Archive for January, 2014

30
Jan
14

Research at the State Library of Victoria update

Date: 30th January 2014

 

Research experience on the Charles Marville photographs at the State Library of Victoria update

Dear readers

Yah _ a lovely response from the State Library of Victoria !!

I look forward to seeing the Marville’s in all their glory. I will let you know how the visit goes…

Marcus

 

 

Hi Marcus, we’re sorry to hear your experience was not a positive one. The Marville Collection is an extraordinary anthology of photographs to be celebrated. While we certainly don’t wish to keep this treasure from the public, we do want to ensure these photographs are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

So that everyone can access these photographs at any time, we have digitised the entire collection in high resolution and made available online. We also arrange viewings of the original photographic prints by appointment but due to their age, size and delicate nature, it’s preferable that only a selection are brought out at any one time and handled with care. The plastic envelopes in which the photographs are kept are archival and the blue card on which they’re mounted is how the prints were exhibited in 1880 and include the original captions. Conservation staff have assessed the prints and original backing card and are of the opinion that the card is not causing any damage to these photographs.

Our Collection Services Manager is getting in touch with you to arrange another visit where you can see more from this wonderful collection. We look forward to seeing you back at the Library soon.

 

 

Charles Marville (1813-1879, photographer) 'Rue Tirechape (de la rue St Honoré)' c. 1853 - c. 1870

 

Charles Marville (French, 1813-1879)
Rue Tirechape (de la rue St Honoré)
c. 1853 – c. 1870
In collection: Photographic views of Paris
Undated, dates assigned from time of Haussman’s renovation of Paris
Photographic print mounted on cardboard: albumen silver
32 x 26cm
Gift; Government of France; 1880

 

 

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30
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Golden Years / Rob Hornstra’s Russia (and Oleg Klimov and Olga Chernysheva and Sarkis and Willie Doherty)’ at Huis Marseille – Museum for Photography, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 14th December 2013 – 9th March 2014

 

Oleg Klimov. 'Visser sorteert de vangst in het ruim. Ochotka Zee / Kamtsjatka' (Fisherman sorting the catch in the hold. Ochotka Sea / Kamchatka) Augustus 2007

 

Oleg Klimov (Russian, b. 1964)
Visser sorteert de vangst in het ruim. Ochotka Zee / Kamtsjatka (Fisherman sorting the catch in the hold. Ochotka Sea / Kamchatka)
Augustus 2007
© Oleg Klimov

 

 

A very strange conglomeration of artists in this exhibition. Individually some interesting work, but not sure what the rationale was of putting them together…

Marcus

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

 

Oleg Klimov. 'Bootsman neemt douche op het dek van het vrachtschip 'Anatoli Tortsjinov'. Russische Verre Oosten / Stille Oceaan' (Boatswain takes shower on the deck of the freighter 'Anatoli Tortsjinov. Russian Far East / Pacific) Juli 2007

 

Oleg Klimov (Russian, b. 1964)
Bootsman neemt douche op het dek van het vrachtschip ‘Anatoli Tortsjinov’. Russische Verre Oosten / Stille Oceaan
(Boatswain takes shower on the deck of the freighter ‘Anatoli Tortsjinov. Russian Far East / Pacific)
Juli 2007
© Oleg Klimov

 

Oleg Klimov. 'Illegale krabvangst in de Ochtoka Zee / Kamtsjatka' (Illegal crab catch in the Ochtoka Sea / Kamchatka) Augustus 2007

 

Oleg Klimov (Russian, b. 1964)
Illegale krabvangst in de Ochtoka Zee / Kamtsjatka (Illegal crab catch in the Ochtoka Sea / Kamchatka)
Augustus 2007
© Oleg Klimov

 

 

Oleg Klimov: Along the shores of Russia

After years of reporting on the Caucasus, Central Asia and other hotbeds of unrest in the former Soviet Union, the Russian photographer Oleg Klimov went in search of the country’s ancient, but still unsettled relationship with water. In terms of land area, Russia remains the largest country in the world. Rivers and canals have been the most efficient transport routes since time immemorial, not only for traders and soldiers who had to traverse the country, but also for those whom tsars and, later, party leaders wanted to see exiled to its furthest reaches. Russians always sought ice-free harbours and seas from which to spread their wings still further. Nevertheless, having found open water they seldom crossed it, preferring to regard the coasts and shores as the fringes of their enormous realm. In recent years Klimov travelled by boat, or in his own yacht, along Russian waterways and seas. He visited the historic Gulag of the Siberian north, the fishermen of Kamchatka, the Pacific Ocean in the far east, the first Stalinist forced-labour camps below the White Sea, and settlements and military bases along the Volga. Klimov photographed playing children, burly fishermen, and those ‘typically Russian’ figures lying at the water’s edge that he says ‘are the epitome of unguardedness and openness – some of them are just drunk, though’.

Oleg Klimov (Tomsk/ Siberia, 1964) studied astrophysics at the University of Kazan but worked from 1991 onwards as a war photographer, including for the NRC Handelsblad. In 2004 Huis Marseille exhibited Oleg Klimov’s Legacy of an Empire. In December 2013, IKON TV will broadcast Letters to myself, a documentary by the Dutch/Russian film-maker Maja Novikova about Oleg Klimov’s life as a former war photographer.

 

Olga Chernysheva. 'On duty' 2007

 

Olga Chernysheva (Russian, b. 1962)
On duty
2007
Courtesy of DIEHL Berlin

 

Olga Chernysheva. 'On duty' 2007

 

Olga Chernysheva (Russian, b. 1962)
On duty
2007
Courtesy of DIEHL Berlin

 

Olga Chernysheva. 'On duty' 2007

 

Olga Chernysheva (Russian, b. 1962)
On duty
2007
Courtesy of DIEHL Berlin

 

 

Olga Chernysheva: Windows and On Duty

With her gift for delicate, empathic observation Olga Chernysheva reveals art in the everyday. Her subjects are simple and unspectacular; they concern ordinary people and objects, and are devoid of any satirical or cynical commentary. Chernysheva’s work represents a new kind of realism. On Duty (2007) is a series of portraits of Moscow subway attendants, people who are ‘seen but not noticed’. It is their blank expressions – directed inward and sometimes upward – which particularly fascinated the artist. The video installation Windows (2007) – sixteen glimpses of interiors through the windows of Russian houses – is shown on iPads. Chernysheva examines the relationship between objects and figures, particularly in the ways people enter uneasy relationships with the spaces they occupy. For her, art is “a little office that conducts research into the poetic truth of life.”

Olga Chernysheva (Moscow, 1962) studied at the Gerassimov Institute for Cinematography in Moscow from 1981 to 1986 and at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam from 1995 to 1996. In 2013 she was given a solo exhibition, Compossibilities, at the Kunsthalle Erfurt.

 

Rob Hornstra. 'Sukhumi, Abkhazia' 2007

 

Rob Hornstra (Dutch, b. 1975)
Sukhumi, Abkhazia
2007
© Rob Hornstra / Flatland Gallery

 

 

Former restaurant at the Black Sea coast in the centre of Sukhumi, capitol of Abkhazia. The restaurant was destroyed during the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict in 1992-1993.

 

Rob Hornstra. 'Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia' 2011

 

Rob Hornstra (Dutch, b. 1975)
Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia
2011
© Rob Hornstra / Flatland Gallery

 

 

The school hostage crisis in Beslan (North Ossetia) in 2004 caused 334 deaths, including 186 children. An unwashed shirt smeared with blood has been kept as a last physical memory to one of the children.

 

Rob Hornstra. 'Angarsk, Russia' 2007

 

Rob Hornstra (Dutch, b. 1975)
Angarsk, Russia
2007
© Rob Hornstra / Flatland Gallery

 

 

Masha dances at the weekend disco in the cultural centre of Cement Town, a suburb of Angarsk.

 

Rob Hornstra. 'Angarsk, Russia' 2008

 

Rob Hornstra (Dutch, b. 1975)
Angarsk, Russia
2008
© Rob Hornstra / Flatland Gallery

 

 

Employee preparing fish in the cement factory’s canteen.

 

 

Golden Years / Rob Hornstra’s Russia

In the wake of an eventful Netherlands-Russia year, from 14 December 2013 Huis Marseille is devoting several of its exhibition galleries to a photographic examination of the intrinsically Russian soul. The Dutch photographer Rob Hornstra lays bare the Russian soul in a thousand details: the erratically-applied false eyelashes on the flamboyant Natalya Shorogova, floor supervisor at Hotel Zhemchuzhina in Sochi; the educational ‘Cosmonautics’ museum at Orlyonok, a children’s summer camp; in nostalgic found photos, or the simple image of plate of prison food.

After his exhibition in Moscow was cancelled a few weeks ago, photographer Rob Hornstra’s Sochi Project has been continuously in the news. Since it was announced that the 2014 Winter Olympics would be held in Sochi, this subtropical Black Sea resort has turned into a huge building site; the 2014 Winter Olympics have already been declared the most expensive ever. This makes Sochi the perfect subject for Rob Hornstra, whose preference is for long-term projects that allow him, first and foremost, to tell stories and overturn prejudices. Together with writer and film-maker Arnold van Bruggen, Hornstra has spent five years documenting this region of the Caucasus. But controversial Sochi is only one of Hornstra’s Russian projects. Huis Marseille will be showing a large retrospective of his work in Russia over the last ten years. While Hornstra’s photographs are in the documentary tradition, he has an entirely original style and his images are marked by a narrative and painterly character. In illustrative themes, the typical inhabitants of various Russian regions are paraded before us: veterans, junkies, artisans, patients, prostitutes, Muslims, children, lovers, housewives, and artists. It is the documentation of a love-hate relationship with a colourful country and its remarkable people.

Rob Hornstra (1975) made his name with long-term projects in Iceland, the Netherlands, Russia and elsewhere. In 2004 he graduated cum laude from the HKU with his book Communism & Cowgirls [Tsjeljabinsk-Russia], whose independent print run also won him the Dutch Photo Academy Award. With the help of crowdfunding, Hornstra is now working together with writer Arnold van Bruggen on a number of books connected with The Sochi Project. The last of these publications, An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus (Aperture), will be for sale in the museum shop in November 2013.

Text from the Huis Marseille – Museum for Photography website

 

Rob Hornstra. 'Chelyabinsk, Russia' 2003

 

Rob Hornstra (Dutch, b. 1975)
Chelyabinsk, Russia
2003
© Rob Hornstra / Flatland Gallery

 

 

Elfrem and Sveta near a lake in Chelyabinsk, close to the Kurchatov monument, a place where alternative people gather in Chelyabinsk.

 

Rob Hornstra. 'Kuabchara, Abkhazia' 2009

 

Rob Hornstra (Dutch, b. 1975)
Kuabchara, Abkhazia
2009
© Rob Hornstra / Flatland Gallery

 

 

Brothers Zashrikwa (17) and Edrese (14) pose proudly with a Kalashnikov on the sofa in their aunt and uncle’s house. They live in a remote mountainous region on the border between Abkhazia and Georgia.

 

 

Interview with Rob Hornstra

Nanda van den Berg: Why Russia?

Rob Hornstra: When I was at the academy I was interested in Russia because at that time the country was undergoing rapid transition. In the late 1990s Russia was broke, literally bankrupt, and people stood in lines for a piece of bread; by 2004 the country was going all out for hard-core capitalism and making a mint out of its natural resources. The transition from being a country in ruins to being a country rebuilding itself at a crazy speed, with young people suddenly having access to the rest of the world – something their parents and forefathers had never had – I thought that was interesting. I decided to research into it, and especially to look into how the youngest generation, in their early 20s, were reacting to the new developments. The fact that I then spent ten years working there is probably more because of my own aberrant nature; wherever I go, I get more and more interested in it. There were more subjects I wanted to research in Russia, so I went back, and every time I went back there were more things I wanted to know about it. So I just got deeper and deeper into the material, and it turned into ten years’ work. This might be the end of it, though.

NvdB: Did you always have a writing partner, like Arnold [van Bruggen]?

RH: In 2003, my last academic year but one, when I made the first trip to Russia, I went on my own and wrote everything myself. The first book I made, Communism and Cowgirls, has some text; the photographs are interspersed with quotes from students in Chelyabinsk. I was working the same way as I do now, really, but without a writer, because I couldn’t afford one, and no-one wanted to come along. Obviously, I’d only just started out. In 2007 I went on my own as well. It’s only on the the last two trips, for the book 101 Billionaires, that was completed in 2008, that I did it together with someone else.

NvdB: How long does that kind of trip last?

RH: The first one, in 2003, took exactly a month, all 31 days in May. And for the Sochi project, too, Arnold and I were travelling for about three and a half weeks. For 101 Billionaires I made trips that lasted three or four weeks. So the trips always take about a month, and that’s a period that has a sort of maximum energy and concentration span for me. At the end of the month I’m utterly exhausted, and I have a huge pile of undeveloped films and stuff like that, so I just have to go home.

NvdB: So how many of those months can you fit into a year? You work in projects, don’t you – what about repeat visits?

RH: For the Sochi project we made two big trips a year. Every now and then there was a small research trip, maybe ten days, for a magazine or a newspaper, but in principle we made two big, proper trips a year. That said, in 2007 I went to Russia four times.

NvdB: Is there a fixed pattern to those journeys? I see certain lines developing in your work. You return to certain places and people. How does that work?

RH: The whole month is just work, work, work. That’s all we do, and it’s how it started in 2003. I would go somewhere and realise that every second I had there was costing loads of money, so the only thing to do was work. Even if ‘work’ meant sitting at a table socialising. It might seem like relaxing, but in fact it’s all part of the work, because we use everything we encounter. Once I’m in Russia my radar never switches off. I try to see everything in the light of the documentary we’re making. And we plan our days. The last year of the Sochi project – and we’d planned that in 2009 – was the year of ‘revisiting people’. In 2013 we looked up many of those we’d met earlier in the project, to see how they were doing. That’s a really important part of our work – documenting the course of time, because it says something about the region or the area you’re working in.

NvdB: And how do you approach the people you’d like to have pose for you? Is it easy?

RH: Well, people do say no sometimes, even in Russia. But in practice we’ll be out and about and we’ll just start chatting to people. It’s not like we have a plan or a gimmick… I think in our case it’s just about giving it a go, getting out and about, knocking on doors and approaching lots of people. Bit by bit you make progress, and a lot of it is by word of mouth. We’ll often make early contact with students from the local university. Then we’ll go to the English classes and meet local youngsters and they’re generally happy to put us in touch with granddads and grandmas and there’s usually a party going on somewhere. It boils down to just going everywhere; the rest pretty much happens by itself.

NvdB: So do the students mediate for you?

RH: A student can also be an assistant, and arrange all sorts of thing for us, but then of course we have to pay them. We’re always looking for local assistants, and they can be students. We once had an English teacher, who took two weeks’ holiday so he could go everywhere with us. But as long as they speak English and want to help, it could be anyone.

NvdB: Do neither of you speak Russian, then?

RH: I speak reasonably good Russian – but speaking Russian is harder than understanding it, and we both understand it reasonably well. We like to keep that under our hats – it’s very useful to be able to know what people are saying about you, particularly if you’ve been arrested and you’re in a police station. We don’t use our Russian to have conversations. It’s not good enough for that, and we’d much rather have a local intermediary anyway.

NvdB: So you’ve made your contacts. How do you approach your work? You practice ‘slow photography’ and use heavy cameras, right?

