Posts Tagged ‘composition

01
Nov
20

European art research tour: Vasarely Museum, Budapest permanent exhibition

Visited September 2019 posted November 2020

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Zebras. Prekinetic study (Preliminary study for the kinetic theory. Graphic Period, 1929-1939)' 1939 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Zebras. Prekinetic study (Preliminary study for the kinetic theory. Graphic Period, 1929-1939) (installation view)
1939
Gouache, pencil, colour and white chalk on paper
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

While on my European art trip in 2019, I ventured by tram to the deepest suburbs of Budapest to visit the Vasarely Museum on a Sunday – one of only three days the museum is open. The journey was an experience in itself. The reward was that I got to see an artists work I have always admired (I have a Vasarely serigraph in my collection), set in one of the most beautiful art galleries I have ever seen in my life. What’s not too like.

Critically, I got to examine Vasarely’s work up close and personal, on a large scale. I noted how gestural his work is, even as it is geometric – emerging from his Gesture Drawings. Ground Plans of 1946. There is a mesmerising flow to his compositions, even as they are supposedly set, fixed, in their mathematical complexity.

Even as Josef Albers explored colour in the belief that colours have no inherent emotional associations, so Vasarely investigated the formula for a “plastic alphabet”, a universal visual language based on the structural interplay of form and colour, a programmed language with an infinite number of form and colour variations. Through serialisation and the processes of re-creation, multiplication and expansion, “in pictures based on the mutual association between forms and colours, he claimed to perceive a ‘grammar’ of visual language, with which a set of basic forms making up a composition could be arranged into a system similar to musical notation… He regarded colour-forms as the cells or molecules out of which the universe was made.”

Don’t believe all that is written on the can. While both artists want to euthanise the authenticity of the hand, the feeling of he eye, and the beauty of the object through an investigation of concept, form and replication, when in the presence of these paintings, once, twice, three times, one cannot deny the intimacy of their construction.

Unlike flat reproductions of these paintings in books, their serial reproduction, in these installation photographs you can see the ripples in the surface of these paintings. Their meticulous, hand-crafted production. For example, look at the surface of paintings such as Lom-Lan 2 (1953, below); Marsan (1950 / 1955 / 1958, below); and Sonora (1973, below). From a distance their patterns are stable but optically disturbing. Up close, their surface dis/integrates into swirls and ripples at a molecular level. The musical annotation – colour, form, pattern, repetition – of these optical illusions is subsumed into an aura, an earthly divination of a transient ‘planetary folklore’.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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All iPhone images © Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Downstairs galleries

View of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

View of the Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

View of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

View of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at second left, Gesture Drawings. Ground Plans (1946); and at second right, Composition (1948)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Gesture Drawings. Ground Plans' 1946 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Gesture Drawings. Ground Plans (installation view)
1946
Pencil on paper
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The Galerie Denise René opened in 1944. Its first exhibition was Les dessins et composition de Vasarely (Vasarely’s drawings and graphic compositions). Surrealism influenced his works, and even caught the attention of André Breton. As Denise René recalled: ‘André Breton was even convinced we had found a Surrealist painter; it was mostly the trompe l’œils that made him think so, which abounded in Vasarely’s graphic innovations. Breton invited me and Vasarely to visit him in rue Fontaine. Éluard and Breton both came to see the exhibition, though on different days because Éluard had broken with Breton and Surrealism.’ Vasarely had a painterly turn. Shortly he made experimentations in gesture painting. (Victor Vasarely, Jazz, 1942, inv. V. 195) Later, despite his artistic discoveries, he described his earliest period as Les Fausses Routes (Wrong Roads).

Text from the Vasarely Museum website [Online] Cited 26/10/2020

 

Victor Vasarely. 'Man in motion. Study of Motion (The Man)' 1943

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Hombre en movimiento – Estudio del movimiento (El hombre)
Man in motion. Study of Motion (The Man)
1943
Tempera on plywood
117 x 132cm
Vasarely Museum Budapest

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Composition' 1948 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Composition (installation view)
1948
Oil on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Magyar Grafika (Hungarian Graphics). 'Az Ujság Hirdetés' (The Newspaper is Advertised) Edition 12 1931 (installation view)

 

Magyar Grafika (Hungarian Graphics)
Az Ujság Hirdetés (The Newspaper is Advertised) (installation view)
Edition 12
1931
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

A journal for the development of graphic industries and related professions. Budapest, 1. 1920 – 13. 1932

