Posts Tagged ‘American

23
Jun
09

Exhibition: ‘Fourteen Places to Eat: A Narrative Photographing Rural Culture in the Midwest’ by photographer Kay Westhues at the Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame, Indiana

Exhibition dates: 31st May – 19th July 2009

 

Kay Westheus. 'CSX railroad building, Walkerton' 2005

 

Kay Westhues
CSX railroad building, Walkerton
2005

 

 

I really like this work. An insightful eye, sensitive, tapped into the community that the artist is documenting. Attuned to its inflections and incongruities, the isolation and loneliness of a particular culture in time and place. There are further strong photographs from the series on the Kay Westhues website. It’s well worth your time looking through these excellent photographs. And observing the wonderful light!

There is an interview with Kay Westhues on the Daily Yonder website.

All photographs © Kay Westhues with permission and thanks, used under Creative Commons 2.5 License with proper attribution. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Kay Westheus. 'Man with patriotic cast, Original Famous Fish of Stroh' 2005

 

Kay Westhues
Man with patriotic cast, Original Famous Fish of Stroh
2005

 

Kay Westhues. 'Knox laundromat' 2005

 

Kay Westhues
Knox laundromat
2005

 

 

The Snite Museum of Art announces the opening of the exhibition: Fourteen Places to Eat: a Narrative: Photographing Rural Culture in the Midwest, opening on Sunday, May 31,2009.

Kay Westhues is a photographer who is interested in documenting the ways in which rural tradition and history are interpreted and transformed in the present day. Kay shares her intention for this series of work:

“For the past five years I have been working on a series of photographs depicting rural culture in Indiana and the Midwest. This project was inspired by my memories of growing up on a farm in Walkerton, Indiana, and observing first hand the shifting cultural identity that has occurred over time and through changing economic development. I moved back to Walkerton in order to help care for my ageing parents in 2001.

These photos mirror my personal history, but I am also capturing a people’s history grounded in a sense of place. My intention is to celebrate rural life, without idealising it.

The overall theme since the project’s inception is the effect of the demise of local economies that have historically sustained rural communities. Many of my images contain the remains of an earlier time, when locally owned stores and family farms were the norm. Today chain stores and agribusiness are prevalent in rural communities. These communities are struggling to thrive in the global economy, and my images reflect that reality.

Most recently I have focused on the complex relationship between farmers and domesticated animals. I make many of my images at Animal Swap Meets and sale barns, places where animals are bought and sold. Family farms are quickly being replaced by large-scale food production, and these events still draw smaller farmers and the local people who support them.”

Why fourteen places to eat?

“One of my biggest complaints after moving to Walkerton was that there were not enough places to eat out. Or, rather, practically no places to eat out. So I was happy when news arrived that a new restaurant was opening there. Imagine my surprise when I read a letter to the editor in the local paper against the new restaurant. The letter stated we already had enough places to eat in this town. The writer counted a total of fourteen places to eat, which included four restaurants, three gas stations, four bars, a truck stop, a convenience mart, and a bowling alley.”

Ms. Westhues studied photography at Rhode Island School of Design and Indiana University, Bloomington. She has a BS degree in Photography and Ethnocentrism from the Indiana University Individualised Major Program (1994), and an MS in Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University (1998). She currently lives in Elkhart, Indiana, and is completing a five-year project photographing rural culture in the Midwest. This series is a visual exploration of the ways rural identity is defined in contemporary society.

Press release from the Snite Museum of Art Cited 20/06/2009

 

Kay Westheus. 'Chicken bingo, Francesville Fall Festival' 2005

 

Kay Westhues
Chicken bingo, Francesville Fall Festival
2005

 

Kay Westheus. 'Patriotic hammers ($3.00)' 2005

 

Kay Westhues
Patriotic hammers ($3.00)
2005

 

Kay Westhues. 'Parked trailer, Ligonier' 2006

 

Kay Westhues
Parked trailer, Ligonier
2006

 

Kay Westheus. 'Lunch at the Crockpot, Walkerton (The Young and the Restless)' 2007

 

Kay Westhues
Lunch at the Crockpot, Walkerton (The Young and the Restless)
2007

 

Kay Wesheus. 'Momence Speed Wash, Momence IL' 2007

 

Kay Weshues
Momence Speed Wash, Momence IL
2007

 

Kay Westheus. 'Mary Ann Rubio, Family Cafe, Knox' 2007

 

Kay Westhues
Mary Ann Rubio, Family Cafe, Knox
2007

 

 

The Snite Museum of Art
at University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10.00am – 5pm
Saturday 12.00 – 5.00pm

The Snite Museum of Art website

Kay Westhues website

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03
Mar
09

Photographic prize: the Magnum Foundation and the Inge Morath Foundation announce the sixth annual Inge Morath Award

March 2009

 

“To take pictures had become a necessity and I did not want to forgo it for anything.”