RH: I always work with two cameras, one medium-format camera and one large-format camera, together with a large studio flash: a really solid, powerful piece of equipment. The assistant or Arnold carries the flash, and that’s what makes it ‘portable’ and means it can go everywhere with us. Then I choose which camera I’m going to use. There’s no real pattern to that; I make landscape photos in medium format and in large format, but I also make portraits in medium format and in large format. When you work with such a big flash, and a medium-format or large-format camera, then you’re obviously present in the crowd, or in someone’s home, and there’s absolutely no way people won’t see you as a photographer. I’m so conspicuously present that it’s simply impossible to ignore me or pretend that I can’t be seen. And the idea behind that – that’s why I use such a big studio flash, and use studio cameras too, actually – is that I see the place I’m in as a sort of studio. In fact I use the world as a studio space, and the people I want to take pictures of as my models. What I’m trying to achieve with this working method is that the photograph rises above the level of a snapshot or visual document, and – I know this sounds a bit vague – that it becomes a really strong image, one that endures, and intrigues people. I’m trying to get more and more people interested in the story behind the image. And I’m convinced that if you use really powerful photographs – if you use photography in the right way – then you can interest new people in photography, but above all, in the stories behind the photographs, and that’s actually my main aim.

NvdB: Did you develop this method mostly in Russia, or did it arise earlier, in your study years?

RH: It developed during my time at the art academy. My project Communism and Cowgirls was made using the same materials, the same equipment, in the same style, and with the same underlying ideology. I’ve noticed that the way I look at things has gradually changed, but that hasn’t affected my intentions, or my convictions about what you can do with photography, at all. The reason I became a photographer is the same, but the way I look at things has changed.

NvdB: In what way?

RH: I think I mentioned that when I was in Russia in 2003 I made absolutely no landscape photos, and only one photograph in landscape mode. The whole book was filled with photos in portrait mode. The ratio is now 50:50 but that was never a conscious decision; I never made an effort to make that happen. Perhaps you change as a person, or something arises in you which brings about changes by itself.

NvdB: Many of the photos in your series supply contextual information – like the plate of food, for instance – so wouldn’t landscapes do the same sort of thing, to show where these people lived?

RH: Yes, and the strange thing is that in 2003 I was already making many photographs of interiors, and yes, of lots of small objects, but no landscapes – and I couldn’t say why. It just didn’t occur to me. If I look back now, I miss the landscapes that I didn’t take for the 2003 series. But the fact is that the landscapes came later, perhaps in Iceland. I think landscapes can sometimes say an enormous amount about a region, or about the people who live there. And that can make a significant contribution. But I just didn’t make any, and I took all my photos in portrait mode. Right now I couldn’t say why.

NvdB: Then there’s the rest of your aesthetic: your use of colour, the fact that they’re always printed on matt paper… How did that come about? Did you have any examples you wanted to copy, or photographers whose work you particularly admired?

RH: I do admire a number of photographers, and have done so since my time at the art academy, so my style may have had its roots there. I’d found my style by the time I graduated, but a funny thing happened in 2003 when I got back from my first trip to Russia. I went to the academy to make some contacts prints. I was standing in the colour darkroom making the prints when a classmate came by and said “Your work looks a lot Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s.” Now in the meantime their work has changed a lot, but they came out of a hardcore documentary tradition… well, perhaps ‘hardcore’ isn’t quite the right word. Are you familiar with their background? They ran Colors Magazine for a long time, until 2005, and only after that did they go in an entirely autonomous direction; up to that point they did just what I’m doing now, more or less. My classmate knew about Colors Magazine and said: you should check it out, because your work really looks like theirs. So I saw Colors Magazine, and I bought their books, and I thought: this is really weird, it’s exactly what I want to do. Everything those two had made, I thought it was terrific. And there’s a little book called Mister Mkhize’s portrait and other stories from the new South Africa – something like that, I’d have to look it up – very cheap book, you can buy it anywhere on the internet for ten or twenty euros. I thought that book was great, because of its beautiful rhythm and the balance between photography and text. The text is continuous, and the photography also forms a continuous story, and the funny thing is that from time to time the text links directly to a photograph; but sometimes the text is opposite the appropriate photograph, and sometimes the text just goes its own way. And I thought: that’s what I want to do, they’re doing just what I’ve got in mind. So they were a source of inspiration from that moment on, in everything I did.

NvdB: But you don’t seem to have had the classic heroes – Walker Evans, or August Sander, or…

RH: Well, I was actually a bit of a difficult customer at the academy. The teachers rolled out the icons, people like Walker Evans and Cartier Bresson, and I did my level best to feel admiration for them. And I do think Walker Evans is a fantastic photographer. But right from the start I didn’t like Cartier Bresson at all. I thought then, and I think now, that his work is heavily overrated. I thought Walker Evans was definitely very good, but for some reason I have a problem with black and white photography when there is a large time interval – I have a problem identifying with it. That’s why it can’t be an inspiration to me, although it doesn’t change the fact that Walker Evans is definitely a hero of mine, and Diane Arbus is an even bigger hero. There are some older photographers amongst them who I think are really good, people like William Eggleston. Perhaps those photographers were an inspiration… but I would rather name some of today’s photographers.

NvdB: Do you think that if you go somewhere new to take photographs – and perhaps you will, because you already said that you might be finished with Russia – that you might start developing a new idiom, or start including new elements? Do you think your style is strongly inspired by Russia itself?

RH: No, because I also have the same style in Iceland or in the Netherlands. I don’t consciously employ a specific style; I just have the idea that what I do closely reflects who I am as a person, and that any other style would come less naturally to me. The country I happen to be in has absolutely no influence on that, but I do think that small changes in style can occur, because as a person you also go through occasional changes. In the year to come I want to have the time to reflect on what I’m doing. I can’t imagine I’ll be making any great changes. Things just happen more gradually with me. For instance, I was fascinated to see how Broomberg & Chanarin made documentary work in 2004-2005 and then suddenly switched to autonomous work. That’s when I think: what’s happening to them? I think my own trajectory is a more gradual one.

NvdB: So do you have any ideas where your trajectory might be headed in the future?

RH: That’s a rather difficult choice, because analogue photography seems to be dying out – I’m increasingly coming round to that idea – and if it doesn’t disappear altogether it’s going to be a very expensive business. I don’t make all that much money, so it’s going to be hard to keep doing analogue photography, and I’m not all that keen on digital photography. I’m rather inclined to go even more extreme with the analogue work, like with an 8 x 10 inch camera, and focus only on even more powerful, more extreme, stronger images, and let the rest go.

NvdB: And the subject?

RH: I’m still thinking hard about that. I can see myself just staying and working here in the Netherlands for a while. For ages I’ve wanted to do something with my own family, with the area they come from, south-west Friesland; that would be an interesting place to comb through. On the other hand I’d like to go back to Russia and head towards South East Asia, through Central Asia, with all those authoritarian regimes in Uzbekistan and Kirgizia. You end up in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, those sorts of countries, and that’s a fascinating part of the world. So I’ve got different places in mind, some close to home and some a long way away. Anything goes, really. The world’s my oyster.

NvdB: And new subjects are always possible.

RH: I don’t want to make any hasty decisions. Over the last three or four years I’ve been non-stop running, I’ve had to keep going, keep going, keep going. I’d really like to have some time again to see new books, visit exhibitions, get lots of new inspiration and ideas. I don’t want to start out by keeping up this tempo. I think it would be much healthier to take it easy for a while.

NvdB: The Sochi project was rather inclined towards ‘commentary’. Perhaps you’d like to do something with less commentary – or are you in fact always looking for it?

RH: Yes, I’m afraid that’s exactly what I want! I think there are already far too many people who never comment, and I feel the lack, I miss the nuance and the depth. I think people shout a lot but say very little, and I think there is too little investigative journalism. Art and investigative journalism are both dying out for lack of funding, and I think that puts the world at a great risk. People – and governments – don’t seem to understand the importance of free artistic expression and the freedom to carry out in-depth journalism, and that it’s a real threat to democracy if they no longer take place. These days all these things are being swept into a corner and then thrown away, especially in journalism, but also in the arts, and that worries me. So if you’re asking me whether I want to make less comment in the future, then the answer’s no, absolutely not. I want to stay involved, stay concerned about everything that’s happening in the world. I think it’s important to get people thinking, and I think it’s essential to sometimes confirm preconceived ideas and sometimes to totally negate them. I don’t think that’ll ever disappear from my life.

NvdB: Is there anything you’d like to add?

RH: Yes, and it has to do with the fact that I work in the Netherlands and live in a Vogelaarwijk, an official ‘problem neighbourhood’, and started observing my neighbours. Because the assumption is that only antisocial types live in a Vogelaarwijk, and that bothers me. I want to ask them: ever been there for yourself? Ever knock on one of their doors? It’s the same with Islam. Lots of people have a low opinion of Muslims, but go and knock on a door, go and have a look in a mosque – they invariably welcome you with open arms. That’s want I want to do with my work. I have a huge ambition to get people thinking and to confront them, acquaint them with other habits and customs; with things they might never have expected, or had never seen before. In Sochi, the project we did in the North Caucasus, you can see this very clearly. If we hadn’t done it, there would probably have been precious little interest in its violation of human rights and that sort of thing. I want to keep adding to that knowledge, and I think it’s very important to stay focussed on it.

Interview from the Huis Marseille – Museum for Photography website

 

Sarkis. 'Galadriel' 2008

 

Sarkis (Turkish, b. 1938)
Galadriel
2008
C-print
30 x 45cm
Courtesy of Galerie De Zaal, Delft

 

Sarkis. 'Gimli' 2008

 

Sarkis (Turkish, b. 1938)
Gimli
2008
C-print
30 x 45cm
Courtesy of Galerie De Zaal, Delft

 

Sarkis. 'Legolas' 2008

 

Sarkis (Turkish, b. 1938)
Legolas
2008
C-print
30 x 45cm
Courtesy of Galerie De Zaal, Delft

 

Sarkis. 'The Witch-king of Angmar' 2008

 

Sarkis (Turkish, b. 1938)
The Witch-king of Angmar
2008
C-print
30 x 45cm
Courtesy of Galerie De Zaal, Delft

 

 

Sarkis: Portraits of the Ring

The elves, orcs, magicians and hobbits populating J.R.R. Tolkien’s saga The Lord of the Rings form a unique culture in which the forces of good and evil are engaged in a constant struggle for supremacy. This good and evil are also depicted in the expressions given to the tiny, mass-produced figurines of Ring characters, so the expressions of these figurines allow others to communicate the nature of the struggle between good and evil. Sarkis collected Ring figurines and used them to create a series of 54 Ring portraits, photographing them in an analytic manner so as to sublimate their powers. Sarkis focuses on their faces, which gaze downwards; we cannot see what they see. This fusion of the exotic and the contemporary is characteristic of Sarkis’ entire oeuvre. Huis Marseille is showing 30 of his Ring portraits; the rest can be seen in a video, made specially for this exhibition by Emma van der Put, which describes the seeds from which these artworks first grew. 

Sarkis (Istanbul, 1938, lives and works in Paris) was invited by the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in 2012 to transform the Submarine Wharf in Rotterdam harbour into a new experiential world, Ballads. Sarkis’ work has been exhibited internationally since the 1970s, including at the Venice Biennale and in Istanbul. Over the last four months the young video artist Emma van der Put (1988, Den Bosch) also made four videos of the last stages of Huis Marseille’s rebuilding activities and its preparations for the exhibition The rediscovery of the world.

 

Willie Doherty (Northern Ireland, b. 1959) 'TO THE BORDER' From the series 'A Fork In The Road' 1986-2012

 

Willie Doherty (Northern Ireland, b. 1959)
TO THE BORDER
From the series A Fork In The Road 1986-2012
Black and white fibre photograph mounted on aluminium
122 x 183cm
Collection Huis Marseille

 

Willie Doherty. 'Seepage' 2011

 

Willie Doherty (Northern Ireland, b. 1959)
Seepage
2011
C-print mounted on aluminium faced with non-reflective Plexiglas
122 x 152cm
Collection Huis Marseille

 

 

Willie Doherty and the Huis Marseille collection

The museum galleries devoted to Huis Marseille’s own collection include two large, recently-acquired works by the Northern Ireland photographer Willie Doherty (Derry, 1959). At this year’s Art Basel Doherty was represented by his compelling video Remains (2013), drawn from ‘a body of work that meditates upon the irrefutable traces of past events that will not disappear, that resurfaces and cannot be forgotten.’ The two photographs, Seepage and To the Border, A Fork in the Road, were made at the end of the last century but first printed only very recently. Here, along the fracture line of escalating violence between Irish Catholics and Protestants, Doherty traces and articulates the scars in the city and the country in an understated but powerful way. Willie Doherty is currently the subject of a retrospective exhibition in Derry, Unseen, which will be shown in Tilburg’s De Pont museum of contemporary art in 2015.

 

 

Huis Marseille – Museum for Photography
Keizersgracht 401
1016 EK Amsterdam

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday
11 – 18 hr

Huis Marseille – Museum for Photography website

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28
Jan
14

Artwork: Hamzeh Carr. ‘And none hath sought for this as I will seek’ 1926

January 2014

 

Hamzeh Carr. 'And none hath sought for this as I will seek' 1926

 

Hamzeh Carr
And none hath sought for this as I will seek
1926
from Sir Edwin Arnold. The Light of Asia. London: John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd, 1926, p. 81
Limited edition of 3,000 copies

 

 

In the flesh, the colouring and radiance of these plates has to be seen to be believed.

I shall be posting more of these stunning works. Please click on the artwork for a larger version of the image.

Marcus

 

 

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24
Jan
14

Research at the State Library of Victoria

23rd January 2014

 

Rue-Chanoinesse-(de-la-rue-des-Chantres)

 

AS SEEN ONLINE

Charles Marville (French, 1813-1879)
Rue Chanoinesse (de la rue des Chantres)
c. 1853 – c. 1870
In collection: Photographic views of Paris
Undated, dates assigned from time of Haussman’s renovation of Paris
photographic print mounted on cardboard : albumen silver
34 x 27cm
Gift; Government of France; 1880

 

 

Research experience on the Charles Marville photographs at the State Library of Victoria

I don’t usually get upset but this is an exception, and rightly so. They say that any publicity is good publicity but not in this case, because this posting goes right around the world. Read on…

After my recent posting on Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris at the National Gallery of Art, Washington I was contacted by Robert Heather, Manager Collection Interpretation at SLV about the 330 Marville’s they have in the Pictures collection, donated by the French Government in 1881 after the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880 had finished. I had know about these photographs from pages 203-205 of the catalogue from the above exhibition (see images below). The Manager of Collection Interpretation encouraged me to make an appointment to come in an see the Marville. Naturally I was excited at the prospect of doing some research on these recently rediscovered images. An idea was forming in my mind – about research that linked the redevelopment of Paris at the time of the Marville photographs with images of the expanding and developing Melbourne around the same time. The comparisons between cities and photographers, photographs, styles (such as Charles Nettleton pre-1880 and J. W. Lindt and Nicholas Caire post-1880), I thought would be illuminating.

Don’t forget I was encouraged to come in an see the Marville. Contacted by the Picture Librarian, I was asked to select TWO, yes TWO images out of 330 to look at. I think I was lucky to be able to choose two but I choose three!

.
Upon arrival the Picture Librarian failed to introduce themselves and said, “Oh, your Marcus” in the most off hand manner. This person was brusque to the point of rudeness, so efficacious in their duty to protect the art work that I felt it was almost criminal to be there. It was like stepping back into the Victoria era their attitude was so unhelpful.

The Marville’s are not in albums as I had supposed (and the librarian had no knowledge of whether they had ever been in albums), but were mounted on blue cards and kept in plastic (presumably archival) sleeves. When I asked for the photographs to be removed so that I could look at the images I had chosen, I was refused! How can you possibly study an artist’s work, in this case photographs, without being able to see the surface of the print? It is just impossible to study these works under opaque plastic…

These cards should NOT BE STORED IN PLASTIC SLEEVES ANYHOW !!

