Archive for February, 2013

26
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘Carine Thévenau: Return To Huldra’s Wood’ at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 13th February – 9th March 2013

 

Carine Thévenau Ulda. 'The Arctic Fairy' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Ulda. The Arctic Fairy
2013
Archival Pigment Print
80 x 60cm
Edition of 10 + 2 AP

 

 

Sometimes I just want to surround myself with objects that are beautiful, that give me pleasure in the act of looking. I just want to look at a photograph that is beautiful, just because it is that. This exhibition is one such case. In the small, darkened gallery at Edmund Pearce in Melbourne these photographs radiate beauty. Despite a too regular hang and photographs of bouquets of flowers that don’t really move the work forward, the overall feeling of the ensemble is one of serenity and contained ecstasy. As was said of Catherine Opie’s work recently, “these lyrical visions evoke formal classicism, [are] beautifully elegant compositions that immerse and seduce the eye.”

The exhibition is rather let down by one of the worst sentences in a media release that I have not had the pleasure of reading in a long time: “Carine’s pictures sway from using over exposed lighting techniques, hinting at the sublime, to implementing a dimly lit chiaroscuro effect whereby an undeniable darkness is evident, all the while remaining beautiful.”

Who writes this stuff? The sentence makes no sense at all.

Carine’s pictures “sway” (?????) … overexposure techniques hint at the sublime (!!!!!!), a dimly lit chiaroscuro effect (what?), an undeniable darkness (!?!?!??!!) – and guess what, using light and dark lets the image “remain beautiful” = the massacre of the English language!!

Dr Marcus Bunyan
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Many thankx to Edmund Pearce Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Carine Thévenau. 'Deep Inside Lillomarka' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Deep Inside Lillomarka
2013
Archival Pigment Print
80 x 60cm
Edition of 10 + 2 AP

 

Edward S. Curtis. 'Lucille, Dakota Sioux' 1907

 

Edward S. Curtis (American, 1868-1952)
Lucille, Dakota Sioux
1907

 

Carine Thévenau. 'Tryst East of Morskogen' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Tryst East of Morskogen
2013
Archival Pigment Print
80 x 60cm
Edition of 8 + 2 AP

 

 

Return To Huldra’s Wood is a visual exploration into Scandinavian Folklore. A Huldra is a mythical character who lives deep in the forests of Sweden and Finland. Also known as Pine tree Mary or Skogsfu (in Norway) this secret woodland dweller lures her prey into the darkness of night and underneath the heavy branches she is known to do unspeakable things. The Huldra appears in many fairy tales written by Peter Christen Asbjornsen. The origins of the tales stem from Christianity, whereby old stories of Eve forgetting to wash all her children prior to a visit from God forced her to hide the dirty ones. As a result God decreed these children to be hidden and forbidden from contact with the rest of mankind. These children are said to have been named Huldrer. The Huldra represents a deep fear of the wild, of sexuality and of otherness.

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Huldra’s Wood

When early springtime’s night winds sing
around the steaming cattle byre,
and smoke curls high through wicker slats
above the dancing Great Hall fire;
Old women pull the children near,
with knowing looks well understood;
Tonight only a fool would stray
within the groves of Huldra’s Wood.

As daylight leaves the greening fields
and sunset paints the pale sky gold,
As far horizons fade to blue
and nightingales sing shrill and cold;
The adder in his hide curls safe
from those who seek his serpent’s blood,
he sleeps within the old stone cairn
that marks the edge of Huldra’s Wood.

Above us rides the scar-faced Moon
amongst the stars in wanton haste,
whilst in the trees the tawny owls
cry shuddering across the waste
that separates our steading from
the Elfhane Host in cap and hood;
they frolic now, unbidden, deep
within the groves of Huldra’s Wood.

~  Alan Hodgson

 

Recently a speaker at the International Design Conference, AGIdeas and previously nominated by industry leader, Capture Magazine, for the Emerging Editorial Photographer of the Year Award, Carine Thevenau’s photographic work has appeared in such publications as Rollingstone, iD Magazine, Vogue, Smith Journal and is a Senior Photographer at Frankie Magazine.

Carine’s pictures sway from using over exposed lighting techniques, hinting at the sublime, to implementing a dimly lit chiaroscuro effect whereby an undeniable darkness is evident, all the while remaining beautiful.”

Press release from the Edmund Pearce website

 

Carine Thévenau. 'Skogsra (Forest Spirit)' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Skogsra (Forest Spirit)
2013
Archival Pigment Print
80 x 60cm
Edition of 10 + 2 AP

 

Carine Thévenau. 'Huldra of The Norse' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Huldra of The Norse
2013
Archival Pigment Print
80 x 60cm
Edition of 10 + 2 AP

 

Carine Thévenau. 'Witness in Bymarka' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Witness in Bymarka
2013
Archival Pigment Print
80 x 60cm
Edition of 10 + 2 AP

 

Carine Thévenau. 'Pine Tree Mary' 2013

 

Carine Thévenau
Pine Tree Mary
2013
Archival Pigment Print
100 x 75cm
Edition of 5 + 2 AP

 

 

Edmund Pearce Gallery

This gallery has now closed.

Edmund Pearce Gallery website

Carine Thevenau website

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23
Feb
13

Review: ‘Confounding: Contemporary Photography’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 5th October 2012 – 3rd March 2013

 

Thomas Demand (Germany, b. 1964) 'Public housing' 2003

 

Thomas Demand (Germany, b. 1964)
Public housing
2003
Type C photograph
100.1 x 157.0cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the Bowness Family Fund for Contemporary Photography, 2010
© Thomas Demand/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney

 

 

Thinking contemporary photography

At its birth in the 19th century, photography was seen as the ultimate tool for the representation and classification of the visual world.1 Photography recorded reality; a photograph was seen as a visual and literal truth of something that existed in the world. It re-presented the world to the viewer, telling something of the world, reflecting the world. A photograph provided a freeze frame – the snap of the shutter – of one point in time and space. People were astounded that their likeness and that of the world around them could be captured for all to see.

Technological advancements in the early twentieth century, such as faster exposure times and more portable cameras, transformed the potential of the medium to not only show things that escaped the eye but new ways of seeing them as well.2 The photograph began to reveal the personal dimensions of reality. It began to explore the intangible spaces that define our physical and spiritual relationship with reality. “Photographers and artists attempted to depict via photographic means that which is not so easily photographed: dreams, ghosts, god, thought, time” (Jeffrey Fraenkel The Unphotographable Fraenkel Gallery Books 2013). With the advent of modernism, they sought to capture fragments, details and blurred boundaries of personal experience.3 The indexical link photograph and referent, between the camera, the object being photographed and the photograph itself was being stretched to breaking point.

Think of it like this. Think of a photograph of an apple that a camera has taken. There is a link between the photograph and its referent, the photograph of the apple and the object itself (in reality, in the lived world). As a viewer of the photograph of the apple we are secondary witness to the fact that, at some point in time, someone took a photograph of this apple in real life. We bear witness to the eyewitness. Now what if I rip up the photograph of the apple and reassemble it in a different order? Is this still not an apple, only my subjective interpretation of how I see an apple existing in the world? Is it no less valid than the “real” photograph of the apple? What kinds of visual “truth” can exist in images?

Presently, contemporary photography is able to reveal intangible, constructed vistas that live outside the realm of the scientific. A photograph becomes a perspective on the world, an orientation to the world based on human agency. An image-maker takes resources for meaning (a visual language, how the image is made and what it is about), undertakes a design process (the process of image-making), and in so doing re-images the world in a way that it has never quite been seen before.

These ideas are what a fascinating exhibition titled Confounding: Contemporary Photography, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne investigates. In the confounding of contemporary photography we are no longer witnessing a lived reality but a break down of binaries such as sacred and profane, public and private, natural and artificial, real and dreamed environments as artists present their subjective visions of imagined, created worlds. Each image presents the viewer with a conundrum that investigates the relationship between photographs and the “real” world they supposedly record. How do these photographs make you feel about this constructed, confounding world? These fields of existence?

