Posts Tagged ‘John Baldessari


Exhibition: ‘Cosa Mentale: Art and Telepathy in the 20th century’ at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, Paris

Exhibition dates: 28th October 2015 – 28th March 2016


Louis Darget. 'Fluidic Thought-Image Photography' 1896


Louis Darget (French, 1847-1923)
Fluidic Thought-Image Photography

(L) Inscribed: “Photo… of thought. Head obtained by Mr. Henning, having a plate wrapped in black paper on his forehead while he played the piano. Opposite him on the piano was a portrait of Beethoven. Could this be that [same] portrait reflected by the brain onto the plate through the black paper. Comt. Darget”

(R) “Photograph of a Dream: The Eagle.” 25 June, 1896.
Inscribed: “Obtained by placing a photographic plate above the forehead of Mme Darget while she was asleep.”



Telepathic art in the 20th century. What a fascinating subject for a spiritual, phantasmagoric exhibition which explores artists’ fascination with the direct transmission of thought and emotion. A lot of phenomena – for example telepathy, X-rays, psychoanalysis – were named or discovered in the last half of the nineteenth century or are concepts and things that began to gain popularity in the collective consciousness at that time, such as the unconscious mind, the anima and animus, the study of signs, photographs of thought, photographs of hysteria (Charcot) and notes and photographs on unexplained paranormal experiences.

“The exhibition enables the spectator to understand how, throughout the 20th century, attempts to give material and visible form to thought processes coincide with the experiments of avant-garde artists. This fantasy of a direct projection of thought not only had a decisive impact on the birth of abstraction but also influenced surrealism and its obsession with the collective sharing of creation and, in the post war period, it gave rise to numerous visual and sound installations inspired by the revolution in information technology, leading to the declaration of “the dematerialisation of art” in conceptual practices.”

Love the work of Émile Cohl and Len Lye, both a revelation to me.


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



Edvard Munch. 'Madonna' 1895


Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863-1944)
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’Art moderne
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian


Odilon Redon. 'Portrait de Paul Gauguin' 1903-1906


Odilon Redon (French, 1840-1916)
Portrait of Paul Gauguin
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski



Émile Cohl (French, 1857-1938)
Le retapeur de cervelles (The creators brain)


Auguste Rodin. 'Le Penseur [The Thinker]' 1903


Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917)
Le Penseur [The Thinker]
Plâtre patiné / patinated plaster
72 x 37 x 57.50cm
© Photographe: Christian Baraja
© Musée Rodin, Paris



When conceived in 1880 in its original size (approx. 70cm) as the crowning element of The Gates of Hell, seated on the tympanum, The Thinker was entitled The Poet. He represented Dante, author of the Divine Comedy which had inspired The Gates, leaning forward to observe the circles of Hell, while meditating on his work. The Thinker was therefore initially both a being with a tortured body, almost a damned soul, and a free-thinking man, determined to transcend his suffering through poetry. The pose of this figure owes much to Carpeaux’s Ugolino (1861) and to the seated portrait of Lorenzo de Medici carved by Michelangelo (1526-31).

While remaining in place on the monumental Gates of Hell, The Thinker was exhibited individually in 1888 and thus became an independent work. Enlarged in 1904, its colossal version proved even more popular: this image of a man lost in thought, but whose powerful body suggests a great capacity for action, has became one of the most celebrated sculptures ever known. Numerous casts exist worldwide, including the one now in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, a gift to the City of Paris installed outside the Panthéon in 1906, and another in the gardens of Rodin’s house in Meudon, on the tomb of the sculptor and his wife.

Text from the Rodin Museum website [Online] Cited 22/03/2016. No longer available online


Stephen Haweis and Henry Coles. 'Le Penseur' c. 1903-1904


Stephen Haweis (British, 1878-1969) and Henry Coles
Le Penseur
c. 1903-1904
Epreuve au charbon / Charcoal
23 x 16.60cm
© Musée Rodin, Paris



Cosa Mentale  is a unique exhibition that offers a re-reading of the history or art from 1990 to modern day by exploring artists’ fascination with the direct transmission of thought and emotion. It invites the spectator to re-live one of the unexpected adventures of modernity: telepathic art in the 20th century. This exhibition traces a chronological path from symbolism to conceptual art with a collection of some one hundred works by major artists, ranging from Edvard Munch to Vassily Kandinsky, and from Joan Miró to Sigmar Polke. These artists provide innovative ways of communicating with spectators that take us beyond conventional linguistic codes.

The exhibition enables the spectator to understand how, throughout the 20th century, attempts to give material and visible form to thought processes coincide with the experiments of avant-garde artists. This fantasy of a direct projection of thought not only had a decisive impact on the birth of abstraction but also influenced surrealism and its obsession with the collective sharing of creation and, in the post war period, it gave rise to numerous visual and sound installations inspired by the revolution in information technology, leading to the declaration of “the dematerialisation of art” in conceptual practices.

The exhibition begins with the invention of the term “telepathy” in 1882, at a time when the study of psychology interacted with rapid developments in telecommunications. Endeavours ranged from the creation of “photographs of thought” in 1895 to the first “encephalograms” in 1924 (the year when the Surrealist Manifesto was published) and it was the actual activity of the brain which was to be shown in all its transparency, which encouraged artists to reject the conventions of representation by suppressing all restrictions of translation. Telepathy was far from remaining an obscure paranormal fantasy and consistently intrigued and enthralled artists throughout the 20th century. Always present in the world of science fiction, it resurfaced in psychedelic and conceptual art in the period from 1960 to 1970 before reappearing today in contemporary practices enraptured by technologies of “shared knowledge” and the rapid development of neuroscience.



Pascal Rousseau, professor of contemporary history of art at the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne. Pascal Rousseau has also curated Robert Delaunay exhibitions: From impressionism to abstraction, 1906-1914, at the Centre Pompidou (1999) and To the origins of abstraction (1800-1914) at the Musée d’Orsay (2003).

Press release from the Centre Pompidou-Metz


Joan Miró. 'La Sieste' July-September 1925


Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983)
La Sieste
July – September 1925
© Successió Miró/ ADAGP, Paris, 2015


Vassily Kandinsky. 'Bild mit rotem Fleck [Tableau à la tache rouge / Image with red spot]' 25 February 1914


Vassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944)
Bild mit rotem Fleck [Tableau à la tache rouge / Image with red spot]
25 February 1914
Paris, Centre Pompidou – Musée national d’art moderne
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Adam Rzepka


Frantisek Kupka. 'Facture robuste' 1920


Frantisek Kupka (Czech, 1871-1957)
Facture robuste
Strasbourg, Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain
© ADAGP, Paris, 2015
© Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Faujour



Len Lye (New Zealand/America, 1901-1980)
10 min. 5 sec.



As a student, Lye became convinced that motion could be part of the language of art, leading him to early (and now lost) experiments with kinetic sculpture, as well as a desire to make film. Lye was also one of the first Pākehā artists to appreciate the art of Māori, Australian Aboriginal, Pacific Island and African cultures, and this had great influence on his work. In the early 1920s Lye travelled widely in the South Pacific. He spent extended periods in Australia and Samoa, where he was expelled by the New Zealand colonial administration for living within an indigenous community.

Working his way as a coal trimmer aboard a steam ship, Lye moved to London in 1926. There he joined the Seven and Five Society, exhibited in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition and began to make experimental films. Following his first animated film Tusalava, Lye began to make films in association with the British General Post Office, for the GPO Film Unit. He reinvented the technique of drawing directly on film, producing his animation for the 1935 film A Colour Box, an advertisement for “cheaper parcel post”, without using a camera for anything except the title cards at the beginning of the film. It was the first direct film screened to a general audience. It was made by painting vibrant abstract patterns on the film itself, synchronising them to a popular dance tune by Don Baretto and His Cuban Orchestra. A panel of animation experts convened in 2005 by the Annecy film festival put this film among the top ten most significant works in the history of animation (his later film Free Radicals was also in the top 50).

Text from the Wikipedia website


Rudolf Steiner. 'Untitled (drawing on blackboard at a conference of 14 May 1924)' Dornach, 14 May 1924


Rudolf Steiner (Austrian, 1861-1925)
Untitled (drawing on blackboard at a conference of 14 May 1924)
Dornach, 14 May 1924
Chalk on black paper
Rudolf Steiner Archive, Dornach
© Rudolf Steiner Archiv, Dornach
© ADAGP, Paris, 2015



A room of the exhibition features ten blackboards by Rudolf Steiner. They are the instructions of a new design language that the artist wants to develop. Steiner believes in the development of a supersensible consciousness, a big change for the future of humanity. He gives many lectures in which he details his research on the concept of transmission and its influence on the social. Whether true or not, artists such as Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky and others are interested in the complex graphics of Steiner and his research. Mondrian will even write: “Art is a way of development of mankind.”

