Posts Tagged ‘New York at Night

05
Apr
15

Exhibition: ‘Bevan Davies: New York’ at Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, California

Exhibition dates: 14th March – 9th May, 2015

 

This stunning suite of large format photographs emanates from an esteemed lineage: the early morning light of Atget’s photographs of Old Paris during that cities urban renewal; the frontality of Walker Evans and his photographs of Southern churches (with both artist’s attention to the storefront facade); and the formal qualities of the New Topographic movement and the gridded topos of Bernd and Hilla Becher.

While Eugène Atget photographed the vanishing environs of Old Paris, Davies captures the urban decay of New York City, a city that was undergoing serious urban renewal in the 1970s.

The redevelopment of large sections of New York City and New York State by Robert Moses between the 1930s and the 1970s was a notable and prominent example of urban redevelopment. Moses directed the construction of new bridges, highways, housing projects, and public parks. Moses was a controversial figure, both for his single-minded zeal and for its impact on New York City… The Rondout neighborhood in Kingston, New York (on the Hudson River) was essentially destroyed by a federally funded urban renewal program in the 1960s, with more than 400 old buildings demolished, most of them historic brick structures built in the 19th century. Similarly ill-conceived urban renewal programs gutted the historic centers of other towns and cities across America in the 1950s and 1960s.” (Anon. “Urban Renewal,” on the Wikipedia website)

In Davies’ project (and essential to his task), is the revealing of detail in these undervalued buildings. An ethereal light radiates, almost pulsates from these night time buildings – all rendered in beautifully ferrotyped prints that display a surplus of detail.

The previsualisation in these photographs is excellent. Notice how Davies pushes and pulls the viewer forward and backward in the image plane by using the device of the footpath to frame his compositions. In an image such as 94 Greene Street, New York (1975, below) – one of my favourite in this posting – the artist frames the image to stop at the edge of the pavement, allowing enough room so that the eye is led into the image. In other images, such as Broadway, New York (1976, below) or 425 Broome Street, New York (1976, below), Davies crops right up to the base of the building, forcing the viewer to acknowledge the geometric, cellular structure of the facade and nothing else. In yet other images, such as Column, Mercer Street, New York (1975, below) or 155 West Broadway, New York (1975, below) the artist pulls back from the building, allowing the pavement to anchor the building’s displacement while emphasising the columns grounding within the scene.

These really are magnificent photographs that bring the silence of the city to the fore front of our consciousness. Without the presence of human beings, the buildings take on a majesty that is usually usurped, overlooked or just plain passed by during the humdrum nature of everyday life.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Bevan Davies. '94 Greene Street, New York' 1975

 

Bevan Davies
94 Greene Street, New York
1975
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. '652 Broadway, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
652 Broadway, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'Broadway, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
Broadway, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. '425 Broome Street, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
425 Broome Street, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'Walker Street., New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
Walker Street., New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'Hudson Street, New York' 1975

 

Bevan Davies
Hudson Street, New York
1975
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

 

“Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming solo exhibition, Bevan Davies New York. The exhibition opens on March 14th and will continue through May 9, 2015. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, March 14th, from 6-8 pm. New York will present Davies’ luminous and highly detailed large-format black and white architectural views from the mid 1970’s, along with a selection of his earlier street portraiture from the preceding decade, in the atrium gallery.

Bevan Davies studied photography with Bruce Davidson, at the University of Chicago in early 1960’s and benefitted greatly through mentoring from Diane Arbus later in that decade. After working the street in both daylight and evening hours, photographing people at odds with society, with a hand camera, Davies changed his working methodology to describing the physical environs of the street: the building facades, alleys and streets with a tripod mounted view camera.

This change in subject and approach resulted in Davies most celebrated work. Created in 1975/76 Bevan Davies’ architectural photographs situated themselves wholly within the dictum laid forth by William Jenkins, as “New Topographics”. In fact, Davies writes of his approach as, “an effort being made to let the camera almost see by itself.” This notion was carried further by the late photographer, Lewis Baltz, who in 1976, referred to Davies’ photographs as, “rigorously contemporary, while acknowledging a use of the camera which dates from the inception of the medium.” The New York facades, taken in the early morning hours and devoid of people, describe spaces defined by light and shadow. They depict a specific time and place, as seen by the window dressings and signage, as well as portray a formal grace among the building’s details that are included within Davies’ camera frame. New York is the first comprehensive exhibition of Davies’ photographs in over two decades.

