Posts Tagged ‘American fine art photography

19
Apr
19

Photographs: ‘The Seven Last Words’ 1898 by F. Holland Day (1864-1933)

April 2019

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
The Seven Last Words
1898
Seven platinum prints in original frame
H x W (overall with frame): 8 1/2 x 35 1/2 in. (21.6 x 90.2 cm)
Barbara M. Marshall Fund, Frank B. Bemis Fund, Otis Norcross Fund, William E. Nickerson Fund, Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund, and funds by exchange from a Gift of James Lawrence, Dorothy Mackenzie and John E. Lawrence, and funds donated by Michael and Elizabeth Marcus, Charles W. Millard III, and Scott Nathan and Laura DeBonis Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

Where Do We Come From / What Are We / Where Are We Going

I went to see one of my best friends for the last time in hospital today.

Joyce has been like a surrogate mother to me for the last eight years. She has been wise counsel, friend, support, teacher, reconciler, adventurer and philosopher to this sometimes lost man. We had many adventures to exhibitions and openings, to our favourite restaurant Caffe e Cucina to have dinner, or going to see “Our Julia”, an exhibition of her favourite photographer Julia Margaret Cameron at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. It is so sad in this life that we have to loose the wisdom of age only for the mistakes of past generations to be repeated over and over again.

Both Joyce and I do not believe in traditional, dogmatic religion. Both of us cannot stand the hypocrisy, baloney and proselytising that religion undertakes in the name of an “imaginary friend.” Religion is a crutch for the dogmatic who then impose their beliefs, and discrimination, on others.

But we both believe in spirit, that ineffable quality of experience where you obtain communion with the energy of the cosmos. A feeling, an emotional energy of connection to body, spirit and soul. Something noumenal, something that we have knowledge of, but that we can’t completely describe.

Strip away the baggage of religion from these photographs and you are left with a man being tortured and his spirit suffering. I wonder what this man was like when he was a baby? Who did he talk to growing up, what did he say, who did he meet. What was his essential journey to get to this place? Imagine Pontius Pilate not washing his hands of him, but sitting down with him and having a philosophical discussion on the nature of existence and being.

I felt immense love and sadness, hope and sorrow when I saw Joyce for the last time on this earth. I wished her a good journey and told her that I would see her soon.

I will miss her strength, intelligence, and beautiful spirit. But above all I will miss her love.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

If we can find out what we are… that is the artist.

And then, this goes to the core element of your being:

If the core part of your life is the search for the truth then that becomes a core part of your identity for the rest of your life,

and the core element of your enquiry remains the same.

It becomes embedded in your soul.

.
Joyce Evans

 

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

Father forgive them they know not what they do

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

Woman behold thy son: Son thy mother

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

My God my God why hast thou forsaken me

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

I thirst

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

Into thy hands I commend my spirit

 

F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933) 'The Seven Last Words' 1898

It is finished

 

 

From 1895 to 1898 Day undertook a project that was without precedent: an extended series – some 250 negatives – showing scenes of the life of Christ, from the Annunciation to the Resurrection, in which he played the title role. In 1890 Day had traveled to Oberammergau to see the famous once-a-decade Passion Plays and may well have seen a similar multimedia presentation that toured the East Coast, including Boston, later in the 1890s. For his own production, Day starved himself, let his beard grow long, and imported cloth and a cross from Syria. Just prior to the reenacted Crucifixion, he made this series of close-up self-portraits – the most powerful images in his entire series – which represent Christ’s seven last words:

FATHER FORGIVE THEM; THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.

TODAY THOU SHALT BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.

WOMAN, BEHOLD THY SON; SON, THY MOTHER

MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?

I THIRST.

INTO THY HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT.

IT IS FINISHED.

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For many people, Day’s self-portraits as Christ were – and remain – unsettling, as one tries to reconcile their fact and fiction. Day defended the use of photography for sacred subjects as a matter of artistic freedom, and Steichen wrote, “Few paintings contain as much that is spiritual and sacred in them as do the ‘Seven Words’ of Mr. Day. … If we knew not its origin or its medium how different would be the appreciation of some of us, and if we cannot place our range of vision above this prejudice the fault lies wholly with us. If there are limitations to any of the arts, they are technical; but of the motif to be chosen the limitations are dependent on the man – if he is a master he will give us great art and ever exalt himself.”

Text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 26/03/2019

 

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973) 'Solitude (Portrait of F. Holland Day)' 1901

 

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973)
Solitude (Portrait of F. Holland Day)
1901
Platinum print
Barbara M. Marshall Fund, Frank B. Bemis Fund, Otis Norcross Fund, William E. Nickerson Fund, Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund, and funds by exchange from a Gift of James Lawrence, Dorothy Mackenzie and John E. Lawrence, and funds donated by Michael and Elizabeth Marcus, Charles W. Millard III, and Scott Nathan and Laura DeBonis
Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

Widely considered one of the masterpieces of photographic history, the monumental self portrait depicts Day as Christ in a series of seven platinum prints set in a frame designed by the artist. The work is a high point of Pictorialism – the turn-of-the-century movement advocating the artistic merit of photography. With few prints ever made by the artist and a tragic fire destroying his studio, Day’s photographs are tremendously rare. The Museum also acquired the crown of thorns worn by Day in The Seven Last Words and three important portraits of Day taken by photographers Edward Steichen, James Craig Annan and Clarence H. White. They were kept by the artist as part of his personal archive.

“The Seven Last Words is one of the most significant images in the history of photography, a work that reverberates with iconic importance and one that influenced subsequent artists significantly,” said Anne E. Havinga, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs at the MFA.

Born into an affluent family in Norwood, F. Holland Day was a turn-of-the-century Bostonian with an ultra-refined aesthetic sensibility and a multitude of interests, particularly in art and literature. He was a member of the “Boston Bohemians,” a circle of friends with whom he shared a love for the Arts and Crafts movement, sophisticated wit and Symbolist literature and art. He was also an admirer of old master painting and classical sculpture, and collected Japanese decorative arts and drawings. His interests led him into a career as a fine book publisher and photographer.

Day became interested in photography in the mid 1880s, joining the Pictorialist crusade to prove that photography could be a fine art, and within a decade he had become one of the most important figures in the international movement. While Day championed the same goals promoted by fellow photographers, he also defended religious imagery and the male nude – subjects that had previously been the domain of painting and sculpture. The seriousness of Day’s approach to artistic photography and his heightened sense of symbolism, enhanced by the subtle, low-keyed tonalities of his prints, were an inspiration to other photographers of the time.

In 1898, Day began exploring religious themes in his photographs. His “Sacred Studies,” as he called them, were widely acclaimed for their high-art aspirations – as seen in their relation to old master religious painting – and their unquestionable daring. The Seven Last Words was one of Day’s most expressive and best-known pieces and continues to be admired by many contemporary artists, especially those who explore identity, role play and staged photography in their work. Each of the seven photographs in the work, set in a frame designed by the artist, represents one of the last phrases spoken by Christ:

Father forgive them they know not what they do.
Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.
Woman behold thy son: Son thy mother.
My God my God why hast thou forsaken me.
I thirst.
Into thy hands I commend my spirit.
It is finished.

.
Only two other versions of the work exist today: one is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (without the artist-designed frame) and a third is owned by a private collector (with an altered frame). The MFA’s version is in tremendous condition and is in its original, un-altered frame.

Text from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston website [Online] Cited 26/03/2019

 

 

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28
Nov
13

Vale Saul Leiter: the world will be less colour-full, less abstract, less sensual without him

November 2013

 

Saul Leiter. 'Foot on El' 1954

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Foot on El
1954

 

 

“Seeing is a neglected enterprise,” Mr. Leiter often said.

“I am not immersed in self-admiration,” he said. “When I am listening to Vivaldi or Japanese music or making spaghetti at 3 in the morning and realise that I don’t have the proper sauce for it, fame is of no use.”