Text from the Culture Box website translated from the French


Victor Brauner. 'Signe' 1942-45


Victor Brauner (Romanian, 1903-1966)
© ADAGP, Paris, 2015



Exhibition layout


The exhibition starts with a version of the famous figure of Rodin’s Thinker, set off against a sequence of seven photographs from the start of the century, in which the Pictorialist dimension seems to attempt to show lighting emissions produced by the cerebral concentration of the subject. This collection is presented opposite TV Rodin, a video installation created by the artist Nam June Paik who, in the 1970s, reinterpreted electromagnetic animation of closed-circuit thought, when interest in cybernetics was at its peak.



The direct visualisation of thought and emotional states and the impact of this on the beginnings of abstraction at the start of the 20th century.

The first room focuses on the passion during the century for “photography of thought.” As a direct response to the discovery of radiography by Röntgen, in 1895, numerous amateur researchers attempted to produce images of the brain on photosensitive plates. Since it was possible to see through opaque bodies, why not try to see through the skull, which was now transparent? A curiosity cabinet presents the photographic experiments of Hippolyte Baraduc and Louis Darget with “psychic ones” or “images of thought.” This selection of photographs interacts with two film animation extracts by Émile Cohl, showing, with some humour, the direct projection of thought onto the big screen with the arrival of the cinema.

In the second room, a collection of engravings from the theosophical works of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, presented by the American artist Christian Sampson, reveals the close relationship between the representation of emotional states (thought-patterns) and early abstract painting. They inspired many pioneers of abstract painters, including Kupka and Kandinsky. A group of auras and halos is shown, associated with a colour code for different effects, captured by Kandinsky in order to paint authentic abstract (auto) portraits. In the same vein, paintings by Wilhelm Morgner, Janus de Winter and Jacob Bendien present “psychic portraits” which illustrate a psychological range of emotions by means of chromatic signs.

The third room presents a sequence of ten “blackboards” by Rudolph Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy (the “science of the mind” that was a major influence on some of the members of the avant-garde abstract movement), showing how he developed his theories of the “mental body” and “psychic force”. Next to this is a collection of watercolours by the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, a pioneer of abstract art. Around this area a multimedia installation by the artist Tony Oursler has been specially created for this exhibition reinterpreting the historical imagination of these “mental projections”.


Magnetic fields

The spread of telepathy in the inter-war period and its influence on surrealism.

In 1924, André Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto (1924) just when the neurologist Hans Berger invented the first electroencephalogram as a result of experimental research into telepathy: this being a less than accidental coincidence, relating to automated transcriptions of the mind. The “exquisite corpses” or “communicated drawings” of the surrealists are linked to experiments that took place at that time into the telepathic transfer of images.

The first room presents a sequence of photographs of the surrealist group in poses in which heads and bodies communicate with each other to produce a collective work under the mysterious influence of “magnetic fields.” Tusalava (1929), a film by the Australian artist Len Lye, illustrates the cinematographic solution found to make mental activity visible, in the form of abstract ideograms taken from aboriginal language.

The second room shows a collection of photographs from the 1920s, some of which are presented by the artist Frédéric Vaesen, relating to the materialisation of psychic entities, the famous “ectoplasms” which give a more tangible reality to imponderable thought. Next to this is a series of works by Joan Miró, in which the painter depicts coloured auras, including a mental map of emotional states, a “photograph of his dreams”.


Mind expander

With the reconstruction of the post war period, divided between the cybernetic model and psychedelic liberation, telepathy remained more than ever a creative horizon for artists in search of perception extended to the electromagnetic manifestations of consciousness.

The New Age spirit of the 1960s witnessed the curious revival of “photographs of thought” (Ted Serios and Salas Portugal), which influenced experimental cinema and psychedelic video (Jordan Belson), a well as some photographic practices (Anna and Bernhard Blume, Dieter Appelt, Suzanne Hiller, John Baldessari and Sigmar Polke).

Under the influence of psychotropic drugs or immersed in highly intense audiovisual devices, electric thought in motion is captured with a penetrating eye. Experimental and radical architectural patterns embody “expanded consciousness”, as is seen in the Mind Expander project (1967) by the Austrian group Haus Rucker Co, which invites the spectator to venture into “superception.” Music has its role here, with the rise in “biomusic” at the end of the 1960s, led by Alvin Lucier, Pierre Henry and David Rosenboom, who produced authentic “brain symphonies,” by means of the sound transcription of the activity of electric waves emitted by the brain, directly captured by electrodes.



The establishment of telepathic art in the 1970s influenced by conceptual practices.

On the margins of pop art, avant-garde artists in the 1970s produced a critique of both form and the art market, by means of strategies that emphasised language and sociological discourse. This also involved a major project in the dematerialisation of art works in which telepathy could be an ideal model for a new non-standard form of communication.

The American artist Robert Morris produced his own Autoportrait in the form of an encephalogram (EEG Portrait) at the same time as his compatriot Robert Barry, a central figure in conceptual art, produced Telepathic Pieces (1969) and Vito Acconci explored extra sensory perception through the form of video (Remote Control, 1971). Against this backdrop, we see considerable new interest in a utopia of shared creation (Robert Filliou and Marina Abramovic) in the era of global communication and the “noosphere” prophetically declared by Teilhard de Chardin and Marshall McLuhan.

The exhibition ends with a vast installation by the artist Fabrice Hyber, a major figure of contemporary art in France, with experimental telepathic booths, paintings, drawings and “prototypes of operating objects” (POF). Hyber invites the spectator to participate, alone or in groups, in an experience which has several surprises, reminding us how, today, under the influence of information networks, neuroscience and the globalised internet, telepathy (ultra democratic and utopian yet also obscure) is more topical than ever and can be explored by artists with the same spirit of derision or anticipation.

Press release from the Centre Pompidou-Metz


Haus-Rucker-Co. Laurids, Zamp and Pinter with 'Environment Transformern (Flyhead, Viewatomizer and Drizzler)' 1968, from the 'Mind Expander project'


Haus-Rucker-Co (Viennese, founded 1967)
Laurids, Zamp and Pinter with Environment Transformern (Flyhead, Viewatomizer and Drizzler)
From the Mind Expander project
Photo: Gert Winkler



Taking their cue from the Situationist’s ideas of play as a means of engaging citizens, Haus-Rucker-Co created performances where viewers became participants and could influence their own environments, becoming more than just passive onlookers. These installations were usually made from pneumatic structures such as Oase No. 7 (1972), which was created for Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany. An inflatable structure emerged from the façade of an existing building creating a space for relaxation and play, of which contemporary echoes can be found in the ‘urban reserves’ of Santiago Cirugeda. The different versions of the Mind Expander series (1967-69), consisted of various helmets that could alter the perceptions of those wearing them, for example the ‘Fly Head’ disoriented the sight and hearing of the wearer to create an entirely new apprehension of reality; it also produced one of their most memorable images.

Haus-Rucker-Co’s installations served as a critique of the confined spaces of bourgeois life creating temporary, disposable architecture, whilst their prosthetic devices were designed to enhance sensory experience and highlight the taken-for-granted nature of our senses, seen also in the contemporaneous work of the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark. Contemporary versions of such work can be found in the pneumatic structures favoured by Raumlabor and Exyzt.

Anonymous text from the Spatial Agency website [Online] Cited 22/03/2016.


Installation view of Haus-Rucker-Co, 'Mindexpander 1' 1967 in the exhibition 'Cosa mentale' at the Centre Pompidou-Metz


Installation view of Haus-Rucker-Co, Mindexpander 1 1967 in the exhibition Cosa mentale at the Centre Pompidou-Metz.
Photo Pompidou Centre. MNAM CCI-distrib. RMN / G. Meguerditchian.



In 1968, the Austrian collective Haus-Rucker-Co designed the Mind Expander as an immersive capsule propelling the audience into a new mode of perception of reality: the “Superception”. This, then, is a synthesis of avant-garde utopias, throughout the twentieth century, influenced by the imagination that gave rise to the development of telecommunications, seeking to develop a way of live transmission of emotion. Its aim was to invent a new, immediate, relationship between the artist and the viewer.


Haus-Rucker-Co. 'Mind Expander' 1967


Haus-Rucker-Co (Viennese, founded 1967)
Mind Expander
1967 Vienna
Epreuve gélatino-argentique
Photo: Michael Plitz. Haus-Rucker-Co.


David Rosenboom. 'Portable Gold and Philosophers' Stones in Paris 1' 1975


David Rosenboom (American, b. 1947)
Portable Gold and Philosophers’ Stones in Paris 1
© David Rosenboom 1975
All rights reserved



Pianist-composer J.B. Floyd, a long-time collaborator with David Rosenboom is seen with electrodes attached to his head while performing a solo version of Rosenboom’s brainwave music composition Portable Gold and Philosophers’ Stones at Centre Culturel Americain in Paris on 7 January 1975. The equipment shown includes a brainwave monitoring device and an ARP 2600 Synthesizer. The performance occurred simultaneously with a lecture given by David Rosenboom in a presentation titled Biofeedback and the Arts. Artist Jacqueline Humbert, who also participated in the performance, is seated off to the right of the picture frame.


