Posts Tagged ‘American

24
Jan
14

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

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

 

Louise Lawler. '16' 1985

 

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

 

 

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

Apparently…

But do you like them?

 

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Top left: Edward Weston photographs of his son Neil Weston

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Louise Lawler. 'Salon Hodler' 1992/1993

 

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

 

Louise Lawler. 'Unsentimental' 1999/2000

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Foreword

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

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

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

Excerpt from the Foreword by Philipp Kaiser

 

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

 

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

 

Louise Lawler. 'Chandelier' 2001/2007

 

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

(Lucio Fontana)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Nude' 2002/2003

 

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

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

 

Louise Lawler. 'Still Life (Napkins)' 2003

 

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

 

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

 

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

(Julia Margaret Cameron)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Monogram' 1984

 

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

(Jasper Johns)

 

Louise Lawler. 'Portrait' 1982

 

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

 

 

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

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

Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art website

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23
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 (American)
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.

Marcus

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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 (American)
Man with patriotic cast, Original Famous Fish of Stroh
2005

 

Kay Westhues. 'Knox laundromat' 2005

 

Kay Westhues (American)
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 no longer available online

 

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

 

Kay Westhues (American)
Chicken bingo, Francesville Fall Festival
2005

 

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

 

Kay Westhues (American)
Patriotic hammers ($3.00)
2005

 

Kay Westhues. 'Parked trailer, Ligonier' 2006

 

Kay Westhues (American)
Parked trailer, Ligonier
2006

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Kay Westhues (American)
Momence Speed Wash, Momence IL
2007

 

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

 

Kay Westhues (American)
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
Closed Sundays and Mondays

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 (American born Austria, 1923-2002) From the series about Regensburg Museums 1999

 

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

 

Inge Morath. 'Window washer' 1958

 

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

 

 

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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 (American, b. 1969)
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 (American, b. 1969)
Dynell, Bemidji, MN (Girl in store)
2007

 

Alec Soth. 'Josh, Joelton, Tennessee' 2004

 

Alec Soth (American, b. 1969)
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 (American, b. 1969)
Home Environment, Billings, MT
2008

 

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

 

Alec Soth (American, b. 1969)
Republican National Convention, Saint Paul, MN
2008

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm

Gagosian Gallery website

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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

 

Unknown maker, American, Attributed to Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) 'The Plaza, Lima, Peru' About 1852

 

Unknown maker, American, Attributed to Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
The Plaza, Lima, Peru
About 1852
Daguerreotype
Plate: 10.8 × 14cm (4 1/4 × 5 1/2 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

Watkins could have made this study of the Lima Cathedral on his return to California from New York via South America in 1852.

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) (attributed)
Placer Mining Scene
c. 1852-1855
Half-plate daguerreotype
4 x 5 in. (10.2 x 12.7cm)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

Watkins was persistently interested in the technical details of mining operations. Here a primitive Spanish ore mill is used to pulverise gold-bearing rock. Throughout his career Watkins earned income producing photographs that were used as sources for engraved illustrations, as this one was.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Unknown maker, American, Attributed to Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) 'Engineering Camp, Copiapo, Chile' about 1852-1855

 

Unknown maker, American, Attributed to Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Engineering Camp, Copiapo, Chile
About 1852-1855
Daguerreotype
Plate: 10.8 × 14cm (4 1/4 × 5 1/2 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

In 1852 Watkins went to New York, then returned to California the following spring aboard the SS Michael Angelo, which was loaded with tons of supplies destined for mining camps on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. The vessel proceeded to the port of Caldera, Chile, where goods destined for the mines at Copiapó were unloaded. Miners and their various forms of shelter, such as the tent shown here in the landscape, were among Watkins’s favourite subjects.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916), Robert H. Vance (American, 1825-1876) 'Street Scene in La Rancheria, California' 1853-1855

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916), Robert H. Vance (American, 1825-1876)
Street Scene in La Rancheria, California
1853-1855
Daguerreotype, hand-coloured
8.3 × 11.4cm (3 1/4 × 4 1/2 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