Davies photographs can be found in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Center for Creative Photography, Art Institute of Chicago, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, George Eastman House, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Harry Ransom Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the International Center of Photography.

In 2014, Nazraeli Press released Los Angeles, 1976, a monograph on Davies’ photographs from that region and era. The photographs depict the residential architecture and neighborhoods through nuanced arrangement and clarity. A forthcoming volume on Davies’ New York photographs is in prepublication.”

Press release from the Joseph Bellows Gallery

 

Bevan Davies. '144 Wooster Street, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
144 Wooster Street, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'View from 475 Broadway, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
View from 475 Broadway, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'Bond Street, Facing North, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
Bond Street, Facing North, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'Franklin and West Broadway, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
Franklin and West Broadway, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
16 x 20 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. '426 West Broadway, New York' 1975

 

Bevan Davies
426 West Broadway, New York
1975
Vintage gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. 'Column, Mercer Street, New York' 1975

 

Bevan Davies
Column, Mercer Street, New York
1975
Vintage gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. '11 Mercer Street, New York' 1976

 

Bevan Davies
11 Mercer Street, New York
1976
Vintage gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

Bevan Davies. '155 West Broadway, New York' 1975

 

Bevan Davies
155 West Broadway, New York
1975
Vintage gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
© Bevan Davies

 

 

Joseph Bellows Gallery
7661 Girrard Avenue
La Jolla, California
T: 858 456 5620

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm, and Saturday by appointment 

Joseph Bellows Gallery website

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30
May
14

Exhibition / text: ‘Vivian Maier (1926-2009). A Photographic Revelation’ at Château de Tours

Exhibition dates: 9th November 2013 – 1st June 2014

 

“Maier doesn’t have a partner to dance with. She sees something well enough, whereas Lee Friedlander expects something. If there is an idea out there in the ether she grabs onto it in a slightly derivative way. Maier states that these things happened with this subject matter but with Arbus, for example, she meets something extra/ordinary and alien – and goes beyond, beyond, beyond.”

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Dr Marcus Bunyan May 2014

 

 

The next best thing

The photographs of Vivian Maier. Unknown in her lifetime (nanny as secretive photographer), her negatives discovered at an auction after her death – some developed, all scanned, in some cases cropped, the medium format images then printed. The latest “must have” for any self respecting photography collection, be it private or public. But are they really that good?

To be unequivocal about it, they are good – but, in most cases, they are not “great”. Maier is a very good photographer but she will never be a great photographer. This might come as a surprise to the legions of fans on Facebook (and the thousands of ‘Likes’ for each image), those who think that she is the best thing since sliced bread. But let’s look at the evidence – the work itself.

The photographs can seen on the Vivian Maier Official website and I have spent quite a lot of time looking at them. As with any artist, there are some strong images and some not so strong ones but few reach ‘master’ status. The lighting is good, the use of low depth of field, the location and the presence of the people she photographed are all there, as are the influences that you recite in your mind as to the people her photographs remind you of: Lewis Hine, Berenice Abbott, Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt, Lee Friedlander et al. Somehow through all this she makes the photographs she takes her own for she has a “rare sense of photographic vision” as Edward Petrosky expressed it on my LinkedIn page, but ultimately they don’t really take you anywhere. It’s like she has an addiction to taking photographs (a la Gary Winogrand), but no way of advancing her art to the next level.

Vivien Maier’s photographs stand out because she hasn’t withheld enough within them. What do I mean by that? Let’s look at some examples to explain what I mean…

Included in the postings are two comparisons: Vivian Maier, June 19, 1961, Chicago IL, 1961 / Lee Friedlander, Stony Point, New York, 1966; and Vivian Maier, New York, Nd 1966 / Berenice Abbott, New York at Night, 1932. As with most of Maier’s photography, she relies on intuition when taking a photograph and a bloody good intuition it is too. This intuition usually stands her in good stead and she almost always gets the shot, but there is an underlying lack of structure to her images. Here I am talking as much about psychological structure as physical structure, for both go hand in hand.