Nam June Paik. 'TV Rodin' 1976-1978 (detail)


Nam June Paik (American, 1932-2006)
TV Rodin (detail)
Plaster, video camera, tripod, monitor, pedestal
132 x 110 x 115 cm



Long considered the most important video artist since the advent of the form in the late 1960s, Nam June Paik’s TV Rodin is one of several related works that involve sculpture – in this case, a cast of Auguste Rodin’s Thinker, studying itself in a small video monitor via closed circuit television. As museum visitors walk around the work and look over the sculpture’s shoulder, their image also appears on the screen. Paik’s influential vision of television as a global cultural force found intelligent and witty form in his videotapes, video sculptures, and intercontinental satellite performances.

Text from the Carnegie Museum of Art website [Online] Cited 22/03/2016.


Nam June Paik. 'TV Rodin' 1976-1978


Nam June Paik (American, 1932-2006)
TV Rodin
Plaster, video camera, tripod, monitor, pedestal
132 x 110 x 115cm
Photo: Primae / Claude Germain. The Estate of Nam June Paik


Marina Abramovic and Ulay. 'That Self - Point of Contact' 1980


Marina Abramovic (Serbian, b. 1946) and Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) (German, 1943-2020)
That Self – Point of Contact
Performance au De Appel Art Centre, Amsterdam
© Adagp, Paris 2015
Courtesy Marina Abramovic Archives


Sigmar Polke. 'Untitled (Blue)' 1992


Sigmar Polke (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled (Blue)
Set of 10 Cibachromes trials
61 x 51cm
The estate of Sigmar Polke / ADAGP, Paris, 2015


Fabrice Hyber. 'screen+télépathy' 2013


Fabrice Hyber (French, b. 1961)
Watercolour, charcoal on paper
76 x 57cm
Collection of the artist
© Photographie Marc Domage


Susan Hiller. 'Homage to Marcel Duchamp: Aura (Blue Boy)' 2011


Susan Hiller (American, 1940-2019)
Homage to Marcel Duchamp: Aura (Blue Boy)
© Susan Hiller



Centre Pompidou-Metz
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Exhibition: ‘Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 25th June 2013 – 26th January 2014


John Baldessari (American, born National City, California, 1931) 'Hands Framing New York Harbor' 1971


John Baldessari (American, 1931-2020)
Hands Framing New York Harbor
Gelatin silver print
25.4 x 18.0cm (10 x 7 1/16 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992
Shunk-Kender © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation



Epiphany: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

Stephen Shore’s photographs seem the most insightful epiphanies in this posting, picturing as they do “what he ate, the rest stops he visited, the people he met.” In other words, the wor(l)d as he saw it.


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



“With the unspoken rules that exhibitions in the Met’s contemporary photography gallery must be drawn exclusively from the museum’s permanent collection and be organised as surveys of the period from the late 1960s to the present, it’s no wonder that these long running shows are often so broad that their themes seem to dissolve into edited collections of everything. The newest selection of images is tied up under the umbrella of “everyday epiphanies”, a construct that implies a delight in the ordinary, the quotidian, or the familiar, but in fact, reaches outward beyond these routine boundaries to works that have a wide variety of conceptual underpinnings and points of view. With some effort, it’s possible to follow the logic of why each piece has been included here, but when seen together, the diversity of the works on view diminishes the show’s ability to deliver any durable insights… The works that function best inside this theme are those that capture moments of unexpected, elemental elegance, often as a result of the way the camera sees the world.”

Loring Knoblauch. “Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969 @Met,” on the Collector Daily website August 14, 2013 [Online] Cited 20/01/2014



Martha Rosler (American) 'Semiotics of the Kitchen' (still) 1975


Martha Rosler (American, b. 1943)
Semiotics of the Kitchen (still)
Purchase, Henry Nias Foundation Inc. Gift, 2010
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York


Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012) 'Untitled' 1980


Jan Groover (American, 1943-2012)
Platinum print
19.0 x 24.0cm (7 1/2 x 9 7/16 in.)
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1981
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Jan Groover


Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953) 'Untitled (Man Smoking)' 1990


Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953)
Untitled (Man Smoking)
From the Kitchen Table Series
Gelatin silver print
Image: 71.8 × 71.8cm (28 1/4 × 28 1/4 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York


Erica Baum (American, born New York, 1961) 'Buzzard' 2009


Erica Baum (American, b. 1961) 
Inkjet print
22.9 x 22.9cm (9 x 9 in.)
Purchase, Marian and James H. Cohen Gift, in memory of their son, Michael Harrison Cohen, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Erica Baum



Since the birth of photography in 1839, artists have used the medium to explore subjects close to home – the quotidian, intimate, and overlooked aspects of everyday existence. Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969, an exhibition of 40 works at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, presents photographs and videos from the last four decades that examine these ordinary moments. The exhibition features photographs by a wide range of artists including John Baldessari, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Fischli & Weiss, Jan Groover, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Elizabeth McAlpine, Gabriel Orozco, David Salle, Robert Smithson, Stephen Shore, and William Wegman, as well as videos by Martha Rosler, Ilene Segalove, Brandon Lattu, and Svetlana and Igor Kopytiansky.

Daily life, as it had been lived in Western Europe and America since the 1950s, was called into question in the late 1960s by a counterculture that rebelled against the prior “cookie-cutter” lifestyle. Everything from feminism to psychedelic drugs to space exploration suggested a nearly infinite array of alternative ways to perceive reality; and artists and thinkers in the ’60s and ’70s proposed a “revolution of everyday life.” A four-part work by David Salle from 1973 exemplifies the artist’s flair for piquant juxtaposition at an early stage in his career. In depicting four women in bathrobes standing before their respective kitchen windows in contemplative states, Salle goes against the grain of feminist orthodoxy – revealing a penchant for courting controversy that he would expand in his later paintings; pasted underneath the black-and-white images of the women are brightly coloured labels of their preferred coffee brands, with the arbitrarily differentiated brands signifying an insufficient substitute for true freedom in the postwar era. Martha Rosler’s bracingly caustic video Semiotics of the Kitchen and Ilene Segalove’s wistfully funny The Mom Tapes complete a trio of works investigating the role of women in a rapidly changing society.

In the 1980s, artists’ renewed interest in conventions of narrative and genre led to often highly staged or produced images that hint at how even our deepest feelings are mediated by the images that surround us. In the wake of the economic crash of the late 1980s, photographers focused increasingly on what was swept under the carpet – the repressed and the taboo. Sally Mann’s Jesse at Five (1987) depicts the artist’s daughter as the central figure, half-dressed, dolled-up, and posed like an adult. Mann often created these frank images of her children and caused some controversy during the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, her photographs of her children are remarkable for the artist’s assured handling of a potentially explosive subject with equanimity and grace.

During the following decade, artists created photographs and videos that confused the real and the imaginary in ways that almost eerily predicted the epistemological quandaries posed by the digital revolution. Meanwhile, a trio of recently made works by Erica Baum, Elizabeth McAlpine, and Brandon Lattu combine process and product in novel ways to comment obliquely on the shifting sands of how we come to know the world in our digital age.

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website


Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, born 1952) 'Untitled' 1997


Jean-Marc Bustamante (French, b. 1952) 
Chromogenic print
40 x 59cm (15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert  Menschel, 1999
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Jean-Marc Bustamante


Nan Goldin (American, born 1953) 'Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC' 1980


Nan Goldin (American, b. 1953)
Heart-Shaped Bruise, NYC
Silver dye bleach print
50.8 x 60.96cm (20 x 24 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert  Menschel, 2001
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Nan Goldin, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York


Larry Sultan (American, 1946-2009) 'My Father Reading the Newspaper' 1989


Larry Sultan (American, 1946-2009)
My Father Reading the Newspaper
Chromogenic print
Stewart S. MacDermott Fund, 1991
© Larry Sultan


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born 1962) 'Caja vacia de zapatos' (Empty shoebox) 1993


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, b. 1962)
Caja vacia de zapatos (Empty shoebox)
Silver dye bleach print
31.8 x 46.4cm (12 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.)
Gift of the artist, 1995
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Gabriel Orozco


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born Jalapa Enriquez, 1962) 'Vitral' 1998


Gabriel Orozco (Mexican, born Jalapa Enriquez, b. 1962)
Silver dye bleach print
40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)
Purchase, The Judith Rothschild Foundation Gift, 1999
© Gabriel Orozco


Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'Oklahoma City, Oklahoma' July 9, 1972


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
July 9, 1972
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, 1974
© Stephen Shore



As a teenager in the 1960s, Shore was one of two in-house photographers at Andy Warhol’s Factory. During his first cross-country photographic road trip, Shore adopted the catholic approach of his mentor, accepting into his art everything that came along – what he ate, the rest stops he visited, the people he met. He then processed his colour film as “drugstore prints”, the imprecise, colloquial term for the kind of amateur non-specialised snapshots that filled family photo albums. The entire series of 229 prints was shown for the first time in 1974 and acquired by the Metropolitan from that exhibition.


Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'West Palm Beach, Florida' January 1973


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
West Palm Beach, Florida
January 1973
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, 1974
© Stephen Shore


Stephen Shore (American, born 1947) 'Clovis, New Mexico' 1974


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
Clovis, New Mexico
From the series American Surfaces
Chromogenic print
Gift of Weston J. Naef, Jr., 1974
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
© Stephen Shore



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Exhibition: ‘The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook’ at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 18th April 2012 – 29th April 2013


Josef Albers. 'Marli Heimann, Alle während 1 Stunde (Marli Heimann, All During an Hour)' 1931


Josef Albers (German, 1888-1976)
Marli Heimann, Alle während 1 Stunde (Marli Heimann, All During an Hour)
Twelve gelatin silver prints
Overall 11 11/16 x 16 7/16″ (29.7 x 41.8cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of The Josef Albers Foundation, Inc.
© 2012 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Another fascinating exhibition and a bumper posting to boot (pardon the pun!)

A panoply of famous photographers along with a few I had never heard of before (such as Georges Hugnet) are represented in this posting. As the press blurb states, through “key photographic projects, experimental films, and photobooks, The Shaping of New Visions offers a critical reassessment of photography’s role in the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde movements, and in the development of contemporary artistic practices.”

The large exhibition seems to have a finger in every pie, wandering from the birth of the 20th-century modern metropolis, through “New Vision” photography in the 1920s, experimental film, Surrealism, Constructivism and New Objectivity, Dada, Rayographs, photographic avant-gardism, photocollages, photomontages, street photography of the  1960s, colour slide projection performance, through New Topographics, self-published books, and conceptual photography, featuring works that reevaluate the material and contextual definitions of photography. “The final gallery showcases major installations by a younger generation of artists whose works address photography’s role in the construction of contemporary history.”

Without actually going to New York to see the exhibition (I wish!!) – from a distance it does seem a lot of ground to cover within 5 galleries even if there are 250 works. You could say this is a “meta” exhibition, drawing together themes and experiments from different areas of photography with rather a long bow. Have a look at the The Shaping of New Visions exhibition checklist to see the full listing of what’s on show and you be the judge. There are some rare and beautiful images that’s for sure. From the photographs in this posting I would have to say the distorted “eyes” have it…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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




László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Ein Lichtspiel: schwarz weiss grau (A Lightplay: Black White Gray) (excerpt)



This short film made by László Moholy-Nagy is based on the shadow patterns created by his Light-Space Modulator, an early kinetic sculpture consisting of a variety of curved objects in a carefully choreographed cycle of movements. Created in 1930, the film was originally planned as the sixth and final part of a much longer work depicting the new space-time.



Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler
Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive



In 1920 Paul Strand and artist Charles Sheeler collaborated on Manhatta, a short silent film that presents a day in the life of lower Manhattan. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s book Leaves of Grass, the film includes multiple segments that express the character of New York. The sequences display a similar approach to the still photography of both artists. Attracted by the cityscape and its visual design, Strand and Sheeler favored extreme camera angles to capture New York’s dynamic qualities. Although influenced by Romanticism in its view of the urban environment, Manhatta is considered the first American avant-garde film.



Dziga Vertov (Russian, 1896-1954)
Chelovek s kinoapparatom (Man with a Movie Camera)
1 hr 6 mins 49 secs



Excerpt from a camera operators diary
This film is an experiment in cinematic communication of real events
Without the help of Intertitles
Without the help of a story
Without the help of theatre
This experimental work aims at creating a truly international language of cinema based on its absolute separation from the language of theatre and literature


Eleanor Antin. '100 Boots' 1971-1973

Eleanor Antin. '100 Boots' 1971-1973

Eleanor Antin. '100 Boots' 1971-1973


Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 Boots
Photographed by Philip Steinmetz
Halftone reproductions on 51 cards
4 1/2 x 7 in. each
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
© Eleanor Antin


August Sander. 'Das rechte Auge meiner Tochter Sigrid (The Right Eye of My Daughter Sigrid)' 1928


August Sander (German, 1876-1964)
Das rechte Auge meiner Tochter Sigrid (The Right Eye of My Daughter Sigrid)
Gelatin silver print
7 1/16 x 9″ (17.9 x 22.9cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of the photographer
© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn


Dziga Vertov. 'Chelovek s kinoapparatom (Man with a Movie Camera)' (still) 1929


Dziga Vertov (Russian, 1896-1954)
Chelovek s kinoapparatom (Man with a Movie Camera) (still)
35mm film
65 min ( black and white, silent)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Department of Film


Man Ray. 'Rayograph' 1922


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Gelatin silver print (photogram)
9 3/8 x 11 3/4″ (23.9 x 29.9cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of James Thrall Soby
© 2012 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


William Klein (American, born 1928) 'Gun, Gun, Gun, New York' 1955


William Klein (American, b. 1928)
Gun, Gun, Gun, New York 
Gelatin silver print
10 1/4 x 13 5/8″ (26 x 34.6 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Arthur and Marilyn Penn


Georges Hugnet (French, 1906-1974) 'Untitled [Surrealist beach collage]' c. 1935


Georges Hugnet (French, 1906-1974)
Untitled [Surrealist beach collage]
c. 1935
Collage of photogravure, lithograph, chromolithograph and gelatin silver prints on gelatin silver print
11 7/8 x 9 7/16″ (30.2 x 24cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Timothy Baum in memory of Harry H. Lunn, Jr.


Martha Rosler. 'Red Stripe Kitchen' 1967-1972


Martha Rosler (American, b. 1943)
Red Stripe Kitchen
From the series Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful 
Pigmented inkjet print, printed 2011
23 3/4 x 18 1/8″ (60.3 x 46cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Purchase and The Modern Women’s Fund



The Museum of Modern Art draws from its collection to present the exhibition The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook on view from April 18, 2012, to April 29, 2013. Filling the third-floor Edward Steichen Photography Galleries, this installation presents more than 250 works by approximately 90 artists, with a focus on new acquisitions and groundbreaking projects by Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Germaine Krull, Dziga Vertov, Gerhard Rühm, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Daido Moriyama, Robert Heinecken, Edward Ruscha, Martha Rosler, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Paul Graham, and The Atlas Group / Walid Raad. The exhibition is organised by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.

Punctuated by key photographic projects, experimental films, and photobooks, The Shaping of New Visions offers a critical reassessment of photography’s role in the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde movements, and in the development of contemporary artistic practices. The shaping of what came to be known as “new vision” photography in the 1920s bore the obvious influence of “lens-based” and “time-based” works. The first gallery begins with photographs capturing the birth of the 20th-century modern metropolis by Berenice Abbott, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz, presented next to the avant-garde film Manhatta (1921), a collaboration between Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler.

The 1920s were a period of landmark constructions and scientific discoveries all related to light – from Thomas Edison’s development of incandescent light to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and light speed. Man Ray began experimenting with photograms (pictures made by exposing objects placed on photosensitive paper to light) – which he renamed “rayographs” after himself – in which light was both the subject and medium of his work. This exhibition presents Man Ray’s most exquisite rayographs, alongside his first short experimental film, Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason, 1923), in which he extended the technique to moving images.

In 1925, two years after he joined the faculty of the Bauhaus school in Weimar Germany, László Moholy-Nagy published his influential book Malerei, Fotografie, Film (Painting, Photography, Film) – part of a series that he coedited with Bauhaus director Walter Gropius – in which he asserted that photography and cinema are heralding a “culture of light” that has overtaken the most innovative aspects of painting. Moholy-Nagy extolled photography and, by extension, film as the quintessential medium of the future. Moholy-Nagy’s interest in the movement of objects and light through space led him to construct Light-Space Modulator, the subject of his only abstract film, Ein Lichtspiel: schwarz weiss grau (A Lightplay: Black White Gray, 1930), which is presented in the exhibition next to his own photographs and those of Florence Henri.

The rise of photographic avant-gardism from the 1920s to the 1940s is traced in the second gallery primarily through the work of European artists. A section on Constructivism and New Objectivity features works by Paul Citroën, Raoul Hausmann, Florence Henri, Germaine Krull, El Lissitzky, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and August Sander. A special focus on Aleksandr Rodchenko underscores his engagement with the illustrated press through collaborations with Vladimir Mayakovsky and Sergei Tretyakov on the covers and layouts of Novyi LEF, the Soviet avant-garde journal of the “Left Front of the Arts,” which popularised the idea of “factography,” or the manufacture of innovative aesthetic facts through photomechanical processes. Alongside Rodchenko, film director Dziga Vertov redefined the medium of still and motion-picture photography with the concept of kino-glaz (cine-eye), according to which the perfectible lens of the camera led to the creation of a novel perception of the world. The exhibition features the final clip of Vertov’s 1929 experimental film Chelovek s kinoapparatom (Man with a Movie Camera), in which the eye is superimposed on the camera lens to form an indivisible apparatus fit to view, process, and convey reality, all at once. This gallery also features a selection of Dada and Surrealist works, including rarely seen photographs, photocollages, and photomontages by Hans Bellmer, Claude Cahun, George Hugnet, André Kertész, Jan Lukas, and Grete Stern, alongside such avant-garde publications as Documents and Littérature.