Thomas Demand’s Public Housing (2003, above) plays with the real and the fictional, presenting the viewer with an idealised vision of a public housing complex illustrated on a Singapore $10 note. Demand makes large models out of paper and cardboard in his studio and then photographs the result before destroying the basis of his performance, the model, leaving only the photograph as evidence of their existence, an existence that emanated from the imagination of the artist. This particular Demand is unusual in that it depicts the totality of an outdoor structure, for the artist usually focuses on details of buildings, plants and environments in mid to close up view. The flattened perspective, limited colour palette and absence of detail adds to the utopian nature of the work (almost like a photographic Jeffrey Smart), aping the aesthetic and social ideals of Le Courbusier. As John Meades notes, “From early in its history, photography was adopted by architects as a means of idealising their buildings. As beautiful and heroic, as tokens of their ingenuity and mankind’s progress, etc. This debased tradition continues to thrive. At its core lies the imperative to show the building out of context, as a monument, separate from streetscape, from awkward neighbours, from untidiness.”4

In Roger Ballen’s photograph Terminus (2004, below), one the more moody works in the exhibition, a heavy wooden board with a deflated leather bladder on top presses down on a human face. Although it is not a human face (it confounds!), it is the painted face of a mannequin which the viewer can only acknowledge after a jolt of recognition. There is a feeling of entombment, a palpable feeling of claustrophobia, as the meta / physical “weight” of the bladder (like the weight of a heavy meteorite) presses down on the half obscured, thin lipped, black eyed face. Similarly confounding are the two photographs by Eliza Hutchison called The ancestors (2004, below). Shot from the waist up, these photographs remind you of those old black and white Photo Booth snapshots that you used to get for passports (there are still two of those machines outside the Elizabeth Street entrance to Flinders Street railway station, standing there like forlorn sentinels of a by gone age), complete with nondescript curtain that you used to pull behind you. There is something “not quite right” about the people in the photographs but you can’t put your finger on it until the text panel, a little gleefully, informs you that the portraits had been shot upside down. Now you realise what is out of kilter: more cheek and jowl rather than cheek by jowl.

The exhibition makes a powerful point as Robert Nelson in his review of the exhibition in The Age newspaper observes: photography doesn’t necessarily have to be confounding to be art, to become enduring, it just has to have a decent idea behind it.

“I would say that being confounding is not a necessary property of art photography; and even when it’s present, it isn’t in itself a sufficient ingredient to guarantee enduringly valuable art. Photography doesn’t have to confound in order to be art, but it does have to have an idea in it. The idea is always the issue, whether it works by confounding us or not.”5

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The idea has always been the issue. Collectively, it is the ideas contained within the images in this exhibition that unsettle the relationship between the photograph and the world in the mind of the viewer, not their confounding. I don’t find any of these images contain much emotion (except possibly the Ballen) but the images are transformational because they fire up our imagination. Images speak not just of the world, but to the world; they challenge our beliefs, our politics and our daily practices. The camera’s single viewpoint, our single viewpoint, our field of existence has changed. People find themselves somehow, somewhere, not in a lived reality but in an imagined one.

Much is staged, scaled and variations in perspective are paramount. This affects the relationship between the viewer and the viewed for we can no longer take anything at face value. In a media saturated world full of images we begin to question every image that we see: has it been digitally manipulated, does it, did it actually exist in the world? These days “truth” in photography is an elusive notion and that might not be such a bad thing as people question the nature of images that surround them, their authenticity and their aura. In a media saturated world, in a world no longer of our making, seeing is no longer believing.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Footnotes

  • 1. Anon. “Flatlands: photography and everyday space,” press release from the Art Gallery of New South Wales website posted on Art Blart [Online] Cited 19/02/2013
  • 2. Ibid.,
  • 3. Ibid.,
  • 4. Meades, Jonathan. “Architects are the last people who should shape our cities,” on The Guardian website, Tuesday 18 September 2012 [Online] Cited 19/02/2013
  • 5. “First, do all confounded photographic images qualify as art? Or does a photograph have to be founding in a special way? And second, can a photograph be art without being confounding?Bundling these questions together, I would say that being confounding is not a necessary property of art photography; and even when it’s present, it isn’t in itself a sufficient ingredient to guarantee enduringly valuable art. Photography doesn’t have to confound in order to be art, but it does have to have an idea in it. The idea is always the issue, whether it works by confounding us or not.”Nelson, Robert. “Getting the picture can be confounding,” in The Age newspaper, Wednesday January 2nd, 2013, p. 11.

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

 

 

Peter Peryer (New Zealand, 1941-2018) 'Home' 1991

 

Peter Peryer (New Zealand, 1941-2018)
Home
1991
Gelatin silver photograph
35.6 x 53.8cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1996
© Peter Peryer

 

Loretta Lux (Germany, b. 1969) 'The drummer' 2004

 

Loretta Lux (Germany, b. 1969)
The drummer
2004
Cibachrome photograph
45.0 x 37.7cm (image) 56.0 x 49.0cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, NGV Foundation, 2006
© Loretta Lux/VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

 

 

On 5 October, the National Gallery of Victoria will present Confounding: Contemporary Photography, an exploration of the uncanny worlds created by human imagination, dreams and memories.

Drawn from the NGV’s collection, the fourteen works on display transform the strange, uncomfortable and awkward into plausible realities. Visitors will discover the gaze of unnerving children in the hyper-real work of Loretta Lux; be jolted upon realising the hidden reality of Wang Qingsong’s monumental tableaux; and wonder at the strange beauty in the carefully constructed cardboard world of Thomas Demand.

Susan van Wyk, Curator, Photography, NGV, said: “Like the recollection of a dream, the photographs displayed in Confounding seem to make sense, but do not sit comfortably in the world. There are subtle, slightly sinister elements within the images that suggest a mystifying alternative reality… Through a selection of works by Australian and international artists, including two new acquisitions by Thomas Demand and Roger Ballen, Confounding explores the unexpected with images that bridge the divide between real and fictional.”

Confounding will present works by contemporary photographers including Roger Ballen, Pat Brassington, Thomas Demand, Eliza Hutchison, Rosemary Laing, Loretta Lux, Patricia Piccinini, Peter Peryer, Wang Qingsong and Ronnie van Hout.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

Roger Ballen. 'Terminus' 2004

 

Roger Ballen (American 1950-, worked in South Africa 1982- )
Terminus
2004
Carbon print
45.2 x 44.9cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Bill Bowness through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gift’s Program, 2012
© courtesy the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney

 

Patricia Piccinini. 'Protein lattice – subset blue, portrait' 1997

 

Patricia Piccinini (b. Sierra Leone 1965, lived in Italy 1968-72, arrived Australia 1972)
Protein lattice – subset blue, portrait
1997
From the Protein lattice series 1997
Type C photograph
80.5 x 80.3cm irreg. (image); 90.0 x 126.9cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of Optus Communications Pty Limited, Member, 1998
© Patricia Piccinini

 

Ronnie van Hout (New Zealand, b. 1962) 'Mephitis' 1995

 

Ronnie van Hout (New Zealand, b. 1962)
Mephitis
1995
Gelatin silver photograph
47.2 x 32.6cm (image), 50.5 x 40.9cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1996
© Courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney

 

Eliza Hutchison (Australian, b. 1965) 'The ancestors' 2004

 

Eliza Hutchison (Australian, b. 1965)
The ancestors
2004
Light-jet print
95.4 x 72.9cm (image), 105.4 x 82.9cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds arranged by Loti Smorgon for Contemporary Australian Photography, 2005
© Eliza Hutchison, courtesy Murray White Room

 

Eliza Hutchison (Australian, b. 1965) 'The ancestors' 2004

 

Eliza Hutchison (Australian, b. 1965)
The ancestors
2004
Light-jet print
95.3 x 73.0cm (image),105.3 x 83.0cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds arranged by Loti Smorgon for Contemporary Australian Photography, 2005
© Eliza Hutchison, courtesy Murray White Room

 

 

NGV International
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Opening hours
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National Gallery of Victoria website

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20
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘South Africa in Apartheid and After: David Goldblatt, Ernest Cole, Billy Monk’ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Exhibition dates: 1st December 2012 – 5th March 2013

 

Ernest Cole. 'A student who said he was going to fetch his textbook is pulled in. To prove he was still in school he showed his fountain pen and ink-stained fingers. But that was not enough; in long pants he looked older than sixteen' 1960–1966

 

Ernest Cole (South African, 1940-1990)
A student who said he was going to fetch his textbook is pulled in. To prove he was still in school he showed his fountain pen and ink-stained fingers. But that was not enough; in long pants he looked older than sixteen
1960-1966
Gelatin silver print
8 11/16 x 12 5/8 in. (22 cm x 32cm)
Courtesy of the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden
© The Ernest Cole Family Trust

 

 

“We were insiders, all three of us: Ernest Cole, Billy Monk, and me. We each photographed from the inside what we most intimately knew.

Cole was born Ernest Levi Tsoloane Kole in 1940, to a working-class Black family in a Black township outside the city of Pretoria. Growing into that society he came to know, with a depth of understanding that only belonging could bring, both its richness and the hardship and humiliation imposed by apartheid. As a boy he photographed people in the township for a shilling a time. By the age of eighteen he had begun to work as a photojournalist, and within a few years he was deeply committed to his essay on what it meant to be Black under apartheid. At age twenty-six, to escape the Security Police and to publish his seminal book, House of Bondage, he went into bitter and destructive exile. Cancer killed him in 1990. Apartheid destroyed him.