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation views of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest with in the last photo at left, Versant (1952)
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Versant' 1952 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Versant (installation view)
1952
Acrylic on plywood
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest with at right, Lom-Lan 2 (1953)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Lom-Lan 2' 1953 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Lom-Lan 2 (installation view)
1953
Oil on fibreboard
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation views of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing the painting
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Amir ("Rima")' 1953 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Amir (“Rima”) (installation view)
1953
Acrylic on plywood
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'MORA' Oeuvre profonde cinétique 1954/1960 (installation view)

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'MORA' Oeuvre profonde cinétique 1954/1960 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
MORA (Oeuvre profonde cinétique) (installation views)
1954/1960 (?) vagy 1955/1964 (?)
Deep kinetic object, silk screen on plexiglas, glass and steel
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left, Orion noir (1970); and at right, Norma (1962-1979)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely. 'Orion noir' 1970

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Orion noir
1970
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Norma' 1962-1979 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Norma (installation view)
1962-1979
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Chess Set' 1980 (installation view)

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Chess Set' 1980 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Chess Set
1980
Multiple, plexiglass
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left, Marsan-2 (1964/1974); at centre, Gizeh (1955/1962); and at right, Marsan (1950/1955/1958)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Marsan-2' 1964/1974 (installation view)

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Marsan-2' 1964/1974 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Marsan-2 (installation views)
1964/1974
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Gizeh' 1955/1962 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Gizeh (installation view)
1955/1962
Oil on canvas
Donation of Victor Vasarely, 1970
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Marsan' 1950/1955/1958 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Marsan (installation view)
1950/1955/1958
Oil on canvas
Donation of Victor Vasarely, 1970
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Naissances' 1954/1960 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Naissances (installation view)
1954/1960
From the album Hommage à Johann Sebastian Bach (Éd. Pierre belford, Paris, 1973. Éxemplaire XIV/XX), Supplement no. 3.
Deep kinetic object, plexiglass, silk screen
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Zilia' 1981 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Zilia (installation view)
1981
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Stridio-Z' 1976-1977 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Stridio-Z (installation view)
1976-1977
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Tri-Axo' 1972/1976 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Tri-Axo (installation view)
1972/1976
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

William Seitz. 'The responsive eye' Museum of Modern Art, 1965

 

William Seitz
The responsive eye (book cover)
Museum of Modern Art, 1965
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing Yllus (1978)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Yllus' 1978 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Yllus
1978
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Upstairs galleries

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing V.P. 102 (1979)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'V.P. 102' 1979 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
V.P. 102 (installation view)
1979
Acrylic on cardboard, mounted on plywood
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left in the display cabinet, KROA-MC (1969); and at centre, Quivar (Ouivar) (1974)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left, Eroed-Pre (1978); and at right, Quivar (Ouivar) (1974)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Eroed-Pre' 1978 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Eroed-Pre (installation view)
1978
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Quivar (Ouivar)' 1974 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Quivar (Ouivar) (installation view)
1974
Collage, gouache on cardboard, mounted on plywood
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at right, Stri-oet (1979)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Stri-oet' 1979 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Stri-oet (installation view)
1979
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left centre, Stri-oet (1979); and in the display cabinet, KROA-MC (1969). Love the reflection of the colours on the wall behind!
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing KROA-MC (1969)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left, Bull (1973/74); and at centre left, Orion noir (1963)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Bull' 1973/1974 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Bull (installation view)
1973/1974
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Vega Mir' 1954/1960 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Vega Mir (Oeuvre profonde cinétique) (installation view)
1954/1960
From the album Hommage à Johann Sebastian Bach (Éd. Pierre belford, Paris, 1973. Éxemplaire XIV/XX), Supplement no. 1.
Multiple, silk screen on anodised aluminium
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Vega Mir' 1954/1960 (installation view detail)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Vega Mir (Oeuvre profonde cinétique) (installation view detail)
1954/1960
From the album Hommage à Johann Sebastian Bach (Éd. Pierre belford, Paris, 1973. Éxemplaire XIV/XX), Supplement no. 1.
Multiple, silk screen on anodised aluminium
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan. Self portrait with ‘Vega Mir’ 2019

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left, Bi. Octans (1979)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) Bi. Octans 1979 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Bi. Octans (installation view)
1979
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at left, Kotzka (1973-1976); and at right, Trybox (1979)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Kotzka' 1973-1976 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Kotzka (installation view)
1973-1976
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Trybox' 1979 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Trybox (installation view)
1979
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at centre right, Vonal-Ket (1972/1977)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Vonal-Ket' 1972/1977 (installation view)

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Vonal-Ket' 1972/1977 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Vonal-Ket (installation views)
1972/1977
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photos: Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest

 

Installation view of the Vasarely Museum, Budapest showing at centre left, Sonora (1973)
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997) 'Sonora' 1973 (installation view)

