Archive for the 'exhibition' Category

24
Jan
20

Exhibition: ‘Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan’ at The Morgan Library & Museum

Exhibition dates: 25th October 2019 – 2nd February 2020

Curator: Joel Smith

 

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Self-Portrait Asleep in a Tomb of Mereruka Sakkara' 1978

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Self-Portrait Asleep in a Tomb of Mereruka Sakkara
1978
6 (5 x 7 inch) silver gelatin prints with hand-applied text
© Duane Michals, Courtesy DC Moore Gallery, New York
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

The things-for-which-there-are-no-words

Duane Michals is one of the greatest photographic storytellers of the twentieth century. His parables – seemingly simple stories used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson – resonate, vibrate, with energy, and insight into, the human condition. They are as profound as the air we breathe but cannot see – expressing the invisible, presencing the spiritual. I feel, I know these stories, intimately. Those things-for-which-there-are-no-words.
.

Presencing. In 1885, Van Gogh, wrote a letter to his brother Theo: ‘Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language. It is with justice that they call Rembrandt – [a] magician.’ (Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh [letter 534], on or about 10 October 1885, in Leo Jansen, Luijten and Nienke Bakker (eds.,). Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. Van Gogh Museum and the Huygens Institute, Amsterdam, 2009 [Online] Cited 11/10/2019)

The things-for-which-there-are-no-words remain hidden when approached with conceptual thought. They need to be experienced to be known. The currency of this experience, as we have seen, is deeply personal, but in allowing it we can touch on truth, perhaps even the truth.”1

 

There are things here not seen in this photograph. The spirit leaves the body. William Blake and Duane Michals. Enchanted melancholy. The mysterious / music. In swift embrace. In love. In memory. In death. The fluidity of the line of the artist. Things are queer. The world implodes and ravages itself. Paradise is reborn. The letter, and love, from my father that I, also, never did receive. The nature of reality. Truth?

“I’m completely overwhelmed by the nature of our reality,” he is quoted as saying in the exhibition catalog about human evolution. “We’ve been working on this version of man for a thousand years. He lives longer, he’s healthier, but he’s still an unproven product. Still the same greedy little bastard.”

“For Michals, photography is not documentary in nature but theatrical and fictive: the camera is one of many tools humanity uses to construct a comprehensible version of reality. In his imaginative, visually rich photographs, the artist exploits the medium’s storytelling capacity,” says the press release. Isobel Crombie suggests the ‘medium’ of photography has ‘The ability to speak to us across time and to connect to the mind and the heart.’2

When I was young. What was time?

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Kim Devereux. “Me and My Muse,” in the NGV Magazine Issue 19 Nov-Dec 2019, p. 55
  2. Isobel Crombie. “One Suggestive Moment,” in the NGV Magazine Issue 19 Nov-Dec 2019, p. 33

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

 

 

“I write with this photograph not to tell you what you can see, rather to express what is invisible.”

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Duane Michals 1966 in Johnson, B. (ed.,) 2004, ‘Photography speaks: 150 photographers on their art’, Aperture, New York p. 150

 

“I think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph. The magic is in seeing people in new ways.”

.
Duane Michals

 

Duane Michals uses visual narrative, symbolism and metaphysical imagery to interpret the human condition. His photographic sequences have a film-like appearance and represent intangible elements of dreams, imagination, death, time, myth and spirit. A freelance commercial photographer, Michals began experimenting with sequence works in the 1960s, later adding text to illuminate emotion and philosophical ideas and following in the tradition of painters such as René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico whom he greatly admired. His staged, fictive tableaux vivants are intimate scenes that explore the atmosphere of the invisible and metaphysical…

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© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

 

DEATH

Robert Wiles. 'Evelyn Francis McHale May 1, 1947' 1947

 

Robert Wiles
Evelyn Francis McHale May 1, 1947
1947
Gelatin silver print
Overall: 9 1/2 × 8 in. (24.1 × 20.3 cm)
Purchased on the Goldsmith Fund for Americana
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

On 30 April she visited her fiancée in Easton presumably to celebrate his 24th birthday and boarded a train back to NYC at 7 a.m., 1 May 1947. Barry [Rhodes] stated to reporters that “When I kissed her goodbye she was happy and as normal as any girl about to be married.”

Of course we’ll never know what went through Evelyn’s mind on 66 mi train ride home. But after she arrived in New York she went to the Governor Clinton Hotel where she wrote a suicide note and shortly before 10:30 a.m. bought a ticket to the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Around 10:40 am Patrolman John Morrissey, directing traffic at Thirty-fourth Street and Fifth Avenue, noticed a white scarf floating down from the upper floors of the building. Moments later he heard a crash and saw a crowd converge on 34th street. Evelyn had jumped, cleared the setbacks, and landed on the roof of a United Nations Assembly Cadillac limousine parked on 34th street, some 200 ft west of Fifth Ave.

Across the street, Robert C. Wiles, a student photographer, also noticed the commotion and rushed to the scene where he took several photos, including this one, some four minutes after her death. Later, on the observation deck, Detective Frank Murray found her tan (or maybe gray, reports differ) cloth coat neatly folded over the observation deck wall, a brown make-up kit filled with family pictures and a black pocketbook with the note which read:

“I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”

Lizz Buzz. “The Story Behind the “The Most Beautiful Suicide” Picture of Evelyn McHale (1947),” on the Atchuup! website April 23, 2019 [Online] Cited 17/11/2019

 

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

Duane Michals. 'The Spirit Leaves The Body' 1968

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
The Spirit Leaves the Body
1968
Gift of Richard and Ronay Menschel
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'I Build a Pyramid' 1978

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
I Build a Pyramid
1978
6 (5 x 7 inch) silver gelatin prints with hand-applied text
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

ILLUSION

Francesco Salviati (1510-1563) 'Emblematic Design with Two-Headed Horse and Moth' c. 1550-63

 

Francesco Salviati (1510-1563)
Emblematic Design with Two-Headed Horse and Moth
c. 1550-63
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, on paper; framing lines at upper left and right edges in pen and brown ink
Overall: 7 1/2 × 7 3/8 in. (19.1 × 18.7 cm)
Gift of János Scholz
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

William Blake (British, 1757-1827) 'Satan Smiting Job with Boils' c. 1805-10

 

William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
Satan Smiting Job with Boils
c. 1805-10
Pen and black and gray ink, gray wash, and watercolour, over faint indications in pencil, on paper
Overall: 9 3/16 x 11 inches (233 x 280 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Jehan Georges Vibert (1840-1902) 'A Cardinal in Profile' 1880

 

Jehan Georges Vibert (French, 1840-1902)
A Cardinal in Profile
1880
Watercolour on paper
Overall: 4 7/8 × 3 3/8 in. (12.4 × 8.6 cm)
Gift of John M. Thayer
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Henry Pearson (American, 1914-2006) '128th Psalm (Study for "Five Psalms")' 1968

 

Henry Pearson (American, 1914-2006)
128th Psalm (Study for “Five Psalms”)
1968
Chinese ink on heavy paper
Overall: 23 1/2 × 18 in. (59.7 × 45.7 cm)
Gift of Regina and Lawrence Dubin, M.D
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'The Illuminated Man' 1968

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
The Illuminated Man
1968
Gelatin silver print, unique print
Image: 15 5/8 x 22 7/8 inches
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

When Michals arrived in New York from Pittsburgh in the early 1950s, the city provided not only freedom from the strict conventions of his Catholic upbringing, but an opening to worlds of ideas and experiences that extended in all directions. By the early 1960s, he was living with his life partner, the architect Frederick Gorree (who passed away in 2017) and experimenting with the photographic image beyond the single frame, often including handwritten texts.

“Duane cut photography’s umbilical cord,” Smith said about the photographer’s contributions to the medium. “He saw there’s no reason to limit the camera to what you find in the world; it should be part of the history of expressing ideas.” Michals’s 1970 one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art confirmed his significance in establishing a new genre.

In the 1960s, he became interested in Buddhism and meditation, further expanding his artistic concerns. At the Morgan, Michals walked over to a large, eye-popping ink drawing by Henry Pearson, an abstract artist loosely associated with the Op Art movement. Pearson’s “128th Psalm (Study for ‘Five Psalms’)” from 1968, is a light-bulb-shaped form with lines emanating from the center like electrified nerve endings and pulsating out beyond the frame.

“This drawing is pure energy,” he said. That same year, Michals – who had not known Pearson’s work – made “The Illuminated Man,” a photograph of a male figure facing the camera, his head emanating light, suggesting enlightenment. “The Illuminated Man” and “128th Psalm” share the theme of spiritual radiance.

Michals cited a 1937 painting by René Magritte not in the Morgan Collection called “The Pleasure Principle.” It is a portrait of the poet Edward James, a patron of Surrealist art, his head a glowing light bulb. “I only discovered the painting later,” he said, after he had made his own photographic homage, in 1965, in which Magritte appears ghostlike in double exposure, against a canvas on an easel, behind an empty chair. “I was very proud to have had a similar idea to one of my deities,” he said.

Philip Gefter. “Duane Michals Searches the Morgan and Finds Himself,” on The New York Times website Oct 29, 2019 [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'The Human Condition' 1969

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
The Human Condition
1969
© Duane Michals via DC Moore Gallery
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

“The nature of consciousness is always the central question,” he asserted. In The Human Condition, his panel of six photographs from 1969 begins with a man standing on the 14th Street subway platform; the train arrives and he is bathed in a halo of light; the light becomes a swirl and in the last frame he is swept into a white disc the size of a galaxy passing through the night sky. From the immediate to the universal in six frames.

Philip Gefter. “Duane Michals Searches the Morgan and Finds Himself,” on The New York Times website Oct 29, 2019 [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

Duane Michals. 'The Bewitched Bee' 1986

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
The Bewitched Bee
1986
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Duane Michals
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

IMAGE AND WORD

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'There Are Things Here Not Seen in This Photograph' 1977

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
There Are Things Here Not Seen in This Photograph
1977
10 15/16 x 13 7/8 inches
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals. From the series 'I Remember Pittsburgh' 1982

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
I Remember Pittsburgh 8
1982
Gelatin silver print
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Ciro Ferri (Italian, 1634-1689) 'Fame Painting a Portrait Held by Religion' 17th century

 

Ciro Ferri (Italian, 1634-1689)
Fame Painting a Portrait Held by Religion
17th century
Brush and brown and white gouache, pen and and brown ink, over black chalk, on brown toned paper
Overall: 11 x 7 9/16 inches (279 x 192 mm)
Purchased as the gift of the Fellows
The Morgan Library & Museum

Design for a frontispiece engraved by Gérard Audran for a volume of portraits of cardinals published by Giovanni Giacomo de’ Rossi

 

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009) 'Giorgio de Chirico, Rome' Rome, 1944

 

Irving Penn (American, 1917-2009)
Giorgio de Chirico, Rome
Rome, 1944 (negative), 1946-47 (print)
Gelatin silver print on paper; mounted to cardstock
Image And Sheet: 7 1/16 × 7 3/8 in.
Gift of Irving Penn, 2006
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Andy Warhol' 1958

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Andy Warhol
1958
Gelatin silver print
8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Collection of Richard and Ronay Menschel
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'René Magritte at His Easel' 1965

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
René Magritte at His Easel
1965
77/8 × 97/8 inches (20 × 25.1 cm)
Collection of Richard and Ronay Menschel
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Florian, Marquis de (1755-1794) 'Red leather portfolio [realia]' 18th century

 

Florian, Marquis de (1755-1794)
Red leather portfolio [realia] – Portefeuille de Monsieur de Voltaire and Donné à Monsieur de Florian
“Voltaire’s briefcase”
18th century
Leather, gold clasp
Stamped on front: “Portefeuille de Monsieur / de Voltaire”; on back: “Donné a Monsieur / de Florian”
Overall: 16 15/16 × 12 5/8 in. (43 × 32 cm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911
Pierpont Morgan Library Dept. of Literary and Historical Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

Voltaire gave this briefcase to the marquis de Florian, the husband of his niece Elisabeth Mignot. Her sister, Marie-Louise Mignot, Mme Denis, was Voltaire’s companion for the last twenty-nine years of his life. With extensive decorative gold tooling. Exhibited numerous times at the Morgan Library as “Voltaire’s briefcase.”

Text from The Morgan Library & Museum website

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Candide, 2019'

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Candide, 2019
2019
Inspired by Voltaire
© Duane Michals via DC Moore Gallery
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

“The things we chose from the collection were so close to what my instincts are,” he said to Joel Smith, the curator of photography at the Morgan, who organised the show with Michals.