The mining camp of La Rancherie was located near the fabled Sutter’s Mill in California, where gold was discovered in 1849. In the volatile gold-rush environment of prospectors, get-rich-quick dreams, and fly-by-night towns, an assembly of men in the foreground stood for the camera to immortalise their roles in the historical moment. La Rancherie stood out for its stability: it could boast a few buildings made of clapboard and some that were even painted. The illustrated hotel sign at upper left indicates a clientele that was not entirely literate and might rely on pictures to identify potential lodgings.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) '[Section Grizzly Giant, Mariposa Grove]' 1861

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
[Section Grizzly Giant, Mariposa Grove]
1861
Albumen silver print
43.2 × 52.1cm (17 × 20 1/2 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

Galen Clark, the figure in this photograph, was designated as the guardian of the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia about the time Abraham Lincoln ceded it to California in 1864. When this picture was made, Clark lived in a cabin (not pictured) nearby and maintained a rustic way station for visitors traveling to Yosemite Valley via the Mariposa Trail, which was developed in 1859.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

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 52.2cm (16 1/8 x 20 9/16 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

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 (American, 1829-1916) 'Further Up the Valley. The Three Brothers, the highest, 3,830 ft.' 1866

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Further Up the Valley. The Three Brothers, the highest, 3,830 ft.
1866
Albumen silver print
39.2 × 53.5cm (15 7/16 × 21 1/16 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

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 1870s 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.

Anonymous. “Dialogue among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California,” on the J. Paul Getty Museum website 2008 [Online] Cited 09/06/2022

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) 'Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon' Negative 1867; print about 1881-1883

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon
Negative 1867; print about 1881-1883
Albumen silver print
40.5 × 52.3cm (15 15/16 × 20 9/16 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

In 1867 Carleton Watkins made an expedition to Oregon to obtain photographs of its geology, including the chain of extinct volcanic mountains that cap the coastal range. This view was made from the Washington side of the Columbia River. Even the evidence of a solitary boatman and his cargo does not disturb the landscape’s profound serenity, nor does his presence reveal the fact that cultivated farmland and an apple orchard existed nearby. Watkins’s image nonetheless portrays a man facing nature at its most grand and overwhelming. The man’s boat appears ready to launch into the still, glassy river, an act that will make an indelible imprint on the water’s pristine, boundless surface.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) '[Sugarloaf Islands at Fisherman's Bay, Farallon Islands]' About 1869

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
[Sugarloaf Islands at Fisherman’s Bay, Farallon Islands]
About 1869
Albumen silver print
41 × 54.3cm (16 1/8 × 21 3/8 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

Craggy rocks rise from a swirling, misty sea. Two seagulls punctuate the foreground, giving the scene a sense of scale. The uninhabited Sugarloaf Islands, part of the Farallon Island group, are located just north of San Francisco in the Pacific Ocean; in this photograph, they loom in the surf offshore like mysterious, petrified sea creatures. The length of the exposure softened the waves’ swirl into mist, adding to the impression of ancient, craggy mountaintops breaking through vaporous clouds.

Carleton Watkins frequently photographed the Farallon Islands. This particular area, the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, includes 1,235 square miles of nearshore and offshore waters ranging from wetlands to deep-sea communities.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) 'View on Lake Tahoe' 1877

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
View on Lake Tahoe
1877
Albumen silver print
40.3 × 52.7cm (15 7/8 × 20 3/4 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

Standing between two sets of rails, Carleton Watkins photographed a busy pair of tracks above Carson Valley, Nevada. His shadow and that of his mammoth-plate camera indicate his precarious position on the steep grade in the foreground. A single engineer stands near the empty track curving around a mountain on the left, having already observed the train that heads away from the trestle on the right. Beneath these tracks, another steam engine pulling lumber on multiple flatbed cars makes its way around a sharp curve. The wood carried by these trains was an essential material for building the railroad and for operating steam engines. Lumber served as ties beneath the iron rails, telegraph poles lining the route, and fuel for wood-burning steam engines.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) 'Agassiz Rock and the Yosemite Falls, from Union Point' about 1878

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
Agassiz Rock and the Yosemite Falls, from Union Point
about 1878
Albumen silver print
54.4 × 39.2cm (21 7/16 × 15 7/16 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) '[Thompson's Seedless Grapes]' 1880

 

Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916)
[Thompson’s Seedless Grapes]
1880
Albumen silver print
37.6 × 55.7cm (14 13/16 × 21 15/16 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

In this image celebrating Kern County’s agricultural bounty, Carleton Watkins clearly defined each fresh grape, tooth-edged leaf, and woody twig. Real estate developers successfully used photographs of lush fields, ripe produce, and plentiful harvests as a means of advertising to boost Southern California’s economy. The grape bunches hanging from the tendrils of this vine represent the earliest cultivation of seedless grapes.