Even if the sleeves are archival, photographs need to breathe and not be suffocated in plastic. It’s like a Stradivarius violin – they need to be played, not kept locked up in a museum display cabinet because then they loose all of their resonance. And when I asked this person about what conservation was being undertaken on the images they had no idea, blithely announcing that the photographs had been on those cards for a century. This does not mean that the card is not leaching acid into the photographs and the necessary testing should be carried out to assess the stability of the material and photographs. And if they have been stable and survived for a hundred years as this person suggested, then what is the harm of actually showing them to people. A piece of cardboard that was shown to me as coming off one of the sheets is no reason to deny people the right to see these objects in the flesh.

This person had no idea who I was nor did they care that I am a professional researcher, writer and artist. But that is not the point, I could have been anyone from Joe Public wanting to look at something in the collection: it is a public institution and they have a duty and obligation to show things to the general public. In their ‘Vision Statement’ they say, and I quote:

“We want to be a place where all Victorians can discover, learn, create and connect. We want to be a cultural and heritage destination for Victorians, and a catalyst for generating new knowledge and ideas… We will focus on developing: services and physical facilities tailored to your needs.”

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New knowledge and ideas. Services and physical facilities tailored to your needs. After the appalling experience that I had I am not so sure. I was going to apply for a Fellowship hoping to do the research I mentioned at the top of the posting, but after my awful experience I am thinking better of it. While all the Marville’s are online and downloadable at high resolution, which is a wonderful thing in itself, at this rate the Marville’s might as well be buried for another 100 years, other than being shown in an upcoming exhibition. At least at the National Gallery of Victoria when you go in to look at the work, you can actually see the photographs.

I have now requested another appointment to see the Marville’s and this time I don’t want to see just THREE PHOTOGRAPHS behind plastic – I want to see as many photographs as I would like, and be left in peace to study them, out of the plastic. As a public institution the State Library of Victoria has a duty to make these photographs available for research. If they have not got a conservation policy in place that allows them to be viewed out of the plastic, then they should have. I have asked them to let me know when this visit can be conducted and have yet to receive a reply.

I don’t usually get upset, dear readers, but this situation is intolerable for anyone, let alone a person who loves photography. The attitude spoiled what was going to be a special and magical experience. Imagine if a researcher from overseas had arrived to view these works and they had had this reception. Unbelievable.

I will, of course, keep you updated with news.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

“Gee have you been using these plastic sleeves for a long time?”
“Do you have many people asking to see these images out of their covers?”
Thankx to my mentor for these pearls of wisdom…

I think people are too afraid to speak out these days for fear of having an opinion, being seen as judgemental, upsetting the powers that be. I am not afraid to call them out, especially on a subject in which I have knowledge over many years. I have been studying the new Left of the 1960s and how they put their bodies on the line out on the streets – for anti-Vietnam, pro-Communist, gay liberation, feminism and Aboriginal rights. I grew up in an era where you say what you think, fight for your freedom and have the courage of your convictions…

 

Addendum

A response from the State Library of Victoria !!

Hi Marcus, we’re sorry to hear your experience was not a positive one. The Marville Collection is an extraordinary anthology of photographs to be celebrated. While we certainly don’t wish to keep this treasure from the public, we do want to ensure these photographs are preserved for future generations to enjoy.

So that everyone can access these photographs at any time, we have digitised the entire collection in high resolution and made available online. We also arrange viewings of the original photographic prints by appointment but due to their age, size and delicate nature, it’s preferable that only a selection are brought out at any one time and handled with care. The plastic envelopes in which the photographs are kept are archival and the blue card on which they’re mounted is how the prints were exhibited in 1880 and include the original captions. Conservation staff have assessed the prints and original backing card and are of the opinion that the card is not causing any damage to these photographs.

Our Collection Services Manager is getting in touch with you to arrange another visit where you can see more from this wonderful collection. We look forward to seeing you back at the Library soon.

 

 

Rue-Chanoinesse-(de-la-rue-des-Chantres)-opaque

 

AS SEEN IN THE FLESH

Charles Marville (French, 1813-1879)
Rue Chanoinesse (de la rue des Chantres)
c. 1853 – c. 1870
In collection: Photographic views of Paris
Undated, dates assigned from time of Haussman’s renovation of Paris
photographic print mounted on cardboard : albumen silver
34 x 27cm
Gift; Government of France; 1880

 

Mp203-WEB

mp205-WEB

 

Extracts from pages 203 and 205 of Reynaud, Françoise. “Marville and Old Paris,” in Kennel, Sarah. Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2013.

 

 

State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston St,
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 8664 7000

Opening hours:
Dail 10am – 6pm

State Library of Victoria website

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24
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Louise Lawler. Adjusted’ at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Exhibition dates: 11th October 2013 – 26th January 2014

 

Louise Lawler. '16' 1985

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
16
1985
Cibachrome (museum box)
27 x 39-5/8 inches (68.60 x 100.60cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

 

Complex and polyglot, conceptual and analytical, but simultaneously ironically light, elegiac, and unfathomable. Abstract, non-evaluative, impartial presentations and suggestive settings gazing toward the fringes of art. Strongly shaped by institutional critique, the works are casual (causal?) sociological commentaries reflecting on aesthetic, economic, and historical factors in art.

Apparently…

But do you like them?

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947) 'Etude pour La Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris' 1985

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Etude pour La Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris
1985
Gelatin silver print
39.5 x 59cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

 

 

Etude pour La Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris, 1985 is a gelatine silver print showing a corner in a Paris room. The image is a careful composition of vertical and horizontal lines made up by architectural features in the background and, in the foreground, a square-edged leather covered chair on the right and a group of framed artworks, stacked against the wall, on the left. A free-standing ashtray in the image centre firmly anchors the composition on its vertical-horizontal axis: its narrow metal tube stand creating a strong vertical line and the ashtray repeating the horizontal plane of the chair arm below it. One artwork is visible in its entirety: a drawing by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) showing two women, one standing and one reclining, both holding books. Propped on a much larger frame that is turned towards the wall, the image – Etude pour La Lecture, 1923 – reinforces the combination of horizontal and vertical elements in Lawler’s picture. Below it, a painting of an organic form, also by Léger (La Racine, 1934), is partially visible behind the arm of the chair.

Extract from Elizabeth Manchester. “Etude pour La Lecture, 1923, This Drawing is for Sale, Paris.” on the Tate website April 2007 [Online] Cited 21/01/2021

 

Louise Lawler (Holzer, Nadin and Other Artists) 'Baby Blue' 1981

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
(Holzer, Nadin and Other Artists)
Baby Blue
1981
Cibachrome (museum box)
28 1/2 x 37 1/4 x 1 inches (72.40 x 94.60 x 2.50cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

Top left: Edward Weston photographs of his son Neil Weston

 

Louise Lawler. 'I-O (adjusted to fit)' 1993/98

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
I-O (adjusted to fit)
1993-98
Cibachrome (museum box)
19 5/16 x 23 3/8 inches (49.10 x 59.40 cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

Louise Lawler. 'Taking Place - Il m'aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout' (He loves me, a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all) 2008/2009

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Taking Place – Il m’aime, un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout (He loves me, a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all)
2008-2009
Cibachrome face mounted to plexiglass on 2″ museum box
47 3/4 x 55 3/4 inches (121.30 x 141.60cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

 

Louise Lawler. 'Salon Hodler' 1992/1993

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Salon Hodler
1992-1993
Cibachrome
58 1/2 x 49 1/4 inches (148.60 x 125.10cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

 

Louise Lawler. 'Unsentimental' 1999/2000

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Unsentimental
1999-2000
Cibachrome
120.7 x 144.8cm
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

 

Louise Lawler. 'Pollock and Tureen (traced)' 1984/2013; Louise Lawler. 'Salon Hodler (traced)' 1992/1993/2013

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Pollock and Tureen (traced)
1984-2013
Bedruckte Folie / printed vinyl
Dimensions variable

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Salon Hodler (traced)
1992/1993/2013
Bedruckte Folie / printed vinyl
Dimensions variable

 

Louise Lawler. 'Hand On Her Back (traced)' 1997/1998

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Hand On Her Back (traced)
1997/1998/2013
Bedruckte Folie / printed vinyl
Dimensions variable

 

 

The Museum Ludwig is hosting the first comprehensive exhibition in Germany of the American Conceptual artist Louise Lawler (born 1947, lives and works in New York). The exhibition comprises around 80 works, which are positioned throughout the entire building, thus engendering surprising situations through their encounters with the Museum Ludwig’s permanent collection. In addition, a new series of ten “tracings” has been created for the show – outline drawings that are reminiscent of children’s colouring books and draw on earlier works by Lawler. Furthermore, the artist has agreed to create two new, large-format “stretches” for the Museum Ludwig. These are photos that she has printed out on self-adhesive vinyl film and whose proportions she tailors to the space in question – even if that means deforming the motifs. Lawler’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta 12, the Whitney Biennial 2008, and recently in a large overview at the Wexner Art Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Louise Lawler photographs works by other artists and captures them in their various contexts: in museums, in private collections, at auctions, or in storage. Her works illustrate just how much the meaning of art is influenced by how it is presented and by the attendant circumstances in the institutions where it is located. Her analytical and at times ironic approach is revealing, but by no means evaluative, such as when her view of an abstract work by Jackson Pollock correlates with the way she looks at a decorative soup tureen.

Louise Lawler, who embarked on her oeuvre in the late 1970s, belongs to the broader field of the “Pictures Generation,” which also includes Sherrie Levine, Jack Goldstein, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman. At the same time, her beginnings were also strongly shaped by the institutional critique of the early 1970s, and consequently her works were initially interpreted as sociological commentaries reflecting on aesthetic, economic, and historical factors in art. Yet beyond this, her photographs illustrate to this day that an impartial presentation of art simply does not exist; they reveal the ideological implications inherent in the suggestive settings given to artworks, which would otherwise scarcely be visible. Lawler directs her gaze toward the fringes of art, as it were, creating subtle commentaries of a poetic casualness via compositions that distinguish themselves by their formal approach as well as by their eccentricity.

 

Louise Lawler. 'Pink and Yellow and Black II (Green Coca Cola Bottles) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail' 1999

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Pink and Yellow and Black II (Green Coca Cola Bottles) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail
1999
Cibachrome (museum box)
26 5/8 x 26 5/8 inches (67.60 x 67.60cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

Louise Lawler. 'Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail' 1999

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Pink and Yellow and Black I (Red Disaster) from On a Wall, On a Cow, In a Book, In the Mail
1999
Cibachrome (museum box)
38 3/4 x 32 1/2 inches (98.40 x 82.60cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

 

Foreword

To describe Louise Lawler’s artistic practice is not easy: it is complex and polyglot, conceptual and analytical, but simultaneously ironically light, elegiac, and unfathomable. Lawler eyes the incidental, undermining the economy of attention, dislocating hierarchies, and querying, with the air of critical nonchalance, the system of art and its institutions. When works of art, arranged based on their colours and forms like flowers, unashamedly reveal the tastes and values of their owners, or sculptures held in gloomy depots are deprived of the attention they deserve, then Lawler’s works are a means of redress – what is not visible is given visibility. Her camera registers not only the life of artworks (after they have left the artists’ studios) in museums, corporate collections, depots, or at auctions, it also penetrates the most intimate abodes of the collectors, intruding even into their bedrooms. Lawler’s practice here is ambivalent, hardly judgmental, but constantly interested in poetic ambiguities, fractured harmony, and suggestive relationships. Her work does not seek out the essence of art but looks for compulsions, rules, and their readability. Incidental contiguities, formal-aesthetic analogies, but also savage thought shape the work of Louise Lawler, which had its beginnings in the late 1970s in the context of appropriation art and followed in the footsteps of the practice of institutional critique, which has been all too often discursively co-opted. Almost forty years later a differentiated perspective on this subtle work opens up, a work that does not understand melancholy and postmodernist criticality as a contradiction and unfolds its potency precisely in subtle unsharpness.

We are delighted that with Adjusted Louise Lawler has put together such an extensive survey of her work for the very first time, a show that covers the early conceptual and performative relics, the so-called ephemera, as well as a wide-ranging selection of photographic works and the latest wall works. Although the greater part of her oeuvre is photographic, it becomes clear that Lawler is not a photographer. She uses the medium as a means to appropriate situations and, in resolute focusing, to let the things which would otherwise remain unarticulated speak for themselves. Her exhibition title, Adjusted, which is to be understood as referring to her large format wallpapers adjusted to fit the given circumstances, is the distant echo of a critical practice fully aware that adjusting is a dialectic process where there are neither winners nor losers, neither conquerors nor conquered.

Louise Lawler’s exhibition Adjusted opens simultaneously with the new presentation of the collection Not Yet Titled. New and Forever at Museum Ludwig, which emphasises the provisional nature of art historical narratives and presentations, colliding with the claim to eternity raised by the institution of the museum. Lawler’s exhibition spans the entire building, intervenes in the contexts of the collection, and spreads itself out, then retreats, or functions plainly and simply as a casual commentary. The reflectivity of her work, its context-specific changeability, presents the provisional as a quality constitutive for art, which in the process makes it clear just how much circumstances determine the way of looking at things.

Excerpt from the Foreword by Philipp Kaiser

 

Louise Lawler. 'Life After 1945 (Hats)' 2006/2007

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Life After 1945 (Hats)
2006-2007
Cibachrome (mounted on museum box)
27 1/4 x 22 3/4 inches (69.20 x 57.80cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London
Andy Warhol Artwork © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

 

Louise Lawler. 'Chandelier' 2001/2007

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Chandelier
2001-2007
Cibachrome (mounted on museum box)
19 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches (48.90 x 39,40cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin and London

(Lucio Fontana)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Nude' 2002/2003

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Nude
2002/2003
Cibachrome (museum mounted)
59.5 x 47.5 inches (151.10 x 120.70cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

(Gerhard Richter. Ema (Nude on a Staircase) 1966, 200 x 130cm, Oil on canvas)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Still Life (Napkins)' 2003

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Still Life (Napkins)
2003
Digital cibachrome on aluminum museum box
19-3/4 x 14-1/4 inches (50.20 x 36.20cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

 

Louise Lawler. 'WAR IS TERROR' 2001/2003 (Julia Margaret Cameron)

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
WAR IS TERROR
2001-2003
Cibachrome (museum mounted)
30 x 25-3/4 inches (76.20 x 65.40cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

(Julia Margaret Cameron)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Monogram' 1984

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Monogram
1984
Cibachrome, type on wall (sometimes)
39 1/2 x 28 inches (100.30 x 71.10cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

(Jasper Johns)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Portrait' 1982

 

Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947)
Portrait
1982
Cibachrome
19 x 19 inches (48.30 x 48.30cm)
© Louise Lawler, Metro Pictures, New York, Sprüth Magers Berlin/London

 

 

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art
1095 Budapest Komor Marcell Street 1
Hungary 06 1 555-3444

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00
Closed on Mondays

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art website

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23
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 25th June 2013 – 26th January 2014

 

John Baldessari (American, born National City, California, 1931) 'Hands Framing New York Harbor' 1971

 

John Baldessari (American, 1931-2020)
Hands Framing New York Harbor
1971
Gelatin silver print
25.4 x 18.0cm (10 x 7 1/16 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992
Shunk-Kender © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation

 

 

Epiphany: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

Stephen Shore’s photographs seem the most insightful epiphanies in this posting, picturing as they do “what he ate, the rest stops he visited, the people he met.” In other words, the wor(l)d as he saw it.

