Posts Tagged ‘early American colour photography

02
Oct
14

Exhibition: ‘A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio’ at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York Part 1

Exhibition dates: 8th February – 2nd November 2014

The Edward Steichen Photography Galleries, third floor

Curators: Organised by Quentin Bajac, The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator, with Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography

 

 

Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941) 'Composite Photo of Two Messes on the Studio Floor' 1967

 

Bruce Nauman (American, b. 1941)
Composite Photo of Two Messes on the Studio Floor 
1967
Gelatin silver print
40 1/2″ x 10′ 3″ (102.9 x 312.4cm)
Gift of Philip Johnson

 

 

A bumper two part posting on this fascinating, multi-dimensional subject: photographic practices in the studio, which may be a stage, a laboratory, or a playground. The exhibition occupies all MoMA’s six photography galleries, each gallery with its own sub theme, namely, Surveying the Studio, The Studio as Stage, The Studio as Set, A Neutral Space, Virtual Spaces and The Studio, from Laboratory to Playground.

The review of this exhibition “When a Form Is Given Its Room to Play” by Roberta Smith on the New York Times website (6th February 2014) damns with faint praise. The show is a “fabulous yet irritating survey” which “dazzles but often seems slow and repetitive.” Smith then goes on to list the usual suspects: “And so we get professional portraitists, commercial photographers, lovers of still life, darkroom experimenters, artists documenting performances and a few generations of postmodernists, dead and alive, known and not so, exploring the ways and means of the medium. This adds up to plenty to see: around 180 images from the 1850s to the present by some 90 photographers and artists. The usual suspects here range from Julia Margaret Cameron to Thomas Ruff, with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Lucas Samaras, John Divola and Barbara Kasten in between.” There are a few less familiar and postmodern artists thrown in for good measure, but all is “dominated by black-and-white images in an age when colour reigns.” The reviewer then rightly notes the paucity of “postmodern photography of the 1980s, much of it made by women, that did a lot to reorient contemporary photo artists to the studio. It is a little startling for an exhibition that includes so many younger artists dealing with the artifice of the photograph (Ms. Belin, for example) to represent the Pictures Generation artists with only Cindy Sherman, James Casebere and (in collaboration with Allan McCollum) Laurie Simmons” before finishing on a positive note (I think!), noting that the curators “had aimed for a satisfying viewing experience, which, these days, is something to be grateful for.”


SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR… OH, TO BE SO LUCKY IN AUSTRALIA!

Just to have the opportunity to view an exhibition of this quality, depth and breadth of concept would be an amazing thing. Even a third of the number of photographs (say 60 works) that address this subject at any one of the major institutions around Australia would be fantastic but, of that, there is not a hope in hell.

Think Marcus, think… when was the last major exhibition, I mean LARGE exhibition, at a public institution in Australia that actually addressed specific ISSUES and CONCEPTS in photography (such as this), not just putting on monocular exhibitions about an artists work or exhibitions about a regions photographs? Ah, well… you know, I can’t really remember. Perhaps the American Dreams exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery, but that was a GENERAL exhibition about 20th century photography with no strong investigative conceptual theme and its was imported from George Eastman House.

Here in Australia, all we can do is look from afar, purchase the catalogue and wonder wistfully what the exhibition actually looks like and what we are missing out on. MoMA sent me just 10 images media images. I have spent hours scouring the Internet for other images to fill the void of knowledge and vision (and then cleaning those sometimes degraded images), so that those of us not privileged enough to be able to visit New York may gain a more comprehensive understanding of what this exhibition, and this multi-faceted dimension of photography, is all about. It’s a pity that our venerable institutions and the photography curators in them seem to have had a paucity of ideas when it comes to expounding interesting critiques of the medium over the last twenty years or so. What a missed opportunity.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to MoMA for allowing me to publish six of the photographs in the posting. The rest of the images were sourced from the Internet. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Surveying the Studio

Uta Barth (American, born 1958) 'Sundial (07.13)' 2007

 

Uta Barth (American, born 1958)
Sundial (07.13)
2007
Chromogenic colour prints
each 30 x 28 1/4″ (76.2 x 71.8cm)
The Photography Council Fund

 

Geta Brâtescu (Romanian, born 1926) 'The Studio. Invocation of the Drawing' (L'Atelier. Invocarea desenului) 1979

 

Geta Brâtescu (Romanian, born 1926)
The Studio. Invocation of the Drawing (L’Atelier. Invocarea desenului)
1979
Gelatin silver prints with tempera on paper
33 1/16 x 27 9/16″ (84 x 70cm)
Modern Women’s Fund

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Laboratory of the Future' 1935

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Laboratory of the Future
1935
Gelatin silver print
9 1/16 x 7″ (23.1 x 17.8cm)
Gift of James Johnson Sweeney

