Posts Tagged ‘Joel Peter-Witkin


Selection of images part 2

April 2015


Another selection of interesting images.

My favourites: the weight of Weston’s Shipyard detail, Wilmington (1935); and the romanticism (Jean-François Millet-esque), sublime beauty of Boubat’s Lella, Bretagne, France (1947).




Cecil Stoughton (1920-2008) 'Pres. John F. Kennedy's Lincoln Continental' 1963


Cecil Stoughton (1920-2008)
Pres. John F. Kennedy’s Lincoln Continental
Silver gelatin print


Cecil Stoughton (1920-2008) 'Pres. John F. Kennedy's Lincoln Continental' 1963


Cecil Stoughton (1920-2008)
Pres. John F. Kennedy’s Lincoln Continental
Silver gelatin print


Cecil Stoughton (1920-2008) 'Pres. John F. Kennedy's Lincoln Continental' 1963


Cecil Stoughton (1920-2008)
Pres. John F. Kennedy’s Lincoln Continental
Silver gelatin print



Cecil William Stoughton (January 18, 1920 – November 3, 2008) was an American photographer. Born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Stoughton is best known for being President John F. Kennedy’s photographer during his White House years.

Stoughton took the only photograph ever published showing John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe together. Stoughton was present at the motorcade at which Kennedy was assassinated, and was subsequently the only photographer on board Air Force One when Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the next President. Stoughton’s famous photograph of this event depicts Johnson raising his hand in oath as he stood between his wife Lady Bird Johnson and a still blood-spattered Jacqueline Kennedy. (Text from the Wikipedia website)


Edward Weston (1886-1958) 'Shipyard detail, Wilmington' 1935


Edward Weston (1886-1958)
Shipyard detail, Wilmington
Silver gelatin print


Max Yavno (1911-1985) 'Garage Doors, San Francisco' 1947


Max Yavno (1911-1985)
Garage Doors, San Francisco
Silver gelatin print



Max Yavno (1911-1985) was a photographer who specialized in street scenes, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

He did photography for the Works Progress Administration from 1936 to 1942. He was president of the Photo League in 1938 and 1939. Yavno was in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, after which he moved to San Francisco and began specializing in urban-landscape photography. Photographer Edward Steichen selected twenty of Yavno’s prints for the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1950, and the next year Yavno won a Guggenheim fellowship.

History professor Constance B. Schulz said of him:

For financial reasons he worked as a commercial advertising photographer for the next twenty years (1954-75), creating finely crafted still lifes that appeared in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He returned to artistic landscape photography in the 1970s, when his introspective approach found a more appreciative audience.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Paul Strand (1890-1976) 'Bombed Area, Gaeta, Italy' 1952


Paul Strand (1890-1976)
Bombed Area, Gaeta, Italy
Silver gelatin print


Ralph Steiner (1899-1986) 'American Rural Baroque' 1929


Ralph Steiner (1899-1986)
American Rural Baroque
Silver gelatin print



Ralph Steiner (February 8, 1899 – July 13, 1986) was an American photographer, pioneer documentarian and a key figure among avant-garde filmmakers in the 1930s.

Born in Cleveland, Steiner studied chemistry at Dartmouth, but in 1921 entered the Clarence H. White School of Modern Photography. White helped Steiner in finding a job at the Manhattan Photogravure Company, and Steiner worked on making photogravure plates of scenes from Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North. Not long after, Steiner’s work as a freelance photographer in New York began, working mostly in advertising and for publications like Ladies’ Home Journal. Through the encouragement of fellow photographer Paul Strand, Steiner joined the left-of-center Film and Photo League around 1927. He was also to influence the photography of Walker Evans, giving him guidance, technical assistance, and one of his view cameras.

