and social aspects of American life in southwestern Pennsylvania and date from the beginning of Donora at the turn of the 20th century up to the current period.”

Text from the The Donora Digital Collection website [Online] Cited 24/04/2009 no longer available online

 

Workers among huge gear mechanisms nd

 

Unknown photographer
Workers among huge gear mechanisms
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

Workers and crane inside the Wire Works, July 14, 1925

 

Unknown photographer
Workers and crane inside the Wire Works, July 14, 1925
1925
Gelatin silver print

 

Man in suit underneath train nd

 

Unknown photographer
Man in suit underneath train
Nd
Gelatin silver print

 

 

The Donora Digital Collection
Donora, PA: From its Origins to the Nationwide Case for Clean Air

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28
Apr
09

The work of Eric Tabuchi

April 2009

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Station #1' 2002

 

Eric Tabuchi
Station #1 from the book Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations
2002

 

 

One of my favourite artists at the moment is Frenchman Eric Tabuchi. I don’t know a lot about him as there is only an exhibition list on his website and no other details but this does not matter. His work speaks for him. Taken in simple formalist objective style his colour photographs tell it like it is, speaking the images of existence in a clear and precise manner. His work ‘en serie’ are conceptually based but the images themselves are straight forward, images that depict the ironies and degradations of environments and artefacts without moral judgement. His photographs have links back to the formalist style of the German Bernd and Hiller Becher whose work has influenced many contemporary photographers (including Andreas Gursky, Candid Hofer, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth amongst others).

Tabuchi’s latest artist book Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations is a contemporary reprise on the very first modern artist’s book Twentysix Gasoline Stations produced by Ed Ruscha in 1963. Using minimalist notions of repetitive sequence and seriality Tabuchi addresses a contemporary landscape full of abandoned technologies, toxic environments and architectural wastelands foretelling the badlands of future worlds. As in all his bodies of work the body of the human is absent, the sense of corporeal distance from object to viewer devastating. His constructions, both photographic and environmental, speak eloquently to the human present, presence absence.

He is a photographer to remember.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Station #21' 2008

 

Eric Tabuchi
Station #21 from the book Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations
2008

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Station #22' 2006

 

Eric Tabuchi
Station #22 from the book Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations
2006

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Stock Options #3' from the Monument series 2007

 

Eric Tabuchi
Stock Options #3 from the Monument series
2007

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Two Windows' from the Road Signs series 2006

 

Eric Tabuchi
Two Windows from the Road Signs series
2006

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Untitled' from the Untitled Landscape series 2005

 

Eric Tabuchi
Untitled from the Untitled Landscape series
2005

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Untitled' from the Various Ruins series 2007

 

Eric Tabuchi
Untitled from the Various Ruins series
2007

 

Eric Tabuchi. 'Untitled' from the Work in Progress series 2007

 

Eric Tabuchi
Untitled from the Work in Progress series
2007

 

 

Book: Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations

Eric Tabuchi website

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26
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe’ at Phoenix Art Museum

Exhibition dates: 21st March – 12th July, 2009

 

An interesting concept but I’m not entirely sure that the images are successful. Some work better than others. Perhaps it is not necessary for there to be an absolute registration across time and space, the continuation of a horizon line for example. The famous photographic collages by David Hockney are a case in point.

It doesn’t matter when the images were made, whether there is a second, or a century, between compositions. The camera and the artist are always selective, the camera always privileging one view over another view: all images are therefore constructions. Hockney pushes the boundaries of these constructions whereas I don’t think these images do to anywhere near the same extent.

There were some vaguely interesting videos on the Phoenix Art Museum website about the starting point, discovery, process and collaboration for the work which are no longer available. There is one video available on the Klett and Wolfe website.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to 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.

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Rock formations on the Road to Lee's Ferry, Arizona' 2008

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe.
Rock formations on the Road to Lee’s Ferry, Arizona
2008
Digital inkjet print
36″ h x 76″ w

Left inset: William Bell. Plateau North of the Colorado River near the Paris 1872 (courtesy National Archives)
Right inset: William Bell. Headlands North of the Colorado River 1872 (courtesy National Archives)

 

William H. Bell (1830 - January 28, 1910) 'Headlands North of the Colorado River' 1872

 

William H. Bell (1830 – January 28, 1910)
Headlands North of the Colorado River
1872
Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division
Courtesy National Archives

 

 

Arizona’s Grand Canyon – natural wonder, national park, tourist attraction, sacred land – is perhaps the world’s best “photo op.” The collaborative photographic team of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe have set out to explore this celebrated place of dramatic beauty, and Phoenix Art Museum is proud to be the first to show a comprehensive look at their powerful, thoughtful, and playful approach to the Grand Canyon.

Drawn from two seasons of fieldwork, Charting the Canyon will include about 30 photographs ranging from a modest 20 by 20-inch print to a panorama nearly 10 feet wide. Mark Klett, a Regents Professor at Arizona State University, and Byron Wolfe, a former student of Klett’s who is now a Lantis’ University Professor teaches at California State University at Chico, have been interested in rephotographing historic images since their collaboration began in 1997.

Now the pair combines their own colour photographs with imagery by 19th-century photographer J. K. Hillers and artist William Holmes and by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, who worked at the Canyon in the early 20th century. Klett and Wolfe respond to the historic images and the Canyon itself, yielding artworks that reconsider an icon, challenge how we perceive the land, and bring a new perspective to its portrayals.

Charting the Canyon offers visual delights: the humorous layering of a 19th-century drawing with contemporary photographic details, the extension of an Ansel Adams view into a serene panorama, and the illusion of three-dimensions with a stereopticon viewer built for the twenty-first century, among others to be discovered in this unique exhibition.”

Text from the Phoenix Art Museum website [Online] Cited 20/04/2009 no longer available online

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Sixty-six years after Edward Weston's "Storm, Arizona" From the Marble Canyon Trading Post' 2007

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Sixty-six years after Edward Weston’s “Storm, Arizona” From the Marble Canyon Trading Post
2007
Digital inkjet print
16″ h x 38.75″ w

 

Left: Edward Weston. Storm, Arizona 1941 (courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson).

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Desert View: from the window of the Watchtower gift shop' 2008

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Desert View: from the window of the Watchtower gift shop
2008

 

 

The Grand Canyon – natural wonder, sacred ground, national park, international tourist attraction – is perhaps the world’s best “photo op.” Vivid colours, breathtaking vistas and jaw dropping canyon depths have lured photographers to Northern Arizona for years. A new exhibition, Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe on view at Phoenix Art Museum through July 12, 2009, explores this celebrated place of dramatic beauty with large-scale sweeping panoramas that marry 21st century colour photographs with historic drawings and images.

In 2007, Mark Klett, a Regents Professor at Arizona State University, and Byron Wolfe, a former student of Klett’s and now a Lantis’ University Professor at California State University at Chico, headed to the Grand Canyon to re-envision the many images made at the site over the last 150 years. During two summers of field work, they identified the exact locations portrayed in early photographs and drawings. From those geographic points they created new photographs that incorporate the original view. Digital versions of the historic images are inserted within the contemporary photograph, creating combined images that convey the big picture surrounding earlier artists’ depicted view.

Working collaboratively, Klett and Wolfe challenge one another to invent new ways to integrate the historic images they discover. Charting the Canyon reveals their combined invention, offering provocative ways to think about the land, its history and our role in seeing it.

“Many of the things we’re trying to do seemed impossible at first – like merging several views of a scene from different times into a continuous space, or extending one photo’s frame to include spaces from multiple vantage points,” commented Klett. “We’re intentionally using playfulness as a way to stretch ideas, a kind of free form exploration that puts a premium on creative solutions to complex space and time problems.”

“The pleasure the artists experienced in the creative process comes through in their work. Charting the Canyon is a joyful exploration allowing Museum visitors to discover the Grand Canyon in a new and thought-provoking way,” commented Rebecca Senf, Norton Family Assistant Curator of photography, Phoenix Art Museum. “Phoenix Art Museum is proud to be the first to show a comprehensive look at Klett and Wolfe’s powerful, thoughtful and playful images.”

Charting the Canyon includes 26 photographs ranging from a modest 20 by 20-inch print to a panorama 10 feet wide. Exhibition highlights include:
The humorous layering of a 19th-century drawing with contemporary photographic details.
The extension of an Ansel Adams view into a serene panorama.
The pairing of a black-and-white Edward Weston view with a colour image made 66 years later.
The illusion of three-dimensions with a stereopticon viewer built for the 21st century.