“He broke all the rules when it came to composing a photograph,” said Mr. Leiter’s assistant, Margit Erb, who confirmed his death, at his home. “He put things into the abstract, he paid attention to colour, he threw foregrounds out of focus, which made the photographs feel very voyeuristic. He applied a painterly mentality that the photography world had not seen.”

.
His art was enough.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Saul Leiter. 'Taxi' 1956

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Taxi
1956

 

 

“”In order to build a career and to be successful, one has to be determined,” Mr. Leiter said in an interview for a monograph published in Germany in 2008. “One has to be ambitious. I much prefer to drink coffee, listen to music and to paint when I feel like it.” …

Unplanned and unstaged, Mr. Leiter’s photographs are slices fleetingly glimpsed by a walker in the city. People are often in soft focus, shown only in part or absent altogether, though their presence is keenly implied. Sensitive to the city’s found geometry, he shot by design around the edges of things: vistas are often seen through rain, snow or misted windows.

“A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person,” Mr. Leiter says in [the film] “In No Great Hurry.””

Read the obituary of this wonderful artist at “Saul Leiter, Photographer Who Captured New York’s Palette, Dies at 89” on the New York Times website, November 27, 2013

 

 

More images

Exhibition: ‘Saul Leiter’ at Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna, January – May 2013
Exhibition: ‘Saul Leiter Retrospective’ at The House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg, February – April 2012
Exhibition: ‘Saul Leiter: New York Reflections’ at the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, October 2011 – March 2012

 

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17
Oct
13

Exhibition: ‘Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th October 2013 – 2nd March 2014

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

You saw it here first on Art Blart!

What a gorgeous exhibition. It’s about time Melbourne had a bit of style put back into the National Gallery of Victoria, and this exhibition hits it out of the park. Not only are the photographs absolutely fabulous but the frocks are absolutely frocking as well. Well done to the NGV for teaming the photographs with the fashion and for a great install (makes a change to see 2D and 3D done so well together). Elegant, sophisticated and oozing quality, this is a sure fire winner…. Review of the photographs to follow.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the NGV for allowing me to take and publish the photographs. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Marcus Bunyan and the National Gallery of Victoria. May be used freely if permission is sought and proper accreditation given.

 

 

Room 1

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

(L-R) Vogue March First 1926; Vogue November 15, 1925; and Vanity Fair June 1926
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The National Gallery of Victoria will showcase the glamour and modernity of the Art Deco period through the work of fashion’s most influential photographer, Edward Steichen, and stunning Art Deco fashion garments and accessories. The exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion is the first Australian survey of Steichen, widely considered to have created the first modern fashion photo. The exhibition features almost 200 of Steichen’s original vintage photographs, drawn from the vast archives of Condé Nast where he was chief photographer for their most prestigious magazines Vanity Fair and Vogue during the 1920s and 30s, alongside more than forty exquisite Art Deco fashion items from the NGV Collection and select private collections.

Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV, said that Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion is the first major Australian retrospective dedicated to Steichen’s iconic Condé Nast work.

“Steichen’s evocative images are regarded as among the most striking in early-to-mid-20th century photography and his fashion work in particular revolutionised the genre of fashion photography. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view such a large body of his work and to see up close the intricate details of outstanding Art Deco fashion items that highlight the interplay between fashion and photography,” said Mr Ellwood.

The exhibition presents Steichen’s pioneering modernist fashion photography and celebrity portraiture, produced during his fifteen year career as chief photographer for esteemed Condé Nast publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. During this period he put his exceptional talents and prodigious energy to work, creating a legacy of unequalled brilliance as he photographed the world of high fashion and stars of contemporary popular culture including Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, Katherine Hepburn, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper, Winston Churchill and George Gershwin. Steichen’s images transformed fashion photography and influenced generations of photographers, capturing the sophistication of the newly liberated ‘modern woman’ and encapsulating the chic beauty and avant-garde style of the Art Deco movement. Renowned as an innovator and master of lighting, his practice bridged the transition from photography’s early soft-focus, pictorialist style to clean, crisp modernism.

Echoing the aesthetics of Steichen’s photographs, this exhibition will also celebrate the fashion borne of the period with over forty exquisite Art Deco garments and accessories by leading designers of the day including Chanel, Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Paquin and Callot Soeurs. The elegance of old Hollywood glamour and high end fashion will be seen through a range of pieces – including swimsuits, coats, evening gowns, beach pyjamas, dresses, hats, bags and shoes, as well as an early example of Chanel’s little black dress. Art Deco style developed in response to changing lifestyles and ideals following the First World War. Typically characterised by sleek, geometric lines, rich colours and luxurious adornments, these new forms represented a shift away from traditional values; in fashion, hemlines rose and hairstyles became shorter, culminating in the infamous mid-twenties flapper style.

Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion also displays rare copies of Vogue and Vanity Fair that demonstrate the way Steichen’s photographs appeared on the magazine page. Two catalogues accompany the exhibition: Art Deco Fashion, a magazine-style volume that charts the development of the modern silhouette and highlights some of the leading designers of the period, and Edward Steichen: In High Fashion – The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937, a lavishly illustrated 288 page publication that focuses on Steichen’s legendary Vogue and Vanity Fair work.

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria

 

Room Two

CALLOT SOUERS, Paris couture hours 1925 - 1937 Marie CALLOT GERBER designer France c. 1870 - 1927 'Dress' c.1925 silk, glass beads, metallic thread

 

Callot Souers, Paris
Couture house (1925-1937)
Marie Callot Gerber designer
France c. 1870-1927
Dress
c. 1925
Silk, glass beads, metallic thread

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' at NGV International

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion at NGV International
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours
Daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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28
Jul
13

Exhibition: ‘A World of Bonds: Frederick Sommer’s Photography and Friendships’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Exhibition dates: 16th June – 4th August 2013

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Moon Culmination' 1951

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Moon Culmination
1951
gelatin silver print
24.2 x 19.2cm (9 1/2 x 7 9/16 in.)
Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

 

Frederick Sommer is not as well known as others in the famous quintet (the others being Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Minor White and Paul Strand). He is the (slightly) forgotten master. But for those that know his work, Frederick Sommer is the photographer’s photographer.

There is a visual and intellectual alchemy transmitted through his work. It is as if he was a magician, producing images out of thin air: paper cuts, smoke on glass, collage, found objects, rites, passages, cleavages, heroes, occultism (Paracelsus was a Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist). From the few photographs I have seen in the flesh his prints, like his thinking, have a volume to them that few other photographers can match. Here I must cede to the knowledge of my friend and photographer Ian Lobb who visited Sommer at his home in Prescott, Arizona.

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“You will notice with FS prints that the only date given is the date of the negative. This is not unusual of course, but one of FS strengths is being interested in returning to a negative and print it with enthusiasm after looking at other versions for a very long time.

Another strength is a really simple strong way of working – according to Les Walkling, FS had a block of wood the same size as an 8 x 10 contact print. By placing the print on this base as he spotted, the print was always raised above his work environment and the chance of an accident was reduced. So simple – so elegant. I see this state of mind repeated – eg when he was out photographing with Siskind and he found a pile of X-rays and said that this was his work for the day.

Caponigro and Sommer are the ones that make their technical skill communicate in very unique ways. By chronology, Sommer is the first one who found that something beyond the f/64 Group vocabulary could be said. Whereas Edward Weston and Paul Strand are working at about 3/10 for their prints, Sommer is working at 9/10. He doesn’t always get there in every print but when he succeeds the results are beyond what any other classical photographer ever achieved in the physical presence of the photograph.

Venus, Jupiter and Mars was the first extended viewing of Sommer that arrived here (in Australia). It would have been at the Printed Image (bookshop) in 1981.”

