Archive for May, 2012

29
May
12

Art Blart 600 postings and 600 likes!

May 2012

 

Eugene Atget. 'Au Tambour, 63 quai de la Tournelle' 1908

 

Eugene Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Au Tambour, 63 quai de la Tournelle
1908

 

The second photograph ever published on Art Blart on the very first day. Ghosts in the machine (Asimov)…

 

 

Art Blart started on November 13th 2008 and has just posted its 600th post!
The first posting was a quotation by Susan Sontag about photography, an auspicious way to start.

 

Art Blart on Facebook has just clocked up its 600th Like!

 

I like these coincidences in life… thank you to all the readers for following over the years *smiles*

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

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29
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun’ at the Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates:  25th February – 3rd June 2012

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1929

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Autoportrait
1929
Gelatin silver print
24 x 19 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes
© RMN/Gérard Blot

 

 

In many ways, Cahun’s life was marked by a sense of role reversal, and her public identity became a commentary upon not only her own, but the public’s notions of sexuality, gender, beauty, and logic. Her adoption of a sexually ambiguous name, and her androgynous self-portraits display a revolutionary way of thinking and creating, experimenting with her audience’s understanding of photography as a documentation of reality. Her poetry challenged gender roles and attacked the increasingly modern world’s social and economic boundaries. Also Cahun’s participation in the Parisian Surrealist movement diversified the group’s artwork and ushered in new representations. Where most Surrealist artists were men, and their primary images were of women as isolated symbols of eroticism, Cahun epitomized the chameleonic and multiple possibilities of the female identity. Her photographs, writings, and general life as an artistic and political revolutionary continue to influence countless artists, namely Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin and Del LaGrace Volcano.

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Text from Wikipedia

 

 

Cahun was a resistance fighter during the Second World War, was arrested, sentenced to death and survived. She lived with her longtime female partner and collaborator on Jersey from 1937 until 1954, the year of her death. Entre Nous means “Between Us,” such an appropriate title for the their collaboration, love and partnership. What a talent, what a woman and gay to boot!

Marcus

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

 

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1929

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Autoportrait
1929
Gelatin silver print
11.5 x 8.5 cm
Jersey Heritage Collection
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1928

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Autoportrait
1928
Gelatin silver print
13.9 x 9 cm
Jersey Heritage Collection
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1927

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Autoportrait
1927
Gelatin silver print
10.4 x 7.6 cm
Soizic Audouard Collection

 

 

Claude Cahun (1894-1954) has something approaching cult status in today’s art world. However, her work was almost unknown until the early 1980s, when it was championed by the research of François Leperlier, after which exhibitions at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes (1994) and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1995) brought it to public attention. Her life and work (both literary and artistic) bespeak an extraordinary libertarian personality who defied sexual, social and ethical conventions in what was an age of avant-garde and moral upheaval. Among her many photographs, it is undoubtedly her self-portraits that have aroused the greatest interest in recent years. Throughout her life, Cahun used her own image to dismantle the clichés surrounding ideas of identity. She reinvented herself through photography, posing for the lens with a keen sense of performance and role-play, dressed as a woman or a man, as a maverick hero, with her hair long or very short, or even with a shaved head. This approach was extended in innovative ways in her photographs of objects and use of photomontages, which asserted the primacy of the imagination and of metamorphosis.

By exploring the many different analyses made of Cahun’s work since the 1990s, and ranging across its different themes: from the subversive self-portraits that question identity, to her surrealist compositions, erotic metaphors and political forays, this exhibition confirms the modernity of a figure who, as a pioneer of self-representation and the poetry of objects, has been an important influence for many contemporary artists.

 

Metamorphoses of identity and the subversion of gender (I)

This set of photographs, going from 1913 to the end of the 1920s, includes some of Cahun’s major works, in which she staged her own persona, emphasising disguise and masks, and working through variations on gender: feminine, masculine, androgyne, undifferentiated. Sexual ambiguity is consciously cultivated and calls into question established norms and conventions. In 1928, she even represented herself with her head shaved, wearing a singlet, in profile, or with her hands against her face, or wearing a loose man’s jacket. Some of the mise-en-scènes from this period seem to anticipate contemporary performance.

 

Poetics of the object

The “assemblages of objects,” which make their appearance in around 1925, inventively explore what at the time was still a rather new form. This work came to wider attention in the Surrealist exhibition at the Charles Ratton gallery, in May 1936, and then with the commissioning of 22 photographic plates to illustrate a book of poems by Lise Deharme, Le Coeur de Pic (1937), prefaced by Paul Eluard. These photographs capture ephemeral set-ups, often in a natural setting (garden, beach). Each “sketch” is a composition of heterogeneous elements, both found and made, such as knickknacks in spun glass, sewing items, twigs, bones, insects, feathers, gloves, pieces of fabric, shoes, tools, etc. This “theatre of objects” has both a visual and symbolic significance, which Cahun explained in her text Prenez garde aux objets domestiques (1936).

 

Metamorphoses of identity and the subversion of gender (continued)

The 1930s saw Cahun continuing to explore images of the self. However, questions of sexual difference and its social and cultural construction were now less to the fore as she went deeper into the potential of situations and disguises and experimented with duplication in a way that extended the work of the photomontages from the late 1920s.

 

Metaphors of desire

Eschewing the direct and sometimes reifying display of the female body found in many paintings and photographs, Cahun opted for a more subtle kind of “veiled eroticism” using distance and irony. Here we find some very evocative examples of her calculating games with desire. Whether through the contained display of the body, allegory (the bacchante or faun, surrounded by sensuous vegetation), or anthropomorphic objects (the hermaphroditic “père”), she aimed to capture the essence of desire, to bring out its essential grounding in fantasy.

 

The two of us. Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe (Marcel Moore)

The photograph Entre nous (1926) clearly establishes the spirit of this section, which evokes various aspects of Claude Cahun’s intimate relationship and artistic collaboration with her partner, Suzanne Malherbe. In fact, a number of the photographs here were taken by Suzanne following Claude’s suggestions. A double portrait from 1921 shows a surprising parallel which could be read as a metaphor of their relationship, a deep closeness and understanding between two strong personalities. The linchpin of this section is constituted by the four photomontages used to illustrate Aveux non avenus (1930), Cahun’s most significant literary work, gathering together all the artist’s main themes and obsessive metaphors. The plates were executed by Moore in collaboration with Claude Cahun.

 

Elective encounters

This series of portraits, which reflect the importance of friendship in the development of Cahun’s work, gives an idea of the figures who were important to her and influenced her, or to whom she felt close, among them Henri Michaux, Robert Desnos, André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba and Suzanne Malherbe. There are also two photographs from performances at Pierre Albert-Birot’s theatre Le Plateau (1929). They attest Cahun’s keen interest in theatre and acting.

 

Poetry and politics

In the 1930s Cahun’s positions grew increasingly radical in response to the rise of totalitarianism. She joined the Surrealists and associated with a number of groups on the left and far left. This radicalisation is reflected in her aesthetic. In line with the ideas put forward in her pamphlet Les Paris sont ouverts (1934), she exploited the subversive qualities of “indirect action” in the sphere of symbolic expression, making a number of objects in which poetry and politics are intimately intertwined. This process culminated when she used these pieces for two big series of photographs dominated by a mood of irony, revolt and provocation: “La Poupée” (The Doll), a figure fashioned out of newspaper, and “Le Théâtre” (The Theatre), a wooden mannequin surrounded by various elements and placed under a glass dome.

 

Beyond the visible. The last self-portraits

Close study of Cahun’s photographs reveals the presence of allusions to non-visible phenomena, pointing the way to other realities – and perhaps, too, beyond death. Her attraction to symbolism, her interest in Eastern doctrines and her closeness to Surrealism only confirmed the primacy of fantasy and metamorphosis evidenced in the intellectual and aesthetic approaches she took throughout her life. The series Le Chemin des chats (The Way of Cats, around 1949 and 1953), suggests a mediation on and questioning of reality and appearance. Cahun was a true cat lover: for her, this animal was the great intercessor, the medium of an intuitive contact between the visible and the invisible, leading to sensorial worlds that are both unfamiliar and yet very near.