Inge Morath

 

inge-morath-regensburg-1999

 

Inge Morath (born Austria, American 1923-2002)
from the work in Regensburg Museums
1999
Gelatin silver print

 

 

The Magnum Foundation and the Inge Morath Foundation announce the sixth annual Inge Morath Award. The annual prize of $5,000 is awarded by the Magnum Foundation to a female documentary photographer under the age of 30, to support the completion of a long-term project. One award winner and up to two finalists are selected by a jury composed of Magnum photographers.

Inge Morath was an Austrian-born photographer who was associated with Magnum Photos for nearly fifty years. After her death in 2002, the Inge Morath Foundation was established to manage Morath’s estate and facilitate the study and appreciation of her contribution to photography.

Because Morath devoted much of her enthusiasm to encouraging women photographers, her colleagues at Magnum Photos established the Inge Morath Award in her honor. The Award is now given by the Magnum Foundation as part of its mission of supporting new generations of socially-conscious documentary photographers, and is administered by the Magnum Foundation in collaboration with the Inge Morath Foundation.

Past winners of the Inge Morath Award include: Kathryn Cook (US, ’08) for Memory Denied: Turkey and the Armenian Genocide; Olivia Arthur (UK, ’07) for The Middle Distance; Jessica Dimmock (US, ’06) for The Ninth Floor; Mimi Chakarova (US, ’06) for Sex Trafficking in Eastern Europe; Claudia Guadarrama (MX, ’05) for Before the Limit; and Ami Vitale (US, ’02), for Kashmir.

Text from The Inge Morath Foundation website

 

Inge Morath. 'Visitor in the Metropolitan Museum' 1958

 

Inge Morath (born Austria, American 1923-2002)
Visitor in the Metropolitan Museum
1958
Gelatin silver print

 

Inge Morath. 'Window washer' 1958

 

Inge Morath (born Austria, American 1923-2002)
Window washer
1958
Gelatin silver print

 

 

“I have photographed since 1952 and worked with Magnum Photos since 1953, first out of Paris, later out of New York. I am usually labeled as a photojournalist, as are all members of Magnum. I am quoting Henri Cartier-Bresson’s explanation for this: He wrote to John Szarkowski in answer to an essay in which Szarkowski stated that Cartier-Bresson labels himself as a photojournalist.

“May I tell you the reason for this label? As well as the name of its inventor? It was Robert Capa. When I had my first show in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1948 he warned me: ‘watch out what label they put on you. If you become known as a surrealist […] then you will be considered precious and confidential. Just go on doing what you want to do anyway but call yourself a photojournalist, which puts you into direct contact with everything that is going on in the world.'”

It is in this understanding that we have been working as a group and yet everyone following their own way of seeing. The power of photography resides no doubt partly in the tenacity with which it pushes whoever gets seriously involved with it to contribute in an immeasurable number of forms his own vision to enrich the sensibility and perception of the world around him.

[In the 1950s] the burden of the already photographed was considerably less than now. There was little of the feeling of being a latecomer who has to overwhelm the huge existing body of the photographic oeuvre – which, in photography as in painting and literature, necessarily leads first to the adoption and then rejection of an elected model, until one’s own work is felt to be equal or superior, consequently original.

Photography is a strange phenomenon. In spite of the use of that technical instrument, the camera, no two photographers, even if they were at the same place at the same time, come back with the same pictures. The personal vision is usually there from the beginning; result of a special chemistry of background and feelings, traditions and their rejection, of sensibility and voyeurism. You trust your eye and you cannot help but bare your soul. One’s vision finds of necessity the form suitable to express it.”

Inge Morath, Life as a Photographer, 1999

Text from The Inge Morath Foundation website

 

Inge Morath (born Austria, American 1923-2002) 'Mrs. Eveleigh Nash, London, 1953' 1953

 

Inge Morath (born Austria, American 1923-2002)
Mrs. Eveleigh Nash, London, 1953
1953
Gelatin silver print

 

 

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24
Feb
09

Review: ‘Ocean Without A Shore’ video installation by Bill Viola at The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

February 2009

 

Originally installed inside the intimate 15th century Venetian church of San Gallo as part of the 2007 Venice Biennale incorporating its internal architecture into the piece using the three existing stone altars as support for the video screens, the installation has been recreated in a small darkened room at The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. What an installation it is.

Deprived of the ornate surroundings of the altars of the Venetian chapel – altars of which Viola has said that, “… as per the original development of the origins of Christianity these alters actually are a place where the dead kind of reside and connect with those of us, the living, who are here on earth. And they really are a connection between a cross, between a tomb and an alter – a place to pray,”1 – the viewer is forced to concentrate on the images themselves. This is no bad thing, stripping away as it does a formalised, religious response to mortality.

In the work Viola combines the use of a primitive twenty five year old security black and white analogue video surveillance camera with a high definition colour video camera through the use of a special mirror prism system. This technology allows for the seamless combination of both inputs: the dead appear far off in a dark obscure place as grey ghosts in a sea of pulsating ‘noise’ and gradually walk towards you, crossing the invisible threshold of a transparent water wall that separates the dead from the living, to appear in the space transformed into a detailed colour image. As they do so the sound that accompanies the transformation grows in intensity reminding me of a jet aircraft. You, the viewer, are transfixed watching every detail as the ghosts cross-over into the light, through a water curtain.