The photographer was referring to the kinship between things he chose and the irreverent nature of his own work. “I’m completely overwhelmed by the nature of our reality,” he is quoted as saying in the exhibition catalog about human evolution. “We’ve been working on this version of man for a thousand years. He lives longer, he’s healthier, but he’s still an unproven product. Still the same greedy little bastard.”

To illustrate the point, he reached for Voltaire’s briefcase among the holdings in the Morgan’s collection. It dates from the 1700s and is decorated with gold-leaf filigree on its red leather casing.

Smith recalled that Michals was so “wowed at the thought of Voltaire’s ideas living inside it and amused by the showbiz of its provenance” that he went home and painted a portrait of Candide on an old tintype, adding Voltaire’s bitterly ironic refrain in white block letters: “This Is the Best of All Possible Worlds.” The briefcase and Candide, 2019 are both in the show.

Yet, Michals doesn’t share Voltaire’s bleak view of existence. His own work is often characterised by an iconoclastic wit, imbued with serious metaphysical inquiry – a “curiosity about the nature of reality, in a much more profound sense than just a bunch of atoms.”

Philip Gefter. “Duane Michals Searches the Morgan and Finds Himself,” on The New York Times website Oct 29, 2019 [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

Auguste Rodin. 'Lucifer' c. 1900

 

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917)
Lucifer
c. 1900
Pencil and watercolour, on paper
Overall: 9 3/8 × 12 7/16 in. (23.8 × 31.6 cm)
Gift of Alexandre P. Rosenberg
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918) 'Embrace' 1914

 

Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918)
Embrace
1914
Graphite on wove paper
Overall: 19 1/8 × 12 3/4 in. (48.6 × 32.4 cm)
Bequest of Fred Ebb
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

[Looks at Egon Schiele’s drawing Embrace (p. 22)] There’s so much emotion in this; it’s so immediate. There’s a few things happening: physical entanglement, then you see the look on his face, registering some kind of emotional response. I love the idea: Schiele had no thought that in a hundred years we’d be standing here or how we’d be talking about it. Art is not really about the future.

Duane Michals in Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan exhibition catalogue 2019, p. 21

 

In this depiction of the artist in the arms of an unidentified companion, the jagged, seemingly erratic contours suggest a psychological agitation characteristic of Schiele’s self-portraits. A feeling of tension derives from the position of the artist’s head-turned away from the woman embracing him – as well as from the placement of the couple to the left of the sheet, with the figure of the woman cropped. The resulting asymmetry conveys the artist’s emotional unbalance and emphasises his egocentric character while demonstrating the amazing technical agility he brought to bear to express a wide range of emotions.

Text from The Morgan Library & Museum website

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'A Letter from My Father' 1960

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
A Letter from My Father
1960 (image), 1975 (text)
15 3/4 × 19 7/8 inches (40 × 50.5 cm)
Gift of Duane Michals
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

The Morgan Library & Museum proudly presents an exhibition combining a six-decade retrospective of Duane Michals with an artist’s-choice selection of works from all corners of the permanent collection. Michals is known for his picture sequences, inscribed photographs, and, more recently, films that pose emotional, conceptual, and cosmic questions beyond the scope of the lone camera image. Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan (October 25, 2019 to February 2, 2020) takes viewers on a tour of the artist’s mind, putting work from his expansive career in conversation with Old Master and modern drawings, books, manuscripts, and historical objects.

The first retrospective on Michals to be mounted by a New York City institution, the exhibition is organised around animating themes in the artist’s work: Theatre, Reflection, Love and Desire, Playtime, Image and Word, Nature, Immortality, Time, Death, and Illusion. It showcases his storytelling instincts, both in stand-alone staged photographs and in sequences. The exhibition also includes screenings of short films, Michals’s preferred medium in recent years.

For Michals, photography is not documentary in nature but theatrical and fictive: the camera is one of many tools humanity uses to construct a comprehensible version of reality. In his imaginative, visually rich photographs, the artist exploits the medium’s storytelling capacity. For example, the six images in I Build a Pyramid (1978) find the artist in Egypt, stacking stones in a modest pile that, from the camera’s perspective, appears to rival the scale of the ancient pharaohs’ monuments. Michals reveals that the scenario echoes his childhood habit of building cities from stones in his backyard in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. In the exhibition, Michals’s staged scenes are juxtaposed with those of his creative heroes, who include William Blake, Edward Lear, and Saul Steinberg. In his dual role as artist and curator he matches wits with writers, stage designers, toy makers, and his fellow portraitists of the past and the present.

Since 2015 Michals has focused his creative efforts on filmmaking, a natural outgrowth of his directorial habits as a photographer. On a screen in the exhibition, three short films are featured amid a cycle of over 200 photographs from the series Empty New York (1964-65), the project through which the artist first recognised his theatrical vision of reality. Michals will host two special programs of film screenings in the Morgan’s Gilder Lehrman Hall, introducing films that have never been screened publicly before.

Illusions of the Photographer revives the format of the 2015 exhibition Hidden Likeness: Emmet Gowin at the Morgan, which The New York Times said “all but redefined the genre” of the collection dive curated by a contemporary artist. The present project is a personal one for Michals, who explains, “The Morgan literally is my favourite museum in New York. I always learn something at the Morgan. I’m so thrilled about this show, because it’s probably going to be the very last time to see me there, with all my resources and touchstones. I’m … archaic, in a way. I’m eighty-seven! I’m of my generation. My references are not at all to what people are talking about today. I’m comfortable there, that’s where I belong – and that’s what I contribute.”

Joel Smith, the Morgan’s Richard L. Menschel Curator and Department Head, says “Duane Michals’s art is contemplative, confessional, and comedic. It transcends the conventional bounds, and audience, of photography. Through narration and sequencing he reorients the camera towards timeless human dilemmas; he derives poetic effects from technical errors such as double exposure and motion blur. His originality and intimacy as an artist come through in the discoveries he brings to light from the Morgan’s collection.”

Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan is accompanied by an 88-page softcover catalogue featuring a wide-ranging interview with the artist and illustrations of seventy works, including his selections from the Morgan’s collection and the previously unpublished 1969 title sequence.

 

About Duane Michals

Duane Michals (b. February 18, 1932, McKeesport, Pennsylvania) is an American photographer who often combines images with text in a format that recalls cinematic storytelling. Michals received his BA from the University of Denver in 1953. He began photographing for magazines in 1960 and became a prolific portraitist of artists such as Andy Warhol, René Magritte, and Marcel Duchamp. His first solo exhibition was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970. Michals lives and works in New York City.

Press release from The Morgan Library & Museum [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

 

NATURE

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) 'God Creating the World' c. 1900-1902

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902)
God Creating the World
c. 1900-1902
Gouache on board
7 3/4 x 5 1/4 inches (201 x 135 mm)
Morgan Family Collection

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) 'God Creates Eve while Adam is Asleep' c. 1900-1902

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902)
God Creates Eve while Adam is Asleep
c. 1900-1902
Gouache on board
12 x 9 1/8 inches (305 x 233 mm)
Morgan Family Collection

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) 'Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden' c. 1900-1902

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902)
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
c. 1900-1902
Gouache on board
11 x 8 inches (279 x 203 mm)
Morgan Family Collection

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902) 'Adam and Eve Perceive their Nakedness' c. 1900-1902

 

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902)
Adam and Eve Perceive their Nakedness
c. 1900-1902
Gouache on board
12 1/8 x 8 3/4 inches (308 x 221 mm)
Morgan Family Collection

 

Duane Michals. 'Paradise Regained' 1968

Duane Michals. 'Paradise Regained' 1968

Duane Michals. 'Paradise Regained' 1968

Duane Michals. 'Paradise Regained' 1968

Duane Michals. 'Paradise Regained' 1968

Duane Michals. 'Paradise Regained' 1968

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Paradise Regained
1968
6 silver gelatin prints with hand-applied text

 

 

… He picked up a panel of gouache drawings from around 1900 by French illustrator James Jacques Joseph Tissot titled “God Creating the World,” a biblical morality tale in a series of lighthearted scenes depicting the creation of Adam; then Eve; the two of them frolicking; Eve eating the apple; and their banishment from paradise. The Tissot sequence is among nearly 60 works in his final selection for the current exhibition Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan, through Feb. 2. His pick of drawings, paintings and artefacts resides in dialogue with 38 of Michals’s photographic works – his narrative sequences as well as stand-alone prints, projected images from a series titled “Empty New York,” and several of his recent short films.

He pointed out a link between the Tissot drawings and his own “Paradise Regained,” from 1968: a suite of six images that begins with a well-dressed young couple sitting and facing the camera in an empty apartment. With each frame they get progressively undressed, and more and more plants fill up the space behind them. In the final image, they are naked amid a lush, domestic Eden.

“I had been looking at a lot of Rousseau paintings when I made the sequence,” Michals said, referring to the jungle scenes of the French Post-Impressionist. While he loves the Tissot panel, he admitted, “I’m a raging atheist,” distancing himself from its religious message. “I was a pretend Catholic and then I stopped pretending.” The spiritual dimension of “Paradise Regained” is balanced by the artist’s tongue-in-cheek view of urban life, where men and women only return to a natural state indoors, where everything is unnatural.

Philip Gefter. “Duane Michals Searches the Morgan and Finds Himself,” on The New York Times website Oct 29, 2019 [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

Jacob Hoefnagel (1573? - c. 1632) 'Orpheus Charming the Animals' 1613

 

Jacob Hoefnagel (1573? – c. 1632)
Orpheus Charming the Animals
1613
Watercolour and gouache, heightened with white gouache, over traces of black chalk, on vellum mounted to panel; bordered in gold
Overall: 6 9/16 × 8 5/16 in. (16.7 × 21.1 cm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978
Morgan Family Collection

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Warren Beatty' 1967

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Warren Beatty
1967
Gelatin silver print
8 × 9 15/16 inches (20.3 × 25.2 cm)
Purchased on the Photography Acquisition Fund
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

PLAYTIME

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

Duane Michals. 'Things are Queer' 1973

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Things Are Queer
1973
Nine gelatin silver prints
Images: 5 × 7 inches (12.7 × 17.8 cm) each
Gift of Duane Michals
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

REFLECTION

Wallace Studio, Manchester, New Hampshire. 'Untitled (Mirror)' c. 1880s

 

Wallace Studio, Manchester, New Hampshire
Untitled (Mirror)
c. 1880s
Cabinet card with rounded corners
Mount: 6 7/16 × 4 3/16 in. (16.4 × 10.6 cm)
Print: 5 11/16 × 4 in. (14.4 × 10.2 cm)
Gift of Adam Fuss
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Carlo Galli Bibiena (1728 - c. 1778) 'Interior of a Gallery' 1750s

 

Carlo Galli Bibiena (1728 – c. 1778)
Interior of a Gallery
1750s
Pen and black ink and gray and brown wash
Sheet is framed by an overmount of paper that leaves around 8 5/8 x 11 7/8 inches visible
Overall: 9 1/4 × 12 13/16 in. (23.5 × 32.5 cm)
Thaw Collection
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

John F. Collins (American, 1888-1990) 'Multiple Self-Portrait' 1935

 

John F. Collins (American, 1888-1990)
Multiple Self-Portrait
1935
Gelatin silver print
Image: 13 3/4 × 10 9/16 in. (34.9 × 26.8 cm)
Purchase on the Photography Collectors Committee Fund
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'A Story About a Story' 1989

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
A Story About a Story
1989
15 7/8 x 19 3/4 inches (40.3 × 50.2 cm)
Purchased on the Photography Collectors Committee Fund
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

In Michals work, the immediate and the infinite spar. In the show is a single image by a little-known photographer named John F. Collins. The 1935 self-portrait shows Collins looking at us while holding a large photograph of himself; in that photograph he is looking down at the same photograph of himself. In each subsequent picture within a picture, he is looking out, and then into the photograph he is holding, into a spiralling infinity.

It is a striking parallel to Michals’ “A Story Within a Story” of 1989, in which a man leans against a mirror in the corner of the frame and faces a mirror in which his reflection echoes repeatedly as it recedes behind him. “This is a story about a man telling a story about a man. …” starts his text.

He might as well have been describing himself.