Juan Vicente Aliaga and François Leperlier, curators of the exhibition

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1939

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Autoportrait
1939
Gelatin silver print
10 x 8 cm
Jersey Heritage Collection
© Jersey Heritage

 

Claude Cahun. 'Autoportrait' 1926

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Autoportrait
1926
Gelatin silver print
11.1 x 8.6cm
IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Generalitat

 

 

Born Lucy Schwob to a family of French intellectuals and writers, Claude Cahun (who adopted the pseudonym at age 22) is best known for the staged self-portraiture, photomontages, and prose texts she made principally between 1920 and 1940. Rediscovered in the late 1980s, her work has not only expanded our understanding of the Surrealist era but also serves as an important touchstone to later feminist explorations of gender and identity politics. In her self-portraits, which she began creating around 1913, Cahun dismantled and questioned preexisting notions of self and sexuality. Posing in costumes and elaborate make-up, Cahun appears masked as various personae: man or woman, hero or doll, both powerful and vulnerable. Almost a century after their making, these innovative photographs and assemblages remain remarkably relevant in their treatment of gender, performance, and identity.

From her university years until her death, Cahun was accompanied by her partner and artistic collaborator, Suzanne Malherbe, a childhood friend and stepsister. They surrounded themselves with members of the Surrealist movement and created work that embraced leftist politics. Cahun, with assistance from Malherbe (under the pseudonym Marcel Moore), produced photographs, assemblages, and publications from the 1920s on. The photograph Entre Nous (Between Us), featuring a pair of masks embedded in sand, gives the title to this show and is emblematic of their multifaceted relationship.

The first retrospective exhibition in the United States of Cahun’s work, Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun brings together over 80 photographs and published material by Cahun and Moore, including several photomontages from their 1930 collaborative publication Aveux non avenus (Disavowals), and the only surviving object by Cahun, which is in the Art Institute’s permanent collection.

Organiser: This exhibition was organised by the Jeu de Paume, Paris, and coproduced with La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona.

Press release from the Art Institute of Chicago website

 

Claude Cahun. 'Combat de pierres' 1931

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Combat de pierres
1931
Gelatin silver print
21 x 15.5cm
Private collection
© Béatrice Hatala

 

Claude Cahun. 'Le Père' 1932

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Le Père
1932
Gelatin silver print
23.6 x 17.7cm
LAC

 

Claude Cahun. 'Aveux non avenus, planche III' 1929-1930

 

Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
Aveux non avenus, planche III
1929 – 1930
Gelatin silver print photomontage
15 x 10cm
Private collection

 

 

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Phone: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday, 10.30am – 5.00pm
Thursday, 10.30am – 8.00pm
Friday, 10.30am – 8.00pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10.00am – 5.00pm
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.

The Art Institute of Chicago website

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27
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Robert Adams: The Place We Live, a retrospective selection of photographs’ at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

 Exhibition dates: 11th March – 3rd June 2012

 

Robert Adams. 'Interstate 25, Eden Colorado' 1968

 

 

Four more photographs from this fabulous retrospective, different images from the two previous postings. Many thankx to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. More images from the retrospective can be found in these postings, when the exhibition appeared at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), September 2011 – Jan 2012 and the Vancouver Art Gallery, September 2010 – January 2011.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Southern California was, by the reports of those who lived there at the turn of the century, beautiful; there were live oaks on the hills, orchards across the valleys, and ornamental cypress, palms, and eucalyptus lining the roads. Even now we can almost extrapolate an Eden from what has lasted – from the architecture of old eucalyptus trunks, for example, and from the astringent perfume of the trees’ flowers as it blends with the sweetness of orange blossoms.

What citrus remain today, however, are mostly abandoned, scheduled for removal, and large eucalyptus have often been vandalized, like the hundreds west of Fontana that have been struck head high with shotgun fire. Whether those trees that stand are reassuring is a question for a lifetime. All that is clear is the perfection of what we were given, the unworthiness of our response, and the certainty, in view of our current deprivation, that we are judged.

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Robert Adams 1986

 

 

Robert Adams. 'Edge of Timoteo Canyon, looking toward Los Angeles, Redlands, California' 1978

 

 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Robert Adams: The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs, an exhibition that showcases the artistic legacy of American photographer Robert Adams (b. 1937) and his longstanding engagement with the contemporary Western landscape. Featuring nearly three hundred photographs and a key selection of the artist’s publications, the retrospective weaves together four decades of Adams’s work into an epic narrative of American experience in the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. Adams’s work reflects his dedication to describing the changing Western landscape – the growth of its built environment and the lives of its inhabitants – contemplating the presence of trees, the open plains, the Pacific Ocean, and the deforestation of the Pacific Northwest. At LACMA, the exhibition highlights Adams’s extraordinary portrayal of the terrain of the Los Angeles region.

“It is hard to envision the American West without the extraordinary achievements of Robert Adams. Adams conveys the often sharp luminosity and inky shadows of western geography like no other. Yet it is in his reckoning with man’s fraught presence that Adams’s spare and terribly beautiful photographs continue to challenge us,” said Edward Robinson, associate curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, who organised LACMA’s presentation.

 

Exhibition overview

With nearly three hundred gelatin silver prints, the exhibition features the photographer’s major projects, from early pictures of quiet buildings and monuments erected by settlers of his native Colorado, to his most recent images of oceans and migratory birds in the Pacific Northwest. Accompanying the photographs in the exhibition are texts drawn from

Adams’s own published writings that total more than forty books to date. The reach of Adams’s work has been felt equally through his publications, which are an indispensable element of the artist’s creative practice. A selection of these books will be displayed; copies will also be available in a reading area and digitally on iPads in the exhibition, enabling visitors to experience Adams’s masterly use of the photographic book as a poetic medium in its own right.

Press release from the LACMA website

 

Robert Adams. 'Abandoned windbreak, West of Fontana, California' 1982

 

Robert Adams. 'New development on a former citrus-growing estate, Highland, California' 1983

 

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
Phone: 323 857-6000

Opening hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11am – 5pm
Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 7pm
closed Wednesday

LACMA website

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24
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Alexander Calder – The Great Discovery’ at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands

Exhibition dates:  11th February – 28th May 2012

 

Alexander Calder. 'Cow' c. 1926

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Cow
c. 1926
Wire and wood
8.9 x 20.5 x 9.9 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Edward M. M. Warburg

 

 

Always one of my favourites. He only needed some wire, a pair of pliers and his own bare hands to create magic. Through life force Calder transfers his energy into the twists and turns of the wire, his will embodied in the kinetic energy of the sculptures. Wonderful to see the early work which I think has more vigour than the later, more flaccid stabiles.

Marcus

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Many thankx to Gemeentemuseum Den Haag for allowing me to post the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Alexander Calder. 'Small Feathers' 1931

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Small Feathers
1931
Wire, hout, lead and paint
97.8 x 81.3 x 40.6 cm
Calder Foundation, New York

 

Alexander Calder. 'Untitled (maquette)' Summer 1976

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Untitled (maquette)
Summer 1976
Aluminium and painted metal
65 x 72 x 39 cm
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
Design by Calder, never ultimately executed, for a stabile/mobile to be sited in the sculpture garden at the Kröller-Müller Museum

 

Alexander Calder. 'Josephine Baker (III)' c. 1927

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Josephine Baker (III)
c. 1927
Steel wire
99 x 56.6 x 24.5 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of the artist

 

 

Last year the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag received the prestigious Turing Art Grant for its exhibition concept for Alexander Calder – The Great Discovery. The award has made it possible to go ahead with this huge project and this spring the Gemeentemuseum will present the first major Dutch Calder retrospective to be held since 1969. This relative neglect of Calder is surprising since he used to be regarded in the Netherlands as the most important American artist of the post-war period. Early on, Calder redefined sculpture by drawing three-dimensional figures and portraits with wire in space. Then, in 1930, he visited Mondrian’s studio in Paris, which was to be a turning point in his career. Calder admired Mondrian’s use of space and converted it into his own artistic expression grounded in gesture and immateriality. That realisation and the way it radically changed his work is the key focus of this exhibition.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) grew up in a family full of creative energy: his father was a sculptor and his mother painted. As a child, he made small sculptures, model animals and jewellery from whatever materials came to hand. Even so, he trained initially as an engineer and did not attend art school until 1923. His technical education would enable him to translate his passion for movement into art; everything he made was kinetic. This was a major innovation: never again would sculpture be seen as necessarily a matter of chisels and blocks of wood or stone.

