Archive for January 17th, 2011

17
Jan
11

Exhibition: ‘In Focus: Still Life’ at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 14th September 2010 – 23rd January 2011

 

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

 

 

Armand-Pierre Séguier (French, 1803-1876) 'Still Life with Plaster Casts' 1839-1842

 

Armand-Pierre Séguier (French, 1803-1876)
Still Life with Plaster Casts
1839-1842
Daguerreotype 8 x 6 in.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Baron Séguier was part of a small circle of amateurs that surrounded Jacques-Louis-Mandé Daguerre. Daguerre invented the daguerreotype, the process announced to the world in 1839 that produces highly detailed positive images on silver-coated copper plates. Some of the first successful daguerreotypes depicted arrangements of small-scale plaster copies of sculpture. The exceptionally long exposure times precluded the use of living models, a problem that would not be resolved until about 1841.

 

 

Baron Adolf De Meyer (American, 1868-1949)
Glass and Shadows
1905
Photogravure
Image: 8 3/4 x 6 9/16 in.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

During the first decade of the 20th century, photographers such as De Meyer and Heinrich Kühn helped advance the idea that photography should emulate other forms of art. Here De Meyer photographed several glass objects through a scrim. The thin woven fabric softens the backlit objects, replicating the subtle tonal effects prized in etchings by artists from Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn to James McNeill Whistler.

 

Charles Aubry (French, 1811-1877) '[An Arrangement of Tobacco Leaves and Grass]' about 1864

 

Charles Aubry (French, 1811-1877)
[An Arrangement of Tobacco Leaves and Grass]
about 1864
Albumen silver print
Image: 47 x 37.3 cm (18 1/2 x 14 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

After working as a designer of patterns for carpets, fabrics, and wallpapers, Aubry formed a company to manufacture plaster casts and make photographs of plants and flowers. His detailed prints of natural forms were intended to replace the lithographs traditionally used by students of industrial design. This close-up of a delicate arrangement of leaves and grasses on a lace-covered background appears as if a slight movement of air could disturb it.

 

 

The J. Paul Getty Museum presents In Focus: Still Life, a survey of some of the innovative ways photographers have explored and refreshed this traditional genre, on view at the Getty Center in the Center for Photographs from September 14, 2010 – January 23, 2011.

“Still life photography has served as both a conventional and an experimental form during periods of significant aesthetic and technological change,” said Paul Martineau, assistant curator, Department of Photographs, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and curator of the exhibition. “One of our goals for the exhibition was to show how still life photographs can be both traditional and surprising.”

With its roots in antiquity, the term “still life” is derived from the Dutch word stilleven, coined during the 17th century, when painted examples enjoyed immense popularity throughout Europe. The impetus for a new term came as artists created compositions of increasing complexity, bringing together a greater variety of objects to communicate allegorical meanings. Still life featured prominently in the early experiments of the pioneers of the photographic medium and, more than 170 years later, it continues to be a significant motif for contemporary photographers.

Drawn exclusively from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition includes photographs by Charles Aubry, Henry Bailey, Hans Bellmer, Jo Ann Callis, Sharon Core, Baron Adolf De Meyer, Walker Evans, Roger Fenton, Frederick H. Hollyer, Heinrich Kühn, Sigmar Polke, Man Ray, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Paul Outerbridge, Louis-Rémy Robert, Baron Armand-Pierre Séguier, Paul Strand, Josef Sudek, and Thomas R. Williams.

The exhibition is arranged chronologically and includes a broad range of photographic processes, from daguerreotypes and albumen silver prints made in the 19th century to gelatin silver prints, and cibachrome prints made in the 20th century, to digital prints from the 21st century.

Newly acquired works will be on display for the first time: Still Life with Triangle and Red Eraser (1985) by American Irving Penn, Lorikeet with Green Cloth (2006) by Australian Marian Drew, and Blow Up: Untitled 15 (2007) by Israeli Ori Gersht (Gersht loosely based his Blow Up series on traditional floral still life paintings. His arrangements of flowers are frozen and then detonated. The explosion is captured using synchronised digital cameras, with the fragmentary detritus caught in remarkable detail. 