Marcus

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Many thankx to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“With the unspoken rules that exhibitions in the Met’s contemporary photography gallery must be drawn exclusively from the museum’s permanent collection and be organised as surveys of the period from the late 1960s to the present, it’s no wonder that these long running shows are often so broad that their themes seem to dissolve into edited collections of everything. The newest selection of images is tied up under the umbrella of “everyday epiphanies”, a construct that implies a delight in the ordinary, the quotidian, or the familiar, but in fact, reaches outward beyond these routine boundaries to works that have a wide variety of conceptual underpinnings and points of view. With some effort, it’s possible to follow the logic of why each piece has been included here, but when seen together, the diversity of the works on view diminishes the show’s ability to deliver any durable insights… The works that function best inside this theme are those that capture moments of unexpected, elemental elegance, often as a result of the way the camera sees the world.”

.
Loring Knoblauch on the Collector Daily website August 14, 2013

 

 

Martha Rosler (American) 'Semiotics of the Kitchen' (still) 1975

 

Martha Rosler (American)
Semiotics of the Kitchen (still)
1975
Video
Purchase, Henry Nias Foundation Inc. Gift, 2010
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

 

Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012) 'Untitled' 1980

 

Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012)
Untitled
1980
Platinum print
19.0 x 24.0cm. (7 1/2 x 9 7/16 in.)
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1981
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Jan Groover

 

Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953) 'Untitled (Man Smoking)' 1990

 

Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953)
Untitled (Man Smoking)
1990
From the Kitchen Table Series
Gelatin silver print
Image: 71.8 × 71.8cm (28 1/4 × 28 1/4 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

 

Erica Baum (American, born New York, 1961) 'Buzzard' 2009

 

Erica Baum (American, born New York, 1961) 
Buzzard
2009
Inkjet print
22.9 x 22.9cm (9 x 9 in.)
Purchase, Marian and James H. Cohen Gift, in memory of their son, Michael Harrison Cohen, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Erica Baum

 

 

Since the birth of photography in 1839, artists have used the medium to explore subjects close to home – the quotidian, intimate, and overlooked aspects of everyday existence. Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969, an exhibition of 40 works at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, presents photographs and videos from the last four decades that examine these ordinary moments. The exhibition features photographs by a wide range of artists including John Baldessari, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Fischli & Weiss, Jan Groover, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Elizabeth McAlpine, Gabriel Orozco, David Salle, Robert Smithson, Stephen Shore, and William Wegman, as well as videos by Martha Rosler, Ilene Segalove, Brandon Lattu, and Svetlana and Igor Kopytiansky.

Daily life, as it had been lived in Western Europe and America since the 1950s, was called into question in the late 1960s by a counterculture that rebelled against the prior “cookie-cutter” lifestyle. Everything from feminism to psychedelic drugs to space exploration suggested a nearly infinite array of alternative ways to perceive reality; and artists and thinkers in the ’60s and ’70s proposed a “revolution of everyday life.” A four-part work by David Salle from 1973 exemplifies the artist’s flair for piquant juxtaposition at an early stage in his career. In depicting four women in bathrobes standing before their respective kitchen windows in contemplative states, Salle goes against the grain of feminist orthodoxy – revealing a penchant for courting controversy that he would expand in his later paintings; pasted underneath the black-and-white images of the women are brightly colored labels of their preferred coffee brands, with the arbitrarily differentiated brands signifying an insufficient substitute for true freedom in the postwar era. Martha Rosler’s bracingly caustic video Semiotics of the Kitchen and Ilene Segalove’s wistfully funny The Mom Tapes complete a trio of works investigating the role of women in a rapidly changing society.

In the 1980s, artists’ renewed interest in conventions of narrative and genre led to often highly staged or produced images that hint at how even our deepest feelings are mediated by the images that surround us. In the wake of the economic crash of the late 1980s, photographers focused increasingly on what was swept under the carpet – the repressed and the taboo. Sally Mann’s Jesse at Five (1987) depicts the artist’s daughter as the central figure, half-dressed, dolled-up, and posed like an adult. Mann often created these frank images of her children and caused some controversy during the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, her photographs of her children are remarkable for the artist’s assured handling of a potentially explosive subject with equanimity and grace.

During the following decade, artists created photographs and videos that confused the real and the imaginary in ways that almost eerily predicted the epistemological quandaries posed by the digital revolution. Meanwhile, a trio of recently made works by Erica Baum, Elizabeth McAlpine, and Brandon Lattu combine process and product in novel ways to comment obliquely on the shifting sands of how we come to know the world in our digital age.

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, born 1952) 'Untitled' 1997

 

Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, born 1952) 
Untitled
1997
Chromogenic print
40 x 59cm (15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert  Menschel, 1999
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Jean-Marc Bustamante

 

Nan Goldin (American, born 1953) 'Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC' 1980

 

Nan Goldin (American, born 1953)
Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC
1980
Silver dye bleach print
50.8 x 60.96cm (20 x 24 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert  Menschel, 2001
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Nan Goldin, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

 

Larry Sultan (American, 1946-2009) 'My Father Reading the Newspaper' 1989

 

Larry Sultan (American, 1946-2009)
My Father Reading the Newspaper
1989
Chromogenic print
Stewart S. MacDermott Fund, 1991
© Larry Sultan

 

Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born 1962) 'Caja vacia de zapatos' (Empty shoebox) 1993

 

Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born 1962)
Caja vacia de zapatos (Empty shoebox)
1993
Silver dye bleach print
31.8 x 46.4cm (12 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.)
Gift of the artist, 1995
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Gabriel Orozco

 

Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born Jalapa Enriquez, 1962) 'Vitral' 1998

 

Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born Jalapa Enriquez, 1962)
Vitral
1998
Silver dye bleach print
40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)
Purchase, The Judith Rothschild Foundation Gift, 1999
© Gabriel Orozco

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Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'Oklahoma City, Oklahoma' July 9, 1972

 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
July 9, 1972
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, 1974
© Stephen Shore

 

 

As a teenager in the 1960s, Shore was one of two in-house photographers at Andy Warhol’s Factory. During his first cross-country photographic road trip, Shore adopted the catholic approach of his mentor, accepting into his art everything that came along – what he ate, the rest stops he visited, the people he met. He then processed his colour film as “drugstore prints”, the imprecise, colloquial term for the kind of amateur non-specialised snapshots that filled family photo albums. The entire series of 229 prints was shown for the first time in 1974 and acquired by the Metropolitan from that exhibition.

 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'West Palm Beach, Florida' January 1973

 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947)
West Palm Beach, Florida
January 1973
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, 1974
© Stephen Shore

 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'Clovis, New Mexico' 1974

 

Stephen Shore (American, born 1947)
Clovis, New Mexico
1974
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, Jr., 1974
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Stephen Shore

 

 

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22
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) Photographs, drawings and photomontages’ at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 15th October 2013 – 26th January 2014

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Grauenfresse / Hitler, Holland, 1933' 1933

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Grauenfresse / Hitler, Holland, 1933
1933
Collage and ink on photomontage (gelatin silver print, double-exposition). Printed later
Collection Helaine and Yorick Blumenfeld, Courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

Considering the nature of Blumenfeld’s collages such as Grauenfresse / Hitler, Holland, 1933 and Minotaur / Dictator I would say that the artist was very, very lucky to escape to America in 1941. Let us remember all those that were not so fortunate…

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“In 1940 he was interned as a German Jew in France, first in Montbard, then in Loriol, Le Vernet, and Catus. He made a daring escape with his family in 1941, returning via Casablanca to New York, where he subsequently lived and worked until his death.” (press release)

“After Blumenfeld returned to France, during World War II, Blumenfeld and his family spent time in Vézelay with Le Corbusier and Romain Rolland. He was incarcerated at Camp Vernet and other concentration camps. His daughter Lisette (who had just turned 18) was incarcerated at the Gurs internment camp. Luckily Blumenfeld was bunked next to the husband of the woman Lisette was bunked next to. Through postcards and letters the Blumenfeld family of five managed to reunite. In 1941 they obtained a visa and escaped to North Africa and then New York.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Minotaur / Dictator' [Minotaure / Dictateur] The Minotaur or The Dictator Paris, c. 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Minotaur / Dictator [Minotaure / Dictateur]
The Minotaur or The Dictator
Paris, c. 1937
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton / Art+Commerce, New York, Gallery Kicken Berlin, Berlin

 

 

The Vichy Policy on Jewish Deportation

Paul Webster

 

Jewish Statute

Despite autonomy from German policies, Pétain brought in legislation setting up a Jewish Statute in October 1940. By then about 150,000 Jews had crossed what was known as the Demarcation Line to seek protection from Vichy in the south – only to find they were subjected to fierce discrimination along lines practised by the Germans in the north.

Jews were eventually banned from the professions, show business, teaching, the civil service and journalism. After an intense propaganda campaign, Jewish businesses were ‘aryanised’ by Vichy’s Commission for Jewish Affairs and their property was confiscated. More than 40,000 refugee Jews were held in concentration camps under French control, and 3,000 died of poor treatment during the winters of 1940 and 1941. The writer Arthur Koestler, who was held at Le Vernet near the Spanish frontier, said conditions were worse than in the notorious German camp, Dachau.

During 1941 anti-Semitic legislation, applicable in both zones, was tightened. French police carried out the first mass arrests in Paris in May 1941when 3,747 men were interned. Two more sweeps took place before the first deportation train provided by French state railways left for Germany under French guard on 12 March 1942. On 16 July 1942, French police arrested 12,884 Jews, including 4,501 children and 5,802 women, in Paris during what became known as La Grande Rafle (‘the big round-up’). Most were temporarily interned in a sports stadium, in conditions witnessed by a Paris lawyer, Georges Wellers.

‘All those wretched people lived five horrifying days in the enormous interior filled with deafening noise … among the screams and cries of people who had gone mad, or the injured who tried to kill themselves’, he recalled. Within days, detainees were being sent to Germany in cattle-wagons, and some became the first Jews to die in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

 

Vichy crimes

Many historians consider that an even worse crime was committed in Vichy-controlled southern France, where the Germans had no say. In August 1942, gendarmes were sent to hunt down foreign refugees. Families were seized in their houses or captured after manhunts across the countryside. About 11,000 Jews were transported to Drancy in the Paris suburbs, the main transit centre for Auschwitz. Children as young as three were separated from their mothers – gendarmes used batons and hoses – before being sent to Germany under French guard, after weeks of maltreatment.

During 1942, officials sent 41,951 Jews to Germany, although the deportations came to a temporary halt when some religious leaders warned Vichy against possible public reaction. Afterwards, arrests were carried out more discreetly. In 1943 and 1944, the regime deported 31,899 people – the last train left in August 1944, as Allied troops entered Paris. Out of the total of 75,721 deportees, contained in a register drawn up by a Jewish organisation, fewer than 2,000 survived.

Revolt and aftermath

The number of dead would have been far higher if the Italian fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, had not ordered troops in France to defy German-French plans for mass round ups in Italian-occupied south-eastern France. Thousands were smuggled into Italy after Italian generals said that ‘no country can ask Italy, cradle of Christianity and law, to be associated with these (Nazi) acts’. After the Italian surrender in September 1943, arrests in the area restarted, but by then French public opinion had changed. Escape lines to Switzerland and Spain had been set up, and thousands of families risked death to shelter Jews. Since the war, Israel has given medals to 2,000 French people, including several priests, in recognition of this, and of the fact that about 250,000 Jews survived in France.

Post-war indifference to anti-Semitic persecution pushed the issue into the background until Serge Klarsfield, a Jewish lawyer whose Romanian father died in Germany, reawakened the national conscience. He tracked down the German chief of the Secret Service in Lyon, Klaus Barbie, who was hiding in Bolivia but was subsequently jailed for life in 1987. His case threw light on Vichy’s complicity in the Holocaust. Klarsfeld’s efforts were frustrated by the Socialist president of France at this time, Francois Mitterrand, who had been an official at Vichy and was decorated by Pétain. It was not until 1992 that one of Barbie’s French aides, Paul Touvier, who had been a minor figure in wartime France, was jailed for life for his crimes.

Facing facts

French courts, responding to Mitterrand’s warnings that trials would cause civil unrest, blocked other prosecutions, including that of the Vichy police chief, René Bousquet, who organised the Paris and Vichy zone mass arrests. He was assassinated by a lone gunman in June 1993. It was not until Mitterrand retired in 1995 that France began to face up to its responsibility in the persecution of Jews. When the new right-wing president, Jacques Chirac, came to power, he immediately condemned Vichy as a criminal regime and two years later the Catholic Church publicly asked for forgiveness for its failure to protect the Jews.

But the most significant step forward was the trial in 1997 of Maurice Papon, 89, for crimes concerning the deportation of Jews from Bordeaux. He had served as a cabinet minister after the war, before losing a 16-year legal battle to avoid trial. He was released from jail because of poor health, but his ten-year prison sentence has been interpreted as official recognition of French complicity in the Holocaust, although there are still those who continue to defend his actions.

Since the trial, France has opened up hidden archives and offered compensation to survivors – and ensured that schools, where history manuals used not to mention France’s part in the deportations, now have compulsory lessons on Vichy persecution. While anti-Semitism is still a social problem in France, there is no official discrimination, and today’s 600,000-strong Jewish community is represented at every level of the establishment, including in the Catholic Church, where the Archbishop of Paris is Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger.

Extract from Paul Webster. “The Vichy Policy on Jewish Deportation,” on the BBC History website, 17/02/2011 [Online] Cited 23/01/2021

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

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Mode-Montage' c. 1950

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Mode-Montage
c. 1950
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Helaine et Yorick Blumenfeld
Courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Marguerite von Sivers sur le toit du studio 9, rue Delambre' [Marguerite von Sivers on the roof of Blumenfeld’s studio at 9, rue Delambre] Paris, 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Marguerite von Sivers sur le toit du studio 9, rue Delambre [Marguerite von Sivers on the roof of Blumenfeld’s studio at 9, rue Delambre]
Paris, 1937
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton / Art+Commerce, New York, Gallery Kicken Berlin, Berlin
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled [Natalia Pasco]' 1942

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled [Natalia Pasco]
1942
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Voile mouillé' [Wet veil] Paris, 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Voile mouillé [Wet Veil]
Paris, 1937
Vintage gelatin silver print
Collection particulière, Suisse
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Cecil Beaton' 1946

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Cecil Beaton
1946
Vintage silver gelatin print
Collection particulière, Suisse
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Self-Portrait' Paris, c. 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Self-Portrait
Paris, c. 1937
Gelatin silver print. Printed later
Collection Helaine and Yorick Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled (Self-Portrait)' 1945

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled (Self-Portrait)
1945

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld’s life and work impressively document the socio-political context of artistic development between the two World Wars, while highlighting the individual consequences of emigration. The exhibition devoted to Erwin Blumenfeld’s multi-layered œuvre brings together over 300 works and documents from the late 1910s to the 1960s, and encompasses the various media explored by the artist throughout his career: drawings, photographs, montages and collages.

This exhibition traces his visual creativity and encompasses the early drawings, the collages and montages, which mostly stem from the early 1920s, the beginnings of his portrait art in Holland, the first black and white fashion photographs of the Paris period, the masterful colour photography created in New York and the urban photos taken toward the end of his life.

The retrospective also showcases his drawings, many of which have never been shown before, as well as his early collages and photomontages, shedding fascinating light on the evolution of his photographic oeuvre and revealing the full extent of his creative genius. The now classic motifs of his experimental black-and-white photographs can be seen alongside his numerous self-portraits and portraits of famous and little-known people, as well as his fashion and advertising work.