Billy Monk’s photographs have the frank and warm intimacy that comes to someone who was completely trusted by his subjects. They are of a tiny splinter of another way of being: a place in apartheid South Africa of neither Black nor White but of somewhere not quite in between. Not quite, because while Blacks would not have gained participatory entrance to the Catacombs nightclub, people “of colour” did, and mixed there freely with Whites. It was a question of bending the law – within limits. Here you were judged not by your conformity with the pathological rigidities of Calvinism gone mad, but by your immersion in the conviviality of brandy and Coke. We will never know what might have become of the eye of Billy Monk, for in 1982 he died at age forty-five in a brawl while on his way to the first exhibition of his work. He has left us what the photographer Paul Graham might describe as a sliver of possibility.

My series In Boksburg tells of what it meant to be White in a middle-class South African community during the years of apartheid. It was a place of quiet respectability such as might be found in innumerable towns around the world. Except that Blacks were not of it. They were the largest component of its population; they served it, traded with it, received charity from it, and were ruled, rewarded, and punished by its precepts. Some, on occasion, were its privileged guests. But all who went there did so by permit or invitation, never by right. White and Black: locked into a system of manic control and profound immorality. Simply to draw breath was to be complicit. Heroism or emigration seemed to offer the only escape.

That’s how it was and is no longer.”

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David Goldblatt

 

 

It is the work of Billy Monk that is most impressive in this posting. Photographed in the rowdy Cape Town nightclub The Catacombs in the 1960s, Monk’s photographs of the racially mixed clientele portray them in extraordinary intimacy in all their states of joy and sadness. While his protagonists take centre stage within his photographs there is a wonderful spatial openness to Monk’s 35mm flash images photographed with a slightly wide angle 35mm lens. Monk does not fill the pictorial frame; he allows his images to breathe. Witness (and that is what he did) the moment of stasis before kiss of The Catacombs, 30 September 1967 (below), the intensity of the man’s passionate embrace, gaze, the sublime distance between bottle at right and bottle top, the image replete with blank, contextless wall behind. There is passion and hilarity here coupled with a feeling of infinite sadness – the squashed faces of The Catacombs, 31 July 1967, the convivial happiness of the couple in The Catacombs, 5 February 1968 (he with his stained trouser leg) counterbalanced by the desolate looking man behind them and the mute expression on the trapped go-go dancers face in The Balalaika, December 1969 as the man reaches his hand through the bars towards her.

Observe the masterpiece that is The Catacombs, 21 November 1967 (below). The cheap Formica bench top and empty Coca-Cola bottle with straw, a half smoked cigarette pointing out of the photograph at bottom right. If the cigarette wasn’t there the image would fall away in that corner: it HAS to be there, an Monk’s eye knew it. The women, standing, singing? holding two bottles of liquor in her out thrust arms, her eyes and hair mimicking the patterns of the painted Medusa behind her. And the young man dressed in jacket and time, one arm outstretched and resting on the bench, the other resting curled up next to his mouth and cheek. It’s his look that gets you – she, declamatory; he, lost in melancholic reverie, with the troubles of the world on his shoulders totally oblivious to her performance. The emotional distance between the two, as the distance between his resting hand and the empty Coke bottle, is enormous, insurmountable. Such a profound and troubling image of a society in hedonistic denial. His look is the look of loneliness, anguish and despair.

These photographs that are the eye of Billy Monk, these slivers of possibility, should not be regarded as a “what if he had lived” sliver, but the silver possibility of what he did see when he was alive. They are a celebration of his informed eye and a recognition of his undoubted talent. I am moved by their pathos and humanity.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for allowing me to publish the text and photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Read the text sections of the exhibition (2.8Mb pdf)

 

 

Ernest Cole. 'After processing they wait at railroad station for transportation to mine. Identity tag on wrist shows shipment of labor to which man is assigned' 1960-1966

 

Ernest Cole (South African, 1940-1990)
After processing they wait at railroad station for transportation to mine. Identity tag on wrist shows shipment of labor to which man is assigned
1960-1966
Gelatin silver print
8 11/16 x 12 5/8 in. (22 x 32cm)
Courtesy of the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden
© The Ernest Cole Family Trust

 

Ernest Cole. 'Africans throng Johannesburg station platform during late afternoon rush' 1960–1966

 

Ernest Cole (South African, 1940-1990)
Africans throng Johannesburg station platform during late afternoon rush
1960-1966
Gelatin silver print
8 11/16 x 12 5/8 in. (22 x 32cm)
Courtesy of the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden
© The Ernest Cole Family Trust

 

Ernest Cole. 'Every African must show his pass before being allowed to go about his business. Sometimes check broadens into search of a man's person and belongings' 1960-1966

 

Ernest Cole (South African, 1940-1990)
Every African must show his pass before being allowed to go about his business. Sometimes check broadens into search of a man’s person and belongings
1960-1966
Gelatin silver print
8 11/16 x 12 5/8 in. (22 x 32cm)
Courtesy of the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden
© The Ernest Cole Family Trust

 

Ernest Cole. 'Untitled [White Washroom]' 1960-1966

 

Ernest Cole (South African, 1940-1990)
Untitled [White Washroom]
1960-1966
Gelatin silver print
12 5/8 x 8 11/16 in. (32 x 22cm)
Courtesy of the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden
© The Ernest Cole Family Trust

 

Ernest Cole. 'Newspapers are her carpet, fruit crates her chairs and table' 1960-1966

 

Ernest Cole (South African, 1940-1990)
Newspapers are her carpet, fruit crates her chairs and table
1960-1966
Gelatin silver print
12 5/8 x 8 11/16 in. (32 x 22cm)
Courtesy of the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden
© The Ernest Cole Family Trust

 

 

“From December 1, 2012, through March 5, 2013, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents South Africa in Apartheid and After: David Goldblatt, Ernest Cole, Billy Monk, featuring work by three photographers that illuminates a rich and diverse photographic tradition as well as a vital, difficult, and contested period in the history of South Africa. The exhibition continues the museum’s longstanding commitment to documentary photography, showcasing the greatest breadth of each artist’s work ever shown in San Francisco, and in the U.S. for Cole and Monk. Organised by Sandra S. Phillips, SFMOMA’s senior curator of photography, South Africa in Apartheid and After brings together more than 120 photographs.

“South Africa is proving to be a very fertile and active area for contemporary photography, to which David Goldblatt’s contributions and longstanding concerns have contributed significantly,” notes Phillips. “With this show we hope to show some of this rich and varied activity.”

The internationally recognised artist David Goldblatt (1930-2018) has created an immense and powerful body of work depicting his native South Africa for a half century. The exhibition features photographs from Goldblatt’s early project In Boksburg (1982), which portrays a suburban white community near Johannesburg shaped by what the artist calls “white dreams and white proprieties.” Losing its distinctiveness in the accelerated growth of development, Boksburg could almost be mistaken for American suburbia in Goldblatt’s pictures, made in 1979 and 1980. In them, the quaintness of small-town life in South Africa is startlingly set against the increasing entrenchment of racial inequality in the country under apartheid.

Offering multiple perspectives on South Africa during this period, the work of Ernest Cole and Billy Monk are presented in the exhibition at Goldblatt’s suggestion. Adding an important dimension to Goldblatt’s Boksburg project is the work of Cole (1940-1990), a black South African photographer who documented the other side of the racial divide until he was forced to leave his country in 1966. The following year, his project was published in the United States as the book, House of Bondage, and immediately banned in South Africa; this major critique of apartheid has hardly been seen in his own country. In 2006, Goldblatt received the Hasselblad Award and became aware of Cole’s original, uncropped prints. Goldblatt was instrumental in helping bring Cole’s work to international prominence, assisting in organising a retrospective tour of the work, and championing an accompanying book project, Ernest Cole Photographer (2010). Selected works from the publication are included in the SFMOMA exhibition, featuring pictures that are eloquent, tragic, and deeply humane without a trace of sensationalism. Billy Monk (1937-1982) was a gregarious self-taught photographer who worked as a bouncer in the rowdy Cape Town nightclub The Catacombs in the 1960s. His work, recovered and reprinted posthumously by South African photographer Jac de Villiers, exists as a raw and beautiful record of the port city’s racially mixed population. These three groups of pictures are complemented by a selection of Goldblatt’s post-apartheid photographs, including large colour triptychs of beautiful and sober yet hopeful records of an imperfect, still evolving democracy.

The work of all three photographers are also featured in the ongoing exhibition Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life at the International Center of Photography, New York (September 14, 2012-January 6, 2013), and Goldblatt and Cole are included in Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s at Barbican Art Gallery, London (September 13, 2012-January 13, 2013).