If we compare the Maier with the Friedlander we can say that, if we look at the windows in the Friedlander, every one is a masterpiece! From the mother and son at left with the white-coated marchers, to the central window with the miniature house, dog and tree, to the dark-suited marchers at right. Everything feels compelling, intricate weavings of a narrative that the viewer has to try and make sense of. Each part of the Friedlander image is absolutely necessary for that picture… whereas there are so many things in the Vivien Maier that belong in other pictures ie. a good picture but a lot that doesn’t belong in that picture. Things that should have been held back, by making another image somewhere else. Her narrative is confusing and thus the eye is also confused.

A similar scenario can be observed when comparing the photographs of New York at night by Abbott and Maier. Abbott’s photograph is a tight, orchestrated and muscular rendition of the city which seethes with energy and form. Maier’s interpretation fades off into nothingness, the main arterials of the city leading the eye up to the horizon line and then [nothing]. It is a pleasant but wishy-washy photograph, with all the energy of the city draining away in the mind and in the eye.

One of Maier’s photographs that most resonates with me is September 1953, New York, NY (1953, below). This IS a masterpiece. There is a conciseness of vision here, reminiscent of Weston’s Nude of 1938 with its link to the anamorphic structure of his photographs of peppers. There is nothing auxiliary to the purpose of the photograph, yet there is that indefinable something that takes it out of itself. The dirt of the clothes, under the fingers, the ring on the hand, the shape that no human should be in and its descent onto the pavement, the despair of that descent captured in the angle of the camera looking down on the victim. The photograph has empathy, promotes understanding and empathy in the viewer. Most of us have been there. Other photographs that approach a higher perspective are Maier’s self-portraits, in which there is a conscious exploration of her reflection in/of the world: a slightly dour, serious figure reflected back from the world into the lens of the camera – a refracted identity, the phenomenon of self as light passing obliquely through the interface between one medium and another, between living, the camera and memory.

But too often Maier’s photographs are just so… obvious. Did she wait long enough for the composition to reveal itself to her more, god what’s the word, more ambiguously. Maier doesn’t have a partner to dance with. She sees something well enough, whereas Lee Friedlander expects something. If there is an idea out there in the ether she grabs onto it in a slightly derivative way. Maier states that these things happened with this subject matter but with Arbus, for example, she meets something extra/ordinary and alien – and goes beyond, beyond, beyond.

What we can say is that Maier’s vision is very good, her intuition excellent, but there is, critically, not that indefinable something that takes her images from good to great. This is the key thing – everything is usually thrown at the image, she withholds nothing, and this invariably stops them taking that step to the next level. This is a mighty difficult step for any artist to take, let alone one taking photographs in the shadows. Personally I don’t believe that these images are a “photographic revelation” in the spirit of Minor White. What is a revelation is how eagerly they have been embraced around the world as great images without people really looking deeply at the work; how masterfully they have been promoted through films, books, websites and exhibitions; how Maier’s privacy has been expunged in the quest for dollars; and how we know very little about her vision for the negatives as there are no extant prints of the work.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

 

Vivian Maier. 'Untitled' 1954

 

Vivian Maier
Untitled
1954
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Edward Weston. 'Nude' 1936

 

Edward Weston
Nude
1936

 

Vivian Maier. 'September 1953, New York, NY' 1953

 

Vivian Maier
September 1953, New York, NY
1953
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'June 19, 1961, Chicago IL' 1961

 

Vivian Maier
June 19, 1961, Chicago IL
1961
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Lee Friedlander. 'Stony Point, New York, 1966' 1966

 

Lee Friedlander
Stony Point, New York, 1966
1966
Silver gelatin photograph

 

Vivian Maier. 'New York' Nd

 

Vivian Maier
New York
Nd
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898 - 1991) 'New York at Night' 1932

