Posts Tagged ‘Beijing

26
Apr
20

Exhibition: ‘Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China’ at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY

Exhibition dates: 7th February – 14th June 2020

The Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY has temporarily closed until further notice due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

#MuseumFromHome

 

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Actors]' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Actors]
1870s
Albumen print
Collection of Stephan Loewentheil, Cornell JD 1975

 

 

Such a rare commodity (and I use the word deliberately) – an Indigenous photographer – in a world educated “in the colonial view of photography’s history that has privileged Western travel photographers.” And yet, Lai Fong buys into the photographic conventions of the day, based on Western ideals of ethnographic portraiture and documentary landscape photography, to sell his impressive product range. In a photograph such as [Group portrait near Fangguangyan Monastery, Fujian] (c. 1869, below) the positioning of the European figures could have come straight out of an Édouard Manet painting, complete with their air of posed insouciance. Even in the photograph of a brothel, a Canton boat which served only wealthy Chinese clients [Flower boat, Guangzhou] (1870s, below), the West encroaches, as can be seen by the funnels and sails of a ship that lurks behind the traditional floating pleasure den.

Only rarely do we glimpse Lai Fong’s individuality as an artist… the low camera position, long vanishing point and panoramic landscape of the two magnificent images [Ming Tombs, Beijing] (1879, below); or the sublime construction of the image in photographs such as [Piled Stone Peaks in Mount Wuyi] (c. 1869, below) with its reference to Chinese brush-and-ink landscape painting known as Shan shui.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

 

Installation images of the exhibition Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
Credit: David O. Brown, Johnson Museum

 

 

This exhibition introduces viewers to the work of Lai Fong, arguably the most ambitious and successful photographer of nineteenth-century China. He began practicing under the name Afong in Hong Kong in the 1860s, and over the next twenty years built a towering reputation on his illustrious clientele, his impressive product range, and a catalogue of views of China “larger, choicer, and more complete… than any other in the Empire,” according to his advertisements. His photographs of Chinese cities, monuments, people, and land – however shaped by the desires of his cosmopolitan clientele – stand as records of places that have changed often beyond recognition, and of his own artistry, exuberance, and entrepreneurial brilliance. Managed by his son and daughter-in-law after his death, his studio persisted into the 1940s, an instance of remarkable longevity in a famously difficult field.

“Despite the historical fame of Lai’s studio and the reach of his photographs, which exist today in collections worldwide, Lai remains little known outside of specialist circles,” said Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson Museum. “His work is understudied and rarely exhibited, the result in part of a colonial view of photography’s history that has privileged Western travel photographers over indigenous practitioners. Lai Fong: Photographer of China is not only the first exhibition dedicated to Lai, but to any Chinese photographer working in the initial decades of photography’s global proliferation.”

The exhibition brings together almost fifty images, many of which have never been previously published or exhibited, suggesting them as emblematic of one of the nineteenth century’s most significant, and significantly overlooked, photographic careers. They are drawn primarily from the singular collection of Stephan Loewentheil, JD ’75, who over three decades has assembled one of the world’s foremost collections of early photographs of China. Other lenders to the exhibition include the Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Getty Research Institute.

Of special note is the Ming Tombs album from Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. This album of ninety-five photographs of Beijing has been in the collection of the Cornell Library since 1940. In 2019, the photographs were attributed to Lai by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson, as part of ongoing research on the university’s collections of Asian photographs. The album is a remarkable compendium, the most complete collection of Lai’s images of the Chinese capital yet discovered. At least nineteen of them may have been entirely unknown previously; they do not appear in the only catalogue of Lai’s photographs reconstructed to date, by the historian Terry Bennett.

This exhibition was curated by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson, and Stacey Lambrow, curator of the Loewentheil Photography of China Collection, with the assistance of Yuhua Ding, curatorial assistant for Asian art at the Johnson. It is supported in part by the Helen and Robert J. Appel Exhibition Endowment.

Press release from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Itinerant barber]' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Itinerant barber]
1870s
Albumen print
Collection of Stephan Loewentheil, Cornell JD 1975

 

 

Genre images like these, along with views of monuments, cities, and natural scenery, were central to the Chinese photography market. Lai created them both at home and on expedition, setting up makeshift studios where necessary. The photographs feature people who may or may not have actually inhabited the traditional roles they play for the camera: Lai had a talent for summoning natural postures and expressions from subjects he had costumed and arranged.