 

Victor Vasarely (Hungarian-French, 1906-1997)
Sonora (installation view)
1973
Acrylic on canvas
Vasarely Museum Budapest
Photo: Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Vasarely Museum
1033, Budapest Szentlélek tér 6
Phone: + 36 1 388 7551

Opening hours:
Friday 11am – 4.00pm
Saturday – Sunday 11am – 4.00pm

Vasarely Museum website

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08
Aug
17

Exhibition: ‘Walker Evans’ at the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Exhibition dates: 26th April 2017 – 14th August 2017

Curator: Mnam/Cci, Clément Cheroux

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Stamped Tin Relic' 1929

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Stamped Tin Relic
1929
Gelatin silver print
23.3 x 28 cm
Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris Achat en 1996
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Centre Pompidou / Dist.RMN-GP

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Coney Island Beach' c. 1929

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Coney Island Beach
c. 1929
Gelatin silver print
22.5 x 31 cm
The J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

The un/ordinariness of ordinariness

What a pleasure.

I’ve never liked the term ‘”vernacular” photography’ because, for me, every time someone presses the shutter of the camera they have a purpose: to capture a scene, however accidental or incidental. That context may lie outside recognised networks of production and legitimation but it does not lie outside performance and ritual. As Catherine Lumby observes, what the promiscuous flow of the contemporary image culture opens up, “is an expanded and abstracted terrain of becoming…. whereby images exceed, incorporate or reverse the values that are presumed to reside within them in a patriarchal social order.”1 Pace Evans.

His art of an alternate order, his vision of a terrain of becoming is so particular, so different it has entered the lexicon of America culture.

Marcus

Walker Evans: “The passionate quest to identify the fundamental features of American vernacular culture… the term “vernacular” designates those popular or informal forms of expression used by ordinary people for everyday purposes – essentially meaning all that falls outside art, outside the recognised networks of production and legitimation, and which in the US thus serves to define a specifically American culture. It is all the little details of the everyday environment that make for “Americanness”: wooden roadside shacks, the way a shopkeeper lays out his wares in the window, the silhouette of the Ford Model T, the pseudo-cursive typography of Coca-Cola signs. It is a crucial notion for the understanding of American culture.” (Text from press release)

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Many thankx to the Centre Pompidou for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the art work for a larger version of the image.

1. Lumby, Catharine. “Nothing Personal: Sex, Gender and Identity in The Media Age,” in Matthews, Jill (ed.,). Sex in Public: Australian Sexual Cultures. St. Leonards: Allen and Unwin, 1997, pp. 14-15.

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Truck and Sign' 1928-1930

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Truck and Sign
1928-1930
Gelatin silver print
16.5 x 22.2 cm
Collection particulière, San Francisco
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Fernando Maquieira, Cromotex

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'New York City Street Corner' 1929

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
New York City Street Corner
1929
Gelatin silver print
18.4 x 12.7 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Self-Portrait in Automated Photobooth' 1930

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Self-Portrait in Automated Photobooth
1930
Gelatin silver print
18.3 x 3.8 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dist-RMN-GP/Image of the MMA

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Self-Portrait in Automated Photobooth' 1930 (detail)

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Self-Portrait in Automated Photobooth' 1930 (detail)

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Self-Portrait in Automated Photobooth (details)
1930
Gelatin silver print
18.3 x 3.8 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dist-RMN-GP/Image of the MMA

 

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) was one of the most important of twentieth-century American photographers. His photographs of the Depression years of the 1930s, his assignments for Fortune magazine in the 1940s and 1950s, and his “documentary style” influenced generations of photographers and artists. His attention to everyday details and the commonplace urban scene did much to define the visual image of 20th-century American culture. Some of his photographs have become iconic.

Conceived as a retrospective of Evans’s work as a whole, the Centre Pompidou exhibition presents three hundred vintage prints in a novel and revelatory thematic organisation. It highlights the photographer’s recurrent concern with roadside buildings, window displays, signs, typography and faces, offering an opportunity to grasp what no doubt lies at the heart of Walker Evans’ work: the passionate quest to identify the fundamental features of American vernacular culture. In an interview of 1971, he explained the attraction as follows: “You don’t want your work to spring from art; you want it to commence from life, and that’s in the street now. I’m no longer comfortable in a museum. I don’t want to go to them, don’t want to be ‘taught’ anything, don’t want to see ‘accomplished’ art. I’m interested in what’s called vernacular. For example, finished, I mean educated, architecture doesn’t interest me, but I love to find American vernacular”.