The performances of the actors (for that is what they are) are slow and poignant. As Viola has observed, “I spent time with each person individually talking with them and you know when you speak with people, you realise then that everybody has experienced some kind of loss in their life, great and small. So you speak with them, you work with them, you spend time and that comes to the surface while we were working on this project together, you know? I didn’t want to over-direct them because I knew that the water would have this kind of visual effect and so they were able to, I think, use this piece on their own and a lot of them had their own stories of coming back and visiting a relative perhaps, who had died.”1

The resurrected are pensive, some wringing the hands, some staring into the light. One offers their hands to the viewer in supplication before the tips of the fingers touch the wall of water – the ends turning bright white as they push through the penumbrae of the interface. As they move forward the hands take on a stricken anguish, stretched out in rigour. Slowly the resurrected turn and return to the other side. We watch them as we watch our own mortality, life slipping away one day after another. Here is not the distraction of a commodified society, here is the fact of every human life: that we all pass.

The effect on the viewer is both sad but paradoxically uplifting. I cried.

A friend who I went with said that the images reminded her not of the dead temporarily coming back to life, but the birth of a new life – the breaking of water at the birth of a child. The performers seemed to her to behave like children brought anew into the world. One of my favourite moments was when the three screens were filled with just noise and a figure then appears out of the beyond, a dim and distant outline creating a transcendental moment. Unfortunately there are no images of these grainy figures. As noted below Viola uses a variety of different ethnic groups and cultures for his performers but the one very small criticism I have is they have no real individuality as people – there are no bikers with tattoos, no cross dressers, no punks because these do not serve his purpose. There is the black woman, the old woman, the middle aged man, the younger 30s man in black t-shirt: these are generic archetypes of humanity moulded to Viola’s artistic vision.

Viola has commented, “I think I have designed a piece that’s open ended enough, where the people and the range of people, the kind of people we chose are from various ethnic groups and cultures. And I think that the feeling of more this is a piece about humanity and it’s about the fragility of life, like the borderline between life and death is actually not a hard wall, it’s not to be opened with a lock and key, its actually very fragile, very tenuous.

You can cross it like that in an instant and I think religions, you know institutions aside, I think just the nature of our awareness of death is one of the things that in any culture makes human beings have that profound feeling of what we call the human condition and that’s really something I am really interested in. I think this piece really has a lot to do with, you know, our own mortality and all that that means.”1

These series of encounters at the intersection of life and death are worthy of the best work of this brilliant artist. He continues to astound with his prescience, addressing what is undeniable in the human condition. Long may he continue.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

 

  1. TateShots. Venice Biennale: Bill Viola. 30 June 2007 [Online] Cited 23/09/2009 (no longer available)

 

 

 

 

Ocean Without a Shore is about the presence of the dead in our lives. The three stone altars in the church of San Gallo become portals for the passage of the dead to and from our world. Presented as a series of encounters at the intersection between life and death, the video sequence documents a succession of individuals slowly approaching out of darkness and moving into the light. Each person must then break through an invisible threshold of water and light in order to pass into the physical world. Once incarnate however, all beings realise that their presence is finite and so they must eventually turn away from material existence to return from where they came. The cycle repeats without end.”

Bill Viola
25 May 2007
Text © Bill Viola 2007

 

The work was inspired by a poem by the twentieth century Senegalese poet and storyteller Birago Diop:

Hearing things more than beings,
listening to the voice of fire,
the voice of water.
Hearing in wind the weeping bushes,
sighs of our forefathers.

The dead are never gone:
they are in the shadows.
The dead are not in earth:
they’re in the rustling tree,
the groaning wood,
water that runs,
water that sleeps;
they’re in the hut, in the crowd,
the dead are not dead.

The dead are never gone,
they’re in the breast of a woman,
they’re in the crying of a child,
in the flaming torch.

The dead are not in the earth:
they’re in the dying fire,
the weeping grasses,
whimpering rocks,
they’re in the forest, they’re in the house,
the dead are not dead.

.
Text from the Ocean Without A Shore website [Online] Cited 23/09/2009 (no longer available)

 

 

Bill Viola. 'Ocean Without A Shore' 2007 video still

Bill Viola. 'Ocean Without A Shore' 2007 video still

Bill Viola. 'Ocean Without A Shore' 2007 video insatllation

Bill Viola. 'Ocean Without A Shore' 2007 video insatllation

 

Installation photographs of Ocean Without A Shore at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 

Bill Viola. 'Ocean Without A Shore' 2007 original video installation at church of San Gallo

 

Bill Viola
Ocean Without A Shore
2007
Original installation at church of San Gallo

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Open daily 10am-5pm

National Gallery of Victoria International website

Bill Viola website

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08
Feb
09

Exhibition: ‘The Last Days of W’ by Alec Soth at Gagosian Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 20th January – 7th March 2009

 

Alec Soth. 'Civic Fest, Minneapolis, MN (Presidential office)' 2008

 

Alec Soth
Civic Fest, Minneapolis, MN (Presidential office)
2008

 

 

Another fantastic group of Americurbana from this wonderful photographer!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

“Henri Cartier-Bresson famously said, “The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are photographing rocks.” But I don’t think the world would have been a better place if these photographers had headed off to a war zone. The question is whether you can be a political photographer while you photograph rocks. My pictures don’t have a specific social commentary but I think they have social and political meaning.”