Philip Gefter. “Duane Michals Searches the Morgan and Finds Himself,” on The New York Times website Oct 29, 2019 [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

N. Institoris (d. 1845) 'Interior of a Prison' c. 1825-45

 

N. Institoris (d. 1845)
Interior of a Prison
c. 1825-45
Pen and black ink, with gray wash, over pencil, on paper; verso contains slight sketch of a building, in graphite.
13 x 17 1/2 inches (330 x 445 mm)
Gift of Mrs. Donald M. Oenslager, 1982
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Gabriel Pierre Martin Dumont (French, 1720-1791) 'Perspective View of the Mechanical Works and Construction of a Theater. Verso: Sketch of an elevation of a colonnade' 18th century

 

Gabriel Pierre Martin Dumont (French, 1720-1791)
Perspective View of the Mechanical Works and Construction of a Theater. Verso: Sketch of an elevation of a colonnade
18th century
Pen and black ink, with gray wash, over graphite, on paper; verso: graphite
12 1/4 x 14 9/16 inches (310 x 369 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Donald M. Oenslager in memory of her husband
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Cour de Rouen' 1898

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Cour de Rouen
1898
Albumen print
Overall: 8 × 6 3/4 in. (20.3 × 17.1 cm)
Purchased on the Photography Collectors Committee Fund
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Louis Faurer (1916-2001) 'Penn Station Lovers' 1946-47, printed c. 1981

 

Louis Faurer (1916-2001)
Penn Station Lovers
1946-47, printed c. 1981
Gelatin silver print
14 x 11 in. (sheet)
Purchased as the gift of Elaine Goldman
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Empty New York, Subway Interior' c. 1964

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Empty New York, Subway Interior
c. 1964
Gelatin silver print
8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Collection of Nancy and Burt Staniar
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Empty New York' c. 1964

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
Empty New York, Dry cleaners upper East side
c. 1964
Gelatin silver print
8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Collection of Nancy and Burt Staniar
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Empty New York' c. 1964

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Empty New York' c. 1964

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'Empty New York' c. 1964

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
From the series Empty New York
c. 1964
Gelatin silver prints
8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
Collection of Nancy and Burt Staniar
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

TIME

Herbert Matter (1907-1984) 'Alexander Calder hanging mobile in motion' 1936

 

Herbert Matter (1907-1984)
Alexander Calder hanging mobile in motion
1936
Gelatin silver print with additions by hand
5 9/16 × 6 3/16 in. (14.13 × 15.72 cm)
Purchased as the gift of Richard and Ronnie Grosbard
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Saul Steinberg (American, b. Romania, 1914-1999) 'Untitled (Cat and wheel of time)' 1965

 

Saul Steinberg (American, b. Romania, 1914-1999)
Untitled (Cat and wheel of time)
1965
Ink (black, blue, red, green, brown) and pencil on laid Strathmore
19 × 25 in. (48.26 × 63.5 cm)
Gift of the Saul Steinberg Foundation
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

Saul Steinberg defined drawing as “a way of reasoning on paper,” and he remained committed to the act of drawing. Throughout his long career, he used drawing to think about the semantics of art, reconfiguring stylistic signs into a new language suited to the fabricated temper of modern life. Sometimes with affection, sometimes with irony, but always with virtuoso mastery, Saul Steinberg peeled back the carefully wrought masks of 20th-century civilisation.

Text from The Morgan Library & Museum website

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'When He Was Young' 1979

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
When He Was Young
1979
8 x 9 15/16 inches (20.3 × 25.2 cm)
Purchased on the Photography Collectors Committee Fund
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932) 'What is Time?' 1994

 

Duane Michals (American, b. 1932)
What is Time?
1994
Gelatin silver print
16 × 19 7/8 inches (40.6 × 50.5 cm)
Gift of Duane Michals
The Morgan Library & Museum

 

 

Included in his selection from the Morgan is an amusing drawing by Saul Steinberg, “Cat and the Wheel of Time,” 1965, in which the months of the year, the days of the week, and the hours of the day are written in circles inside a large wheel following a small cat down a hill. “Time has always been central to so much of my thinking,” Michals said. Smith handed him his text and image piece, What Is Time? from 1994, in which an eternally handsome young man holds an old-fashioned round clock to his ear. The text beneath it begins, “Time is the duration of everything, and life is an event, a fluttering of wings … the moment is the interval between now and then and, then, again.”

Philip Gefter. “Duane Michals Searches the Morgan and Finds Himself,” on The New York Times website Oct 29, 2019 [Online] Cited 14/11/2019

 

 

The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York, NY
Phone: (212) 685-0008

Opening hours:
Tuesday through Thursday: 10.30 am – 5 pm
Friday: 10.30 am – 9 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 6 pm

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17
Jan
20

Review: ‘Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China’ at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd June 2019 – 27th January 2020

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

 

Writing the body politic / broken

Ho hum, ho hum.

The exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria is an extension of the 2008 exhibition Body Language: Contemporary Chinese Photography with many of the same photographs being shown again, with new additions to the collection.

Nothing much seems to have changed in the last 12 years. Contemporary Chinese photography still concentrates on limited narratives based around the performing body, the body positioned in time and space in relation to history, memory, tradition, culture and consumerism. What the “turning points” are in the title of this exhibition remains unclear. Turning points for who? The art, the artists, the stories they tell, or the restrictive nature of contemporary Chinese culture.

Certain things remain constant: an emphasis on the performing body, (its) theatrical style, (in) elaborate tableaux, contemporary consumer society, urban reconstruction, and tradition and change. The body is usually isolated against contextless backgrounds, free floating, paired with a rather stilted iconography derived from Chinese culture – coins, calligraphy, statues, spirits, tattoos as traditional historical painting, calligraphy, buildings, revolution – focusing on “the dismantling of tradition during a period of rampant consumerism and modernisation.”

Even while these artists apparently possess, “an urgent desire to explore individual and social identity in a time of unprecedented change … that reflect the tensions in Chinese society as the processes of social change meet traditional culture and expectations head-on”, no/body mentions the elephant in the room – the repressive and aggressive nature of the Chinese government, it’s suppression of dissent both internally and externally, its appalling human rights record and its expansionist policy in the South China Sea. The paradox is that while, “Hai Bo’s paired portraits illustrate the cultural shifts that have occurred over forty years as people in China have become increasingly able to show their individuality”, that individuality is closely controlled by the State. Step out of line, as many artists have found to their peril, and you are soon done for.

No mention here of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the current democracy protests in Hong Kong, or the recently released report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which contains a damning essay on China’s “global threat” to human rights. No other government “flexes its political muscles with such vigour and determination to undermine the international human rights standards and institutions that could hold it to account.” The HRW report cites a slew of violations ranging from the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in the far-western autonomous region of Xinjiang, to increased censorship, to the use of technologies for mass surveillance and social control. Nothing to see here!

The work of most of the artists in this exhibition seems insular, inward looking – chained to the country’s past and present, memory and history, culture and its re/constitution. Addressing its constitution through supplication. Addressing the representation of institutional power in socialist regimes through images with heroic overtones. It’s almost as if these artists are painting symbols, painting a monosyllabic mythology of how their country was and is now with no turning point in sight. Parsing on ancient and modern to no great effect.

The only two artists who really lay it on the line, who confront the dragon, are Rong Rong’s photographs of a performance by artist Zhang Huan titled 12 square metres (1994, below) in which the artist sat naked, smeared in honey and fish oil in a local public toilet for an hour before cleansing himself in a polluted pond; and Sheng Qi’s Memories (Mother), Memories (Me) and Memories (Mao) (2000, below) in which the artist was deeply affected by the changed political climate following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and uses his disfigurement “as the backdrop for a series of self-portraits that juxtapose his past and present.”

These are the photographs that I will remember. The others, stolid, prosaic, are lost.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. All installation images are by Dr Marcus Bunyan and proceed in a clockwise direction around the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Cang Xin (Chinese, b. 1967) Six photographs from the Communication series (1996-2006)

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967) 'Communication' 1996-2006ommunication 1999-b

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967)
Communication
1996-2006
Type C photograph ed. 10/10
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967) 'Communication' 1996-2006ommunication 1999-b

 

Cang Xin (Chinese, 1967)
Communication
1996-2006
Type C photograph ed. 10/10
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Cang Xin is a celebrated performance artist who uses photography as an adjunct to his practice. In these photographs he is documenting a ritualistic performance in which he licks various objects that have a symbolic resonance for him. Each object has a link to China and its history, although those meanings remain intentionally obscured and subjective. The artist literally experiences the objects through a sense of taste and a physical action; the intimate act of licking becomes a gesture of communication or communion with the past.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at left, Qiu Zhijie (Chinese, b. 1969) Tattoo no. 7 (1994); at second left, Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968) East Village Beijing no. 15 (1994); and at middle right, Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) Shanghai family tree (2001)

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese, b. 1969) 'Tattoo no. 7' 1994

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese, b. 1969)
Tattoo no. 7
1994
From the Tattoo series 1994
Type C photograph, ed. 8/10
101.6 x 76.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

In his Tattoo series, Qui Zhijie overlays self-portraits with drawings, images and objects, such as the coins shown here. Discussing this series, he writes, ‘The Tattoo series focuses on the problematic relationship between an image and its background … In this series the two find common ground. The substance of the subject, the weight of the person, and the physicality of the figure all dissolve … This series is a response to the futility and drowning of the individual brought about by the onslaught of the Chinese media culture which began to develop during the 1990s’.

 

Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968) 'East Village Beijing no. 15' 1994

 

Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968)
East Village Beijing no. 15
1994
Gelatin silver photograph, coloured dyes
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016

 

 

Rong Rong is well known for his images that show the lives and activities of the avant-garde Beijing East Village artistic community during the 1990s. This photograph is one of a series created to document a famous performance by fellow artist Zhang Huan, during which Zhang covered his naked body with honey and fish oil and sat on a stool in a public toilet, allowing flies to swarm over his body. Rong Rong’s photographs, made throughout the performance, form a crucial record of this performative action that was intended to comment on the squalid conditions in which the artists were living.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) Shanghai family tree (2001)

 

Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) 'Shanghai family tree' 2001

 

Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965)
Shanghai family tree
2001
Type C photographs ed. 25/25
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Jason Yeap and Min Lee Wong, 2008
© Zhang Huan Studio

 

 

The faces of the two young men and the young woman in Zhang Huan’s suite of nine photographs are used like the blank pages in a book carrying an increasingly oppressive weight of words. The Chinese characters inscribed on their faces gradually obliterate their features and identities. In the final photograph, the trio are shown in front of a new housing development in Shanghai. Their features are totally obscured, suggesting a parallel between the loss of personal identity and the rapid pace of development that is rendering the city unrecognisable.

In 1999 the internationally renowned Chinese performance and video artist, sculptor and photographer Zhang Huan wrote of his distinctive approach to his practice: ‘The body is the only direct way through which I come to know society and society comes to know me. The body is proof of identity. The body is language’. The complex tangle of history and tradition that can override the individual appears as a theme in much of Zhang Huan’s avant-garde performances and photographs and, as seen in this work, is frequently expressed through the use of language. In Shanghai family tree Zhang Huan (to the left) poses with a man and woman, their faces becoming increasingly obscured by Chinese characters. This work seems to suggest the importance of language which, while it can overwhelm the individual, undoubtedly also helps define a person’s relationship to society.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing two photographs from Zhuang Hui’s One and Thirty series (1996)

 

Zhuang Hui (Chinese, b. 1963) 'Untitled' 1996

 

Zhuang Hui (Chinese, b. 1963)
Untitled
1996
From the One and Thirty
Type C photograph, ed. 3/3
61.0 x 51.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh in honour of Tony Ellwood, Director NGV, 2018
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

The series title of these photographs, One and Thirty, is didactic. There are ‘thirty’ portraits in the sequence and ‘one’ figure who appears in each image, the ever-smiling figure of the artist. Each photograph shows Zhuang Hui posed with an individual he has selected as the representative of a particular vocational or social group. In one of the works shown here Zhuang is photographed seated beside an older man holding a baby on his knee, a classic doting grandfather; in the other image he is photographed with a smartly dressed, young professional woman.

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Standard family' 1996

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Standard family
1996
Type C photograph, ed. 8/30
48.2 x 124.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2017
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Wang Jinsong’s Standard family project investigates contemporary Chinese culture and the effects of the one-child policy, which was introduced in China in the 1970s as a means of curbing population growth. Without any clear agenda or critical stance, Wang invited families to participate in photo shoots where the parents invariably elected to pose flanking their lone child. When the images are repeated and presented in a grid, the ‘standard’ nature of the family unit becomes evident, allowing for a reading of generic poses and expressions across the various families, and inviting speculation and commentary on the effects of collectivism when imposed on social structures.