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Point Imperial on the Grand Canyon' 2008

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Point Imperial on the Grand Canyon, 50% Ansel Adams, 50% Red Wall Limestone
2008

Left: Ansel Adams. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 1941

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) 'Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona' 1941

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
1941
Gelatin silver print

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Panorama from Hopi Point on the Grand Canyon, made over two days extending the view of Ansel Adams' 2007 

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Panorama from Hopi Point on the Grand Canyon, made over two days extending the view of Ansel Adams
2007

Right: Ansel Adams. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 1941 (Courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ)

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) 'Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona' 1941

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
1941
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ

 

 

“We’re intentionally using playfulness as a way to extend ideas, a kind of free-form exploration that puts a premium on creative solutions to complex space and time problems. Many of the things we’re trying to do seemed impossible at first – like merging several views of a scene from different times into a continuous space, or extending one photo’s frame to include spaces from multiple vantage points.”

Klett and Wolfes process of inserting historic views within contemporary photographs, or linking a number of different historic views, emphasises the possibilities of multiple interpretations of a single landscape. If we look at a photograph of the Grand Canyon, we bring to it our own cultural notions, myths, and memories, and read it based on our personal point of view. By bringing together images made throughout time, Klett and Wolfe remind us that any terrain is not only what we see and think about it in this present moment, but it is part of a long evolution of thought and use that includes the past and future, as well. The team’s photographs present time as overlapping layers, much like the stratigraphic rock of the Canyon. This unconventional presentation encourages viewers to see time as a flexible construction.”

Text by Rebecca Senf, Assistant Curator of photography, Phoenix Art Museum from the exhibition brochure [Online] Cited 20/04/2009 no longer available online

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. 'Details from the view at Point Sublime on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, based on the panoramic drawing by William Holmes (1882)' 2007

 

Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
Details from the view at Point Sublime on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, based on the panoramic drawing by William Holmes (1882)
2007

Lithograph by William Henry Holmes, 1882. From Clarence Dutton, Atlas to Accompany the Monograph on the Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress).

 

David Hockney. 'Pearblossom Highway., 11 - 18th April 1986 #2' 1986

 

David Hockney
Pearblossom Highway., 11-18th April 1986 #2
1986

 

 

Phoenix Art Museum
McDowell Road & Central Avenue
1625 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Opening hours:
Closed Mondays and major holidays
Tuesday, 10am-9pm
Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
First Friday Evenings, 6-10pm

Phoenix Museum of Art website

Byron Wolfe website

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23
Apr
09

Review: ‘Mark Strizic: Melbourne – A City in Transition (Rare Silver Gelatin Photographs)’ at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 8th April – 2nd May 2009

 

Mark Strizic. 'Eastern Market Destruction - 1' 1960

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Eastern Market Destruction – 1
1960, printed 1996
Silver gelatin photograph
19 x 22.5cm

 

 

Social Fact and Urban Vision

This is an exhibition by the veteran Australian photographer Mark Strizic that plays like the coda at the end of a piece of music, the pensive full stop at the end of a well read book. There are some stunning highlight photographs among the 139 black and white silver gelatin prints on display, some good photographs and some fairly mundane images and prints. With some judicious editing of the photographs (perhaps by a third), the exhibition could have had a stronger artistic aesthetic and carried the voice of the photographer with greater projection. As it is the exhibition will be popular drawing in the crowds because of the photographs subject matter and their appeal to both an individual and collective nostalgia.

Examining Strizic’s photographs we note a traditional structure to the picture plane. Unlike the photographs of Eugene Atget who photographed Paris in the early 20th century there is little sublime spatial representation in Strizics photographs, that different angle of alignment that Atget achieved with the positioning of his camera. Further, we observe that unlike an immigrant to another country at around the same time, Robert Frank and America, the photographs follow traditional format: none of the revolutionary experimentation in handheld, grainy images of jukeboxes, cut up people or images of flags appear in this work. We can also say that unlike Helen Levitt’s early black and white images of New York from around the same period there is little ‘joie de vivre’, little engagement with the actual nitty gritty stuff of living in Strizic’s work. The quote below articulates what Strizic’s photographs both address and dismiss:

“To walk in the city is to experience the disjuncture of partial vision/partial consciousness. The narrativity of this walking is belied by a simultaneity we know and yet cannot experience. As we turn a corner, our object disappears around the next corner. The sides of the street conspire against us; each attention suppresses a field of possibilities. The discourse of the city is a syncretic discourse, political in its untranslatability. Hence the language of the state elides. Unable to speak all the city’s languages, unable to speak all at once, the state’s language become monumental, the silence of headquarters, the silence of the bank. In this transcendent and anonymous silence is the miming of corporate relations. Between the night workers and the day workers lies the interface of light; in the rotating shift, the disembodiment of lived time. The walkers of the city travel at different speeds, their steps like handwriting of a personal mobility. In the milling of the crowd is the choking of class relations, the interruption of speed, and the machine. Hence the barbarism of police on horses, the sudden terror of the risen animal.”1

We observe in the photographs an emphasis on surfaces, on a supreme understanding of light and shade coupled with a certain distance and emotional remoteness from the frenetic hubbub of city life. Empty streets and isolated people fall into shadow and their is little evidence of ‘play’ in the photographs. This is observation not interaction or integration as an immigrant observing Melbourne life. There is no up front presence of disembodied people as in Robert Franks photographs in The Americans. Here the alienation that pervades the photographs is the alienation of the photographer from the people as much as it is the alienation of the people from themselves. People are shot in silhouette against the sun or shop windows or peering in at unobtainable goods; desolate streets and working class suburbs all express the isolation of city life but at a structured distance from them.

When Strizic’s photographs are good they are very good. His understanding of light is magnificent: light reflects off water, hazes and shimmers off city buildings. The mixing of shadows and sun and his use of the technique of ‘contre jour’ (shooting into the sun) the one thing Strizic does against traditional conventions works to good effect in some of the best photographs. His 1968 night time long exposure photograph of the old Gas and Fuel Building is rewarding for the black bulk of the end of the building looming over Flinders Street and the striations of car headlamps. The photograph Flinders Lane (1967, below) shows a delicate use of depth of field where the foreground of cars and person are out of focus, the light bouncing off the edges of the woman, the focus of the image in the far distance. The photograph McPhersons Building (1958, below) is one of my personal favourites in the exhibition and is a stunning photograph for the atmosphere the photographer has captured.

After a while the use of the ‘contre jour’ technique becomes tiresome. Other photographs simply document a city in transition. These photographs appeal both to an individual nostalgia (‘I used to work in that building’; ‘My grandmother used to live in that street’) and a collective nostalgia where people experience things collectively, “in the sense that [collective] nostalgia occurs when we are with others who shared the event(s) being recalled, and also in the sense that one’s nostalgia is often for the collective – the characteristics and activities of a group or institution in which the individual was a participant.”2

Collective nostalgia refers to that condition in which the symbolic objects are of a highly public, widely shared and familiar character, i.e. those symbolic resources from the past which can under proper conditions trigger off wave upon wave of nostalgic feeling in millions of persons at the same time3 and in this exhibition it is the photographs of a city in transition that trigger this nostalgia, a city now lost to the mists of time. Through these photographs we remember what Melbourne was like at this time collectively.

As Harper has observed

“Nostalgia combines bitterness and sweetness, the lost and the found, the far and near, the new and the familiar, absence and presence. The past which is over and gone, from which we have been or are being removed, by some magic becomes present again for a short while. But its realness seems even more familiar, because renewed, than it ever was, more enchanting and more lovely …”4

Does this collective nostalgia make the photographs good? This is a pertinent question.

Today, nostalgia has become a cultural phenomenon one centred on a longing for home (home is where you are happy to be!) in a collective sense and promoted through commercialisation and the realisation that nostalgia sells. The use of the value seeking word ‘rare’ in the exhibition title is instructive in this regard. Only about 25% of the photographs in this exhibition are “vintage” prints, in other words photographs printed within 3 years of the negative being taken. All other photographs have been printed within the last 15 years. Some are ‘Unique state’ gelatin photographs while others are not. What does this mean. Are they are unique state only in this size? What about the common or garden silver gelatin prints in the show? What does the status word “rare” imply for them?

I remember seeing an exhibition of the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson in Scotland about ten years ago. Three rooms had large prints of his work. One room just had vintage prints. The contrast was astounding. The room full of vintage prints had an intensity of vision, of his vision at the time he took the photographs evidenced in small jewel like photographs that the three other rooms photographs simply did not possess – through scale, printing and aesthetics. The same question, without any need for an answer, can be posed here. Only the word ‘rare’ demands that answer for the modern prints are just what they are and nothing more.