In the English-speaking countries, and in America more notably, the term “vernacular” designates those popular or informal forms of expression used by ordinary people for everyday purposes – essentially meaning all that falls outside art, outside the recognised networks of production and legitimation, and which in the US thus serves to define a specifically American culture. It is all the little details of the everyday environment that make for “Americanness”: wooden roadside shacks, the way a shopkeeper lays out his wares in the window, the silhouette of the Ford Model T, the pseudo-cursive typography of Coca-Cola signs. It is a crucial notion for the understanding of American culture. It is to be found in the literature as early as the 19th century, but it is only in the late 1920s that it is first deployed in a systematic study of architecture. Its importance in American art would be theorised in the 1940s, by John Atlee Kouwenhoven, a professor of English with a particular interest in American studies who was close to Walker Evans himself.

After an introductory section that looks at Evans’s modernist beginnings, the exhibition introduces the subjects that would fascinate him throughout his career: the typography of signs, the composition of window displays, the frontages of little roadside businesses, and so on. It then goes on to show how Evans himself adopted the methods or visual forms of vernacular photography in becoming, for the time of an assignment, an architectural photographer, a catalogue photographer, an ambulant portrait photographer, while all the time explicitly maintaining the standpoint of an artist.

This exhibition is the first major museum retrospective of Evans’s work in France. Unprecedented in its ambition, it retraces the whole of his career, from his earliest photographs in the 1920s to the Polaroids of the 1970s, through more than 300 vintage prints drawn from the most important American institutions (among them the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.) and also more than a dozen private collections. It also features a hundred or so other exhibits drawn from the post cards, enamel signs, print images and other graphic ephemera that Evans collected his whole life long.

Press release from the Centre Pompidou

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Westchester, New York, farmhouse' 1931

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Westchester, New York, farmhouse
1931
Gelatin silver print pasted on cardboard
18 x 22.1 cm
Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris
© W. Evans Arch., The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Centre Pompidou / Dist. RMN-GP

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Main Street, Saratoga Springs, New York' 1931

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Main Street, Saratoga Springs, New York
1931
Gelatin silver print
18.73 x 16.19 cm
Collection particulière, San Francisco
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Fernando Maquieira, Cromotex

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'License Photo Studio, New York' 1934

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
License Photo Studio, New York
1934
Gelatin silver print
27.9 x 21.6 cm (image: 18.3 x 14.4 cm)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Penny Picture Display, Savannah' 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Penny Picture Display, Savannah
1936
Gelatin silver print
21,9 x 17,6 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York Gift of Willard Van Dyke
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © 2016. Digital Image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Joe's Auto Graveyard' 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Joe’s Auto Graveyard
1936
Gelatin silver print
11.43 x 18.73 cm
Collection particulière, San Francisco
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Ian Reeves

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Houses and Billboards in Atlanta' 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Houses and Billboards in Atlanta
1936
Gelatin silver print
16.5 x 23.2 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © 2016. Digital Image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

 

 

Curator’s point of view

“You don’t want your work to spring from art; you want it to commence from life, and that’s in the street now. I’m no longer comfortable in a museum. I don’t want to go to them, don’t want to be ‘taught’ anything, don’t want to see ‘accomplished’ art. I’m interested in what’s called vernacular.”

.
Walker Evans, interviewed by Leslie Katz (1971)

 

 

Through more than 400 photographs and documents, this retrospective of the work of Walker Evans (1903-1975) explores the American photographer’s fascination with his country’s vernacular culture. Evans was one of the most important of twentieth-century American photographers. His photographs of the Depression years of the 1930s, his “documentary style” and his interest in American popular culture influenced generations of photographers and artists. Bringing together the best examples of his work, drawn from the most important private and public collections, the exhibition also accords a large place to the artefacts that Evans himself collected throughout his life, to offer a fresh approach to the work of one of the most significant figures in the history of photography.

Study of his images – from the very first photographs of the 1920s to the Polaroids of his last years – reveals a fascination with the utilitarian, the domestic and the local. This interest in popular forms and practices emerged very early, when he started to collect postcards as a teenager. More than ten thousand items he had gathered by the time of his death are now held by the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Other everyday objects from his personal collection – enamel signs, handbills and adverts – are exhibited here.

Walker Evans’s attraction to the vernacular finds expression, above all, in his choice of subjects: Victorian architecture, roadside buildings, shopfronts, cinema posters, placards, signs, etc. His pictures also feature the faces and bodies of ordinary people, whether victims of the Depression or anonymous passers-by. Something else “typically American” was the underside of progress. During the 1930s in particular, the American landscape was strewn with ruin and waste. Evans kept an eye on them ever after. Industrial waste, building debris, automobile carcases, wooden houses in ruins, Louisiana mansions fallen in the world, antiques, garbage, faded interiors, bare patches in exterior render: these were the other face of America. Just as much as the towering skyscraper or the gleaming motor car, all this was an element of the modern. This concern with decline and obsolescence gave the photographer a critical edge and reveals a profound fascination with the mechanisms of overproduction and consumption characteristic of the age.