Ian Lobb

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

 

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Venus, Jupiter and Mars' 1949

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Venus, Jupiter and Mars
1949
Gelatin silver print
23.8 x 19.1cm (9 3/8 x 7 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Valise d'Adam' 1949

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Valise d’Adam
1949
Gelatin silver print
23.9 x 18.9 cm (9 7/16 x 7 7/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

 

Against a backdrop of rusting metal, Frederick Sommer arranged a grouping of found objects. A clipboard clamp represents a head and shoulders while dirty, cracking doll’s arms and legs provide more literal context, defining the object as a human body. Within that fragmented body, Sommer places a complete doll with its head pointed downward, as if ready to be born.  The photograph’s French title, Valise d’Adam, or as Sommer translated it, Adam’s Traveling Case, is a sly reference to the idea that man travels through woman into the world, and perhaps, woman even carries man through life.

 

Aaron Siskind. 'Manzanillo, Mexico' 1955

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991)
Manzanillo, Mexico
1955
Gelatin silver print
35.6 x 27.8cm (14 x 10 15/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, René Huyghe Collection
Image courtesy of the Aaron Siskind Foundation

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Untitled' 1947

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Untitled
1947
Gelatin silver print
24.2 x 19.1cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Frederick Sommer. 'The Anatomy of a Chicken' 1939

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
The Anatomy of a Chicken
1939
Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard
24.1 x 19cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Paracelsus' 1957

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Paracelsus
1957
Gelatin silver print
34.3 x 25.6cm (13 1/2 x 10 1/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

 

Paracelsus (1493/1494 – 24 September 1541), born Theophrastus von Hohenheim (full name Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), was a Swiss physician, alchemist, lay theologian, and philosopher of the German Renaissance.

He was a pioneer in several aspects of the “medical revolution” of the Renaissance, emphasising the value of observation in combination with received wisdom. He is credited as the “father of toxicology”. Paracelsus also had a substantial impact as a prophet or diviner, his “Prognostications” being studied by Rosicrucians in the 1600s. Paracelsianism is the early modern medical movement inspired by the study of his works.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Cut Paper' 1980

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Cut Paper
1980
gelatin silver print
24.2 x 18.7cm (9 1/2 x 7 3/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

 

The National Gallery of Art explores the continuities in Frederick Sommer’s varied body of work and demonstrates the influence of his friendships with fellow artists in the exhibition A World of Bonds: Frederick Sommer’s Photography and Friendships, on view in the East Building from June 16 to August 4, 2013. Drawn from the Gallery’s significant holdings, which include a major 1995 gift from the artist himself, the exhibition showcases 27 works by Sommer, Edward Weston, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Aaron Siskind, and Charles Sheeler, including three pieces on loan from other museums and private collections.

“The Gallery is privileged to display this influential body of work, which illuminates Frederick Sommer’s interactions with his fellow artists,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “In addition to photographs drawn from our permanent collection, we are grateful to the lenders who have assisted us in revealing the continuities in Sommer’s broad range of work, as well as The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation for its generous support.”

 

About the exhibition

The exhibition showcases the beauty and diversity of Sommer’s striking images and places them in the context of his formative friendships with such prominent contemporaries as Edward Weston, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, and Aaron Siskind.

As an artist, Frederick Sommer notoriously defies classification. Over the span of more than 60 years, he created paintings, drawings, and photographs, as well as collages, musical scores, poetry, and theoretical texts. Today, Sommer is best known for his photography, the medium in which he produced his most inventive visual experiments and which best suited the breadth of his visual interests. These ranged from disorienting desert landscapes to surrealistic arrangements of found objects, and to abstractions that brought together drawing and photography.

“All rare things should be lent away / and I have borrowed very freely,” Sommer wrote of his art. He also asserted that “the world is not a world of cleavages, it is a world of bonds.” This exhibition examines both claims, offering a glimpse into the ways in which Sommer shared ideas with his contemporaries while simultaneously creating a body of work uniquely his own.

 

About the artist

Just as he defied the bounds of medium and genre, Sommer, who lived in the small town of Prescott, Arizona, also never fully belonged to any artistic group or movement. His work reflects both wide-ranging personal interests and a broad scope of artistic affinities with artists as divergent as the surrealists and the members of the f/64 group of West Coast photographers.

Sommer’s circle of close artist-friends and mentors helps explain his idiosyncratic sensibilities. This circle included the photographer Edward Weston, whose precise attention to the details of the natural world inspired Sommer’s turn to photography. Equally important to Sommer, however, was his friendship with Max Ernst, the surrealist whose automatic painting techniques and uncanny imagery encouraged Sommer to reconfigure familiar objects into strange new creations. Aaron Siskind was yet another close friend and peer with whom Sommer shared a fascination with the abstract textures of everyday materials. Other artists represented in the exhibition who influenced Sommer’s approach to photographing assemblages and his exploration of photographic abstraction include Man Ray and Charles Sheeler.

Text from the National Gallery of Art website

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Coyotes' 1945

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Coyotes
1945
Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard
19 x 24.2cm (7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

John Cato. 'Man tracks #9R' from the 'Mantracks' series 1978-83

 

John Cato
Man tracks #9R
from the Mantracks series 1978-83
Gelatin silver photograph
42.9 x 35.2cm

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Ondine' 1950

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Ondine
1950
Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard
19.2 x 24.3cm (7 9/16 x 9 9/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

 

The nymph Ondine was an immortal water spirit who became human after falling in love for a man, marrying him, and having a baby. In one of the versions of the tale, when she caught her husband sleeping with another woman, she cursed him to remain awake in order to control his own breathing.

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Taylor, Arizona' 1945

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Taylor, Arizona
1945
Gelatin silver print
19.2 x 24.2cm (7 9/16 x 9 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Max Ernst' 1946

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Max Ernst
1946
Gelatin silver print
19.05 x 24.13cm (7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.)
Collection of Susan and Peter MacGill
Frederick & Frances Sommer Foundation

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Untitled' 1947

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Untitled
1947
Gelatin silver print
19 x 24cm (7 1/2 x 9 7/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Coyotes' 1941

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Coyotes
1941
Gelatin silver print
19.1 x 24.1cm (7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Les Walkling (Australia born 1953) 'Flypaper' 1980

 

Les Walkling (Australia, b. 1953)
Flypaper
1980
Gelatin silver photograph
19.1 x 24.3cm
Gift of the Philip Morris Arts Grant 1982
© Les Walkling

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Lacryma' 1992

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Lacryma
1992
Collage of photomechanical reproductions of lithographic, relief and intaglio prints on
heavyweight wove paper
36 x 42.4 cm (14 3/16 x 16 11/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Lacryma, alternative form of lacrima – a tear (drop of liquid from crying)

 

Frederick Sommer. 'Drawing' 1948

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
Drawing
1948
Tempera on black wove paper
30.4 x 46.9 cm (11 15/16 x 18 7/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Frederick Sommer. 'The Queen of Sheba' 1992

 

Frederick Sommer (American, 1905-1999)
The Queen of Sheba
1992
Collage of photomechanical reproductions of relief and intaglio prints on heavyweight wove
paper
21.8 x 31.8cm (8 9/16 x 12 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Frederick Sommer

 

Fiona Hall. 'Envy, Seven Deadly Sins' 1985

 

Fiona Hall (Australian, b. 1953)
Envy, Seven Deadly Sins
1985
Polaroid photograph
61 × 50.8cm
© Fiona Hall

 

 

National Gallery of Art
National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets
Constitution Avenue NW, Washington

Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday 1000am – 5.00pm
Sunday 11.00am – 6.00pm

National Gallery of Art website

Frederick Sommer website

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25
Jul
13

Exhibition: ‘Herb Ritts: Beauty and Celebrity’ at Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City

Exhibition dates: 9th May – 28th July 2013

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Fred with Tires - Bodyshop Series, Hollywood' 1984

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Fred with Tires – Bodyshop Series, Hollywood
1984
Gelatin silver print
24 x 20 in. (60.9 x 50.8cm)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

 

I admit that I went through a stage of disliking Herb Ritts photographs – no longer!
In contemplation, his formal aestheticism confirms a serene beauty – spare, refined, erotic.