 

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965) 'Cactus and Photographer's Lamp, New York' 1931

 

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965)
Cactus and Photographer’s Lamp, New York
1931
Gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 6 5/8″ (23.5 x 16.6cm)
Gift of Samuel M. Kootz

 

 

Bringing together photographs, films, videos, and works in other mediums, A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio examines the ways in which photographers and artists using photography have worked and experimented within the four walls of the studio space, from photography’s inception to today. Featuring both new acquisitions and works from the Museum’s collection that have not been on view in recent years, A World of Its Own includes approximately 180 works, by approximately 90 artists, such as Berenice Abbott, Uta Barth, Zeke Berman, Karl Blossfeldt, Constantin Brancusi, Geta Brătescu, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Jan Groover, Barbara Kasten, Man Ray, Bruce Nauman, Paul Outerbridge, Irving Penn, Adrian Piper, Edward Steichen, William Wegman, and Edward Weston.

The exhibition considers the various roles played by the photographer’s studio as an autonomous space; depending on the time period, context, and the individual motivations (commercial, artistic, scientific) and sensibilities of the photographer, the studio may be a stage, a laboratory, or a playground. Organised thematically, the display unfolds in multiple chapters. Throughout the 20th century, artists have explored their studio spaces using photography, from the use of composed theatrical tableaux (in photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron or Cindy Sherman) to neutral, blank backdrops (Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe); from the construction of architectural sets within the studio space (Francis Bruguière, Thomas Demand) to chemical procedures conducted within the darkroom (Walead Beshty, Christian Marclay); and from precise recordings of time and motion (Eadweard Muybridge, Dr. Harold E. Edgerton) to amateurish or playful experimentation (Roman Signer, Peter Fischli / David Weiss). A World of Its Own offers another history of photography, a photography created within the walls of the studio, and yet as groundbreaking and inventive as its seemingly more extroverted counterpart, street photography.”

Text from the MoMA website

 

The exhibition is divided into 6 themes each with its own gallery space:

1. Surveying the Studio

2. The Studio as Stage

3. The Studio as Set

4. A Neutral Space

5. Virtual Spaces

6. The Studio, from Laboratory to Playground

 

The Studio as Stage

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955) 'Untitled' 1941

 

George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
Untitled
1941
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 x 9 5/8″ (19.2 x 24.4cm)
Anonymous gift

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936)
Auto Polaroid
1969-71
Eighteen black-and-white instant prints (Polapan), with hand-applied ink
each 3 3/4 x 2 15/16″ (9.5 x 7.4cm)
overall 14 5/8 x 24″ (37.2 x 61cm)
Gift of Robert and Gayle Greenhill

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71 (detail)

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71 (detail)

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936) 'Auto Polaroid' 1969-71 (detail)

 

Lucas Samaras (American, born Greece 1936)
Auto Polaroid (details)
1969-71
Eighteen black-and-white instant prints (Polapan), with hand-applied ink
each 3 3/4 x 2 15/16″ (9.5 x 7.4cm)
overall 14 5/8 x 24″ (37.2 x 61cm)
Gift of Robert and Gayle Greenhill

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879) 'Madonna with Children' 1864

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
Madonna with Children
1864
Albumen silver print
10 1/2 x 8 5/8″ (26.7 x 21.9cm)
Gift of Shirley C. Burden

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879) 'Untitled (Mary Ryan?)' c. 1867

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
Untitled (Mary Ryan?)
c. 1867
Albumen silver print
13 3/16 x 11″ (33.5 x 27.9cm)
Gift of Shirley C. Burden

 

Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French, 1820-1910) Adrien Tournachon (French, 1825-1903) 'Pierrot Surprised' 1854-55

 

Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) (French, 1820-1910)
Adrien Tournachon (French, 1825-1903)
Pierrot Surprised
1854-55
Albumen silver print
11 1/4 x 8 3/16″ (28.6 x 20.8cm)
Suzanne Winsberg Collection. Gift of Suzanne Winsberg

 

Maurice Tabard (French, 1897-1984) 'Untitled' 1929

 

Maurice Tabard (French, 1897-1984)
Untitled
1929
Gelatin silver print
6 9/16 x 6 1/2″ (16.7 x 16.5cm)
Gift of Robert Shapazian

 

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg. 1879-1973) 'Anna May Wong' 1930

 

Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg. 1879-1973)
Anna May Wong
1930
Gelatin silver print
16 9/16 x 13 7/16″ (42.1 x 34.1cm)
Gift of the artist

 

Cindy Sherman (American, born 1954) 'Untitled #131' 1983

 

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled #131
1983
Chromogenic colour print
35 x 16 1/2″ (89 x 41.9cm)
Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Fund

 

The Studio as Set

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936) 'Construct I-F' 1979

 