.
Alec Soth on the Gagosian Gallery website 2009

 

 

Alec Soth. 'Dynell, Bemidji, MN (Girl in store)' 2007

 

Alec Soth
Dynell, Bemidji, MN (Girl in store)
2007

 

Alec Soth. 'Josh, Joelton, Tennessee' 2004

 

Alec Soth
Josh, Joelton, Tennessee
2004

 

 

Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present The Last Days of W., colour photographs taken by Alec Soth between 2000 and 2008.

Although originally conceived without explicit political intent, in retrospect Soth considers this selected body of work, which spans both terms of George W. Bush’s presidency, to represent “a panoramic look at a country exhausted by its catastrophic leadership.” Soth’s earlier series such as Sleeping by the Mississippi, Niagara, and Dog Days, Bogotá – all subjective narratives containing disenfranchised figures and decaying landscapes – laid the conceptual groundwork for The Last Days of W. It provides a wry commentary on the adverse effects of the national administration, perhaps best exemplified by an unwittingly ironic remark that Bush made in 2000: “I think we can agree, the past is over.”

Following in the humanist tradition established by the great chroniclers of the American experience such as Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Stephen Shore, Soth captures diverse images of a country disillusioned with, and deceived by, its own identity, from mothers of marines serving in Iraq to teenage mothers in the Louisiana Bayou; from religious propaganda in the American workplace to the mortgage crisis in Stockton, CA. His incisive depiction of contemporary American reality confronts the ideals romanticised in the American Dream with the hastening decline of the American Empire.

Text from the Gagosian Gallery website 2009

 

Alec Soth. 'The Last Days of W' installation view at Gagosian Gallery

 

The Last Days of W installation view at Gagosian Gallery

 

Alec Soth. 'Home Environment, Billings, MT' 2008

 

Alec Soth
Home Environment, Billings, MT
2008

 

Alec Soth. 'Republican National Convention, Saint Paul, MN' 2008

 

Alec Soth
Republican National Convention, Saint Paul, MN
2008

 

 

Gagosian Gallery
980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075
Phone: 212.744.2313 Fax 212.772.7962

Opening hours:
Monday-Saturday 10-6

Gagosian Gallery website

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05
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘Steam and Steel: The Photographs of O. Winston Link’ at George Eastman Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 11th October 2008 – 25th January 2009

 

O. Winston Link. 'Hot Shot Eastbound, at the Iaeger Drive-In. W.V. Aug. 2, 1956'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
Hot Shot Eastbound, at the Iaeger Drive-In. W.V. Aug. 2, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

Link pasted the plane into the negative at a later stage

 

 

I have to admit to a very large amount of admiration for this photographer. He is brilliant, simply the best photographer of trains and their cultural surrounds that the world has ever seen. He persevered within his photographic projects through thick and thin. I feel a special affinity toward this man as I love trains, planes, ships and trucks (although I am yet to use trains in my work).

As with all great photographers he pursued his goals with passion, a unique eye and the ability to produce a ‘signature’ photograph that could only be his. His photographs are timeless remembrances of the history and culture of the era. The above image combines all the elements of 1950s America – the drive in, the couple, the speed, the convertible car, night and the ambiguous slightly sinister rocket like plane. Planes, trains and automobiles are the stuff of legend for me, a child of the 1950s. The lighting of the train is incredible, with rows of flash set off at just the right moment. The precision and skill to do this and the resulting tableaux have few equals. When I first saw this image I was amazed and still am today!

O. Winston Link had a deep respect for the people and machines he was photographing – capturing a vanishing world before it all but disappeared. Thank god there was someone with vision and foresight to accomplish this task so that these incredible and indelible images will forever transcend the time in which they were taken, to give joy to the people that look at them.

Marcus Bunyan

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

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) 'Maud Bows to the Virginia Creeper, Green Cove, Virginia, October 27, 1956'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
Maud Bows to the Virginia Creeper, Green Cove, Virginia, October 27, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
15 1/2 x 19 3/8 in. (39.37 x 49.21 cm)
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

 

The Abingdon Branch of the N&W led Link to another approach in his documentation of the railroad. Since the trains did not run at night, all of the images had to be made in daylight, making this branch the source of many of his genre scenes and colour images. The branch was short but steep, including the highest point of any passenger train in the east. With top speeds of 25 mph, it earned the nickname “Virginia Creeper.”

Link found the slow pace and setting the most bucolic of the entire N&W system. He wrote, “There was beauty at every curve and every bridge.” The line crept by cascading waterways and across high wooden trestles. Although the entire branch was abandoned in 1978, the railbed has since become a hiking trail, with Green Cove the only station remaining and restored to the look of this photograph.