Lai’s photographs certainly appealed to Chinese buyers but, like most nineteenth-century photographs of China, they were largely produced for export. They left Hong Kong as souvenirs with the international officials, merchants, missionaries, and tourists who began to enter Chinese cities in great numbers in the 1860s, after successive incursions by the British military forced the Qing dynasty to expand foreigners’ access to the country.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Flower boat, Guangzhou]' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Flower boat, Guangzhou]
1870s
Albumen print
Collection of Stephan Loewentheil, Cornell JD 1975

 

 

For hundreds of years, floating brothels existed on the Pearl River Delta, part of a river scene that grew alongside maritime trade between China and Europe in the eighteenth century. The boats in most harbours were open to men from any nation, but the Canton boats served only Chinese clients, primarily the wealthy elite. Called flower boats, they were places of lavish entertainment. They could be exquisitely constructed and outfitted, and were often romantically depicted in souvenir paintings.

Despite the boats’ glamorous reputation, the industry turned on slavery. The women and girls working aboard were the property of the boats’ owners, purchased as children and trained in appealing to men of high society. When age or disease rendered them no longer lucrative, they were sold or discarded. Such cruelty was increasingly reviled as the century wore on. The last boats disappeared in the 1930s.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Beijing]' 1879

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Beijing]
1879
Albumen print
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Ming Tombs, Beijing]' 1879

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Ming Tombs, Beijing]
1879
From an album of albumen prints
Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Ming Tombs, Beijing]' 1879

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Ming Tombs, Beijing]
1879
From an album of albumen prints
Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

 

 

This album of ninety-five photographs of Beijing has been in the collection of the Cornell Library since 1940. In 2019, the photographs were attributed to Lai by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson Museum, as part of ongoing research on the university’s collections of Asian photographs. The album is a remarkable compendium, the most complete collection of Lai’s images of the Chinese capital yet discovered. At least nineteen of them may have been entirely unknown previously; they do not appear in the only catalogue of Lai’s photographs reconstructed to date, by the historian Terry Bennett.

Lai traveled to what was then Peking in 1879, possibly on the invitation of the foreign diplomats whose portraits are included in the album. Alongside these portraits are views of the monuments of the ancient city, including temples, pagodas, the observatory, the Summer Palace, and the Ming Tombs. As here, many of these monuments are pictured from a distance. Lai makes the approach to the subject as central to the picture as the subject itself.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) 'Part of the Bund, Shanghai' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
Part of the Bund, Shanghai
1870s
From an album of albumen prints
Getty Research Institute, Clark Worswick collection of photographs of China and Southeast Asia

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) 'Part of the Bund, Shanghai' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
Part of the Bund, Shanghai
1870s
From an album of albumen prints
Getty Research Institute, Clark Worswick collection of photographs of China and Southeast Asia

 

 

Contrary to accounts first propagated by its early European and American inhabitants, Shanghai had not been an inconsequential place – a “fishing village on a mudflat,” as one famous city guide put it – before it was opened to foreign settlement and trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. In fact, for centuries it had been an important point along trade routes between China and Southeast Asia, and by the 1830s it had a quarter of a million inhabitants. Nonetheless, its growth after 1842 was explosive. By the start of the new century its physical size had more than doubled, its population quadrupled, and it had become a global commercial capital.

The landmarks of the early decades of this era – the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the Shanghai Club, many of the important mercantile hongs, or trading houses – were clustered along the Shanghai Bund. This waterfront embankment district reached the International Settlement at one end and the French Concession at the other.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Group portrait near Fangguangyan Monastery, Fujian]' c. 1869

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Group portrait near Fangguangyan Monastery, Fujian]
c. 1869
Albumen print
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection
Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005

 

 

Around 1869, Lai was invited by foreign residents of Fuzhou to record a private excursion by boat to the Fangguangyan Monastery, a “hanging temple” known for its spectacular location and design. Lai posed the group for photographs at several spots along the route.