The third gallery features artists exploring the social world of the postwar period. On view for the first time is a group of erotic and political typo-collages by Gerhard Rühm, a founder of the Wiener Gruppe (1959-1960), an informal group of Vienna-based writers and artists who engaged in radical visual dialogues between pictures and texts. The rebels of street photography – Robert Frank, William Klein, Daido Moriyama, and Garry Winogrand – are represented with a selection of works that refute the then prevailing rules of photography, offering instead elliptical, off-kilter styles that are as personal and controversial as are their unsparing views of postwar society. A highlight of this section is the pioneering slide show Projects: Helen Levitt in Color (1971-1974). Capturing the lively beat, humour, and drama of New York’s street theatre, Levitt’s slide projection is shown for the first time at MoMA since its original presentation at the Museum in 1974.

Photography’s tradition in the postwar period continues in the fourth gallery, which is divided into two sections. One section features “new topographic” works by Robert Adams, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld, along with a selection of Edward Ruscha’s self-published books, in which the use of photography as mapmaking signals a conceptual thrust. This section introduces notable works from the 1970s by artists who embraced photography not just as a way of describing experience, but as a conceptual tool. Examples include Eleanor Antin’s 100 Boots (1971-1973), Mel Bochner’s Misunderstandings (A theory of photography) (1970), VALIE EXPORT’s Einkreisung (Encirclement) (1976), On Kawara’s I Got Up… (1977), and Gordon Matta-Clark’s Splitting (1974), all works that reevaluate the material and contextual definitions of photography. The other section features two major and highly experimental recent acquisitions: Martha Rosler’s political magnum opus Bringing the War Home (1967-72), developed in the context of her anti-war and feminist activism, for which the artist spliced together images of domestic bliss clipped from the pages of House Beautiful with grim pictures of the war in Vietnam taken from Life magazine; and Sigmar Polke’s early 1970s experiments with multiple exposures, reversed tonal values, and under-and-over exposures, which underscore the artist’s idea that “a negative is never finished.” The unmistakably cinematic turn that photography takes in the 1980s and early 1990s is represented with a selection of innovative works ranging from Robert Heinecken’s Recto/Verso (1988) to Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s breakthrough Hustler series (1990-92).

The final gallery showcases major installations by a younger generation of artists whose works address photography’s role in the construction of contemporary history. Tapping into forms of archival reconstitution, The Atlas Group / Walid Raad is represented with My Neck Is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines (1996-2004), an installation of 100 pictures of car-bomb blasts in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) that provokes questions about the factual nature of existing records, the traces of war, and the symptoms of trauma. A selection from Harrell Fletcher’s The American War (2005) brings together bootlegged photojournalistic pictures of the U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia, throwing into sharp focus photography’s role as a documentary and propagandistic medium in the shaping of historical memory. Jules Spinatsch’s Panorama: World Economic Forum, Davos (2003), made of thousands of still images and three surveillance video works, chronicles the preparations for the 2003 World Economic Forum, when the entire Davos valley was temporarily transformed into a high security zone. A selection of Paul Graham’s photographs from his major photobook project a shimmer of possibility (2007), consisting of filmic haikus about everyday life in today’s America, concludes the exhibition.

Press release from the MoMA website


On Kawara. 'I Got Up At...' 1974-75


On Kawara (Japanese, 1932-2014)
I Got Up At…
(Ninety postcards with printed rubber stamps)



The semi autobiographical I Got Up At… by On Kawara is a series of postcards sent to John Baldessari. Each card was sent from his location that morning detailing the time he got up. The time marked on each card varies drastically from day to day, the time stamped on each card is the time he left his bed as opposed to actually waking up. Kawara’s work often acts to document his existence in time, giving a material form to which is formally immaterial. The series has been repeated frequently sending the cards to a variety of friends and colleagues.


Philip-Lorca diCorcia. 'Marilyn; 28 Years Old; Las Vegas, Nevada; $30' 1990-92


Philip-Lorca diCorcia (American, b. 1951)
Marilyn; 28 Years Old; Las Vegas, Nevada; $30
Chromogenic colour print
24 x 35 15/16″ (61 x 91.4cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
E.T. Harmax Foundation Fund
© 2012 Philip-Lorca diCorcia, courtesy David Zwirner, New York


Helen Levitt. 'Projects: Helen Levitt in Color' 1971-74 (detail)

Helen Levitt. 'Projects: Helen Levitt in Color' 1971-74 (detail)


Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
Projects: Helen Levitt in Color (detail)
40 colour slides shown in continuous projection
Originally presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, September 26-October 20, 1974


Atlas Group, Walid Raad. 'My Neck is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines' 1996-2004 (detail)


Atlas Group, Walid Raad
My Neck is Thinner Than a Hair: Engines (detail)
100 pigmented inkjet prints
9 7/16 x 13 3/8″ (24 x 34cm) each
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Fund for the Twenty-First Century


Daido Moriyama. 'Entertainer on Stage, Shimizu' 1967


Daido Moriyama (Japanese, b. 1938)
Entertainer on Stage, Shimizu
Gelatin silver print
18 7/8 x 28″ (48.0 x 71.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of the photographer
© 2012 Daido Moriyama


VALIE EXPORT. 'Einkreisung (Encirclement)' 1976


VALIE EXPORT (Austrian, b. 1940)
Einkreisung (Encirclement)
From the series Körperkonfigurationen (Body Configurations)
Gelatin silver print with red ink
14 x 23 7/16″ (35.5 x 59.6cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Carl Jacobs Fund
© 2012 VALIE EXPORT / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VBK, Austria


Grete Stern. No. 1 from the series Sueños (Dreams) 1949


Grete Stern (German-Argentinian, 1904-1999)
No. 1 from the series Sueños (Dreams)
Gelatin silver print
10 1/2 x 9″ (26.6 x 22.9cm)
Latin American and Caribbean Fund through gift of Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis in honor of Adriana Cisneros de Griffin
© 2012 Horacio Coppola


Sigmar Polke. 'Untitled (Mariette Althaus)' c. 1975


Sigmar Polke (German, 1941-2010)
Untitled (Mariette Althaus)
c. 1975
Gelatin silver print (red toned)
9 1/4 x 11 13/16″ (23.5 x 30cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of Edgar Wachenheim III and Ronald S. Lauder
© 2012 Estate of Sigmar Polke / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany


Martha Rosler. 'Hands Up / Makeup' 1967-1972


Martha Rosler (American, b. 1943)
Hands Up / Makeup
From the series Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful
Pigmented inkjet print, printed 2011
23 3/4 x 13 15/16″ (60.4 x 35.4cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Purchase and The Modern Women’s Fund
© 2012 Martha Rosler


Robert Heinecken. 'Recto/Verso #2' 1988


Robert Heinecken (American, 1931-2006)
Recto/Verso #2
Silver dye bleach print
8 5/8 x 7 7/8″ (21.9 x 20cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Mr. and Mrs. Clark Winter Fund
© 2012 The Robert Heinecken Trust


Berenice Abbott. 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman' Negative c. 1930/Distortion c. 1950


Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman
Negative c. 1930/Distortion c. 1950
Gelatin silver print
12 3/4 x 10 1/8″ (32.6 x 25.7cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Frances Keech Fund in honor of Monroe Wheeler
© 2012 Berenice Abbott/Commerce Graphics


Raoul Hausmann. 'Untitled' February 1931


Raoul Hausmann (Austrian, 1886-1971)
February 1931
Gelatin silver print
5 3/8 x 4 7/16″ (13.6 x 11.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Thomas Walther Collection Gift of Thomas Walther
© 2012 Raoul Hausmann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


Claude Cahun. 'Untitled' c. 1928


Claude Cahun (French, 1894-1954)
c. 1928
Gelatin silver print
4 9/16 x 3 1/2″ (10 x 7.6cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Purchase and anonymous promised gift
© 2012 Estate of Claude Cahun


Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Sovetskoe foto (Soviet Photo)' No. 10 October 1927


Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Sovetskoe foto (Soviet Photo) No. 10
October 1927
10 3/8 x 7 1/4″ (26.3 x 18.4cm)
Publisher: Ogonek, Moscow
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Judith Rothschild Foundation



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Exhibition: ‘True Stories: American Photography from the Sammlung Moderne Kunst’ at Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich

Exhibition dates: 2nd March – 20th September 2012


Lewis Baltz (American, 1945-2014) 'Greenbrae' 1968


Lewis Baltz (American, 1945-2014)
from the series The Prototype Works
Vintage gelatin silver print
13.1 x 21.4cm
Sammlung Moderne Kunst in the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Acquired in 2011 by PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne e.V.
© Lewis Baltz



You can’t get much better than this to start a posting: Baltz, Friedlander, Winogrand, Nixon, Baldessari, Eggleston and Shore. I recall seeing my first vintage Stephen Shore at the American Dreams exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery last year. What a revelation. At the time I said,

“Two Stephen Shore chromogenic colour prints from 1976 where the colours are still true and have not faded. This was incredible – seeing vintage prints from one of the early masters of colour photography; noticing that they are not full of contrast like a lot of today’s colour photographs – more like a subtle Panavision or Technicolor film from the early 1960s. Rich, subtle, beautiful hues.”