Between 1926 and 1933 Calder lived in Paris, then the heart of the modern art movement. At this stage, Calder redefined sculpture by drawing three-dimensional figures and portraits with wire in space and he was famous for the regular performances he gave with the complete and complex miniature circus Cirque Calder (1926-1931) he had concocted from everyday materials like wire, wood, leather, cork and scraps of cloth. All the circus figures could be made to move: acrobats swayed across the tightrope, dogs jumped through hoops and the elephant stood up on its back legs.

The central feature of the forthcoming exhibition is a complete reconstruction of Mondrian’s studio in the Rue du Départ. This exhibit marks Calder’s transition from figurative to abstract art: it was his visit to this studio in 1930 that triggered a radical change in his artistic practice. Abandoning his figurative sculptures, he became an abstract artist. He began to add red, black or white discs to his wire and to produce mobiles of increasing size, in which he constantly sought to combine equilibrium and movement.

The exhibition includes a film that was shown in the Netherlands in the early 1930s. Made by Hans Cürlis in 1929, it shows Alexander Calder creating two wire circus figures with no more than a pair of pliers and his own bare hands. Even then, Calder was regarded as the most innovative sculptor because of his novel choice of methods and materials.

Press release from Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

 

Alexander Calder. 'Acrobats' c. 1927

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Acrobats
c. 1927
Wire and wood
87.6 x 22.9 x 30.5 cm
Calder Foundation, New York
Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas in memory of Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr., 2010

 

Alexander Calder. 'Circus Scene' 1929

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Circus Scene
1929
Wire, wood and paint
127 x 118.7 x 46 cm
Calder Foundation, New York

 

Alexander Calder. '13 Spines' 1940

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
13 Spines
1940
Painted steel
195 cm high
Museum Ludwig, Keulen

 

Alexander Calder. 'Untitled' c. 1952

 

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976)
Untitled
c. 1952
Painted metal
34.5 cm high
Private collection

 

 

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
2517 HV Den Haag
Postbus 72
2501 CB Den haag
Phone: 070-3381111

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11.00 – 17.00

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag website

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20
May
12

Review: ‘Littoral’ by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff at Colour Factory Gallery, Fitzroy

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 26th May 2012

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. 'Truck in Safi' 2010

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Truck in Safi
2010
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

 

 

Jeff Wall, the renowned Canadian photographer, observed recently that, “Photography is such a wide, complex art form medium that there’s no real single way of practising it. Up until 30 to 40 years ago, it was pretty much presumed that the way you practised photography seriously was in the documentary mode. It was very unilateral, other things weren’t really plausible. I never objected to documentary photography, but it’s not the whole story…”1

How true. In this post-photography world there are many spaces in the city for showing all kinds of photographic work, notably at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy. While the viewer does learn about different modes of photographic representation through experiential learning (making meaning from the direct experience of looking at such work), personally some contemporary photography often leaves me feeling rather underwhelmed. Rarely do I leave the CCP thinking, wow, that was a great “photography” exhibition, I have seen something amazing about the world that I had not recognised before. Interesting: possibly; inspiring / engaging / memorable: occasionally, which is perhaps why reviews of exhibitions at the CCP occur rather rarely on this blog. This is not to belittle the work that the CCP does as an establishment, far from it, but just to note that not much contemporary photography lasts long in the mind.

It was such a joy then to walk around the corner from the CCP to the Colour Factory Gallery and view the exhibition Littoral by emerging artist Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. This is one of the best, if not the best, “photography” exhibition I have seen so far this year. As soon as you walk into the simple, elegant gallery you are surrounded by fourteen large scale horizontal photographs that are suffused with colour variations bouncing across the gallery – here a blue, there a green, now a lush orange palette. The effect is much like Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris; seated in the middle of the four curved paintings you are surrounded by large daubs of paint of various hues that have an elemental effect – resonances of earth, air, water, fire – on the viewer. The same affection of colour and space can be found in Laemmle-Ruff’s photographs.

The artist’s literal rendition (the definition of littoral is that it relates to the coastal zone between the limits of high and low tides) of the interstitial spaces at the edge of urbana, the fluid spaces of a no man’s land, are beautifully visualised in the work. These entropic spaces are mainly devoid of physical human presence but filled with the detritus of humanity: concrete boxes and tangled beams of steel, satellite dishes and red-eyed chimney stacks. In Casablanca Terrace II (2010, below) satellite dishes shimmer in orange while in the distance alien lights seem to hover over the city; in Manneheim (2010, below) the whole photograph is a cold, chilly blue the only visible signs of human existence a couple of lights peeping from the flat windows (at left) while the belching smoke from numerous alien, red-eyed War of the Worlds chimney stacks blends seamlessly into the overcast sky (please enlarge the photograph to see these). When first looking at New Homes (2011, above) I thought the green lines at bottom left were trenches until I realised they were hedges. Then I noticed the empty oval in the upper right quadrant – a demolished sporting facility… a racetrack… a spaceship landing pad? In these familiar but alien landscapes (ice covered swimming pools, graveyards sitting under mountains) Laemmle-Ruff plays with colour, space and depth of field. In some photographs, such as Road to Essaouira (2010, below bottom) the depth of field is very shallow, the focus point in the photograph being the road and gravel, silver road sign and buildings falling out of focus beyond. Like the shifting of colour, this expansion and contraction of DOF from one photograph to the next adds to the body of works ethereality.

The best print in the exhibition is Truck in Safi (2010, above) which is an absolute knockout. The composition is beautifully visualised and the print is incredibly luminous and well balanced. The large white ‘M’ on the back of the earth-filled truck solidifies our gaze in the mid-foreground while, metaphorically, the letter stamps the earth as the possession of man. The road curves into the distance and upon it, as minute specks, are a bicycle and two motorbikes. The sweep of an industrial plant fills the horizon line in a sensuous entanglement of vessels and pipes. This truly is a beautiful photograph and therein lies the contradiction present in Laemmle-Ruff’s body of work. While seeking to capture the paradoxes of urbanisation and consumerism, a vernacular world, familiar and normal (both the beauty and frailty of our times as Laemmle-Ruff puts it), the beauty of the photographs becomes the heart of the work, its strength in the presence of the viewer and perhaps its slight weakness as well. The artist’s visual acoustics, his mythologising of the city if you like – the (dis)ease of the city as sublime photograph picturing the picturesque – has, to my mind, elements of Pictorialism in the artist’s scopophiliac looking. Nothing wrong with that, but we must acknowledge that there is a contradiction here, not between the beauty and frailty of our times, but between the frailty of the earth and the constructed beauty of the photograph seen through a desirous looking that might be at odds with Laemmle-Ruff’s intended project.