In 1929, Steiner made his first film, H2O, a poetic evocation of water that captured the abstract patterns generated by waves. Although it was not the only film of its kind at the time – Joris Ivens made Regen (Rain) that same year, and Henwar Rodekiewicz worked on his similar film Portrait of a Young Man (1931) through this whole period – it made a significant impression in its day and since has become recognized as a classic: H2O was added to theNational Film Registry in December 2005. Among Steiner’s other early films, Surf and Seaweed (1931) expands on the concept of H2O as Steiner turns his camera to the shoreline; Mechanical Principles (1933) was an abstraction based on gears and machinery. (Text from the Wikipedia website)


Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931) 'Snowflake' c. 1920


Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931)
c. 1920
Gold-chloride toned microphotographs from glass plate negatives


Andre de Dienes (1913-1985) 'Erotic Nude' 1950s


Andre de Dienes (1913-1985)
Erotic Nude
Silver gelatin print



Andre de Dienes (born Andor György Ikafalvi-Dienes) (December 18, 1913 – April 11, 1985) was a Hungarian-American photographer, noted for his work with Marilyn Monroe and his nude photography.

Dienes was born in Transylvania, Austria-Hungary, on December 18, 1913, and left home at 15 after the suicide of his mother. Dienes travelled across Europe mostly on foot, until his arrival in Tunisia. In Tunisia he purchased his first camera, a 35mm Retina. Returning to Europe he arrived in Paris in 1933 to study art, and bought a Rolleiflex shortly after.

Dienes began work as a professional photographer for the Communist newspaper L’Humanité, and was employed by the Associated Press until 1936, when the Parisian couturier Captain Molyneux noted his work and urged him to become a fashion photographer. In 1938 the editor of Esquire, Arnold Gingrich offered him work in New York City, and helped fund Dienes’ passage to the United States. Once in the United States Dienes worked for Vogue and Life magazines as well as Esquire.

When not working as a fashion photographer Dienes travelled the USA photographing Native American culture, including the Apache, Hopi, and Navajo reservations and their inhabitants. Dissatisfied with his life as a fashion photographer in New York, Dienes moved to California in 1944, where he began to specialise in nudes and landscapes. (Text from the Wikipedia website)


George A. Tice (1938- ) 'Porch, Monhegan Island, Maine' 1971


George A. Tice (1938- )
Porch, Monhegan Island, Maine
Selenium-toned silver print



George Tice (1938) is an American photographer best known for his large-format black-and-white photographs of New Jersey, New York, and the Amish. Tice was born in Newark, New Jersey, and self-trained as a photographer. His work is included in major museum collections around the world and he has published many books of photographs, including Fields of Peace: A Pennsylvania German Album (1970), Paterson, New Jersey (1972), Seacoast Maine: People and Places (1973), Urban Landscapes: A New Jersey Portrait (1975), “Lincoln” (1984), Hometowns: An American Pilgrimage (1988), Urban Landscapes (2002), Paterson II (2006), Urban Romantic (1982), and George Tice: Selected Photographs 1953-1999 (2001). (Text from the Wikipedia website)


Auguste Salzmann (1824-1872) 'Jerusalem, Sainte Sepulchre, Colonne du Parvis' 1854


Auguste Salzmann (1824-1872)
Jerusalem, Sainte Sepulchre, Colonne du Parvis
Blanquart-Evrard salted paper print from a paper negative


Weegee (Arthur Fellig). 'Billie Dauscha and Mabel Sidney, Bowery Entertainers' December 4, 1944


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (1899-1968)
Billie Dauscha and Mabel Sidney, Bowery Entertainers
December 4, 1944
Silver gelatin print


Winston O. Link (1914-2001) 'Luray Crossing, Luray, Virginia' 1956


Winston O. Link (1914-2001)
Luray Crossing, Luray, Virginia
Silver gelatin print


Paul J. Woolf (1899-1985) 'Looking down on Grand Central Station' 1935


Paul J. Woolf (1899-1985)
Looking down on Grand Central Station
Silver gelatin print


Paul J. Woolf began his photographic career in London, taking pictures as a child. He attended the University of California, Berkeley and the Clarence White School of Photography. By 1942 he was established as a professional photographer who specialized in design and night-time photography. Woolf also maintained a practice as a clinical social worker while continuing his work as a photographer.


Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) 'Alicante' 1933


Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
Silver gelatin print


Joel-Peter Witkin (1939- ) 'Leda' 1986


Joel-Peter Witkin (1939- )
Silver gelatin print


Roman Vishniac (1897-1990) 'Father taking his son to the first day of cheder' 1937-1938


Roman Vishniac (1897-1990)
Father taking his son to the first day of cheder
Silver gelatin print


Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) 'James Rogers' 1867


Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)
James Rogers
Albumen print


Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) 'The Dream' 1869


Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)
The Dream
Albumen print


Lewis W. Hine. 'An Albanian Woman from Italy at Ellis Island' 1905


Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940)
An Albanian Woman from Italy at Ellis Island
Silver gelatin print


Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940) 'Italian laborer, Ellis Island' 1905-12


Lewis W. Hine (1874-1940)
Italian laborer, Ellis Island
Silver gelatin print


Laure Albin-Guillot (1879-1962) 'Opale' c. 1930


Laure Albin-Guillot (1879-1962)
c. 1930
Silver gelatin print


Cecil Beaton. 'Virginia Cherrill' 1930s


Cecil Beaton
Virginia Cherrill
Silver gelatin print


Édouard Boubat (1923-1999) 'Lella, Bretagne, France' 1947


Édouard Boubat (1923-1999)
Lella, Bretagne, France
Silver gelatin print



Édouard Boubat (1923-1999) was a French photojournalist and art photographer.

Boubat was born in Montmartre, Paris. He studied typography and graphic arts at the École Estienne and worked for a printing company before becoming a photographer. In 1943 he was subjected to service du travail obligatoire, forced labour of French people in Nazi Germany, and witnessed the horrors of World War II. He took his first photograph after the war in 1946 and was awarded the Kodak Prize the following year. He travelled the world for the French magazine Réalités and later worked as a freelance photographer. French poet Jacques Prévert called him a “peace correspondent” as he was apolitical and photographed uplifting subjects. (Text from the Wikipedia website)




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Exhibition: ‘Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography Since 1960’ at CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY

Exhibition dates: 19th September – 13rd December 2014

Artists: Thomas Barrow, Wayne Belger, Stephen Berkman, Matthew Brandt, Dan Burkholder, Darryl Curran, Binh Danh, Rick Dingus, Dan Estabrook, Robert Fichter, Robert Flynt, Judith Golden, Betty Hahn, Robert Heinecken, Robert Hirsch, Catherine Jansen, Harold Jones, Tantana Kellner, Les Krims, William Larson, Dinh Q. Lê, David Lebe, Martha Madigan, Curtis Mann, Stephen Marc, Scott McCarney, Chris McCaw, John Metoyer, Duane Michals, Vik Muniz, Joyce Neimanas, Bea Nettles, Ted Orland, Douglas Prince, Holly Roberts, Clarissa Sligh, Keith Smith, Jerry Spagnoli, Mike & Doug Starn, Brian Taylor, Maggie Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, Todd Walker, Joel-Peter Witkin, John Wood.

Curator: Robert Hirsch



“The resurgence of handmade photography in the 1960s had several sources and influences. It looked back to the “anti-tradition” of nineteenth-century romanticism, which accentuated the importance of making a highly personal response to experience and a critical response to society. It drew on contemporary popular culture. Many of the artists engaged in this movement were baby-boomers brought up on television and film, media that often portrayed photography as hip and sexy – eg. the film Blow-Up (1966) – and which drove home the significance of constructed photographic images. In addition, the widespread atmosphere of rebellion against social norms propelled the move toward handwork. The rejection of artistic standards in photography was consistent with the much broader exploration of sexual mores and gender roles that took place in the sixties. It was also consistent with the exploration of consciousness. The latter was encouraged by such counter-culture figures as Ken Kesey who, with his band of Merry Pranksters, boarded a Day-Glo bus called “Further” and took an LSD-fueled trip across the country that echoed Dr. Timothy Leary’s decree “to tune in, turn on, and drop out.” On a broader level, the society-at-large was exposed to psychedelic exploration through Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which youthful audiences saw as a mysterious consciousness-expanding trip into humanity’s future. Finally, handmade photography was supported by the general growth of photographic education in the university. The ubiquity and importance of the medium in the culture at large, as well as pressure from those who championed photography from within art institutions gave credence in the post-war decades to the idea that people could study photography seriously. As new photography programs mushroomed in the universities, they produced graduates who took teaching positions in even newer programs. Many of these young teachers, who had grown up to the adage of “do your own thing,” were responsive to unconventional ways of seeing and working, and they encouraged these attitudes in their students, many of whom turned to handmade photography.