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936)
Construct I-F
1979
Colour instant print (Polaroid Polacolor)
9 1/2 x 7 1/2″ (24.0 x 19.0cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Wendy Larsen

 

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936) 'Construct NYC 17' 1984

 

Barbara Kasten (American, born 1936)
Construct NYC 17
1984
Silver dye bleach print
29 3/8 x 37 1/16″ (74.7 x 94.1cm)
Gift of Foster Goldstrom

 

James Casebere (American, born 1953) 'Subdivision with Spotlight' 1982

 

James Casebere (American, born 1953)
Subdivision with Spotlight
1982
Gelatin silver print
14 13/16 x 18 15/16″ (37.6 x 48.1cm)
Purchase

 

Francis Bruguière (American, 1879-1945) 'Light Abstraction' c. 1925

 

Francis Bruguière (American, 1879-1945)
Light Abstraction
c. 1925
Gelatin silver print
9 15/16 x 7 15/16″ (25.2 x 20.2cm)
Gift of Arnold Newman

 

Paul Outerbridge (American, 1896-1958) 'Images de Deauville' 1936

 

Paul Outerbridge (American, 1896-1958)
Images de Deauville
1936
Tri-colour carbro print
15 3/4 x 12 1/4″ (40 x 31.1cm)
Gift of Mrs. Ralph Seward Allen

 

Elad Lassry (Israeli, born 1977) 'Nailpolish' 2009

 

Elad Lassry (Israeli, born 1977)
Nailpolish
2009
Chromogenic colour print
14 1/2 x 11 1/2″ (36.8 x 29.2cm)
Fund for the Twenty-First Century

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 708-9400

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26
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Un/Natural Color’ at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA

Exhibition dates: 7th July – 29th September 2013

 

Many thankx to the Santa Barbara 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 photograph of the exhibition 'Un/Natural Color' at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Un/Natural Color' at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Un/Natural Color' at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Un/Natural Color at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

 

 

This exhibition looks at the powerful relationship between colour and memory by considering photographs and the ways in which their unique colour palettes evoke specific moments of the historical past. From the pastel hues of 19th-century hand-painted portraits, to the vibrant colours of late-1930s Kodachrome transparencies, and the faded, shifted tones of snapshots from the 1970s, different kinds of colour reproduction are closely associated with the time periods that they most frequently represent. Each experiment in colour photography was originally meant to convey a sense of the natural hues of the world, but as our expectations for realistic representation have evolved, these earlier technologies for representing colour have also taken on new meaning. Today, the distinctive colours found in many vintage photographs speak as loudly to contemporary viewers about the period in which they were made as the content that they render visible. The exhibition suggests that the aesthetics of colour are closely related to the evolution of photographic technology over the past 100 years, and encourages visitors to rethink the significance of colour in contemporary photography through the lens of its multi-coloured past. This exhibition was organised by Kim Beil, an art historian who teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Text from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art website

 

Jack Delano. 'Barker at the Grounds of the Vermont State Fair, Rutland' 1941, printed 1983

 

Jack Delano (American, 1914-1997)
Barker at the Grounds of the Vermont State Fair, Rutland
1941, printed 1983
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of the Bruce Berman and Nancy Goliger Berman Collection

 

Jack Delano. 'At the Vermont State Fair, Rutland' 1941, printed 1985

 

Jack Delano (American, 1914-1997)
At the Vermont State Fair, Rutland
1941, printed 1985
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of the Bruce Berman and Nancy Goliger Berman Collection

 

William Eggleston. 'Farm truck, Memphis, Tennessee' 1972

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Farm truck, Memphis, Tennessee
1972
Dye-transfer print

 

Leroy Grannis (American, 1917-2011) 'Greg Noll Surf Team at Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, Sunset Beach' 1966, printed 2005

 

Leroy Grannis (American, 1917-2011)
Greg Noll Surf Team at Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, Sunset Beach
1966, printed 2005
C-print, ed. 1/9
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds provided by Janet and Michael G. Wilson

 

 

Un/Natural Color, an exhibition of colour photography from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s (SBMA) permanent collection, illustrates the history of colour photography since the 19th century and examines how the shifted or faded colours of old photographs can evoke moments in the historical past. Responding to the widespread use of nostalgic filters in popular photography and social media apps, such as Instagram and Twitter, this presentation enables visitors to see first-hand the historical processes that inspired the aesthetics of these digital manipulations. Despite their reputation for preserving memories and stopping time, photographs themselves are susceptible to material changes over time. These changes are often most visible in the radical colour shifts seen in old photographs, from the characteristic pink hue of snapshots from the 1950s to the yellowed borders and cool cast of prints from the 1970s. These changes also serve to complicate any simple belief in the ability of photography to faithfully represent the natural colours of the world.