Be that as it may, it is a great pleasure to see a young, emerging artist produce such memorable photographic works. Walking into the gallery the viewer can littorally feel the pleasure that the artist has in capturing these complex, fluid spaces. The artist is at the beginning of a path of exploration where each new body of work will develop thematically out of concerns that have been evidenced here. Where this journey will take him is unknown but with courage, fortitude, knowledge, passion, a good eye and a camera he will go far. Good stuff!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Wall, Jeff quoted in Laurie, Victoria. “Lights, Camera,” in The Weekend Australian Review. May 19-20 2012, p. 5

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Many thankx to the artist and the Colour Factory Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. 'New Homes' 2011

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
New Homes
2011
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. 'Casablanca Terrace II' 2010

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Casablanca Terrace II
2010
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. 'Manneheim' 2010

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Manneheim
2010
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

 

 

Littoral examines the shifting overlap between landscape and urbanscape. As a reaction to a traditional approach where the two are consciously separated, Laemmle-Ruff focuses on the often grotesque and ever-expanding littoral zone between civilisation and nature.

“I found these undefined zones did not discriminate on place or culture. From Morocco to the post WWII suburbs of Germany, somber skies were met with stubborn and aggressive urbanisation. I was drawn to contradictions. “The World Tastes Better with Pall Mall” claimed the cigarette ad. These empty remarks of consumerism seemed to go unchallenged. My intention was to capture these paradoxes and pull them from the wallpaper of modern sensibility. Our gaze once traveled to picturesque, unspoiled horizons, forests in mist and rolling plains. Instead it stops on concrete or becomes tangled in steel beams.”

Littoral presents us with spaces anticipating themselves. Housing estates on the fringe of development yet to be occupied; North African peasants walking past the mall’s facade where the market once stood; roof top terraces lined with satellite dishes streaming immaculate reception. We are left to wonder who will fill these homes. Who is in control of where urbanisation will go next?

Ultimately, this series may appear to be a presentation of a vernacular world, familiar and normal. This, in turn alludes to a desensitisation to our changing surroundings in an age of globalisation and overpopulation. Our landscape is increasingly becoming a manifestation of ourselves. Littoral urges one to question where the present seems to be leading us.

Practicing in both documentary and conceptual photography, from warm narratives to surreal visions, Kristian Laemmle-Ruff’s photographs subtly bring to light both the beauty and frailty of our times. As we spiral up the exponential curve of ‘progress’ there are dynamic ruptures, vulnerabilities and regenerative possibilities in our human reality – this is his motivation – a truth worth capturing.

Press release from the Colour Factory Gallery website

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. 'Olympic Stadium' 2012

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Olympic Stadium
2012
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. 'Road to Essaouira' 2010

 

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Road to Essaouira
2010
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

 

 

Colour Factory Gallery
409-429 Gore Street
Fitzroy, Victoria 3056
Phone: +61 3 9419 8756

Colour Factory Gallery website

Kristian Laemmle-Ruff website

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18
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Behind the Curtain – The Aesthetics of the Photobooth’ at the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Exhibition dates: February – 20th May 2012

Artists:
 Jean-Michel Alberola, Louis Aragon, Marie-Berthe Aurenche, Richard Avedon, Alain Baczynsky, Jared Bark, Marc Bellini, Jacques-André Boiffard, André Breton, Hansjürg Buchmeier, Anita Cruz-Eberhard, Sabine Delafon, Anne Deleporte, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Michael Fent, Michel Folco, Valentine Fournier, Lee Friedlander, Näkki Goranin, Jeff Grostern, Susan Hiller, Dick Jewell , Svetlana Khachaturova, Jürgen Klauke, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Naomi Leibowitz, Leon Levinstein, Annette Messager, Willy Michel, Daniel Minnick, Suzanne Muzard, Raynal Pellicer, Mathieu Pernot, Steven Pippin, Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau, Arnulf Rainer, Timm Rautert, Bruno Richard, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Ruff, Michel Salsmann, Tomoko Sawada, Joachim Schmid, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Dimitri Soulas, Yves Tanguy, Amanda Tetrault, Roland Topor, Franco Vaccari, Andy Warhol, Gillian Wearing, Jan Wenzel, David Wojnarowicz and the group Fluxus.

 

 

Franco Vaccari. '(Exhibition in real time: leave a photographic sign of your passage on these walls)' 1972

 

Franco Vaccari (Italian, b. 1936)
Esposizione in tempo reale num. 4: Lascia su queste pareti una traccia fotografica del tuo passaggio (Exhibition in real time: leave a photographic sign of your passage on these walls)
1972
Collage of photobooths mounted on cardboard, gelatin silver prints
45.5 x 58.5cm (detail)
© Franco Vaccari, property of the Artist

 

 

This is one exhibition I wish I could really see in person. Such a fascinating subject!

The images are timeless, contextless and quite beguiling. The exhibition questions the aesthetics of the photobooth through six major themes: The Booth, Automatism, The Strip, Who Am I?, Who Are You?, Who Are We?. In Melbourne there are still two black and white photobooths outside the Elizabeth Street exit of Flinders Street railway station, standing there like silent sentinels of a bygone age. I remember when I was younger queueing to have my photograph taken, for student cards and for my first passport. You needed two nearly identical black and white shoulder up portraits, no smiling, no glasses on. Now you just go to the chemist for your colour renditions. The magic and the fun has gone.

The whole performance has the illusion of the cinematic. You queue to get in, drawing back the curtain and closing it behind you, as they close the doors of the cinema. The privacy of the booth, not in darkness but behind a curtain that shields your face from prying eyes but leaves the lower half of your body exposed. Behind where you will be sitting another curtain – drawn or open? What background do you want? You adjust the seat up and down so that your face is at the correct level with the mark on the screen, enter your money and wait. The red light comes on, you (com)pose yourself and a couple of seconds later: flash! Your eyes try to recover in time for the next red light: flash!

Time seems to slow down and almost stop between the flashes of light. The experience of your performance before the screen possesses such a visceral, tense, gut feel but also a disembodied feeling. I never know how I am going to look on the cinematic film strip, not at 24 frames a second, but at 4 frames per minute. What happens to the time in between? Standing outside the booth waiting for a strip of paper with your impression on it, not knowing what the images are going to be like, whether the development of the image in such a short space of time has worked correctly – and the smell of the chemicals on the paper as you handle the still wet strip. Magic…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the Musée de l’Elysée for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Mathieu Pernot. 'Jonathan, Mickael, Priscilla, Photobooth' 1996

 

Mathieu Pernot (French, b. 1970)
Jonathan, Mickael, Priscilla, cabine du photomaton (Jonathan, Mickael, Priscilla, Photobooth)
1996
Three gelatin silver prints
540 x 195cm
© Mathieu Pernot / collection Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne

 

Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled' 1975

 

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled
1975
Gelatin silver print
30.5 x 20.4cm
© Courtesy of the Artist, Metro Pictures, collection Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Self Portrait at 17 Years Old' 2003

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Self Portrait at 17 Years Old
2003
Framed C-type print
115.5 x 92cm
Collection of Contemporary Art Fundació ‘La Caixa’, Barcelone
© Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Anne Deleporte. 'I.D. Stack #6' 1992

 

Anne Deleporte (French, b. 1960)
I.D. Stack #6
1992
Stack of photobooth portraits, gelatin silver and chromogenic prints
6 x 5 x 3 cm
© Anne Deleporte

 

 

When the first photobooths were set up in Paris in 1928, the Surrealists used them heavily and compulsively. In a few minutes, and for a small price, the machine offered them, through a portrait, an experience similar to automatic writing. Since then, generations of artists have been fascinated by the concept of the photobooth. From Andy Warhol to Arnulf Rainer, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman and Gillian Wearing, many used it to play with their identity, tell stories, or simply create worlds.

Behind the Curtain – the Aesthetics of the Photobooth, an exhibition created by the Musée de l’Elysée, is the first to focus on the aesthetics of the photobooth. It is divided into six major themes: the booth, the automated process, the strip, who am I ?, who are you?, who are we? Provider of standardised legal portraits, it is the ideal tool for introspection and reflection on others, whether individually or in groups. By bringing together over 600 pieces made on different media (photographs, paintings, lithographs and videos ) from sixty international artists, the exhibition reveals the influence of the photobooth within the artistic community, from its inception to the present day.