Marcus

 

Fred with Tires became the archetypal photograph of the male body in the 1980s and made the world-wide reputation of its commercial photographer, Herb Ritts. Gay men flocked to buy it, myself included. I was drawn by the powerful, perfectly sculpted body, the butchness of his job, the dirty trousers, the boots and the body placed within a social context. At the time I realised that the image of this man was a constructed fantasy, ie. not the ‘real’ thing, and this feeling of having been deceived has grown ever since. His hair is teased up and beautifully styled, the grease is applied to his body just so, his body twisted to just the right degree to accentuate the muscles of the stomach and around the pelvis. You can just imagine the stylist standing off camera ready to readjust the hair if necessary, the assistants with their reflectors playing more light onto the body. This/he is the seduction of a marketable homoeroticsm, the selling of an image as sex, almost camp in its overt appeal to gay archetypal stereotypes.

Herb Ritts, whether in his commercial work or in his personal images such as those of the gay bodybuilders Bob Paris and Rod Jackson, has helped increase the acceptance of the openly homoerotic photograph in a wider sphere but this has been possible only with an increased acceptance of homosexual visibility within the general population. 
Openly gay bodies such as that of Australian rugby league star Ian Roberts or American diver Greg Luganis can become heroes and role models to young gay men coming out of the closet for the first time, visible evidence that gay men are everywhere in every walk of life. This is fantastic because young gay men do need gay role models to look up to but the bodies they possess only conform to the one type, that of the muscular mesomorph and this reinforces the ideal of a traditional masculinity. Yes, the guy in the shower next to you might be a poofter, might be queer for heavens sake, but my God what a body he’s got!”

Marcus Bunyan. “Historical Pressings,” from Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male (Phd thesis) 2001

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

 

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Djimon with Octopus, Hollywood' 1989

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Djimon with Octopus, Hollywood
1989
Gelatin silver print
44.5 x 38.7cm (17 1/2 x 15 1/4 in.)
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Tony with shadow, Los Angeles' 1988

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Tony with shadow, Los Angeles
1988
Gelatin silver print
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Point Dume' 1987

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Point Dume
1987
Gelatin silver print
31.9 x 25.4cm (12 9/16 x 10 in.)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb-Ritts-Versace-Dress,-Back-View,-El-Mirage,-1990-WEB

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Versace Dress, Back View, El Mirage
1990
Gelatin silver print
137.2 x 109.2 cm (54 x 43 in.)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

 

The American photographer Herb Ritts produced a body of work in the 1980s and 1990s that seems to embody the outdoor lifestyle and glamour of the southern California beautiful set. This photograph, taken at El Mirage Dry Lake in California, appeared on the cover of Italian designer Gianni Versace’s September 1990 catalogue and incorporates a formalism and contemporary sensuality characteristic of Ritts’s aesthetic. Ritts’s photograph appeals through its boldly contrasting lights and darks.

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Versace Veiled Dress, El Mirage' 1990

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Versace Veiled Dress, El Mirage
1990
55.8 x 44.6cm (21 15/16 x 17 9/16 in.)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Now and Zen 1, El Mirage' 1999

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Now and Zen 1, El Mirage
1999
Gelatin silver print
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

 

Herb Ritts: Beauty and Celebrity will be on view at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art from May 9 through July 28, 2013. Organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with the support of the Herb Ritts Foundation and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, this exhibition will feature over eighty large-scale black-and-white photographs by acclaimed photographer, Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002). Ranging in scale from intimate portraits to ten foot murals, the exhibition will highlight the diversity of the artist’s work. Known for his innovative approach to fashion, intimate portraiture of celebrities, and the classical treatment of the nude, Ritts emerged in the 1980s to become one of the most successful celebrity and fashion photographers of the late twentieth century and an important part of the history of American photography.

Herb Ritts grew up in Los Angeles and maintained his studio in Hollywood. A self-taught photographer, Ritts first began taking photographs in the late 1970s after studying economics at Bard College. The intimate publicity images that he made of Richard Gere were among his first serious portraits and helped to launch his career. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ritts built his reputation as a leading celebrity portraitist and fashion photographer, contributing regularly to publications such as GQMademoiselleVogue, andVanity Fair. From 1988, he also made music videos and commercials for which he won numerous awards.

The photographs included in the exhibition represent some of Herb Ritts’s most iconic works which incorporate the natural light of the California sun while emphasising shapes, unusual juxtapositions, and the beauty of the human form. Ritts celebrates nature and the human body in evoking the tactile appeal of surface textures of grains of sand, veiled fabric, drying mud, and cascading water seen in Waterfall 4 (1988), Backflip (1987), and Woman in Sea (1988). Fashion photographs on view include such asVersace Veiled Dress, El Mirage (1990), Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood (1989), and Djimon with Octopus (1989). Examples of celebrity portraiture include Richard Gere, Jack Nicholson, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Depp, Bruce Springsteen, Drew Barrymore, David Bowie, Matthew McConaughey, and Mick Jagger. Also included in the exhibition are poetic and eternal images in Ritts’s Africa series, taken in 1993 when he traveled to East Africa, and examples from the rare Corps et Ames (1999) series of photographs, portraying dancers in motion.

This exhibition – drawn from the photography collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Herb Ritts Foundation – present Herb Ritts’ style and the range of his career.

Press release from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art website

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Male Nude with Bubble, Los Angeles' 1987

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Male Nude with Bubble, Los Angeles
1987
Gelatin silver print
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Wrapped Torso, Los Angeles' 1989

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Wrapped Torso, Los Angeles
1989
Platinum print
46.4 x 38.4cm (18 1/4 x 15 1/8 in.)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Backflip, Paradise Cove' 1987

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Backflip, Paradise Cove
1987
Gelatin silver print
90 x 70 in. (228.6 x 177.8cm)
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Corp et Âmes - 14, Los Angeles' 1999

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Corp et Âmes – 14, Los Angeles
1999
Gelatin silver print
14 x 11 in. (35.5 x 27.9cm)
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Chrissy Turlington, Versace 3, Milan' 1991

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Chrissy Turlington, Versace 3, Milan
1991
Gelatin silver print
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Madonna (True Blue Profile), Hollywood' 1986

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Madonna (True Blue Profile), Hollywood
1986
Gelatin silver print
24 x 20 in. (60.9 x 50.8cm)
Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Matthew McConaughey, Palmdale' 1996

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Matthew McConaughey, Palmdale
1996
Gelatin silver print
24 x 20 in. (60.9 x 50.8cm)
Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Loriki with Spear, Africa' 1993

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Loriki with Spear, Africa
1993
Gelatin silver print
45 x 41 in. (114.3 x 104.1cm)
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Tony Ward' 1986

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Tony Ward
1986
Gelatin silver print
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Waterfall IV, Hollywood' 1988

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Waterfall IV, Hollywood
1988
Platinum print
20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64cm)
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Woman in Sea, Hawaii' 1988

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Woman in Sea, Hawaii
1988
Gelatin silver print
24 x 20 in. (60.9 x 50.8cm)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Bill T. Jones VI, Los Angeles' 1995

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Bill T. Jones VI, Los Angeles
1995
Gelatin silver print
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002) 'Man with Chain, Los Angeles' 1985

 

Herb Ritts (American, 1952-2002)
Man with Chain, Los Angeles
1985
Gelatin silver print
47.8 x 38.4 cm (18 13/16 x 15 1/8 in.)
Gift of Herb Ritts. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Herb Ritts Foundation

 

 

Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: noon – 5pm
Closed: Mondays, Tuesdays and Major Holidays

Oklahoma City Museum of Art website

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24
Jul
13

Exhibition: ‘At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 28th July 2013

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1971
Dye-transfer print
31.1 x 47.7cm (12 1/4 x 18 3/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

Eggleston photographs the obvious with such candour and vigour that simple things become something more: almost interior statements of his mind evidenced in the physicality of the photograph. He may be at war with the obvious, but these are complex thoughts told in simple, eloquent ways. They are only obvious if you know how to look for them.