 

David Goldblatt

Born in Randfontein, South Africa, Goldblatt first started photographing his native country in 1948, the same year the National Party came to power and instituted the policy of apartheid. Since then, he has devoted himself to documenting the South African people, landscape, and cities. Goldblatt photographed exclusively in black and white until the late 1990s. Following the end of apartheid and South Africa’s democratic elections in 1994, he looked for new expressive possibilities for his work and turned to colour and digital photography. This transition only took place after developments in scanning and printing technology allowed Goldblatt to achieve the same sense of depth in his colour work as in his black and white photographs.

In 1989 Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg with “the object of teaching visual literacy and photographic skills to young people, with particular emphasis on those disadvantaged by apartheid,” he has said. In 1998 he was the first South African to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. That year, the retrospective David Goldblatt, Fifty-one Years began its international tour, traveling to New York, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Oxford, Brussels, Munich, and Johannesburg. He was also one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. In addition to numerous other solo and group exhibitions, Goldblatt was featured recently in solo shows at the New Museum (2009), the Jewish Museum (2010) in New York – which also traveled to the South African Jewish Museum – and the Victoria and Albert Museum (2011).

 

Ernest Cole

Cole left school at 16 as the Bantu education for black South Africans during apartheid prepared them only for menial jobs. Essentially self taught, Cole worked early on as a layout and darkroom assistant for Drum Magazine, a publication loosely inspired by Life magazine and directed toward the native African population. Cole was relatively mobile due to his racial reclassification as “coloured,” the designation for mixed race, that likely stemmed from his ability to speak Afrikaans, the language of Afrikaners. However, Cole was closely surveilled and had to photograph covertly, so he always worked at the risk of being arrested and jailed. He believed passionately in his mission to tell the world in photographs what it was like and what it meant to be black under apartheid, and identified intimately with his own people in photographs. With imaginative daring, courage, and compassion, he portrayed the full range of experience of black people as they negotiated their lives through apartheid.

In 1966, Cole decided to leave South Africa with a dream of making a book; House of Bondage was eventually published in the U.S. in 1967. The book, and Cole himself, were immediately banned in South Africa, and Cole passed away after more than 23 years of painful exile, never returning to his home country and leaving no known negatives and few prints of his monumental work. Tio fotografer, an association of Swedish photographers with whom Cole worked from 1970 to 1975 while living in Stockholm, received a collection of his prints, and these were later donated to the Hasselblad Foundation in Sweden.When David Goldblatt received the Hasselblad award in 2006, he viewed the works and then collaborated with the foundation to bring Cole’s work to light. Many of the prints were shown publicly for the first time in the traveling 2010 retrospective Ernest Cole Photographer, which offered new insights to the complex interaction between Cole’s unflinching revelations of apartheid at work and the power, yet subtlety and even elegance, of his photographic perspective. Ernest Cole Photographer has only been seen in South Africa and Sweden. Approximately one-third of Cole’s photographs on view in the SFMOMA exhibition have never been shown before.

 

Billy Monk

Using a Pentax camera with 35mm lens, Monk photographed the nightclub revellers of The Catacombs and sold the prints to his subjects. His close friendships with many of the people in the pictures allowed him to photograph them with extraordinary intimacy in all their states of joy and sadness. His pictures of nightlife seem carefree and far away from the scars and segregation of apartheid that fractured this society in the daylight.

In 1969, Monk stopped taking photographs at the club. A decade later his contact sheets and negatives were discovered in a studio by photographer Jac de Villiers, who recognised the significance of his work and arranged the first exhibition of Monk’s work in 1982 at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg. Monk could not attend the opening, and two weeks later, en route to seeing the exhibition, he was tragically shot dead in a fight. From 2010 to 2011, De Villiers revisited Monk’s contact sheets and curated an exhibition at the  Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town, including works that had never been shown before, accompanied by a publication.”

Press release from the SFMOMA website

 

Billy Monk. 'The Catacombs, 30 September 1967' 1967

 

Billy Monk (South African, 1937-1982)
The Catacombs, 30 September 1967
1967, printed 2011
Gelatin silver print
10 1/16 x 14 15/16 in. (25.56 x 37.94cm)
Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Estate of Billy Monk

 

Billy Monk. 'The Catacombs, 31 July 1967' 1967

 

Billy Monk (South African, 1937-1982)
The Catacombs, 31 July 1967
1967, printed 2011
Gelatin silver print; 11 x 16 in. (27.94 x 40.64cm)
Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg
© Estate of Billy Monk

 

Billy Monk. 'The Catacombs, 5 February 1968' 1968

 

Billy Monk (South African, 1937-1982)
The Catacombs, 5 February 1968
1968, printed 2011
Gelatin silver print
11 x 16 in. (27.94 x 40.64cm)
Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg
© Estate of Billy Monk

 

Billy Monk. 'The Catacombs, 1968' 1968

 

Billy Monk (South African, 1937-1982)
The Catacombs, 1968
1968, printed 2011
Gelatin silver print
11 x 16 in. (27.94 x 40.64cm)
Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Estate of Billy Monk

 

Billy Monk. 'The Balalaika, December 1969' 1969

 

Billy Monk (South African, 1937-1982)
The Balalaika, December 1969
1969, printed 2011
Gelatin silver print
16 x 11 in. (40.64 x 27.94cm)
Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg
© Estate of Billy Monk

 

Billy Monk. 'The Catacombs, 21 November 1967' 1967

 

Billy Monk (South African, 1937-1982)
The Catacombs, 21 November 1967
1967, printed 2011
Gelatin silver print
15 x 10 in. (38.1 x 25.4cm)
Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Estate of Billy Monk

 

David Goldblatt. 'At a meeting of Voortrekkers in the suburb of Witfield' 1979-1980

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
At a meeting of Voortrekkers in the suburb of Witfield
1979-1980
Gelatin silver print
14 9/16 x 14 9/16 in. (37 x 37cm)
Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, South Africa
© David Goldblatt

 

David Goldblatt. 'Eyesight testing at the Vosloorus Eye Clinic of the Boksburg Lions Club' 1980

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Eyesight testing at the Vosloorus Eye Clinic of the Boksburg Lions Club
1980
Gelatin silver print
19 11/16 x 19 11/16 in. (50 x 50cm)
Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, South Africa
© David Goldblatt

 

David Goldblatt. 'Saturday afternoon in Sunward Park' 1979

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Saturday afternoon in Sunward Park
1979
Gelatin silver print
6 7/8 x 6 7/8 in. (17.5 x 17.5cm)
Collection SFMOMA, purchase through a gift of Mark McCain and the Accessions Committee Fund
© David Goldblatt

 

 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Opening hours:
Open daily (except Wednesdays): 11am – 5.45pm
Open late Thursdays, until 8.45 pm

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17
Feb
13

Winner of the 2013 Montalto Sculpture Prize: ‘Abundance’ by Fredrick White

Exhibition dates: 17th February – 28th April 2013

 

Fredrick White. 'Abundance' 2013

 

Fredrick White (Australian)
Abundance
2013
Aluminium pipe
440 x 80 x 70cm

 

 

Congratulations to Fredrick White on winning the 2013 Montalto Sculpture Prize. Nobody deserves it more than you Fred. You work so hard on your amazing art with its dancing energy and spirit. Well done!

Marcus

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See more of Fredrick White’s sculpture on his website. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Fredrick White. 'Abundance' 2013 (detail)

 

Fredrick White (Australian)
Abundance (detail)
2013
Aluminium pipe
440 x 80 x 70cm

 

Fredrick White. 'Abundance' 2013 (detail)

 

Fredrick White (Australian)
Abundance (detail)
2013
Aluminium pipe
440 x 80 x 70cm

 

Fredrick White. 'Abundance' 2013 (detail)

 

Fredrick White (Australian)
Abundance (detail)
2013
Aluminium pipe
440 x 80 x 70cm

 

Description of 'Abundance' by the artist Fredrick White

 

Description of Abundance by the artist Fredrick White

 

 

Fredrick White Sculpture website

Montalto Sculpture website

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17
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker and the Institute of Design’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 25th September, 2012 – 24th February, 2013

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'New Mexico' negative 1972; print 1987

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
New Mexico
Negative 1972; print 1987
Gelatin silver print
17.8 x 27.9cm (7 x 11 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Ray K. Metzker

 

 

It is a pleasure to able to post more of the tough, no nonsense photographs of Ray. K. Metzker. Atlantic City (1966, below) is an absolute beauty – from the shards of light raining down at exaggerated speed on the right hand wall, to the colour of the body, the colouration of the sole of the uplifted foot matching that of the bathers, the out flung arm, the single ray of light hitting the top of the head, to the march into endless darkness at left of image. Imagine actually seeing that image and then capturing it on film…

My personal favourite in the posting are the two photographs by Aaron Siskind. His monumental series, Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation, are photographs of divers leaping through the air captured from below to emphasise the abstract quality of their twisting shapes by isolating them against the sky:

“Highly formal, yet concerned with their subject as well as the idea they communicate, The Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation photographs depict the dark shapes of divers suspended mid-leap against a blank white sky. Shot with a hand-held twin-lens reflex camera at the edge of Lake Michigan in Chicago, the balance and conflict suggested by the series’ title is evident in the divers’ sublime contortions.” (Anon. “Aaron Siskind,” on the Museum of Contemporary Photography website 17/02/2013)

Such a simple idea, so well executed, the photographs become a single frame of Muybridge’s motion studies where the audience can imagine the rest of the sequence without seeing. Balance and conflict are in equilibrium and the pleasure and terror of jumping from the top board at the local swimming pool is caught in stasis, crystallised in a sublime field of existence under the gaze of the viewer.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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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.