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Standard family' 1996 (detail)

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Standard family (detail)
1996
Type C photograph, ed. 8/30
48.2 x 124.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2017
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Qiu Zhijie’s Standard Pose series (1996-98)

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969) 'Fine series A' 1996-98

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969)
Fine series A
1996-98
From the Standard Pose series 1996-98
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
58.0 x 61.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

In common with many photographers working in China in the 1990s, Qiu Zhijie uses the performing body in his images. Throughout his career he has combined performance, video and photography to create works that explore ideas of history, individuality and identity in contemporary China. The four photographs from the Standard Pose series reference propaganda images produced during the Cultural Revolution and consider the failure of the future that they promised. Photographed in a simple studio setting and wearing contemporary clothes, the models, with their overly dramatic poses and facial expressions, appear comical rather than heroic.

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969) 'Fine series C' 1996-98

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969)
Fine series C
1996-98
From the Standard Pose series 1996-98
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
58.0 x 61.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969) 'Fine series D' 1996-98

 

Qiu Zhijie (Chinese b. 1969)
Fine series D
1996-98
From the Standard Pose series 1996-98
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
58.0 x 61.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China explores the work of established and emerging photo-artists working in a time of rapid social and economic change.

In the 1990s, Chinese photography became one of the most dynamic and exciting areas in contemporary international art. Artists in China increasingly began to use photography to not only to document their lives but to question and challenge the status quo. The ‘first generation’ of contemporary Chinese artists included here – those born in the 1960s – examined the societal impact of the Cultural Revolution, and reflected on their own and their families’ personal experiences. The next generation of photographers, born in the 1980s and later, bring not only different life experience, having come of age in the twenty-first century, but are actively engaged with the global community in ways that were not possible in previous decades.

The works included in this exhibition offer commentaries on individuality and identity, cultural change, the transformation of Chinese cities, and the impact of consumerism and globalisation on contemporary society.

The National Gallery of Victoria began to collect contemporary Chinese photography in 2004, and in 2008 presented the exhibition Body Language: Contemporary Chinese Photography. Since that time the Gallery has continued to build this aspect of the collection.

More recently, in 2016 and 2017, the NGV photography collection was transformed through the generosity of Larry Warsh. An American collector, publisher and founder of AW Asia, a private organisation and exhibition space in New York, Warsh presented a suite of twenty-nine contemporary Chinese photographs as a gift to the Gallery. His donation comprises works by some of the most important Chinese photographic artists working in the 1990s and early 2000s, including Hong Lei, Rong Rong and Wang Qingsong. Warsh’s presentation effectively doubled the NGV’s holdings of contemporary Chinese photography, and this exhibition, which includes a number of works from this important gift, was made possible because of his generosity.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website [Online] Cited 23/12/2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at left, Wang Qingsong’s City walls (2002); at second left bottom Zhang Dali 2001 42A (2001) from the Demolition and Dialogue series; at centre, Chi Peng’s Apollo in transit (2005); at centre right, Yang Yongliang’s Eclipse (2008); and at right Huang Yan’s Chinese landscape – Tattoo (1999)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Wang Qingsong’s City walls (2002)

 

 

Wang Jinsong’s photograph shows aspects of the architecture and history of Beijing, drawing attention to the abandonment of time-honoured buildings, homes and ways of living. City walls comprises a grid of 360 images of buildings in Beijing. The great majority of the photographs are of generic concrete constructions, printed in a grey monotone. Interspersed among these are richly coloured images showing traditional architecture. The placement of the photographs in a grid creates an immediate visual link to the idiosyncratic brick construction of the older buildings, which are rapidly being replaced by new, uniform reinforced concrete structures.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at top, Weng Fen’s On the wall: Guangzhou (4) (2002) and at bottom, Zhang Dali’s 2001 42A (2001)

 

Zhang Dali (Chinese, b. 1963) '2001 42A' 2001

 

Zhang Dali (Chinese, b. 1963)
2001 42A
2001
from the Demolition and dialogue series
type C photograph
63.5 × 114.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

This photograph, showing a partially demolished wall emblazoned with a large-scale painted outline of the artist’s head and his pseudonym, AK-47, brings together several aspects of the practice of multidisciplinary artist Zhang Dali. Zhang went into self-imposed exile from China in 1989 and when he returned to Beijing six years later, he found his home was in the midst of rapid change. Zhang wanted to protest the loss of traditional buildings, document the ruined remnants before they were swept away, and convey his sense of the loss of history and identity that was a consequence of those changes.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Chi Peng’s Apollo in transit (2005)

 

 

Chi Peng’s works often contain naked figures spiriting or running through ‘history’, while refusing any start or ending of their visual narrative. Unravelling like a traditional Chinese scroll, the red brick wall surrounding the Forbidden City extends the length of this digitally altered panoramic image. The artist has inserted repeat images of himself running left to right alongside the wall, in front of a variety of onlookers. A metaphor for East / West relations, this theatrical image brings together potent symbols of traditional and contemporary life in China.

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980) 'Eclipse' 2008

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980)
Eclipse
2008
From the On the quiet water, heavenly city series 2008
Inkjet print 73.0 x 200.0 cm (image) 81.6 x 208.2 cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the Mering Corporation Pty Ltd through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2012
© Yang Yongliang

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980) 'Eclipse' 2008 (detail)

 

Yongliang Yang (Chinese, b. 1980)
Eclipse (detail)
2008
From the On the quiet water, heavenly city series 2008
Inkjet print 73.0 x 200.0 cm (image) 81.6 x 208.2 cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the Mering Corporation Pty Ltd through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2012
© Yang Yongliang

 

 

Yang Yongliang creates an optical illusion by combining elements of a traditional Chinese shānshuǐ (mountain-water) landscape painting with imagery from modern Shanghai life. From afar, the work appears to be a watercolour on paper, representing misty mountains and an ethereal sea stretching to the horizon. Upon closer inspection, the ghostly formations are revealed as digitally constructed collages of apartment blocks, buildings, construction sites and giant cranes. The built metropolis becomes indistinguishable from the natural landscape, highlighting the insidious modernisation, construction and environmental degradation characteristic of contemporary existence.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation views of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Huang Yan’s Chinese landscape – Tattoo No. 4 and Chinese landscape – Tattoo No. 1 (1999)

 

Huang Yan (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Chinese landscape - Tattoo (Number 1)' 1999, printed 2004

 

Huang Yan (Chinese, b. 1966)
Chinese landscape – Tattoo (Number 1)
1999, printed 2004
Type C photograph, ed. 2/12
80.1 x 108.0 cm irreg. (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 2004
© Huang Yan, courtesy of Red Gate Gallery, Beijing

 

 

Prior to commencing his photography practice in the 1990s, Huang Yan trained as a painter. His recent work combines the centuries-old, traditional style of landscape painting with new technology; the images are contemporary while also affirming traditional Chinese culture and values. The artist alludes to complex traditions in this ‘self-portrait’ in which his bare chest is painted with a traditional shānshuǐ (mountain-water) landscape painting. The title of the work implies permanence, yet the scenes painted on the body are ephemeral, suggesting the fragility of the natural environment and the transience of the body.

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960) 'After Zhao Ji's loquat and birds (Song dynasty)' 1999

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960)
After Zhao Ji’s loquat and birds (Song dynasty)
1999
Type C photograph, ed. 9/10
60.9 x 76.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960) 'Autumn in the Forbidden City' 1998

 

Hong Lei (Chinese, b. 1960)
Autumn in the Forbidden City
1998
Type C photograph, ed. 7/10
60.9 x 76.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at centre, Wang Qingsong’s Preincarnation (2002) and at right, Shi Guowei’s Cactus garden (2016)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing one image from Wang Qingsong’s Preincarnation (2002)

 

 

Wang Qingsong works in a theatrical style, constructing and photographing elaborate tableaux in which his models play the roles of characters from traditional Chinese stories and paintings, popular culture and Western historical painting. In the foreground of this work, men carry tools to vandalise or disassemble giant sacred ‘sculptures’ standing atop lotus thrones. The title suggests that the man has been reborn into the past, and upon arriving in Chinese pre-history, is set to destroy it in his relentless pursuit of materialism. This work alludes to China’s relationship with its early history, and the dismantling of tradition during a period of rampant consumerism and modernisation.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Shi Guowei’s Cactus garden (2016)

 

Shi Guowei (Chinese, b. 1977) 'Cactus garden' 2016

 

Shi Guowei (Chinese, b. 1977)
Cactus garden
2016
Gelatin silver photograph, colour dyes
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2017

 

 

Shi Guowei’s subtly coloured image is created through the application of layered pigment to the surface of the photograph. In some areas of the work, the colour is applied with lifelike precision, in others it registers as being ‘not quite right’. His palette recalls that of early colour photographs in which the colour fades or shifts over time, creating a nostalgic quality; however, it also creates an awareness of the artificiality inherent in the scene. Although the planting in this cactus garden is ‘naturalistic’, it is clearly a constructed landscape, and not the wild arid landscape it would seem at first glance.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at top, Sheng Qi’s Memories (Mother), Memories (Me) and Memories (Mao) (2000)

 

 

Sheng Qi was a key member of the ’85 New Wave art movement in China that championed freedom of expression in the arts over state-approved Social Realism. He was deeply affected by the changed political climate following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and responded in a physically direct and shocking way. He cut off the little finger of his left hand, buried it in a flowerpot, and went into self-imposed exile in Rome. When he returned to Beijing a decade later, he used his disfigured hand as the backdrop for a series of self-portraits that juxtapose his past and present.

 

Sheng Qi (Chinese, b. 1965) 'Memories (Me)' 2000, printed 2004

 

Sheng Qi (Chinese, b. 1965)
Memories (Me)
2000, printed 2004
Type C photograph, ed. 2/5
119.1 x 80.5 cm irreg. (image) 126.9 x 86.9 cm irreg. (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 2004
© Sheng Qi, courtesy of Red Gate Gallery, Beijing

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing at left, Wang Qingsong’s Another battle no. 3 (2001) and at right, Hong Hao’s My things no. 2 (2001-02)

 

Zhuang Hui (Chinese, b. 1963) 'Untitled' 1996

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Another battle no. 3
2001
Type C photograph, ed. 1/20
100.0 x 66.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Wang Qingsong

 

 

Wang Qingsong works in a theatrical style, constructing and photographing elaborate tableaux in which his models play the roles of characters from traditional Chinese stories and paintings, contemporary life, popular culture, and Western historical painting. In this work he shows a wounded soldier, trapped behind the battlelines, caught between gunfire and razor wire that is littered with soft-drink cans, one of the most common forms of litter found globally. In this highly theatrical image Wang has taken imagery from popular cinema and used it to highlight the challenges presented by Western-style consumerism.

 

Hong Hao (Chinese, b. 1965) 'My things no. 2' 2001-02

 

Hong Hao (Chinese, b. 1965)
My things no. 2
2001-02
Type C photograph, ed. 6/15
59.6 x 101.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Completely filled from edge to edge with ordinary, domestic objects, this image is a visual archive of things used by the artist in everyday life. Describing his creative process, Hong Hao writes, ‘Day by day, I put my daily consumed objects into a scanner piece by piece, like keeping a visual diary. After scanning the original objects, I’ll save them in digital forms and categorise these digital files into different folders [on] my PC, in order to make a collage of them later on. This task, like a yogi’s daily practice, has become a habit in my day-to-day life as well as a tool to observe the human condition in contemporary consumer society’.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Wang Jinsong’s One hundred signs of demolition #1980 (1998)

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963) 'One hundred signs of demolition #1980' 1998

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963)
One hundred signs of demolition #1980
1998
Type C photograph ed. 22/30
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963) 'One hundred signs of demolition #1995' 1998

 

Wang Jinsong (Chinese, 1963)
One hundred signs of demolition #1995
1998
Type C photograph ed. 22/30
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

The two photographs from the series One Hundred Signs of Demolition show the Chinese character ‘chai’, meaning ‘demolition’, that is commonly painted on the walls of buildings earmarked for destruction. For Wang Jinsong it has become a symbol of the inexorable push for urban reconstruction. In his photographs ‘chai’ came to stand for the loss of the ancient city, where buildings were once on a domestic scale and constructed to facilitate interaction in communal space, and their replacement with more socially isolating multistorey tower blocks.

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966) 'Last supper' 1997

 

Wang Qingsong (Chinese, b. 1966)
Last supper
1997
Type C photograph, ed. 3/20
30.5 x 100.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Last supper was one of a number of photographs commissioned for the exhibition Christian Dior and Chinese Artists that opened at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing, in 2008. The work references the iconography of Western paintings of Christian subjects, in particular depictions of the Last Supper; however, in place of the twelve disciples Wang presents fashion models, and the simple meal traditionally depicted in Western art has been replaced with a feast of digitally enhanced, oversized, unnaturally perfect fruit and vegetables. The result is an image of affluence and excess.

