Posts Tagged ‘photo essays

09
Jan
23

Exhibition: ‘Life Magazine and the Power of Photography’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)

Exhibition dates: 9th October 2022 – 16th January 2023

Curators: Kristen Gresh, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs at the MFA; Katherine A. Bussard, Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography at Princeton University Art Museum; and Alissa Schapiro, an independent curator and doctoral candidate in art history at Northwestern University

 

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971) 'Flame Burner Ann Zarik' 1943, printed about 2000

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971)
Flame Burner Ann Zarik
1943, printed about 2000
Gelatin silver print
Princeton University Art Museum
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

Continuing the illustrated magazine theme from the last Bill Brandt post, here presented are images, cover and photo essay by major photographers such as Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke‑White, Henri Cartier‑Bresson and Gordon Parks which appeared in the influential American magazine Life (1926-1972).

“This exhibition takes a closer look at the creation and impact of the carefully selected images found in the pages of Life – and the precisely crafted narratives told through these pictures – in order to reveal how the magazine shaped conversations about war, race, technology, national identity, and more in the 20th-century United States. The photographs on view capture some of the defining moments – celebratory and traumatic alike – of the last century, from the Birmingham civil rights demonstrations to the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Far from simply nostalgic and laudatory, the exhibition critically reconsiders Life‘s complex, and sometimes contradictory, approach to such stories through works by photographers from different backgrounds and perspectives who captured difficult images of ethnic discrimination and racialised violence, from the Holocaust to white supremacist terror of the 1960s.” (Exhibition text)

Of particular interest in the posting is the contact sheet to Eisenstaedt’s famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations (1945, below) … in order to note how the artist chose that particular negative out of the four (good exposure, less confusing background to the central characters); how he marked the contact sheet with the usual red pencil that black and white photographers use to indicate his negative preference and the cropping of the image that was required (notice the arrow at bottom left, a crop which was not heeded in the final print); and how the final print is much darker than the contact sheet (notice the dark pavement and lack of detail in the sailors outfits).

In the final print the negative has been cropped up from the bottom to tension the lifting of the nurse’s raised leg as it floats above the ground (here, the distance from the bottom of the shoe to the bottom of the image is critical in order to make the shoe “float”), the man at right now makes half an appearance, and the man at far left has been included and “burnt in” under the enlarger so that he recedes from and does not detract from the importance of the figures in the foreground. The background figures form a triangle behind the sailor and the nurse, forming a stage for them, and a supporting and encircling cast of characters. The vanishing point of the image and the buildings does the rest.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971) 'Mrs. Nelson and her two children outside her laundry which she operates without running water' 1936

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971)
Mrs. Nelson and her two children outside her laundry which she operates without running water
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Howard Greenberg Collection – Museum purchase with funds donated by the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971) 'At the Time of the Louisville Flood' 1937

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971)
At the Time of the Louisville Flood
1937
Gelatin silver print
The Howard Greenberg Collection – Museum purchase with funds donated by the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971) 'Fort Peck Dam, Montana' 1936

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971)
Fort Peck Dam, Montana
1936
Gelatin silver print
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

'Life', November 23, 1936 (Cover photograph by Margaret Bourke-White) 1936

 

Life Magazine (1883-1972)
Life, November 23, 1936 (Cover photograph by Margaret Bourke-White)
1936
Illustrated periodical
Life Picture Collection
Photo by Life Magazine
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

In the period from the Great Depression to the Vietnam War, the majority of photographs printed and consumed in the U.S. appeared on the pages of illustrated magazines. Among them, Life – published weekly from 1936 to 1972 – was both extraordinarily popular and visually revolutionary. Estimates for pass-along readership – the number of people who shared each copy of Life in spaces like waiting rooms and offices – suggest that the magazine may have regularly reached about one in four people in the country. The photographers who worked for Life bore witness to some of the most defining moments of the 20th century – and the magazine’s use of photography shaped the way many Americans experienced, perceived and remembered these events. Co-organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), and the Princeton University Art Museum, Life Magazine and the Power of Photography offers a revealing look at the collaborative processes behind many of the publication’s most recognisable, beloved and controversial images and photo essays. The exhibition brings together more than 180 objects, including original press prints, contact sheets, shooting scripts, internal memos and layout experiments – drawing on unprecedented access to Life‘s picture and paper archives. Added to the exhibition for its presentation at the MFA, Life Magazine and the Power of Photography also incorporates works by contemporary artists Alexandra Bell, Alfredo Jaar and Julia Wachtel, whose critical reflections on photojournalism and the politics of images frame urgent conversations about implicit biases and systemic racism in contemporary media.