 

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'Valencia' 1961

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Valencia
1961
Gelatin silver print
14.3 x 22.9cm (5 5/8 x 9 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Ray K. Metzker

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'City Whispers: Los Angeles' negative 1981; print 2006

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
City Whispers: Los Angeles
negative 1981; print 2006
Gelatin silver print
26.8 x 41.4cm (10 9/16 x 16 5/16 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Ray K. Metzker

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'City Whispers, Philadelphia' 1983

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
City Whispers, Philadelphia
1983
Gelatin silver print
24.5 x 24cm (9 5/8 x 9 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ray K. Metzker

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'Atlantic City' negative, 1966; print, 2003

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Atlantic City
negative, 1966; print, 2003
Gelatin silver print
20.3 x 20.3cm (8 x 8 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Ray K. Metzker

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'Couplets: Atlantic City' negative 1969; print 1984

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Couplets: Atlantic City
Negative 1969; print 1984
Gelatin silver print
22.9 x 15.6cm (9 x 6 1/8 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Ray K. Metzker

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) 'Double Frame: Philadelphia' negative 1965; print 1972

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Double Frame: Philadelphia
Negative 1965; print 1972
Gelatin silver print
21.6 x 9.8 cm (8 1/2 x 3 7/8 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Ray K. Metzker

 

 

Metzker’s work is part of a revered tradition that emerged from the experimental approach of Chicago’s Institute of Design (ID), where he received his graduate degree in 1959. Inspired by instructors Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, Metzker fashioned an entirely personal synthesis of formal elegance, technical precision, and optical innovation. His composite works hold an important status in the history of creative photography: at the time of their making, they were unprecedented in ambition and perceptual complexity.

Metzker’s devotion to photographic seeing as a process of discovery is also deeply humanistic in its illumination of isolation and vulnerability. This exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of Metzker’s five-decade career, while also providing examples of work by instructors and fellow students at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where Metzker studied from 1956 to 1959. Learn more about Metzker’s diverse forays into photography as well as the ID and its profound influence.

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014) is one of the most dedicated and influential American photographers of the last half century. His photographs strike a distinctive balance between formal brilliance, optical innovation, and a deep human regard for the objective world. The Photographs of Ray K. Metzker and the Institute of Design, on view at the Getty Center September 25, 2012 – February 24, 2013, offers a comprehensive overview of Metzker’s five-decade career, while also providing examples of work by instructors and fellow students at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where Metzker studied from 1956 to 1959.

Organised in collaboration with Keith F. Davis, senior curator of photography at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, the exhibition is curated by Virginia Heckert, curator of photographs, and Arpad Kovacs, assistant curator of photographs, at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The exhibition features nearly 200 photographs, including approximately 80 from the holdings of The Nelson-Atkins Museum.

 

Ray K. Metzker

Dynamically composed, Metzker’s luminous black-and-white photographs feature subjects ranging from urban cityscapes to nature, all demonstrating the inventive potential of the photographic process. While a student at the ID, Metzker was mentored by renowned photographers Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. His curiosity led to experiments with high contrast, selective focus, and multiple images.

Metzker’s thesis project for the ID, a study of Chicago’s business district, or Loop, displayed many of these techniques. One image, a multiple exposure of commuters ascending a sun-bathed staircase, prefigures the novel Composites that he began to make in 1964. Whether documenting everyday life in an urban environment or exploring the natural landscapes, Metzker’s photographs often incorporate elements of abstraction. A longtime resident of Philadelphia, Metzker taught at the Philadelphia College of Art for many years. His frequent focus on Philadelphia and other cityscapes has yielded iconic images of automobiles, commuters, streets, sidewalks, and architectural facades.

“Metzker’s love of the photographic process has produced a rich body of work that suggests a vulnerability underlying the human condition,” explains Virginia Heckert, curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “With highlights and shadows pushed to extremes and multiple frames combined in innovative ways, his photographs create a graceful choreography of human interaction against urban settings.”

Metzker titles and groups his images based on their location or technique. The exhibition features Metzker’s most significant bodies of work, including Chicago (1956-59), Europe (1960-61), Early Philadelphia (1961-64), Double Frames and Couplets (1964-69), Composites (1964-84), Sand Creatures (1968-77), Pictus Interruptus (1971-80), City Whispers (1980-83), Landscapes (1985-96), and Late Philadelphia (1996-2009).

 

From the New Bauhaus to the Institute of Design

Revered for an energetic atmosphere of experimentation, the ID opened in the fall of 1937 under the name of the New Bauhaus. With the avant-garde artist and educator László Moholy-Nagy at the helm, the school was modelled after the German Bauhaus (1919-1933), which integrated principles of craft and technology into the study of art, architecture, and design. Photography quickly became an integral component of the curriculum.

Moholy-Nagy’s death in 1946 marked a pivotal moment in the school’s history. That year also saw the introduction of a new four-year photography program and the arrival of Harry Callahan, who was instrumental in hiring Aaron Siskind in 1951. The two became a formidable teaching duo and together created a graduate program that encouraged prolonged investigation of a single idea.

Callahan and Siskind served as Ray Metzker’s mentors during his graduate studies at the ID from 1956-59. Other key photography instructors at the ID included György Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Henry Holmes Smith, Arthur Siegel, Edmund Teske, Art Sinsabaugh, and Frederick Sommer. A selection from Metzker’s thesis project, along with those of fellow students Kenneth Josephson, Joseph Sterling, Joseph Jachna, and Charles Swedlund, was included in a 1961 issue of Aperture magazine devoted to the IDs graduate program in photography. Now a part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, the ID continues to educate students with the same innovative teaching philosophy that was a hallmark of the original Bauhaus.

 

Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind

In 1946, the year of Moholy-Nagy’s death, the ID introduced a new four-year photography program and welcomed instructor Harry Callahan. Callahan was instrumental in hiring Aaron Siskind in 1951, and together they became a formidable teaching duo. Their work will be featured in two galleries within the exhibition, with a focus on photographs they created while at the ID.

Harry Callahan’s work benefitted greatly from the attitude of experimentation that was a hallmark of the ID, and his time at the school marked a particularly productive period in his own career. Architectural details, views of nature and intimate photographs of his wife, Eleanor and daughter, Barbara became subjects that defined his career. A central tenet of his teaching was to return to previously explored subjects, an approach that he himself practiced, as did Metzker.

Influenced by the Abstract Expressionist painters he befriended in the 1940s, Aaron Siskind’s work features abstracted textures and patterns excerpted from the real world. Often calligraphic in form, the urban facades, graffiti, stains, and debris he photographed capitalise on the flatness of the picture plane. In Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation, his studies of male divers against a blank sky experiments with the figure-ground relationship.

“Callahan and Siskind had vastly different visual styles and interests in subject matter” said Arpad Kovacs, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “However, both emphasised the expressive possibilities of the medium rather than the mechanics of producing a photograph. It was this shared interest in constantly challenging their students that came to define their influential presence at the ID.”

Also featured in the exhibition is work by a number of founding ID photography instructors and those who taught in the years Metzker attended the school, including György Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Henry Holmes Smith, Arthur Siegel, Edmund Teske, Art Sinsabaugh, and Frederick Sommer. Another gallery is dedicated to the work of ID students Kenneth Josephson, Joseph Sterling, Joseph Jachna, and Charles Swedlund, all of whom, together with Metzker, were featured in a 1961 issue of Aperture magazine that extolled the virtues of the ID’s photography program.”