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, b. 1962) 'I am Chairman Mao's Red Guard' 2000

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, b. 1962)
I am Chairman Mao’s Red Guard
2000
Type C photograph, ed. 9/18
40.6 x 60.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Hai Bo’s paired portraits illustrate the cultural shifts that have occurred over forty years as people in China have become increasingly able to show their individuality. In this image, a photograph of a young woman proudly wearing the uniform of the student paramilitary movement, known as the Red Guard, and holding Mao’s Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (commonly known as the Little Red Book) is shown counterpointed by a contemporary picture of the same person, now a smiling middle-aged woman wearing a floral dress. Such a garment would have been unthinkable – and unattainable – forty years earlier.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Installation view of the exhibition 'Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China' at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Installation view of the exhibition Turning Points: Contemporary Photography from China at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne showing Hai Bo’s Wood horse (1999)

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, 1962) 'Wood horse' 1999

 

Hai Bo (Chinese, 1962)
Wood horse
1999
Gelatin silver photograph ed. 16/20
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Larry Warsh, 2016
© Courtesy of the artist

 

 

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European research tour exhibition: ‘Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art’ at the Barbican Art Gallery, UK Part 1

Exhibition dates: 4th October 2019 – 19th January 2020

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery, London
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

I saw this exhibition in London in October, my last on my European research trip.

Having been a clubber since 1975, I was fascinated to see the history of cabarets and clubs in modern art. I remember going to gay clubs such as Scandals in Soho in the 1970s with their Saturday Night Fever lit up glass dance floor – except this one had a revolving glass turntable at its centre; or Adams under the the Leicester Square Odeon (I think it was the Odeon?) with walls padded and buttoned in red velvet, where they played the latest funk and international disco. Sylvester was the first out and out gay disco star, still beloved, who was taken from us by AIDS. And then there was Heaven, at the time of its opening in December 1979 the biggest gay club in Europe, housed in the arches beneath Charing Cross railway station – the site of many a debauched evening of gay disco, then hi-energy, and sex. We could dance for hours on that huge dance floor, under the lasers and neons, only leaving to get water at the bar, just dancing on pure energy, and then cruise the famous tunnels and bars of the club. Fabulous.

Getting back to the exhibition, Into the Night was a tale of two halves, as can be seen in the installation photographs. The upper level gallery at the Barbican was stirring, intoxicating, mesmerising, especially the sections on Vienna and the Cabaret Fledermaus (see below) and Berlin and the Weimar Nightlife 1920s-30s, always a favourite avant-garde era of mine (see part 2 of the posting). The lower level featured 3 separate rooms, recreations of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus; the Ciné-Dancing space of L’Aubette; and the shadow theatre of Chat Noir: interesting to see as a walk through but nothing more – then followed by some sparse sections on London’s Cave of the Golden Calf, Harlem’s Jazz Clubs and Cabarets and Tehran’s Rasht 29 (Part 2 of the posting). It felt to me as though the curators ran out of money / time? objects? and curatorial inspiration for the last sections of the exhibition.

Whatever the case, looking at the exhibition as a whole, this was a fascinating insight into cabaret and club art, architecture and design with gems such as Jeanne Mammen’s glorious watercolour paintings on queer female desire and Lohse-Watchler’s dark scenes of Hamburg nightlife. The complex breadth of bohemian and artistic culture covered in the exhibition was truly breathtaking.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Barbican Art Gallery for allowing me to publish the media photographs in the posting. All installation images are iPhone images by Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Catalogue cover for 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

 

Catalogue cover for Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

 

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text

 

Vienna: Cabaret Fledermaus 1907-13 wall text
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870-1956)
Weiner Werkstätte Postkarte (left to right) (installation views)
No. 74 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus);
No. 75 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus);
No. 67 (Interior view of the auditorium with stage at the Cabaret Fledermaus)
1907
Lithograph postcards
Collection of Leonard A. Lauder
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Wall text about the Weiner Werkstätte postcards

 

Wall text about the Weiner Werkstätte postcards
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Josef Hoffmann Wiener Werkstätte Postkarte No. 74 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus) 1907

 

Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870-1956)
Wiener Werkstätte Postkarte No. 74 (Interior view of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus)
1907
Collection of Leonard A. Lauder

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art (downstairs gallery, room recreation)
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
Recreation of the bar at the Cabaret Fledermaus, originally designed by Josef Hoffmann (1907), 2019
Conceived by the Barbican Art Gallery and Caruso St John, in collaboration with the University of Applied Arts, Vienna
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Downstairs gallery, room recreation

 

Josef von Divéky. Poster design for the Cabaret Fledermaus (unrealised) (installation view) 1907

Josef von Divéky. Poster design for the Cabaret Fledermaus (unrealised) 1907

 

Josef von Divéky (Hungarian, 1887-1951)
Poster design fro the Cabaret Fledermaus (unrealised) (installation views)
1907
Gouache over pencil on paper
University of Applied Arts Vienna, Collection and Archive
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design)(Austrian, 1878-1960)
with illustrations by various artists
First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1907
Printed book
Publisher: Wiener Werkstate, Vienna
Printer: August Chwala, Vienna
Theatermuseum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

This programme for the opening night at the Cabaret Fledermaus on 19 October 1907 showcases its variety of experimental performances. Carl Otto Czeschka conceived the overarching design for the booklet, while vivid interior illustrations by contributing artists summon the spirit of the evenings activities.

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view) 1907

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view) 1907

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design)(Austrian, 1878-1960)
with illustrations by various artists
First programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation views)
1907
Printed book
Publisher: Wiener Werkstate, Vienna
Printer: August Chwala, Vienna
Theatermuseum, Vienna
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Fritz Zeymer’s lyrical drawings capture the movements of Gertrude Barrison, who along with her sisters had become known in Europe and America for her bold, expressive dancing style. At the opening of the cabaret, Barrison performed solo to Edvard Greig’s romantic ‘Morgenstimmung’ (1875) in the ethereal white costume design by Zeymer himself (design shown here).

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design) Second programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view) 1907

 

Carl Otto Czeschka (design)(Austrian, 1878-1960)
with cover design and illustrations by Moriz Jung
Second programme for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1907
Printed book
Publisher: Wiener Werkstate, Vienna
Printer: August Chwala, Vienna
Ariel Muzicant Collection, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Le Corbusier. 'Plan at 1:100 for the Cabaret Fledermaus' 1907 (installation view)

Le Corbusier. 'Plan at 1:100 for the Cabaret Fledermaus' 1907 (installation view)

 

Le Corbusier (Swiss-French, 1887-1965)
Plan at 1:100 for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation views)
1907
Graphite pencil, ink and wash on paper
Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Artefacts in display cabinet include Josef Hoffmann plant pot (1907), pepper mill (1907), vases for the Cabaret Fledermaus (1907) and an ashtray (1907) (installation views)
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Bertold Löffler. Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1907 (installation view)

 

Bertold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960)
Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1907
Lithograph
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Bertold Löffler, Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus, 1907

 

Bertold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960)
Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus
1907
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
© The Albertina Museum, Vienna

 

Bertold Löffler. Poster for a performance by Miss Macara at the Cabaret Fledermaus 1909

 

Bertold Löffler (Austrian, 1874-1960)
Poster for a performance by Miss Macara at the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1909
Lithograph
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Wall text about the poster for a performance by Miss Macara

 

Wall text about the poster for a performance by Miss Macara
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fritz Lang. Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1911 (installation view)

 

Fritz Lang (Austrian-German-American, 1890-1976)
Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation view)
1911
Lithograph
The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Josef von Divéky. Design for 'Green Domino'for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1908 (installation view)

Josef von Divéky. Design for 'Orange Domino'for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1908 (installation view)

Josef von Divéky. Design for 'Blue Domino'for the Cabaret Fledermaus 1908

 

Josef von Divéky (Hungarian, 1887-1951)
Design for ‘Green Domino’, ‘Orange Domino’ and ‘Blue Domino’ for the Cabaret Fledermaus (installation views)
1908
Ink and pencil on paper
MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill. Design for Maskenspiele (Masquerades) (two characters) 1907

 

Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill (Austrian, 1882-1961)
Design for Maskenspiele (Masquerades) (two characters)
1907
MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
© MAK

 

 

Opening 4 October 2019, Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art explores the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world. Spanning the 1880s to the 1960s, the exhibition presents a dynamic and multi-faceted history of artistic production. The first major show staged on this theme, it features both famed and little-known sites of the avant-garde – these creative spaces were incubators of radical thinking, where artists could exchange provocative ideas and create new forms of artistic expression. Into the Night offers an alternative history of modern art that highlights the spirit of experimentation and collaboration between artists, performers, designers, musicians and writers such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Loïe Fuller, Josef Hoffmann, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, as well as Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Focusing on global locations from New York to Tehran, London, Paris, Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna and Ibadan, Into the Night brings together over 350 works rarely seen in the UK, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, films and archival material. Liberated from the confines of social and political norms, many of the sites provided immersive, often visceral experiences, manifesting the ideals of the artists and audiences who founded and frequented them. The exhibition features full-scale recreations of specific spaces, such as the multi-coloured ceramic tiled bar of the Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna (1907), designed by Josef Hoffmann for the Wiener Werkstätte, and the striking abstract composition of the Ciné-Dancing designed by Theo van Doesburg for L’Aubette in Strasbourg (1926-28). The exhibition will feature a soundscape created by hrm199, the studio of acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza, specifically commissioned for the show.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: “Into the Night casts a spotlight on some of the most electrifying cabarets and clubs of the modern era. Whether a creative haven, intoxicating stage or liberal hangout, all were magnets for artists, designers and performers to come together, collaborate and express themselves freely. Capturing the essence of these global incubators of experimentation and cross-disciplinarity, immersive 1:1 scale interiors will take the visitor on a captivating journey of discovery.”

Into the Night begins in Paris, on the eve of the 20th century, with two thrilling and iconic locations of the avant-garde. The theatrical shadow plays of the Chat Noir in the 1880s are brought to life through original silhouettes and works that decorated the interior of the cabaret, which acted as a forum for satire and debate for figures such as founder Rodolphe Salis, artist Henri Rivière and composer Erik Satie. The captivating serpentine dances of Loïe Fuller staged at the Folies Bergère in the 1890s were trail-blazing experiments in costume, light and movement. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured her performances in his extraordinary series of delicately hand-coloured lithographs, brought together for the exhibition. Visitors will encounter the immersive “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art) design of the Cabaret Fledermaus (1907) in Vienna by the Wiener Werkstätte, where experimental cabaret productions were staged. The exhibition includes original documentation of Oskar Kokoschka’s exuberant puppet theatre and Gertrude Barrison’s expressionist dance.

The Cave of the Golden Calf (1912), an underground haunt in Soho epitomising decadence and hedonism, is evoked through designs for the interior by British artists Spencer Gore and Eric Gill, as well as Wyndham Lewis’s highly stylised programmes for the eclectic performance evenings – advertised at the time as encompassing “the picturesque dances of the South, its fervid melodies, Parisian wit, English humour.” In Zurich, the radical atmosphere of the Cabaret Voltaire (1916) is manifested through absurdist sound poetry and fantastical masks that deconstruct body and language, evoking the anarchic performances by Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings and Marcel Janco. This is the birthplace of Dada, where humour, chaos and ridicule reign. Two significant clubs in Rome provide insights into the electrifying dynamism of Futurism in Italy in the 1920s. Giacomo Balla’s mesmerising Bal Tic Tac (1921) is summoned by colour-saturated designs for the club’s interior, capturing the swirling movement of dancers. Also on show are drawings and furnishings for Fortunato Depero’s spectacular inferno-inspired Cabaret del Diavolo (1922) which occupied three floors representing heaven, purgatory and hell. Depero’s flamboyant tapestry writhes with dancing demons, expressing the club’s motto “Tutti all’inferno!!! (Everyone to hell!!!)”.

A few years later, a group of artists and writers from the radical movement Estridentismo, including Ramón Alva de la Canal, Manuel Maples Arce and Germán Cueto, began to meet at the Café de Nadie (Nobody’s Café) in Mexico City, responding to volatile Post-Revolutionary change and the urban metropolis. The ¡30-30! group expressed its values by holding a major print exhibition (partially reassembled here) in a travelling circus tent open to all. Meanwhile in Strasbourg, Theo van Doesburg, Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp worked together to create the L’Aubette (1926-28), conceived as the ultimate “deconstruction of architecture”, with bold geometric abstraction as its guiding principle. The vast building housed a cinema-ballroom, bar, tearoom, billiards room, restaurant and more, each designed as immersive environments.