In conclusion this is a strong show by Strizic that could have been edited and focused in a more rewarding way. Strizic is one of Australia’s best photographers for understanding the significance of place. His use of light is superb but there always seems to be an emotional distance to his photographs. An element of collective nostalgia adds to their documentary appeal but the best photographs do not just record, they challenge and transcend the subject matter taking the work to an altogether different plane of existence.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Gallery 101 for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. Stewart, Susan. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993, p. 2. Prologue
  2. Wilson, Janelle. “”Remember when …” a consideration of the concept of nostalgia,” in et Cetera. Concord: Fall 1999. Vol. 56, Iss. 3;  pg. 296, 9 pgs
  3. Davis, F. Yearning For Yesterday: A Sociology of Nostalgia. New York: The Free Press, 1979, p. 222
  4. Harper, R. Nostalgia: An Existential Exploration of Longing and Fulfilment in the Modern Age. The Press of Western Reserve University, 1966, p. 120 quoted in Wilson, Janelle. “”Remember when …” a consideration of the concept of nostalgia,” in et Cetera. Concord: Fall 1999. Vol. 56, Iss. 3;  pg. 296, 9 pgs

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mark Strizic: Melbourne - A City in Transition' exhibition at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mark Strizic: Melbourne - A City in Transition' exhibition at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Mark Strizic: Melbourne - A City in Transition' exhibition at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Mark Strizic: Melbourne – A City in Transition exhibition at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

 

Mark Strizic, one of Australia’s eminent photographic artists presents us with nostalgic views of Melbourne and the changing face of the city in rare silver gelatin photographs. The exhibition, Melbourne – A City in Transition will be held at Gallery 101 from 8th April – 2nd May. There will be an evening artist reception on Thursday 9th April to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Strizic’s oeuvre represents a collection of iconic images of architecture and of life – a record of the changing face of a migrating society of new prosperity, youth and popular culture – taken with a sympathetic eye for humanistic detail.

The exhibition will coincide with the announcement of the forthcoming publication, Mark Strizic, Melbourne: Marvellous to Modern, published by Thames & Hudson in association with the State Library of Victoria. In 2007, the State Library of Victoria acquired Mark Strizic’s entire archive of approximately 5000 negatives, colour transparencies and slides. In addition, the Library holds a fine collection of Strizic photographs, including examples of all types of photographic print, from gelatin silver to digital, produced by the photographer during his long career.

Press release from Gallery 101

 

Mark Strizic photographs

Mark Strizic photographs

Mark Strizic photographs

Mark Strizic photographs

Mark Strizic photographs

 

 

“‘Melbourne – A City in Transition’ is a collection of iconic images of Melbourne city life taken with a sympathetic eye for humanist detail. Strizic accurately depicts the joys and hardships experienced in everyday life with a fresh and living memory. He successfully captures the vicarious essence of suburban life. His portrait of Melbourne includes the city, harbour and river banks – streets and trams, pavements, arcades and lanes, stations and bridges, billboards and facades and public sculpture. We see people going about their daily activities – commuting, shopping at leisure, trading, embracing, conversing, reading the newspaper and visiting the beach. Other works record the demolition and construction of building sites and the changing face of Melbourne, both in society and the urban landscape.”

.
Text from the exhibition flyer

 

“In these eloquent studies of light and shadow, Strizic finds beauty in the commonplace – Melbourne’s desolate lanes, street paving, derelict ferries – adopting interesting camera angles, viewpoints and cropping. Through his images, this visual humanist teaches us to observe, to see our surroundings, perhaps with the intention of stimulating us to a higher level of civilisation.”

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Emma Matthews. Mark Strizic, Melbourne: Marvellous to Modern. Thames & Hudson in association with the State Library of Victoria, September, 2009.

 

“This magnificent collection of photographs arose from the creativity of a young photographer and his adoption of his new home town, Melbourne. His pictures were taken at a time when the Victorian elegance of the city once known as ‘Marvellous Melbourne’ was being punctuated by a wave of development and the modern architectural movement. Today Mark Strizic is renowned as a photographer. In the 1950s he was a young science student from Europe playing with the possibilities of the camera. As he gained work as a professional his commercial success was accompanied by the instincts and eye of an artist. His solid technicality was accompanied by the whimsy and wit that made him the ‘poet of the fleeting movement’. The versatility of his work shows us many aspects of Melbourne – its magnificent architectural heritage, its intimate and vibrant laneways, its grand arcades counter-posed against the sudden spaces of the wrecker, the brash intrusion of the glass and concrete skyscrapers, the poignancy of poverty in the rundown inner suburbs. We see the people, on grand occasions such as the 1954 Royal Visit, or just caught in their own world of travelling, shopping, resting, walking, working.”

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Mark Strizic, Melbourne: Marvellous to Modern 
book cover

 

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'From Princes Bridge' 1958

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
From Princes Bridge
1958, printed 2006
Silver gelatin photograph
58 x 39cm

 

Mark Strizic. 'Near Spencer Street - 1' 1950

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Near Spencer Street – 1
1950
Silver gelatin photograph
27.5 x 38.5cm

 

Mark Strizic. 'At St. Pauls' 1954

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
At St. Pauls (St Paul’s Cathedral steps)
1954, printed 1999
Silver gelatin photograph
17.8 × 24.5 cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'St Paul's Cathedral steps' 1954

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
St Paul’s Cathedral steps
1954, printed 1999
Silver gelatin photograph
17.8 × 24.5 cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Collins Street at Russell Street' 1957, printed 1997

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Collins Street at Russell Street
1957, printed 1997
Unique silver gelatin photograph
39 x 56cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'St Georges Road, Northcote at Summer Av.' 1958

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
St Georges Road, Northcote at Summer Av.
1958, printed 1998
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'St. Patrick's Cathedral' January 1967

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
January 1967, printed 1998
Unique silver gelatin photograph
27 x 41cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Bourke Street from the Parliament' 1967

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Bourke Street from the Parliament – 2
1967, printed 1998
Silver gelatin photograph
38 x 27cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Russell Street Pawn Shop' 1958

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Russell Street Pawn Shop
1958
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Block Arcade' 1967

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Block Arcade
1967, printed February 2008
Unique silver gelatin photograph
53.5 x 37cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'From Princes Bridge' (Winter moorings from Princes Bridge) 1955

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
From Princes Bridge (Winter moorings from Princes Bridge)
1955, printed 2006
Silver gelatin photograph
58 x 39cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Flinders Lane' 1967

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Flinders Lane
1967, printed 1998
Unique silver gelatin photograph
41 x 41cm

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Swan Street, Richmond, at Church Street' 1963

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Swan Street, Richmond, at Church Street
1963
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Queensberry Street at Errol Street, North Melbourne' 1963

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Queensberry Street at Errol Street, North Melbourne
1963
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Swan Street at Church Street' 1963

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Swan Street at Church Street
1963, printed 1998
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012) 'Coates Building' 1960

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Coates Building
1960, printed 1961
Vintage silver gelatin photograph
23.5 x 15cm

 

Mark Strizic. 'Macphersons Building -1' 1958

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
Macphersons Building – 1
1958
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Mark Strizic. 'On Princes Bridge' 1959

 

Mark Strizic (Australian, 1908-2012)
On Princes Bridge
1959, printed 1996
Silver gelatin photograph
17 x 24cm

 

 

Gallery 101

This gallery is now closed.

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21
Apr
09

Vale Helen Levitt: Always ‘Here and There’

April 2009

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1972

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
1972
© Helen Levitt

 

 

“For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world … Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy …”

.
Charles Baudelaire. ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ 1863

 

“At least a dozen of Helen Levitt’s photographs seem to me as beautiful, perceptive, satisfying, and enduring as any lyrical work that I know. In their general quality and coherence, moreover, the photographs as a whole body, as a book, seem to me to combine into a unified view of the world, an uninsistent but irrefutable manifesto of a way of seeing, and in a gently and wholly unpretentious way, a major poetic work.”

.
James Agee

 

 

Speaking of pioneers of colour photography the wonderful American photographer Helen Levitt died recently at the end of March. Here is a selection of her colour work from the 1970s – 1980s. With two Guggenheim Foundation grants in 1959 and 1960 she switched from black and white to colour dye-transfer prints photographing the theatre of the street, the serendipity of the decisive moment previsualised and captured through awareness and an intimate knowledge of her subject matter. Unfortunately in a burglary in 1970 most of her colour transparencies and prints were stolen from that initial period.

What remains, as Sally Mann would say, are the eloquent bones of the matter: superb lush colour photographs taken after 1970 that engage the viewer not in memory but in the moment, not in nostalgia but in joy. In colour she found “beauty in correspondences.”

Marcus

.
Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1971

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
c. 1971
© Helen Levitt

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1971

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
c. 1971
© Helen Levitt

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1971

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
c. 1971

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1971

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
1971
© Helen Levitt

 

 

Helen Levitt

… Her pictures were mostly of Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side. She shot them in black and white, as silver gelatin prints, in the 1930s and 1940s and in colour dye-transfer prints in the 1960s and 1970s. In between, she got into movie-making for a while. Her theme was the same, the streets of New York. Apart from a trip in 1941 to Mexico City, she never found a better subject in her life.