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Joseph Sterling (American, 1936-2010) 'Untitled' 1961

 

Joseph Sterling (American, 1936-2010)
Untitled
1961
Gelatin silver print
19.1 x 19.1cm (7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark
Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4395
Courtesy Stephen Daiter Gallery
© Deborah Sterling

 

Arthur Siegel (American, 1913-1978) 'State Street' 1949

 

Arthur Siegel (American, 1913-1978)
State Street
1949
Dye transfer print
21.9 x 26.4cm (8 5/8 x 10 3/8 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Estate of Arthur Siegel

 

Harry Callahan (American, 1912-1999) 'Eleanor, Chicago' 1952

 

Harry Callahan (American, 1912-1999)
Eleanor, Chicago
1952
Gelatin silver print
10.2 x 12.7cm (4 x 5 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Harry Callahan

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Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991) 'Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 25' 1957

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991)
Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 25
1957
Gelatin silver print
27.9 x 26.4 cm (11 x 10 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Aaron Siskind Foundation

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991) 'Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 94' 1961

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991)
Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation 94
1961
Gelatin silver print
27.9 x 26.1 cm (11 x 10 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Aaron Siskind Foundation

 

Charles Swedlund (American, b. 1935) 'Buffalo, NY' about 1970

 

Charles Swedlund (American, b. 1935)
Buffalo, NY
about 1970
Gelatin silver print
18.7 x 15.9 cm (7 3/8 x 6 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased in part with funds provided by an anonymous donor in memory of James N. Wood
© Charles Swedlund

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991) 'Jerome, Arizona 21' 1949

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991)
Jerome, Arizona 21
1949
Gelatin silver print
The J. Paul Getty Museum
© Aaron Siskind Foundation

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tues – Friday 10am – 5.30pm
Saturday 10am – 9pm
Sunday 10am – 9pm
Monday closed

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14
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘National Geographic: The Past and Future Present’ at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 10th January – 16th February 2013

 

Jean-Leon Huens. 'Sir Frances Drake, Unmanned British Ships with Flammables Explode Among Spanish Ships' Nd

 

Jean-Leon Huens (Belgian, 1921-1984)
Sir Frances Drake, Unmanned British Ships with Flammables Explode Among Spanish Ships
Nd
Jean-Leon Huens / National Geographic Society / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

 

A wonderfully eclectic posting!

Marcus

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

 

Jacques Ertaud. 'Jacques Yves Cousteau Films A Jet-propelled Submersible' Caribbean Sea, 1959

 

Jacques Ertaud (French, 1924-1995)
Jacques Yves Cousteau Films A Jet-propelled Submersible
Caribbean Sea, 1959
Jacques Ertaud / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

Vittorio Sella. 'A Cascade of Weathered Ice Spills From the 14 Square Mile' Glacier Karagom Glacier, Caucasus Mountains, Russia 1890

 

Vittorio Sella (Italian, 1859-1943)
A Cascade of Weathered Ice Spills From the 14 Square Mile Glacier
Karagom Glacier, Caucasus Mountains, Russia
1890
Vittorio Sella / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

J. Baylor Roberts. 'The Drive-In on Route 1' Alexandria, Virginia, 1941

 

J. Baylor Roberts (American, 1902-1994)
The Drive-In on Route 1
Alexandria, Virginia, 1941
J. Baylor Roberts / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

 

“Steven Kasher Gallery is proud to present the exhibition National Geographic: The Past and Future Present. It is the gallery’s fifth show of works from the National Geographic archives, but our first that presents vintage illustrations side by side with vintage photographs. The one hundred works presented span the entire 20th century. Photographers will include Herbert Ponting, Baron von Gloeden, Maynard Owen Williams, and Hiram Bingham. Illustrators will include Thornton Oakley, Louis Agassi Fuertes, and Tom Lovell. The exhibition will encompass works that represent National Geographic’s rich history in the fields of geography, archaeology, exploration, science, wildlife and world cultures.

Themes explored include Past Civilizations, the Age of the Dinosaur, Space Travel, Native American Cultures, American Industry, the Sea, and Flora and Fauna. National Geographic: The Past and Future Present juxtaposes photographic images taken from life, botanical studies drawn from live specimens, and depictions of the past and the future, imagined but unseen. These juxtapositions will highlight changing visions of natural and human history as they have evolved over the twelve decades of the Society’s image making.

“This exhibition represents the continuation of a four-year partnership with the Steven Kasher Gallery to put our commissioned work in the public eye. The inclusion of illustrations in this exhibition demonstrates the overall range of our archive, which spans vintage and contemporary photography, as well as drawings, paintings and other illustrations from the late 1800s to the present day.”

Maura Mulvihill, Senior Vice President for National Geographic Society and Director of the National Geographic Image Collection”

Press release from the Steven Kasher Gallery website

 

Washburn-Crosby Company. 'The Minneapolis Milling District, The Largest U.S. Flour Producer' 1915

 

Washburn-Crosby Company (American)
The Minneapolis Milling District, The Largest U.S. Flour Producer
1915
Washburn-Crosby Company / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

Charles Bittinger. 'Eclipse of the Sun by the Earth' 1930s

 

Charles Bittinger (American, 1879-1970)
Eclipse of the Sun by the Earth
1930s
Charles Bittinger / National Geographic Society / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

Roland Reed. 'Tribute to Dead Piegan Blackfoot' Montana, 1912

 

Roland Reed (American, 1864-1934)
Tribute to Dead Piegan Blackfoot
Montana, 1912
Roland Reed / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

Herbert Ponting. 'Aboard the Terra Nova on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913' c. 1911

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935)
Aboard the Terra Nova on the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913
c. 1911
Herbert Ponting / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

Richard Hewitt Stewart. 'Colossal Olmec Head' La Venta, Mexico, 1940

 

Richard Hewitt Stewart (American)
Colossal Olmec Head
La Venta, Mexico, 1940
Richard Hewitt Stewart / National Geographic Image Collection / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

Thorton Oakley. 'Liquid Steel Pours From an Electric Furnace' 1940s

 

Thorton Oakley (American, 1881-1953)
Liquid Steel Pours From an Electric Furnace
1940s
Thorton Oakley / National Geographic Society / Steven Kasher Gallery

 

 

Steven Kasher Gallery
166 Second Ave., 3A
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 917 922 6861

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11.00am – 6.00pm

Steven Kasher Gallery website

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13
Feb
13

Review: ‘Vestige II’ Melissa Powell and ‘Darkness by Day’ Shannon McGrath at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 5th February – 23rd February 2013

 

Melissa Powell. 'Painterly Divide No.1' 2012

 

Melissa Powell (Australian)
Painterly Divide No.1
2012
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6cm
edn. 1/9

 

 

ves·tige  
/ˈvestij/

Noun
1. A trace of something that is disappearing or no longer exists
2. The smallest amount (used to emphasise the absence of something): “without a vestige of sympathy”
3. Biology an organ or part of an organism that is a small nonfunctioning remnant of a functional organ in an ancestor
a trace suggesting that something was once present or felt or otherwise important; “the footprints of an earlier civilisation”

via French from Latin ves·tigium footprint, track

 

Two solid exhibitions of photography are on display at Anita Traverso in Richmond, a gallery that is showing more photography these days, to excellent affect.

Natimuk based photographer Melissa Powell documents the seasonal changes of the Wimmera environment through the use of aerial photography. She brings her skills as a forensic photographer to bear when capturing our mark on the landscape. Her photographs (full frame and never cropped), are as sharp as a tack, like the crystallisation of a thought – the surgical gaze of the artist balanced by a lyrical, abstract poetry. Powell renders (and that is the appropriate word) natural phenomena in their direct relation to humanity, pointing her camera at patterns of cropping, the patchiness of the earth and its sandy, infertile soil. She sees the world clearly and tells the story in a plain, almost scientific way… but this utopian vision of the world is balanced by a feeling in the viewer, a feeling of drifting and floating above the earth, inhabiting a liminal space, as in a daydream.

Powell’s is an expression of the land, presented in a particular way as she remembers experiencing it. For example, look at Painterly Divide No.1, (2012, below) and notice the perfect confluence of yin and yang broken by the single mutation of the furrow midway up in the centre of the image (enlarge the image to see it better!). Disorder plays off order in the mind of the viewer in an absolutely sublime way. Sure, a few things need work in the exhibition, like the framing and naming of the works, but this all comes with time and experience. What Powell evidences in her photographs is a wonderfully strong aesthetic producing some of the best aerial photography I have ever seen. Her traces, footprints and tracks are vestigial structures that links us back to our ancestors, photographs as passionate representation of the land, done with strength and depth of soul.

.
In the back gallery Shannon McGrath, an established architecture photographer, images stacks of wood that “are considered for both their aesthetic values and formal compositional qualities such as patterning and seriality.” The suite of five very large, unmounted black photographs printed on matt Silver Rag paper are stunning, much darker and of more luminance than seen in reproduction here (there are also two other photographs using an electric blue colour that simply did not work for me). Using a minimal composition of the thing itself (and what it can become), the photographer imbues a romantic, visual sensibility into her subject matter. The matt blacks are like velvet and the spaces that open up within the image magical. These things “breathe” like a black Rothko painting, or the plastic black of a Rembrandt.