The exhibition questions the aesthetics of the photobooth through six major themes.

 

The Booth

An isolated space, closed in as if it were some sort of modern confessional, the photobooth is an invitation to the most intimate revelations. Generally located in public spaces-subway station, department store or train station-it also offers an extraordinary observation point onto the urban hustle and bustle. It is a world in between the intimate and the public, the inside and the outside, the debarred and the open.

 

Automatism

From the Surrealists to the most contemporary artists, all have been fascinated by the automatism of the photobooth. The machine does the work. The author vanishes behind the almighty technology. Malfunction can occur at times. The result is a form of poetry of the automatism made visible in its faults, failures or blunders.

 

The Strip

As a series of juxtaposed images, the strip recreates spatial or temporal continuities. It reconstructs improbable spaces: a closer look shows that, in fact, the adjacent image is the following image. Through this succession of images, the photobooth holds, as if folded into it, the principle of the cinema. Putting images side by side is already telling a story.

 

Who am I?

Identity is embodied within the space of the photobooth. It is a space for self-staging, where social, ethnic, sexual, community or any other identity can be strengthened or undone. One can pretend to ascertain one’s naked identity through the mirror of the photobooth, or on the contrary, by pulling faces or in disguise, to establish metamorphoses of the self. The photobooth is the ideal introspective tool.

 

Who are you?

The photobooth is not only a place suitable for self-reflection, it is also a place in which the other can be questioned, in particular through the legal identification system that delivers what is commonly referred to as ‘ID’. In devoting oneself to the compulsive and bulimic collecting of photobooth strips, one can also get lost in the faces of others.

 

Who are we?

While it allows us to reflect upon our own identity, or other people’s, the photobooth is also an opportunity to ponder about the nature of the couple, or the group. Inside the booth, some build their image through the mirror of the other, or of others; they pose in pairs or more, thus asserting their affiliation to a social entity. The photobooth reinforces our gregarious instinct; it embodies collective identity.

With works by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Willy Michel, Lorna Simpson, Amanda Tetrault and the collection of albums of purikuras (see photograph below: in Japan, the name purikuras refers to a photo sticker booth or the product of such a photo booth. The name is a shortened form of the registered trademark Purinto Kurabu (プリント倶楽部). The term derives from the English print club. Jointly developed by Atlus and Sega, the first purikura machines were sold in July 1995).

Press release from the Musée de l’Elysée website

 

Anonymous. 'Collection of albums of purikuras' 1995-2010

 

Anonymous
Collection of albums of purikuras
1995-2010
Collection of digital images printed on stickers mounted in booklets
Various sizes from 9 x 12.8cm to 11.9 x 14.5cm
© Kenji Hirasawa (art collector)

 

Andy Warhol. 'Frances Lewis' 1966

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Frances Lewis
1966
Acrylic and silkscreen on linen, 12 panels
162.5 x 167.6 cm
© Collection The Sydney and Frances Lewis Foundation / 2011
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society ( ARS ), New York

 

Jan Wenzel. 'Vohang (Curtain)' 2009

 

Jan Wenzel (German, b. 1972)
Vohang (Curtain)
2009
From the series Instant History
Montage of four photobooth prints, chromogenic prints
41.7 x 31.7cm
© Jan Wenzel / Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs

 

Yves Tanguy. 'Selfportrait in a Photobooth' c. 1929

 

Yves Tanguy (French, 1900-1955)
Selfportrait in a Photobooth
c. 1929
Gelatin silver print
20.5 x 3.8 cm
© Collection Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne / 2011, ProLitteris, Zurich

 

Anonymous. 'Walter and I at the BIG SLIDE' c. 1970

 

Anonymous
Walter and I at the BIG SLIDE
c. 1970
Gelatin silver print
ca. 20.5 x 3.8 cm
© Collection Näkki Goranin

 

Arnulf Rainer. 'No title (Automatenportraits)' August 1969

.

Arnulf Rainer. 'No title (Automatenportraits)' August 1969

.

Arnulf Rainer. 'No title (Automatenportraits)' August 1969

 

Arnulf Rainer (Austrian, b. 1929)
No title (Automatenportraits)
August 1969
© Arnulf Rainer; Courtesy: Galerie m Bochum

 

Alain Baczynsky. 'Regardez, il va peut-être se passer quelque chose …' 1979–1981

 

Alain Baczynsky (Belgian, b. 1953)
Regardez, il va peut-être se passer quelque chose … (Look, maybe it will be something going on…)
1979-1981
© Collection Centre Pompidou, dist. RMN

 

Susan Hiller. 'Midnight, Euston' 1983

 

Susan Hiller (American-born artist who lived in London, 1940-2019)
Midnight, Euston
1983
© Susann Hiller; Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London

 

Jan Wenzel. 'Bastler II' 2000

 

Jan Wenzel (German, b. 1972)
Bastler II
2000
© Jan Wenzel & Kleinschmidt Fine Photographs

 

 

Musée de l’Elysée
18, avenue de l’Elysée CH
1014 Lausanne
Phone: + 41 21 316 99 11

Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm
Closed Monday, except for Bank holidays

Musée de l’Elysée website

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16
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Pieter Hugo: This must be the place’ at The Hague Museum of Photography, The Netherlands

Exhibition dates: 3rd March – 20th May 2012

 

Pieter Hugo. 'Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Abuja' From the series 'The Hyena & Other Men' 2005-2007

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Abuja
2005 – 2007 
From the series The Hyena & Other Men
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

 

Sexy, scary and very sad.

The hand of the monkey Clear on the thigh of Dayaba Usman (see second photograph below) – and the look on his face – makes one wonder who is really in chains.

Marcus

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

 

Pieter Hugo. 'Dayaba Usman with the monkey Clear, Abuja' From the series 'The Hyena & Other Men' 2005-2007

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Dayaba Usman with the monkey Clear, Abuja
2005 – 2007
From the series The Hyena & Other Men
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

Pieter Hugo. 'Mummy Ahmadu and a snake charmer with a rock python, Abuja' From the series 'The Hyena & Other Men' 2005-2007

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Mummy Ahmadu and  a snake charmer with a rock python, Abuja
2005 – 2007
From the series The Hyena & Other Men
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

 

The South African photographer Pieter Hugo’s (1976) monumental photographs, centred around contemporary Africa, are now well known around the world. He has already won numerous awards including the KLM Paul Huf award in 2008 and was recently nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012. The Hague Museum of Photography will be the first museum to exhibit a comprehensive survey of Hugo’s work from 2002 – 2011. Together with many previously unseen works, the exhibition will include a curated selection of his most well-known series: The Hyena & Other Men, the bizarre Nollywood and the striking Permanent Error. His impressive portraits tell personal stories about recurring themes throughout his oeuvre, namely those people who inhabit the margins of society in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The differences between the West and Africa, rich and poor, white and black are confronted in Hugo’s vivid compositions. Many of his series are prompted by newspaper articles, or radio and television pieces, which he finds compelling. He came in contact, for instance with the group of men who travel around Nigeria with hyenas and pythons, through an image sent via cell phone camera by a friend. He decided to accompany the group on their travels, and the outcome of this experience is The Hyena & Other Men (2005 – 2007), a series of portraits from a travelling group of street performers, who together with their – sometimes forcefully – tamed animals earn money to continue travelling.

In the series Permanent Error (2009-2010) he offers portraits of young men and woman who live amidst an immense waste dump of broken computers, mother boards and keyboards. To earn money these young people burn the computers dumped here as a means to extract valuable metals. The dangerous and poisonous vapours produce a hell on earth, where the quality of life is already challenging. The people who pose for Hugo stand in front of the camera with a defiant self-confidence.

