02
Oct
14

Exhibition: ‘A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio’ at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York Part 1

Exhibition dates: 8th February – 2nd November 2014

The Edward Steichen Photography Galleries, third floor

Curators: Organised by Quentin Bajac, The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator, with Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography

 

 

Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941) 'Composite Photo of Two Messes on the Studio Floor' 1967

 

Bruce Nauman (American, b. 1941)
Composite Photo of Two Messes on the Studio Floor 
1967
Gelatin silver print
40 1/2″ x 10′ 3″ (102.9 x 312.4cm)
Gift of Philip Johnson

 

 

A bumper two part posting on this fascinating, multi-dimensional subject: photographic practices in the studio, which may be a stage, a laboratory, or a playground. The exhibition occupies all MoMA’s six photography galleries, each gallery with its own sub theme, namely, Surveying the Studio, The Studio as Stage, The Studio as Set, A Neutral Space, Virtual Spaces and The Studio, from Laboratory to Playground.

The review of this exhibition “When a Form Is Given Its Room to Play” by Roberta Smith on the New York Times website (6th February 2014) damns with faint praise. The show is a “fabulous yet irritating survey” which “dazzles but often seems slow and repetitive.” Smith then goes on to list the usual suspects: “And so we get professional portraitists, commercial photographers, lovers of still life, darkroom experimenters, artists documenting performances and a few generations of postmodernists, dead and alive, known and not so, exploring the ways and means of the medium. This adds up to plenty to see: around 180 images from the 1850s to the present by some 90 photographers and artists. The usual suspects here range from Julia Margaret Cameron to Thomas Ruff, with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Lucas Samaras, John Divola and Barbara Kasten in between.” There are a few less familiar and postmodern artists thrown in for good measure, but all is “dominated by black-and-white images in an age when colour reigns.” The reviewer then rightly notes the paucity of “postmodern photography of the 1980s, much of it made by women, that did a lot to reorient contemporary photo artists to the studio. It is a little startling for an exhibition that includes so many younger artists dealing with the artifice of the photograph (Ms. Belin, for example) to represent the Pictures Generation artists with only Cindy Sherman, James Casebere and (in collaboration with Allan McCollum) Laurie Simmons” before finishing on a positive note (I think!), noting that the curators “had aimed for a satisfying viewing experience, which, these days, is something to be grateful for.”


SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR… OH, TO BE SO LUCKY IN AUSTRALIA!

Just to have the opportunity to view an exhibition of this quality, depth and breadth of concept would be an amazing thing. Even a third of the number of photographs (say 60 works) that address this subject at any one of the major institutions around Australia would be fantastic but, of that, there is not a hope in hell.

Think Marcus, think… when was the last major exhibition, I mean LARGE exhibition, at a public institution in Australia that actually addressed specific ISSUES and CONCEPTS in photography (such as this), not just putting on monocular exhibitions about an artists work or exhibitions about a regions photographs? Ah, well… you know, I can’t really remember. Perhaps the American Dreams exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery, but that was a GENERAL exhibition about 20th century photography with no strong investigative conceptual theme and it was imported from George Eastman House.

Here in Australia, all we can do is look from afar, purchase the catalogue and wonder wistfully what the exhibition actually looks like and what we are missing out on. MoMA sent me just 10 images media images. I have spent hours scouring the Internet for other images to fill the void of knowledge and vision (and then cleaning those sometimes degraded images), so that those of us not privileged enough to be able to visit New York may gain a more comprehensive understanding of what this exhibition, and this multi-faceted dimension of photography, is all about. It’s a pity that our venerable institutions and the photography curators in them seem to have had a paucity of ideas when it comes to expounding interesting critiques of the medium over the last twenty years or so. What a missed opportunity.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to MoMA for allowing me to publish six of the photographs in the posting. The rest of the images were sourced from the Internet. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio' at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

 

Installation view of the exhibition A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

 

Surveying the Studio

Uta Barth (American, born 1958) 'Sundial (07.13)' 2007

 