Text from the Akron Art Museum website

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) '"Giant Oak," Max Meadows, Va., Dec. 30, 1957'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
“Giant Oak,” Max Meadows, Va., Dec. 30, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

 

“Ogle Winston Link, known commonly as O. Winston Link, has been revered by many as the most important railroad photographer of all time. He is best known for his black-and-white photography and sound recordings of the last days of steam locomotive railroading in the United States in the late 1950s. A true American master, Link produced night-time photographs of the railroad over a five-year period that ended when the last steam locomotive of the Norfolk & Western Railway was taken out of service in May 1960.

This exhibition features more than 100 framed photographs as well as Link’s actual photographic and lighting equipment, plus his personal notebooks detailing set-ups, formulas, and exposure details.”

Text from the George Eastman Museum website

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) 'NW1635, The Birmingham Special, arriving at Rural Retreat, Va.' 1957

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
NW1635, The Birmingham Special, arriving at Rural Retreat, Va.
1957
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) '"The Birmingham Special Crosses Bridge 201," near Radford, Va., Dec. 17, 1957'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
“The Birmingham Special Crosses Bridge 201,” near Radford, Va., Dec. 17, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001) '"Second Pigeon Creek Shifter and Icicles," near Gilbert, W.Va., March 16, 1960'

 

O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
“Second Pigeon Creek Shifter and Icicles,” near Gilbert, W.Va., March 16, 1960
1960
Gelatin silver print
O. Winston Link/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

Unknown photographer. '"Link Sets Up Two View Cameras at Bridge 8," Watauga, Va., Nov. 1, 1957'

 

Unknown photographer
“Link Sets Up Two View Cameras at Bridge 8,” Watauga, Va., Nov. 1, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
Thomas H. Garver/© Conway Link
Courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

 

 

George Eastman Museum
900 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14607, USA

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

O. Winston Link Museum

George Eastman House website

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04
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: November 7th 2008 – January 25th 2009

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' c.1971-73

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
c.1971 – 1973
from Troubled Waters 1980
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1973

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1973
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (America, born July 27, 1939) 'Memphis' c. 1970

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939)
Memphis
c. 1970
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

One of the most influential photographers of the last half-century, William Eggleston has defined the history of colour photography. This exhibition is the artist’s first retrospective in the United States and includes both his colour and black-and-white photographs as well as Stranded in Canton, the artist’s video work from the early 1970s.

William Eggleston’s great achievement in photography can be described in a straightforward way: he captures everyday moments and transforms them into indelible images. William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 presents a comprehensive selection from nearly fifty years of image-making.

Born in 1939 in Sumner, Mississippi, a small town in the Delta region, Eggleston showed an early interest in cameras and audio technology. While studying at various colleges in the South, he purchased his first camera and came across a copy of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book The Decisive Moment (1952). In the early 1960s, Eggleston married and moved to Memphis, where he has lived ever since. He first worked in black-and-white, but by the end of the decade began photographing primarily in colour. Internationally acclaimed and widely traveled, Eggleston has spent the past four decades photographing all around the world, conveying intuitive responses to fleeting configurations of cultural signs and moods as specific expressions of local colour. Psychologically complex and casually refined, bordering on kitsch and never conventionally beautiful, these photographs speak principally to the expanse of Eggleston’s imagination and have had a pervasive influence on all aspects of visual culture. By not censoring, rarely editing, and always photographing, Eggleston convinces us of the idea of the democratic camera.

This exhibition was organised by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in association with Haus der Kunst, Munich.

Text from the Whitney Museum of American Art website

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

 

 

 

 

William Eggleston video

“This candid interview with photographer William Eggleston was conducted by film director Michael Almereyda on the occasion of the opening of Eggleston’s retrospective William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A key figure in American photography, Eggleston is credited almost single-handedly with ushering in the era of colour photography. Eggleston discusses his shift from black and white to colour photography in this video as, “it never was a conscious thing. I had wanted to see a lot of things in colour because the world is in colour”. Also included in this video are Eggleston’s remarks about his personal relationships with the subjects of many of his photographs.”

 

 

 

Stranded in Canton

In 1973, photographer William Eggleston picked up a Sony PortaPak and took to documenting the soul of Memphis and New Orleans.

“These were the Merry Prankster and “Easy Rider” years, when road trips and craziness were cool, and Mr. Eggleston set out on some hard-drinking picture-taking excursions. He also embarked on repeated shorter expeditions closer to home in the form of epic bar crawls, which resulted in the legendary video “Stranded in Canton.”

Originally existing as countless hours of unedited film and recently pared down by the filmmaker Robert Gordon to a manageable 76 minutes, it was shot in various places in 1973 and 1974. (The new version is in the retrospective.) Mr. Eggleston would show up with friends at favourite bars, turn on his Sony Portapak, push the camera into people’s faces and encourage them to carry on.

And they did. Apart from brief shots of his children and documentary-style filming of musicians, the result is like some extreme form of reality television. Your first thought is: Why do people let themselves be seen like this? Do they know what they look like? You wonder if Mr. Eggleston is deliberately shaping some tragicomic Lower Depths drama or just doing his customary shoot-what’s-there thing, the what’s-there in this case being chemical lunacy. For all the film’s fringy charge there’s something truly creepy and deadly going on, as there is in much of Mr. Eggleston’s art. You might label it Southern Gothic; but whatever it is, it surfaces when a lot of his work is brought together.”