The peaches thrown on the roof, the rusted speculum of ‘Wonder Bread’, the turned up shoes; the use of foreshortening, the low positioning of the camera (looking up or across at ground level), the formalism of colour, the light.

Eggleston understands the essence of each scene he photographs perfectly. The child’s eye-level view of the tricycle emphasising its gigantism will always be a favourite, as will the abstract expressionist colour field of Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi) (1980, below). As with any virtuoso artist, Eggleston controls the tonality and mood of compositions beautifully: a case in point is Untitled (Memphis) (c. 1972, below) which will always remind me of a piece of Mozart piano music. It took me a while when I was growing up to like Mozart (as a concert pianist I loved the romantics such as Chopin and Debussy), but when you finally understand all the nuances contained in his music, when you finally grow to love him, you are just so full of admiration for his achievement.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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

 

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Mississippi)' c. 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Mississippi)
c. 1970
Dye-transfer print
25.1 x 38.3cm (9 7/8 x 15 1/16 in)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' (the artist's uncle, Adyn Schuyler Senior, with assistant Jasper Staples, in Cassidy Bayou, Sumner, Mississippi) 1969-70

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Sumner, Mississippi, Cassidy Bayou in Background)
1971 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
36.8 x 55.5cm (14 1/2 x 21 7/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled, from the portfolio 14 Pictures' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled, from the portfolio 14 Pictures
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Louisiana)' 1980 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Louisiana)
1980 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
30.2 x 45.3cm (11 7/8 x 17 13/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1980

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1980
Dye-transfer print
29.6 x 45.5cm (11 5/8 x 17 15/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

The American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern colour photography. Now, 50 years later, he is arguably its greatest exemplar. At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the work of this idiosyncratic artist, whose influences are drawn from disparate if surprisingly complementary sources – from Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson in photography to Bach and late Baroque music. Many of Eggleston’s most recognised photographs are lush studies of the social and physical landscape found in the Mississippi delta region that is his home. From this base, the artist explores the awesome and, at times, the raw visual poetics of the American vernacular.

The exhibition celebrates the fall 2012 acquisition of 36 dye transfer prints by Eggleston that dramatically expanded the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of this major American artist’s work. It added the entire suite of Eggleston’s remarkable first portfolio of colour photographs, 14 Pictures (1974), 15 superb prints from his landmark book, William Eggleston’s Guide (1976), and seven other key photographs that span his career.

Eggleston wrote that he was “at war with the obvious,” a statement well-represented in works such as Untitled [Peaches!] (1970) – a roadside snapshot of rocks and half-eaten fruit thrown atop a sunlit corrugated tin roof capped with a sign announcing “PEACHES!” The exhibition features a number of the artist’s signature images, including Untitled [Greenwood, Mississippi] (1980), a study that takes full advantage of the chromatic intensity of the dye-transfer colour process that, until Eggleston appropriated it in the 1960s, had been used primarily by commercial photographers for advertising product photography; and Untitled [Memphis] (1970), an iconic study of a child’s tricycle seen from below. It was the cover image of the artist’s seminal book William Eggleston’s Guide, which accompanied his landmark show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976.

As much as Eggleston was influenced by various sources, he, too, has proved influential. His inventive photographs of commonplace subjects now endure as touchstones for generations of artists, musicians, and filmmakers from Nan Goldin to David Byrne, the Coen brothers, and David Lynch.

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
1970
Dye-transfer print
30.7 x 43.8cm (12 1/16 x 17 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1983

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1983
Dye-transfer print
37 x 56cm (14 9/16 x 22 1/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1972 (printed 1986)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
c. 1972 (printed 1986)
Dye-transfer print
28.8 x 43.4cm (11 5/16 x 17 1/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1984

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1984
Dye-transfer print
55.9 x 37.1cm (22 x 14 5/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1970 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1970 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
55 x 37.1cm (21 5/8 x 14 5/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' c. 1972

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
c. 1972
Dye-transfer print
46 x 31cm (18 1/8 x 12 3/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Near Jackson, Mississippi)' c. 1970 (printed 2002)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Near Jackson, Mississippi)
c. 1970 (printed 2002)
Dye-transfer print
60.3 x 48.9cm (23 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' 1971 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
1971 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
55.4 x 36.8cm (21 13/16 x 14 1/2 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2012.283)
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
Phone: 212-535-7710

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Thursday: 9.30am – 5.30pm*
Friday and Saturday: 9.30am – 9.00pm*
Sunday: 9.30am – 5.30pm*
Closed Monday (except Met Holiday Mondays**), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

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04
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Arnold Newman: Masterclass’ at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Exhibition dates: 12th February – 12th May 2013

 

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

View the Arnold Newman: Masterclass video (50mins 30secs)

Marcus

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Arnold Newman: Masterclass' at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Installation view of the exhibition 'Arnold Newman: Masterclass' at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

 

Installation views of Arnold Newman: Masterclass at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Photos by Pete Smith
Images courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

 

Arnold Newman. 'Dr. Edwin H. Land with group of Polaroid Employees, Polaroid warehouse in Needham, Mass.,' 1977

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Dr. Edwin H. Land with group of Polaroid Employees, Polaroid warehouse in Needham, Mass.,
1977
Gelatin silver print
© 1977 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

Arnold Newman. 'Truman Capote, writer, New York' 1977

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Truman Capote, writer, New York
1977
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

“The thing is, with Penn or Avedon, they control totally the situation in the studio, and I’m always taking a chance, wherever I go.”

.
“What’s the truth in a portrait? Who do you believe? Sometimes you cannot determine this in just one picture… The only way to determine whether you believe it or not is to look at my other pictures.”

.
“Form, feeling … structure and detail … technique and sensibility: it must all come together.”

.
Arnold Newman

 

 

Arnold Newman: Masterclass, the first posthumous retrospective of Arnold Newman (1918-2006), explores the career of one of the finest portrait photographers of the 20th century. The Harry Ransom Center, which holds the Arnold Newman archive, hosts the exhibition’s first U.S. showing February 12 – May 12, 2013.

The show, curated by FEP’s William Ewing, highlights 200 framed vintage prints covering Newman’s career, selected from the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation and the collections of major American museums and private collectors. Twenty-eight photographs from the Ransom Center’s Newman archive are featured in the exhibition.

“This retrospective is a real occasion for a reappraisal,” said Todd Brandow, founding director of FEP. “Newman was a great teacher, and he loved sharing his knowledge. It was these ‘lessons’ that led us to the concept of ‘Masterclass,’ the idea that, even posthumously, Newman could go on teaching all of us – whether connoisseurs or neophytes – a great deal.”

A bold modernist with a superb sense of compositional geometry, Newman, called the father of ‘environmental portraiture,’ is known for a crisp, spare style that placed his subjects in the context of their work environments. The exhibition includes work prints, prints with crop marks, rough prints with printing instructions and variants that reveal Newman’s process and attention to detail. “For me the professional studio is a sterile world,” said Newman in a 1991 interview. “I need to get out: Be with people where they’re at home. I can’t photograph ‘the soul,’ but I can show and tell you something fundamental about them.”

“Newman was never comfortable with the environmental term, and the backgrounds of Newman’s portraits would never be secondary aspects of his compositions,” said Ewing. “He had a masterful command of both sitter and setting.”

His subjects included world leaders, authors, artists, musicians and scientists – Pablo Picasso in his studio; Igor Stravinsky sitting at the piano; Truman Capote lounging on his sofa; and Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, in the attic where his family hid from the Nazis for more than two years.