Evans didn’t just collect the forms of the vernacular, he also borrowed its methods. In many of his images, he adopts the codes of applied photography: the shots in series, the frontality, the apparent objectivity. Waiting, camera in hand on the corner of the street or in the subway, he accumulated portraits of city-dwellers by the dozen, releasing his shutter with the mechanical regularity of a photo booth. Working like a post-card photographer or architectural photographer, Evans built up, in surprisingly systematic fashion, a catalogue of churches, doors, monuments and small-town main streets. Sculptures, wrought-iron chairs, household tools: all seem to have been selected for their unique qualities as objects. The repetitivity, the apparent objectivity and the absence of emphasis in these images are typical of commercial photographs produced to order. In 1935, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, asked Evans to photograph the six hundred sculptures of the exhibition of “African Negro Art”. The method he adopted was that of the catalogue photographer, rigorously avoiding dramatic effects by eliminating shadow; tightly framed and set against a neutral background, the pieces find a new elegance. The photographer would often have recourse to this regime in the years that followed, notably for a portfolio entitled “Beauties of the Common Tool”, published in Fortune magazine in July 1955. This adoption of the forms and procedures of non-artistic photography even as Evans laid claim to art prefigures –  some decades in advance! – the practices of the conceptual artists of the 1960s.

Clément Chéroux
Julie Jones
in Code Couleur, No. 28, May – August 2017, pp. 14-17

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Shoeshine Stand Detail in Southern Town' 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Shoeshine Stand Detail in Southern Town
1936
Gelatin silver print
14.5 x 17cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Anonymous Gift
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dist-RMN-GP/Image of the MMA

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Negroes' Church, South Carolina' March 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Negroes’ Church, South Carolina
March 1936, circulation April 1969
Gelatin silver print
25.2 x 20.2 cm
Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa Acheté en 1969
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Alabama Tenant Farmer Floyd Bourroughs' 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Alabama Tenant Farmer Floyd Bourroughs
1936
Gelatin silver print
22.9 x 18.4 cm
Collection particulière, San Francisco
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Fernando Maquieira, Cromotex

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Allie Mae Burroughs, Wife of a Cotton Sharecropper, Hale Country, Alabama' 1936

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Allie Mae Burroughs, Wife of a Cotton Sharecropper, Hale Country, Alabama
1936
Gelatin silver print
22.3 x 17.3 cm
Collection particulière
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Collection particulière

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Subway Portrait' January 1941

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Subway Portrait
January 1941
Gelatin silver print
20.9 x 19.1 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington Gift of Kent and Marcia Minichiello, in Honour of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © National Gallery of Art, Washington

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Resort Photographer at Work' 1941

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Resort Photographer at Work
1941
Gelatin silver print, later print
15.9 x 22.4 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Anna Maria, Florida' October 1958

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Anna Maria, Florida
October 1958
Oil on fiberboard
40 × 50.2 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Walker Evans Archive, 1994
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image of the MMA

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Untitled, Detroit' 1946

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Untitled, Detroit
1946
Gelatin silver print
16 x 11.4 cm
Fondation A.Stichting, Bruxelles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © Fondation A.Stichting, Bruxelles

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Tin Snips by J. Wiss and Sons Co., $1.85' 1955

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Tin Snips by J. Wiss and Sons Co., $1.85
1955
Gelatin silver print
25.2 x 20.3 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: © The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Centre Pompidou 
75191 Paris cedex 04
Tel: 00 33 (0)1 44 78 12 33

Opening hours:
Exhibition open every day from 11 am – 9 pm except on Tuesday
Closed on May 1st

Centre Pompidou website

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13
Feb
11

Exhibition: ‘Acquisitions of Twentieth-Century Photography’ at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 7th December 2010 – 14th February 2011

 

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

 

 

Lewis Hine. 'Don't Smoke, Visits Saloons' 1910

 

Lewis Hine (American, 1874-1940)
Don’t Smoke, Visits Saloons
1910

Lewis Hine. May 1910. Wilmington, Delaware. “James Lequlla, newsboy, age 12. Selling newspapers 3 years. Average earnings 50 cents per week. Selling newspapers own choice. Earnings not needed at home. Don’t smoke. Visits saloons. Works 7 hours per day.”