This diptych (pair) belies the notion of still life as something motionless as it explores the relationships among painting and photography, art and science, and creation and destruction.)

For Bowl with Sugar Cubes, photographer André Kertész created a still life out of a simple bowl, spoon, and sugar cubes, demonstrating the photographer’s interest in the compositional possibilities of layering basic geometric forms on top of one another – three rectangles in a circle (sugar cubes and bowl) and a circle in a square (bowl and the cropped printing paper). A visual sophistication is achieved through his adroit use of simple objects and dramatic lighting.

Other selections from In Focus: Still Life include Edward Weston’s Bananas and Orange, which depicts a symmetrical fan of bananas punctuated by one oddly shaped orange, and Frederick Sommer’s The Anatomy of a Chicken, which uses the discarded parts of a chicken to create a visual commentary. Influenced by Surrealism, Sommer embraced unexpected juxtapositions and literary allusions to express his intellectual and philosophical ideas. In Anatomy of a Chicken, a severed head, three sunken eyes, and eviscerated organs glisten on a white board. Evoking biblical imagery, medieval grotesques, and heraldic emblems, Sommer calls on the viewer to consider the endless cycle of birth and death, the cruel reality of the food chain, and man’s role in this violence.

In Focus: Still Life will be the seventh installation of the ongoing In Focus series of exhibitions, thematic presentations of photographs from the Getty’s permanent collection. Previous exhibitions focused on The Nude, The Landscape, The Portrait, Making a Scene (staged photographs), The Worker, and most recently, Tasteful Pictures.

Press release from The J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) (American, 1890-1976) 'Dead Leaf' 1942

 

Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) (American, 1890-1976)
Dead Leaf
1942
Gelatin silver print
Image: 9 1/2 x 7 13/16 in.
© Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Remarkable for its starkness, this photograph of a brittle castor bean leaf appeared with four others by Man Ray in the October 1943 issue of Minicam Photography. In his caption for the image, Man Ray wrote with uncharacteristic poignancy of the knowledge that “the dying leaf would be completely gone tomorrow.” It is tempting to interpret the melancholy sentiment of the work in terms of the artist’s growing discontent concerning his lack of recognition and financial success in Los Angeles and his fear that the work he left behind in France might be destroyed during the war.

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890 - 1976) '[Black Bottle]' negative about 1919; print 1923 - 1939

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
[Black Bottle]
Negative about 1919; print 1923-1939
Gelatin silver, on Cykora paper print
Image (trimmed to mount): 32.7 x 24.8 cm (12 7/8 x 9 3/4 in.)
Sheet: 34.4 x 27.1 cm (13 9/16 x 10 11/16 in.)
Mount (irregular): 35.1 x 27.8 cm (13 13/16 x 10 15/16 in.)
© Aperture Foundation
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

The photographer’s problem is to see clearly the limitations and at the same time the potential qualities of his medium, for it is precisely here that honesty no less than intensity of vision is the prerequisite of a living expression. This means a real respect for the thing in front of him expressed in terms of chiaroscuro…

So wrote Paul Strand two years before he made this negative of a black bottle sitting in a white sink. Through the manipulation of light and dark tones, Strand transformed this ordinary subject matter. The four overflow drain holes become graphic markings in the upper left, while the muted gray shadow cast by the bottle assumes an almost-human form against the porcelain. The diagonals of light that illuminate the scene appear like radiant beams.

 

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009) 'Still Life with Triangle and Red Eraser, New York, 1985'

 

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009)
Still Life with Triangle and Red Eraser, New York, 1985
Dye-bleach print
Image: 22¾ x 18 1/8in. (57.8 x 46cm.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Fredrick Sommer. 'The Anatomy of a Chicken' 1939

 

Frederick Sommer (American, born Italy, 1905-1999)
The Anatomy of a Chicken
1939
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.1 x 19.1 cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)
© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

“Still life derives from the Dutch word stilleven, coined in the 17th century when paintings of objects enjoyed immense popularity throughout Europe. The impetus for this term came as artists created compositions of greater complexity, bringing together a wider variety of objects to communicate allegorical meanings.