Holland Cotter. “Old South Meets New, in Living Color,” on The New York Times website Nov 6, 2008

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1976

 

William Eggleston (America, b. 1939)
Untitled
c. 1976
From Election Eve
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1980
Dye-transfer print
29.6 x 45.5 cm (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

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd from 'Los Alamos' 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
From Los Alamos 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' Nd

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
Nd
Dye-transfer print
From Los Alamos 1965-68 and 1972-74 (published 2003)
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' c. 1975 (Marcia Hare in Memphis Tennessee) c. 1975

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Marcia Hare in Memphis Tennessee)
c. 1975
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (America,born July 27, 1939) 'Huntsville, Alabama' c. 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Huntsville, Alabama
1971
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled, 1965' (Memphis Tennessee)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis Tennessee)
1965
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' c. 1969-71

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
c. 1969-71
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Cheim & Read Gallery

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939) 'Untitled' 1983

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1983
From a series of photographs taken at Graceland
Dye-transfer print
© Eggleston Artistic Trust
Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

 

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600

Opening hours:
Mondays: 10.30 am – 6 pm
Tuesdays: Closed
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays: 10.30 am – 6 pm
Friday and Saturdays: 10.30 am – 10 pm

Whitney Museum of American Art website

William Eggleston exhibition web page

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03
Jan
09

Exhibition: ‘Dialogue among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 14th October 2008 – 1st March 2009

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) (attributed) 'Placer Mining Scene' c. 1852-55

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) (attributed)
Placer Mining Scene
c. 1852-55
Half-plate daguerreotype
4 x 5 in. (10.2 x 12.7 cm)

 

 

Carleton Watkins was a master photographer, craftsman, technician and, above all, a refined artist. The structural cadences of his compositions, like the best music, are superb. Within his photographs he creates a visual dialogue that sustains pertinent inquiry by the viewer  – the look! see! – that has lasted centuries, as all great art does. Today his photographs are as clearly seen, as incisive of mind, as when they were first produced. They delight.

From the documentary photographs of mining settlements to the images of Yosemite; from the stereographs of cities to the gardens of the rich and famous; from the photographs of untouched interior America to the images of the Monterey Peninsula Watkins photographs are sharply observed renditions of a reality placed before the lens of his giant plate camera.

Like all great artists his eye is unique. His use angle, height and placement of the camera is reinforced by his understanding of the balance of light and shade, the construction of planes within the image and the spatial relationships that could be achieved within the frame (at the same time we note that the artist Cezanne was also investigating the deconstruction of traditional landscape perspectives within the image frame). His work reminds me of the photographs of the great French photographer Eugene Atget: both men understood how best to place the camera to achieve the outcome they wanted so that the photographs became imprinted with their signature, images that nobody else could have taken. Today we recognise both men as masters of photography for this very fact. The images they took raise them above the rank and file photographer because of the care and understanding they took in the decisions they made in the exposure of the negative.

As a precursor to modernism in photography Watkins does not have peer at this time. His photographs preempt the 20th century modernist work of Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz, his Monterey and Yosemite photographs the work of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, and in his Japanese influences the work of Minor White. Even today at the exhibition by Andreas Gursky at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne there is a colour work of a body of water (see below: Rhein 1996) that closely reflects the structure of Watkins View on the Calloway Canal, near Poso Creek, Kern County 1887, even though the subject matter of Gursky’s image is a simulacra of an implied reality, whereas Watkins work “served as evidence in a water rights lawsuit that eventually resulted in a decisive court ruling that prevented newcomers from diverting water from existing landowners.”1

Watkins cadence as a sentient being will endure in the choices he made in the photographs he exposed. His tempo, his innate ability to place the camera, his understanding of the light and shade, texture, environment, depth of field and feeling make this artist one that all aspiring artists – no, all human beings – should study.

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.

 

Carleton Watkins. 'Yosemite Valley from the Best General View No.2.' 1866

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Yosemite Valley from the Best General View No.2
1866
Albumen silver print
41 x 52.2 cm (16 1/8 x 20 9/16 in.)

 

 

Carleton Watkins had the ability to photograph a subject from the viewpoint that allowed the most information to be revealed about its contents. In this image, he captured what he considered the best features of Yosemite Valley: Bridalveil Falls, Cathedral Rock, Half Dome, and El Capitan. By positioning the camera so that the base of the slender tree appears to grow from the bottom edge of the picture, Watkins composed the photograph so that the canyon rim and the open space beyond it seem to intersect. Although he sacrificed the top of the tree, he was able to place the miniaturised Yosemite Falls at the visual centre of the picture. To alleviate the monotony of an empty sky, he added the clouds from a second negative. This image was taken while Watkins was working for the California Geological Survey. His two thousand pounds of equipment for the expedition, which included enough glass for over a hundred negatives, required a train of six mules. (Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website)

 