The exhibition takes stock of the entire range of Newman’s photographic art, showing many fine prints for the first time. The exhibition also includes Newman’s lesser-known and rarely exhibited still lifes, architectural studies, cityscapes and earliest portraits. While at the Ransom Center, the exhibition will be supplemented with holdings from the Center’s Newman archive, which contains all of Newman’s negatives, slides and colour transparencies, all of his original contact sheets and more than 2,000 prints, including examples of colour and collage work. The collection also includes Newman’s original sittings books, correspondence and business files, early sketchbooks and photographic albums.

Press release from the Harry Ransom Center website

 

Arnold Newman. 'Violin shop : patterns on table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania' 1941

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Violin shop : patterns on table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1941
Gelatin silver print
© 1941 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

Arnold Newman. 'Igor Stravinsky' 1945

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Igor Stravinsky
1945
Contact sheet of four negatives with Newman’s marks and cropping lines
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

 

 

Cropping was also a practice Newman valued highly. His edges were determined with minute precision. Trained as a painter, Newman never had doubts about the virtues of cropping. His famed Stravinsky portrait would not have a fraction of its power without the stringent crop. As for printing, Newman was equally meticulous. He trusted few assistants, and those he did trust found that he would not accept a final print unless it was flawless in execution. (Wall text)

“Oh, people set up these nonsensical rules and regulations. You can’t crop, you can’t dodge your print, etc, etc., … But the great photographers that these people admire all did that!”(Wall text)

 

Arnold Newman. 'Twyla Tharp, dancer and filmmaker, New York' 1987

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Twyla Tharp, dancer and filmmaker, New York
1987
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

Sensibilities

Many of Newman’s photographs show confident people, posing proudly before their accomplishments, directly engaging the viewer. But many betray a certain réticence – fragility, a hint of vulnerability, or doubt. Newman was aware that a successful artist’s career was not all roses – thorns were encountered along the path. He also regarded the act of portraiture was necessarily collaborative, or transactional; each side had their own kind of power – the sitter could resist the control of the photographer, the photographer could expose the sitter in an unflattering light. A successful portrait had to negotiate this psychological uncertainty. Sometimes Newman wanted to show supreme confidence as the mark of the man; at other times he wanted to show chinks in the armour.

“You show a certain kind of empathy with the subject – I don’t want to use the word ‘sympathy’, but you sort of let them know you’re on their side.” (Wall text)

 

Arnold Newman. 'Larry Rivers, painter, South Hampton, New York' 1975

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Larry Rivers, painter, South Hampton, New York
1975
Gelatin silver print
© 1975 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

During the second half of the 20th Century, there was no portrait photographer as productive, creative and successful as Arnold Newman. For almost seven decades Newman applied himself to his art and craft, never for a moment losing his zest for experimentation. His work was published in the most influential magazines of the day, and he was much interviewed, much quoted, and much respected. Several major solo exhibitions paid homage to his achievements during his lifetime, and his work can be found in many of the world’s most prestigious photography collections. No historical overview of portraiture would be complete without one or two Newman masterpieces, nor could any general history of the medium safely leave out his superb Stravinsky, Mondrian or Graham.

Surprisingly, many of Newman’s superb portraits have never been shown or published. This, his first posthumous retrospective, features a wide variety of such photographs. Moreover, it includes cityscapes, documentary photographs and still lifes that have rarely if even been exhibited. Even people already familiar with Newman’s work will find scores of unexpected images, rivalling the work the ‘icons’ they admire. Newman was never happy with the label, often applied, of ‘father of environmental portraiture’. He argued that his portraits were much more than simple records showing artists posing in their studios; there was a symbolic aspect too, and an emotional/psychological element, both fundamental to his approach. He asked critics to ignore all labels, and judge his portraits simply as they would any photographs.

Newman was also a great teacher, and he loved to share his knowledge and skills with aspiring photographers. As with all great artists, the pictures he made seem effortless, natural, but in fact they were the result of careful prior planning. Newman applied the same rigour to selecting the best of his ‘takes’, cropping them precisely, and then printing them with supreme skill. Highly self-critical, he admitted: “I was always my own worst art director.”

With Masterclass, we have endeavoured to give viewers some insights into Newman’s approach. Work prints, prints with crop marks, rough prints with printing instructions, and variants reveal Newman’s great attention to detail and careful consideration of every aspect of the photographic art.

William A. Ewing
Curator

 

Arnold Newman. 'Salvador Dalí, painter, New York' 1951

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Salvador Dalí, painter, New York
1951
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

Signatures

One of Newman’s favourite strategies was to place the sitters in front of his or her own work. They seem to be saying: ‘Here is my work. This is what I do’. Architects pose beside buildings and models, a test pilot beside his jet, a photographer in front of his prints, a furniture designer in his chair, scientists in front of their equations… At first glance, the pictures appear natural, giving the impression that Newman had surprised his subjects at work, but in fact the set-ups were meticulous.

In the hands of a lesser talent, such a technique could have developed into a routine uniformity, but Newman’s curiosity and genuine interest in his subjects’ work guaranteed a freshness to his portraiture, year after year. To maintain freshness, Newman advised aspiring portrait photographers to do what he did: read up about the subject beforehand, know what he or she has achieved. You will then quickly spot which elements in the environment will be useful.

 

Arnold Newman. 'Notes on Artist's' [sic] series  c. 1942

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Notes on Artist’s [sic] series
c. 1942
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

 

Newman writes about his encounters with artists in New York City, describing his first meeting with Alfred Stieglitz.

 

Arnold Newman. 'Alfred Stieglitz in his An American Place Gallery, 1944' 1944

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Alfred Stieglitz in his An American Place Gallery, 1944
1944
Contact print
Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

 

 

Lumens

Newman preferred natural light, with ‘all its delightful, infinite varieties, indoors and out’. However, he felt that restricting oneself only to natural light had become a religion for many photographers, and artificial light was a taboo. Newman was pragmatic: if there wasn’t enough light to take the picture, he argued, it should be augmented; if it wasn’t the ‘right’ kind of light for the interpretation he desired, artificial lighting should be added. It was never a question of either/or. Newman often used spots and reflectors, but felt that strobes should be used only when absolutely necessary. Lighting effects in a Newman portrait are often subtle and sometimes dramatic. But they are always appropriate, and never excessive. (Wall text)

 

Arnold Newman. 'Pablo Picasso, painter, sculptor and printmaker, Vallauris, France' 1954

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Pablo Picasso, painter, sculptor and printmaker, Vallauris, France
1954
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

Choices

Newman might take 10, 20, 30 and in special cases even more than 50 individual photographs of a sitter, making minor adjustments each time. Sometimes the differences between the frames would be minuscule, though highly significant. We see this in two frames of Picasso: in Frame 54 (note that this one was used in several publications in error), we see that the artist seems distracted – his eyes are not focused, while his mouth is pinched, and his hand is placed awkwardly. In Frame 57, all these deficiencies have been corrected. (Wall text)

 

Arnold Newman. 'Piet Mondrian, painter, New York' 1942

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Piet Mondrian, painter, New York
1942
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

Habitats

Newman never liked to work in a studio, preferring to see where and how his subjects worked and lived. Dance studios, home libraries, classrooms, offices, living rooms, gardens, the street, and even, on occasion, a vast urban panorama were settings he employed. Particularly close to painters in spirit, he was stimulated by the raw materials, the paintings or sculptures in progress, and even the general clutter he found in their studios. He liked the challenge of having to make quick decisions based on what he saw around him, and argued that this spontaneous approach was much harder – and riskier – than working in his own studio, where everything was familiar and tested. By focusing on a sitter’s habitat, Newman felt that he was providing more than a striking likeness – he was revealing personality and character not through physiognomy (the principle of classic portraiture) but through the things artists gathered around them.