Still life has come to serve, like landscape or portraiture, as a category within art. Although it typically refers to depictions of inanimate things, because it incorporates a vast array of influences from different cultures and periods in history, it has always resisted precise definition.

This exhibition presents some of the innovative ways photographers have explored and refreshed this traditional genre. During the 19th century, still life photographs tended to resemble still life paintings, with similar subjects and arrangements. Beginning in the 20th century, still life photographs have mirrored the subjects and styles that have more broadly concerned photographers in their time.

 

A New Medium

Still life featured prominently in the experiments of photography inventors Jacques-Louis-Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot. They did this in part, for practical reasons: the exceptionally long exposure times of their processes precluded the use of living models.

In the late 1830s, Baron Armand-Pierre Séguier, a close associate of Daguerre, created this elegant daguerreotype that features small-scale copies of famous sculptures in the Louvre and Uffizi museum collections.

In the mid-1800s, Charles Aubry was an accomplished practitioner of still-life photography who came to the medium by way of his professional interest in applied arts and industrial design. After working as a pattern designer for carpets, fabrics, and wallpapers, he formed a company to manufacture plaster casts and make photographs of plants and flowers.

Aubrey’s detailed prints of natural forms – like this close-up of plants on a lace-covered background – were intended to replace lithographs traditionally used by students of industrial design.

 

Photography as Art

By the first decade of the 20th century, art photographers like Baron Adolf de Meyer employed soft-focus lenses and painterly darkroom techniques to make photographs that resembled drawings and prints. The vogue at the time was to produce images that reflected a handcrafted approach, while asserting photography as an art medium in its own right.

Here, De Meyer photographed an arrangement of objects through a scrim. The pattern of thin, woven fabric softens the backlit objects and helps replicate the subtle tonal effects prized in etchings and aquatints.

 

Modernism

Several decades into the twentieth-century, the American artist Man Ray emerged as a pioneer of two European art movements, Dada and Surrealism, in which the element of surprise figured prominently. This image seems both unusual for Man Ray in its apparent straight-forward approach, but also typical in its somewhat dark emotional tone.

By selecting a dead leaf with a claw-like appearance and photographing it against a wood-grain board, Man Ray updated the concept of memento mori (“remember that you must die”), a motif popular in centuries-old still-life paintings.

 

New Directions

In that same vein, the best contemporary still-life photographs recall past styles of art while containing a paradox relevant to today. Contemporary photographer Sharon Core became known for re-creations of painter Wayne Thiebaud’s pop-art dessert tableaux. Her series of still-life compositions, inspired by the 18th-century American painter Raphaelle Peale, followed.

For this series, entitled Early American, Core studied the compositional structure of his paintings, replicated the mood of the lighting, and when she couldn’t find the right vegetables and flowers, grew her own from heirloom seeds.

The stilled lives of objects have served so well as both experimental and conventional forms in the past, that still life may well be the anchor that allows photographers to explore new and yet unimagined depths.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website [Online] Cited 02/01/2020

 

Ori Gersht. 'Blow Up No. 15' from 'Time After Time' (2007)

 

Ori Gersht (Israeli, 1967- )
Blow Up: Untitled 15
2007
Digital chromogenic prints
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council of the J. Paul Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ori Gersht

 

Edward Weston (American, 1886 - 1958) 'Bananas and Orange' April 1927

 

Edward Weston (American, 1886 – 1958)
Bananas and Orange
April 1927
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.9 x 23.7 cm (7 7/16 x 9 5/16 in)
© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents, Center for Creative Photography
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Simultaneous with his work on shells and nudes, Edward Weston began photographing bananas, gourds, and other still-life subjects. He was staying close to his studio in 1927, partly because he found his growing Los Angeles surroundings unappealing and partly to be available for portrait commissions. But he also realised during this time that art could be modern without depicting industrial themes. As he wrote in his daybook, “Are not shells, bodies, clouds as much of today as machines? Does it make any difference what subject matter is used to express a feeling toward life!.”