After a period of restraint in Germany during the First World War, the 1920s heralded an era of liberation and the relaxation of censorship laws. Numerous clubs and bars in metropolitan cities, such as Berlin, playing host to heady cabaret revues and daring striptease; the notorious synchronised Tiller Girls are captured in Karl Hofer’s iconic portrait. Major works by often overlooked female artists such as Jeanne Mammen and Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, as well as George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, capture the pulsating energy of these nightclubs and the alternative lifestyles that flourished within them during the 1920s and 1930s. During the same time in New York, the literary and jazz scenes thrived and co-mingled in the predominantly African American neighbourhood of Harlem, where black identity was re-forged and debated. Paintings and prints by Aaron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence convey the vibrant atmosphere and complex racial and sexual politics of the time, while poetry by Langston Hughes and early cinema featuring Duke Ellington shed light on the rich range of creative expression thriving within the city.

Into the Night also celebrates the lesser known but highly influential Mbari Artists and Writers Club, founded in the early 1960s in Nigeria. Focusing on two of the club’s key locations, in Ibadan and Osogbo, the exhibition explores how they were founded as laboratories for postcolonial artistic practices, providing a platform for a dazzling range of activities – including open-air dance and theatre performances, featuring ground breaking Yoruba operas by Duro Ladipo and Fela Kuti’s Afro-jazz; poetry and literature readings; experimental art workshops; and pioneering exhibitions by African and international artists such as Colette Omogbai, Ibrahim El-Salahi and Uche Okeke. Meanwhile in Tehran, Rasht 29 emerged in1966 as a creative space for avant-garde painters, poets, musicians and filmmakers to freely discuss their practice. Spontaneous performances were celebrated and works by artists like Parviz Tanavoli and Faramarz Pilaram hung in the lounge while a soundtrack including Led Zeppelin and the Beatles played constantly.

The exhibition is curated and organised by Barbican Centre, London, in collaboration with the Belvedere, Vienna.

Press release from the Barbican Art Gallery [Online] Cited 28/12/2019

 

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

 

Rome: Cabaret Del Diavolo 1922 wall text

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Fortunato Depero’s tapestry Diavoletti neri e bianchi. Danza di diavoli (Black and White Little Devils: Dance of the Devils), 1922
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fortunato Depero wall text

 

Fortunato Depero wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Fortunato Depero Diavoletti neri e bianchi. Danza di diavoli (Black and White Little Devils: Dance of the Devils) 1922

 

Fortunato Depero (Italian, 1892-1960)
Diavoletti neri e bianchi. Danza di diavoli (Black and White Little Devils: Dance of the Devils)
1922
Mart, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto / Fondo Depero
© DACS 2019. Archivo Depero, Rovereto. Courtesy Mart – Archivio Fotografico e Mediateca

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Rome: Bal Tic Tac 1921 wall text
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac 1921 (installation view)

Giacomo Balla Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac 1921 (installation view)

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac (installation views)
1921
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla wall text

 

Giacomo Balla wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla, Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac, 1921

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Design for the sign and flashing light for the facade of the Bal Tic Tac
1921
© DACS, 2019. Reproduced by permission of the Fondazione Torino Musei
Photo: Studio Fotografico Gonella 2014

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Giacomo Balla. 'Dancer from the Bal Tic Tac' 1921 (installation view)

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Dancer from the Bal Tic Tac (installation view)
1921
Pencil on paper
Biagiotti Cigna Foundation
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla. 'Design for a light for the Bal Tic Tac' 1921 (installation view)

 

Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Design for a light for the Bal Tic Tac (installation view)
1921
Pencil and tempera on paper
Torino, GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte moderna e Contemporanea, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Giacomo Balla wall text

 

Giacomo Balla wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s

 

Mexico City: Cafe De Nadie & Carpa Amaro 1920s wall text
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Wall text about Mexican woodcuts

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing a group of Mexican woodcuts 1922-28
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Justino Fernandez. 'El corrido' (The Corrido) 1928 (installation view)

Justino Fernandez. 'El corrido' (The Corrido) 1928 (installation view)

 

Justino Fernandez (Mexican, 1904-1972)
El corrido (The Corrido) (installation views)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Justino Fernandez. 'La hora del mando' (Market Time) 1928 (installation view)

Justino Fernandez. 'La hora del mando' (Market Time) 1928 (installation view)

 

Justino Fernandez (Mexican, 1904-1972)
La hora del mando (Market Time) (installation views)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fernando Leal. 'Danzantes' (Dancers) 1922 (installation view)

 

Fernando Leal (Mexican, 1896-1964)
Danzantes (Dancers) (installation view)
1922
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Francisco Diaz de León. 'Retablo' (Altarpiece) 1928 (installation view)

Francisco Diaz de León. 'Retablo' (Altarpiece) 1928 (installation view)

 

Francisco Diaz de León (Mexican, 1897-1975)
Retablo (Altarpiece)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Isabella Villaseñor. 'Autorretrato' (Self-portrait) 1928 (installation view)

 

Isabella Villaseñor (Mexican, 1909-1953)
Autorretrato (Self-portrait) (installation view)
1928
Woodcut
Colecciones Carlos Monsivais
Museo del Estanquillo
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Fernando Leal. 'Dance of the Crescent Moon' 1922 (installation view)

 

Fernando Leal (Mexican, 1896-1964)
Dance of the Crescent Moon (installation view)
1922
Woodcut
Museo Nacional de Arte, INBA
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. 'Cabeza de Lenin' (Head of Lenin) 1927 (installation view)

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (Mexican, 1900-1983)
Cabeza de Lenin (Head of Lenin) (installation view)
1927
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. 'Tlacuache' (Opposum) c. 1920s

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (Mexican, 1900-1983)
Tlacuache (Opposum) (installation view)
c. 1920s
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma. 'Patos Chinos' (Chinese Ducks) 1928 (installation view)

 

Gabriel Fernández Ledesma (Mexican, 1900-1983)
Patos Chinos (Chinese Ducks) (installation view)
1928
Woodcut
Fondo Diaz de León
Colección Andres Blastien, Mexico
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into The Night: Cabarets And Clubs In Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Wall text about Mexican masks

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Germán Cueto’s Máscara estridentista (Stridentist Masks), c. 1924
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Germán Cueto. Máscara estridentista (Stridentist Mask) c. 1924

 

Germán Cueto (Mexican, 1893-1975)
Máscara estridentista (Stridentist Mask)
c. 1924
Colección Ysabel Galán, México
Photo: Cortesia del Museo Frederico Silva Escultura Contemporeana, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

 

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery

Installation view of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Ramón Alva de la Canal’s painting El Café de Nadie (Nobody’s Café), c. 1970
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art

 

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art
Installation view Barbican Art Gallery 4 October 2019 – 19 January 2020
© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal El Café de Nadie (Nobody's Café) c. 1970

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal (Mexican, 1892-1985)
El Café de Nadie (Nobody’s Café)
c. 1970
© DACS, 2019
Courtesy Private Collection

 

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

 

Installation views of the exhibition Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican Art Gallery showing Mexican printed books 1923-1927
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation views of the exhibition 'Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art' at the Barbican Art Gallery, London

Ramon Alva de la Canal. 'El movimiento estridentista' (The Stridentist Movement) 1926 (installation view)

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal (Mexican, 1892-1985)
El movimiento estridentista (The Stridentist Movement) (installation views)
1926
Woodcut
Francisco Reyes Palma Collection
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Ramon Alva de la Canal. 'Manuel Maples Arce en el Café de Nadie' (Manuel Maples Arce in the Café de Nadie) c. 1924 (installation view)

 

Ramón Alva de la Canal (Mexican, 1892-1985)
Manuel Maples Arce en el Café de Nadie (Manuel Maples Arce in the Café de Nadie) (installation view)
c. 1924
Woodcut
Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

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03
Jan
20

European photographic research tour exhibition: ‘Robert Frank. Unseen’ at C/O Berlin

Exhibition dates: 13th September – 30th November 2019 posted January 2020

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

 

 

Utopian dreaming / dystopian dreams

Synchronicity… when I visited this exhibition on the 16th September 2019, the grand man had only died the previous week on the 9th September 2019.

This was a fabulous exhibition of mainly VINTAGE prints (see labels) at C/O Berlin, with the added bonus of seeing many Robert Frank photographs I had never seen before.

 

Thoughts

  1. The vintage prints were much larger than I had thought they would be
  2. The English photographs were very impressive. A similar tonal range to Josef Sudek’s prints in these works i.e. no hard blacks or whites zones 2.5-8
  3. The Americans – to actually see a large vintage print of the Trolley Car was incredible. The Black American man’s face was only his mouth, nose and eyes, the rest was completely dark
  4. The vintage prints seemed more whimsical than the later prints: not so much contrast. Sometimes edges bleed off, grain was large, depth of field low, skylines askew. Frank loved his silhouettes and chiaroscuro

.
It was a great pleasure to see these iconic photographs together in one place. Several times I had to catch my breath as one famous image followed another. But then there were images I had never seen before. Mostly vintage prints as well… as close to Frank’s original vision as you can get. More poetic, more spontaneous, than the later prints. The United States photographs form a road trip of impressions, a reflective and elegiac poem to the American dream.

It’s not often that you can say that an artist changed how we see and interpret the world but that is the case. Through his seminal work The Americans, Frank’s importance to the history of photography and visual culture cannot be denied. Americans didn’t like the mirror that was held up to their society by an outsider, a European Jew. Frank certainly wasn’t afraid to picture the underbelly of America – a phlegmatic portrait of a disaffected and divided country that still has great relevance today.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
All installation photographs by Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing photographs titled Landsgemeinde / Cantonal Assembly Hundwil, Schweiz (1949). Later silver gelatin prints. No individual titles. Donation of the artist.
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

InstallatioRobert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Landsgemeinde / Cantonal Assembly Hundwil, Schweiz' 1949 (installation view) n view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Landsgemeinde / Cantonal Assembly Hundwil, Schweiz' 1949 (installation view)

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Landsgemeinde / Cantonal Assembly Hundwil, Schweiz' 1949 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Landsgemeinde / Cantonal Assembly Hundwil, Schweiz (installation views)
1949
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Peru' 1948 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Peru (installation view)
1948
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Collection Fotomuseum Winterthur
Permanent loan of the Volkart Stiftung
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

'Robert Frank. Unseen' wall text

 

Robert Frank. Unseen wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Geneva' 1945 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Geneva (installation view)
1945
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Geneva' 1945 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Geneva (installation view)
1945
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Geneva' 1944-45 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Geneva (installation view)
1944-45
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'New York' c. 1949

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
New York
c. 1949
Vintage silver gelatin print
Donation of the artist

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Times Square, New York' 1949 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Times Square, New York (installation view)
1949
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

'Robert Frank. Unseen' wall text

 

Robert Frank. Unseen wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Portfolio. 40 Photos' 1941-46 (installation view)

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Portfolio. 40 Photos' 1941-46 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Portfolio. 40 Photos (installation views)
1941-46
First Edition Steidl, Göttingen, 2000
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Mississippi, St Louis' 1948 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Mississippi, St Louis (installation view)
1948
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Paris' (installation view) 1949

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Paris (installation view)
1949
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Paris' 1949 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Paris (installation view)
1949
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Mary and Pablo, New York' 1951 (installation view)

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Mary and Pablo, New York' 1951 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Mary and Pablo, New York (installation views)
1951
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Robert Frank (b. 1924 in Zurich, d. 2019 in Nova Scotia, Canada) traveled thousands of kilometres between America’s East and West coasts, taking almost 30,000 photographs. Just 83 black-and-white pictures from this mixture of diary, social portrait, and photographic road movie have influenced generations of photographers after him. Frank’s book The Americans was first published in Paris before it was released in the United States in 1959 with an introduction by the Beat novelist Jack Kerouac. Oblique angles, cropped figures, and blurred movement became the hallmarks of a new photographic style that would change the course of postwar photography. In 1985, Franks photographs have been displayed in Germany for the first time – in the Amerika Haus in Berlin. Now, C/O Berlin presents contact sheets, first editions, and vintage material from the photographer’s early work at the same place. His time in Switzerland, travels through Europe and South America, and unpublished pictures from the United States in the 1950s will be shown together with famous classic photos from The Americans.

Robert Frank. Unseen reveals the narrative power of a visual language that Frank developed long before it earned him international recognition.

The exhibition was organised in cooperation with the Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur.