In the first years of his career, he worked only in black and white, but as soon as it became technically possible he enthusiastically used colour. He transferred his experiences with black-and-white photography to colour; applying them to the field of fashion, he developed a particularly original repertoire of forms. The female body became Erwin Blumenfeld’s principal subject. In his initial portrait work, then the nudes he produced while living in Paris and, later on, his fashion photography, he sought to bring out the unknown, hidden nature of his subjects; the object of his quest was not realism, but the mystery of reality

Blumenfeld’s work was showcased most recently in France in a 1981 show at the Centre Pompidou, which focused on his fashion photography, in 1998 at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, as well as more recently in the exhibition Blumenfeld Studio, Colour, New York, 1941-1960 (Chalon-sur-Saône, Essen, London).

Press release from the Jeu de Paume website

 

“Bringing together over three hundred works and documents dating from the late 1910s to the 1960s, this exhibition, the first in France to showcase the multilayered aspects of Erwin Blumenfeld’s oeuvre, encompasses the various media explored by the artist throughout his career: drawing, photography, montage, and collage.

The life and work of Erwin Blumenfeld (Berlin, 1897 – Rome, 1969) provides an impressive record of the socio-political context of artistic development between the two World Wars, while highlighting the individual consequences of emigration. Erwin Blumenfeld, a German Jew, only spent a few years in his country of birth. It was only in 1919, when he was in self-imposed exile in the Netherlands, that Blumenfeld began to take a deeper interest in photography, particularly the photographic process and above all the artistic possibilities offered by darkroom experiments. For a short while, he ran an Amsterdam-based portrait studio that doubled as an exhibition space, before moving to Paris in 1936, where the art dealer Walter Feilchenfeldt helped him rent a studio in the rue Delambre. That same year, his photographs were exhibited at the Galerie Billiet, while the following year saw his first beauty cover, for Votre Beauté magazine. In 1938 he received a visit from leading fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, who helped him to obtain a contract with the French Vogue. Blumenfeld travelled to New York, returning in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war, to become Harper’s Bazaar’s fashion correspondent in Paris.

In 1940 he was interned as a German Jew in France, first in Montbard, then in Loriol, Le Vernet, and Catus. He made a daring escape with his family in 1941, returning via Casablanca to New York, where he subsequently lived and worked until his death. It was in New York that Blumenfeld’s astonishing career as a much sought after, highly paid fashion photographer really took off, first of all in the studio he shared with Martin Munkácsi, then from 1943 in his own premises. The contract he signed with the publishers Condé Nast in 1944 marked the beginning of ten years of remarkable photography and cover shots for various magazines in the company’s stable. Following on from his experimental black-and-white shots of the 1930s, he began playing with colour. The present exhibition includes, besides photographs, both magazine work and early experimental films made for the Dayton department store in Minneapolis, his leading advertising customer.

Not until 1960 did Blumenfeld return to Berlin for a visit. He devoted the following years to finishing his autobiography, begun in the 1950s. The work was completed in 1969 with the help of his assistant Marina Schinz, but was only published in 1975, initially in French translation, then in the original German in 1976. His book My One Hundred Best Photos was also released posthumously, in 1979.

 

Drawings, Montages, and Collages

Between 1916 and 1933 Erwin Blumenfeld produced a fairly limited number of drawings and montages. As a young man he was very interested in literature, writing poems and short stories. And as early as 1915 he mentioned that he was interested in writing an autobiography. Almost all of his montages and collages include drawings and snippets of language. He plays with written and printed words and typography, juxtaposing names, concepts, and places to create ironic commentaries and provocative titles. His collages typically combine drawing, language, and cut-outs of original or printed photographs. He also often used letter stationery to form a background, leaving bare spaces. In 1918 Blumenfeld made the acquaintance of the Dadaist George Grosz; two years later he and Paul Citroen wrote to Francis Picabia in the name of the Hollandse Dadacentrale, but neither was present at the First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920. That same year, Blumenfeld began using the pseudonyms Erwin Bloomfeld and Jan Bloomfield, as documented in his Dadaist publications and in some of his collages. The drawings in the present exhibition, most of which have never been shown in public, were produced in Berlin and the Netherlands. Only a handful of them are dated. They are quick sketches from life or from imagination, rough cartoons and acid caricatures, in pencil, ink, watercolour, or coloured pencil – whatever was to hand. Blumenfeld was clearly fascinated by the quality and immediacy of drawing as a medium, and, as these works reveal, it certainly stimulated his playful side.

 

Self-Portraits

Blumenfeld took his first photographs as a schoolboy, using himself as one of his first subjects. The earliest date from the 1910s, but he continued taking self-portraits to the end of his life. The young man with the dreamy gaze turned into the louche bohemian with a cigarette, then the carefully staged photographer experimenting with his camera. His self-portraits are not the product of excessive vanity, but rather playful experiments, with and without masks, models, and other grotesque objects such as a calf’s head, all used to create witty images.

 

Portraits

Blumenfeld’s first steps in professional photography were in portraiture. He started “learning by doing” in the early 1920s in Amsterdam, where he had opened the ladies handbag store Fox Leather Company. This is where he took portraits of customers, using a darkroom in the back of the store. Comparison of the contact sheets from the time with the blow-ups taken from them clearly shows, right from the outset, the importance in Blumenfeld’s work of the finishing in the lab. The final images display extremely tight framing, high levels of contrast, and lighting that creates dramatic, even devilish, effects. When he arrived in Paris in 1936 his first photographs were portraits, featuring among others Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. Although he quickly entered the Paris fashion scene, he retained a strong interest in portraiture throughout the remainder of his life.

 

Nudes

Blumenfeld’s earliest, highly narrative nudes date from his time in the Netherlands, but the subject only became a passion during his Paris years from 1936 on, when he discovered the work of French avant-garde photographers. His admiration for them is particularly evident in his nude photographs, as is the influence of Man Ray’s work. The bodies of the women in these images were surfaces onto which he projected his artistic imagination. He cut them up, solarised them, and transformed them into abstract imagery through the play of light and shadow. The faces of his nudes from the 1930s are only rarely visible, the women remaining somewhat mysterious entities. The nudes Blumenfeld produced in the 1950s after he had settled in New York tended to be more concrete, illustrative works.

 

Architecture

The black-and-white architectural photographs that Erwin Blumenfeld took in the 1930s feature buildings and urban spaces from various experimental and abstract perspectives. The Eiffel Tower, for instance, is captured in sharp reliefs of light and shade, while the photographs of Rouen Cathedral are intended to draw the viewer’s visual attention to the building’s specific forms. Blumenfeld expresses his artistic vision and his knowledge of Gothic architecture by focusing on the abstraction of details. During the 1950s and 1960s Blumenfeld used a 35mm camera for cityscapes. The exhibition showcases three of these colour slide projects for the first time. They feature New York, Paris, and Berlin – three places that made a mark on his art and also shaped his career.

 

The Dictator

In 1933, according to his autobiography, Blumenfeld reacted to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany with a photomontage. This outstanding piece of work, probably his most famous photograph, symbolises and anticipates the dictator’s dehumanisation. Following on from the political themes in some of his early collages, he here combined different negatives – a skull and a portrait of Hitler – to make a single print. In one of these montages he included a swastika, while in a different portrait “bleeding eyes” were added later on the surface. Later on, in Paris, he photographed a calf’s head, using this subject to compose different images. One in which he placed the animal’s head on a woman’s torso was titled The Minotaure or The Dictator. This image, which does not refer to a specific figure, is obviously intended to be allegorical. In 1941 Blumenfeld was able to escape from the Nazis with his family to New York.

 

Fashion

Blumenfeld’s move to Paris in 1936 marked the beginning of his career as a fashion photographer, although he had already had contacts with magazines in Paris while living in Amsterdam. The work that appeared in French publications in the late 1930s raised Blumenfeld’s profile as a modernist photographer and brought him to the attention of the famous British photographer Cecil Beaton, who visited him in his studio in 1938 and helped him sign his first contract with the French edition of Vogue. When Blumenfeld made his first trip to New York following his sensational set of fashion photographs on the Eiffel Tower, he came home with a new contract as Paris fashion correspondent for Harper’s Bazaar. He was only able to file his reports for a year before he was interned in various prison camps across France. In 1941 he was able to escape from German-occupied France to New York with his family. In the first half of the 1950s, he drew on his experiments in black-and-white photography to develop an exceptionally original artistic repertoire, reflected in his use of colour and his fashion work.

Ute Eskildsen
Curator of the exhibition
Translated from German by Susan Pickford

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Three Graces (1947), New York' 1947

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Three Graces (1947), New York
1947

 

 

Leslie Petersen appears here in a triple variation inspired by Botticelli’s Primavera. The photograph, was intended to show off a gown by Cadwallader. The final image is made of two shots. The two on the right are similar but with different degrees of sharpness. The pose on the left is different. (Text from Phaidon)

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Nude (Lisette)' Paris, 1937

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Nude (Lisette)
Paris, 1937
Gelatin silver print, negative print, solarisation. Vintage print
Collection Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton / Art + Commerce, New York, Gallery Kicken Berlin, Berlin
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Charlie' 1920

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Charlie
1920
Collage, Indian ink, watercolour and pencil on paper
Collection Helaine and Yorick Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled, New York, 1944' 1944

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled, New York, 1944
1944
Gelatin silver print. Vintage print
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'In hoc signo vinces [in this sign you will conquer]' 1967

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
In hoc signo vinces [in this sign you will conquer]
1967
Gelatin silver print. Vintage print
Private collection, Switzerland
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Audrey Hepburn' New York, 1950

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Audrey Hepburn
New York, 1950
Vintage silver gelatin print
Collection particulière, Suisse.
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

Audrey Hepburn is wearing a hat designed by Blumenfeld and made by Mister Fred, one of New York’s most talented milliners. Blumenfeld here uses a system of mirrors showing the front and back of the hat and allowing infinite repetition of the motif. (Text from Phaidon)

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled [Homme agenouillé avec tour]' [Kneeling man with tower] 1920

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled [Homme agenouillé avec tour] [Kneeling man with tower]
1920
Indian ink, ink, watercolor and collage on paper
Collection Henry Blumenfeld.
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Group with Chaplin' Early 1920's

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Group with Chaplin
Early 1920’s
Gouache and pencil on paper
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Untitled (Green dress)' 1946

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Untitled (Green dress)
1946

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. 'Do your part for the Red Cross' [Soutenez la Croix-Rouge] 1945

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Do your part for the Red Cross [Soutenez la Croix-Rouge]
1945
Variante de la photographie de couverture de Vogue US, 15 mars 1945
Variant of a cover photograph of Vogue, “Do your part for the Red Cross”, New York, March 15th, 1945
Impression jet d’encre sur papier Canson baryta, tirage posthume (2012).
Collection Henry Blumenfeld.
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

A model, a red cross: fashion and current affairs superimposed. The background to this humanitarian appeal is the liberation of the concentration camps and the aid brought to prisoners of war. Blumenfeld reinterprets these humanitarian signs just as he blurs those of fashion. (Text from Phaidon)

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. Variant of the photograph published in Life Magazine entitled "The Picasso Girl" [The young woman of Picasso] (model: Lisette) c. 1941-1942

 

Erwin Blumenfeld (American-German, 1897-1969)
Variante de la photographie parue dans Life Magazine et intitulée “The Picasso Girl” [La jeune femme Picasso]
Variant of the photograph published in Life Magazine entitled “The Picasso Girl” [The young woman of Picasso]
(model: Lisette)
c. 1941-1942
Inkjet printing on Canson baryta paper, posthumous print (2012)
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

Erwin Blumenfeld. Three profiles. Variant of the photograph published in the article "Color and lighting" Photograph Annual of 1952

 

The young woman of Picasso
Trois profils. Variante de la photographie parue dans l’article “Color and lighting” [Couleur et éclairage], de Photograph Annual 1952
Three profiles. Variant of the photograph published in the article “Color and lighting” Photograph Annual of 1952
1952
Inkjet printing on Canson baryta paper, posthumous print (2012)
Collection Henry Blumenfeld
© The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld

 

 

Jeu de Paume
1, Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris
métro Concorde
Phone: 01 47 03 12 50

Opening hours:
Tuesday: 12.00 – 21.00
Wednesday – Friday: 12.00 – 19.00
Saturday and Sunday: 10.00 – 19.00
Closed Monday

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21
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Guy Bourdin’ at the House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 1st November 2013 – 26th January 2014

 

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART WORK OF FEMALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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Many thankx to House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' (Child) 1950

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled (Child)
1950
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' (Child with doll and pram) 1954

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled (Child with doll and pram)
1954
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' (Child lying on stones) 1953-57

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled (Child lying on stones)
1953-57
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'La Baigneuse' c. 1950-53

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
La Baigneuse (The Bather)
c. 1950-53
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Vogue Paris - January 1966' 1966

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Vogue Paris – January 1966
1966
Gelatin silver print
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' Nd

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled
Nd
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

 

House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg announces an exhibition of the legendary photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991), on view from November 1, 2013 – January 26, 2014. This most comprehensive exhibition to date is both an overview of the essential components of Guy Bourdin’s oeuvre and an introduction to unveiling works from his personal archives which have never been seen before. This is the first time that both his works as a painter and his notes on films are being shown at an exhibition. B&W shots dating from the 1950s are also included, showing portraits of artists and views of the city of Paris as well as Polaroids, sketches and texts. The exhibition examines Guy Bourdin’s oeuvre, but moreover, it provides insight into the complex working processes of the photographer’s mind and aims to establish his status as a visionaire image maker.

Guy Bourdin’s career spanned more than forty years during which time he worked for the world’s leading fashion houses and magazines. With the eye of a painter, Guy Bourdin created images that contained fascinating stories, compositions, both in B&W and in colours. He was among the 1st to create images with narratives, telling stories and shows that the image is more important than the product which is displayed. Using fashion photography as his medium, he sent out his message, one that was difficult to decode, exploring the realms between the absurd and the sublime. Famed for his suggestive narratives and surreal aesthetics, he radically broke conventions of commercial photography with a relentless perfectionism and sharp humour.

During the 1950s, Guy Bourdin launched his career with fashion assignments for Vogue Paris working in B&W. It’s nearly unknown, that half of the oeuvre of Guy Bourdin is black-and-white and as amazingly powerful as his colour works. He developed colour photography to its maximum effect, creating dramatic accents with intense colour saturation and textures in his compositions. Guy Bourdin used the format of the double spread magazine page in the most inventive way. He tailored his compositions to the constraints of the printed page both conceptually and graphically, and the mirror motif so central in his work finds its formal counterpart in the doubleness of the magazine spread. Layout and design become powerful metaphors for the photographic medium, engaging the eye and with it, the mind. While on the one hand employing formal elements of composition, Guy Bourdin, on the other hand, sought to transcend the reality of the photographic medium with surreal twists to the apparent subject of his images and his unconventional manipulation of the picture plane. Given total creative freedom and with uncompromising artistic ethic, Guy Bourdin captured the imagination of a whole generation at the late 1970s, recognised as the highest note in his career.

Guy Bourdin was an image maker, a perfectionist. He knew how to grab the attention of the viewer and left nothing to chance. He created impeccable sets, or when not shooting in his studio rue des Ecouffes in le Marais, in undistinguished bedrooms, on the beach, in nature, or in urban landscapes. The unusual dramas that unfold in these seemingly everyday scenes and ordinary encounters pique our subconscious and invite our imagination. Moreover, he developed a technic using hyper real colours, meticulous compositions of cropped elements such as low skies with high grounds and the interplay of light and shadows as well as the unique make-up of the models.