The rather illustrious expedition party included Charles Sinclair, the British Consult of Fuzhou, who sits on the stool at left; Sinclair’s wife, who leans against the rock wall; Baron de Méritens, an Imperial Maritime Customs Service commissioner, who perches on a rock at center; Prosper Giquel, Director of the Fuzhou Arsenal, who stands by Sinclair’s wife; and Francis Temple, an accountant at the Shanghai branch of the Oriental Bank, who is stretched out informally in the foreground. The man adopting a similar pose in the background remains unidentified.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Piled Stone Peaks in Mount Wuyi]' c. 1869

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Piled Stone Peaks in Mount Wuyi]
c. 1869
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection
Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005

 

 

Shan shui was a traditional form of Chinese brush-and-ink landscape painting that followed a complex set of compositional and conceptual rules. Lai refers to it in his images of magnificent natural forms, but photography grounded his representations in the observed, external world – a key difference from the idealism of shan shui pictures.

In his picture of Mount Wuyi, Lai monumentalises the Danxia landform that characterises the mountain, located in the southern suburb of Wuyishan, Fujian. Danxia comprise isolated hills and steep layered rocks of red sandstone that have been shaped by eons of weathering and fluvial erosion. Lai was among the first Chinese photographers to photograph Mount Wuyi’s marvellous stone peaks.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Bridal Carriage' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Bridal Carriage
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Chinese Junks, Hong Kong' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Chinese Junks, Hong Kong
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Dragon Boat Race, Guangzhou' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Dragon Boat Race, Guangzhou
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Waterfall in the Dinghu Mountains' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Waterfall in the Dinghu Mountains
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Portrait of an Official' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Portrait of an Official
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Attributed to Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Culling Tea' c. 1869

 

Attributed to Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Culling Tea
c. 1869
Albumen silver print from glass negative
6 15/16 × 9 3/8 in. (17.6 × 23.8 cm)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005
CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Portrait of a Merchant' c. 1870

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Portrait of a Merchant
c. 1870
Albumen print
29 cm x 22 cm
Loewentheil Photography of China Collection

 

 

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14853

Opening hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Wednesday: 10 am – 5 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 7.30 pm
Friday – Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art website

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14
Feb
15

Exhibition: ‘Witness at a Crossroads: Photographer Marc Riboud in Asia’ at The Rubin Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 16th October 2014 – 23rd March 2015

 

I am not convinced by these. There are a couple of brilliant images in the posting, such as Forbidden City (Beijing, 1957) and Photography Fair 150 Kilometers from Tokyo (Japan, 1958) but the rest vary between plain (Between Konark and Puri, Orissa, India, 1956), kitsch or is it cheesy (Road to Khyber Pass, Afghanistan, 1956) to downright obvious (Cave Dwelling, between Urgup and Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey, 1955).

Marcus

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

 

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Road to Khyber Pass' Afghanistan, 1956

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Road to Khyber Pass
Afghanistan, 1956
60 x 94 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Photography Fair 150 Kilometers from Tokyo' Japan, 1958

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Photography Fair 150 Kilometers from Tokyo
Japan, 1958
40 x 50 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Darjeeling' Darjeeling, India, 1956

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Darjeeling
Darjeeling, India, 1956
30 x 40 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Forbidden City' Beijing, 1957

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Forbidden City
Beijing, 1957
40 x 50 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Between Konark and Puri' Orissa, India, 1956

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Between Konark and Puri
Orissa, India, 1956
Vintage print
18 x 27.2 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Camel Market' Nagaur, Rajasthan, India, 1956

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Camel Market
Nagaur, Rajasthan, India, 1956
Vintage print
33.5 x 49.5 cm

 

 

Marc Riboud’s first New York exhibition in over 25 Years chronicles the artist’s expeditions across Asia

Photography exhibition at Rubin Museum of Art offers rare glimpse into life at critical time in trans-regional Asian history

“This October, the Rubin Museum of Art will open Witness at a Crossroads: Photographer Marc Riboud in Asia, a photography exhibition that chronicles the French artist’s journeys across Asia, with particular focus on his travels from 1955 through 1958. The first New York museum exhibition of Riboud’s work in over 25 years, Witness at a Crossroads will illustrate the artist’s perspective on the confluence of tradition and modern culture in mid-century Asia. On view from October 16, 2014 through March 23, 2015, Witness at a Crossroads will feature approximately 100 black-and-white photographs from the mid-to-late 1950s, as well as images from Riboud’s pioneering visit to China in the 1960s. The exhibition will also present ephemeral objects including press cards, contact sheets, and international magazines where photographs of Riboud’s travels were published.