The grittier parts were her particular joy. Her world was run-down streets, rubble-filled building sites, warehouses and litter-strewn front steps. This was urban photography with a vengeance: small scraps of sky, no trees. When she was going with Walker Evans in 1938, borrowing his camera as well (“of course”) as sleeping with him, he used to be afraid of going as far uptown as she did. Some of her young male subjects, lounging around in their zoot suits and fedoras, had an unmistakable air of menace. But mostly she brought back images of gossiping women and her favourite, scrambling children. A right-angle viewfinder allowed her to take the picture without them knowing, even, as Evans showed her, when riding right beside them in the subway.

 

Here and there

Her birthplace was in Brooklyn, where her father was in the wholesale knitwear business. She aspired to something more artistic, but found she couldn’t draw. For a time she trained in ballet, which taught her to appreciate the musculature of posing bodies and the spontaneous grace of her child subjects. After dropping out of high school she went to work in the darkroom of Florian Mitchell’s commercial portrait-photography studio on $6 a week. There she was hooked.

A good image, she thought, was just lucky. But her New Yorker’s instinct seemed to tell her exactly where to wait for one. A broken-down car would soon attract people to lie under it, peer under the hood or try to push it. A cane chair, put out on the sidewalk, would draw an elderly man with cigar and newspaper, or a plump young woman in a housecoat wilting in the heat. With luck dogs would come out too, rough-haired mutts or poodles with fresh-shampooed coats. The open back of a truck would reveal delivery men moping on piles of sacks, or dozing among pink and blue bales of cloth. Any abandoned thing – a tea-chest, a mirror frame, the pillared entry of an empty building – would soon sport knots of children diving in, climbing up, fighting and contorting their small bodies in every kind of way.

Her pictures did not have names. “New York”, and the year, was the label on most of them. They did not need explaining; they were “just what you see”. Many had a backdrop of posters, graffiti or billboards, which gave a commentary of sorts. “Special Spaghetti 25 cents.” “Post No Bills.” “Nuts roasted daily.” “Buttons and Notions, One Flight Up.” “Bill Jones Mother is a Hore.” Her earliest project with her first, secondhand camera was to photograph children’s chalk drawings on the pavements. She never tried to speculate on them. What mattered was the patterns they made.

In the 1960s, when she got two Guggenheim grants, she began to shoot the streets in colour. The tricky developing ultimately frustrated her, and the streets, too, had changed. The children had retreated indoors to watch television. But where she had found grace and texture in black and white, colour now provided beauty in correspondences. The multi-coloured balls in bubble-gum machines could be picked up in a girl’s dress, or the red of a stiletto shoe matched with the frame of a shop window. Her broken-down cars were now lurid beasts against the stucco walls. And out of her peeling, greenish doorways could come women in furs, or pink hair-curlers, or orange-striped socks.

She did not rate her own work highly. Though her original prints eventually sold for tens of thousands of dollars, she let them pile up in her apartment in boxes labelled “Nothing good” or “Here and there”. Her hopes when she started were for photographs that would make a socialist statement of some sort, but she abandoned that on Cartier-Bresson’s advice. A “nice picture”, as she reluctantly admitted some of hers were, was a work of art that had value in itself, as well as a celebration of the random, teeming work of art that is the city of New York.

Anonymous. “Helen Levitt,” on The Economist website April 8th 2009 [Online] Cited 16/04/2009

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c. 1972

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
c. 1972
© Helen Levitt

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1972

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
c. 1972
© Helen Levitt

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1972

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
1972
© Helen Levitt

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1980

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
1980
© Helen Levitt

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1971

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York
1971
© Helen Levitt

 

 

Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt by John Szarkowski, Powerhouse Books, 2005 is available from the Amazon website. The photograph above is used on the cover of the book.

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18
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs from Mexico and California’ at the Downtown Central Library, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 28th March – 28th June, 2009

Curated by William Ewing and Phillip Prodger

 

Recently discovered colour images of California and Mexico taken during the 1940s and 1950s by the late visionary photographer Paul Outerbridge, who was considered “a master of colour photography,” will be exhibited at the Central Library’s First Floor Galleries, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown, from March 28 through June 28 2009.

 

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Women by Car, Laguna Beach, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Women by Car, Laguna Beach, California
c. 1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

“Art is life seen through man’s inner craving for perfection and beauty – his escape from the sordid realities of life into a world of his imagining. Art accounts for at least a third of our civilization, and it is one of the artist’s principal duties to do more than merely record life or nature. To the artist is given the privilege of pointing the way and inspiring towards a better life.”

.
Paul Outerbridge

 

 

If Outerbridge only photographed intermittently after 1943, then what photographs they are. Perhaps some of the most important colour photographs of their generation were made after he moved to California influencing the next generation of colour photographers (as noted below in the press release). What else can one say – his aesthetic sensibility is sensational, so far ahead of his time, so prescient of future colour spaces in photography. I know how “no regular income” feels as an artist, but he still had the courage and vision to make the work. I am in awe of the man: the visual complexity but eloquent simplicity of his photographs is simply amazing, simply… his own.

Marcus

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

 

“[Outerbridge] was a designer and illustrator in New York before turning to photography in the 1920s. In 1925, having established himself as an innovative advertising photographer and graphic designer, he moved to Paris and worked for the French edition of Vogue magazine. There he met Edward Steichen, with whom he developed a friendly rivalry. Around 1930, having returned to New York, Outerbridge began to experiment with color photography, in particular the carbro-color process. He focused primarily on female nudes – striking, full-color images that were ahead of their time. The growing popularity of the dye transfer process lead to cheaper color photographs and Outerbridge, who stuck fast to the carbro process as superior in its richness and permanence, saw his commercial work dry up, leaving him without a regular source of income. In 1943 Outerbridge moved to California, where he photographed only intermittently.”

Text from the Getty Museum website [Online] Cited 14/04/2009 (no longer available online)

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Balboa Beach, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Balboa Beach, California
c. 1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

Paul Outerbridge
Reclining Nude
c. 1937
Pigment dyed digital print

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Motel Bar, Mazatlán, Mexico' c. 1948

 

Paul Outerbridge
Motel Bar, Mazatlán, Mexico
c. 1948
Dye transfer print
16″ x 20″

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Hotel Lobby, Mazatlán, Mexico' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Hotel Lobby, Mazatlán, Mexico
c. 1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

As one of America’s earliest masters of color photography, Paul Outerbridge established his reputation by making virtuoso carbro-color prints of nudes and still-lives in the 1930s. As pictures, they are as brilliant and innovative today as when they earned their place as classics in the history of photography.

Outerbridge left New York in the 1940s, choosing to settle in California, and eventually taking up residency in the Mediterranean-style ocean side town of Laguna Beach. Little is known of Outerbridge’s last body of work in the 8 years preceding his death in 1958. But Outerbridge’s recently printed transparencies from the 1950s affirms that he fully understood the possibilities inherent in color photography despite it being the early days of its use in photographic art. Outerbridge went on to make a body of work that presaged the style and imagery of color photographers working a full quarter of a century later.

Employing a 35mm camera rather than the large-format equipment of the studio, Outerbridge captured vivid pictures while on the fly. His images were composed using the same precision of form and color that characterized his 1930s studio work, but, in this series, Outerbridge applied his earlier techniques to the energetic world of the street. This was a new landscape for Outerbridge, who, seeing in the new spectrum of color, depicted the people and places from his adopted Southern California, and, with great relish and sensitivity, from the Mexican towns just south of the border. In the tradition of such photographers as Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Anton Bruehl, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, all of whom made significant photographic forays into Mexico, Outerbridge ventured south from Laguna. In his 1949 black Cadillac, Outerbridge frequented the seaport towns along the Baja peninsula. One of his favorite stops was Mazatlan, on Mexico’s western coast, where he took particular pleasure in surveying the urban architecture, absorbing – and documenting – the city streets teeming with people, the brightly colored topography.

Among the scenes Outerbridge etched onto film: carnival carriages with passengers dressed and bound for a grand party; a group of fashionable men relaxing in an outdoor hotel lobby drinking Cokes and beer while a small orchestra plays on in the afternoon sun; and a lone girl in a lime-green dress and white sweater walking past a gas station whose painted-red details add vibrant flourishes to the scene. Outerbridge was keenly aware that the beauty of everyday objects was also tied to the larger meanings anchored in the social landscape, but he cared less for this fact than for the expression of pure color and form as seen through and by the lens.

These extraordinary pictures recall the 1970s photographs of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, who strove to codify these same formal and subjective aesthetics into a bold definition of the new color vocabulary. Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs from California and Mexico will bring a heretofore undiscovered and unrecognized sequence of photographs that bridges the formal gap between the past and the present. Outerbridge’s visionary handling of color confirmed that he had instinctively known the potential of the color medium, and, luckily for us, he created an astounding body of photographs to prove it.