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography is on view at the MFA from October 9, 2022 through January 16, 2023 in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery. Member Preview takes place October 5-8. Timed-entry exhibition tickets, which include general admission, are required for all visitors and can be reserved on mfa.org starting September 14 for MFA members and September 20 for the general public.

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography is sponsored by Bank of America. Generously supported by Patti and Jonathan Kraft, with additional support from Kate Moran Collins and Emi M. and William G. Winterer. With gratitude to the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust for its generous support of Photography at the MFA. The exhibition is co-organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Princeton University Art Museum.

“This major exhibition is an invitation for our visitors to experience a time when photographs first began to influence world events and narratives – and how they continue to do so today,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director. “Life‘s groundbreaking use of photography shaped important 20th-century dialogues in the U.S. around war, race, technology, art and national identity. Through a generous collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum, we are exploring this process in a more critical and complex way than ever done before, and at a moment when technologies of distribution have evolved and disrupted the recording of history.”

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography was curated by Kristen Gresh, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs at the MFA; Katherine A. Bussard, Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography at Princeton University Art Museum; and Alissa Schapiro, an independent curator and doctoral candidate in art history at Northwestern University. In 2016 the curators were among the first to delve deeply into the Time Inc. Records Archive, which was newly available at the New-York Historical Society. In 2019, the MFA and Princeton University Art Museum became the first museums to be granted full access to the LIFE Picture Collection, the magazine’s photographic archive. (The exhibition debuted at Princeton in February 2020, but closed after three weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.). The exhibition and the accompanying book grew out of these unparalleled research opportunities, which helped to advance new scholarly perspectives on Life’s pictorial journalism. The book was named the 2021 recipient of the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for museum scholarship.

“I am thrilled to be adding three contemporary moments to the exhibition in Boston. Through powerful and provocative works by Alexandra Bell, Alfredo Jaar and Julia Wachtel, who each interrogate news media through their practice, viewers are invited to reflect on contemporary media consumption and our inherited historical narratives,” said Gresh.

 

Exhibition Overview

Among the over 30 photographers featured in Life Magazine and the Power of Photography are Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Frank Dandridge, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Charles Moore, Gordon Parks and W. Eugene Smith. The exhibition also emphasises the contributions of women to the magazine’s success – not only photographers such as Bourke-White, whose monumental image of the Fort Peck Dam graced the first issue, but also negative and picture editors such as Peggy Sargent and Natalie Kosek. Additionally, Life Magazine and the Power of Photography considers the ways in which the magazine – through the vision of its founder, Henry R. Luce, its editorial teams’ points of view and the demographics of its readers – promoted a predominantly white, middle-class perspective on politics, daily life and culture, even when documenting the country’s reckoning with racism and xenophobia. The exhibition makes a point to trace Life‘s complex, and sometimes contradictory, approach to such stories through the inclusion of works by photographers from different backgrounds and perspectives that captured difficult images of ethnic discrimination and racialised violence, ranging from the Holocaust to white supremacist violence of the 1960s.

The exhibition is divided into three historical sections, interspersed with immersive contemporary moments. The first section, “Getting the Picture,” focuses on the creation of Life photographs, exploring multiple factors such as the details of the assignment, the idea for the story developed by the editorial staff, the selection of a particular photographer for the job, and the photographer’s own decisions about how to best capture the images needed to construct a story. Once a photographer completed an assignment, his or her undeveloped rolls of film and notes were sent to Life‘s offices, where editorial teams selected images and determined how to adapt them for the printed page. The second section, “Crafting Photo Stories,” examines the making of a photo-essay, a format with stunning visuals and minimal text that Life claimed to have invented. The complex process involved negative editors, picture editors, art directors, layout artists, writers, researchers and fact-checkers in the construction of each page. The third section, “Life‘s Photographic Impact,” considers the power and reach of the magazine, whose circulation peaked at 8.5 million in 1969. Here, the exhibition explores not only responses from readers – who wrote letters to the editor and even offered assistance to individuals profiled in the magazine – but also how Life perpetuated its own influence by repackaging its photographs and using technical sophistication and business savvy to outpace its competitors.