Organized in thematic clusters – regionally and chronologically – the exhibition will examine Riboud’s travels across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, and Japan. Riboud’s photographs provide an honest and accessible window into the daily lives of the diverse people of the region and illuminate the tension created by cultural shifts during this period. These early images provide important context for Riboud’s later works and illuminate the influence of his experience in Asia on his career.

“Marc Riboud captured a period of significant cultural transformation and postwar modernization through the lives of everyday individuals, creating an important living document. The exhibition provides a broad lens through which to look at trans-regional Asian dynamics and history in these critical years,” said Beth Citron, Assistant Curator at the Rubin Museum of Art. “Witness at a Crossroads is the latest exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art to illuminate the profound impact of cultures across Asia on the work of modern and contemporary artists from across the globe. Our latest exhibition affirms the institution’s commitment to providing a comprehensive view of artistic activity coming out of – and impacted by – these diverse cultures.”

Riboud left for Asia shortly after beginning his career at the photo agency Magnum. The photographer’s explorations were shaped in part by his correspondence with his mentor Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of photojournalism, who provided insight to his protégé on engaging with new cultures. The exhibition highlights common themes in Riboud’s work and underscores the artist’s use of photography to investigate culture and his ability to capture intimate glimpses of everyday life. One of the first foreign photographers allowed into China after the country’s Cultural Revolution of 1949, Riboud was a pioneer in documenting the region, as demonstrated in images such as Forbidden City (1957), where a silhouette of a figure is framed by the angular rooftops, fences, and walls. A strong sense of composition is also apparent in images like On the Backs of Ganges (1956), where bathers relaxing after a swim are divided by a draping sheet in the center of the photograph. Works like Darjeeling (1956), a look at the Indian city on a rainy day, demonstrate Riboud’s ability to create poetic and atmospheric images of the countries he explored.

 

About Marc Riboud 

Before beginning his career as a photographer, Marc Riboud worked as a factory engineer until 1951. After a week on holiday, during which he covered the cultural festival of Lyon, Riboud dropped his engineering job for photography and moved to Paris in 1952. He was invited by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa to join Magnum as an associate that same year.

In 1957, Riboud made his first trip to China. He returned multiple times, including a 1965 trio with writer K.S. Karol. In 1968, 1972, and 1976, Riboud made several reportages on North Vietnam in addition to continuing his travels all over the world, mostly in Asia, Africa, the U.S., and Japan. He is best known for his extensive reports on the East: The Three Banners of China (1966), Face of North Vietnam (1970), Visions of China (1981) and In China (1966). He has received many awards including two by the Overseas Press Clun, the Time-Life Achievement, the Lucie Award and the ICP Infinity Award.”

Press release from The Rubin Museum of Art website

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Cave Dwelling, between Urgup and Uchisar' Cappadocia, Turkey, 1955

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Cave Dwelling, between Urgup and Uchisar
Cappadocia, Turkey, 1955
24 x 30 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Istanbul' Istanbul, Turkey, 1955

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Istanbul
Istanbul, Turkey, 1955
30 x 40 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Jaipur' Jaipur, India, 1956

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Jaipur
Jaipur, India, 1956
23.2 x 33 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'On a Train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou' China, January 1, 1957

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
On a Train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou
China, January 1, 1957
20.2 x 30 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Preparing Kites on a Sunday Morning' Ankara, Turkey, 1955

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Preparing Kites on a Sunday Morning
Ankara, Turkey, 1955
Vintage print
17 x 25.3 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Untitled' Afghanistan, 1955

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Untitled
Afghanistan, 1955
Vintage print
16.2 x 23.7 cm

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923) 'Street Show' Beijing, China, 1957

 

Marc Riboud (French, b. 1923)
Street Show
Beijing, China, 1957
Vintage print
20.4 x 29.9 cm

 

 

The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
New York City

Opening hours:
Monday 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 11.00 am – 9.00 pm
Thursday 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Friday 11.00 am – 10.00 pm
Saturday 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Sunday 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
The museum is closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day

The Rubin Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Sleep/Wound’ 1995-96


Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: 'Sleep/Wound' 1995-96 *PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY - IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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