McGrath’s photographs are “impressionistic inventories of landscapes and entropic architectural structures that connote psychologically, emotionally, and viscerally.” (Anon. “Cyprien Gaillard: The Crystal World,” on the MOMA website [Online] 12/02/2013). The object of her attention – the planks of wood – have a temporality that is characterised by repetition and predictability. The viewer tries to articulate difference through looking but that looking reduces differences to similarities unless we look very closely, are very attentive to the condition of looking. Enlarge any of the dark images below and really look at the cut ends of the wood, their inflection. What is hidden within (or beneath, for the photograph is also a physical object) the flat surface of the image are the nuances of language – the physicality of the print, the punctum of white, the band saw cuts that inhabit the end of days. There is a slippage between language and referent which makes McGrath’s photographs a beautiful deviation and productive possibility of language, one that encourages the vital movement of the subversive sign.

My only concern is “where to next?” What other surfaces which are hidden, which slowly reveal aspects and possibilities, subtleties and complexities will the photographer engage with? Excitingly, I want to see more from both photographers as they combine the ordinary and the poetic in a field of revolutionary possibilities.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Melissa Powell. 'Traces of Time' 2012

 

Melissa Powell (Australian)
Traces of Time
2012
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 76cm
edn. 1/9

 

 

“Centered on documentation of the Wimmera region, Melissa Powell’s images are depicted from an aerial perspective that allows her to capture the theatre and sublimity of a landscape that is consistently eroded and replenished by both the cycles of nature, the progression of time and the agricultural impact of man.”

.
Anna Briers, independent art curator and writer

 

 

Melissa Powell. 'Camouflage No.2' 2012

 

Melissa Powell (Australian)
Camouflage No.2
2012
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6cm
edn. 1/9

 

Melissa Powell. 'Droughtbreaker' 2011

 

Melissa Powell (Australian)
Droughtbreaker
2011
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6cm
edn. 8/12

 

Melissa Powell. 'Salt Lake No.1' 2011

 

Melissa Powell (Australian)
Salt Lake No.1
2011
Pigment ink on cotton rag
50.5 x 70.6cm
edn. 8/9

 

 

A forensic photographer in her former life, Melissa Powell’s new direction as an aerial photographer was endorsed by her winning first prize for aerial photography at the 2012 International Photography Awards, New York, USA. Vestige II, Powell’s debut exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery, surveys an amalgam of three photographic series drawn from the artist’s oeuvre – Grounded, Flooded and Dry.

Centred on documentation of the Wimmera region, Powell’s images are depicted from an aerial perspective that allows her to capture the theatre and sublimity of a landscape that is consistently eroded and replenished by the cycles of nature, the progression of time and the agricultural impact of man. Shaped by droughts and bushfires, vast desertous landscapes extend into the horizon. Serpentine rivers and floodplains alternately nourish and fertilise, lacerate and scar. Fecund pastures are contained and demarcated by the rigid geometries of manmade fences and irrigation systems. These vestiges award us a sense of the indelible link between the microcosm and the macrocosm, while enabling us to perceive the constantly shifting narratives of this great southern land.

By contrast Shannon McGrath, an established architecture photographer, aspires to capture the unique spatial dynamics of a building whilst transposing a distillation of the architect’s intention into a two dimensional image. In this photographic series McGrath examines the raw building material of wood in the same way she would approach the documentation of architecture. Photographed on site at the Britton Timber sawmill, the stacks of wood are considered for both their aesthetic values and formal compositional qualities such as patterning and seriality. Simultaneously though, they are envisaged as a core resource imbued with potentiality; their future incarnation, that of the architect’s vision, lying dormant and yet to manifest.

Press release from the Anita Traverso Gallery website

 

Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 01' 2012

 

Shannon McGrath (Australian)
Mark 01
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128cm

 

Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 02' 2012

 

Shannon McGrath (Australian)
Mark 02
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128cm

 

 

“These stacks of saw-mill timber were shot in broad daylight without any artificial lighting, in situ and without any intervention in their arrangement. I was drawn to the dark element in them that survives this ‘glare’ yet reveals it in other ways – how the light naturally hits the objects and remains in an interplay with the darkness and shadows of the grain, the individual and beautiful markings the blade has left on the natural material, and the extrusions and hollows of the layering of the wood. This gave the show its title. Even in the jewel-like, cobalt image, there is this dynamic. This is a theme that runs through my creative photography: surfaces which are hidden, which slowly reveal aspects and possibilities, subtleties and complexities. I considered wood as an essential building material so I approached the stacks of timber and photographed it with the same sensitivity as architecture.”

.
Artist statement

 

 

Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 07' 2012

 

Shannon McGrath (Australian)
Mark 07
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128cm

 

Shannon McGrath. 'Mark 08' 2012

 

Shannon McGrath (Australian)
Mark 08
2012
From the series Darkness by Day
Pigment print to cotton rag paper
100 x 128cm

 

 

Anita Traverso Gallery
PO Box 7001, Hawthorn North,
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3122

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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08
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto. Revolution’ at Museum Brandhorst, Munich

Exhibition dates: 25th October 2012 – 10th February 10 2013

 

Installation photograph of 'Hiroshi Sugimoto. Revolution' at Museum Brandhorst, Munich, 2012

 

Installation photograph of Hiroshi Sugimoto. Revolution at Museum Brandhorst, Munich, 2012
Photo: Haydar Koyupinar © 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

 

“Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract 
attention – and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.

The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let’s just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example.

Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”

.
Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

 

I have always admired the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto, notably his visually poetic series Seascapes and Theaters. His large format photographs expose time through light in a single frame. Their deeply metaphysical and existential nature may be the ultimate distillation of the constructed form of the photographic landscape. “They are explorations of spiritual and physical boundary as much as an exploration of the phenomenology of the picture plane” (Anon. “Hiroshi Sugimoto – Seascapes,” on the C4 Contemporary Art website). Like the movie theatre series (where he captures a whole movie on one single frame of film) the seascapes are about the luminosity of life, the enigmatic existence of body and earth imprinted onto film.

Unfortunately, you can only push an idea so far. Personally I feel this latest series of conceptual twiddles, Revolution (1990 / 2012, publicly displayed here for the first time) fall as flat as a tack. Sugimoto, in his use of the term “revolution”, refers to the “original meaning of the term in the sense of a “suspension” or “overturning of previously accepted laws or practices through new insights or methods.” The reorientation of the referent – of the world, in the world – is supposed to dissipate the Romantic image of the night, unsettling the certainty of the truth of the photograph as a visual record of the world. The photographs’ verisimilitude is supposedly turned on its head, transformed into abstract configurations of light and space through the conceptualisation of the artist. No new narratives are created. In fact the photographs could almost be called post-narrative, essential compositions that emphasise the insular loneliness of modern man’s experiences. Or so the artist would like you to believe.

Perhaps they look better in the flesh, or better in a group; perhaps they have more “presence” in reality than they do in reproduction, for this self-styled “revolution” seems to be more a tinkering at the edges of an idea, not a fully realised body of inner work. This is a body of work in/evolution. Sugimoto’s legendary visualisation (his ability to transcend the photographic medium) which is used to create an iconic vision of a timeless state of consciousness, utterly fails him here. You only have to look at the two horizontal landscape photographs at the bottom of the posting to realise that something has not been (un)thought through with this work. A simple curve of the earth with attendant clouds and horizon line is all you need to suspend the ritual of photographic performance. Another lesson from Minor White might have been in order at the time…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 001' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 001
1990
N. Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 002' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 002
1990
N. Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 003' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 003
1990
N. Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 005' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 005
1990
Irish Sea, Isle of Man
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 006' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 006
1990
Arctic Ocean, North Cape
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto is one of the best-known photographic artists of our time. His celebrated international reputation is based on his photography, although in recent years he has become engaged with other genres: architecture, furniture, objects, and fashion all play an increasingly important role in his work. It is primarily his photography however, that important museums from all over the world have collected and displayed.

Sugimoto’s unique accomplishments in his genre contradict the medium’s conventional tasks – to record reality as precisely as possible. In Sugimoto’s work, one is confronted with the formal reduction of conceptual images, in which he addresses fundamental questions of space and time, past and present, art and science, imagination and reality. “I was concerned,” noted the artist in 2002, “with revealing an ancient stage of human memory through the medium of photography. Whether it is individual memory or the cultural memory of mankind itself, my work is about returning to the past and remembering where we came from and how we came about.” His pictures, which leave a lasting impression through their beauty and their auratic effect, interweave Japanese traditions with Western ideas. This East-West dialogue remains characteristic of his work today, which is captivating in its exceptional craftsmanship and strong aesthetic presence, and can exercise an almost magical effect on viewers.