 

Gordon Parks. 'Bessie Fontenelle and Little Richard in bed, Harlem New York' 1968

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Bessie Fontenelle and Little Richard in bed, Harlem New York
1968
Gelatin silver print

 

Helen Levitt. 'Squatting girl/spider girl, New York City' 1980

 

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
Squatting girl/spider girl, New York City
1980

 

 

From 7 December, the Rijksmuseum will display a selection of 20th-century photographic works acquired in recent years with the support of Baker & McKenzie. The sponsorship from the renowned law firm has already allowed the museum to purchase more than thirty photographs, including works by László Moholy-Nagy, Bill Brandt, Robert Capa and Helen Levitt, as well as photography books by Man Ray and others. When it reopens in 2013, the Rijksmuseum will be the only museum in the Netherlands able to provide an overview of the history of photography in the Netherlands and abroad.

The most recent acquisition sponsored by Baker & McKenzie and the independent art fund Vereniging Rembrandt is a monumental photograph by Bauhaus photographer László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946). The photograph from 1929 is a key work that marks the transition into modernity. From atop a high bridge, the Pont Transbordeur in Marseille, Moholy-Nagy pointed his camera straight down, where an almost abstract pattern of metal beams contrasted with the sailing boat passing under the bridge. Metal, bridges, machines, aeroplanes and cars formed the icons of a new era for Moholy-Nagy’s generation of artists. They were faced with advancing technology, an enormous increase in scale and mechanisation, and a faster pace of life.

The other photographs to be displayed represent a range of movements in the history of photography. Two photographs by Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972) will be displayed. They are both studies of form focusing first and foremost on composition, just as in the Moholy-Nagy work. It was in around 1920 that Hoppé photographed the play of light on cobblestones in New York, and the building of a metal construction in Philadelphia.

The documentary aspects of photography will also be highlighted, with magnificent portraits of a black mother and her child in a report about Harlem in the late 1960s (by Gordon Parks), and a portrait of two men in the southern ‘Cotton States’ of America during the Great Depression of the 1930s (by Peter Sekaer). As early as 1909, Lewis Hine used photography as a weapon in the struggle against injustice. Commissioned by the National Child Labour Committee he documented the child labour industry, in this case a small boy standing on the street selling newspapers.

During the 1930s, Bill Brandt published a (now famous) book on life in London at the time, from which came the photograph Sky lightens over the suburbs, which is both a study of form and documentary in nature. It shows a forest of glistening roofs, depicted in a melancholy yet realistic manner.

In 1942, Piet Mondrian was photographed in his studio by Arnold Newman, a session from which the Rijksmuseum has acquired a range of photographs. There are few portraits of Mondrian in Dutch collections, making this series particularly special.

A work by Helen Levitt is one of the few colour photographs included in the exhibition. Until the 1980s, colour photography was simply ‘not done’ and Levitt was one of the first to experiment with the method. The photograph of a girl searching for something underneath a green car is a marvellous example of composition in colour.

Press release from the Rijksmuseum website

 

Arnold Newman. 'Piet Mondrian, New York' 1942

 

Arnold Newman (American, 1918-2006)
Piet Mondrian, New York
1942
Gelatin silver print

 

Emil Otto Hoppé. 'Steel construction, Philadelphia' 1926

 

Emil Otto Hoppé (German-born British, 1979-1942)
Steel construction, Philadelphia
1926
Gelatin silver print

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'View from Pont Transbordeur, Marseille' 1929

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungary, 1895-1946)
View from Pont Transbordeur, Marseille
1929
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Jan Luijkenstraat 1, Amsterdam

Opening hours:
Every day from 9.00 to 17.00

Rijksmuseum website

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19
Jun
09

Exhibition: Scott McFarland photographs at Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 23rd May – 3rd July 2009

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Fallen Oak Tree' 2008

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Fallen Oak Tree
2008
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 24 inches (68.6 x 61 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

Variations on a theme

Whether McFarland’s photographs are “straight” or composites, there always seems to an unnerving feel to them, a formal frontality that empowers the viewer into trying to unlock the photographs secret, like an enigmatic puzzle. Everything is presented front on, square to the camera, no oblique angles, relying in the straight photographs on the scale of the accumulated blocks of information, and in the composites, in the very unlikely, even theatrical, staging of the people within the mise en scène.