Despite the attractions of handmade photography there were in the sixties, and still are to some degree, emphatic objections to the open engagement of the hand in photographic art. One common objection is that such art constitutes a dishonest method to cover up aesthetic and technical inadequacies. Another comes from those who believe strongly in the Western tradition of positivism. These people tend to reject handmade photography on the grounds that it is unnecessarily ambiguous or irrational in its meanings. Nevertheless, more artists than ever are currently using the flexible, experiential methods of handwork. In addition to opening up an avenue to inner experience, artists find handwork attractive because it promotes inventiveness, allows for the free play of intuition beyond the control of the intellect, extends the time of interaction with an image (on the part of both the maker and the viewer), and allows for the inclusion of a wide range of materials and processes within the boundaries of photography…

[Curator] Peter C. Bunnell’s innovative exhibitions [MoMA: Photography as Printmaking (1968) and Photography Into Sculpture (1970)] demonstrated that in essence photography is nothing more than light sensitive material on a surface. The exhibitions also recognized that the way a photograph is perceived and interpreted is established by artistic and societal preconceptions about how a photographic subject is supposed to look and what is accepted as truthful. The work in the Bunnell exhibitions was indicative of a larger zeitgeist of the late 1960s that involved leaving the safety net of custom, exploring how to be more aware of and physically connected to the world, and critically examining expectations with regard to lifestyles…

In spite of post-modernism’s assault on the myth of authorship and its sardonic outlook regarding the human spirit, artists who produce handmade photography continue to believe that individuals can make a difference, that originality matters, and that we learn and understand by doing. They think that a flexible image is a human image, an imperfect and physically crafted one that possesses its own idiosyncratic sense of essence, time, and wonder. Their work can be aesthetically difficult, as it may not provide the audience-friendly narratives and well-mannered compositions some people expect. But sometimes this is necessary to get us to set aside the ordained answers to the question: “What is a photograph?” and allow us to recognize photography’s remarkable diversity in form, structure, representational content, and meaning. This acknowledgment grants artists the freedom and respect to explore the full photographic terrain, to engage the medium’s broad power of inquiry, and to present the wide-ranging complexity of our experiences, beliefs, and feelings for others to see and contemplate.

Extract from Flexible Images: Handmade American Photography, 1969 – 2002 by Robert Hirsch (2003) on the Light Research website [Online] Cited 14/11/2014. First published in The Society for Photographic Education’s exposure, Volume 36: 1, 2003, cover and pages 23 – 42. © Robert Hirsch 2003

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



Vik Muniz. 'Picture of Dust' 2000


Vik Muniz
Picture of Dust (Barry Le Va, Continuous and Related Activities; Discontinued by the Act of Dropping, 1967, Installed at the Whitney Museum in New Sculpture 1965-75: Between Geometry and Gesture, February 20-June 3, 1990)
From the series The Things Themselves: Picture of Dust
Framed, overall: 51 x 130 1/2 inches
Two silver dye bleach prints (Ilfochrome)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


Thomas Barrow. 'Dart, Albuquerque' 1974


Thomas Barrow
Dart, Albuquerque
Fuji Crystal Archive Print


Thomas Barrow. 'f/t/s Cancellations (Brown) - Field Star' 1975


Thomas Barrow
f/t/s Cancellations (Brown) – Field Star
Gift from the Collection of Joel Deal and Betsy Ruppa
© Thomas Barrow. Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence


Barrow scratched through his landscape negatives, calling attention to the materiality of the medium itself and the fact that regardless of how much information is given, reality remains an accumulation of belief, knowledge, and one’s own experience.



Les Krims. 'The Static Electric Effect of Minnie Mouse on Mickey Mouse Balloons' 1968


Les Krims
The Static Electric Effect of Minnie Mouse on Mickey Mouse Balloons
Kodalith Print


“Kodak Kodalith paper was a thin, matt, orthochromatic graphic arts paper that was not intended for pictorial purposes. However, when it was used for pictorial expression its responsiveness to time and temperature controls during development enabled one to produce a wide range of grainy, high-contrast, and sepia tonal effects. Its unusual handling characteristics also meant that photographers had to pull the print at precisely the “right” moment from the developer and quickly get it into the stop bath, making each print unique.”