While the exhibition includes a number of experimental early processes, including the chromolithographically-derived Photochrom process as well as an early Autochrome, the bulk of the imagery is drawn from the decades following the pivotal invention of Kodachrome, the first colour slide film, which was made commercially available in 1936. Because this film, as well as Kodacolor negative film (1942), was sent back to Eastman-Kodak for processing, photographers’ control over their imagery was greatly reduced, leading many art photographers to resist the transition to colour until decades later.

Un/Natural Color includes rarely-seen colour work by two notable documentary photographers of the Depression era, Jack Delano and Marion Post Wolcott. Both worked for the Farm Security Administration (a government program associated with the New Deal) and made limited use of colour film while on assignment documenting the effects of the Great Depression on rural American. Very few (if any) of these images were reproduced in the popular press, however, owing to the difficulty and cost of reproducing colour photographs, and to colour photography’s overwhelming association with commercial advertising at this time (as in Elmar Ludwig and Edmund Nägele’s image of the popular resort chain, Butlin’s).

The art establishment at large expressed little interest in colour photography until the mid-1970s, following the inclusion of colour work in two groundbreaking exhibitions: Stephen Shore’s vernacular landscapes in New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY (1975) and the solo exhibition of William Eggleston’s colour photography at the Museum of Modern Art, NY (1976). Both of these important photographers are represented in Un/Natural Color, as well as work by photographers exploring similar uses of colour to record everyday American scenes, including Jeff Brouws, Jim Dow, and Joel Meyerowitz.

Prior to the 1970s, some tentative forays into colour photography were made by art photographers primarily known for their work in black-and-white (notably Harry Callahan), but colour was more often derided for its populist associations and was typically allied with either snapshot photography or advertising and Hollywood. The negative connotation that colour photography had acquired over the years in the art world was critical to its adoption by photographers like Shore and Eggleston, who used it to challenge conventional expectations for photographic art and to force viewers to look with new eyes at the familiar world around them.

An image such as Greg Noll Surf Team at Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, Sunset Beach by Leroy Grannis highlights the powerful ability of colour photography to summon a unique historical moment. It is not just the classic haircut and short surf trunks sported by the surf legend, Greg Noll, that situates this photograph in the 1960s. Colour photography at this time typically recorded colour in a highly saturated, though fairly uniform manner, leaving some aspects of this photograph looking flat, rather than mimicking the subtle modulation of tone that is more commonly associated with the perception of depth by human vision.

The characteristic manner by which different colour processes represent the colours of the world, as well as the changes that such colour photographs suffer over time, are powerful indicators of the photograph’s history. When we look at colour photographs, all of these markers are brought to bear on our interpretation of their subjects, leading us to question: what is natural colour anyway?

Press release from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art website

 

Roman Freulich. 'Gloria Swanson' Nd

 

Roman Freulich (American, born Poland 1898-1974)
Gloria Swanson
Nd
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of Judith Caditz, Allan M. Caditz, Ellen Joan Abramson and Norman Abramson

 

William Edwin Gledhill (Canadian, 1888-1976) 'Amanda Duff' 1935

 

William Edwin Gledhill (Canadian, 1888-1976)
Amanda Duff
1935
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of Keith Gledhill

 

Elmar Ludwig and Edmond Nagele. 'The Indoor-Heated Pool, Butlin’s Mosney' Nd

 

Elmar Ludwig (German, b. 1935) and Edmund Nägele (German, b. 1942)
The Indoor-Heated Pool, Butlin’s Mosney
Nd

 

William Henry Jackson. 'Colorado Railway Mountain View' 1898

 

William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942)
Colorado Railway Mountain View
1898
Photochrom
Santa Barbra Museum of Art, Museum purchase

 

2010.6.3-Jackson-WEB

 

William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942)
Colorado Grand Canyon of the Arkansas
1898
Photochrom
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum purchase

 

Saul Leiter. 'Snow' 1960

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Snow
1960

 

 

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA

Opening hours:
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Thursday Evenings 5 – 8pm

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24
Jul
13

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

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 28th July 2013

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

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18
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Saul Leiter’ at Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 31st January – 26th May 2013

 

Saul Leiter. 'From the El' c. 1955

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
From the El
c. 1955
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

“I like it when one is not certain of what one sees.
We don’t know why the photographer has taken such a picture.
If we look and look, we begin to see and are still left with the pleasure of uncertainty.”

.
“It is not where it is or what it is that matters, but how you see it.”

.
“After the age of 75 you should not be photographed.
You should be painted by Rembrandt or Hals, but not by Caravaggio.”

.
Saul Leiter

 

 

How brave was the photographer, occluding most of the colour image in darkness, something that had never been done before and has rarely been seen since. Look at the last three photographs in this posting to understand what I mean.