Text from the Curatorial Assistance website [Online] Cited 19/01/2019

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Gas Station, Mazatlán, Mexico' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Gas Station, Mazatlán, Mexico
c. 1950
Dye transfer print
16″ x 20″

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Self-portrait on Lounge, Oceanside Resort, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Self-portrait on Lounge, Oceanside Resort, California
c.1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

“Outerbridge, who died in 1958, built his reputation in the early 1920s in New York and Paris making elegant black and white photo abstractions primarily of nudes and still lifes that rivaled those of his peers, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Edward Weston. In the 1930s, Outerbridge mastered the exquisite tri-carbro-color print process and went on to make some of the most important color photographs in art and advertising of that time.

Moving to California in 1943 and taking up residence in Laguna Beach, Outerbridge made his last important body of work throughout California and Mexico. Between 1948 and until his death in 1958 he codified a new language in color photographs that anticipated the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and others known for their “New Color” work in the 1970s.

“The curious position of prosperous American tourists amid the daily poverty experienced by some Mexicans is one of the recurring themes in the work, but with Outerbridge there is no political polemic,” says co-curator Phillip Prodger. “Outerbridge was thinking of his photographs as jig-saw puzzles made up of many different highly colored pieces, each placed with meticulous care.”

Among Outerbridge’s subjects are carnival carriages with passengers dressed and headed for a grand party; a group of fashionable men relaxing in an outdoor hotel lobby drinking Coke and beer while a small orchestra plays; a girl in a lime-green dress and white sweater walking past a gas station whose painted-red details add a vibrant flourish to the scene.”

Text from the Downtown Central Library press release [Online] Cited 14/04/2009 (no longer available online)

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Model with Satin Dress, Laguna Beach, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Model with Satin Dress, Laguna Beach, California
c. 1950
Tricolor carbon print
20″ x 16″

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Party, Laguna Beach' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Party, Laguna Beach
c. 1950
Tricolor carbon print
20″ x 16″

 

 

Los Angeles Central Library
630 W. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Phone: (213) 228-7000

Opening hours:
Monday 10-8
Tuesday 10-8
Wednesday 10-8
Thursday 10-8
Friday 9.30-5.30
Saturday 9.30-5.30
Sunday 1-5

Los Angeles Central Library website

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16
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West’ at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 29th March – 8th June 2009

 

Carelton Watkins. 'View from the Sentinel Dome, Yosemite' 1865-66

Carelton Watkins. 'View from the Sentinel Dome, Yosemite' 1865-66

Carelton Watkins. 'View from the Sentinel Dome, Yosemite' 1865-66

 

Carelton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Views from the Sentinel Dome, Yosemite
1865-66
Albumen silver prints from glass negatives
Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art presents Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West, a survey of 138 photographic works dating from 1850 to 2008 that chart the West’s complex, rich, and often compelling mythology via photography. The exploration of a large part of the American West in the mid-nineteenth century by European Americans coincided with the advent of photography, and photography and the West came of age together. The region’s seemingly infinite bounty and endless potential symbolised America as a whole, and photography, with its ability to construct persuasive and seductive images, was the perfect medium with which to forge a national identity. This relationship has resulted in a complex association that shapes the perception of the West’s social and physical landscape to this day. With political, cultural, and social attitudes constantly shifting in the region over the last 150 years, Into the Sunset further examines the way photographers have responded to these changes. The exhibition is organised by Eva Respini, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, and is on view in the Special Exhibitions Gallery on the third floor from March 29 to June 8, 2009.

Organised thematically rather than chronologically, Into the Sunset brings together the work of over 70 photographers, including Robert Adams, John Baldessari, Dorothea Lange, Timothy O’Sullivan, Cindy Sherman, Joel Sternfeld, Carleton E. Watkins, and Edward Weston, among others. The exhibition draws extensively from MoMA’s collection, along with private and public collections in the United States, and features new acquisitions from Adam Bartos, Katy Grannan, and Dennis Hopper, with each work also on view for the first time at the Museum.

Ms. Respini states: “Ranging from grand depictions of paradise to industrial development, from pictures taken on the road to prosaic suburban scenes, the photographs included in Into the Sunset do not all picture the West from the same point of view, or even perhaps, picture the same West. Rather, each is one part in a continually shifting and evolving composite image of a region that has itself been growing and changing since the opening of the frontier.”

Into the Sunset begins with the birth of photography and the American West. In the mid-nineteenth century, the region’s seemingly infinite bounty and endless potential symbolised America as a whole, and Carleton E. Watkins (American, 1829-1916) captured the grand depictions of an American paradise in his photographs of Yosemite Valley in California. Arguably the world’s first renowned landscape photographer, Watkins made his first photographs there in 1861 – large sized prints made with an 18-by-22-inch mammoth plate camera, well suited to the grandeur of the land. Included are the three contiguous photographs that make up his extraordinarily detailed View from the Sentinel Dome (1865-66).

The exhibition balances the early work of landscape photographers with the twentieth century focus on the failure of the West’s promised bounty. In Joel Sternfeld’s (American, b. 1944) After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California (1979), the photographer documents the impact of a natural disaster, specifically a landslide, shot with neutral tones softly camouflaging the extent of flash flood on this suburban neighbourhood. And in Karin Apollonia Müller’s (German, b. 1963) Civitas (1997), the photographer shows a very different view of California than that of Watkins, with Müller revealing a contemporary Los Angeles as a littered wasteland of freeways and anonymous glass towers.

As highways and interstate travel became more prevalent, the automobile and the open road became synonymous with the region, with Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958) as the first great photographer of these open roads. Included is Weston’s iconic Hot Coffee, Mojave Desert (1937), a humorous black-and-white photograph of a road sign revealing a greater thematic shift to the highway and its signage as an inescapable element in picturing the West in the twentieth century.

Once the West became more populated, photographers began to showcase humans’ effects on the land, including images of industrial development. In the 1950s William Garnett (American, 1916-2006) was hired by a real estate company to record the efficiency of mass-produced housing. For this series, Lakewood, California (1950), Garnett took photographs of the neighbourhood from an airplane, resulting in images that are completely devoid of people and focus on the progress of mass-produced construction. However, the series subsequently came to represent all that was wrong with such development and the massive sprawl of the West in the eyes of its critics.

Photographs of the people of the West represent a diversity of archetypes: gold miners and loggers, Native Americans, cowboys, suburbanites, city dwellers, starlets, dreamers, and drifters. Into the Sunset explores these archetypes, and their mutability into the twenty-first century. Included is Half Indian/Half Mexican (1991), from the photographer James Luna (Native American, Pooyukitchum/Luiseno, b. 1950), an artist of Native American ancestry. This tongue-in-cheek self-portrait captures in profile both an identity photograph and a mug shot, and works as a counterpoint to the tokenised portrayals of Native Americans from the past 150 years.

A similar reevaluation of past archetypes occurs in Richard Prince’s (American, b. 1949) Cowboy series from 1980, with one work from the series included in the exhibition. For that series Prince famously photographed Marlboro advertisements, cutting out the text, cropping the images, and enlarging them, highlighting the artifice of the virile image of the cowboy and its potency as a deeply ingrained figure in American mythology.

The suburbs and their inhabitants have been a rich subject for photographers of the West, and included are Larry Sultan’s (American, b. 1946) Film Stills from the Sultan Family Home Movies (1943-1972), in which Sultan chose individual frames from his family’s home movies and enlarged them. Although the images feature the activities that epitomise suburban life, a sense of unease lurks beneath the surface of these images; cropped and grainy, they resemble surveillance or evidence photographs.

Into the Sunset concludes with the theme of the failed promise of Western migration. Dorothea Lange’s well-known 1936 photograph Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, photographed when Lange was employed by the Farm Security Administration, is included and documents the conditions of the West in rural areas during the Great Depression. Her photographs had a humanist purpose and resulted in putting a face on the hardships of that era.

This tradition of capturing the downtrodden of the West continues into this century with Katy Grannan (American, b. 1969), a photographer who recently completed a series of new pioneers, individuals struggling to define themselves in the West of today. In Nicole, Crissy Field Parking Lot (I) (2006), a woman, “Nicole,” poses seductively on a gravel parking lot, with her makeup-streaked face and harsh light alluding to her perilous existence on the fringe of society.”

Text from the MoMA website [Online] Cited 12/04/2009 (no longer online)

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

 

 

Joel Sternfeld. 'After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California' 1979

 

Joel Sternfeld (American, b. 1944)
After a Flash Flood, Rancho Mirage, California
1979
Chromogenic colour print, printed 1987
15 15/16 x 20″ (40.5 x 50.8 cm)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Beth Goldberg Nash and Joshua Nash

 

 

During the 1970s, Joel Sternfeld’s work reflected a trend towards a newly dispassionate, less idealised approach to nature and culture. His photographs have a seductive beauty, even though they often focus on those places where the natural and man-made worlds come together in uncomfortable ways. Working with a large-format camera and luminous colour to create images that are frequently ironic or even humorous, his compositions appear simple but in fact are surprisingly complex and often unsettling. In this photograph of a suburban California neighbourhood in the aftermath of a flash flood, the lovely monochrome tones trick us into not immediately seeing the car that has toppled into the gaping sinkhole or realising that the buildings above could be on the verge of falling, too.