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
Albumen silver print
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

At twenty, Carleton Watkins headed out to California to make his fortune. After working as a daguerreotype operator in San Jose, he established his own practice and soon made his first visit to the Yosemite Valley. There he made thirty mammoth plate and one hundred stereograph views that were among the first photographs of Yosemite seen in the East. Partly on the strength of Watkins’s photographs, President Abraham Lincoln signed the 1864 bill that declared the valley inviolable, thus paving the way for the National Parks system.

In 1865 Watkins became official photographer for the California State Geological Survey. He opened his own Yosemite Art Gallery in San Francisco two years later. The walls were lined with 18 x 22-inch prints in black walnut frames with gilt-edged mats. Such elegant presentation did not come cheap, and Watkins was accused of charging exorbitant prices. A poor businessman, he declared bankruptcy in 1874 and his negatives and gallery were sold to photographer Isaiah Taber, who began to publish Watkins’s images under his own name. Watkins, however, continued to photograph, and seven years later became manager of the Yosemite Art Gallery, then under different ownership. The San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed the contents of his studio, which he had intended to preserve at Stanford University.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

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

 

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

 

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
Albumen silver print
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

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 53cm (14 3/4 x 20 7/8 in.)
J. Paul Getty Museum Collection

 

 

The first photographs Watkins made along the Kern River 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. James Ben Ali Haggin, the defendant and Watkins’s client, had a series of irrigation canals that raised the price of land in Kern County. In this spare composition, made where present-day Poso Road crosses the Calloway Canal, Watkins devoted almost equal proportions to sky, land, and water.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

 

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

 

 

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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 (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Kara on Easter)
1999
Chromogenic print
©
 Jocelyn Lee

 

 

I photograph because I am interested in people, what it means to be alive, and how we make sense of the world. Whether I am photographing on assignment, or for personal work, the same ideas direct my attention. On the psychological and narrative level, I am interested in looking at states of being: birth, childhood, ageing, physical fragility, death, sensuality, the animal world and people in nature.

Formally, I tend to emphasise the tactile qualities of the living world: skin, hair, light, surface, colour, and material. I recognise that these are very broad themes, but they are also the basis for essential philosophical questions. My photographs don’t provide answers to these questions, but hopefully act as moments of contemplation.

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Jocelyn Lee artist statement

 

 

Jocelyn Lee approaches her photographic subjects looking to reveal not simply the individuality of those who pose before her camera. She also wants to convey something deeper about how her subjects confront the place where they live and the situation in which they find themselves. This interest in the psychological dimensions of character is emblematic of her portraiture – whether she is working on an editorial assignment or on an independent project.

Jocelyn Lee’s photographs for this exhibition are drawn from work that she has completed in Maine, a place where she has spent much time. The images derive from several projects, including an advertising campaign for a local rug designer and a commission to portray adolescent girls. Seen together, they suggest the role that environment and narrative play in the art of portraiture. Although Lee is interested in photographing specific people at different stages of life, each portrait also provides a broader opportunity to reflect on our shared humanity. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Lee has served as a professor of photography at Princeton University since 2003.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website [Online] Cited 08/06/2022

 

Jocelyn Lee (American, b. 1962) 'Untitled (Inuit woman in hospital, Rankin Island)' 2002

 

Jocelyn Lee (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Inuit woman in hospital, Rankin Island)
2002
Chromogenic print
Published in the New York Times Magazine, May 5, 2002
Collection of the artist
© 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 (American, b. 1969)
Misty
2005
Part of the Niagara project
Pigmented ink print
Collection of the artist
Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York City
© Alec Soth

 

 

“A critic once pointed out to me the different ways in which I photograph men and women. With men I seem to be poking fun, he said, whereas my depiction of women is more reverent. He makes a good point. Many of my best pictures of men are playful (a man in a flight suit holding model airplanes, a shirtless man with carrots in his ears). But the women I photograph look more like saints than clowns. As a man, I suppose, I identify more with my male subjects. In them, I see my own awkwardness and frailty. Women are always “the other.”