“For me the professional studio is a sterile world. I need to get out; be with people where they’re at home. I can’t photograph ‘the soul’ but I can show tell you something fundamental about them.” (Wall text)

 

Arnold Newman. 'Alexander Calder, sculptor, New York' 1943

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Alexander Calder, sculptor, New York
1943
Gelatin silver print
© Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

Arnold Newman. 'Palm Beach, Florida' 1986

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Palm Beach, Florida
1986
Gelatin silver print
© 1986 Arnold Newman / Getty Images

 

 

Geometries

From his earliest days with the camera, Newman loved the geometry of space – with or without people. He never tired of photographing architecture that appealed to him. The linear and the curvilinear; contrasting blocks of black and white; ovals, triangles rectangles, strong diagonals… it was never just a question of making a pleasing background – like a kind of geometrically-patterned wallpaper – but rather the creation of a harmonious, dynamic whole in which the sitter was an integral part. It was Newman’s consummate skill that prevented the sitter from being merely an adjunct to the design.

“Successful portraiture is like a three-legged stool. Kick out one leg and the whole thing collapses. In other words, visual ideas combined with technological control combined with personal interpretation equals photography. Each must hold it’s own.” (Wall text)

 

 

The Harry Ransom Center
21st and Guadalupe Streets
Austin, Texas 78712
Phone: 512-471-8944

Exhibition galleries opening hours:
10am – 5pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
10am – 7pm Thursday
Noon – 5pm Saturday and Sunday

Library Reading/Viewing Rooms opening hours:
9am – 5pm Monday – Friday
9am – Noon Saturday

Harry Ransom Center website

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17
Feb
13

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Ray K. Metzker

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

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

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

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

 

From the New Bauhaus to the Institute of Design

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

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

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

 

Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind

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

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

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

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

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

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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17
Dec
12

Exhibition: ‘The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Exhibition dates: 30th September 2012 – 31st December 2012

 

Emmet Gowin. 'Edith, Danville, Virginia' 1971

 

Emmet Gowin (American, b. 1941)
Edith, Danville, Virginia
1971
Gelatin silver print
20.2 x 25.2cm (7 15/16 x 9 15/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund
© Emmet and Edith Gowin, Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

 

 

  • Alfred Stieglitz / Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Paul Strand / Rebecca Strand
  • Emmet Gowin / Edith Gowin
  • Harry Callahan / Eleanor and Barbara Callahan
  • Robert Mapplethorpe / Patti Smith
  • Nicholas Nixon / The Brown Sisters
  • Andy Warhol / Serial Photography / Photo Booth Portraits
  • Mario Testino / Kate Moss
  • Baron Adolf de Meyer / Baroness Olga de Meyer
  • Edward Weston / Charis Weston
  • Lee Friedlander / Maria Friedlander
  • Paul Caponigro / The woods of Connecticut
  • Bernd and Hilla Becher / grids
  • Gerhard Richter / Overpainted Photographs
  • Masahisa Fukase / wife and family
  • Seiichi Furuya / Christine Furuya-Gößler
  • Sally Mann / children and husband
  • William Wegman / dogs

.
Australia?
Nobody that I can think of except Sue Ford.

Notice how all the artists are men except two: Sally Mann and Hilla Becher.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

Emmet Gowin. 'Edith, Danville, Virginia' 1963

 

Emmet Gowin (American, b. 1941)
Edith, Danville, Virginia
1963
Gelatin silver print, printed 1980s
19.7 x 12.7cm (7 3/4 x 5 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Charina Endowment Fund
© Emmet and Edith Gowin, Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

 

Emmet Gowin. 'Edith and Moth Flight' 2002

 

Emmet Gowin (American, b. 1941)
Edith and Moth Flight
2002
Digital ink jet print
19 x 19cm (7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Charina Endowment Fund
© Emmet and Edith Gowin, Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

 

Francesca Woodman. 'House #3, Providence, Rhode Island' 1976

 

Francesca Woodman (American, 1958-1981)
House #3, Providence, Rhode Island
1976
Gelatin silver print
16.1 x 16.3cm (6 5/16 x 6 7/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

 

Francesca Woodman. 'Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island' 1975-1978

 

Francesca Woodman (American, 1958-1981)
Untitled, Providence, Rhode Island
1975-1978
Gelatin silver print
10.5 x 10.5cm (4 1/8 x 4 1/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors
Committee and R. K. Mellon Family Foundation

 

Ann Hamilton. 'body object series #13, toothpick suit/chair' 1984

 

Ann Hamilton (American, b. 1956)
body object series #13, toothpick suit/chair
1984
Gelatin silver print, printed 1993
11 x 11cm (4 5/16 x 4 5/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington,Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

 

Ann Hamilton. 'body object series #14, megaphone' 1986

 

Ann Hamilton (American, b. 1956)
body object series #14, megaphone
1986
Gelatin silver print, printed 1993
11 x 11 cm (4 5/16 x 4 5/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington,Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection

 

 

The National Gallery of Art explores how the practice of making multiple portraits of the same subjects produced some of the most revealing and provocative photographs of our time in The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years, on view in the West Building’s Ground Floor photography galleries from September 30 through December 31, 2012. Arranged both chronologically and thematically, the exhibition features 153 works by 20 artists who photographed the same subjects – friends, family, and themselves – numerous times over days, months, or years to create compelling portrait studies that investigate the many facets of personal and social identity.

“The Gallery’s photography collection essentially began with the donation of Alfred Stieglitz’s ‘key set,’ so it is fitting that this exhibition opens with portraits by Stieglitz, who understood that a person’s character was best captured through a series of photographs taken over time,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “Although the exhibition is drawn largely from the Gallery’s significant collection of photographs, we are grateful to the lenders who have allowed us to present more fully the serial form of portraiture that Stieglitz championed.”

Since the introduction of photography in 1839, portraiture has been one of the most widely practiced forms of the medium. Starting in the early 20th century, however, some photographers began to question whether one image alone could adequately capture the complexity of an individual. As Alfred Stieglitz, the era’s leading champion of American fine art photography, argued: “to demand the [single] portrait that will be a complete portrait of any person is as futile as to demand that a motion picture will be condensed into a single still.”

Along with Stieglitz, some of the 20th century’s most prominent photographers – Paul Strand, Harry Callahan, and Emmet Gowin – used the camera serially to transcend the limits of a single image. Each of these photographers made numerous studies of their lovers that sought to redefine the expressive possibilities of portraiture while probing the affective bonds of love and desire. By employing the camera’s capacity to record fluctuating states of being and mark the passage of time, other photographers such as Nicholas Nixon and Milton Rogovin have documented individuals – in families or communities – over four decades. Capturing subtle and dramatic shifts in appearance, demeanour, and situation, these series are poignant and elegiac memorials that remind us of our own mortality.

Other photographers have made serial self-portraits that explore the malleability of personal identity and the possibility of reinvention afforded by the camera. By photographing themselves as shadows, blurs, or partial reflections, Ilse Bing, Lee Friedlander, and Francesca Woodman have created inventive but elusive images that hint at the instability of self-representation. Conceptual artists of the 1970s and 1980s such as Vito Acconci, Blythe Bohnen, and Ann Hamilton have explicitly combined performance and self-portraiture to stage continual self-transformations. The exhibition concludes with work from the last 15 years by artists such as Nikki S. Lee and Gillian Wearing, who take the performance of self to its limits by adopting masquerades to delve into the ways identity is inferred from external appearance.