These are very cinematic photographs, some, literally, with their panoramic aesthetic, others built by assembling their scudding skies and stiff, neatly placed people. Too neatly placed in my opinion but that’s McFarland’s hook, his aesthetic cough which prompts the viewer to question the veracity of the image, its link to the photographs indexical reality. His multiple exposures push the boundaries of truth or dare, hyperreal solutions to a disengaged world. Personally, I prefer his straight photographs which are built on a fabulous eye, a masterful understanding of pictorial space (monumental elements held in balance) and wonderful previsualisation. You don’t need anything more.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

Scott McFarland. 'The Admiral's House as seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
The Admiral’s House as seen from the Upper Garden at Fenton House
2006
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
Edition of 5

 

 

“Regen Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Canadian artist Scott McFarland. This exhibition will feature new photographs including 3 large panorama works, smaller works from the “Hampstead” series, and introduce the new “Niagara” series.

Scott McFarland’s photography reconsiders the traditional concept of a photograph as the depiction of a single captured moment in time. Through digital means he is able to manipulate composition, colour, light, space, shape, and form. McFarland’s photographs combine multiple negatives to represent simultaneous temporalities and interweave selected elements into a cohesive whole. Several different moments are packed into what appears to be one densely constructed instant. The photographs are meticulously crafted illusions created within the formal language of documentary photography.

McFarland’s consideration of photography and the built picture was brought about by the artist’s own understanding of the artificial “nature” found in built environments such as gardens and zoos. Taking the relationship of the constructed space/constructed image one step further, McFarland has photographed a modernist architectural landmark: the Berthold Lubetkin designed penguin pool at the London zoo. Through two very distinct works, McFarland investigates the elliptical structure of the famous penguin pool vis-à-vis the elliptical/arcing motion of his camera rotating on a tripod. One photograph is an objective colour rendering where the camera has been left level while rotating; the other is a larger black and white version where the camera arcs along a non-level plane distorting and altering the curve of the structure from right to left.

The new square format photographs from McFarland’s “Niagara” series have a rough unfinished quality unlike any photographs he has taken to date. These softer focus images with odd shifts in light and glare are location studies for the large panorama A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario (2009, below). This work depicts an old carriage business and its surroundings during the dead of Canadian winter. In this visually captivating work, a black funeral carriage contrasts against the white snow. The acreage, surrounded by newer suburban homes, evokes the question of how long can this structure resist the modern urban pressures it faces. These straight photographs presented alongside his precise digitally mastered compositions illustrate how the photographic process and the history of art and photography have always informed McFarland’s work.

“Over the last decade, Scott McFarland has produced bodies of work that engage with different aspects of photography … McFarland’s approach is both descriptive and metaphoric … The images, rich in cultural significance, express the complementary workings of conceptual and aesthetic factors all the while holding various characteristics of art and photography in ambiguous relation.”

Andrea Kunard. Scott McFarland: A Cultivated View, published by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2009, p. 12.

Text from the Regen Projects press release [Online] Cited 16/06/2009 no longer available online.

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario' 2009

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
A Horse Drawn Hearse, Queens Royal Tours, 174 Anne, Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
2009
From the series Niagara
Inkjet print
59.5 x 124 inches (151.1 x 315 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Boathouse with Moonlight' 2002

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Boathouse with Moonlight
2002
From the series Boathouse
Digital C-print
71 x 91 inches (180 x 231 cm)
Edition of 5, 2 AP

 

 

“Boathouse with Moonlight” is an exploration of the technical advancements afforded by digital photography, created by assembling multiple exposures taken over the space of two hours under the light of a full moon. Unlike traditional photography, this image does not represent one specific moment captured at a particular site; rather, it shows an accumulation of moments that have been manipulated and layered to create a revised version of the boathouse and its surroundings. McFarland’s use of multiple exposures to produce the final image emphasises not only the duration of the photographic act, but also the many facets of the boathouse’s character. This type of building on British Columbia’s “Sunshine Coast” is disappearing with the construction of new, suburban-style retirement housing.

Text from the National Gallery of Canada website [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'Gorse and Broom, West Heath, Hampstead' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Gorse and Broom, West Heath, Hampstead
2006
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
29 x 45 inches (73.7 x 114.3 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland. 'Inspecting, Allan O'connor Searches for Botrytis cinerea' 2003

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Inspecting, Allan O’connor Searches for Botrytis cinerea
2003
From the series Gardens
Digital C-print
40 x 48 inches (102 x 122 cm)
Edition of 7

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Orchard View with the Effects of Seasons (Variation #1)' 2003-2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Orchard View with the Effects of Seasons (Variation #1)
2003-2006
From the series Gardens
Digital C-print
42 x 122 inches (106.7 x 309.9 cm)
Edition of 3

 

Scott McFarland. 'Empire' 2005

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
[Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif]
2005
From the series Empire
Inkjet print

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'Echinocactus grusonii' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
Echinocactus grusonii [Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif]
2006
From the series Empire
Inkjet print
24.5 X 27.5 inches (62 X 70 cm)
Edition of 3
Private collection/Vancouver Art Gallery

 

 

This picture comes from Empire, a series on desert vegetation shot in the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. Henry E. Huntington, an art collector who made his fortune building railroads, founded the garden in 1919.