Text from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston website

 

Apollonia Müller. 'Civitas' 1997

 

Apollonia Müller
Civitas
1997
From Angels in Fall
Chromogenic colour print
19 3/4 x 24 1/2″ (50.1 x 62.2 cm)
Gift of Howard Stein
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2018 Karin Apollonia Müller

 

William Garnett. 'Foundations and Slabs, Lakewood, California' 1950

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Foundations and Slabs, Lakewood, California
1950
Gelatin silver print
18.9 × 23.8 cm (7 7/16 × 9 3/8 in.)
© J. Paul Getty Museum

 

William Garnett. 'Grading, Lakewood, California' 1950

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Grading, Lakewood, California
1950
Gelatin silver print
18.9 × 24 cm (7 7/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
© J. Paul Getty Museum

 

William Garnett. 'Trenching, Lakewood, California' 1950

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Trenching, Lakewood, California
1950
Gelatin silver print
7 5/16 x 9 7/16 in.
© J. Paul Getty Museum

 

 

“I was hired commercially to illustrate the growth of that housing project. I didn’t approve of what they were doing. Seventeen thousand houses with five floor plans, and they all looked alike, and there was not a tree in sight when they got through.”

“I was discharged and heard you could hitchhike on the transport taking GIs home. The airplane was full, but the captain let me sit in the navigator’s seat so I had a command view. I was amazed at the variety and beauty of these United States. I had never seen anything like that – in a book, in school, or since then. So I changed my career.”

.
William A. Garnett

 

 

Lakewood, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, was the location for the second major postwar housing development built in the United States. Some 17,500 tract houses were constructed assembly-line style on 3,500 acres of cleared farmland. Mass production made the houses affordable, so a greater number of people could take part in the American dream of home ownership. The developers hired William Garnett to document different phases of the subdivision’s construction from his Cessna airplane. He often photographed his subjects early in the day, so the angled light would emphasise their otherwise flat-looking forms. The photographs serve a utilitarian purpose but also demonstrate Garnett’s impeccable sense of design. In Trenching Lakewood, California, stacked lumber appears for the foundations, utility poles are installed, and the main roads are carved out. …

William Garnett took his first cross-country flight after serving as a United States Army Signal Corps cameraman during World War II. What he saw below inspired him to learn how to pilot a plane so he could photograph the American landscape. Garnett’s aerial photographs resemble abstract expressionist paintings or views through a microscope. As landscapes, they do not have the conventional grounding of a horizon line. All reveal astonishing patterns that are not seen from the ground. Garnett honed his elegant design sensibility well before earning a pilot’s license. Before the war, he attended Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Later, he headed the Pasadena Police Department’s photography lab. In the 1940s and 1950s, he began to rack up flying hours around Los Angeles, speaking out about the area’s increasing air pollution. He illustrated Nathaniel Owings’s American Aesthetic, a book about land-use practices. During ten thousand hours of flying, Garnett simultaneously piloted a plane while photographing out the window – traveling above every state and many parts of the world. His light 1956 Cessna plane allowed him to fly to just the right location to capture subjects with precision. At first, he experimented with a variety of camera formats and films but found that two 35mm cameras (one loaded with black-and-white film, the other with colour film) best suited his needs. Garnett’s work defies the stereotype of aerial photography as purely scientific and devoid of artistry. He became the first aerial photographer to earn a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship.

Anonymous. “Historical Witness, Social Messaging,” from the J. Paul Getty Museum Education Department [Online] Cited 13/01/2019

 

William Garnett. 'Framing, Lakewood, California' 1950

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Framing, Lakewood, California
1950
Gelatin silver print
18.4 × 24.1 cm (7 1/4 × 9 1/2 in.)
© J. Paul Getty Museum

 

half-mexican-1991

 

James Luna (American, 1950-2018)
Half Indian/Half Mexican (installation view)
1991
Gelatin silver print

 

 

James Luna (February 9, 1950 – March 4, 2018) was a Payómkawichum, Ipi, and Mexican-American performance artist, photographer and multimedia installation artist. His work is best known for challenging the ways in which conventional museum exhibitions depict Native Americans. With recurring themes of multiculturalism, alcoholism, and colonialism, his work was often comedic and theatrical in nature. In 2017 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

 

Richard Prince. 'Untitled (Cowboy)' 1989

 

Richard Prince (American, b. 1949)
Untitled (Cowboy)
1989
Chromogenic print
127 x 177.8cm (50 x 70in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, and Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2000
© Richard Prince

 

 

In the mid-1970s Prince was an aspiring painter who earned a living by clipping articles from magazines for staff writers at Time-Life Inc. What remained at the end of the day were the advertisements, featuring gleaming luxury goods and impossibly perfect models; both fascinated and repulsed by these ubiquitous images, the artist began rephotographing them, using a repertoire of strategies (such as blurring, cropping, and enlarging) to intensify their original artifice. In so doing, Prince undermined the seeming naturalness and inevitability of the images, revealing them as hallucinatory fictions of society’s desires.

“Untitled (Cowboy)” is a high point of the artist’s ongoing deconstruction of an American archetype as old as the first trailblazers and as timely as then-outgoing president Ronald Reagan. Prince’s picture is a copy (the photograph) of a copy (the advertisement) of a myth (the cowboy). Perpetually disappearing into the sunset, this lone ranger is also a convincing stand-in for the artist himself, endlessly chasing the meaning behind surfaces. Created in the fade-out of a decade devoted to materialism and illusion, “Untitled (Cowboy)” is, in the largest sense, a meditation on an entire culture’s continuing attraction to spectacle over lived experience.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Dorothea Lange. 'Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California' 1936

 

Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965)
Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California
1936
Gelatin silver print
11 1/8 x 8 9/16″ (28.3 x 21.8 cm)
Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

 

Dorothea Lange took this photograph on assignment for the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) program, formed during the Great Depression to provide aid to impoverished farmers. FSA photographers documented the conditions that Americans faced throughout the course of the Great Depression, a period of economic crisis. Lange’s photograph suggests the impact of these harsh conditions on a 32-year-old mother of seven. She took a number of pictures of the mother with her children and chose this image as the most effective. Her keen sense of composition and attentiveness to the power of historical images of the Madonna and Child have helped this photograph transcend its original documentary function and become an iconic work of art.

Text from the MoMA website

 

Katy Grannan. 'Nicole, Crissy Field Parking Lot (I)' 2006

 

Katy Grannan (American, b. 1969)
Nicole, Crissy Field Parking Lot (I)
2006
Pigmented inkjet print
40 x 50″ (101.6 x 127 cm)
Cornelius N. Bliss Memorial Fund
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Katy Grannan

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled Film Still #43' 1979

 

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled Film Still #43
1979
Gelatin silver print
7 9/16 x 9 7/16″ (19.2 x 24 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Sid R. Bass
Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

 

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills is a suite of seventy black-and-white photographs in which the artist posed in the guises of various generic female film characters, among them, ingénue, working girl, vamp, and lonely housewife. Staged to resemble scenes from 1950s and ’60s Hollywood, film noir, B movies, and European art-house films, the printed images mimic in format, scale, and quality the often-staged “stills” used to promote films. By photographing herself in such roles, Sherman inserts herself into a dialogue about stereotypical portrayals of women. Whether she was the one to release the camera’s shutter or not, she is considered the author of the photographs. However, the works in Untitled Film Stills are not considered self-portraits.

Text from the MoMA website

 

Bill Owens (American, b. 1938) 'We're really happy. Our kids are healthy, we eat good food, and we have a really nice home' 1972

 

Bill Owens (American, b. 1938)
We’re really happy. Our kids are healthy, we eat good food, and we have a really nice home
1972
Gelatin silver print
8 1/16 x 9 15/16″ (20.4 x 25.3 cm)
Gift of the photographer
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Bill Owens

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 708-9400

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Monday, 10.30 am – 5.30 pm
Friday, 10.30 am – 8.00 pm
Closed Tuesday

MoMA website

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15
Apr
09

Opening: ‘Nicola Loder: Tourist #3 sighted child 1-11’ at Helen Gory Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 15th April – 2nd May 2009

 

A wonderful, social opening at Helen Gory Gallery of Nicola Loder’s latest work in her ongoing Tourist photographic series. As always Loder’s work looks superb, the mounting of the images at the back of thick perspex giving the images an almost holographic 3D effect. I still remember her exhibition of black and white children’s faces at the sadly closed Stop 22 Gallery in St Kilda many years ago: those images still impinge on the subconscious. This work continues those themes of instability in the mapping of identity, how we begin to see, to represent ourselves as an individual entity. Speaking of Stop 22 it was great to see Marianne, ex curator of that gallery at the opening with new bub in tow! There is an excellent catalogue essay by Stuart Koop (below).