Press release from the National Gallery of Art website

 

Lee Friedlander. 'Haverstraw, New York' 1966

 

Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
Haverstraw, New York
1966
Gelatin silver print
21.7 x 32.7cm (8 9/16 x 12 7/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Trellis Fund
© Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery

 

Lee Friedlander. 'Westport, Connecticut' 1968

 

Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
Westport, Connecticut
1968
Gelatin silver print
19.8 x 12.3cm (7 13/16 x 4 13/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Trellis Fund
© Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery

 

Ilse Bing. 'Self-Portrait with Leica' 1931

 

Ilse Bing (German, 1899-1998)
Self-Portrait with Leica
1931
Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1988
26.7 x 29.7cm (10 1/2 x 11 11/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Ilse Bing Wolff

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Mapplethorpe' 2009

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Me as Mapplethorpe
2009
Gelatin silver print (based upon Robert Mapplethorpe work: Self Portrait, 1988. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation)
149.86 x 121.92cm (59 x 48 in.)
Private Collection
Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Maureen Paley, London, Regen Projects, Los Angeles

 

Paul Strand. 'Rebecca' 1922

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Rebecca
1922
Platinum print
24.4 x 19.4cm (9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Southwestern Bell Corporation Paul Strand Collection
© Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Paul Strand. 'Rebecca, New Mexico' 1932

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Rebecca, New Mexico
1932
Platinum print
14.9 x 11.8cm (5 7/8 x 4 5/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Southwestern Bell Corporation Paul Strand Collection
© Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Alfred Stieglitz. 'Georgia O'Keeffe' probably 1918

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe
probably 1918
Platinum print
18.4 x 23.1cm (7 1/4 x 9 1/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

 

Alfred Stieglitz. 'Georgia O'Keeffe - Hands and Thimble' 1919

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe – Hands and Thimble
1919
Palladium print
24 x 19.4cm (9 7/16 x 7 5/8 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

 

Alfred Stieglitz. 'Georgia O'Keeffe' 1930

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe
1930
Gelatin silver print
23.9 x 19.1cm (9 7/16 x 7 1/2 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

 

Nicholas Nixon. 'The Brown Sisters' 1975

 

Nicholas Nixon (American, b. 1947)
The Brown Sisters
1975
Gelatin silver print
20.2 x 25.2cm (7 15/16 x 9 15/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund
© Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

 

Nicholas Nixon. 'The Brown Sisters' 1978

 

Nicholas Nixon (American, b. 1947)
The Brown Sisters
1978
Gelatin silver print
Promised gift of James and Margie Krebs
© Nicholas Nixon, courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

For more images from this series please see my posting Nicholas Nixon: Family Album

 

 

National Gallery of Art
National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets
Constitution Avenue NW, Washington

Opening hours:
Daily 11.00am – 4.00pm

National Gallery of Art website

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02
Nov
12

Exhibition: ‘Two of a Mind’ at the Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 12th September – 17th November, 2012

RAY K. METZKER: Pictus Interruptus
RUTH THORNE-THOMSEN: Expeditions

 

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (77EY24)' 1977

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (77EY24)
1977
Gelatin silver print

 

 

I like both these bodies of work but it is the enigmatic Expeditions that leave the most lasting impression on my subconscious, out imagining the abstract distortions of Metzker in my mind’s eye. While the images of Pictus Interruptus are interesting in a textural way, the photographs of Thorne-Thomsen are truly magical – like a photographic version of Joseph Cornell’s boxes they engage you wistfully, holding you in a quiet, silent, attentive dreamspace. Some of the photographs are almost Jungian in their holistic balance. Photographs such as Levitating Man and Trio are truly memorable, and in our over saturated media environment it is wonderful to find images that make us slow down and inhale their aura. You contemplate these images: that is the word, contemplation. Enjoy.

.
PS. Prima Materia, a title of one of Thorne-Thomsen’s series, “is, according to alchemists, the alleged primitive formless base of all matter, given particular manifestation through the influence of forms… The alchemical operation consists essentially in separating the prima materia, the so-called Chaos, into the active principle, the soul, and the passive principle, Mind-body dichotomy, the body. They are then reunited in personified form in the coniunctio, the ritual combination of sol and Luna, which yields the magical child – filius philosophorum – the reborn self, known as the ultima materia.” (Wikipedia)

Jung undertook an analysis of the ritual and processes of alchemy and found that while the alchemists were trying to turn lead into gold by melting the lead down and reforming it as gold, what they were actually doing was letting go of their old identity and reforming it anew. This could be seen as an early form of psychoanalysis that encouraged the process of what Jung calls individuation, the emergence of a new identity as the ego dissolves into the Self. “The symbols of the individuation process…mark its stages like milestones’, prominent among them for Jungians being ‘”the shadow, the Wise Old Man… and lastly the anima (female) in man and the animus (male) in woman”‘. Thus ‘there is often a movement from dealing with the persona at the start… to the ego at the second stage, to the shadow as the third stage, to the anima or animus, to the self as the final stage. Some would interpose the Wise Old Man and the Wise Old Woman as spiritual archetypes coming before the final step of the Self’.” (Wikipedia)

I see elements of this inner work in the art of Ruth Thorne-Thomsen.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (77FK42)' 1977

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (77FK42)
1977
Gelatin silver print

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (78AD23)' 1978

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (78AD23)
1978
Gelatin silver print

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (78BW19)' 1978

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (78BW19)
1978
Gelatin silver print

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (80FP9a)' 1980

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (80FP9a)
1980
Gelatin silver print

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (77FK28)' 1977

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (77FK28)
1977
Gelatin silver print

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (77FW60)' 1977

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (77FW60)
1977
Gelatin silver print

 

Ray Metzker. 'Pictus Interruptus (76EO4)' 1976

 

Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Pictus Interruptus (76EO4)
1976
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Laurence Miller Gallery is pleased to present Two of a Mind, photographs by Ray K. Metzker and Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, made between 1976 and 1991. Presently husband and wife, these two influential photographers independently created innovative and highly personal work that challenge our willingness to believe and stimulate our need to imagine.

Both achieved this by inserting images and objects into the view of the camera, turning reality on its head. Ray Metzker’s Pictus Interruptus series, made between 1976 and 1981, offers us inexplicable images – landscapes and cityscapes disrupted by abstract forms that combine, complement, and contrast with recognisable elements of the city or the land. Coat hangers, magazine images, folded paper and board were some of the items placed before the camera lens. Ruth Thorne-Thomsen’s Expeditions and Door series, as well as Prima Materia and Songs of the Sea, made between 1976 and 1991, also utilised the insertion of objects in front of her pin-hole camera, things like plastic and metal toys, children’s charms, ornaments and trinkets. The resulting images feel like poems come to life – credible enough to seem real, yet imaginary enough to seem like dreams.

Ray (born 1931) and Ruth (born 1943) met in Chicago in 1980, and immediately felt a kinship of spirit and mind. Each had been pursuing a personal photographic vision which took reality as a starting point and then explored the world of the imagination to challenge the general belief that what a photograph presents is truth. Metzker was more intrigued by the possibilities of form and space, while Thorne-Thomsen pursued the possibilities of mythology and dreams. For each artist, reality and artifice became intertwined and inseparable. This is the first exhibition in which their photographs are presented together. This showing of Metzker’s images also coincides with a major retrospective of his work at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, opening September 25th and continuing through February 24, 2013.

Text from the Laurence Miller Gallery website

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 'Echo Wisconsin' 1991

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen (American, b. 1943)
Echo Wisconsin
1991
From the series Songs of the Sea
Gelatin silver print

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 'Icarus Figure Wisconsin' 1993

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen (American, b. 1943)
Icarus Figure Wisconsin
1993
From the series Songs of the Sea
Gelatin silver print

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 'Paper Palms California' 1981

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen (American, b. 1943)
Paper Palms California
1981
From the Expeditions Series
Gelatin silver print

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 'Trio Wisconsin' 1991

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen (American, b. 1943)
Trio Wisconsin
1991
From the series Songs of the Sea
Gelatin silver print

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 'Levitating Man Wisconsin' 1983

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen (American, b. 1943)
Levitating Man Wisconsin
1983
From the Door Series
Gelatin silver print

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 'Chair Over Point Wisconsin' 1983

 

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen (American, b. 1943)
Chair Over Point Wisconsin
1983
From the Door Series
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Laurence Miller Gallery
9 East 8th Street
Box 119
NY NY 10003
Phone: (917) 930-9176

Opening hours:
By appointment

Laurence Millery Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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