“The plantings [of the garden] are dense, and the soil is mostly hidden beneath the thriving vegetation,” writes Grant Arnold in a catalogue essay for the exhibition, “the fullness of the planting continually reminding the visitor of Huntington’s beneficence.” To many gallery visitors, however, these images of lush desert vegetation will simply be appealing to the eye.

Kevin Chong. “A different way of seeing,” on the CBC News website November 13, 2009 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garden' 2006

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garden
2006
Inkjet print
43 x 62 inches (109.2 x 157.5 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

At first the photograph appeared to be a simple scene, one of no importance. The two young children, obviously related based on their similar physical features, seemed a bit awkward and posed, but otherwise, I thought it to be a snapshot, much like the one I took of the bowl while in Berlin. Upon learning how McFarland created this and many of his other photographs, I learned how complex of a scene this really is. McFarland uses multiple negatives, often taken over a matter of days, weeks, and even months, and combines them digitally into a seamless print. His interest is in breaking through the concept of a photograph being an image of a single instant in time and space.

A fuller narrative is created as well. With just one negative, there may only be one or two people depicted. We may just have the dog with his owner half shown, or even only half of the brother-sister group. But by overlapping the various negatives, Mr McFarland manipulates his work into a greater piece. We can now ask ourselves, why are the brother and sister so psychologically distant? Or, who is the small girl with the accordion and where is her mother? Is her mother the woman with the baby carriage? How long has that man been sleeping under the bowl? These are all questions that can be asked together because the negatives are combined that couldn’t be asked if we had just the single frame.

Jason Hosford. “Scott McFarland’s The Granite Bowl in the Berlin Lust Garten,” on the West L’Art website June 24, 2007 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

Scott McFarland. 'View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 42.5 inches (68.6 x 108 cm)
Edition of 5

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975) 'View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead' 2007

 

Scott McFarland (Canadian, b. 1975)
View of Vale of Health, looking towards Hampstead
2007
From the series Hampstead
Inkjet print
27 x 42.5 inches (68.6 x 108 cm)
Edition of 5

 

 

With the stiff figures of a historical painting, Scott McFarland’s View of Vale of Health, Looking Towards Hampstead muddles ideas of what’s real and what’s not.

From the get-go, painting and photography have been inextricably bound together. The Pictorialists tried to make their photographs look like paintings. The Futurists, in their paintings, mimicked the blurred and segmented movement found in Etienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotographs. The photorealists created paintings whose subject was the photograph itself. And in his large-scale, backlit photo-transparencies, Jeff Wall has alluded to paintings by Nicolas Poussin, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cézanne, among others. The digital age has done nothing to diminish each medium’s obsession with the other.

This continued entwining of art forms is evident in Scott McFarland’s computer-montaged photographs, on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery. So is the parallel entanglement of nature and culture. Both conditions are conspicuous in his 2006 series, “Hampstead”, inspired by the landscapes of the early-19th-century English painter John Constable. McFarland’s colour photos, shot in various locations around London’s immense Hampstead Heath, pay homage to Constable’s attraction to the same place. They also play variations on that painter’s rendering of multiple versions of the same scene, and on his open-air studies of the changing effects of light and weather. …

Over the past decade, McFarland’s working methods have changed from straightforward analog photography to the creation of highly manipulated images in which he digitally splices together multiple segments of the same landscape or structure, shot over a period of days, weeks, or even months. In both variations of Orchard View With the Effects of the Seasons, for instance, the blossoms and foliage of spring, summer, and fall are contained within the same seamless panorama.

The digital assist means that there are no constraints of time, space, or documentary veracity in McFarland’s work: he can build whatever impossible pictures he wants and they will look “real”. At least until they’re closely scrutinised, revealing incongruities of light, shadow, time, and figuration. In this sense, his art challenges our understanding of the nature of the photograph and its relationship with the truth. There’s nothing really new about this project – as long as photography’s been around, it’s been manipulated by its practitioners. Photoshop, however, has added a vast digital dimension to the darkroom antics of earlier photo artists.

Robin Laurence. “Scott McFarland makes impossible pictures real at the Vancouver Art Gallery,” on the Georgia Straight website October 7th 2009 [Online] Cited 02/03/2019

 

 

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10 – 6pm

Regen Project website

Scott McFarland website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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

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