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898 – 1991)
New York at Night
1932
Gelatin silver print
12 7/8 x 10 9/16″ (32.7 x 26.9 cm)

 

Vivian Maier. 'New York, NY, 18 Octobre 1953' 1953

 

Vivian Maier
New York, NY, 18 Octobre 1953
1953
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian-Maier-New-York-NY-c-1953-WEB

 

Vivian Maier
New York, NY
c. 1953
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'St East nº108, New York , NY, September 28, 1959' 1959

 

Vivian Maier
St East nº108, New York , NY, September 28, 1959
1959
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'New York, NY' 1954

 

Vivian Maier
New York, NY
1954
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

“Vivian Maier was the archetypal self-taught photographer with a keen sense of observation and an eye for composition. She was born in New York in 1926, but spent part of her childhood in France before returning to New York in 1951 when she started taking photos. In 1956, she moved to Chicago, where she lived until her death in 2009.

Her talent is comparable with that of the major figures of American street photography such as Lisette Model, Helen Levitt, Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand. The exhibition presented at the Château de Tours by the Jeu de Paume, in partnership with the Municipality of Tours and diChroma photography, is the largest ever exhibition in France devoted to Vivian Maier. It includes 120 black and white and colour gelatin silver prints from the original slides and negatives, as well as extracts from Super 8 films she made in the 60s and 70s. This project, which is sourced from John Maloof’s collection, with the valuable assistance of Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, reveals a poetic vision that is imbued with humanity.

John Maloof discovered Vivian Maier’s astonishing photos completely by chance in 2007 at an auction in Chicago. At the time, this young collector was looking for historical documentation about a specific neighbourhood of the city and he bought a sizeable lot of prints, negatives and slides (of which a major part had not even been developed) as well as some Super 8 films by an unknown and enigmatic photographer, Vivian Maier. By all accounts, Vivian Maier was a discreet person and somewhat of a loner. She took more than 120,000 photos over a period of thirty years and only showed this consequential body of work to a mere handful of people during her lifetime.

Vivian Maier earned her living as a governess, but all her free time and every day off was spent walking through the streets of New York, then later Chicago, with a camera slung around her neck (first of all box or folding cameras, later a Leica) taking photos. The children she looked after describe her as a cultivated and open-minded woman, generous but not very warm. Her images on the other hand bear witness to her curiosity for everyday life and the attention she paid to those passers – by who caught her eye: facial features, bearing, outfits and fashion accessories for the well-to-do and the telltale signs of poverty for those who were less fortunate.

While some photos are obviously furtively taken snapshots, others bear witness to a real encounter between the photographer and her models, who are photographed face-on and from close up. Her photos of homeless people and people living on the fringe of society demonstrate the depth of her empathy as she painted a somewhat disturbing portrait of an America whose economic boom was leaving many by the wayside.

Vivian Maier remained totally unknown until her death in April 2009. She had been taken in by the Gensburgs, for whom she had worked for almost seventeen years, and many of her possessions as well as her entire photographic output had been placed in storage. It was seized and sold in 2007 to settle unpaid bills.

Her biography has now been reconstructed, at least in part, thanks to a wealth of research and interviews carried out by John Maloof and Jeffrey Goldstein after the death of Vivian Maier. Jeffrey Goldstein is another collector who purchased a large part of her work. According to official documents, Vivian Maier was of Austro-Hungarian and French origin and her various trips to Europe, in particular to France (in the Alpine valley of Champsaur where she spent part of her childhood) have been clearly identified and documented. However, the circumstances that led her to take an interest in photography and her life as an artist remain veiled in mystery.

Photography seemed to be much more than a passion: her photographic activity was the result of a deeply felt need, almost an obsession. Each time she changed employers and had to move house, all her boxes and boxes of films (that she hadn’t had developed for want of money), as well as her archives comprising books and press cuttings about various stories in the news, came along too.

Vivian Maier’s body of work highlights those seemingly insignificant details that she came across during her long walks through the city streets: odd gestures, strange figures and graphic arrangements of figures in space. She also produced a series of captivating self-portraits from her reflection in mirrors and shop windows.”