In assembling this group of portraits of women, I’m aware that I’m treading on dangerous ground. When I was in college, I learned to be distrustful of men’s depictions of women. I remember seeing Garry Winogrand’s book ‘Women Are Beautiful’ in the school library and being shocked that it hadn’t been defaced for its blatant objectification of women. But looking back, maybe I was too harsh. Whether one photographs men or women, it is always a form of objectification. Whatever you say about Winogrand, his depiction was honest.

In putting together a collection of my best portraits of women, I’m trying to come to terms with how I honestly see and depict women. Are my pictures romanticised? Sexualised? Why do I see women in this way? For me, photography is as much about the way I respond to the subject as it is about the subject itself.”

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Alec Soth artist statement

 

 

Adroitly navigating the disciplines of editorial photography and fine art work, Alec Soth has emerged as a leading American artist. He is an associate photographer with the famed Magnum Photos group, and has shown his work in galleries and museums in the United States and in Europe.

Born and based in Minneapolis and educated in New York, Soth first attracted critical notice with his series Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004). Since then, he has published NIAGARA (2006), Fashion Magazine (2007), and Dog Days, Bogotá (2007). Unlike many contemporary photographers, Soth works with a large-format 8 x 10-inch camera, which, given the time involved in setting up for a photograph, creates an intense relationship between the artist and subject. Soth sees this as the crux of his work.

For this exhibition, we have chosen a selection of his portraits of women, drawn from past editorial work and fine arts projects, including three portraits from Fashion Magazine, which explored the world of Paris couture and countered those images with subjects from Soth’s Minnesota home. As he notes, “I’m trying to come to terms with how I honestly see and depict women. Are my pictures romanticised? Sexualised? Why do I see women in this way? For me, photography is as much about the way I respond to the subject as it is about the subject itself.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website [Online] Cited 08/06/2022

 

Alec Soth (American, b. 1969) 'Kristin, St. Paul, Minnesota' 2007

 

Alec Soth (American, b. 1969)
Kristin, St. Paul, Minnesota
2007
Chromogenic print
Published in Fashion Magazine (2007)
Collection of the artist, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York City
© Alec Soth

 

 

This full-length portrait was created during the winter of 2007, after Soth’s return from Paris, where he made the first photographs for his commission from Magnum Photos that resulted in Fashion Magazine. Fashion Magazine is the third in a series of projects by the same name, in which Magnum asks one photographer to document the whirl of fashion week in Paris from his or her own point of view.

 

Katy Grannan (American, b. 1969) 'Audrey Wilbur' 2000

 

Katy Grannan (American, b. 1969)
Audrey Wilbur
2000
Chromogenic print
Cover for New York Times Magazine, March 19, 2000
Collection of the artist, courtesy Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City; Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Salon 94, New York City
© Katy Grannan

 

 

“Photography is a kind of permission; it’s a way in. It’s a catalyst for extraordinary experiences that would otherwise not be possible. (This is the common thread between my personal projects and commissioned work.) I have had so many life-changing moments – some are dramatic, most are utterly mundane and exquisite.

I consider each of these experiences a privilege, and every subject worthy of attention.”

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Katy Grannan artist statement

 

 

In images for the New York Times Magazine, Katy Grannan focuses on such poignant details as the teenager’s imperfect complexion, the sick man’s drooping muscles, a tidy kitchen counter, or a neighbourhood swing to make us understand heartrending realities of juvenile imprisonment, end-of-life decisions, or post-traumatic stress syndrome. For several of her art gallery projects, Grannan advertised for subjects in small-town newspapers. As she gained the sitters’ trust and helped visualise their fantasies, many posed nude or partially undressed. In Grannan’s work for the Times, we recognise similar qualities of risk, vulnerability, and, ultimately, empathy between the photographer and her subjects.