Sugimoto has given this suite of works – publicly displayed here for the first time – the title Revolution, but he reveals a radically different understanding of the term in the fifteen large-format works. It is not political or social unrest to which Sugimoto alludes, but rather to the original meaning of the term in the sense of a “suspension” or “overturning” of previously accepted laws or practices through new insights or methods.
 From a technical perspective, the nature of the work is undeniably photographic. But in terms of how they are perceived and understood, these are pictures that would be more readily ascribed to a painterly or conceptual sphere. 
This transgression of medium is characteristic of Sugimoto’s approach, and also applies to Seascapes, the largest distinct corpus of works in his oeuvre. For over thirty years Sugimoto has depicted the sea, always in the same, archetypal way. These works deal with difference within the apparently identical, with morphological visualisation, and an iconic vision of a timeless state of consciousness. Dioramas, Theaters, Chambers of Horrors, Portraits, Architecture, Conceptual Forms, etc. are without doubt very important groups of work, but Seascapes composes the broad and consistent foundation upon which all of the artist’s other series are based.

The point of departure for the fifteen works entitled Revolution is a nocturnal seascape. A 90° clockwise rotation turns the horizons into vertical lines, dissipating the Romantic image of the night. Without changing the pictures’ material substance or subject, any obvious connotations are masked, their certainties denied by the transformation. At the same time, highly original abstract configurations emerge in their place. But it is finally the presence of the aesthetic which Sugimoto so forcefully brings to light in his new work. The process derives from conventional puzzles, but reveals in this case no new narrative moments, leading instead to hermetic compositions reminiscent of the work of American painters such as Barnett Newman.”

Text from the Museum Brandhorst website

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 008' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 008
1990
Caribbean Sea, Yucatan
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 009' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 009
1990
Caribbean Sea, Yucatan
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 011' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 011
1990
Red Sea, Safaga
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 012' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 012
1990
East China Sea, Amakusa
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Revolution 013' 1990

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Revolution 013
1990
N. Pacific Ocean, Ohkurosaki
Gelatin silver print
94 x 47 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Landscape 004' 1989

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Landscape 004
1989
Gelatin silver print
47 x 83 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto. 'Landscape 005' 1989

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948)
Landscape 005
1989
Gelatin silver print
47 x 83 inches
© 2012 Hiroshi Sugimoto

 

 

Museum Brandhorst
cnr of Theresienstrasse and Türkenstrasse
Munich

Opening hours:
Daily except Monday 10.00 – 18.00
Thursday 10.00 – 20.00

Museum Brandhorst website

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05
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘Cabinet of Curiosities: Photography & Specimens’ at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Exhibition dates: 12th September 2012 – 10th February 2013

 

Many thankx to The Nelson-Atkins 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.

 

 

Joseph Javier Woodward (American, 1833–1884). 'Photomicrograph of a Crab Louse' c. 1864-65

 

Joseph Javier Woodward (American, 1833-1884)
Photomicrograph of a Crab Louse
c. 1864-65
Albumen print
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931). 'Snowflakes' c. 1905

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931)
Snowflakes
c. 1905
Gelatin silver prints
Gifts of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931). 'Snowflakes' c. 1905 (detail)

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931)
Snowflakes (detail)
c. 1905
Gelatin silver prints
Gifts of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Charles Jones (American, 1866-1959). 'Radish, French Breakfast' c. 1900

 

Charles Jones (American, 1866-1959)
Radish, French Breakfast
c. 1900
Gelatin silver print
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

The photography exhibition Cabinet of Curiosities: Photography & Specimens opens Sept. 12 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Featuring works that date from the 1850s to the present day, this show explores the many ways photography has expanded our centuries-old fascination with the marvellous, unusual, unexpected, exotic, extraordinary or rare.

“In the 16th and 17th centuries, Cabinets of Curiosities functioned like small museums. They were assembled by their owners to reflect the fascination with science and art,” said Jane Aspinwall, associate curator of photography. “Photography has always emphasised that relationship: specimens are typically used for scientific study, but they can also be considered works of art.”

This exhibition includes examples ranging from the very tiny (microscopic images of snowflakes and insects) to the very distant (telescopic image of the moon’s surface). Some images, such as X-rays, emphasise photography’s role in extending human vision. Others document such oddities as Peter the Great’s collection of pulled teeth. The wide range of processes on display – including daguerreotypes, tintypes and cyanotypes – further suggests that these photographic objects are themselves visual specimens from a bygone era.

“To me, the range of specimens in this exhibition is fascinating. Botanical, X-ray, microscopic, medical… there is even a photograph of a fragment of a Civil War soldier’s arm bone, mounted and saved by the Army Medical Museum… what an oddity!”

Featured contemporary photographers Matthew Pillsbury, Emmet Gowin, and Richard Barnes raise questions about how specimens are displayed, preserved and interpreted and how this relates to the natural world. The differing ways specimens are seen photographically, and the human-made constructs used for specimen display are also explored.

Press release from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

 

William Bell (American, b. England 1830-1910). 'Successful Excision of the Head of the Humerus' 1864

 

William Bell (American, b. England 1830-1910)
Successful Excision of the Head of the Humerus
1864
Albumen print
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Unknown maker (American). 'Man with Skulls' c. 1850

 

Unknown maker (American)
Man with Skulls
c. 1850
Daguerreotype
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Unknown maker (American). 'Hand X-Ray' 1897

 

Unknown maker (American)
Hand X-Ray
1897
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Anna Atkins, English (1799-1871). 'Paris Arguta' c. 1850

 

Anna Atkins (English, 1799-1871)
Paris Arguta
c. 1850
Cyanotype
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Opening hours:
Mon: 11am – 5pm
Tues, Wed: CLOSED
Thurs: 11am – 9pm
Fri: 11am – 5pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 5pm

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

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03
Feb
13

Review: ‘Terraria’ by Darron Davies at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 16th January – 9th February 2013

 

Darron Davies. 'Atmosphere' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
Atmosphere
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80cm / edition of 6

 

 

This is the first “magical” exhibition of photography that I have seen in Melbourne this year. Comprising just seven moderately large Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag images mounted in white frames, this exhibition swept me off my feet. The photographs are beautiful, subtle, nuanced evocations to the fragility and enduring nature of life. The photographs move (shimmer almost) one to another, with slight changes in the colour green balanced with abstract splashes of light and pigment reminiscent of an abstract expressionist painting (I particularly like the splash of red in The Red Shard, 2102, below). These are beautifully seen works, that require 1) a good idea, 2) an aware and enquiring mind, 3) an understanding and receptive eye, and 4) a relationship to the ineffable that allows visions such as these to be breathed into existence. As Minor White would say,

 

Three Canons

Be still with yourself
Until the object of your attention
Affirms your presence

.
Let the Subject generate its own Composition

.
When the image mirrors the man
And the man mirrors the subject
Something might take over

 

A sense of day/dreaming is possible when looking at these images. Interior/exterior, size/scale, ego/self are not fixed but fluid, like the condensation that runs down the inside of these environments (much like blood circulates our body). This allows the viewer’s mind to roam at will, to ponder the mysteries of our short, improbable, joyous life. The poetic titles add to this introspective reflection. I came away from viewing these magical, self sustaining vessels with an incredibly happy glow, more aware of my own body and its relationship to the world than before I had entered Darron Davies enveloping, terrarium world.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Darron Davies. 'Day’s Reach' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
Day’s Reach
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80cm / edition of 6

 

Darron Davies. 'Encased' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
Encased
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80 cm / edition of 6

 

 

Terraria

.
I step into your small world
Your secret world
Each a planet of green

Fragile edges holding
the lived
and living

Peering into your glass
your mirror
I see the shards of light
Drawing in
and
Stretching out

You are another
In atmosphere
In moss
In fear

 

Terraria is a photographic project exploring the magical, abstract and metaphoric world of terrariums – an increasingly popular form of enclosed and small scale eco-system designed for showcasing plants.

Ultimately, Terraria is also about the fragility of life – terrariums as self contained vessels, enduring, magical – like the human body or our planet – yet somewhat mysterious. These vessels are self sustaining with no watering needed. They are independent and endure quietly. This project would not have been possible without support from Lisa Rothwell from Lu Lu Blooms.

Artist statement

 

Darron Davies. 'Heaven’s Door' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
Heaven’s Door
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80cm / edition of 6

 

Darron Davies. 'The Second Dream' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
The Second Dream
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80cm / edition of 6

 

Darron Davies. 'The Light Play' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
The Light Play
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80cm / edition of 6

 

Darron Davies. 'The Red Shard' 2012

 

Darron Davies (Australian)
The Red Shard
2012
Archival Pigment Print on Photo Rag
80 x 80cm / edition of 6

 

Josef Sudek. 'From the Window of My Atelier' 1940

 

Josef Sudek (Czechoslovakian, 1896-1976)
From the Window of My Atelier
1940
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Edmund Pearce Gallery

This gallery is no longer open.

Darron Davies 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.

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

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