Carleton Watkins. "The Dalles, Extremes of High & Low Water, 92 ft" 1883

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
The Dalles, Extremes of High & Low Water, 92 ft
1883

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) 'Saint Cloud' 1904

 

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Saint Cloud
1904

 

Carleton Watkins. "Cypress Tree at Point Lobos, Monterey County" 1883 - 1885

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Cypress Tree at Point Lobos, Monterey County
1883 – 1885

 

 

In 1850, at the age of 20, Carleton Watkins is believed to have arrived in California from New York via South America. He embarked on a life in photography that began auspiciously during the gold rush (which started in 1849) and ended abruptly with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire that destroyed his negatives. In between those historic moments, Watkins witnessed an era in which a recurring theme was the enormity of all things in the West. He photographed the expansive western landscape with its miles of coastline, vast natural resources, colossal trees, and the monoliths of the Yosemite Valley using an oversize mammoth-plate camera.

In the 1860s Watkins’s Yosemite photographs brought him fame from as far away as Paris, but a decade later he experienced a painful financial reversal. In the end, he died a pauper in 1916 after a life that brought him into dialogue with the many “giants” of his era. The photographs he left behind provide a unique personal vision of the birth and growth of California.

 

Mining Scenes and Daguerreotypes

After arriving in Sacramento in 1850, Watkins worked delivering supplies to the mines during the gold rush. As he traveled throughout the region, he applied his new photography skills by making daguerreotypes (an early photographic technique using silver-coated, polished copper plates). In 1852, he is believed to have taken up photography full time, making daguerreotypes as a freelance “outdoor man” for established studios in Sacramento, Marysville, and San Francisco.

Among the most important photographs created in California before about 1855 are more than 100 daguerreotypes of buildings and landscapes, the majority of which have not been attributed. Many represent the San Francisco Bay Area and the mother lode regions northeast of Sacramento, where Watkins lived from 1850 to 1853 – a fact that geographically positions him in the right place at the right time to have been their maker. This exhibition compares select daguerreotypes by unknown makers with securely identified photographs by Watkins. On the basis of style and other circumstantial evidence, it is possible that Watkins may have made many of the daguerreotypes.

 

Yosemite

Watkins first visited Yosemite Valley in the late 1850s and then returned to Yosemite several times in the 1860s and 70s with a new mammoth-plate camera designed to expose collodion-on-glass negatives that were 18-by-22 inches in size. With this equipment, he created the pictures that soon brought him international fame.

Watkins was not the only photographer who made images of Yosemite. Charles L. Weed and Eadweard Muybridge both followed Watkins into Yosemite, and the photographers often re-created one another’s views. This exhibition explores the visual dialogue in Yosemite between Watkins, Weed, Muybridge, and the unidentified camera operator for Thomas Houseworth and Company, who may have actually been Watkins.

 

Pacific Coast

Watkins was best known for his photographs of Yosemite, but he also took his camera to the silver mines of Nevada and Arizona, and up and down the Pacific coast. Throughout his career he applied his understanding of the elements of landscape as art. His early work with mining subjects proved to be excellent training for his eventual vision of landscape as a powerful counterbalance to the fragility of human existence. He harnessed the elements of visual form – line, shape, mass, outline, perspective, viewpoint, and light – to enliven often static motifs in nature.

Watkins photographed the Monterey Peninsula in the 1880s, recording the scenery in a continuously unfolding progression along Seventeen-Mile Drive, which began and ended at the Hotel Del Monte. Near the hotel, Watkins created this image of a native cypress – windblown and with its roots exposed – clinging to the side of a rocky cliff. Many distinguished photographers, among them Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, followed Watkins over the years along this same stretch of coast, photographing similar subjects.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Carleton Watkins. 'View on the Calloway Canal, near Poso Creek, Kern County' 1887

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
View on the Calloway Canal, near Poso Creek, Kern County
1887
Albumen silver print
37.5 x 53 cm (14 3/4 x 20 7/8 in.)

 

 

Andreas Gursky (German, b. 1955)
Rhein II
1996

 

  1. For more information please see the J. Paul Getty web page about this image.

 

 

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

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

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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03
Dec
08

Exhibition: ‘Potraiture Now: Feature Photography’ at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington

Exhibition dates: 26th November 2008 – 27th September 2009

 

Jocelyn Lee. "Untitled (Kara on Easter)" 1999

 

Jocelyn Lee
Untitled (Kara on Easter)
1999
Chromogenic print
©
 Jocelyn Lee

 

 

“America is a snapshot culture. Armed with a portable camera and a spirit of inquiry, we revel in the images that we create. Although we often treat still photographs – including portraits – as ephemeral fragments to be discarded or replaced by the next image, there are portrait photographers today who create pictures that defy an easy death. Often working on a specific commission or editorial assignment, these photographers compose portraits that cause us to pause and reflect.”