Din Q Le. 'Ezekial’s Whisper' 2014


Din Q Le
Ezekial’s Whisper
C-print, linen tape


Ted Orland. 'Meteor!' 1998


Ted Orland
Hand colored gelatin silver print


Brian Taylor. 'Our Thoughts Wander' 2005


Brian Taylor
Our Thoughts Wander
From the series Open Books
Hand bound book


Open Books

I create photographically illustrated books springing from my fascination with the book format and a love of texture in art. My imagery is inspired by the surreal and poetic moments of living in our fast-paced, modern world. I’m fascinated by how daily life in the 21st Century presents us with incredible experiences in such regularity that we no longer differentiate between what is natural and what is colored with implausibility, humor, and irony.

These hard cover books are hand bound with marbleized paper and displayed fully opened to a photographically illustrated two-page folio spread. Each book is framed in a wooden shadowbox and presented as a wall piece. I like the idea of making art that contains some imagery which can be sensed but not seen. The underlying pages contain my photographs, snapshots, and work prints that “gave their lives” for the imagery visible in the open spread. These images lie beneath the open pages like history.1


David Lebe. 'Angelo On The Roof' 1979


David Lebe
Angelo On The Roof


Jerry Uelsmann (American, born 1934) 'Small Woods where I met Myself (Final Version)' 1967


Jerry Uelsmann (American, born 1934)
Small Woods where I met Myself (Final Version)
Gelatin silver print
25.4 x 32.3 cm (10 x 12 11/16 in.)
© 1967 Jerry Uelsmann


Robert Heincken. 'Are You Rea #15' 1968


Robert Heincken
Are You Rea #15
Offset lithography


David Levinthal and Garry Trudeau. 'Untitled', from the series 'Hitler Moves East' 1977


David Levinthal and Garry Trudeau
Untitled, from the series Hitler Moves East
8 x 10 inches
Gelatin silver (Kodalith) print
Courtesy Paul Morris Gallery, New York City


My favorite story comes from the early days of Levinthal’s career, when he was a college student working on Hitler Moves Eastwith Garry Trudeau. They worked with childlike enthusiasm, purchasing smoke bombs from a local theater supply shop and growing grass inside David’s apartment to achieve maximum realism. This culminated in a huge explosion of smoke, and the photograph above. Forever making jokes, Levinthal had this to say about the situation: “I’m not even sure we had 911 those days, so that was probably helpful.” He sometimes describes incidents in which things went wrong, but thankfully this wasn’t one of those situations. Instead he successfully produced this photo and began a transition from the early works, which show toys rearranged on his linoleum floor, to photographs that are sophisticated and deceptively real looking.3


Joel-Peter Witkin. 'Poussin in Hell' 1999


Joel-Peter Witkin
Poussin in Hell
Toned gelatin silver print


Douglas Prince. 'Untitled' 1969


Douglas Prince
Film and Plexiglas
5 x 5 x 2.5 inches


Mike and Doug Starn. 'Double Rembrandt with Steps' 1987-88


Mike and Doug Starn
Double Rembrandt with Steps
Toned gelatin silver print, toned ortho film, wood, Plexiglas, and glue.
108 x 108 inches
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY



“CEPA Gallery is pleased to announce Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography Since 1960, a companion exhibition to Robert Hirsch’s recently published book of the same title (Focal Press). This extraordinary exhibition features work by some of the most innovative photographers and imagemakers of the mid- 20th century through today; artists who redefined the notion of photography as a medium and left an indelible mark on contemporary photographic practices.

This extensive survey will include more than 140 works by over 40 artists spanning nearly 50 years of artistic practice unified by a curatorial arc rooted in notions that deviate from the purview of traditional photographic practice. Citing Robert Heinecken’s practice as the genesis of conceptual handmade photography, this exhibition charts an intricate universe of artists whose practice dispenses with the self-prescribed limitations of conventional photography in order to mine the boundless potential of the photographic medium as a conceptual conveyance.