This portrait of four-year-old Audrey Wilbur is a study in contrasts between the cheerful fabrics of the clothing and decor and the impoverished bareness of the room’s mattress, walls, and floor. Grannan’s depiction of Audrey, made at the height of the dot-com bubble, was the cover for the New York Times Magazine’s March 19, 2000, issue, which included James Fallows’s “The Invisible Poor” and a photo essay titled “In the Shadow of Wealth.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website [Online] Cited 08/06/2022

 

Katy Grannan (American, b. 1969) 'Forest Whitaker' 2007

 

Katy Grannan (American, b. 1969)
Forest Whitaker
2007
Chromogenic print
Variant image published in New York Times Magazine, February 11, 2007
Collection of the artist, courtesy Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City; Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Salon 94, New York City
© Katy Grannan

 

Martin Schoeller (American, b. 1968) 'Barack Obama' 2004

 

Martin Schoeller (American, b. 1968)
Barack Obama
2004
Digital C-print
Variant published in Gentleman’s Quarterly, December 2004
Collection of the artist, courtesy Hasted Hunt, New York City
© Martin Schoeller

 

 

Schoeller photographed Barack Obama for a December 2004 feature on “Men of the Year,” in Gentleman’s Quarterly, where a variant of this photograph appeared. Reflecting upon the success of his address at the 2004 Democratic convention, Obama, who would go on to win the presidential election in 2008, observed: “The reason you do this stuff is not to … get your face in a magazine … You do this stuff because you care about the epic struggle to make America what it can be.”

 

 

A photographic close-up is perhaps the purest form of portraiture, creating a confrontation between the viewer and the subject that daily interaction makes impossible, or at least impolite. In a close-up, the impact stems solely from the static subject’s expression or apparent lack thereof, so the viewer is challenged to read a face without the benefit of the environmental cues we naturally use to form our interpersonal reactions.

After seeing Bernd and Hilla Becher’s water tower series in 1991, I was inspired by the idea of photographing a large group of subjects in the exact same style. The pictures in my Close Up series have all been taken from similar angles and with the same equipment, but here I have tried to bring out personality and capture individuality in a search for a flash of vulnerability and integrity. The greatest challenge in taking these images lies in the attempt to arrest the subtle moment that flickers between expressions, movements of which the subject is unaware. Like most portrait photographers, I aim to record the instant the subject is not thinking about being photographed, striving to get beyond the practiced facial performance, reaching for something unplanned. While trying to be as objective as possible, I acknowledge that every gesture is still an act of artifice. Familiar faces are treated with the same levels of scrutiny as the un-famous. The unknown and the too- well- known meet on a level platform that enables comparison, where a viewer’s existing notions of celebrity, value, and honesty are challenged.

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Martin Schoeller artist statement

 

 

Martin Schoeller has exhibited his portraits internationally and has received numerous awards. His photographs have appeared in many prominent magazines, including the New Yorker, Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ), Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone.

A native of Germany, Schoeller, who now lives and works in New York, honed his skills by working with Annie Leibovitz. “Watching her deal with all of the elements that have to come together – subjects, lighting, production, weather, styling, location – gave me an insight into what it takes to be a portrait photographer,” he explains.

Equally important for Schoeller was the photography of German minimalists Bernd and Hilla Becher, who “inspired me to take a series of pictures, to build a platform that allows you to compare.” Schoeller’s portraiture brings viewers eye-to-eye with the well-known and the anonymous. His close-up style emphasises, in equal measure, the facial features, both studied and unstudied, of his subjects – presidential candidates and Pirahã tribespeople, movie stars and artists – levelling them in an inherently democratic fashion. Schoeller’s photographs challenge us to identify the qualities that may, under varying circumstances, either distinguish individuals or link them together, raising a critical question: What is the very nature of the categories we use to compare and contrast.

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website [Online] Cited 08/06/2022

 

Martin Schoeller (American, b. 1968) 'Cindy Sherman' 2000

 

Martin Schoeller (American, b. 1968)
Cindy Sherman
2000
Digital C-print
Published in the New Yorker, May 15, 2000
Collection of the artist, courtesy Hasted Hunt, New York City
© Martin Schoeller

 

 

Well known for creating photographs of herself adopting a broad range of personas, Cindy Sherman’s own face is surprisingly unfamiliar. Originally published with a New Yorker profile of Sherman by Calvin Tomkins addressing “Her Secret Identities,” Schoeller’s portrait unmasks the influential artist.

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Daily 11.30am – 7.00pm

National Portrait Gallery 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, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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