In 1928 Weston moved to San Francisco and opened a portrait studio with his son Brett (1911-1993), who had chosen to become a photographer himself. In December of that year the two packed up and moved to Carmel, a small town along the coast with a significant population of artists. It was there that Weston began focusing attention on peppers, which he typically ate after photographing them. Those who followed his output commonly saw sexual content in his still-life compositions, although he repeatedly denied having directly intended such allusions. He resented those who pigeonholed his work in this way, calling them “the sexually unemployed belching gaseous irrelevancies from an undigested Freudian ferment!” He wrote in his daybook that he photographed peppers because “of the endless variety in form manifestations, because of their extraordinary surface texture, because of the power, the force suggested in their amazing convolutions!” At the same time, however, Weston was aware that the simplified, heightened reality of his presentations, whether they be of nudes, vegetables, fruits, or his later dunes, could conjure up other associations. He was keenly interested in the idea that “all basic forms are so closely related as to be visually equivalent!”

Weston’s work during the late 1920s and early 1930s was well received. Arthur Millier, an avant-garde critic, reviewed it frequently in the Los Angeles Times, and it was exhibited in modern art galleries in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Carmel.

Brett Abbott. Edward Weston, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), 56. © 2005, J. Paul Getty Trust.

 

André Kertész (American, born Hungary, 1894-1985) '[Bowl with Sugar Cubes]' 1928

 

André Kertész (American, born Hungary, 1894-1985)
[Bowl with Sugar Cubes]
1928
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.7 x 16.4 cm (6 9/16 x 6 1/2 in)
Accession No. 84.XM.193.46
© Estate of André Kertész
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

While living in Paris as a young photographer during the 1920s, Kertész became intrigued by still life, a motif that he continually returned to throughout his long career. Bowl with Sugar Cubes demonstrates his interest in the compositional possibilities of layering basic geometric forms on top of one another – three rectangles in a circle (sugar cubes and a bowl) and a circle in a square (the bowl and the cropped printing paper). Visual sophistication is achieved through his adroit use of simple objects and dramatic lighting.

 

Sharon Core (American, b. 1965) 'Early American - Still Life with Steak' 2008

 

Sharon Core (American, b. 1965)
Early American – Still Life with Steak
2008
Chromogenic print
Image: 17 3/16 x 23 7/16 in
© Sharon Core
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council of the J. Paul Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Core studied the compositional structure and lighting of still life paintings by Raphaelle Peale for a series of photographs she titled Early American. When she found it difficult to find vegetables that looked like the examples in Peale’s paintings, she grew her own from heirloom seeds. Core’s methodical approach yields compositions that hover between past and present.

 

Marian Drew (Australian, born 1960) 'Lorikeet with Green Cloth' 2006

 

Marian Drew (Australian, born 1960)
Lorikeet with Green Cloth
2006
Digital pigment print
Image: 71.8 x 89.5 cm (28 1/4 x 35 1/4 in.)
Sheet: 73 x 90.2 cm (28 3/4 x 35 1/2 in.)
© Marian Drew
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Drew’s tabletop still life compositions feature fruits, vegetables, and dead animals and birds presented as game. While the unusual angles and lustrous colours bring to mind paintings by Paul Cézanne, the richness of the fabrics and dramatic lighting look back to 17th-century examples. Road kill gives Drew’s photographs a dynamic twist that calls into question mankind’s stewardship of the earth and its creatures.

 

 

The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

Opening hours:
Open 10 am – 5.30 pm
Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Closed Mondays

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top




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

If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,688 other followers

If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email Marcus at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

January 2011
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Archives

Categories