Press release from the Château de Tours

 

Vivian Maier. 'Self-portrait' Nd

 

Vivian Maier
Self-portrait
Nd
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'Chicago' Nd

 

Vivian Maier
Chicago
Nd
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'Florida, 9 January 1957' 1957

 

Vivian Maier
Florida, 9 January 1957
1957
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Vivian Maier. 'Untitled' 1954

 

Vivian Maier
Untitled
1954
© Vivian Maier / Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'Chicago, IL, January, 1956' 1956

 

Vivian Maier
Chicago, IL, January, 1956
1956
© Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Vivian Maier. 'Chicago, August 22, 1956' 1956

 

Vivian Maier
Chicago, August 22, 1956
1956
© Vivian Maier/Maloof Collection, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

Château de Tours
25 Avenue André Malraux
37000 Tours

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 2 pm – 6 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 3 pm – 6 pm

Vivian Maier Official website

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21
Jun
09

Exhibition: ‘Skyscrapers: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs of the Early Twentieth Century’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 6th June – 1st November 2009

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991). 'Untitled (New York City)' 1929-33

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Untitled (New York City)
1929-33
Gelatin silver print
6 1/2 x 4 7/16 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001

 

 

What a fantastic exhibition! Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for allowing me to reproduce the wonderful photographs below, many from photographers that I have never heard of before.

.
Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art.

 

Lloyd Ullberg (American, 1904-1996). 'PSFS Building, Philadelphia' c.1932-33

 

Lloyd Ullberg (American, 1904 – 1996)
PSFS Building, Philadelphia
c.1932-33
Gelatin silver print
Image and sheet: 10 x 7 3/8 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund, 1999

 

 

At the turn of the 20th century when they first began to appear, skyscrapers were seen as symbols of modernity and testaments to human achievement. Stretching the limits of popular imagination, they captured the attention of visual artists working in a variety of mediums. This summer the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Skyscrapers: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs of the Early Twentieth Century, an exhibition that traces the rise of the American skyscraper as an iconic image. The exhibition will feature more than 50 works from the Museum’s collection, dating from 1908 to 1941, which demonstrate the many ways artists chose to portray the new giants in their landscape.

Skyscrapers includes prints by John Marin and Charles Sheeler, photographs by Berenice Abbott and Alfred Stieglitz, and drawings by Earl Horter and Abraham Walkowitz. The works in Skyscrapers reflect a wide range of styles and practices, from Walkowitz’s loosely drawn “New York Improvisations” (1910) to Abbott’s luminous photograph “New York at Night” (c. 1932), which captures the dazzling allure of the city’s glowing evening skyline. The combination of mediums included in the show allows the viewer to consider the relationship between drawing, printmaking, and photography in this dynamic period.

“The visual impact of skyscrapers on the modern urban landscape is unmistakable, and for more than a century artists have been engaging with this theme,” John Vick, The Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and the exhibition’s organiser, said, noting that the Museum’s collection includes well over 500 works related to skyscrapers. Vick added that “their distinctive contours and exaggerated scale offered artists both a chance to experiment with modernist aesthetics and a subject on which to project personal or collective ideas and emotions.”

The exhibition also offers a view into the interaction of architecture and urban development with art’s role as a form of documentation. Among the famous buildings featured are Chicago’s gothic-ornamented Tribune Tower, New York City’s Art Deco Empire State Building, and Philadelphia’s modernist PSFS Building. An atmospheric etching of a rainy nighttime scene at One Broad Street in Philadelphia by artist Allan Randall Freelon (American, 1895-1960) shows how this important intersection at the heart of the city would have appeared in the 1930s.

The towering, occasionally menacing, physical presence of these structures is a frequent visual theme in the works – whether in Howard Norton Cook’s woodcut “Skyscraper” (1929) or Sherril Schell’s photograph “Window Reflection – French Building” dating from 1930-32. Horter’s graphite drawing “Manhattan Skyline” (1916) shows a row of newly-built towers thrusting skyward in strong, vertical lines and overshadowing the residential rooftops in the foreground, an image that suggests the city’s emergence as a financial and commercial giant.