From a different perspective comes his series about Nollywood (2008-2009) in Nigeria, the biggest film industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood. Here, stories that have for centuries been part of an oral tradition are told in dramatic films in which a central role is reserved for themes such as romance, witchcraft, bribery and prostitution. It is this world, where the everyday and the surreal exist simultaneously, that Hugo finds fascinating. In this series Hugo depicts actors and assistants posing in the role of movie characters. The result is an absurd tableau such as a photo of a half-naked woman sitting on a bed with a bloody knife stuck between her breasts. All the while she stares blankly at the camera. In another image, a woman well-dressed in Nigerian clothing sits completely unfazed by the man next to her made-up as the devil.

Press release from The Hague Museum of Photography website

 

 Pieter Hugo. 'Escort Kama, Enugu' From the series 'Nollywood' 2008-2009

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Escort Kama, Enugu
2008 – 2009
From the series Nollywood
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

Pieter Hugo. 'Obechukwu Nwoye, Enugu' From the series 'Nollywood' 2008-2009

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Obechukwu Nwoye, Enugu
2008 – 2009
From the series Nollywood
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

Pieter Hugo. 'Abdulai Yahaya, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra' From the series 'Permanent Error', 2009-2010

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Abdulai Yahaya, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra
2009 – 2010
From the series Permanent Error
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

Pieter Hugo. 'Abdulai Yahaya, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra' 2009-2010 From the series 'Permanent Error'

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
Abdulai Yahaya, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra
2009 – 2010
From the series Permanent Error
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

Pieter Hugo. 'David Akore, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra' 2009-2010 From the series 'Permanent Error'

 

Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976)
David Akore, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra
2009 – 2010
From the series Permanent Error
© Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Kaapstad / Yossi Milo, New York

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 12 – 6pm

The Hague Museum of Photography website

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14
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Andy Warhol: Polaroids / MATRIX 240’ at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California

Exhibition dates: 27th January – 20th May 2012

 

Andy Warhol. 'Untitled' Pages 8 and 9 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Untitled
Pages 8 and 9 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III
of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007

 

 

ONE PERSON has found one of the images below offensive; so just for them please note that his posting has a PENIS and A-RRRRRR-SE rating. For all others, enjoy another spectacular Andy posting!

Marcus

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Many thankx to BAM/PFA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image (especially the two images directly below). View the complete The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program Vol. III as a pdf (3.7Mb pdf)

 

 

“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.”

.
Andy Warhol

 

 

Andy Warhol. 'Untitled' Pages 38 and 39 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Untitled
Pages 38 and 39 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III
of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007

 

 

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents Andy Warhol: Polaroids / MATRIX 240. The exhibition features a selection of Warhol’s Polaroid portraits drawn from an extraordinary gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to the museum. From 1970 to 1987, Warhol, armed with his Polaroid Big Shot camera, captured a wide range of individuals – the royalty, rock stars, executives, artists, patrons of the arts, and athletes who epitomised seventies and eighties high society, but also as many unknown subjects. From January 27 through May 20, 2012, BAM/PFA will feature a group of approximately forty of these photographs, including portraits of Caroline, Princess of Monaco; Diane von Furstenberg; and O.J. Simpson.

Famous for his contributions to Pop Art, Warhol used photography as a central part of his art-making process. Before turning to fine art, Warhol worked in advertising and commercial art, experiences that informed his approach to portraiture. In 1962, he debuted his first silkscreen paintings of celebrities, serialising pictures he pulled from magazines and press photos. In addition to using found images, Warhol eventually incorporated his own photography into his practice. In 1969 he launched inter/View magazine, which featured his photos of celebrities. By the 1970s and 1980s, portrait commissions were a major source of his income, and many of his Polaroids would serve as the basis for these works.

While each of the images in Andy Warhol: Polaroids is unique, the consistency of composition, poses, and plain white backdrop equalises the superstars and lesser-known subjects. To Warhol, they were all beautiful people. But even within this uniform staging, we see the artist finding numerous ways to create memorable, varied, and iconic compositions. Though these photos may be small in size, together the Warhol Polaroids provide a glimpse into the artistic process of one of the twentieth century’s most important artists.

From 1970 to 1987 Andy Warhol took scores of Polaroid and black-and-white photographs, the vast majority of which were never seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silk-screen paintings, drawings, and prints. In 2007, to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts launched the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. Designed to give a broad public greater access to Warhol’s photographs, the program donated over 28,500 of Warhol’s original Polaroids and gelatin silver prints to more than 180 college and university museums and galleries across the country. Each institution received a curated selection of over one hundred Polaroids and fifty black-and-white prints.

The number of images he took at each session varied as greatly as the figures he photographed. Repetition, a recurring motif in Warhol’s paintings, plays both a conceptual and practical role in his photography. By making several Polaroids, he had more material from which to work. By shooting at length, more about the sitter was exposed. Seen all together, the Polaroids destabilise the iconic status that a Warhol image assumes when displayed singly. On its own, a Polaroid image is fully identified with the artwork that ultimately grew out of it; the face depicted becomes a kind of signifier for larger cultural concepts of beauty, power, and worth.

Text adapted from “Andy Warhol’s Photographic Legacy,” in The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007 (New York: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc, 2007), 4-5.

View the complete Vol. III as a pdf (3.7Mb pdf)

Text and press release from the BAM/PFA website

 

Andy Warhol. 'Billy Squier' 1982

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Billy Squier
1982
Polacolor 2
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'Daryl Lillie' 11/1978

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Daryl Lillie
11/1978
Polacolor 2
4-14 x 3-3/8 in
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'Heather Watts' after June 1986

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Heather Watts
after June 1986
Polacolor ER
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

From 1970 to 1987 Andy Warhol took thousands of Polaroid pictures, the vast majority of which were never seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silkscreen paintings, drawings, and prints. Warhol captured a wide range of individuals with his Polaroid Big Shot camera. The royalty, rock stars, industrialists, artists, patrons of the arts, and athletes who epitomised 1970s and 1980s high society, as well as unknown sitters, are represented with a sense of dignity and verve. Warhol was interested in a new definition of ”Society” that emerged in this period. In the introduction to the 1979 publication Andy Warhol’s Exposures, the artist wrote:

“Now it doesn’t matter if you came over on the Mayflower, so long as you can get into Studio 54. Anyone rich, powerful, beautiful, or famous can get into Society. If you’re a few of those things you can really get to the top.”1

Warhol’s images not only documented, but participated in, the creation of this new social world, satisfying both the need of his subjects to be seen and the desire of the viewer to gain access to this milieu through the act of looking. Warhol worked in advertising and commercial art before turning to fine art, experiences that informed his approach to portraiture. In 1962, he debuted his first silk-screen paintings of celebrities, serialising pictures appropriated from magazines or press photos of the time. In addition to employing found images, Warhol eventually incorporated photography into his practice and, in 1969, started a magazine (originally called inter/VIEW) that often featured his own photographs of celebrities. By the 1970s and 1980s, portrait commissions became a main source of his income.

Warhol’s Polaroids are strikingly intimate, an effect achieved in part by his personal relationship with the sitters and in part by formal aspects of the images. The artist often provided a luncheon in advance of the photo session, establishing a bond with his subject and a tone for the shoot. In the resulting Polaroids, the sitter is in direct eye contact with Warhol and the camera. The strong sense of immediacy created by the sitter’s open gaze is enhanced by the tight compositions in which the subject, pressed up close to the picture plane, is isolated from any context. A feeling of vulnerability appears in some of the portraits (as suggested by the bared shoulders of Unidentified woman (blond with bangs), for example), indicating a willingness to be exposed as well as the seductive nature of the artist and the photo shoot itself. The closeness forged between photographer and sitter and captured by the camera offers an illusion of sharing these private moments and of entering into Warhol’s circle of beautiful people and their glamorous lives.