You can get an idea of those colours in the image posted here. Like an early Panavision or Technicolor feature film.

Perhaps there is something to this analogue photography that digital will never be able to capture, let alone reproduce…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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


Lee Friedlander. 'Route 9W, New York' 1969


Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
Route 9W, New York
Gelatin silver print, Baryt paper (card)
20.4 x 30.5cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Lee Friedlander


Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) 'Los Angeles, California' 1969


Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984)
Los Angeles, California
Gelatin silver print (pre 1984)
21.8 x 32.8cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Estate of Garry Winogrand


Nicholas Nixon (American, b. 1947) 'View of State Street, Boston' 1976


Nicholas Nixon (American, b. 1947)
View of State Street, Boston
from the series Boston Views 1974-1976
Gelatin silver print, Baryt paper (card)
20.3 x 25.2cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Nicholas Nixon


John Baldessari. 'Man Running/Men Carrying Box' 1988-1990


John Baldessari (American, 1931-2020)
Man Running/Men Carrying Box
Gelatin silver prints, vinyl paint and shading in oil
Part 1: 121.3 x 118.6cm; Part 2: 121.3 x 146.6cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© John Baldessari


William Eggleston. 'Untitled' 1980


William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
The first of 15 works from the portfolio Troubled Waters
Dye transfer print
29.0 x 44.0cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Eggleston Artistic Trust


Stephen Shore. 'La Brea Avenue & Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California' 1975


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
La Brea Avenue & Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California
Chromogenic print, Kodak professional paper (1998)
20.4 x 25.5cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Stephen Shore



American photography forms an extensive and simultaneously top-quality focal point in the collection, of which a selected overview is now being exhibited for the first time. The main interest of young photographers, who have been examining changes in political, social and ecological aspects of everyday American life since the late 1960s, has been the American social landscape. They have developed new pictorial styles that define stylistic devices perceived as genuinely American while at the same time being internationally recognised. Whereas Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and Larry Clark, who are now considered classical modern photographers, have remained true to black-and-white photography, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore in particular have established colour photography as an artistically independent form of expression. The exhibition brings together around 100 works that, thanks to the Siemens Photography Collection and through acquisitions, bequests and donations, are now part of the museum’s holdings. True stories covers a spectrum from the street photography of the late 1960s to New Topographics and pictures by the New York photographer Zoe Leonard, taken just a few years ago.

“A new generation of photographers has directed the documentary approach toward more personal ends. Their work betrays a sympathy for the imperfection and frailties of society. Their aim has been not to reform life but to know it.” With the exhibition New Documents in spring 1967, John Szarkowski, the influential curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, rang in a new era in American photography. Those photographers represented, including Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand in addition to Diane Arbus, stood for a change in attitude within documentary photography that was conditioned exclusively by the subjective viewpoint of an individual’s reality. The object of photographic interest lay in the American social landscape and its conditions. It was less concerned with the natural landscape and its increasingly cultural reshaping than with the urban or urbanised space and how people move within it. In so doing, the New Documentarians rejected any obviously explanatory impetus, turning instead to the everyday and commonplace.

The exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape that was staged in the mid 1970s at the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, represented a countermovement to this subjective form of expression. Their protagonists, including Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Nicholas Nixon and Stephen Shore, also pleaded for a documentary approach and were influenced by figures such as Walker Evans und Robert Frank, but considered themselves rooted in the tradition of 19th-century topographical photography in particular. The prime initiator of this working method, that was expressly not governed by style, is the Los Angeles-based artist Ed Ruscha. Their central aim is a distanced and seemingly analytical depicition, free of judgement; their topic, the landscape altered by mankind. It is the image of the American West in particular, so much conditioned by myths and dreams but long since brought back to reality as a result of commercial and ecological exploitation, that is visible in their works.

The decisive quantum leap to establishing the position of colour photography was made by the Southerner William Eggleston in his exhibition in 1976, also held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the publication of the William Eggleston’s Guide. The harsh public criticism of his pictures was not to do with his use of colour but the fact that Eggleston photographed things and everyday situations – on the spur of the moment and in a seemingly careless manner – that, until then, had not been considered worthy of being photographed turning them into exquisite prints using the expensive and complicated dye-transfer process. In Eggleston’s cosmos of images that is strongly influenced by motifs and the light of the Mississippi Delta, colour constitutes the picture. The “rush of colour” championed by this exhibition led to the comprehensive implementation of colour photography in the field of artistic photography in the years that followed, starting in the USA and then in Europe – and especially in Germany.

An artistic attitude became established at the end of the 1970s that, with recourse to existing picture material from art, film, advertising and the mass media, formulated new pictorial concepts and, in the same breath, opened up traditional artistic and art-historical categories such as authorship, originality, uniqueness, intellectual property and authenticity to discussion. Appropriation Art owes its decisive influences to the artist John Baldessari, who lives and teaches in California. One of its most famous representatives is Richard Prince, who became famous in particular as a result of his artistic adaptation of advertising images. Concept art in the 1960s and ’70s similarly makes use of photography, both as part of an artistic practice using the most varied of materials and as a unique medium for documenting campaigns, happenings and performances. As works by Dan Graham and Zoe Leonard clearly show, the previously precisely delineated boundaries between photography that alludes to its own intrinsically, media-related history and the use of photography as an artistic strategy, have become more fluid.

Press release from the Pinakothek der Moderne website


Dan Graham. 'View Interior, New Highway Restaurant, Jersey City, N.J.,' (detail) 1967


Dan Graham (American, b. 1942)
View Interior, New Highway Restaurant, Jersey City, N.J., (detail)
1967 (printed 1996)
Each 50.6 x 76.2cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Dan Graham


William Eggleston from 'Southern Suite' (10-part series) 1981


William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
from Southern Suite (10-part series)
Dye transfer print
25.0 x 38.2cm
Sammlung Moderne Kunst in the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich. Acquired in 2006 through PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne e.V.
© Eggleston Artistic Trust


Larry Clark (American, b. 1943) 'Tulsa' 1972


Larry Clark (American, b. 1943)
Gelatin silver print
20.3 x 25.4cm (sheet)
Sammlung Moderne Kunst in the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich. Acquired in 2003 by PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne
© Larry Clark


Judith Joy Ross. 'Untitled' 1984 from the series 'Portraits at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.'


Judith Joy Ross (American, b. 1946)
from the series Portraits at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C. 1983-1984
Gelatin silver print on daylight printing-out paper, shading in gold (print 1996)
25.2 x 20.2cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© Judith Joy Ross


John Gossage. 'EL NEGRITO' 1997


John Gossage (American, b. 1946)
from the series There and Gone
Gelatin silver print, Baryt paper, screen print on photo mount card
55.4 x 45.0 cm
On permanent loan from Siemens AG, Munich, to the Sammlung Moderne Kunst since 2003
© John Gossage



Pinakothek Der Moderne
Barer Strasse 40

Opening hours:
Daily except Monday 10am – 6pm
Thursday 10am – 8pm

Pinakothek der Moderne website


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Exhibition: ‘Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles 1950-1980’ at Martin-Gropuis-Bau Berlin

Exhibition dates: 15th March – 10th June 2012

List of artists represented: Peter Alexander, John Altoon, Chuck Arnoldi, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Karl Benjamin, Ed Bereal, Tony Berlant, Wallace Berman, Marjorie Cameron, Cameron, Vija Celmins, Judy Chicago, Mary Corse, Ronald Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Laddie John Dill, Melvin Edwards, Frederick Eversley, Lorser Feitelson, Llyn Foulkes, Sam Francis, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, Frederick Hammersley, George Herms, David Hockney, Stephan von Huene, Craig Kauffman, Edward Kienholz, Helen Lundeberg, John Mason, Allan McCollum, John McLaughlin, Ron Miyashiro, Ed Moses, Lee Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian, Ken Price, Noah Purifoy, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Henry Takemoto, DeWain Valentine, Gordon Wagner, Norman Zammitt.



Ed Ruscha. 'Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas' 1963


Ed Ruscha (American, b. 1937)
Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas
Oil on Canvas
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Gift of James Meeker, Class of 1958, in memory of Lee English, Class of 1958, scholar, poet, athlete and friend to all



What a bumper posting – so much to enjoy and something for everyone!