Marcus

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Many thankx to Nicola Loder and Helen Gory Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Nicola Loder opening at Helen Gory Gallery, Melbourne

Nicola Loder opening at Helen Gory Gallery, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs of the opening of Nicola Loder’s exhibition Tourist #3 sighted child 1-11 at Helen Gory Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

“We might think of Loder’s work as ‘undoing’ visuality. She sets technology in reverse, working against the imperatives of photography to clarify, focus, refine and sharpen images, as if our eyes worked backwards, as if acuity worsened. The face is an obvious (originary) limit beyond which chaos prevails and other senses are engaged to interpret what looks like abstract static but which many now believe is an unstriated sensory realm, a liberated space of interrelated, undifferentiated holistic sensory experiences; the original synaesthesia from which perception emerges as a travesty according to 5 distinct categories.

So it’s not blindness after all that the work references, not the failing of vision, but the first moments of looking, when ‘seeing’ begins to separate from the other senses and consolidates into a face, a percept, then into a code, a genre, a representation.”

Stuart Koop

 

loder-c

 

I don’t know who the lady and the bub are but thank you for the wonderful photograph – children upon children!

 

Nicola Loder. 'Tourist #3 sighted children 1-11' 2009

 

Nicola Loder
Tourist #3 sighted child 1-11
2009
1200mm x 900mm,
lambda digital prints,10mm acrylic

 

The radiant Nicola Loder in front of one of her works

 

The radiant Nicola Loder in front of one of her works

 

 

Helen Gory Gallery

This gallery has now closed.

Nicola Loder website

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14
Apr
09

Josef Sudek: Master of Photography

April 2009

 

Further to the last post I have collected some images from the Czech photographer Josef Sudek (1896 – 1976), one of my favourite photographers. The images of this master photographer are a delight. Like the photographs of Eugene Atget they evince generosity in the understanding of light, space and humanity. Insightful writing on Josef Sudek by Charles Sawyer is included in the post.

Marcus

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

 

 

Josef Sudek. 'A Summer Shower in the Magic Garden' 1954-59

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
A Summer Shower in the Magic Garden
1954 – 59
Gelatin silver print

 

 

“Everything around us, dead or alive, in the eyes of a crazy photographer mysteriously takes on many variations, so that a seemingly dead object comes to life through light or by its surroundings. And if the photographer has a bit of sense in his head maybe he is able to capture some of this – and I suppose that’s lyricism.”

“I believe a lot in instinct. One should never dull it by wanting to know everything. One shouldn’t ask too many questions but do what one does properly, never rush, and never torment oneself.”

“It would have bored me extremely to have restricted myself to one specific direction for my whole life, for example, landscape photography. A photographer should never impose such restrictions upon himself.”

.
Josef Sudek

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976) 'In the enchanted garden' 1954 - 59

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
In the enchanted garden
1954 – 59
From the series Remembrances
Gelatin silver print

 

Joseph Sudek. 'Untitled' 1967

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Untitled
1967
Gelatin silver print

 

 

“The systematic approach, and the dogged aesthetic experimentation of Sudek are akin to the working habits of Cezanne. But these alone are insufficient to make great art or even good art. On the contrary, if these are all one sees in a work, then the cumulative burden of so much plain labor would be unbearable. Sudek’s devotion to work may have integrated his shattered life but it could not have offered him the spiritual redemption he was seeking; only his aesthetic quest could bring this. It is the struggle for spiritual redemption through his aesthetic quest that gives Sudek’s best photographs their true power. Two qualities characterise his best work: a rich diversity of light values in the low end of the tonal scale, and the representation of light as a substance occupying its own space. The former, the diversity of light values, requires very delicate treatment of the materials, especially the negative, but also the paper (Sudek used silver halide papers in the main). The latter, the portrayal of light as substance, is a more original trait than his tonal palette, which one sees in occasional prints of other photographers. Flaubert once expressed an ambition to write a book which would have no subject, “a book dependent on nothing external … held together by the strength of its style.” Photographers have sometimes expressed parallel aspirations to make light itself the subject of their photographs, leaving the banal, material world behind. Both ideals are, of course, unobtainable, but nonetheless they may be worth pursuing. (Artists, in their pursuit of the unobtainable, are not so likely to be called pathological as others, of us, though recent developments in the philosophy of science tend to view the scientist’s quest for truth as equally quixotic).

Sudek has come closer than any other photographer to catching this illusive goal. His devices for this effect are simple and highly poetic: the dust he raised in a frenzy when the light was just right, a gossamer curtain draped over a chair back, the mist from a garden sprinkler, even the ambient moisture in the atmosphere when the air is near dew point. The eye is usually accustomed to seeing not light but the surfaces it defines; when light is reflected from amorphous materials, however, perception of materiality shifts to light itself. Sudek looked for such materials everywhere. And then he usually balanced the ethereal luminescence with the contra-bass of his deep shadow tonalities. The effect is enchanting, and strongly conveys the human element which is the true content of his photographs. For, throughout all his photography, there is one dominant mood, one consistent viewpoint, and one overriding philosophy. The mood is melancholy and the point of view is romanticism. And overriding all this is a philosophic detachment, an attitude he shares with Spinoza. The attitude of detachment that characterises Sudek’s art accounts for both its strength and weakness: the strength which lies in the ideal of utter tranquility and the weakness which is found in the paucity of human intimacy. Some commentators find Sudek’s photos mysterious but I think this is a mistake: the air of mystery vanishes once we see in Sudek’s photography a person’s private salvation from despair.”

Charles Sawyer. “Josef Sudek” in Creative Camera April 1980, Number 190 [Online] Cited 14/04/2009.

 

A good collection of Josef Sudek photographs can be found on the Museum of Fine Arts Boston website. Go to the site and enter ‘Josef Sudek’ in the Collection Search box to the right and then click on the arrow.

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976) From the series 'Vanished Statues in Mionsi' 1969

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
From the series Vanished Statues in Mionsi
1969
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Sudek. 'The Window of My Atelier' 1969

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
The Window of My Atelier
1969
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Sudek. 'Still-life after Caravaggio, Variation No 2 (or a night-time Variation)' 1956

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Still-life after Caravaggio, Variation No 2 (or a night-time Variation)
1956
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Sudek. 'Stille (Still Life According to Caravaggio)' 1956

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Still (Still Life According to Caravaggio)
1956
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Sudek. 'Remembrance of Mr. Magician (the garden of architect Rothmayer)' 1959

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Remembrance of Mr. Magician (the garden of architect Rothmayer)
1959
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Otto Rothmayer (architect)

Otto Rothmayer was born during 1892 into a family of carpenters. He took up that trade, following in his father’s footsteps. Rothmayer studied at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague under Jože Plečník’s guidance, and the Slovenian architect would inspire Rothmayer throughout his entire life. In fact, the design of the Rothmayer Villa was greatly influenced by Plečník’s Villa Stadion in Ljubljana. Rothmayer’s skill at carpentry came in handy as he designed much furniture. He made furniture for the gurus of Czech Cubism, architects Pavel Janák and Josef Gočár. Furniture he designed that does not fall under the category of Cubism but is rather simple and practical can be found in his villa and garden, for instance. His white chairs forged from rough steel were a big hit.

Work at Prague Castle

Plečník would not only be Rothmayer’s mentor but also his colleague. Rothmayer started working as Plečník’s assistant architect at Prague Castle in 1921, when Tomáš G. Masaryk was president of a young, democratic Czechoslovakia. Rothmayer even built a spiral staircase at Prague Castle, using what was then a new material – faux marble. When Plečník left his Castle post after 1930, Rothmayer continued to draw plans for the Castle until his retirement in 1958.

Other projects and the academic world

Rothmayer’s résumé does not only include his tenure at Prague Castle. He took up other projects, too. For instance, he designed three family houses and a side altar for a church in the Vinohrady district of Prague. He also designed museum exhibitions. Rothmayer went into teaching as well. He held the post of Professor of Interior Design at Prague’s Academy of Applied Arts in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when he left for political reasons. Rothmayer also was friends with photographer Josef Sudek, who took many snapshots at Otto’s Břevnov residence. Sudek’s photos set in the villa’s garden are particularly impressive. Otto Rothmayer died in 1966.