While each image is unique, the consistency of composition, poses, and plain white backdrop equalises the celebrities and the unknown subjects of Warhol’s Polaroids. After all, to Warhol, they were all beautiful people. Polaroids of individuals who are not immediately recognisable pique our curiosity. Who is the enigmatic Frau Buch? Like many of Warhol’s subjects, she is photographed with a prop. The small dog that she hugs may not identify her, but it suggests a dimension of her personality. In other Polaroids, Warhol used props as identifying elements like the attributes in Renaissance portraiture – major-league baseball pitcher Tom Seaver is shown with his mitt and NFL legend O.J. Simpson clutches a football. The teddy bear in the arms of the subject of Unidentified girl (blue t-shirt with teddy bear) represents an aspect childhood that everyone can relate to, although the girl is actually a scion of the new high society: Jade, the daughter of Mick and Bianca Jagger.

Warhol’s Polaroids were designed to be source material for his canvases. He would direct the sitter in a series of poses, which gave the artist ample material from which to create the subsequent silkscreen portraits. Subjects such as fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and patron of the arts Daryl Lillie are photographed wearing thick white makeup, black eyeliner, and bright red lipstick that evoke the stage or a high-fashion photo shoot; however, the makeup also served to flatten the images for a smooth effect in the screen-print transfer. The Polaroid Big Shot’s strong flash overexposes many images and increases the contrast, an effect Warhol deployed in the subsequent silkscreens; the flash also seems to catch each sitter – celebrities and unknowns alike – in the sudden glare of a paparazzo’s camera.

Warhol’s Polaroids borrow from paparazzi and high-fashion photography and at the same time elevate an inexpensive, everyday medium to the realm of high art. Warhol embossed his name in capital letters in the lower right-hand border of most of the Polaroids, marking them as a painter would sign a canvas. For Warhol, coming from the world of advertising, this was also a kind of branding. He wrote of Jade Jagger: “She never calls me Andy always Andywarhol, as if it were one word – or a brand name, which I wish it were.”2 Warhol’s portraits confuse the boundaries of advertising and art, high and low, celebrity portraiture and the depiction of everyday people, and even photography and painting. His subjects are perpetually illuminated by the afterimage of a flashbulb, their faces immortalised by Warhol’s style

Fabian Leyva-Barragan, Curatorial Intern
Stephanie Cannizzo, Assistant Curator

 

  1. Warhol, Andy and Colacello, Bob . Andy Warhol’s Exposures (New York: Andy Warhol Books / Grosset & Dunlop, Inc., 1979), p. 19
  2. Ibid., pp. 28-29

 

Andy Warhol. 'Pia Zadora' 1983

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Pia Zadora
1983
Polacolor ER
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'Tom Seaver' 1977

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Tom Seaver
1977
Polacolor Type 108
4-14 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'R.C. Gorman' 1979

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
R.C. Gorman
1979
Polacolor Type 108
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

BAMPFA is located at 2155 Center Street
between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue, in downtown Berkeley
Phone: (510) 642-0808

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive website

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13
May
12

Review: ‘Jacqui Stockdale: The Quiet Wild’ at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th April – 19th May 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Rama-Jaara the Royal Shepherdess' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Rama-Jaara the Royal Shepherdess
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

 

After a slow start to the season there has be a veritable feast of excellent photography exhibitions in Melbourne over the last month or so, including John Gollings and Jane Brown at Edmund Pearce Gallery, the Fred Kruger and Light Works exhibitions (at NGVA and NGVI respectively), Littoral by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff at Colour Factory (the next local review after this one) and this exhibition, The Quiet Wild by Jacqui Stockdale at Helen Gory Galerie.

This is a very strong exhibition by Jacqui Stockdale, the metre tall colour prints (printed by the Colour Factory) displaying magnificently in the large gallery at Helen Gory. The photographs remind me of a perverse take on the ethnographic Cartes de visite that were produced during the colonial Victorian era in Australia, images of native peoples taken in studios with painted backdrops together with their cultural artefacts (which, coincidentally, can be seen in great detail and sadness in the Fred Kruger exhibition at NGVA). Drawing on personal places and stories, Mexican carnival and wrestlers masks, Indian masks, Aboriginal names and locations, Velasquez’s Las Meninas, the ghost of Frida Kahlo, rituals, gods (such as Rama) and deities, Australian scenery, performance (the process of painting the models and the outcome of this interaction), Stockdale creates a wonderful melange of archetypal characters that subvert traditional identities and narratives. Her creations “shape-shift” and frustrate attempts at categorization and assimilation.

Stockdale’s performative tactics and multiple modes of address, her polyvocal subject if you like, may be said to be an effect of textuality: “a conscious recognition and pursuit of an altogether different set of values and historical and cultural trajectories.”1 Undeniably this performative act (this “ritual spectacle”2) has links to the Bakhtin’s idea of the carnivalesque and the carnival paradigm, which accords to certain patterns of play. Stockdale inverts cultural stereotypes (which embody elements of fixity, repetition, and ambivalence) located within the realms of the fetish, the scopic, and the Imaginary in order to subvert the collective memory of viewers that have been inscribed with a stereotypical collective vernacular: her work transgresses the fantasy that plays a formative role in colonial exercises of power.3

Bakhtin likens the carnivalesque in literature to the type of activity that often takes place in the carnivals of popular culture. In the carnival… social hierarchies of everyday life – their solemnities and pieties and etiquettes, as well as all ready-made truths – are profaned and overturned by normally suppressed voices and energies. Thus, fools become wise, kings become beggars; opposites are mingled (fact and fantasy, heaven and hell).”4

In Stockdale’s world, a “world upside-down” (quite appropriate for Australia), “Each new identity is one of inversion; man becomes woman, child becomes adult, animals transform into humans and vice-versa.”Another example of this inversion can be seen in the “branding” of her photographs. In colonial Cartes de visite the sitter is, more often than not, unknown – unless it is an important person. It is the photographer’s name which is printed on the front and back of the card. In these photographs the photographers name is an illegible signature at bottom left, while the title of the person in the photograph is stamped into the work at bottom right. Here Stockdale again inverts traditional textual readings, the titles of her “photographic portraits that embody a world of mystical characters in masquerade” indecipherable to the uninitiated: a coded language of identity and place – Lagunta ManEl Gato, Les Jumeaux, Dogboy of Gondwanan, Infanta Shamanta and Rama Jaara, The Royal Shepherdess. ‘Lagunta’ is Aboriginal for Tasmanian Tiger and ‘Leeawuleena’ for the land around Cradle Mountain. ‘El Gato’ is the cat, ‘Jaara’ being the Aboriginal name for the Long Gully region and ‘Gondwanan’ the name for the southernmost of two supercontinents (the other being Laurasia) before the world split apart into the structure that we known today.

These are incredibly humorous, magical and symbolic photographs. A thought came into my mind when I was in the gallery surrounded by the work: for me they represented a vision of the Major Arcana of the Tarot (for example Jaguar Hombre could be seen as an inverted version of the Hanged Man with his foot in a figure four, the Hanged Man symbolising the need to just be in the world, yielding his mind and body to the Universal flow). The Major Arcana deal with the human condition, each card representing the joys and sorrows every man and woman can experience in a lifetime. In a way Stockdale offers us her own set of subversive Major Arcana, images that transgress the boundaries of the colonial vernacular, offering the viewer a chance to explore the heart of the quiet wild.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

  1. Fisher, Jean. “Witness for the Prosecution: The Writings of Coco Fusco,” in Fusco, Coco. The Bodies That Were Not Ours. London: Routledge, 2001, pp. 227-228
  2. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World (trans. Helene Iswolsky). Cambridge: MIT Press, 1968, p. 5
  3. “According to Bhabha, stereotypes are located within the realms of the fetish, the scopic, and the Imaginary. He suggests that fantasy plays a formative role in colonial exercises of power. Bhabha describes the mechanism of cultural stereotypes as embodying elements of fixity, repetition, fantasy, and ambivalence, and suggests that if certain types of images are constantly presented in a range of different contexts, they will become imprinted onto the collective memory of viewers and inscribed within a collective vernacular.”
    Vercoe, Caroline. “Agency and Ambivalence: A Reading of Works by Coco Fusco,” in Fusco, Coco. The Bodies That Were Not Ours. London: Routledge, 2001, p. 240
  4. Anon. “Carnivalesque,” on Wikipedia. [Online] Cited 13/05/2012

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

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Les Jumeaux' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Les Jumeaux
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

 

In this modern world of distractions there is a wild nature that stirs inside of us. A desire for transcendence, to become someone else, dance part naked and chant our lost songs so that they can be heard above the sounds of cities and mobile ring tones.