Portraiture Now: Feature Photography focuses on six photographers who, by working on assignment for publications such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine, each bring their distinctive “take” on contemporary portraiture to a broad audience. Critically acclaimed for their independent fine-art work, these photographers – Katy Grannan, Jocelyn Lee, Ryan McGinley, Steve Pyke, Martin Schoeller, and Alec Soth – have also pursued a variety of editorial projects, taking advantage of the opportunities and grappling with the parameters that these assignments introduce. Their work builds upon a longstanding tradition of photographic portraiture for the popular press and highlights creative possibilities for twenty-first-century portrayal. The exhibition has additional portraits not included in this website; it opened on November 26, 2008, and closed on September 27, 2009.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

  • KATY GRANNAN
  • JOCELYN LEE
  • RYAN MCGINLEY
  • STEVE PYKE
  • MARTIN SCHOELLER
  • ALEC SOTH

 

 

Alec Soth
Misty
2005
Part of the Niagara project
Pigmented ink print
Collection of the artist
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York City
© Alec Soth

 

 

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Eighth and F Streets, NW
Washington D.C.

Opening hours:
11.30 am – 7.00 pm daily

National Portrait Gallery website

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24
Nov
08

Exhibition: ‘Broken Glass: Photographs of the South Bronx by Ray Mortenson’ at the Museum of the City of New York

Exhibition dates: 14th November 2008 – 12th April 2009

 

Ray Mortenson. "Untitled (7-16-6)" 1984

 

Ray Mortenson
Untitled (7-16-6)
1984
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Documenting the abandoned, burnt out, and razed structures of entire city blocks in the South Bronx in the aftermath of the 1970s, during which this neighborhood experienced dramatic decline, Broken Glass: Photographs of the South Bronx by Ray Mortenson will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York from November 14, 2008 through March 9, 2009. The 50 black and white cityscapes and interiors on view – five of which are large-scale – were taken between 1982 and 1984, and they vividly illustrate the results of a downslide that began in the Great Depression of the 1930s and accelerated with the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway in the 1950s and the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Broken Glass is Mortenson’s first museum exhibition in New York City, and it is the first presentation of the South Bronx photographs.

The 50 photographs on view, all black and white, range in size from the smallest at approximately 11″ by 14″, to the most monumental at 40” by 60”. Each conveys a devastating silence, serving as a reminder that these city blocks were once the homes of individuals, families, and a large community. Mortenson has written, “The buildings were like tombs – sealed up, broken open and plundered. Inside, stairways with missing steps led up to abandoned apartments. Doors opened into rooms that were once bedrooms or kitchens. Small things left behind hint at who the occupants might have been – a hairbrush, photographs, or bits of clothing.” Ghostly remnants of the once prosperous and thriving neighborhoods can be glimpsed in his images which document the extent and severity of the urban decline experienced in the South Bronx.

These photographs document an important chapter in the history of a New York City neighborhood, augmenting their aesthetic power. The decline of the South Bronx began as early as the Great Depression when previously sustained development came to an abrupt halt. After World War II an exodus of New York’s middle class began and continued into the 1970s. This caused a population decline throughout the city, but the effects were particularly hard on the South Bronx as more than 200,000 residents left the community between 1970 and 1980. As entire communities left the city, Robert Moses’ road building and slum clearance, along with other urban renewal initiatives had dramatic effects on the lives of all who remained. In the 1970s New York City faced another economic crisis and virtual bankruptcy. City government was unable to maintain services in the South Bronx and “planned shrinkage” became an unofficial policy as services were slowly withdrawn. With little incentive for landlords to upgrade or even maintain their property, waves of arson and “insurance fires” decimated the by now largely minority community. Astonishingly, some 12,000 fires a year occurred through the 1970s, averaging more than 30 a day.

A successful resurrection of the South Bronx began in the mid-1980s, as grass roots organizations and community development corporations, along with financial reinvestment by the City, sparked its regeneration. The photographs on view stand in starkest contrast to today’s revitalized neighborhood, which has been the result of the dedication of its citizens combined with government support. The photographs serve as a reminder of the ruins that once dominated the now-vibrant streets and that the balance between prosperity and urban decline can be fragile.

.
Brief Biography

Ray Mortenson was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1944 and studied art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the San Francisco Art Institute. In the early 1970s, Mortenson moved to New York and began working with photography. His first significant photographic project was a comprehensive investigation of the industrial landscapes of New Jersey’s Meadowlands (1974-1982). Since then, Mortensen has continued to focus on landscape photography that is often interested in liminal places of transition, set apart from everyday life. His photographs have been accepted into the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.”

Press release from the Museum of the City of New York website

 

 

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
New York, NY 10029
Phone: 212-534-1672

Opening hours:
7 days a week 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Museum of the City of New York website

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13
Nov
08

Quotation: Susan Sontag ‘Photography: A Little Summa’

November 2008

 

“5. In a modern society, images made by cameras are the principal access to realities of which we have no direct experience. And we are expected to receive and to register an unlimited number of images of what we don’t directly experience. The camera defines for us what we allow to be “real” – and it continually pushes forward the boundary of the real. Photographers are particularly admired if they reveal hidden truths about themselves or less than fully reported social conflicts in societies both near and far from where the viewer lives.”

.
Sontag
, Susan. “Photography: A Little Summa,” in Sontag, Susan. At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2007, p. 125.

 

 

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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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