Uta Barth (American, born 1958)
Sundial (07.13)
2007
Chromogenic colour prints
each 30 x 28 1/4″ (76.2 x 71.8cm)
The Photography Council Fund

 

Geta Brâtescu (Romanian, born 1926) 'The Studio. Invocation of the Drawing' (L'Atelier. Invocarea desenului) 1979

 

Geta Brâtescu (Romanian, 1926-2018)
The Studio. Invocation of the Drawing (L’Atelier. Invocarea desenului)
1979
Gelatin silver prints with tempera on paper
33 1/16 x 27 9/16″ (84 x 70cm)
Modern Women’s Fund

 

 

Geta Brătescu was a Romanian visual artist with works in drawing, collage, photography, performance, illustration and film. In 2008, Brătescu received an honorary doctorate from the Bucharest National University of Arts for “her outstanding contributions to the development of contemporary Romanian art”. Brătescu was artistic director of literature and art magazine Secolul 21. A major retrospective of her work was held at the National Museum of Art of Romania in December 1999. In 2015 Brătescu’s first UK solo exhibition was held at the Tate Liverpool. In 2017, she was selected to represent Romania at the 57th Venice Biennale.

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Laboratory of the Future' 1935

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Laboratory of the Future
1935
Gelatin silver print
9 1/16 x 7″ (23.1 x 17.8cm)
Gift of James Johnson Sweeney

 

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965) 'Cactus and Photographer's Lamp, New York' 1931

 

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965)
Cactus and Photographer’s Lamp, New York
1931
Gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 6 5/8″ (23.5 x 16.6cm)
Gift of Samuel M. Kootz

 

 

Bringing together photographs, films, videos, and works in other mediums, A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio examines the ways in which photographers and artists using photography have worked and experimented within the four walls of the studio space, from photography’s inception to today. Featuring both new acquisitions and works from the Museum’s collection that have not been on view in recent years, A World of Its Own includes approximately 180 works, by approximately 90 artists, such as Berenice Abbott, Uta Barth, Zeke Berman, Karl Blossfeldt, Constantin Brancusi, Geta Brătescu, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Jan Groover, Barbara Kasten, Man Ray, Bruce Nauman, Paul Outerbridge, Irving Penn, Adrian Piper, Edward Steichen, William Wegman, and Edward Weston.

The exhibition considers the various roles played by the photographer’s studio as an autonomous space; depending on the time period, context, and the individual motivations (commercial, artistic, scientific) and sensibilities of the photographer, the studio may be a stage, a laboratory, or a playground. Organised thematically, the display unfolds in multiple chapters. Throughout the 20th century, artists have explored their studio spaces using photography, from the use of composed theatrical tableaux (in photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron or Cindy Sherman) to neutral, blank backdrops (Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe); from the construction of architectural sets within the studio space (Francis Bruguière, Thomas Demand) to chemical procedures conducted within the darkroom (Walead Beshty, Christian Marclay); and from precise recordings of time and motion (Eadweard Muybridge, Dr. Harold E. Edgerton) to amateurish or playful experimentation (Roman Signer, Peter Fischli / David Weiss). A World of Its Own offers another history of photography, a photography created within the walls of the studio, and yet as groundbreaking and inventive as its seemingly more extroverted counterpart, street photography.”

Text from the MoMA website

 

The exhibition is divided into 6 themes each with its own gallery space:

  1. Surveying the Studio
  2. The Studio as Stage
  3. The Studio as Set
  4. A Neutral Space
  5. Virtual Spaces
  6. The Studio, from Laboratory to Playground

 

The Studio as Stage

Unidentified photographer (French?) 'Untitled' c. 1855

 

Unidentified photographer (French?)
Untitled
c. 1855
Albumen silver print from a wet-collodion glass negative
9 3/16 × 6 1/8″ (23.4 × 15.5cm)
Gift of Paul F. Walter
Museum of Modern Art Collection

 

Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980) 'Edith Sitwell' 1927

 

Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980)
Edith Sitwell
1927
Gelatin silver print
11 1/2 × 9 5/8″ (29.3 × 24.5 cm)
Gift of Paul F. Walter
© 2022 Estate of Cecil Beaton

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955) 'Untitled' 1941

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled
1941
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 x 9 5/8″ (19.2 x 24.4cm)
Anonymous gift

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936)
Auto Polaroid
1969-1971
Eighteen black-and-white instant prints (Polapan), with hand-applied ink
Each 3 3/4 x 2 15/16″ (9.5 x 7.4cm)
Overall 14 5/8 x 24″ (37.2 x 61cm)
Gift of Robert and Gayle Greenhill

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71 (detail)

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71 (detail)

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71 (detail)

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936)
Auto Polaroid (details)
1969-1971
Eighteen black-and-white instant prints (Polapan), with hand-applied ink
Each 3 3/4 x 2 15/16″ (9.5 x 7.4cm)
Overall 14 5/8 x 24″ (37.2 x 61cm)
Gift of Robert and Gayle Greenhill

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879) 'Madonna with Children' 1864

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
Madonna with Children
1864
Albumen silver print
10 1/2 x 8 5/8″ (26.7 x 21.9cm)
Gift of Shirley C. Burden

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879) 'Untitled (Mary Ryan?)' c. 1867

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
Untitled (Mary Ryan?)
c. 1867
Albumen silver print
13 3/16 x 11″ (33.5 x 27.9cm)
Gift of Shirley C. Burden

 

Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French, 1820-1910) Adrien Tournachon (French, 1825-1903) 'Pierrot Surprised' 1854-55

 

Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French, 1820-1910)
Adrien Tournachon (French, 1825-1903)
Pierrot Surprised
1854-1855
Albumen silver print
11 1/4 x 8 3/16″ (28.6 x 20.8cm)
Suzanne Winsberg Collection. Gift of Suzanne Winsberg

 

Maurice Tabard (French, 1897-1984) 'Untitled' 1929

 

Maurice Tabard (French, 1897-1984)
Untitled
1929
Gelatin silver print
6 9/16 x 6 1/2″ (16.7 x 16.5cm)
Gift of Robert Shapazian

 

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg. 1879-1973) 'Anna May Wong' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg. 1879-1973)
Anna May Wong
1930
Gelatin silver print
16 9/16 x 13 7/16″ (42.1 x 34.1cm)
Gift of the artist

 

 

“Taking people away from their natural circumstances and putting them into the studio in front of a camera did not simply isolate them, it transformed them. Sometimes the change was subtle; sometimes it was great enough to be almost shocking. But always there was transformation.”

~ Irving Penn 1974

 

Cindy Sherman (American, born 1954) 'Untitled #131' 1983

 

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled #131
1983
Chromogenic colour print
35 x 16 1/2″ (89 x 41.9cm)
Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Fund

 

The Studio as Set

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936) 'Construct I-F' 1979

 

Barbara Kasten (American, b. 1936)
Construct I-F
1979
Colour instant print (Polaroid Polacolor)
9 1/2 x 7 1/2″ (24.0 x 19.0cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Wendy Larsen

 

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936) 'Construct NYC 17' 1984

 

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936)
Construct NYC 17
1984
Silver dye bleach print
29 3/8 x 37 1/16″ (74.7 x 94.1cm)
Gift of Foster Goldstrom

 

James Casebere (American, born 1953) 'Subdivision with Spotlight' 1982

 

James Casebere (American, b. 1953)
Subdivision with Spotlight
1982
Gelatin silver print
14 13/16 x 18 15/16″ (37.6 x 48.1cm)
Purchase

 

Francis Bruguière (American, 1879-1945) 'Light Abstraction' c. 1925

 

Francis Bruguière (American, 1879-1945)
Light Abstraction
c. 1925
Gelatin silver print
9 15/16 x 7 15/16″ (25.2 x 20.2cm)
Gift of Arnold Newman

 

 

Francis Joseph Bruguière (15 October 1879 – 8 May 1945) was an American photographer.