Other works take a more abstract approach, exploring the visual exciting patterns created by these massive new structures. Such works include Marin’s 1913 and 1917 prints of the Woolworth Building and Herbert Johnson’s aerial photograph of building rooftops from c. 1930-32.”

Philadelphia Museum of Art press release [Online] Cited 19/06/2009 no longer available online

 

Wendell MacRae (American, 1896-1980) 'Summer 'c. 1930-32

 

Wendell MacRae (American, 1896-1980)
Summer
c. 1930-32
Gelatin silver print
Image and sheet: 6 9/16 x 4 5/8 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001

 

Stella Simon (American, 1878-1973) '6th Avenue' c. 1930-32

 

Stella Simon (American, 1878-1973)
6th Avenue
c. 1930-32
Gelatin silver print
Image and sheet: 9 1/2 x 7 3/16 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001

 

Sherril Schell (American, 1877-1964)' Buildings on West 35th Street' c. 1930-32

 

Sherril Schell (American, 1877-1964)
Buildings on West 35th Street
c. 1930-32
Gelatin silver print
Image and sheet: 8 x 6 5/16 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001

 

Sherril Schell (American, 1877-1964) 'Window Reflection - French Building' c. 1930-32

 

Sherril Schell (American, 1877-1964)
Window Reflection – French Building
c. 1930-32
Gelatin silver print
Image and sheet: 7 15/16 x 6 1/8 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001

 

Ralph Steiner (American, 1899-1986) 'Untitled (New York City)' 1931

 

Ralph Steiner (American, 1899-1986)
Untitled (New York City)
1931
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet/Mount (With Black Border from Negative): 9 15/16 x 7 15/16 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'New York at Night' c. 1932

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
New York at Night
c. 1932
Gelatin silver print
Image and sheet: 13 3/8 x 10 5/8 inches
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Theodore T. Newbold in memory of Lee Witkin, 1984

 

 

Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

Philadelphia Museum of Art website

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02
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Portraits of New York: Photographs from the MoMA’ at La Casa Encendida, Madrid

Exhibition dates: 27th March – 14th June, 2009

Curator: Sarah Hermanson Meister, associate curator of MoMA’s Department of Photography

 

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

 

 

Paul Strand. 'Wall Street, New York' 1915

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Wall Street
1915
Platinum palladium print

 

 

Wall Street is a platinum palladium print photograph by the American photographer Paul Strand taken in 1915. There are currently only two vintage prints of this photograph with one at the Whitney Museum of American Art (printed posthumously) and the other, along with negatives, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This photograph was included in Paul Strand, circa 1916, an exhibition of photographs that exemplify his push toward modernism.

It depicts a scene of everyday life in Manhattan’s Financial District. Workers are seen walking past the J.P. Morgan & Co. building in New York City on the famous Wall Street, of which the photograph takes its name. The photograph is famous for its reliance on the sharpness and contrast of the shapes and angles, created by the building and the workers, that lead to its abstraction. This photograph is considered to be one of Strand’s most famous works and an example of his change from pictorialism to straight photography. Strand moved from the posed to portraying the purity of the subjects. It is one of several images that stand as marks of the turn to modernism in photography. …

 

Technique

This photograph depicts the J.P. Morgan building in New York City. Strand photographed “people hurrying to work past the banking building” situated on Wall Street, from which the photo takes its name. the subject depicted is a real-life subject without manipulation. The depiction of the real nature of the medium and the subject is an example of straight photography. There is no focal point, with the lines converging off of the frame of the image. The financial building take majority of the frame. Emphasis is placed on the strong shapes created by the architecture of the building. The workers are included in the image, but are faceless and are trumped in size by the massive square shapes from the building they walk past. Also, the workers are captured in motion which on film makes them appear blurry. This aesthetic that Strand creates in Wall Street is his break toward the modern, the straight photography, demonstrating that pictorialism is no longer part of his aesthetic. Strand captured the building with clean, sharp lines. The building is covered in the high contrast, chiaroscuro. It is heavily in the shadows, but still creates an overwhelming presence over the people that walk past it. These people are also shrouded in the contrast made evident with the clean lines and black and white nature of his photos and photography as a medium. The people jump from their places, being the dark figures in the light of the sun that beams in from the left of the frame.