Considering that Saul Leiter’s colour photography predates William Eggleston and Stephen Shore by a couple of decades, it can truly be said that he is one of the early masters of colour photography. As the curator Ingo Taubhorn comments, The older aesthetic views on the hegemony of black-and-white photography and the historical dating of the first artistic use of colour photography to the early 1970s need to be critically reviewed. Saul Leiter’s oeuvre essentially rewrites the history of photography.”

Well said.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Saul Leiter. 'Nude' 1970s

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Nude
1970s
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Taxi' c. 1957

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Taxi
c. 1957
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

KUNST HAUS WIEN is devoting a major retrospective to the oeuvre of the 89-year-old photographer and painter Saul Leiter. The exhibition, which was developed in cooperation with House of Photography / Deichtorhallen Hamburg, presents the wide range of this versatile artist’s works, including early black-and-white and colour photographs, fashion images, painted photographs of nudes, paintings and a number of his sketchbooks. One section of the exhibition is devoted to Saul Leiter’s most recent photographs, which he continues to take on the streets of New York’s East Village.

It is only in the last few years that Saul Leiter has received due recognition for his role as one of the pioneers of colour photography. As early as 1946, and thus well before the representatives of the so-called “new colour” photography in the 1970s, such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, he was one of the first to use colour photography for artistic shots, despite its being frowned upon by other artists of the day. “The older aesthetic views on the hegemony of black-and-white photography and the historical dating of the first artistic use of colour photography to the early 1970s need to be critically reviewed. Saul Leiter’s oeuvre essentially rewrites the history of photography,” comments curator Ingo Taubhorn.

Saul Leiter has always considered himself both a painter and a photographer. In his painting and in his photographs he clearly tends towards abstraction and two-dimensionality. One often finds large deep-black areas, produced by shadows, taking up as much as three quarters of his photographs. Passers-by are not presented as individuals, but as blurred clouds of colour, filtered through misty panes of glass or wedged in between walls of buildings and traffic signs. The boundaries between the abstract and the representational in his paintings and photographs are virtually fluid. Saul Leiter’s street photography – a genre in which his work is matchless – is, in essence, painting metamorphosed into photography.

In Leiter’s works, the genres of street photography, portraiture, still life, fashion photography and architectural photography coalesce. He finds his motifs, such as shop windows, passers-by, cars, signs and – time and again – umbrellas, in the direct vicinity of his apartment in New York, where he has now lived for almost 60 years. The indeterminateness of detail, the blurring of movement and reduced depth of field, the use of shadows or deliberate avoidance of the necessary light, as well as the alienation caused by photographing through windows or as reflections, all combine to create the muted colour vocabulary of a semi-real, semiabstract urban space. These are the works of an as yet almost undiscovered modern master of colour photography.

 

About Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter discovered his passion for art at an early age and started painting as a teenager at the end of the 1940s. His family did not support him in his artistic endeavours; his father, a renowned Talmudic rabbi and scholar, had always hoped his son Saul would one day follow him in the family tradition and become a rabbi. Leiter was self-taught, but by no means uneducated. He read and learned a great deal about art, so that his knowledge and understanding constantly grew. In this way, he made sure that his own ideas and artistic works were duly related to the historical context.

In 1946, shortly after he had moved to New York, Leiter became acquainted with Richard Poussette-Dart, who introduced him to photography, a medium that appealed to Leiter very much and that he quickly made his own. Leiter soon resolved to use photography not only as a means of making art but as a way of earning a living. He started taking fashion photographs, and thanks to his good eye, his playful sense of humour, and his pronounced sense of elegance, swiftly emerged as an extraordinary fashion photographer. In the 1950s, Life magazine published photo spreads of Saul Leiter’s first black-and-white series. He took part in exhibitions, for example “Always the Young Strangers” (1953) curated by Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art. From 1958 to 1967, Leiter worked for Harper’s Bazaar. Altogether he spent some 20 years photographing for various classic magazines as well as more recent ones: after Esquire and Harper’s he also worked for Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen and Nova.

 

Saul Leiter. 'New York' 1950s

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
New York
1950s
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Sign Painter' 1954

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Sign Painter
1954
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Graffiti Heads' 1950

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Graffiti Heads
1950
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Shirt' 1948

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Shirt
1948
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Harlem' 1960

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Harlem
1960
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Hat' 1956

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Hat
1956
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Street Scene' 1957

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Street Scene
1957
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

The exhibition chapters

Abstract Painting

Although his photographic oeuvre has dominated his image as an artist, Saul Leiter sees himself first and foremost as a painter. He began his artistic career as a painter, and while working as a photographer he never stopped painting and drawing. Leiter’s passion for art began when he was just a child, even though his ambitions received no support from his family. As a teenager he spent many hours in libraries studying art books. He found inspiration in the paintings of such artists as Vermeer, Bonnard, Vuillard and Picasso, as well as in Japanese graphic art. Leiter, who was self-taught, painted his first pictures in 1940. Most of them were lyrical, abstract compositions that reflected his admiration for the new American avant-garde. His ardent feeling for colour is recognisable even in these early paintings, as is his lifelong predilection for painting small format pastels and watercolours on paper.