Transformational Imagemaking is the culmination of Hirsch’s lifelong exploration into handmade photography and the artists whose practices were formed on the principle of unearthing new possibilities. Hirsch sites the catalyst for the project as an article he published in exposure in 2003 entitled “Flexible Images: Handmade American Photography, 1969 – 2002”. It has since expanded into a comprehensive publication that includes personal conversations with each artist conducted over a six-month period during 2013. CEPA will now elaborate further by mounting an exhibition that features a selection of each artist’s work.

In addition to Transformational Imagemaking, CEPA will also show the complete folio of Robert Heinecken’s seminal series Are You Rea (1966). Considered to be the grandfather of post-modern photographic practices and a major figure of 20th century art, Heinecken was a key figure in promoting new sentiments about photography as an art form, influencing artists such Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, and others. Heinecken’s rebellious spirit challenged conventions about the ways photographs represent the tangible world: “We constantly tend to misuse or misunderstand the term reality in relation to photographs. The photograph itself is the only thing that is real.”

Are You Rea (1966), created by contact printing magazine tear-outs onto photographic paper, are ghostly compositions that layer sexually suggestive images of women with fractured text. This provocative body of work, sexually charged and evocatively ambiguous, reflects an awareness of desire as a commercial commodity that begs us to question the very root of our own desires.”

Press release from CEPA Gallery


Keith Smith. 'Untitled' 1972


Keith Smith


Binh Danh. 'The Botany of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum #2' 2008


Binh Danh
The Botany of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum #2
From the Immortality: The Remnants of the Vietnam and American War series
Chlorophyll print and resin


The chlorophyll process is an organic alternative photography process akin to the anthotype process. However, instead of printing on the crushed extract of fruit or plant matter, the prints are bleached by sunlight directly onto the surface of leaves using a positive. The resulting images are stunningly delicate and beautiful, ranging from haunting silhouettes to crisp definition. Despite the simplicity of the finished product, the process itself can be tedious with plenty of trial and error.

Drawing on the anthotype process, Danh refined a method for securing a positive directly to a live leaf and allowing sunlight to bleach the image onto its surface naturally. He has also addressed a fundamental challenge with natural photography processes; that of fixing the image to prevent further bleaching and deterioration over time. To save his work, Dah casts his finished pieces in a layer of resin allowing them to be enjoyed for years to come.2


Dinh Q. Lê  Vietnamese, born 1968 'Untitled' 1998


Dinh Q. Lê  (Vietnamese, born 1968)
Untitled, from the series Cambodia: Splendor and Darkness
C-print and linen tape


Dan Estabrook. 'Fever' 2004


Dan Estabrook
Salt print with ink and watercolor


Robert Fichter. 'Roast Beast 3' 1968


Robert Fichter
Roast Beast 3
Verifax transfer with rundowns, stamping, and crayon


Robert Heineken. 'Are You Rea #1' 1966


Robert Heineken
Are You Rea #1
Offset lithography


Chris McCaw. 'Sunburned GSP #676 (San Francisco Bay)' 2013


Chris McCaw
Sunburned GSP #676 (San Francisco Bay)
Gelatin Silver paper negative


Curtis Mann. 'Photographer, Scratch' 2009


Curtis Mann
Photographer, Scratch
Bleached c-print with synthetic polymer varnish


Vik Muniz. 'Atlas (Carlao)' 2008


Vik Muniz
Atlas (Carlao)
Digital C-print



CEPA Gallery
617 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
T: (716) 856-2717

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Saturday: 12.00 pm – 4.00 pm

CEPA Gallery website


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Exhibition: ‘In Focus: Making A Scene’ at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 30th June – 18th October, 2009


Dora Maar. 'Le Simulateur' (The Pretender) 1936


Dora Maar
‘Le Simulateur’ (The Pretender)


Man Ray. 'Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp)' 1923


Man Ray
‘Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp)’


Anonymous. 'Woman Reading to a Girl' French, c. 1845


‘Woman Reading to a Girl’
French, c. 1845


Julia Margaret Cameron. 'Venus Chiding Cupid and Removing His Wings' 1872


Julia Margaret Cameron
‘Venus Chiding Cupid and Removing His Wings’
Album silver print