“Guy Bourdin irreverently swept away all the standards of beauty, conventional morals and product portrayals in one fell swoop. Around the female body he constructed visual disruptions, the outrageous, the hair-raising, the indiscreet, the ugly, the doomed, the fragmentary and the absent, torsos and death – all the tension and the entire gamut of what lies beyond the aesthetic and the moral,” explains the exhibition’s curator Ingo Taubhorn. Bourdin investigates in minute detail the variables of fashion photography, from brash posing to subtle performances and from complex settings to novel and disturbing notions of images.

Guy Bourdin’s imagery not only changed the course of fashion photography but influenced a host of contemporary artists, photographers and filmmakers. It is without question, that Guy Bourdin’s work for Vogue and his highly acclaimed print advertising for Charles Jourdan in the 1970s are now being seen in the appropriate context of contemporary art.

Press release from House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Self portrait' c. 1950

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Self portrait
c. 1950
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' 1960

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled
1960
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Untitled' Nd

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Untitled
Nd
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Charles Jourdan - Spring 1979' 1979

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Charles Jourdan – Spring 1979
1979
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Pentax Calendar' 1981

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Pentax Calendar
1981
Asahi Optical Company Limited. Tokyo, Japan
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Vogue Paris - May 1970' 1970

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Vogue Paris – May 1970
1970
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Charles Jourdan - Spring 1978' 1978

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Charles Jourdan – Spring 1978
1978
© Estate of Guy Bourdin

 

Guy Bourdin. 'Vogue Paris - December 1969' 1969

 

Guy Bourdin (French, 1928-1991)
Vogue Paris – December 1969
1969
Jewellery: Van Cleef & Arpels
Make-up: Serge Lutens
© Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

 

 

Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Deichtorstrasse 1-2
20095
Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0)40 32103-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Closed Mondays

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20
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland’ at The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

Exhibition dates: 2nd November 2013 – 26th January 2014
MOCA Pacific Design Center

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART WORK OF MALE NUDITY AND EROTIC IMAGES OF GAY MALE SEX – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 16 Number 4, February 1968' 1968

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 16 Number 4, February 1968
1968
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

 

What a fantastic pairing in this exhibition and in their relationship in real life. We must remember that Tom of Finland was a ground-breaking artist, one of the very first to picture masculine gay men, “robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys and sailors) and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – as unapologetic, self-aware and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex.”

He would have only just been in his twenties when he started drawing men in the early 1940s, inspired by the soldiers and uniforms he saw around him from the Second World War. With no outward gay culture in Finland, let alone in America until the late 1960s, just imagine being an artist producing this kind of erotic imagery at that time. To go on to be the seminal figure in the creation of gay leather culture… what an impact this artist had on gay and popular culture. Of course, as tastes were liberalised in the era of free love, Stonewall and after, the muscles of his hunks became bigger, the size of their endowments larger and the actions portrayed became more open and transparent (as can be seen from Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story), 1971, below).

During my PhD research I visited the One Institute/International Gay and Lesbian Archives Collection, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, to investigate the cross-over between physique magazines and early gay pornography magazines of the 1960s to early 1970s. I was interested to see whether the muscular mesomorphic bodies of the physique magazines crossed straight over into the first gay pornography magazines. To my surprise, the answer was that they did not.

After the American Supreme Court ruled on obscenity laws in the late 1960s, the first gay pornography magazines started appearing. The earliest gay porn magazine in the One Institute/IGLA collection, Action Line. No.1. San Francisco: Mark Vaughn Associates. 1969, features mostly smooth but natural bodies, not as built as in physique magazines, with nude young men with full erections lying next too each other touching. There is no sex, no sucking or fucking. Only a year later, in 1970, the story if different. In Album 1501: A Study of Sexual Activity Between Males. Los Angeles: Greyhuff Publishing, 1970 their is sexual intercourse pictured between men  in an openly available publication for the first time.

Bodies in this magazine are smooth, young toned men, much as in the early photographs of George Platt Lynes (such as those of Charles ‘Tex’ Smutney, Charles ‘Buddy’ Stanley, and Bradbury Ball). They are also similar to the bodies in the photographs that Lynes submitted to the Zurich published homosexual magazine Der Kries after he found out that he had cancer, during the last years of his life (under the pseudonym Roberto Rolf late 1940s – early 1950s). The participants in Album 1501 perform sex on each other in a lounge room lit by strong lights (shadows on walls). The black and white photographs, well shot, feature in a magazine that is about 5″ wide and 10″ high, well laid out and printed. The magazine is a thin volume and features just the two models in one sex scene of them undressing each other and then having sex. One man wears a Pepsi-Cola T-shirt at first and he also has tattoos one of which says ‘Cheri’. The photographs almost have a private feel to them.

In their introduction the publishers disclaim any agreement with the content of the magazine and are only publishing it for the freedom of everybody to study the material in the privacy of their own homes. In other words male to male sex is a natural phenomenon and the publication is educational. This was a common ploy in early nudist and pornographic publications (along with classical themes) that was used to justify the content – to claim that the material was for private educational purposes only:

.
Introduction.

“Publishers of material dealing frankly with sexual activity have suffered greatly in the past because of society’s anxiety over the existence and propagation of such material. But the real issue is why should such material dealing with sexual activity be any less valid or acceptable than material dealing with other facets of human behaviour? …
This book was produced so that all interested adults may have an opportunity to acquire it for their own private interests in matters relating to sex …
Our publication of this book is not to be construed that we agree with, condone or encourage any of the behaviour depicted herein. However, sexual activity between males is a fact of life and interested adults should not be denied an opportunity to study this, or any other, facet of human behaviour.”

.
The Publishers.

 

It is interesting to note the progression from physique magazines and models in posing pouches in 1966-68 (such as the photographs of Bob Mizer featured in this posting), then to full erection and stories of anal penetration in Action Line in 1969, to full on photographs of gay sex in this magazine in 1970. Bodies are all smooth, quite solid, toned natural physiques, not as ‘built’ as in earlier physique magazines, but still featuring younger smooth men and not older heavier set men. It was not until the development of the clone, leatherman and magazines such a Colt from Colt Studios that Tom of Finland’s muscular mesomorphic leatherman took hold in the popular gay imagination.

Even in the mid 1970’s companies such as Colt Studios, which has built a reputation for photographing hunky, very well built masculine men, used classical themes in their photography of muscular young men. Most of the early Colt magazines have photographs of naked young men that are accompanied by photographs and illustrations based on classical themes. In their early magazines quite a large proportion of the bodies were hirsute or had moustaches as was popular with the ‘clone’ image at the time. Later Colt models of the early 1980’s tend towards the buff, tanned, stereotypical muscular mesomorph in even greater numbers. Sometimes sexual acts are portrayed in Colt magazines but mainly they are not. It is the “look” of the body and the face that the viewers desiring gaze is directed towards – not the sexual act itself.

Photographers such as Bob Mizer from Athletic Model Guild produced more openly homoerotic images. In his work from the 1970’s full erections are not prevalent but semi-erect penises do feature, as do revealing “moon” shots from the rear focusing on the arsehole as a site for male libidinal desires. A less closeted, more open expression of homosexual desire can be seen in the photographs of the male body in the 1970’s.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA) for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1962

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1962
Graphite on paper
12.00″ x 9.50″
ToFF Cat. #62.27, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1962 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 11 Number 4, May 1962' 1962

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 11 Number 4, May 1962
1962
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 7 Number 1, 1957' 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 7 Number 1, 1957
1957
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Physique Pictorial Volume 10 Number 4, April 1961' 1961

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Physique Pictorial Volume 10 Number 4, April 1961
1961
Publication
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (1 of 4 from 'Circus Life' series) 1961

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (1 of 4 from Circus Life series)
1961
Graphite on paper
12.25″ x 9.75″
Bob Mizer/AMG Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #61.11
© 1961 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Jim Horn, Los Angeles' c. 1966

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Jim Horn, Los Angeles
c. 1966
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Barry Maurer, Hand on Gun], Los Angeles' c. 1961

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Barry Maurer, Hand on Gun], Los Angeles
c. 1961
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Larry Lamb, with Tumbleweed], Los Angeles' c. 1959

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Larry Lamb, with Tumbleweed], Los Angeles
c. 1959
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' 1968

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled
1968
Graphite on paper
12.94″ x 9.38″
ToFF Cat. #68.06, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1968 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Youthful Innocence' 1969

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Youthful Innocence
1969
The New Biker Stud – Bob Mizer title
Graphite on paper
11.75″ x 8.50″
ToFF Cat. #69.02, Collection of Volker Morlock
© 1969 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (No.1 from 'Cyclist and the Farm Boy' series) 1973

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (No.1 from Cyclist and the Farm Boy series)
1973
Graphite on paper
11″ x 8″
Bob Mizer/AMG Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #73.10
© 1973 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ray Hornsby, Motorcycle], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ray Hornsby, Motorcycle], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

 

“To my mind, there is no clearer representation of Mizer’s almost manic attempts to condense the joyful, celebratory chaos of his daily photo shoots down to their most selectively stupendous moments than his catalogue boards.” ~ artist and exhibition co-curator Richard Hawkins

 

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), is proud to present Bob Mizer and Tom of the Finland, the first American museum exhibition devoted to the art of Bob Mizer (1922-1992) and Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland” (1920-1991), two of the most significant figures of twentieth century erotic art and forefathers of an emergent post-war gay culture. The exhibition features a selection of Tom of Finland’s masterful drawings and collages, alongside Mizer’s rarely seen photo-collage “catalogue boards” and films, as well as a comprehensive collection of his groundbreaking magazine Physique Pictorial, where drawings by Tom were first published in 1957. Organised by MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson and guest co-curator Richard Hawkins, the exhibition is presented with the full collaboration of the Bob Mizer Foundation, El Cerrito, and the Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles.

Tom of Finland is the creator of some of the most iconic and readily recognisable imagery of post-war gay culture. He produced thousands of images beginning in the 1940s, robbing straight homophobic culture of its most virile and masculine archetypes (bikers, hoodlums, lumberjacks, cops, cowboys and sailors) and recasting them – through deft skill and fantastic imagination – as unapologetic, self-aware and boastfully proud enthusiasts of gay sex. His most innovative achievement though, worked out in fastidious renderings of gear, props, settings and power relations inherent therein, was to create the depictions that would eventually become the foundation of an emerging gay leather culture. Tom imagined the leather scene by drawing it; real men were inspired by it … and suited themselves up.

Bob Mizer began photographing as early as 1942 but, unlike many of his contemporaries in the subculture of illicit physique nudes, Mizer took the Hollywood star-system approach and founded the Athletic Model Guild in 1945, a film and photo studio specialising in handsome natural-bodied (as opposed to exclusively musclebound, the norm of the day) boy-next-door talent. In his myriad satirical prison dramas, sci-fi flix, domesticated bachelor scenarios and elegantly captivating studio sessions, Mizer photographed and filmed over 10,000 models at a rough estimate of 60 photos a day, seven days a week for almost 50 years. Mizer always presented a fresh-faced and free, unashamed and gregarious, totally natural and light-hearted approach to male nudity and intimate physical contact between men. For these groundbreaking perspectives in eroticised representation alone, Mizer ranks with Alfred Kinsey at the forefront of the sexual revolution.

Though Laaksonen did not move to Los Angeles until the 1970s, he had long known of Mizer and the photographer’s work through Physique Pictorial, the house publication and sales tool for Athletic Model Guild. It was to this magazine that the artist first sent his drawings and it was Mizer, finding the artworks remarkable and seeking to promote them on the magazine’s cover, but finding the artist’s Finnish name too difficult for his clientele, who is responsible for the now famous “Tom of Finland” pseudonym.

By the time the gay liberation movement swept through the United States in the late 1960s, both Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer were already well-known and widely celebrated as veritable pioneers of gay art. Decades before Stonewall and the raid on the Black Cat these evocative and lusty representations of masculine desire and joyful, eager sex between men proliferated and were disseminated worldwide at a time when the closet was still very much the norm – there was no such thing as a gay community. If these artists were not ahead of their time, they might just have foreseen and even invented a time.

Spanning five decades, the exhibition seeks a wider appreciation for Tom of Finland and Bob Mizer’s work, considering their aesthetic influence on generations of artists, both gay and straight, among them, Kenneth Anger, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, David Hockney, G.B. Jones, Mike Kelley, Robert Mapplethorpe, Henrik Olesen, Jack Pierson, John Waters, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition also acknowledges the profound cultural and social impact both artists have made, especially in providing open, powerful imagery for a community of desires at a time when it was still very much criminal. Presenting the broader historical context and key aspects of their shared interests and working relationship, as well as more in-depth solo rooms dedicated to each artist, the exhibition establishes the art historical importance of the staggering work of these legendary figures.

In addition to approximately 75 finished and preparatory drawings by Tom of Finland spanning 1947-1991, the exhibition includes a selection of Tom’s never before exhibited scrapbook collages, and examples of his serialised graphic novels, including the legendary leatherman Kake, as well as a selection of Mizer’s “catalogue boards,” AMG films, and a complete set of Physique Pictorial magazine. An accompanying publication includes texts by the exhibition co-curators and a selection of images.

Press release from the MOCA website

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ray Hornsby, with Skull Staff], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ray Hornsby, with Skull Staff], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Ernie Rabb, Pointed Pistol], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Ernie Rabb, Pointed Pistol], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 1' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 1 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.75″
COQ International Collection, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.24
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Jungle Seafood' story) 1972

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Jungle Seafood story)
1972
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.63″ x 6.94″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #72.41
© 1972 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Larry Lamb, Profile with Chains], Los Angeles' c. 1959

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Larry Lamb, Profile with Chains], Los Angeles
c. 1959
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Dennis Schreffer, Wand Balance], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Dennis Schreffer, Wand Balance], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Bob Mizer. 'Untitled [Dennis Schreffer with Portrait], Los Angeles' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Untitled [Dennis Schreffer with Portrait], Los Angeles
c. 1957
Vintage large-format black and white negative
Silver gelatin print
8 x 10 inches
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.45
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 197

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.58
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 1 of SW series]' c. 1965

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 1 of SW series]
c. 1965
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 2 of SW series]' c. 1965

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, David Elliott. [Double-sided; This side Page 2 of SW series]
c. 1965
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 57 of XT series]' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 57 of XT series]
c. 1957
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Bob Mizer. 'Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 58 of XT series]' c. 1957

 

Bob Mizer (American, 1922-1992)
Athletic Model Guild Catalog Board, Ernie Rabb. [Double-sided; This side Page 58 of XT series]
c. 1957
Photographs mounted to matboard and mixed media
Printed with permission of Bob Mizer Foundation, Inc .
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Proposed purchase with funds provided by the Photography Committee
The Bob Mizer Foundation & INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, New York

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991) 'Untitled' (From 'Beach Boy 2' story) 1971

 

Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920-1991)
Untitled (From Beach Boy 2 story)
1971
Pen and ink, gouache on paper
8.25″ x 5.25″
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #71.61
© 1971 Tom of Finland Foundation

 

 

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17
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Exhibition dates: 15th September 2013 – 20th January 2014

 

William Earle Williams. 'Folly Beach, South Carolina, 1999' 1999

 

William Earle Williams (American, b. 1950)
Folly Beach, South Carolina, 1999
1999
Gelatin silver print
Image: 19.05 x 19.05 cm (7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Mary and Dan Solomon Fund

 

 

This photograph is part of William Earle Williams’ series Unsung Heroes: African American Soldiers in the Civil War, depicting locations where black troops served, fought, and died.

 

 

“A man’s face as a rule says more, and more interesting things, than his mouth, for it is a compendium of everything his mouth will ever say, in that it is the monogram of all this man’s thoughts and aspirations.”