Robert Frank was born in Zurich in 1924. A trained photographer, he traveled to New York for the first time in 1947, where he found a position at the Harper’s Bazaar photo studio. He worked between Europe and the US for several years and in 1950, Edward Steichen invited him to participate in the 51 American Photographers exhibition at Museum of Modern Art, New York. Frank freelanced for Life, McCall’s, Look, Vogue and other magazines. In 1955, he was the first European to receive a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship that funded a comprehensive photo series for which he traveled across America. The result was the seminal photobook The Americans (1959). Following the volume’s unexpected success, the photographer turned to film. His later work juxtaposed Polaroids and autobiographical text fragments. This year Frank published his most recent book, Good Days Quiet, at the age of 95. Frank’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, most recently at Les Rencontres d’Arles (2018); Albertina, Vienna (2018); Art Institute of Chicago (2017); Museum Folkwang, Essen (2014); and at Tate Modern, London (2004). His films were shown at C/O Berlin in 2009. Robert Frank lived in New York and in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he died on September 9, 2019.

Text from the C/O Berlin [Online] Cited 28/12/2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at bottom, photographs of London
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
London (installation view)
1951
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Paris' 1949 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Paris (installation view)
1949
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at bottom, photographs of London
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
London (installation view)
1951
Vintage gelatin silver print
Arnold Kübler Archive
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
London
1951
Vintage gelatin silver print
Arnold Kübler Archive

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951 (installation view)

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951 (installation view)

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
London (installation views)
1951
Gelatin silver photographs, later prints
Permanent loan of the Friends of the Fotostiftung Schweiz
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'London' 1951

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
London
1951
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Permanent loan of the Friends of the Fotostiftung Schweiz

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Paris' 1952

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Paris
1952
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist

 

America

'Robert Frank. Unseen' wall text

 

Robert Frank. Unseen wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at left, Nevada (1956); at second left, Los Angeles (1956); and at right, On the road to Carolina (1955)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Nevada' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Nevada (installation view)
1956
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Los Angeles' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Los Angeles (installation view)
1956
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'On the road to Carolina' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
On the road to Carolina (installation view)
1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Route US 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho' 1956 (installation view)

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019) 'Route US 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Route US 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho (installation views)
1956
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Fank. 'U.S. 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho' 1956

 

Robert Frank (Swiss-American, 1924-2019)
Route US 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho
1956
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at left, Florida (1956); at third left, New York City (early 1950s); and at right, Ranch Market, Hollywood (1955-56)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'New York City' early 1950s (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
New York City (installation view)
early 1950s
Vintage gelatin silver photograph
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Florida' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Florida (installation view)
1956
Gelatin silver print
Swiss Foundation for Photography Collection, Winterthur
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Florida' 1956

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Florida
1956
Gelatin silver print
© Robert Frank
Courtesy Swiss Foundation for Photography Collection, Winterthur

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'New York City' early 1950s (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
New York City (installation view)
early 1950s
Vintage gelatin silver photograph
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at left, Bar – Gallup, New Mexico (1955) and at right, Rodeo – New York City (1954)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Rodeo - New York City' 1954 (installation view)

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Rodeo - New York City' 1954 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Rodeo – New York City (installation views)
1954
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Robert Frank. Unseen' at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at right,
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Charity Ball, New York' 1954 (installation view)

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Charity Ball, New York' 1954 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Charity Ball, New York (installation views)
1954
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at left in the bottom photograph, Bar – New York (1955) followed by, Yom Kippur – East River, New York City (1954)
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Los Angeles' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Los Angeles (installation view)
1956
Vintage gelatin silver photograph
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Wanamaker Fire, 10th Street East, New York' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Wanamaker Fire, 10th Street East, New York (installation view)
1956
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Bar - New York' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Bar – New York (installation view)
1955
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank. 'Bar, New York City' 1955-56

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Bar – New York
1955
Gelatin silver photograph, later print
Donation of the artist

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Yom Kippur - East River, New York City' 1954 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Yom Kippur – East River, New York City (installation view)
1954
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'USA' 1950s (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
USA (installation view)
1950s
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Contact Sheet 62 / Factory, Detroit' 1955 (installation view)

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Contact Sheet 62 / Factory, Detroit' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Contact Sheet 62 / Factory, Detroit (installation views)
1955
From The Americans. 81 Contact Sheets.
Yugensha, Tokyo/Motomura Kazuhiko, 2009
Private Collection
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Contact Sheet 31 / U.S. 91, Leaving Blackfoot, Idaho' 1956 (installation view)

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Contact Sheet 31 / U.S. 91, Leaving Blackfoot, Idaho' 1956 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Contact Sheet 31 / U.S. 91, Leaving Blackfoot, Idaho (installation views)
1956
From The Americans. 81 Contact Sheets.
Yugensha, Tokyo/Motomura Kazuhiko, 2009
Private Collection
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Contact Sheet 18 / Trolley, New Orleans' 1955 (installation view)

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Contact Sheet 18 / Trolley, New Orleans' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Contact Sheet 18 / Trolley, New Orleans (installation views)
1955
From The Americans. 81 Contact Sheets.
Yugensha, Tokyo/Motomura Kazuhiko, 2009
Private Collection
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing wall text
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Bryant Park, New York' around 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Bryant Park, New York (installation view)
around 1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) '42nd Street, New York' early 1950s (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
42nd Street, New York (installation view)
early 1950s
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) '41st Street and 7th Avenue' 1953 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
41st Street and 7th Avenue (installation view)
1953
Vintage gelatin silver print
Donation of the artist
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank. 'Les Américans' book cover (installation view)

Robert Frank. 'Les Américans' pages (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Les Américans book cover and pages (installation views)
1958
Delpire. Paris

 

Robert Frank. 'Gli Americani' book cover (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Gli Americani book cover (installation view)
1959

 

Robert Frank. 'The Americans' book cover (installation view)

Robert Frank. 'The Americans' pages (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
The Americans book cover and pages (installation views)
1959
Grove Press, New York

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Trolley - New Orleans' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Trolley – New Orleans (installation view)
1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank. 'Trolley - New Orleans' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Trolley – New Orleans (installation view)
1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin showing at left, Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey (1955) and at right, City Fathers – Hoboken, New Jersey (1955)
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'Parade - Hoboken, New Jersey' 1955 (installation view)

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019)
Parade – Hoboken, New Jersey (installation view)
1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'City Fathers - Hoboken, New Jersey' 1955 (installation view)

Robert Frank (American, 1924-2019) 'City Fathers - Hoboken, New Jersey' 1955 (installation view)

 

(American, 1924-2019)
City Fathers – Hoboken, New Jersey (installation views)
1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
Property of the Confédération Suisse, Federal Office of Culture, Bern
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

Installation view of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin

 

Installation views of the exhibition Robert Frank. Unseen at C/O Berlin
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

C/O Berlin Foundation, Amerika Haus,
Hardenbergstraße 22–24, 10623 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 2844416 62

Opening hours:
Daily 11 am – 8 pm

C/O Berlin website

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27
Dec
19

Exhibition: ‘Peter Hujar: Speed of Life’ at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 15th October 2019 – 19th January 2020

Curators: Joel Smith and Quentin Bajac

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Installation view of the exhibition Peter Hujar: Speed of Life at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

 

“I photograph those who push themselves to any extreme, and people who cling to the freedom to be themselves.”

.
Peter Hujar

 

 

Free your mind

A huge posting to finish what has been a bumper year on Art Blart: two book chapters published, a photographic research trip to Europe in which I saw some incredible exhibitions and took over 7000 photographs for my art work, lots of postings and writing and, sadly, the loss of two friends – my mother in Australia, the bohemian photographer and poet Joyce Evans and vision impaired photographer Andrew Follows.

I couldn’t think of a better posting to finish the year than with a photographer who put it all on the line: Peter Hujar. Not for him the world of Apollonian perfection, wishing for fortune and fame, relying on some big time backer to promote him. Hujar stuck to his craft, carving images, performances if you like, from dystopian contexts and Dionysian revellers. “Hujar was the instigator of the performances captured in his portraits, as much as a director as a photographer.”

Paraphrasing Mark Durant, we might say that Hujar was a poet of the urban nocturne, a photographer of subjective desire known for his gritty, erotic, sentimental yet (im)personal images. Philip Gefter observes that, “A hallmark of Hujar’s portraiture is the invisibility of technique – a kind of visual innocence – as if the camera were not present and the subject had been happened upon.” Richard Woodward says that Hujar, “observed his companions in this outlaw life with what might be called warm objectivity.” Photographer Duane Michals says that, “Hujar was a pioneer, years ahead of Mapplethorpe in his sexual candor, as well as an artist whose photographs are less swank and less affected.”

Ah! what a time it was to be an artist and to be gay in New York, with the likes of Hujar, Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Wojnarowicz, Haring, Arthur Tress, and Duane Michals, to name but a few. A time of sexual liberation, followed by a period of disease and death. Hujar pictures this “scene” – the flowering of gay life and then the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. He pictures the constellations as they swirl around him. He allows the viewer to enter his world without judgement, just showing it how it was – a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance; “glowing skyscrapers, assorted rubble, discarded rugs, boys in drag, and girls passed out in his doorway.” This is it he is saying, this is how I live, this is who surrounds me, suck it up and breathe it in. He allows the viewer to enter his world of ideas and possible metaphors. No judgement is offered nor accepted.

As my appreciation of his photographs grows, I reflect on the skill that it takes to make these photographs look effortless. Hujar, “a student of Lisette Model, admirer of August Sander, and friend of Diane Arbus, made his photographs distinctly his own: a perfect and unmistakable mirror of his own body and milieu.” A mirror of strength and determination / of friendship / of love – his pictures gather, together, a feeling for – the freedom of people, and places, to be themselves. Do places have feelings? yes they do! (I remember visiting the Coliseum in Rome and having to leave after 20 minutes the energy of the place was so bad; and then visiting the Loretta Sanctuary in Prague and feeling, such calm and peace in that place, that I have rarely felt before).

Hujar’s photographs are memorable. Nan Goldin and Vince Aletti said that his work, “like that of so few photographers, can’t be forgotten and becomes even deeper and more compelling over time.” His work is so compelling it’s like you can’t take tear your eyes away from the photographs. They demand repeat viewing. They seem possessed of an awareness of their own making. That is Hujar’s music, his signature.

Like any great artist, his images reveal themselves over time, expounding his love of life and his intimate and free engagement with the world. Hujar was, is, and always will be… a watcher, a dreamer, a cosmic spirit.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

The life and art of Peter Hujar (1934-1987) were rooted in downtown New York. Private by nature, combative in manner, well-read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

In his loft studio in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who followed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success. He made, in his words, “uncomplicated, direct photographs of complicated and difficult subjects,” immortalising moments, individuals, and subcultures passing at the speed of life.

 

 

What was Hujar’s truth, his photographic truth? Hujar understood and utilized photography’s tension between document and theatricality. In the act of photographing there is a performance, not only on the part of the subject, but for the photographer as well. For Hujar, to photograph was a balancing act between fierce observation and manifesting his devotion. As Jennifer Quick observes in her essay for the catalogue, This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, “While Arbus and Mapplethorpe are known for their detached postures, Hujar’s silent, tacit presence pervades his work. Like Avedon, Hujar was the instigator of the performances captured in his portraits, as much as a director as a photographer.” That Hujar is considered in the same company of Avedon, Arbus, and Mapplethorpe, reminds us that the retrospective Speed of Life is long overdue.

Hujar’s restlessness led him to wander beyond the confines of the studio. Like Brassai, Hujar was a poet of the urban nocturne, prowling the streets with his camera as the day unraveled. Brassai’s Paris is gritty, erotic, sentimental, yet impersonal. Hujar’s photographs of New York’s streets at night embrace emptiness and furtive gestures, glowing skyscrapers, assorted rubble, discarded rugs, boys in drag, and girls passed out in his doorway. His nighttime images of the Hudson river are disquieting, suggesting powerful currents not fully understood by the dappled surfaces. The thrill and danger of an anonymous sexual encounter is manifested in the 1981 image, Man Leaning Against Tree. It is the moment for Hujar to surveille and assess, when the object of desire is seen but has not yet turned his head to return the gaze. There is a little bit of softness in the image, due, perhaps, to the dim light or the camera moving while the shutter remained open. This image is as much a document of Hujar’s habits of looking as it is about the man leaning against the tree. Despite claims of photography’s objectivity or passive observation, the photographer, consciously or not, visually manifests subjective desire, and Hujar was masterful in this regard. …

While all photographs are tethered to mortality, there is something exemplary in Hujar’s cool acceptance of our temporality. He was fully engaged with his moment yet unsentimental in his attachment. Whether he was photographing a lover or an abandoned dog as elegant as it is scruffy, we can sense that Hujar’s interest was intellectual and physical in equal measure. He may not have been comfortable with the world as it was, but he embraced and even loved what was in front of his camera. “My work comes out of my life, the people I photograph are not freaks or curiosities to me,” he said. “I like people who dare.”