“Photography, although commonly associated with truthfulness, has been used to produce fiction since its introduction in 1839. The acceptance of staging, and the degree of its application, has varied greatly depending on the genre and the historical moment, but it has persisted as an artistic approach. The photographs in this exhibition, drawn exclusively from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection, make no pretense about presenting the world as it exists; instead, they are the productions of directors and actors who rely on stagecraft and occasional darkroom trickery to tell stories.
Spanning photography’s history and expressing a range of sentiments, the images in this exhibition are inspired by art history, literature, religion, and mainstream media.

Like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and his other books, Lewis Carroll’s photographs are fantasies starring his friends’ children. In the image above, children enact the mythological story of Saint George, the patron saint of England, slaying a child-eating dragon before it could devour a princess.

Life Imitating Art

Well-represented in this exhibition are tableaux vivants (living pictures), inspired by the popular Victorian parlor game in which costumed participants posed to resemble famous works of art or literary scenes.
The genre paintings of 17th-century Dutch masters Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch fascinated Guido Rey. Not self-conscious about being slavish to the past, he carefully studied the paintings and then arranged similar tableaux for his camera. His photographs captured equally serene domestic scenes and mimicked the minute architectural details of 17th-century interiors, such as the leaded-glass windowpanes and the checkerboard floor.

Playing Dress Up

The exhibition also includes costume studies of people posing as literary characters and self-portraits of artists pretending to be other people.

American painter and photographer Man Ray and the French artist Marcel Duchamp met in New York in 1915, and they began a playful, iconoclastic collaboration that resulted in the photograph at right, among others. Influenced by Dadaism, a cultural movement that rejected reason and logic in favor of anarchy and the absurd, their work embraced games of chance, performance, and wordplay. Here an irreverent Duchamp appears in women’s clothing as his alter ego, Rrose Sélavy, a pun on the French pronunciation “Eros, c’est la vie” (Sex, that’s life).


Lewis Carroll. 'Saint George and the Dragon' June 26, 1875


Lewis Carroll
‘Saint George and the Dragon’
June 26, 1875


Man Ray. 'Tears' 1930 - 1932


Man Ray
1930 – 1932


Eileen Cowin. 'Untitled' from the series Family Docudrama 1980 - 1983


Eileen Cowin
‘Untitled‘ from the series Family Docudrama
1980 – 1983



Imaginary Subjects

A number of photographs in the exhibition explore the medium’s capacity to visualize subjects of the imagination by using darkroom trickery to manipulate prints.
An optician and family man, Ralph Eugene Meatyard photographed his children, friends, and neighbors enacting dramas in suburban backyards and abandoned buildings near his Lexington, Kentucky, home. He often used experimental techniques, such as multiple exposures and blurred motion. Uncanny details imbue Meatyard’s otherwise ordinary vernacular scenes with the qualities of a dream or supernatural vision.

Theatricality as a Critical Strategy

In recent decades there has been renewed interest in theatricality among contemporary photographers whose highly artificial scenes critique mainstream media and representation.
In her series Family Docudrama Eileen Cowin blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction, and private behavior and public performance. Drawing equally from family snapshots and soap operas, Cowin presents staged domestic scenes in which she and members of her family, including her identical twin sister, perform as actors. In these ambiguous, open-ended narratives, dramatic moments are exaggerated, and the camera’s glare is ever present.”

Text from The Getty Museum website


Lucas Samaras. 'Photo-Transformation' November 22, 1973


Lucas Samaras
November 22, 1973


Lucas Samaras. 'Photo-Transformation' September 9, 1976


Lucas Samaras
September 9, 1976


Ralph Eugene Meatyard. 'Untitled (Michael and Christopher Meatyard)' 1966


Ralph Eugene Meatyard
‘Untitled (Michael and Christopher Meatyard)’


Joel Peter-Witkin. 'Mother and Child (with Retractor, Screaming)' 1979


Joel Peter-Witkin
‘Mother and Child (with Retractor, Screaming)’



The Getty Museum at the Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

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

The Getty Museum website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

July 2017
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