Strand fills the image with his recognisable aesthetic. The photo is platinum print, one of the materials frequently used by photographers of the time. Strand was unique in how he printed his photos. As stated on the George Eastman House website section Notes on Photography, Strand would make large prints from small negatives. He also left them in their matte condition that was inherent with platinum print. With his printing techniques, he “added a richness to the image.” As with the time, the photo is entirely black and white. There is a heavy contrast with the black and white areas of the photo. Strand creates diagonal shapes that pull emphasis to subject of the building and away from the people.

 

Aspects

Having taken Hine’s class at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, social change became important to Strand and appeared often in his art. As a pupil of Hine, Strand learned of the social aspect his work could have. With Wall Street, he sought to portray a social message. He captured the faceless people next to the looming financial building in order to give a warning. Strand shows “the recently built J.P. Morgan Co. building, whose huge, dark recesses dwarf the passersby with the imposing powers of uniformity and anonymity.” The people cannot escape the overwhelming power that this modern establishment will have on their future and the future of America. He warns us to not be the small people that look almost ant-like next to this building that has a massive amount of control over the American economy.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Ted Croner. 'Central Park South' 1947-48

 

Ted Croner (American, 1922–2005)
Central Park South
1947-48
Silver gelatin print
10 15/16 x 13 3/4″ (27.8 x 34.9 cm)
Gift of the photographer
Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

 

Ted Croner (1922-2005) was an American photographer, described as an influential member of the New York school of photography during the 1940s and 1950s. His images are said to represent the best example of this movement.

Born in Baltimore in 1922 and raised in North Carolina, Croner developed an interest in photography while in high school. He honed his skills while serving as an aerial photographer in World War II before settling in New York City in 1947. At the urging of fashion photographer Fernand Fonssagrives, he enrolled in Alexey Brodovitch’s class at The New School where he studied with Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and Lisette Model. During this period he produced many of his most memorable images including “Taxi, New York Night, 1947-48”, which appears on the cover of Bob Dylan’s 2006 album, Modern Times. Another of Croner’s photographs was used on the cover of Luna’s album Penthouse.

Croner also had a successful career as a fashion and commercial photographer – his work was published in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. He also worked extensively with corporations such as Coca-Cola and Chase Manhattan Bank. Croner is best known for his haunting night images of New York City taken in the 1940s and 1950s. He was one of several important photographers who belonged to the New York school of photography.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Arthur Fellig (Weegee) 'Coney Island' 1940

 

Arthur Fellig (Weegee) (American, 1899-1968)
Coney Island
July 22, 1940
Silver gelatin print
10 5/16 x 13 11/16″ (26.2 x 34.8 cm)
Anonymous gift
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2019 Weegee/ICP/Getty Images

 

 

Photographs from the MoMA, which will provide an in-depth look at an essential component of the MoMA’s assets: its photography collection. Curated by Sarah Hermanson Meister, associate curator of the museum’s department of photography, the exhibition offers an overview of the history of photography through the work of over 90 artists, with the iconic city as a backdrop. It includes some of the most prestigious names in photography, such as Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walter Evans, Lee Friedlander, Helen Levitt, Cindy Sherman, Irving Penn and Alfred Stieglitz.

For Sarah Hermanson Meister, associate curator of the MoMA’s Department of Photography, “Portraits of New York amply reflects the history of synergies of this medium and of the Big Apple during a period of important transformations for both. The photographs generated by the restless and constant commitment of numerous photographers to the city of New York have played a fundamental role in determining how New Yorkers perceive the city and themselves. These photographs have also defined the city’s image in the world’s imagination.