Francis Bruguière was born in San Francisco, California, to Emile Antoine Bruguière (1849-1900) and Josephine Frederikke (Sather) Bruguière (1845-1915). He was the youngest of four sons born into a wealthy banking family and was privately educated. His brothers were painter and physician Peder Sather Bruguière (1874-1967), Emile Antoine Bruguiere Jr. (1877-1935), and Louis Sather Bruguière (1882-1954), who married wealthy heiress Margaret Post Van Alen. He was also a grandson of banker Peder Sather. His mother died in the 1915 sinking of the British ocean liner SS Arabic by a German submarine.

In 1905, having studied painting in Europe, Bruguière became acquainted with photographer and modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz (who accepted him as a Fellow of the Photo-secession), and set up a studio in San Francisco, recording in a Pictorialist style images of the city after the earthquake and fire; some of them were reproduced in a book called San Francisco in 1918. He co-curated the photographic exhibition at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, and nine of his photographs were included in The Evanescent City (1916) by George Sterling.

In 1918, following the decline of the family fortune, he moved to New York City where he made his living by photographing for Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Soon he was appointed the official photographer of the New York Theatre Guild. In this role he photographed the British stage actress Rosalinde Fuller, who was debuting in What’s in a Name? (1920), and she partnered him for the rest of his life.

Throughout his life, Bruguière experimented with multiple-exposure, solarization (years ahead of Man Ray), original processes, abstracts, photograms, and the response of commercially available film to light of various wavelengths. Until his one-man show at the Art Centre of New York in 1927, he showed this work only to friends. In the mid-1920s, he planned to make a film called The Way, depicting stages in a man’s life, to be played by Sebastian Droste with Rosalinde doing all the female parts. To obtain funding, Bruguière took photographs of projected scenes, but Droste died before filming started; so we are left with only the still pictures.

In 1927 they moved to London, where Bruguière co-created the first British abstract film, Light Rhythms, with Oswell Blakeston. Long thought to have been lost, it has now been recovered. During World War II, he returned to painting.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Jaromír Funke (Czech, 1896-1945) 'Composition' c. 1925

 

Jaromír Funke (Czech, 1896-1945)
Composition
c. 1925
Gelatin silver print
9 1/4 × 11 9/16″ (23.4 × 29.3cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller
© 2022 Miloslava Rupešová

 

 

Jaromír Funke (1 August 1896 – 22 March 1945) was a leading Czech photographer during the 1920s and 1930s.

Funke was recognised for his “photographic games” using mirrors, lights, and insignificant objects, such as plates, bottles, or glasses, to create unique works. In his still life imagery he created abstracts of forms and shadows reminiscent of photograms. His work was regarded as logical, original and expressive in nature. A typical feature of Funke’s work would be the “dynamic diagonal.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Paul Outerbridge (American, 1896-1958) 'Images de Deauville' 1936

 

Paul Outerbridge (American, 1896-1958)
Images de Deauville
1936
Tri-colour carbro print
15 3/4 x 12 1/4″ (40 x 31.1cm)
Gift of Mrs. Ralph Seward Allen

 

 

Shozo Kitadai, Kiyoji Otsuji
Untitled from the portfolio APN (Asahi Picture News)
1953-1954
Gelatin silver print, printed 2003
7 1/2 × 5 9/16″ (19 × 14.2cm)
Gift of Shigeru Yokota
© 2022 Seiko Otsuji

 

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009) 'Three Steel Blocks, New York' 1980

 

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009)
Three Steel Blocks, New York
1980
Platinum/palladium print
13 1/4 × 20 11/16″ (33.6 × 52.5cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Lily Auchincloss
© The Irving Penn Foundation

 

Elad Lassry (Israeli, born 1977) 'Nailpolish' 2009

 

Elad Lassry (Israeli, b. 1977)
Nailpolish
2009
Chromogenic colour print
14 1/2 x 11 1/2″ (36.8 x 29.2cm)
Fund for the Twenty-First Century

 

 

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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, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor 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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