After moving to New York in 1946, he sometimes presented his works together with abstract expressionist painters such as Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. His studio was located on 10th Street in the East Village, which at that time was a neighbourhood very popular with avant-garde artists. Leiter shared these artists’ interest in abstraction and the use of colour, gesture and the element of chance, but he chose a radically different format for his works. Whereas many of his contemporaries, such as Jasper Johns or Franz Kline, painted wall-sized paintings that physically filled the beholder’s entire field of vision, Leiter worked in an intimate, small format. His works were also exhibited at the Tanager Gallery, one of the most important artist-run cooperatives in the East Village at that time. After switching the main focus of his work to photography in the late 1940s, however, Leiter stopped exhibiting his paintings.

 

Figurative Painting

Saul Leiter’s abstract painting frequently unites qualities of intimacy and familiarity with a sense of space reminiscent of an open landscape. Occasionally he also makes figurative sketches. Often these give mere intimations of a face or a body, perhaps a pointed nose, eyes and a mouth. Some of his male figures wear hats, similar to those worn by the religious Jews that peopled Leiter’s world in his youth. Most of these works focus on a single figure; only occasionally do we see a couple, or several figures grouped together. The quality of the line and the subtle suggestion of figures or heads in these paintings are reminiscent of paintings by Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, in which facial features are hinted at through lines and fine shadings of colour rather than being defined by careful modelling.

 

Street Photography

When, in 1947, Saul Leiter attended an exhibition of works by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, he became convinced of the creative potential of this medium. He bought himself a 35mm Leica camera at a bargain and began, without any previous training, to take photographs on the streets of New York. At first he used only black-and-white film, but in 1948 he also started using colour film. His black-and-white photographs exhibit some elements of documentary photography but are nevertheless far removed from a photojournalistic style. Rather, they are subjective observations, often concentrating on a single individual in the big city. Leiter’s complex, multilayered works evoke feelings of alienation, melancholy and tension. Leiter underscores this impression by experimenting with strong contrasts, light and shadow, and asymmetrical compositions containing large areas in which the images are blurred.

Thematically and stylistically, there are great similarities between Leiter’s works and the works of other representatives of New York street photography of the same era, for example Ted Croner, Leon Levinstein, Louis Faurer and later Robert Frank and William Klein, today generally known as the New York School. Their radical new, subjective photography had a psychological component that revealed an unusual sensitivity to social turbulences and the uncertainty felt by many Americans during the years following the Second World War.

 

Colour Photography

Until well into the 1970s, colour photography was used almost exclusively for advertising and fashion magazines. Many photographers considered the vivid colours unsuitable for artistic expression. Moreover, they were unable to develop their colour film themselves, which made it a very expensive undertaking. It was not until 1976 that the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave its first exhibition devoted to colour photography, when it presented “Photographs by William Eggleston”.

Saul Leiter was one of the few photographers who did not reject colour photography. As a painter, he took a particular interest in street photography as a genre in which to experiment with colour film. As early as 1948, at the beginning of his career, he bought his first roles of 35mm Kodachrome colour slide film, which had been on the market since 1936. In order to save money, he often used film that had passed its sell-by date. Leiter particularly liked the resulting pictures with their delicate, muted colours.

The innumerable early colour photographs that Leiter took between 1948 and 1960 are of a unique painterly and narrative quality. They stand in contrast to the works of other photographers, in which colour is often the defining element of the composition. This circumstance, coupled with Leiter’s tendency towards abstraction, links Leiter’s photography with his painting. But in contrast to his painting (and his black-and-white photographs), his colour photographs are highly structured. It is the incomparable beauty of these works that has brought Leiter recognition as one of the masters of 20th-century photography.

 

Fashion Photography

In the late 1950s, Saul Leiter worked successfully in the fields of fashion photography and advertising. From the very first, his style was unmistakeable. His images were multilayered and complex, characterised by soft, impressionistic qualities and cubist changes of perspective. He was given his first commercial assignment in 1958 by Henry Wolf, at that time the new Art Director of Harper’s Bazaar, with whom Leiter became friends. Harper’s Bazaar was one of the leading American fashion magazines, presenting trail-blazing fashion series by photographers such as Richard Avedon or Lillian Bassman.

Subsequently, Leiter was given more and more prestigious assignments, and over the years began to spend almost all his time doing commercial work. Apart from Harper’s Bazaar, his fashion and advertising photos appeared in Elle and Show, in British Vogue and Queen and also in Nova. The amazing thing is that during this period, Leiter managed to retain his own narrative, stylised aesthetic, whereas other fashion photographers favoured a rather brittle, graphic style. In the 1970s, partly due to his own dwindling interest in commercial photography, Leiter received fewer and fewer assignments. In 1981 he gave up his studio on Fifth Avenue and in the following years led a quiet life far from the public eye.