.
Arthur Schopenhauer

 

 

Now this is portrait photography, and all done with relatively long exposures. By god did they know how to take a photograph that has some presence, some frame of mind that evidences a distinct point of view. I had the best fun assembling this posting, even though it took me many hours to do so. The details are exquisite – the hands clasped on the lap, the hands holding the pipe and, best of all, the arched hand with the fingers gently touching the patterned fabric – such as you don’t observe today. The research to find out as much as I could about these people was both fascinating and tragic: “Abraham Brown accidentally killed himself while cleaning his gun on July 11, 1863.”

It is interesting to see the images without an over-mat so that you can observe the backdrop and props in the photographers studio, captured on the whole plate. The narrative external to the matted image, outside the frame. But this view of the image gives a spurious reading of the structure and tension points of the photograph. Any photographer worth his salt previsualises the image and these photographers would have been no different. They would have known their studio, their backdrops and props, and would have known which over-mat they were going to place the finished image in (chosen by themselves or the client). Look at any of the images I have over-matted in white and see how the images come alive in terms of their tension points and structure. How the body takes on a more central feature of the image. How props such as the American flag in Private Abraham F. Brown (1863, below) form a balancing triangle to the figure using the flag, the chair and the trunk as anchor points. This is how these images were intended to be seen and it is this form that gives them the most presence and power.

While it is intriguing to see what lies beyond the over-mat this continuum should not be the centre of our attention for it is the histories, subjectivities and struggles of these brave men that should be front and centre, just as they appear within this cartouche of their life.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

PS. I have just noticed that the Ambrotype by an unknown photographer Unidentified Private, Company I, 54th Massachusetts Regiment (1863, below) and the Albumen print by an unknown photographer Private James Matthew Townsend (1863, below) are taken in the same studio – notice the table and fabric and the curtain at right hand side. They were probably taken at the same sitting when both men were present. One obviously chose an Ambrotype and the other an Albumen print, probably because of cost?

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Art, Washington for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. For an in depth look at the Battle of Fort Wagner see the National Park Service Civil War Series On the March to Fort Wagner web page.

 

 

 

IVES – Three Places in New England from Jon Frank.

Work commissioned by Aurora Orchestra, combining video projection with live orchestra performance of Charles Ives Three Places in New England. Concert premiered in London, July 7th, 2013. The first movement was written about the Shaw memorial and features in the film.

Many thankx to Jon Frank who shot the moving pictures to be projected behind the orchestras live performance for emailing me about the video.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Unidentified Private, Company I, 54th Massachusetts Regiment' (detail) 1863

 

Unknown photographer. 'Unidentified Private, Company I, 54th Massachusetts Regiment' (detail) 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Unidentified Private, Company I, 54th Massachusetts Regiment (details)
1863
Ambrotype
Overall: 11.2 x 8.6cm (4 7/16 x 3 3/8 in.)
Image: 8.7 x 6.4cm (3 7/16 x 2 1/2 in.)
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Abraham F. Brown' 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private Abraham F. Brown
1863
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 8 x 7cm (3 1/8 x 2 3/4 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

This photograph depicts Private Abraham F. Brown, a member of Company E, part of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first black regiment raised in the North during the Civil War.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Abraham F. Brown' (with overmat) 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private Abraham F. Brown (with over-mat)
1863
Tintype

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Abraham F. Brown' (inverted with overmat to show background extraneous to portrait) 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private Abraham F. Brown (inverted with over-mat to show background extraneous to portrait)
1863
Tintype

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Abraham F. Brown' (inverted with overmat to show background extraneous to portrait - detail of writing on wheel) 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private Abraham F. Brown (inverted with overmat to show background extraneous to portrait – detail of writing on wheel)
1863
Tintype

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Abraham F. Brown' 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private Abraham F. Brown
1863
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 8 x 6.5cm (3 1/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

Private Abraham F. Brown probably had his portrait made shortly after the 54th arrived in SC in June 1863. A sailor born in Toronto, Canada, Abraham Brown accidentally killed himself while cleaning his gun on July 11, 1863, on James Island, northwest of Fort Wagner.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Abraham F. Brown' (with overmat) 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private Abraham F. Brown (with over-mat)
1863
Tintype

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Richard Gomar' c. 1880

 

Unknown photographer
Private Richard Gomar
c. 1880
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 8.5 x 6cm (3 3/8 x 2 3/8 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

Richard Gomar enlisted in Company H on 17 April 1863 at the age of seventeen and was mustered in on 13 May. He was a labourer from Battle Creek, Michigan. He was mustered out after the regiment’s return to Boston on 20 August 1865. He received a state bounty of $50, and his last known address was Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Portrayed here in a half-length study, Gomar is in civilian clothes and on his waistcoat is wearing a membership badge of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organisation. This version of the badge was adopted in 1880. According to regulation, Gomar wears the badge on the left breast of his waistcoat, but the tintype process has reversed the image.

 

H. C. Foster (?) 'Private John Gooseberry, musician' 1864

 

H. C. Foster (?)
Private John Gooseberry, musician
1864
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 10 x 6.8cm (3 15/16 x 2 2/3 in.)
Plate: 10.7 x 8.1cm (4 3/16 x 3 3/16 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

One of the twenty-one Black recruits from Canada, twenty-five-pear-old Goosberry, a sailor of St. Catharines, Ontario, was mustered into Company E on July 16, 1863, just two days before the fateful assault on Fort Wagner. He was mustered out of service on August 20, 1865, at the disbanding of the regiment. Born in New Orleans, he survived the war but died destitute at about age 38.

Goosberry appears in this full-length photograph wearing his uniform as a company musician, holding a fife and standing before a plain backdrop. The buttons and buckle of the uniform have been hand coloured, and there is an impression remaining on the tintype from an earlier oval frame.

 

H. C. Foster (?) 'Private John Gooseberry, musician' (detail) 1864

 

H. C. Foster (?)
Private John Gooseberry, musician (detail)
1864
Tintype

 

H. C. Foster (?) 'Private Alexander H. Johnson, musician' 1864

 

H. C. Foster (?)
Private Alexander H. Johnson, musician
1864
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 8 x 6.5cm (3 1/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

Johnson served as a musician in  Co. C. of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Colonel Shaw referred to Private Alexander Johnson, a 16-year-old recruit from New Bedford, Massachusetts, as the “original drummer boy.” He was with Shaw when the colonel died at Fort Wagner and carried important messages to other officers during the battle.

Alexander H. Johnson enlisted at the age of 16 as a drummer boy in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. He was the first black musician to enlist during the Civil War, and is depicted as the drummer leading the column of troops on the memorial honouring Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts in front of the Massachusetts state house in Boston. Alex was adopted by William Henry Johnson, the second black lawyer in the United States and close associate of Frederick Douglass. Johnson’s original surname was Howard and his mother was a Perry. His grandfather was Peter Perry, a native Hawaiian whaler who married an Indian woman.

After the war, Alex Johnson was a member of both the Grand Army of the Republic General George H. Ward Post #10 and of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is frequently mentioned in the book We All Got History by Nick Salvatore. Alexander Johnson died 19 March 1930, at the age of 82, just a few weeks after the 67th anniversary of his enlistment in the 54th.

Text from the Battle of Olustee website [Online] Cited 23/01/2021

 

H. C. Foster (?) 'Private Alexander H. Johnson, musician' (detail) 1864

 

H. C. Foster (?)
Private Alexander H. Johnson, musician (detail)
1864
Tintype

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private William J. Netson, musician' c. 1863-1864

 

Unknown photographer
Private William J. Netson, musician
c. 1863-1864
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 8.5 x 6.5cm (3 3/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

Netson served as a Musician, in  Co. E, of the 54th Massachuetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private William J. Netson, musician' (with overmat) c. 1863-1864

 

Unknown photographer
Private William J. Netson, musician (with over-mat)
c. 1863-1864
Tintype

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Charles A. Smith' c. 1880

 

Unknown photographer
Private Charles A. Smith
c. 1880
Tintype
Overall: 8.7 x 6.2cm (3 7/16 x 2 7/16 in.)
Image: 8.7 x 6cm (3 7/16 x 2 3/8 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

Smith served as a  Private in Co. C. of the 54th Massachuetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Sergeant Henry F. Steward' 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Sergeant Henry F. Steward
1863
Ambrotype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 10.5 x 8cm (4 1/8 x 3 1/8 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

A twenty-three year old farmer from Adrian, Michigan, Henry Steward enlisted on 4 April 1863 and was mustered in on April 23. As a non-commissioned officer, as were all Black officers, Steward was actively engaged in the recruiting of soldiers for the regiment. He died of disease at the regimental hospital on Morris Island, South Carolina, on 27 September 1863, and his estate was paid a $50 state bounty. Standing at attention with his sword drawn in this full-length study, Steward is posed in front of a plain backdrop, but a portable column has been wheeled in to add detail on the left. Hand-coloured trousers and buttons highlight the uniform in this Ambrotype of Sergeant Steward.

Beginning in March 1863, African American recruits streamed into Camp Meigs on the outskirts of Boston, eager to enlist in the 54th. By May, the regiment numbered more than 1,000 soldiers. Most were freemen working as farmers or labourers; some were runaway slaves. Many of the new enlistees, proud of their professions and uniforms, had photographs of themselves taken. Their pictures recall Frederick Douglass’ 1863 speech before an audience of potential recruits: “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S.; let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on the earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.”

Henry F. Steward, shown here, actively recruited for the 54th in Michigan. He had been promoted to sergeant soon after he arrived at Camp Meigs and probably had this portrait made shortly after he received his rifle and uniform. Proud of his new career, Stewart paid an extra fee to have the photographer tint his cap, sword, breastplate, and pants with paint to highlight their importance. Steward survived the Battle of Fort Wagner but died just over two months later, most likely of dysentery.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Sergeant Henry F. Steward' (with overmat) 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Sergeant Henry F. Steward (with over-mat)
1863
Ambrotype

 

 

Continuing its year-long celebration of African American history, art, music, and culture, the National Gallery of Art announces a major exhibition honouring one of the first regiments of African Americans formed during the Civil War. Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial will be on view in the American galleries on the West Building’s Main Floor from September 15, 2013, through January 20, 2014. The 54th Massachusetts fought in the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863, an event that has been documented and retold in many forms, including the popular movie Glory, released in 1989.

“Then, as today, the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment captured the imagination: they were common men propelled by deep moral principles, willing to sacrifice everything for a nation that had taken much from them but now promised liberty,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “This exhibition celebrates the brave members of the 54th, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial commemorating their heroism, and the works of art they and the monument continue to inspire.”

The magisterial Shaw Memorial (1900) by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), on long-term loan to the Gallery from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of 19th-century American sculpture. This monument commemorates the July 18, 1863, storming of Fort Wagner by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts, a troop of African American soldiers led by white officers that was formed immediately after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Although one-third of the regiment was killed or wounded in the assault, including Shaw himself, the fierce battle was considered by many to be a turning point in the war: it proved that African Americans could be exemplary soldiers, with a bravery and dedication to country that equaled the nation’s most celebrated heroes.

Part of the exhibition’s title, “Tell It with Pride,” is taken from an anonymous letter written to the Shaw family announcing the death of Robert Gould Shaw. The letter is included in the exhibition and the catalogue accompanying the show.

When Saint-Gaudens created the figures in the memorial, he based his depiction of Shaw on photographs of the colonel, but he hired African American models, not members of the 54th Massachusetts, to pose for the other soldiers. This exhibition seeks to make real the anonymous African American soldiers of the 54th, giving them names and faces where possible. The first section of the exhibition shows vintage photographic portraits of the soldiers, the people who recruited them – including the noted abolitionists Frederick Douglass, Wendell Phillips, Charles Lenox Remond, and Sojourner Truth – and the women who nursed, taught, and guided them, such as Clara Barton, Charlotte Forten, and Harriet Tubman. In addition, the exhibition presents a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a recruiting poster, a letter written by a soldier, Corporal James Henry Gooding, to President Lincoln arguing for equal pay, and the Medal of Honor awarded to the first African American to earn this distinction, Sergeant William H. Carney, as well as other documents related to both the 54th Massachusetts and the Battle of Fort Wagner. Together, these works of art and documents detail critical events in American history and highlight both the sacrifices and the valour of the individual soldiers.

The second half of the exhibition looks at the continuing legacy of the 54th Massachusetts, the Battle of Fort Wagner, and the Shaw Memorial. By presenting some of the plaster heads Saint-Gaudens made in preparation for his work on the Shaw Memorial, the exhibition discusses its development from 1883, when Saint Gaudens’ concept began to take shape, through the installation of the bronze monument on Boston Common in 1897, to the artist’s final re-working in the late 1890s of the original plaster now on view at the National Gallery of Art.  The exhibition concludes by showing how the Shaw Memorial remains a deeply compelling work that continues to inspire artists as diverse as Lewis Hine, Richard Benson, Carrie Mae Weems, and William Earle Williams, who have reflected on these people, the event, and the monument itself in their own art.”

For over a century, the 54th Massachusetts, its famous battle at Fort Wagner, and the Shaw Memorial have remained compelling subjects for artists. Poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Robert Lowell praised the bravery of these soldiers, as did composer Charles Ives. Artists as diverse as Lewis Hine, Richard Benson, Carrie Mae Weems, and William Earle Williams have highlighted the importance of the 54th as a symbol of racial pride, personal sacrifice, and national resilience. These artists’ works illuminate the enduring legacy of the 54th Massachusetts in the American imagination and serve as a reminder, as Ralph Ellison wrote in an introduction to Invisible Man, “that war could, with art, be transformed into something deeper and more meaningful than its surface violence.

Press release from the National Gallery of Art website

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private Charles H. Arnum' 1864

 

Unknown photographer
Private Charles H. Arnum
1864
Tintype
Mat: 17.8 x 12.7cm (7 x 5 in.)
Image: 10 x 6.5cm (3 15/16 x 2 9/16 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

Listed as a teamster and a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, the twenty-one year old Arnum enlisted at Littleton and was mustered in as a private into Company E on November 4, 1863. He served with the regiment until it was disbanded on August 20, 1865. He received $325 as a state bounty, and his last known address was North Adams, Massachusetts. This full-length study of Arnum shows him in uniform with his hand resting upon the American flag, which is draped over a table in the foreground. Behind him is a painted backdrop representing a seashore military camp.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Second Lieutenant Ezekiel G. Tomlinson, Captain Luis F. Emilio, and Second Lieutenant Daniel Spear' October 12, 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Second Lieutenant Ezekiel G. Tomlinson, Captain Luis F. Emilio, and Second Lieutenant Daniel Spear
October 12, 1863
Tintype
Overall: 8.6 x 6.5cm (3 3/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
Image: 8.3 x 6.2cm (3 1/4 x 2 7/16 in.)
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

 

John Adams Whipple. 'Colonel Robert Gould Shaw' 1863

 

John Adams Whipple
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
1863
Albumen print
Image: 8.4 x 5.8cm (3 5/16 x 2 5/16 in.)
Boston Athenaeum

 

 

Death at the Battle of Fort Wagner

The 54th Regiment was sent to Charleston, South Carolina to take part in the operations against the Confederates stationed there. On July 18, 1863, along with two brigades of white troops, the 54th assaulted Confederate Battery Wagner. As the unit hesitated in the face of fierce Confederate fire, Shaw led his men into battle by shouting, “Forward, Fifty-Fourth, forward!” He mounted a parapet and urged his men forward, but was shot through the heart and died almost instantly. According to the Colors Sergeant of the 54th, he was shot and killed while trying to lead the unit forward and fell on the outside of the fort.