[…] The urban landscape of the city is a combination of the old and the new in constant evolution, and these physical transformations are repeated in the demographic changes that have characterised the city since the 1880s, when massive waves of immigrants began to arrive. This same diversity can be seen in the photography of New York of the past four decades. Just as its architects are inspired and limited by surrounding structures and building codes, and just as its inhabitants learn and rub up against each other and previous generations, so too the photographers of New York transport the visual memory of a an extensive and extraordinary repertoire of images of the city. They take on the challenge of creating new works that go beyond traditions and respond to what is new in New York.”

The exhibition curator continues: “Throughout the 20th century, numerous artists have felt inspired by New York’s combination of glamour and rawness. The city – which acquired its modernity at the same pace as photography, and in an equally impetuous and undisciplined way – has always been a theme of particular vitality for photographers, both those who have visited the city and those who live in it. On one occasion, faced with the challenge of capturing the essence of New York with a camera, the photographer Berenice Abbott wondered, “How shall the two-dimensional print in black and white suggest the flux of activity of the metropolis, the interaction of human beings and solid architectural constructions, all impinging upon each other in time?” Each of the photographs reproduced here is a unique response to that question.

New York may not be the capital of the United States, but it prides itself on being the capital of the world. Its inhabitants are intimate strangers, its avenues are constantly teeming and its buildings are absolutely unmistakeable, though they are packed so close together that it is impossible to see just one. The New York subway runs twenty-four hours a day, which has earned it the sobriquet of “the city that never sleeps.” It is the model for Gotham City, the disturbing metropolis that Batman calls home, and a symbol of independence and a wellspring of opportunities in a wide variety of films, from Breakfast at Tiffany‘s to Working Girl. And this is just a sample of the captivating and abundant raw material that the city offers to artists, regardless of the medium in which they work. However, it is the convergence of photographers in this city – in this place that combines anonymity and community, with its local flavour and global ambitions – that has created the ideal setting for the development of modern photography.”

Text from the La Casa Encendida website [Online] Cited 28/04/2009 no longer available online

 

Bruce Davidson (American, b. 1933) 'Untitled' from the 'Brooklyn Gang' series 1959

 

Bruce Davidson (American, b. 1933)
Untitled from the Brooklyn Gang series
1959
Silver gelatin print
6 3/4 x 10″ (17.1 x 25.4 cm)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2019 Magnum Photos, Inc. and Bruce Davidson

 

 

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954)
Untitled Film Still #21
1978
Silver gelatin print
7 1/2 x 9 1/2″ (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Horace W. Goldsmith Fund through Robert B. Menschel
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2019 Cindy Sherman

 

 

Each of Sherman’s sixty-nine Untitled Film Stills (1977-80), presents a female heroine from a movie we feel we must have seen. Here, she is the pert young career girl in a trim new suit on her first day in the big city. Among the others are the luscious librarian (#13), the chic starlet at her seaside hideaway (#7), the ingenue setting out on life’s journey (#48), and the tough but vulnerable film noir idol (#54). To make the pictures, Sherman herself played all of the roles or, more precisely, played all of the actresses playing all of the roles. In other words, the series is a fiction about a fiction, a deft encapsulation of the image of femininity that, through the movies, took hold of the collective imagination in postwar America – the period of Sherman’s youth, and the crucible of our contemporary culture.

In fact, only a handful of the Untitled Film Stills are modelled directly on particular roles in actual movies, let alone on individual stills of the sort that the studios distribute to publicise their films. All the others are inventive allusions to generic types, and so our sure sense of recognition is all the more telling. It tells us that, knowingly or not, we have absorbed the movie culture that Sherman invites us to examine as a powerful force in our lives.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 295.

 

Diane Arbus. 'Woman with Veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C' 1968

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Woman with Veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C
1968
Silver gelatin print
Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

Berenice Abbott. 'Night View, New York City' 1932

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1891-1991)
Night View, New York City (New York at Night)
1932
Silver gelatin print
12 7/8 x 10 9/16″ (32.7 x 26.9 cm)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2019 Berenice Abbott/Commerce Graphics

 

 

La Casa Encendida
Ronda Valencia, 2 28012 Madrid

Opening hours:
La Casa Encendida is open from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the year except national and Community of Madrid holidays

La Casa Encendida website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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