The Quiet Wild is a series of photographic portraits that embodies a world of mystical characters in masquerade set against hand-painted landscapes. The portraits playfully mimic the genre of exotic postcards and historical paintings where a fanciful subject is formally positioned within a make-believe landscape. The hand-painted settings in my photographs feature Australian scenery from places around Australia that have meaning to me including my mother’s property in Bendigo, the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and Lake Saint Claire in Tasmania.

I paint the models bodies and combine costumes and props including my own collection of rare masks originally used in dances of Mexican Carnival. This new work responds to established portrayals of human identity and masquerade informed by my research into different aspects of folk Carnivals where the masquerades are a fusion of clandestine voodoo, ancestral memory and personal revelation ritual and performance. Performance also plays a part in my photographic process where I interact with the models and allow the process to greatly determine the outcome. Each new identity is one of inversion; man becomes woman, child becomes adult, animals transform into humans and vice-versa.

The difference between painting the human subject and taking their portrait with a camera it is that during a photo shoot there is more of an element of performance. The subject, over a period of many hours often becomes a new character, extending a side of them that is not prevalent in daily life or invents a new identity. This is brought about by what I dress them in and how I direct them, provoking certain ideas, strengths about an animal power or super natural deity. I begin with an idea of character and a selection of costumes and them work intuitively as though in the dark or with eyes part open. I rarely end up with what I first imagined and revel in the surprise or discovery of a combined effort.

The inspiration for this series of work has come from a unique, rich and beautiful form of human expression that is found in the ritual side of folk art in the cultures around the world but mostly in Mexico. The traditional dances of Mexican Carnival provide an opportunity to revive the primeval gods from the depths of our communal memory, since dance constitutes our remotest language and most primitive sacred offering. The masks I have used in this series are from these types of ritual dance. They are recontextualised and worn in the works Lagunta Man and El Gato, Les Jumeaux, Dogboy of Gonwanan, Infanta Shamanta and Carnival of the Night. Other influences come from images of Exotic Postcards, regarding the formal presentation of the models, the constructed settings and the borders and way of labeling the image. Luchadora Botanica was influenced by a Goya Painting, Negro Returno – I wanted to bring one of my recent collages to life, See ‘to return’.

What I have done is imagined my own family as part ritualistic characters, setting in them in a landscape that I have visited.”

Artist statement by Jacqui Stockdale 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Jaguar Hombre' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Jaguar Hombre
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Lagunta Man, Leeawuleena' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Lagunta Man, Leeawuleena
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

 

The ghost of Frida Kahlo is a haunting one that permeates many artists consciousness bringing with it not just a tragic story but intoxicating aromas of Mexican exotic, masks, Voo-Doo, bloody Mayan rituals and Catholicism gone troppo.

This is clearly evidenced in Jacqui Stockdale’s latest exhibition at Helen Gory Galerie in works such as Negro-Returno, Long Gully. The white lacy heart-shaped overlay of ghostly trees conceals a part-portrait of Frida here depicted in front of Long Gully Bendigo, the Stockdale property, after the Black Saturday bush fire three years ago. This haunting shadowy backdrop appears again in Rama Jaara, The Royal Shepherdess, ‘Jaara’ being the Aboriginal name for the Long Gully region. It is a personal aside of something that obviously touched this artist deeply, one to which she has bought her troupe of tableau vivant players to. Here, a Mauritian girl called Mimi, standing at attention, arms akimbo, dressed in remnants of regal colonial attire. The pose reminiscent of that of the Infanta Margarita in Velasquez’s Las Meninas. The dog has moved from bottom right to bottom left, here a small spotted Chinese Joss paper effigy made for the journey to the afterlife, rather than a great bounding Spanish mastiff. Our young self-possessed Mimi stares directly out of the picture space not as an Infanta, but as one of nature’s children, a shepherdess, her hairstyle resembling a ram’s head, informing that part of the title, ‘Rama’ a play on words.

Both the artists brothers are also players in this tableau: the younger as Lagunta Man, Leeawuleena and the artist’s twin as El Gato, van Diemonia. ‘Lagunta’ is Aboriginal for Tasmanian Tiger and ‘Leeawuleena’ for the land around Cradle Mountain. ‘El Gato’ is the cat, and both carrying a filmic reference to the recent movie The Hunter, filmed around Cradle Mt in Northern Tasmania. While the compositional phrasing has more than a nostalgic whiff of 19th century still studio photography, seen here such staged manners marry well to popular cinematic culture.

As this exhibition unfolds certain characterising concerns appear and reappear. Decapitation, and cross-cultural iconography make this a lavish art dining at the high table of pictorial fusion cuisine. Mexican masks, Joss paper, skulls, rites of passage tit-bits mix it with popular culture on the shag pile to produce a totally new hybrid. Folk memories merge with diaristic experiences, found objects flirt with finely painted trompe-oeil effects in an almost self-regulating metamorphosis.

In this Stockdale becomes a sort of gatekeeper, a ring master choreographer who will both mystify and amaze you with her family carnivale. Picture by picture, costume by costume, the staged imagined and the real, combine into a most fascinating enticement I find impossible to resist.

Catalogue essay by Jeff Makin, 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Dogboy of Gondwanan' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Dogboy of Gondwanan
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Negro Returno, Long Gully' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Negro Returno, Long Gully
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

Jacqui Stockdale. 'Luchadora Botanica' 2012

 

Jacqui Stockdale (Australian, b. 1968)
Luchadora Botanica
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

 

 

Helen Gory Galerie

This gallery has now closed.

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12
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Out of the Forest: Art Nouveau Lamps’ at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno

Exhibition dates: 11th February – 20th May 2012

 

The Duffner & Kimberly Company. 'Lamp with Nasturtium Motif' Early 20th century. Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland. Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

The Duffner & Kimberly Company
Lamp with Nasturtium Motif
Early 20th century
Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland
Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

 

I always love the beauty of a great light. I have some fantastic examples at home, mainly Italian (including the Tizio lamp created by Richard Sapper for Artemide in 1972 and a Pipistrello Lamp by Gae Aleunti, 1966) so I couldn’t resist publishing these photographs of Art Nouveau lamps. They are just magnificent!

This exhibition features 20 exquisite lamps manufactured in the early twentieth century by Tiffany Studios, Handel, Durand, and Duffner & Kimberly. The exhibition focuses on themes related to the Art Nouveau style and its inspiration in nature. Discussion will also unfold related to various companies who competed for customers to sell lamps at the turn of the century and the competition between them. The exhibition will also explore the intricate copper foil production process used for the creation of glass lamps. All of the objects in Out of the Forest are from the private collection of Byron Vreeland.

Marcus

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

 

Tiffany Studios. 'Lamp with Turtleback Motif' Early 20th century. Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland. Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

Tiffany Studios
Lamp with Turtleback Motif
Early 20th century
Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland
Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

The Duffner & Kimberly Company. 'Lamp with Wisteria Motif' Early 20th century. Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland. Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

The Duffner & Kimberly Company
Lamp with Wisteria Motif
Early 20th century
Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland
Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

Tiffany Studios. 'Lamp with Grape Motif' Early 20th century Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

Tiffany Studios
Lamp with Grape Motif
Early 20th century
Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland
Photo courtesy Christopher Martin

 

 

Nevada Museum of Art
160 West Liberty Street
Reno, NV 89501, United States
Phone: (775) 329-3333

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Thursdays – 10 am – 8 pm
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays

Nevada Museum of Art 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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