Mark Alice Durant. “Peter Hujar’s Photographic Truth,” on the Saint Lucy website [Online] Cited 01/11/2019

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Public Garden, Taormina, Sicily' 1959

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Public Garden, Taormina, Sicily
1959
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Sheep, Pennsylvania' 1969

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Sheep, Pennsylvania
1969
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Gay Liberation Front Poster Image' 1970

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Gay Liberation Front Poster Image
1970
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

Gay Liberation Front poster image

Hujar put his art to political use in 1969. In late June, a police raid inspired fierce resistance from the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, in the West Village. Hujar’s boyfriend at the time, Jim Fouratt, arrived on the scene to organise for the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the first political group to cite homosexuality in its name. Hujar agreed to make a photograph for a GLF poster. Early one Sunday morning that fall, members of the group assembled and ran back and forth past the photographer on Nineteenth Street, west of Broadway. The poster, bearing the slogan COME OUT!!, appeared in late spring 1970 in advance of the gay liberation march that marked the first anniversary of Stonewall.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Gay Liberation Front Poster Image (installation view)
1970
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Candy Darling on her Deathbed' 1973

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Candy Darling on her Deathbed
1973
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

Candy Darling

In September 1973, transgender Warhol Superstar Candy Darling (born James Lawrence Slattery) was hospitalised for lymphoma. She asked Hujar to make a portrait of her “as a farewell to my fans.” Out of several dozen exposures, Hujar chose to print this languorous pose. As rendered in the print, Candy’s banal, fluorescent-lit hospital room looks as elegant as the studio props in a Hollywood starlet’s portrait. Hujar later wrote that his style cues came from Candy, who was “playing every death scene from every movie.” The image, first seen in print in the New York Post after Candy’s death six months later, became the most widely reproduced of Hujar’s works during his lifetime.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Candy Darling on her Deathbed (installation view)
1973
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Fran Lebowitz at Home in Morristown, New Jersey' 1974

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Fran Lebowitz at Home in Morristown, New Jersey
1974
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Self-Portrait Jumping (1)' 1974

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Self-Portrait Jumping (1)
1974
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Self-Portrait Jumping (1) (installation view)
1974
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Susan Sontag' 1975

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Susan Sontag
1975
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Susan Sontag (installation view)
1975
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Christopher Street Pier (2) (installation view)
1976
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Christopher Street Pier (2)' 1976

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Christopher Street Pier (2)
1976
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

Jeu de Paume presents a selection of 150 photographs of this singular artist from October 15th, 2019 to January 19th, 2020. The exhibition follows Hujar’s work from the beginnings mid 1950 until the 1980s, shaping a portrait of the underground New York City.

The life and art of Peter Hujar (1934-1987) were rooted in downtown New York. Private by nature, combative in manner, well-read, and widely connected, Hujar inhabited a world of avant-garde dance, music, art, and drag performance. His mature career paralleled the public unfolding of gay life between the Stonewall uprising* in 1969 and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

After graduating from high school in 1953, Hujar worked as an assistant to commercial photographers until 1968. Five years of contributing features to mass-market magazines convinced him that a fashion career “wasn’t right for me” and in 1973 he opted for an autonomous, near-penniless life as an artist. In his loft studio above a theater in the East Village, Hujar focused on those who obeyed their creative instincts and shunned mainstream success.

At age forty-two, he published his only monograph, Portraits in Life and Death, and opened his first solo gallery show. The searching intimacy he achieved as a portraitist carried over into unsentimental photographs of animals and plants, landscapes, buildings, and the unique features of nude bodies.

Hujar’s brief affair in 1981 with the young artist David Wojnarowicz evolved into a mentoring bond that changed both their lives. On their excursions to blighted areas around New York, Hujar crafted the portrait of a city in free fall, complementing Wojnarowicz’s dark vision of Reagan-era America.

Peter Hujar died of AIDS-related pneumonia in November 1987.

Press release from Jeu de Paume

 

Early years

In 1953, Peter Hujar finished high school in Manhattan, where he had studied photography. He then worked for some fifteen years as an assistant to commercial photographers. Punctuating those years were two long periods in Italy, buoyed by scholarships – a first one that was obtained by a boyfriend (1958-1959) and then his own (1962-1963). From 1968 to 1972, he tried to make it as a freelancer in the mass-market world of fashion, music, and advertising photography. The hustle “wasn’t right for me,” and he turned his back on the commercial mainstream. From this time on he lived on almost nothing, squeaking by on small jobs, taking paying jobs only when necessary and focusing on the subjects he found compelling. In 1973, he moved to the crumbling East Village, into a loft that would become the setting for his mature studio work, most notably the vast majority of his portraits.

 

Portraits

Portraiture was central to Hujar’s practice. The subjects of his art, Hujar wrote, were “those who push themselves to any extreme” and those who “cling to the freedom to be themselves.” “In a sense, I am still a fashion photographer. These people are chic but in a dark kind of way. Most of them are unknown or maybe known to just a few, but they have all been creative adventurers and possess a certain spirit.”

Most of his portraits were posed, but Hujar often expected his models to perform in front of the camera, which made many of the shoots truly collaborative ventures. Disguises and props were often incorporated, and his subjects were sometimes veiled, simultaneously revealing and masking themselves.

The reclining portrait is a photographic genre Hujar made his own. The pose features extensively in his 1976 monograph Portraits in Life and Death, and he continued to rely on it as a means of capturing something unique in his sitter: to face a camera lens from a reclining position is an unfamiliar and provoking experience.

 

New York

“The happiest times with Peter, when he wasn’t photographing, were walking around Manhattan, looking at the crowns of buildings, and the fantasies about ‘living there,'” remembers Gary Schneider, one of his close friends.

Born in New Jersey, Hujar spent all his life in New York, and more specifically in Manhattan, whose buildings, streets, and piers he started photographing more extensively in the second half of the 1970s. Divided between Downtown’s derelict areas and Midtown’s skyscrapers, Hujar’s New York is often a nocturnal city: a place of abandoned structures, night-time cruising, and early-dawn vistas. A few journeys outside New York, during the summer months, to the beaches of Fire Island in the Hamptons, and, in the early 1980s, to the countryside around Germantown, forty miles north of New York, along the Hudson River, offer other glimpses of Peter Hujar’s personal geography, testifying to the variety of subjects that he found worth photographing.

 

Bodies

Portraiture of bodies was another focal point of Hujar’s last decade of work. In 1978, some of his works were included in The Male Nude: A photographic Survey at the Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery in New York.

Bodies, he suggested, could be read as freely as faces for character, emotion, or life story.

He photographed bodies in the extremes of youth and old age, bodies displaying unique features, and bodies in transient states, notably pregnancy and arousal.

Whether photographing faces or bodies, Hujar was attentive to the characteristics conferred by time and experience, such as Manny Vasquez’s spinal tap scar and the imprint left by socks on Randy Gilberti’s ankles. “I want people to feel the picture and smell it,” he said of his nudes, which he contrasted to the idealised bodies in Robert Mapplethorpe’s work.

 

Gracie Mansion Gallery, 1986

When exhibiting his work, Hujar employed two distinct methods. He displayed prints either in isolation (notably in his loft, where just one photograph at a time was on view) or in large groupings, two images high, as on this wall. For the last exhibition during his lifetime, in January 1986 in New York, Hujar covered the walls of the Gracie Mansion Gallery with a frieze of seventy photographs in no apparent order. He fine-tuned the layout for days until no one type of image (portrait, nude, animal, still life, landscape, cityscape) appeared twice consecutively. Each of his subjects thus preserved its own identity and singularity rather than serving as a variation on an imposed theme.

The arrangement highlighted his inventive range, created echoes among seemingly unrelated images, and drew attention to preoccupations that had recurred throughout his career. The display in this room centres on images taken in the 1980s and is freely inspired by that 1986 exhibition.

 

Andy Warhol

In 1964 Peter Hujar was a regular visitor to The Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio at 231 East 47th Street in New York. He posed four times for Screen Tests, brief portraits filmed by Warhol and screened in slow motion. Together with his friend Paul Thek, Hujar was chosen as one of the “Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys”, whose film portraits were regularly shown at the Factory and at parties and events elsewhere. Among the other personalities figuring in the Screen Tests in 1964-1965 were the actor-directors Dennis Hopper and Jack Smith, together with writer-critic Susan Sontag and poet John Ashbery – both of whom would later pose for Hujar.

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'From Rockefeller Center: The Equitable Building' 1976

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
From Rockefeller Center: The Equitable Building
1976
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Reclining Nude on Couch' 1978

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Reclining Nude on Couch
1978
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Boy on Raft' 1978

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Boy on Raft
1978
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Surf (2)' Nd

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Surf (2)
Nd
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Boys in Car, Halloween' 1978

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Boys in Car, Halloween
1978
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Dana Reitz's Legs, Walking' 1979

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Dana Reitz’s Legs, Walking
1979
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Dana Reitz’s Legs, Walking (installation view)
1979
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Gary in Contortion (2)' 1979

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Gary in Contortion (2)
1979
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'David Wojnarowicz Reclining (2)' 1981

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
David Wojnarowicz Reclining (2)
1981
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
David Wojnarowicz Reclining (2) (installation view)
1981
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

A hallmark of Hujar’s portraiture is the invisibility of technique – a kind of visual innocence – as if the camera were not present and the subject had been happened upon, discovered there, as Ludlam appears to be, in medias res.

Philip Gefter. “Peter Hujar’s Downtown,” on the NYR Daily website [Online] Cited 01/11/2019

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'David Wojnarowicz' 1981

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
David Wojnarowicz
1981
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
David Wojnarowicz (installation view)
1981
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

“Hermetic appeal and an identification with psychic damage came together in Hujar’s last important relationship, with the meteoric younger artist David Wojnarowicz, who was a ravaged hustler when they met at a bar in late 1980 and who died from AIDS in 1992. They were lovers briefly, then buddies and soul mates. Wojnarowicz said that Hujar “was like the parent I never had, like the brother I never had.” In return, he inspired fresh energies in Hujar’s life and late work. In a breathtakingly intimate portrait of Wojnarowicz with a cigarette and tired eyes, from 1981, the young man’s gaze meets that of the camera, with slightly wary – but willing and plainly reciprocated – devotion: love, in a way. Their story could make for a good novel or movie – as it well may, in sketched outline in your mind, while you navigate this aesthetically fierce, historically informative, strangely tender show.”

Peter Schjeldahl. “The Bohemian Rhapsody of Peer Hujar: Photographs at the crossroads of high art and low life,” on The New Yorker website January 29, 2018 [Online] Cited 01/11/2019

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Ethyl Eichelberger as Minnie the Maid' 1981

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Ethyl Eichelberger as Minnie the Maid
1981
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Greer Lankton' 1983

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Greer Lankton
1983
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

Hujar observed his companions in this outlaw life with what might be called warm objectivity. Whatever the portrait subject – doll maker and transgender pioneer Greer Lankton, model Bruce St. Croix sitting naked on a chair and handling his huge erection, Warhol superstar Candy Darling on her death bed, or a pair of cows in a muddy field – he photographed them directly with his 2 1/4, often at close range, without props or gauzy lighting.

Richard B. Woodward. “Peter Hujar: Speed of Life @Morgan Library,” on the Collector Daily website February 21, 2018 [Online] Cited 01/11/2019

 

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Gary Indiana Veiled
1981
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Some iPhone installation photographs and others

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Woman and Girl in Window Italy
c. 1963
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Woman and Girl in Window Italy' c. 1963 

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Woman and Girl in Window Italy
c. 1963
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Young Man and Boy, Italy (installation view)
1958
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

 

He began as a street photographer, on the prowl for unrehearsed gestures, as can be seen in a 1958 picture in Italy of a well-dressed young man touching his thick coif of dark hair and standing next to a pudgy boy in a cap who has his hands in his pockets.

Richard B. Woodward. “Peter Hujar: Speed of Life @Morgan Library,” on the Collector Daily website February 21, 2018 [Online] Cited 01/11/2019

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987) 'Young Man and Boy, Italy' 1958

 

Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987)
Young Man and Boy, Italy
1958
Tirage gélatino-argentique
The Morgan Library & Museum, achat en 2013 grâce au Charina Endowment Fund
© Peter Hujar Archive, LLC, courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Peter Hujar: Speed of Life' at Jeu de Paume, Paris