Tracy A. Burns. “The Rothmayer Villa: A gem of modern architecture,” on the Private Prague Guide website [Online] Cited 11/01/2019

 

Josef Sudek. 'Labyrinths' 1969

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Labyrinths
1969
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976) 'Labyrinth of Spring' 1968

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Labyrinth of Spring
1968
Gelatin silver print
22.5 × 28.7 cm (8 7/8 × 11 1/4 in)

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976) 'Remembrances of Architect Rothmayer, Mr. Magician' 1960

 

Josef Sudek (1896-1976)
Remembrances of Architect Rothmayer, Mr. Magician
1960
Gelatin silver print

 

 

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14
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘Czech Photography of the 20th Century’ at the Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn

Exhibition dates: 13th March – 26th July 2009

 

Looks like an interesting exhibition. I wish I had been able to see it. Wouldn’t it be such a grand job flying around the world, reviewing photography exhibitions and bringing you my thoughts. I can only wish…

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Jindřich Štreit. 'Arnoltice' 1985

 

Jindřich Štreit (Czech, b. 1946)
Arnoltice
1985
From the Village Life series
Gelatin silver print

 

Jindřich Štreit (born 5 September 1946 in Vsetín) is a Czech photographer and pedagogue known for his documentary photography. He concentrates on documenting the rural life and people of Czech villages. He is considered one of the most important exponents of Czech documentary photography.

 

 

“Czech photography produced and produces leading figures in all areas of photography – from classical documentary photojournalism to surrealism, realism or avant-garde works. From 13 March 2009 on, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany is presenting over 400 photographic works, a historical mosaic of Czech photography from 1900 until the late 20th century that underlines the international reputation enjoyed by Czech photography today. That reputation is not only apparent in the outstanding contributions by such renowned artists as Josef Sudek, Karel Hájek, Václav Jírů, Vilém Reichmann, Jan Reich, Jindřich Štreit, Frantisek Drtikol, Jaromír Funke, Jaroslav Rossler, Josef Koudelka and Jan Saudek, but also in works from a host of younger photographers. The exhibition does not only showcase famous names but also less well-known photographers, providing an overall impression of the variation and innovation in Czech photography.

From Surrealism and other avant-garde experimentation to realism and classic photo reportage, Czech photographers have long played a key role in all areas of photography and continue to do so to this day.

This exhibition is the first in Germany to present the history and development of Czech photography from 1900 to the turn of the millennium. Beginning with Art Nouveau-inspired pictorialism, the comprehensive survey traces the rise of avant-garde photography and the development of photo montage in the 1920s to the 1940s. It examines the influence of ideological pressure on photography during the Second World War, the Stalinist 1950s and the period of Communist ‘normalisation’ after the occupation in 1968 and introduces the visitor to the multifaceted range of contemporary trends.”

Text from the Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany website [Online] Cited 10/04/2009 (no longer available online)

 

Frantisek Drtikol. 'Wave' 1925

 

František Drtikol (Czech, 1883-1961)
Wave
1925
Gelatin silver print

 

František Drtikol (1883-1961) 'Nude' 1927

 

František Drtikol (Czech, 1883-1961)
Nude
1927
Gelatin silver print

 

 

František Drtikol (3 March 1883, Příbram – 13 January 1961, Prague) was a Czech photographer of international renown. He is especially known for his characteristically epic photographs, often nudes and portraits.

From 1907 to 1910 he had his own studio, until 1935 he operated an important portrait photostudio in Prague on the fourth floor of one of Prague’s remarkable buildings, a Baroque corner house at 9 Vodičkova, now demolished. Jaroslav Rössler, an important avant-garde photographer, was one of his pupils. Drtikol made many portraits of very important people and nudes which show development from pictorialism and symbolism to modern composite pictures of the nude body with geometric decorations and thrown shadows, where it is possible to find a number of parallels with the avant-garde works of the period. These are reminiscent of Cubism, and at the same time his nudes suggest the kind of movement that was characteristic of the futurism aesthetic.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Eugen Wiskovsky. 'Lunar Landscape or Collars' 1929

 

Eugen Wiskovsky (Czech, 1888-1964)
Lunar Landscape or Collars
1929
Gelatin silver print

 

 

The oeuvre of the leading Czech avant-garde photographer Eugen Wiskovsky (1888-1964) is not large in size or subject range, but it is noteworthy in its originality, depth of ideas, and mastery. Wiskovsky’s early New Objectivist works, from the late 1920s and early 1930s, sought artistic effect in apparently non-aesthetic objects: His inventive lighting and cropping allowed their elementary lines to stand out, to lose their worldly associations and take on potential metaphorical meanings. In his dynamic diagonal compositions, Wiskovsky was among the most radical practitioners of Czech Constructivism. His landscape work is similarly distinctive.

 

Jaroslav Rossler. 'Untitled' 1931

 

Jaroslav Rössler (Czech, 1902-1990)
Untitled
1931
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Jaroslav Rössler (25 May 1902, Smilov – 5 January 1990, Prague) was a pioneer of Czech avant-garde photography and a member of the association of Czech avant-garde artists Devětsil (Butterbur).

Rössler was born to the Czech-German father, Eduard Rössler, and a Czech mother, Adela Nollova. From 1917 to 1920, Rössler studied in the atelier of the company owned by renowned Czech photographer František Drtikol. Subsequently, he worked with the company as a laboratory technician. As a 21 years old, he began collaboration with the art theorist Karel Teige, who assigned him to create typographic layout for magazines Pásmo, Disk, Stavba and ReD (Revue Devětsilu). While working on these tasks, Rössler deepened his knowledge of photographic methods. In his works he utilised and combined the techniques of photogram, photomontage, collage and drawing. The beginnings of his photographic work were influenced by Cubism and Futurism, but he also attempted to create the first abstract photographs. In 1923, he became a member of the avant-garde association Devětsil.

In 1925, he went on a six-month study visit to Paris. The same year he began working as a photographer in the Osvobozené divadlo in Prague. Before his second departure to Paris, he co-worked as a commercial photographer with the pictorial magazine Pestrý týden.

In 1927, Rössler moved to Paris together with his wife, Gertruda Fischerová (1894-1976). Initially, he focused on commercial photography. He collaborated with the experimental studio of Lucien Lorell, and worked on commissions for notable companies such as Michelin and Shell. However, later he found an interest in the “street life” of Paris, which influenced his future stay in the city. During a demonstration, he encountered the protesters and took photographs of the event. Shortly after that he was arrested, and after a six-month imprisonment he was expelled from the country, in 1935. The alleged reason for his expulsion was his German-sounding surname.

After his return from Paris, Rössler and his wife resided in Prague, Žižkov. He opened a small photographic atelier, but difficulties associated with the management of the studio caused a significant gap in his artistic work, lasting for almost two decades.

In the 1950s, he resumed his previous activities and again began experimenting with the camera and photographic techniques. He created so-called “prizmata” (prisms), photographs taken through a birefringent prism. Additionally, he experimented with solarisation and explored the possibilities of the Sabatier effect.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Eugen Wiskovsky. 'Disaster' 1939

 

Eugen Wiskovsky (Czech, 1888-1964)
Disaster
1939
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Sudek. 'The Last Rose' 1956

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976)
The Last Rose from the Rose series
1956
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Josef Sudek (17 March 1896, Kolín, Bohemia – 15 September 1976, Prague) was a Czech photographer, best known for his photographs of Prague.

Sudek was originally a bookbinder. During the First World War he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm in 1916 which led to the limb being amputated at the shoulder. After the war he studied photography for two years in Prague under Jaromir Funke. His army disability pension gave him leeway to make art, and he worked during the 1920s in the romantic Pictorialist style. Always pushing at the boundaries, a local camera club expelled him for arguing about the need to move forwards from ‘painterly’ photography. Sudek then founded the progressive Czech Photographic Society in 1924. Despite only having one arm, he used large, bulky cameras with the aid of assistants.

Sudek’s photography is sometimes said to be modernist. But this is only true of a couple of years in the 1930s, during which he undertook commercial photography and thus worked “in the style of the times”. Primarily, his personal photography is neo-romantic.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Josef Sudek was a Czech photographer best known for his elegiac black-and-white images of Prague, interiors, still lifes, and the landscapes of Bohemian forests. Many of Sudek’s most memorable images were taken from the window of his small studio, documenting his humble courtyard during changing weather and light conditions. “Everything around us, dead or alive, in the eyes of a crazy photographer mysteriously takes on many variations,” he explained, “so that a seemingly dead object comes to life through light or by its surroundings.”

Text from the artnet website [Online] Cited 10/01/2019

 

Jan Saudek (Czechoslovakia, b. 1935) 'Life' 1966

 

Jan Saudek (Czech, b. 1935)
Life
1966
Gelatin silver print

 

Josef Koudelka (Czech, b. 1938) 'France' 1987

 

Josef Koudelka (Czech, b. 1938)
France
1987
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany
Museumsmeile Bonn
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4, 53113 Bonn
Postfach 12 05 40, 53047 Bonn
Germany
Telephone: +49-(0)228-9171-0

Opening hours:
Tues – Wed 10 – 9pm
Thurs – Sun 10 – 7pm

Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany 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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