 

Saul Leiter. 'Carol Brown, 'Harper's Bazaar'' c. 1958

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Carol Brown, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’
c. 1958
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Soames Bantry, 'Nova'' 1960

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Soames Bantry, ‘Nova’
1960
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Walking' 1956

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Walking
1956
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Reflection' 1958

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Reflection
1958
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

“I spent a great deal of my life being ignored. I was always very happy that way. Being ignored is a great privilege. That is how I think I learnt to see what others do not see and to react to situations differently. I simply looked at the world, not really prepared for anything.”

.
Saul Leiter

 

 

Art critic Roberta Smith wrote in 2005: “Mr. Leiter was a photographer less of people than of perception itself. His painter’s instincts served him well in his emphasis on surface, spatial ambiguity and a lush, carefully calibrated palette. But the abstract allure of his work doesn’t rely on soft focus, a persistent, often irritating photographic ploy, or the stark isolation of details, in the manner of Aaron Siskind or early Harry Callahan. Instead, Mr. Leiter captured the passing illusions of everyday life with a precision that might almost seem scientific, if it weren’t so poetically resonant and visually layered.”

Text from the Lens Culture website [Online] Cited 15/05/2013 no longer available online

 

Saul Leiter. 'Shopping' c. 1953

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Shopping
c. 1953
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Kutztown' 1948

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Kutztown
1948
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Pizza, Patterson' 1952

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Pizza, Patterson
1952
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

KUNST HAUS WIEN
Museum Hundertwasser
Untere Weißgerberstraße 13
1030 Vienna
Phone: +43-1-712 04 91

Opening hours:
Daily, 10am – 7pm

Kunst Haus Wein website

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18
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs from Mexico and California’ at the Downtown Central Library, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 28th March – 28th June, 2009

Curated by William Ewing and Phillip Prodger

 

Recently discovered colour images of California and Mexico taken during the 1940s and 1950s by the late visionary photographer Paul Outerbridge, who was considered “a master of colour photography,” will be exhibited at the Central Library’s First Floor Galleries, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown, from March 28 through June 28 2009.

 

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Women by Car, Laguna Beach, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Women by Car, Laguna Beach, California
c. 1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

“Art is life seen through man’s inner craving for perfection and beauty – his escape from the sordid realities of life into a world of his imagining. Art accounts for at least a third of our civilization, and it is one of the artist’s principal duties to do more than merely record life or nature. To the artist is given the privilege of pointing the way and inspiring towards a better life.”

.
Paul Outerbridge

 

 

If Outerbridge only photographed intermittently after 1943, then what photographs they are. Perhaps some of the most important colour photographs of their generation were made after he moved to California influencing the next generation of colour photographers (as noted below in the press release). What else can one say – his aesthetic sensibility is sensational, so far ahead of his time, so prescient of future colour spaces in photography. I know how “no regular income” feels as an artist, but he still had the courage and vision to make the work. I am in awe of the man: the visual complexity but eloquent simplicity of his photographs is simply amazing, simply… his own.

Marcus

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

 

“[Outerbridge] was a designer and illustrator in New York before turning to photography in the 1920s. In 1925, having established himself as an innovative advertising photographer and graphic designer, he moved to Paris and worked for the French edition of Vogue magazine. There he met Edward Steichen, with whom he developed a friendly rivalry. Around 1930, having returned to New York, Outerbridge began to experiment with color photography, in particular the carbro-color process. He focused primarily on female nudes – striking, full-color images that were ahead of their time. The growing popularity of the dye transfer process lead to cheaper color photographs and Outerbridge, who stuck fast to the carbro process as superior in its richness and permanence, saw his commercial work dry up, leaving him without a regular source of income. In 1943 Outerbridge moved to California, where he photographed only intermittently.”

Text from the Getty Museum website [Online] Cited 14/04/2009 (no longer available online)

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Balboa Beach, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Balboa Beach, California
c. 1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

Paul Outerbridge
Reclining Nude
c. 1937
Pigment dyed digital print

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Motel Bar, Mazatlán, Mexico' c. 1948

 

Paul Outerbridge
Motel Bar, Mazatlán, Mexico
c. 1948
Dye transfer print
16″ x 20″

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Hotel Lobby, Mazatlán, Mexico' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Hotel Lobby, Mazatlán, Mexico
c. 1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

As one of America’s earliest masters of color photography, Paul Outerbridge established his reputation by making virtuoso carbro-color prints of nudes and still-lives in the 1930s. As pictures, they are as brilliant and innovative today as when they earned their place as classics in the history of photography.