Many thankx to Martin-Gropuis-Bau for allowing me to publish the artwork in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Betye Saar. 'The Phrenologer's Window' 1966


Betye Saar (African-American, b. 1926)
The Phrenologer’s Window
Assemblage of two panel wood frame with print and collage
Private Collection; courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY


Eleanor Antin. '100 BOOTS Move On' 1971-1973


Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 BOOTS Move On
Halftone reproduction
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© Eleanor Antin


Sam Francis. 'Berlin Red' 1969-1970


Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994)
Berlin Red
Acrylic on canvas
Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
© Sam Francis Foundation, Cailfornia / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012
Foto: bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB / Jörg P. Anders


Wallace Berman. 'Semina Cover with Wife (Photograph of Shirley Berman)' 1959


Wallace Berman (American, 1926-1976)
Semina Cover with Wife (Photograph of Shirley Berman)
Halftone reproduction on cardstock
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA



The exhibition project Pacific Standard Time – Art in Los Angeles, 1950-1980 traces the development of the Los Angeles art scene during the post-war period, when the city on the Pacific hosted an impressively varied and versatile art scene, thus proving that it was more than Hollywood and a sprawling metropolis in the land of sunshine and palm trees. Pacific Standard Time features such internationally esteemed artists as John Baldessari, David Hockney, Edward Kienholz or Ed Ruscha as well as protagonists that are yet to be discovered like the abstract painters Helen Lundeberg and Karl Benjamin, the ceramicists Ken Price and John Mason, and sculptors such as De Wain Valentine.

The mega show – over 60 institutions and galleries in Los Angeles were involved – is taking the two main core exhibitions of the Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute to Europe. The sole European venue is the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The section of the exhibition that was to be seen in Los Angeles’ Getty Museum under the title of Crosscurrents in L.A. – Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, presents painting and sculpture. In the second part that was to be seen in Los Angeles under the title of Greetings from L.A. – Artists and Publics, 1950-1980, posters, artists’ catalogues, postcards, invitation cards and other memorabilia are shown which offer a deeper insight into the networks of the Los Angeles art scene at that time. For Berlin the show has been supplemented to include photographs by Julius Shulman, whose architectural shots defined the image of the Californian lifestyle in the 1950s. His incomparable sensibility and intuitive feel for composition and the ‘critical moment’ established him as a master of his craft.


Part One: Crosscurrents

The first part of the Berlin show brings together more than 70 works by over 50 artists and traces the rise of the Southern Californian art scene between 1945 and 1980. The list of names reads like a Who’s Who of today’s internationally esteemed artists, as people like John Baldessari, David Hockney, Edward Kienholz, Bruce Nauman or Ed Ruscha began their careers here.

The entrée into Pacific Standard Time begins with British artist David Hockney’s iconic painting A Bigger Splash from the year 1967. It is one of the key pictures of the exhibition and stands for the hedonistic life under palm trees with permanent sunshine and never-ending parties.

The exhibition is structured both chronologically and thematically, comprising six sections that reflect the entire spectrum of the art trends that sprang up simultaneously in Los Angeles. Abstract works – ceramic sculptures and paintings of bleak clarity – are to be seen in the first section. The second section shows assemblage sculptures and collages by artists like George Herms, Wallace Berman and Ed Bereal, who paved the way for this artistic approach in the 1950s, and their successors, including many African-American artists. The third section documents the rise of Los Angeles to become an important art centre, while the fourth shows paintings by internationally recognised Los Angeles artists as Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney and Ed Ruscha. It becomes clear that Southern California was one of the leading centres for large-format pop art and abstract painting in the 1960s. The fifth section examines how, at a time when painting was growing in significance on the Atlantic Coast of the USA, artists on the West Coast were beginning to extend their notions of traditional painting and sculpture, with perceptual phenomena and the material processes of artistic production coming to the fore. Here we find works that have arisen out of a collision between art and technology, such as a sculpture by De Wain Valentine, who uses industrial materials like polyester casting resin, or a canvas by Mary Corse, into which the smallest, high-grade reflecting glass microspheres have been worked. We are also introduced to a group of artists whose works show traces of their creation, such as those of Joe Goode, Allan McCollum, Ed Moses and Peter Alexander.

Berlin is supplementing the Getty exhibition by devoting a special room to the early international perception of art in Los Angeles. It will feature the works Berlin Red by Sam Francis, a 8 x 12 metre painting that was commissioned by Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie in 1969, and Volksempfängers (People’s Wireless) by Edward Kienholz. As a DAAD scholar Kienholz often lived in Berlin from 1973 on.

Another distinctive feature of the exhibition are the various room installations, including Stuck Red and Stuck Blue by James Turrell and Four Corner Piece by Bruce Nauman. In 1966 Turrell began working on his Light Room installations. In the work displayed in the Martin-Gropius-Bau that he designed in 1970, he uses light to dissolve the borders of spatial structures and transform them. In his Four Corner Piece from 1971 Bruce Nauman creates a particular spatial experience through the interplay of physical information vs. visual information.


Part Two: Greetings from L. A.

In the second part of the exhibition, elaborated by the Getty Research Institute, the Martin-Gropius-Bau shows over 200 objects – photographs, artists’ catalogues, books, posters, postcards, invitations, letters and artworks, of which many are on public view for the first time. We are given a sense of how Californian artists, through the involvement of a wide audience, brought art into contact with the general public. We also see how intensely the international networks linking groups of artists functioned.

Greetings from L.A. begins with Making the Scene and describes the gallery scene in Los Angeles from the 1950s to the 1970s. We are introduced to art dealers and collectors of the kind who congregated at La Cienega Boulevard – Rolf Nelson, Riko Mizuno and Betty Asher. On this gallery-lined boulevard, which crosses the Sunset Boulevard immortalised by Ed Ruscha, the reputation of Los Angeles as a city of modern and contemporary art was made.

Public Disturbances, the second section of the show, is devoted to three important exhibitions which drew fierce criticism and even led to arrests. Wallace Berman’s 1957 exhibition in the Ferus Gallery was closed down by the police. Violent controversies were triggered by the War Babies exhibition (1961) in the Huysman Gallery. There were also strong differences of opinion between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over the inclusion of Kienholz’s installation Back Seat Dodge ’38 (1964) in his grand retrospective of 1966.

The Private Assembly section of the exhibition focuses on the works created by Wallace Berman, George Herms, Charles Brittin and their circle in the 1950s and 1960s. The intimacy of these objects is explained not only by the unmistakable traces of artistic authorship they bear, but also by the fact that they were only accessible to a select, non-public audience. Mainly active outside the commercial gallery scene, this group of assemblage artists concentrated their energies on private artworks, which they handed over personally or sent by mail as a token of friendship.

The fourth section, Mass Media, introduces artists who selected the mass media as a model for their own art. Ed Ruscha, Allen Ruppersberg and Chris Burden occupied themselves with popular culture and mass production as alternative means of production and distribution. They used impersonal forms, such as those of objects or advertising materials commercially produced and sold as consumer goods. By avoiding conventional exhibition rooms, these artists reached a new public. They often exhibited anonymously, thus making the identity of artist and work secondary.

Art School as Audience, the fifth section of the exhibition, sheds light on the important role of art schools in the development of contemporary art forms. They served as the static pole, because in them artists constituted the audience of other fellow artists. The California Institute of the Arts, commonly known as CalArts, and its predecessor, the Chouinard Art Institute, were key venues for important groups of artists, as can be seen from the works of such students as Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode, and such teachers as John Baldessari, Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago. Other important forums were the new art faculties that came into existence at the universities and other higher education facilities in Los Angeles County. At the campuses of Irvine or San Diego in particular there was a stimulating audience for the experiments of such artists as Martha Rosler, Barbara Smith and Eleanor Antin.

The last section, The Art of Protest, examines how social and political developments mobilised artists to display their works in the street. In the 1960s Los Angeles became the scene of the first protests led by artists against the Vietnam War. This gave rise in 1966 to the construction of a Peace Tower at the corner of La Cienega and Sunset Boulevards. In the following decade it was feminism that moved many artists to become social activists, as can be seen from the work of Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus In Mourning and in Rage 1977, a highly esteemed protest performed on the steps of City Hall.

Greetings from L.A. offers a new look at art in Southern California by showing how the artists of this region changed the conventional relations between art and public and developed alternatives for a public role of art and its place in society.

The exhibition affords glimpses into some recently acquired archives, like those of Betty Asher, Hal Glicksman, George Herms, Wolfgang Stoerchle, High Performance magazine, the galleries of Rolf Nelson, Mizuno and Jan Baum as well as of the papers of Charles Brittin and Edmund Teske. These are supplemented by material from archives not normally associated with Southern California, such as the papers of the critics Irving Sandler, Barbara Rose and Lawrence Alloway of New York; of Marcia Tucker, the founder and curator of New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art; and of the Kasmin Gallery, London.


Part Three: Julius Shulman

The last part of the Berlin exhibition shows over 50 photographs by Julius Shulman – the most important American photographer of architecture in the post-war period. For more than thirty years he photographed Modernist houses –  built by Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, or Frank Gehry – thus making many of them into architectural icons. The exhibition shows some of his key works.