The victorious Confederates buried him in a mass grave with many of his men, an act they intended as an insult. Following the battle, commanding Confederate General Johnson Hagood returned the bodies of the other Union officers who had died, but left Shaw’s where it was. Hagood informed a captured Union surgeon that “had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honourable burial; as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the niggers that fell with him.” Although the gesture was intended as an insult, it came to be seen as an honour by Shaw’s friends and family that he was buried with his soldiers.

Efforts were made to recover Shaw’s body (which had been stripped and robbed prior to burial), but his father publicly proclaimed that he was proud to know that his son was interred with his troops, befitting his role as a soldier and a crusader for emancipation. In a letter to the regimental surgeon, Lincoln Stone, Frank Shaw wrote:

“We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers… We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company – what a body-guard he has!”

.
Annie Haggerty Shaw, a widow at the age of 28, never remarried. She lived with her family in New York, Lenox and abroad, a revered figure and in later years an invalid. She died in 1907 and is buried at the cemetery of Church-on-the Hill in Lenox.

Text from Wikipedia

 

John Adams Whipple (September 10, 1822 – April 10, 1891) was an American inventor and early photographer. He was the first in the United States to manufacture the chemicals used for daguerreotypes; he pioneered astronomical and night photography; he was a prize-winner for his extraordinary early photographs of the moon; and he was the first to produce images of stars other than the sun (the star Vega and the Mizar-Alcor stellar sextuple system), which was thought to be a double star until 2009.

Text from Wikipedia

 

Unknown photographer. 'Captain Luis F. Emilio' c. 1863-1865

 

Unknown photographer
Captain Luis F. Emilio
c. 1863-1865
Tintype
Overall: 12.7 x 7.62cm (5 x 3 in.)
Image: 6.6 x 5.33cm (2 5/8 x 2 1/8 in.)
Pamplin Historical Park and The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier

 

 

Luis F. Emilio (December 22, 1844 – September 16, 1918) was a Captain in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an American Civil War Union regiment. Emilio was born on December 22, 1844 in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of a Spanish immigrant who made his living as a music instructor. Although the minimum age for service in the Union army was 18, in 1861 – at age 16 – Emilio gave his age as 18 and enlisted in Company F of the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was noticeably brave and steadfast, and by September, 1862 he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Emilio was among the group of original officers of the 54th selected by Massachusetts War Governor John Albion Andrew. He mustered in as a 2nd Lieutenant on March 30, 1863. Two weeks later, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, and on May 27, he was made Captain of Company E. Captain Emilio emerged from the ferocious assault on Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863 as the regiment’s acting commander, since all of the other ranking officers had been killed or wounded. He fought with the 54th for over three years of dangerous combat, mustering out of the Union army on March 29, 1865, still not yet 21 years old.

Following the war, he went into the real estate business, first in San Francisco, and later in New York. After assisting two old comrades documenting the history of the 23rd Massachusetts regiment in the mid-1880s, he began work on his own documentation of the 54th, publishing the first edition of Brave Black Regiment in 1891, and the revised edition in 1894. He died in New York on September 16, 1918 after a long illness, and was buried in the Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts.

Text from Wikipedia

 

Unknown photographer. 'Unidentified Private, Company I, 54th Massachusetts Regiment' 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Unidentified Private, Company I, 54th Massachusetts Regiment
1863
Ambrotype
Overall: 11.2 x 8.6cm (4 7/16 x 3 3/8 in.)
Image: 8.7 x 6.4cm (3 7/16 x 2 1/2 in.)
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

 

Major J. W. Appleton. 'Diary of Major J. W. Appleton open to tintype of Private Samuel J. Benton' c. 1865-1885

 

Major J. W. Appleton
Diary of Major J. W. Appleton open to tintype of Private Samuel J. Benton
c. 1865-1885
Handwritten journal with clippings, drawings, and photographic prints
Page size: 35.56 x 20.96 cm (14 x 8 1/4 in.)
Image: 6.5 x 5.2cm (2 9/16 x 2 1/16 in.)
West Virginia University Libraries, West Virginia and Regional History Collection

 

Unknown photographer. 'Sergeant Major John Wilson' June 3, 1864

 

Unknown photographer
Sergeant Major John Wilson
June 3, 1864
Albumen print
Image: 9.1 x 5.8cm (3 9/16 x 2 5/16 in.)
West Virginia University Libraries, West Virginia and Regional History Collection

 

 

John Wilson, a painter from Cincinnati, Ohio, had this portrait made a month after he was promoted to sergeant major in May 1864. One of only five African American non-commissioned officers in the regiment at the time, Wilson proudly displayed his stripes and cap with its horn and the number “54.”

 

Unknown photographer. 'Private James Matthew Townsend' 1863

 

Unknown photographer
Private James Matthew Townsend
1863
Albumen print
Image: 8.6 x 5.8cm (3 3/8 x 2 5/16 in.)
Collection of Greg French

 

Abraham Bogardus. 'Major Martin Robison Delany' c. 1865

 

Abraham Bogardus
Major Martin Robison Delany
c. 1865
Albumen print
Image: 8.6 x 5.3cm (3 3/8 x 2 1/16 in.)
Courtesy of the National Park Service, Gettysburg National Military Park

 

 

Martin Robison Delany (May 6, 1812 – January 24, 1885) was an African-American abolitionist, journalist, physician, and writer, arguably the first proponent of American black nationalism. He was one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. Trained as an assistant and a physician, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, when many doctors and residents fled the city. Active in recruiting blacks for the United States Colored Troops, he was commissioned as a major, the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War.

Text from Wikipedia

 

Abraham Bogardus (November 29, 1822 – March 22, 1908) was an American Daguerreotypist and photographer who made some 200,000 daguerreotypes during his career.

 

Unknown photographer. 'Captain Norwood P. Hallowell' c. 1862-1863

 

Unknown photographer
Captain Norwood P. Hallowell
c. 1862-1863
Albumen print
Overall: 10.16 x 6.35cm (4 x 2 1/2 in.)
Image: 8.8 x 5.9cm (3 7/16 x 2 5/16 in.)
Pamplin Historical Park and The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier
Courtesy of Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier

 

 

Norwood Penrose “Pen” Hallowell (April 13, 1839 – April 11, 1914) was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. One of three brothers to serve with distinction during the war, he and his brother Edward Needles Hallowell both became commanders of the first all-black regiments. He is also remembered for his close friendship with and influence upon future Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who was his classmate at Harvard and his comrade during the war.

Hallowell’s fervent abolitionism led him to volunteer for service in the Civil War, and he inspired Holmes to do the same. He was commissioned a first lieutenant on July 10, 1861, joining the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry with his brother, Edward, and Holmes. Hallowell fought in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff on October 21, 1861, in which he distinguished himself by leading a line of skirmishers to hold off Confederate forces. Hallowell then swam across the Potomac River, constructed a makeshift raft, and made several trips to the Virginia bank to rescue trapped Union soldiers before his raft fell apart. Hallowell was promoted to captain on November 26, 1861. He was wounded in the Battle of Glendale on June 30, 1862, and suffered more severe wounds in the Battle of Antietam on September 17. His left arm was shattered by a bullet but later saved by a surgeon; Holmes was shot in the neck. Both took refuge in a farmhouse (a historic site now known as the Royer-Nicodemus House and Farm) and were eventually evacuated.

On April 17, 1863, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, as second-in-command (after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw) of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first all-black regiments in the U.S. On May 30, he accepted Governor John A. Andrew’s personal request that he be made colonel in command of the 55th Massachusetts, another all-black regiment. He and his regiment were stationed at Charleston Harbor and participated in the siege and eventual taking of Fort Wagner; Hallowell was one of the first to enter the fort after its abandonment. Hallowell faced continuing disability due to his wounds, and was discharged on November 2, 1863.

Text from Wikipedia

 

J. E. Farwell and Co. 'To Colored Men. 54th Regiment! Massachusetts Volunteers, of African Descent' 1863

 

J. E. Farwell and Co.
To Colored Men. 54th Regiment! Massachusetts Volunteers, of African Descent
1863
Ink on paper
Overall: 109.9 x 75.2cm (43 1/4 x 29 5/8 in.)
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

 

 

The Massachusetts 54th Regiment was the first military unit consisting of black soldiers to be raised in the North during the Civil War. Prior to 1863, no concerted effort was made to recruit black troops as Union soldiers. At the beginning of the war, black men offered to serve as soldiers for the Union cause, however these offers were rejected by the military establishment and the country as a whole. A few makeshift regiments were raised – including the First South Carolina Regiment with whom the 54th Regiment would serve at Fort Wagner – however most were raised in the South and consisted primarily of escaped and abandoned slaves. (Footnote 1) The passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in December of 1862 provided the impetus for the use of free black men as soldiers and, at a time when state governors were responsible for the raising of regiments for federal service, Massachusetts was the first to respond with the formation of the 54th Regiment. (Footnote 2)

Soon after Governor John A. Andrew was allowed to begin recruiting black men for his newly formed 54th Regiment, Andrew realised the financial costs involved in such an undertaking and set out to raise money. He appointed George L. Stearns as the leader of the recruiting process, and also appointed the so-called “Black Committee” of prominent and influential citizens. The committee and those providing encouragement included Frederick Douglass, Amos A. Lawrence, William Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell Phillips, and $5000 was quickly raised for the cause. Newly appointed officers in the regiment also played an active part in the recruiting process. (Footnote 3)

An advertisement was placed in the Boston Journal for February 16, 1863 addressed “To Colored Men” recruiting “Good men of African descent.” It, like the recruiting posters, offered a “$100 bounty at the expiration of the term of service, pay $13 per month, and State aid for families”; it was signed by Lieutenant William J. Appleton of the 54th. (Footnote 4) Twenty-five men enlisted quickly, however the arrival of men at the recruiting stations and at Camp Meigs, Readville, soon slowed down. Stearns soon became aware that Massachusetts did not have enough eligible black men to fill a regiment and recruiters were sent to states throughout the North and South, and into Canada.

Pennsylvania proved to he a fertile source for recruits, with a major part of Company B coming from Philadelphia, despite recent race riots there. New Bedford and Springfield, Massachusetts, blacks made up the majority of Company C, while approximately seventy men recruited from western Massachusetts and Connecticut formed much of Company D. (Footnote 5) Stearns’s line of recruiting stations from Buffalo to St. Louis produced volunteers from New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Canada. Few of the men were former slaves; most were freemen working as seamen, farmers, labourers, or carpenters. By May 1863, the regiment was full with 1000 enlisted men and a full complement of white officers. The remaining recruits became the nucleus of the 55th Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Norwood P. Hallowell, who, for a short time, had served as second-in-command to Robert Gould Shaw of the 54th.  (Footnote 6)

The question of pay to the volunteers became an important issue, even before the regiment’s departure from Boston on May 18. When Governor Andrew first proposed the idea to Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Andrew was assured that the men would be paid, clothed, and treated in the same way as white troops. As the recruiting posters and newspaper advertisements stated, this included a state bounty and a monthly pay of $13. In July of 1863, an order was issued in Washington fixing the compensation of black soldiers at the labourers’ rate of $10 per month. This amount was offered on several occasions to the men of the 54th, but was continually refused. Governor Andrew and the Massachusetts legislature, feeling responsible for the $3 discrepancy in pay promised to the troops, passed an act in November of 1863 providing the difference from state funds. The men refused to accept this resolution, however, demanding that they receive full soldier pay from the federal government. It was not until September of 1864 that the men of the 54th received any compensation for their valiant efforts, finally receiving their full pay since the time of enlistment, totalling $170,000. (Footnote 7) Each soldier was paid a $50 bounty before leaving Camp Meigs and this is the extent of the bounty that many received. By a later law, $325 was paid to some men, however most families received no State aid. (Footnote 8)

Although the Massachusetts 54th Regiment was the first to enlist black men as soldiers in the North, it was only the beginning for blacks as Union soldiers. By the end of the war, a total of 167 units, including other state regiments and the United States Colored Troops, were raised, totalling 186,097 men of African descent recruited into federal service. (Footnote 9)

Text from the project Witness to America’s Past on the Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Online website

 

Footnotes

  1. Burchard, Peter. One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965, p. xi.
  2. Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1988, p. xi.
  3. Ibid., pp. 77-78.
  4. Emilio, Luis F. History of the fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865. 2nd ed. Boston Boston Book Co., 1894, pp. 8-9.
  5. Ibid., pp. 9-10.
  6. Burchard, Peter. One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965, pp. 83-90.
  7. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War.. 8 vols. Norwood, Mass.: Printed at The Norwood Press, 4:657.
  8. Emilio, Luis F. History of the fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865. 2d ed. Boston Boston Book Co., pp. 327-328.
  9. Hargrove, Hondon B. Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1988, p. 2.

 

Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 'Shaw Memorial' 1900

 

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907)
Shaw Memorial
1900
Patinated plaster
Overall (without armature or pedestal): 368.9 x 524.5 x 86.4cm (145 1/4 x 206 1/2 x 34 in.)
Overall (with armature & pedestal): 419.1 x 524.5 x 109.2cm (165 x 206 1/2 x 43 in.)
U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, New Hampshire, on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art

 

 

Even before the war’s end in April 1865, the courage and sacrifice that the 54th Massachusetts demonstrated at Fort Wagner inspired artists to commemorate their bravery. Two artists working in Boston, Edward Bannister and Edmonia Lewis, were among the first to pay homage to the 54th in works they contributed to a fair that benefited African American soldiers. Yet it was not until the late 19th century that Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial solidified the 54th as an icon of the Civil War in the American consciousness.

Commissioned by a group of private citizens, Saint-Gaudens first conceived the memorial as a single equestrian statue of Colonel Shaw, following a long tradition of military monuments. Shaw’s family, however, uncomfortable with the portrayal of their 25-year-old son in a fashion typically reserved for generals, urged Saint-Gaudens to rework his design. The sculptor revised his sketch to honour both the regiment’s famed hero and the soldiers he commanded – a revolutionary conception at the time. Saint-Gaudens worked on his memorial for 14 years, producing a plaster and a bronze version.

When the bronze was dedicated on Boston Common on Memorial Day 1897, Booker T. Washington declared that the monument stood “for effort, not victory complete.” After inaugurating the Boston memorial, Saint-Gaudens continued to modify the plaster, reworking the horse, the faces of the soldiers, and the appearance of the angel above them. The success of his final plaster earned the artist the grand prize for sculpture when it was shown at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris. It was installed at the National Gallery of Art in 1997, on long-term loan from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.

“Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial” from the National Gallery of Art website [Online] Cited 23/01/2021

 

Richard Benson. 'Robert Gould Shaw Memorial' 1973

 

Richard Benson (American, 1943-2017)
Robert Gould Shaw Memorial
1973
Pigmented ink jet print
Image: 26 x 32.9cm (10 1/4 x 12 15/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Susan and Peter MacGill
© Richard Benson. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

 

 

In 1973 Richard Benson and Lincoln Kirstein published Lay This Laurel, a book with photographs by Benson, an essay by Kirstein, and poems and writings by Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman, among others. It was intended to focus renewed attention on the bronze version of the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common, which had fallen into disrepair.

 

Carrie Mae Weems. 'Restless After the Longest Winter You Marched & Marched & Marched' From the series, 'From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried' 1995-1996

 

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953)
Restless After the Longest Winter You Marched & Marched & Marched
From the series, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried
1995-1996
Chromogenic colour print with etched text on glass
Overall: 67.31 x 57.79cm (26 1/2 x 22 3/4 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

 

 

In this piece Carrie Mae Weems appropriated and altered one of Richard Benson’s photographs of the Shaw Memorial. Printed with a blood red filter, it is placed beneath glass etched with words that allude to African Americans’ quest for freedom and equal rights as well as their long struggle to attain them.

 

 

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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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