Outerbridge left New York in the 1940s, choosing to settle in California, and eventually taking up residency in the Mediterranean-style ocean side town of Laguna Beach. Little is known of Outerbridge’s last body of work in the 8 years preceding his death in 1958. But Outerbridge’s recently printed transparencies from the 1950s affirms that he fully understood the possibilities inherent in color photography despite it being the early days of its use in photographic art. Outerbridge went on to make a body of work that presaged the style and imagery of color photographers working a full quarter of a century later.

Employing a 35mm camera rather than the large-format equipment of the studio, Outerbridge captured vivid pictures while on the fly. His images were composed using the same precision of form and color that characterized his 1930s studio work, but, in this series, Outerbridge applied his earlier techniques to the energetic world of the street. This was a new landscape for Outerbridge, who, seeing in the new spectrum of color, depicted the people and places from his adopted Southern California, and, with great relish and sensitivity, from the Mexican towns just south of the border. In the tradition of such photographers as Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Anton Bruehl, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, all of whom made significant photographic forays into Mexico, Outerbridge ventured south from Laguna. In his 1949 black Cadillac, Outerbridge frequented the seaport towns along the Baja peninsula. One of his favorite stops was Mazatlan, on Mexico’s western coast, where he took particular pleasure in surveying the urban architecture, absorbing – and documenting – the city streets teeming with people, the brightly colored topography.

Among the scenes Outerbridge etched onto film: carnival carriages with passengers dressed and bound for a grand party; a group of fashionable men relaxing in an outdoor hotel lobby drinking Cokes and beer while a small orchestra plays on in the afternoon sun; and a lone girl in a lime-green dress and white sweater walking past a gas station whose painted-red details add vibrant flourishes to the scene. Outerbridge was keenly aware that the beauty of everyday objects was also tied to the larger meanings anchored in the social landscape, but he cared less for this fact than for the expression of pure color and form as seen through and by the lens.

These extraordinary pictures recall the 1970s photographs of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, who strove to codify these same formal and subjective aesthetics into a bold definition of the new color vocabulary. Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs from California and Mexico will bring a heretofore undiscovered and unrecognized sequence of photographs that bridges the formal gap between the past and the present. Outerbridge’s visionary handling of color confirmed that he had instinctively known the potential of the color medium, and, luckily for us, he created an astounding body of photographs to prove it.

Text from the Curatorial Assistance website [Online] Cited 19/01/2019

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Gas Station, Mazatlán, Mexico' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Gas Station, Mazatlán, Mexico
c. 1950
Dye transfer print
16″ x 20″

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Self-portrait on Lounge, Oceanside Resort, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Self-portrait on Lounge, Oceanside Resort, California
c.1950
Pigment dyed digital print
16″ x 20″

 

 

“Outerbridge, who died in 1958, built his reputation in the early 1920s in New York and Paris making elegant black and white photo abstractions primarily of nudes and still lifes that rivaled those of his peers, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Edward Weston. In the 1930s, Outerbridge mastered the exquisite tri-carbro-color print process and went on to make some of the most important color photographs in art and advertising of that time.

Moving to California in 1943 and taking up residence in Laguna Beach, Outerbridge made his last important body of work throughout California and Mexico. Between 1948 and until his death in 1958 he codified a new language in color photographs that anticipated the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and others known for their “New Color” work in the 1970s.

“The curious position of prosperous American tourists amid the daily poverty experienced by some Mexicans is one of the recurring themes in the work, but with Outerbridge there is no political polemic,” says co-curator Phillip Prodger. “Outerbridge was thinking of his photographs as jig-saw puzzles made up of many different highly colored pieces, each placed with meticulous care.”

Among Outerbridge’s subjects are carnival carriages with passengers dressed and headed for a grand party; a group of fashionable men relaxing in an outdoor hotel lobby drinking Coke and beer while a small orchestra plays; a girl in a lime-green dress and white sweater walking past a gas station whose painted-red details add a vibrant flourish to the scene.”

Text from the Downtown Central Library press release [Online] Cited 14/04/2009 (no longer available online)

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Model with Satin Dress, Laguna Beach, California' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Model with Satin Dress, Laguna Beach, California
c. 1950
Tricolor carbon print
20″ x 16″

 

Paul Outerbridge. 'Party, Laguna Beach' c. 1950

 

Paul Outerbridge
Party, Laguna Beach
c. 1950
Tricolor carbon print
20″ x 16″

 

 

Los Angeles Central Library
630 W. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
Phone: (213) 228-7000

Opening hours:
Monday 10-8
Tuesday 10-8
Wednesday 10-8
Thursday 10-8
Friday 9.30-5.30
Saturday 9.30-5.30
Sunday 1-5

Los Angeles Central Library 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: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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September 2021
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