Press release from Martin-Gropuis-Bau website


Julius Shulman. 'Malin Residence, "Chemosphere”' 1960


Julius Shulman (American, 1910-2009)
Malin Residence, “Chemosphere”
Gelatin silver print
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© J. Paul Getty Trust


Julius Shulman. 'Case Study House #22' 1960


Julius Shulman (American, 1910-2009)
Case Study House #22
Gelatin silver print
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© J. Paul Getty Trust


Charles Brittin. 'Peace Tower' 1966


Charles Brittin (American, b. 1928)
Peace Tower
Silver-dye bleach print
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
© J. Paul Getty Trust


Peter Alexander. 'Cloud Box (Large)' 1966


Peter Alexander (American 1939-2020)
Cloud Box (Large)
Cast polyester resin
Janis Horn and Leonard Feldman
© Peter Alexander
Foto: Brian Forrest


Jerry McMillan. 'Ed Bereal in His Studio' c. 1961


Jerry McMillan (American, b. 1936)
Ed Bereal in His Studio
c. 1961
Gelatin silver print mounted on board
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Gift of George Herms
© Jerry McMillan


David Hockney. 'A Bigger Splash' 1967


David Hockney (British, b. 1937)
A Bigger Splash
Acrylic on canvas
96″ x 96″
© David Hockney
Tate Gallery, London, 2011


Wallace Berman. 'Untitled (Verifax Collage)' 1969


Wallace Berman (American, 1926-1976)
Untitled (Verifax Collage)
Verifax collage on board
Collection of Michael D. Fox, Berkeley CA, Courtesy Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco CA
© Courtesy of the Estate of Wallace Berman and Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
Foto: Joe Schopplein



Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin
Niederkirchnerstraße 7
Corner Stresemannstr. 110
10963 Berlin
Phone: +49 (0)30 254 86-0

Opening Hours:
Wednesday to Monday 10 – 19hrs
Tuesday closed

Martin-Gropius-Bau website


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Exhibition: ‘Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977’ at the Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates: 13th December 2011 – 11th March 2012


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



John Baldessari (American, born 1931). 'The California Map Project Part I: California', 1969, exhibition copy 2011


John Baldessari (American, 1931-2020)
The California Map Project Part I: California
1969, exhibition copy 2011
Twelve inkjet prints of images and a typewritten sheet
Each image, 20.3 x 25.4cm (8 x 10 in); sheet, 21.6 x 27.9cm (8 1/2 x 11 in)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris
© John Baldessari


Eleanor Antin (American, born 1935) '100 Boots' 1971-73


Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 Boots
Fifty-one photolithographic postcards
Each 11.1 x 17.8cm (4 3/8 x 7 in)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Endowment
Courtesy Ronald Fedlman Fine Arts, New York, NY
© Eleanore Antin


Eleanor Antin (American, born 1935) '100 Boots' 1971-73


Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
100 Boots
Fifty-one photolithographic postcards
Each 11.1 x 17.8cm (4 3/8 x 7 in)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Endowment
Courtesy Ronald Fedlman Fine Arts, New York, NY
© Eleanore Antin


John Baldessari (American, born 1931) 'Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts)' 1973


John Baldessari (American, 1931-2020)
Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts)
Portfolio of fourteen photolithographs
Each 24.7 x 32.7cm (9 11/16 x 12 7/8 in)
Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago
© John Baldessari



The 1960s and 1970s are recognised as the defining era of the Conceptual Art movement, a period in which centuries held assumptions about the nature of art itself were questioned and dissolved. Until now, the pivotal role that photography played in this movement has never been fully examined. The Art Institute of Chicago has organised the first major survey of influential artists of this period who used photography in ways that went far beyond its traditional definitions as a medium – and succeeded thereby in breaking down the boundaries of all mediums in contemporary art. Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977  on view December 13, 2011 through March 11, 2012 – is the first exhibition to explore how artists of this era used photography as a hybrid image field that navigated among painting and sculpture, film, and book arts as well as between fine art and the mass media. More than 140 works by 57 artists will fill the Art Institute’s Regenstein Hall in this major exhibition that will be seen only in Chicago.

Bringing to the fore work from the Italian group Arte Povera as well as artists from Eastern Europe who are rarely shown in the United States, Light Years also includes many pieces that have not been on public display in decades by such major artists as Mel Bochner, Tony Conrad, Michael Heizer, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Emilio Prini. To open the exhibition, the Art Institute has arranged a special outdoor screening of Andy Warhol’s Empire, an eight-hour film of the Empire State Building. In a first for the United States, Warhol’s Empire will be projected from the Modern Wing’s third floor to be seen on the exterior of the Aon Center on Friday, December 9.

The acceptance of photography as fine art was an evolutionary process. Early 20th-century avant-garde movements such as Dada, Surrealism, and Constructivism articulated a new set of standards for art in which photography played a major role. By the 1930s, modernist photography found a small but influential niche in museum exhibitions and the art market, and vernacular forms such as photojournalism and amateur snapshots became a source of artistic inspiration. Engagement with mass media, exemplified in Pop Art, became prominent in the 1950s. Yet only with the advent of Conceptual Art did artists with training in painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts begin to make and exhibit their own photographs or photographic works as fine art.

Some Conceptual artists, such as Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, and Valie Export took up photography seriously only for a few key months or years; others, like Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, and Annette Messager have worked in photography their entire careers. Photography showed the way forward from Minimal Art, Pop Art, and other movements in painting and sculpture. But it came with its own set of questions that these artists addressed with tremendous innovation. Questions of perspective, sequence, scale, and captioning which have a rich history in photography, were answered in entirely new ways and made into central concerns for art in general.

Photography in these artists’ hands was the antithesis of a separate and definable “medium.” It became instead “unfixed”: photobooks, photolithographs, photo canvases, photo grids, slide and film pieces, and even single prints all counted as valid creative forms. The variety of work showcased in Light Years is crucial to conveying the greatest contribution of the Conceptual era: to turn contemporary art into a field without a medium.

Light Years showcases a great number of works that have not been seen together – or at all – since the years around 1970. Victor Burgin’s Photopath, a life-size print of a 60-foot stretch of flooring placed directly on top of the floor that it records, has not been shown in more than 20 years and never in the United States. Likewise being shown for the first time in the U.S. are pieces by Italian artists Gilberto Zorio, Emilio Prini, Giulio Paolini, and others associated with the classic postwar movement Arte Povera. Paolini’s early photo-canvas Young Man Looking At Lorenzo Lotto (1967), an icon of European conceptualism, has only rarely been shown at all after entering a private collection in the early 1970s. Mel Bochner’s Surface Dis/Tension: Blowup (1969) has not been seen since its presentation at Marian Goodman Gallery in the now legendary 1970 exhibition Artists and Photographs, from which no visual documentation survives. Equally rare and important early works by Laurie Anderson, Marcel Broodthaers, Francesco Clemente, Tony Conrad, Gilbert & George, Dan Graham, Michael Heizer, and many others make the show a revelation for those interested in key figures of new art in the 1960s and ’70s. A special emphasis is placed on artists from Hungary, a centre for photoconceptual activity that has long been overlooked in Western Europe and the United States.

Press release from the Art Institute of Chicago


Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994) 'AW:AB =L:MD (Andy Warhol: Alighiero Boetti = Leonardo: Marcel Duchamp)' 1967


Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994)
AW:AB =L:MD (Andy Warhol: Alighiero Boetti = Leonardo: Marcel Duchamp)
Silk screen print with graphite on paper
58.8 x 58.8cm (23 5/16 x 23 5/16 in)
Colombo Collection, Milan
© Artists Rights Society (ARS)


Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940–1994) 'Twins (Gemelli)' September 1968


Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994)
Twins (Gemelli)
September 1968
Gelatin silver postcard
15.2 x 11.2cm (6 x 4 3/8 in)
Private Collection
© Artists Rights Society (ARS)


Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941) 'Light Trap for Henry Moore No. 1' 1967


Bruce Nauman (American, b. 1941)
Light Trap for Henry Moore No. 1
Gelatin silver print
157.5 x 105.7cm (62 x 41 5/8 in)
© Artists Rights Society (ARS).


Dennis Oppenheim (American, 1938-2011) 'Stage 1 and 2. Reading Position for 2nd Degree Burn Long Island. N.Y. Material... Solar Energy. Skin Exposure Time. 5 Hours June 1970' 1970


Dennis Oppenheim (American, 1938-2011)
Stage 1 and 2. Reading Position for 2nd Degree Burn Long Island. N.Y. Material… Solar Energy.  Skin Exposure Time. 5 Hours June 1970
Two chromogenic photographic prints, plastic labelling tape, mounted together on green board with graphite annotations
Overall: 81 x 66cm (31 7/8 x 26 in)
Top photo: 20.1 x 25.8cm
Bottom photo: 20.2 x 25.5cm
Image/text area: 41.8 x 25.8cm
Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection
© Dennis Oppenheim Estate



The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Phone: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Thursday – Monday 11am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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

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

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