Contemporary works by Alfredo Jaar (born Santiago, Chile, 1956), Alexandra Bell (born 1983) and Julia Wachtel (1956) appear in immersive moments installed between the three historical sections. Jaar questions the ethics of representation and the politics of images in his photography, installations, films and new media works. The exhibition features Real Pictures (1995) from his Rwanda Project and the U.S. debut of his multimedia installation The Silence of Nduwayezu (1997) from the same series. It also includes the triptych Life Magazine, April 19, 1968 (1995), in which he manipulates the magazine’s iconic photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral procession to point to the disproportionate number of Black mourners relative to white ones. Similarly, works from Bell’s Counternarratives series (2017-2018) highlight racial biases in annotated pages from The New York Times. Finally, in a newly commissioned work by the MFA, Wachtel directly responds to photographs from Life and engages in deep critical discourse about popular culture and politics, as well as media consumption.

 

Publication

The accompanying 336-page book, published by the Princeton University Art Museum and distributed by Yale University Press, examines Life‘s groundbreaking role in mid-20th-century American culture and the history of photography by considering the complexity of the magazine’s image-making and publishing enterprise. The book includes essays and contributions by the three co-curators and 22 additional scholars of art history, American studies, history and communication studies. It was the winner of the College Art Association’s 2021 Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award, praised for “bring[ing] a new complexity to Life‘s legendary picture-making enterprise and suggest[ing] why Life‘s signal role in fostering consensus and collective memory is ripe for further unpacking.”

Press release from the Museum of Fine Arts , Boston

 

Gjon Mili (American born in Albania, 1904-1984) 'Stroboscopic image of intercollegiate champion gymnast Newt Loken doing floor leaps' 1942

 

Gjon Mili (American born in Albania, 1904-1984)
Stroboscopic image of intercollegiate champion gymnast Newt Loken doing floor leaps
1942
Gelatin silver print
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971) 'Blast furnace cleaner Bernice Daunora, part of the top gang at Carnegie‑Illinois Steel Corp., wearing protective breathing apparatus fr. escaping gas fumes' 1943

 

Margaret Bourke‑White (American, 1904-1971)
Blast furnace cleaner Bernice Daunora, part of the top gang at Carnegie‑Illinois Steel Corp., wearing protective breathing apparatus fr. escaping gas fumes
1943
Gelatin silver print
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Robert Capa (American born in Hungary, 1913-1954) 'Normandy Invasion on D‑Day, Soldier Advancing through Surf' 1944

 

Robert Capa (American born in Hungary, 1913-1954)
Normandy Invasion on D‑Day, Soldier Advancing through Surf
1944
Gelatin silver print
The Howard Greenberg Collection – Museum purchase with funds donated by the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust
© International Center of Photography / Magnum Photos
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Carl Mydans (American, 1907-2004) '(Young man playing guitar in the stockade, Tule Lake Internment Camp, Newell, California)' 1944

 

Carl Mydans (American, 1907-2004)
(Young man playing guitar in the stockade, Tule Lake Internment Camp, Newell, California)
1944
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography, the LIFE Magazine Collection, 2005
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995) 'Contact sheet w. frames from photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt's famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations' 1945

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995)
Contact sheet w. frames from photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations
1945
Gelatin silver print, contact sheet
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995) 'Contact sheet w. frames from photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt's famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations' 1945 (detail)

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995)
Contact sheet w. frames from photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations (detail)
1945
Gelatin silver print, contact sheet
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995) 'Contact sheet w. frames from photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt's famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations' 1945 (detail)

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995)
Contact sheet w. frames from photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famed set of the sailor kissing the nurse and other images of the Times Square VJ‑Day celebrations (detail)
1945
Gelatin silver print, contact sheet
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995) 'VJ Day in Times Square' 1945

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt (German active in the United States, 1898-1995)
VJ Day in Times Square
1945
Gelatin silver print
Alan and Susan Solomont
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

Reconsidering the pictures we remember. Revealing the stories we don’t know.

From the Great Depression to the Vietnam War, almost all of the photographs printed for consumption by the American public appeared in illustrated magazines. Among them, Life magazine – published weekly from 1936 to 1972 – was both wildly popular and visually revolutionary, with photographs arranged in groundbreaking dramatic layouts known as photo-essays. This exhibition takes a closer look at the creation and impact of the carefully selected images found in the pages of Life – and the precisely crafted narratives told through these pictures – in order to reveal how the magazine shaped conversations about war, race, technology, national identity, and more in the 20th-century United States. The photographs on view capture some of the defining moments – celebratory and traumatic alike – of the last century, from the Birmingham civil rights demonstrations to the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Far from simply nostalgic and laudatory, the exhibition critically reconsiders Life‘s complex, and sometimes contradictory, approach to such stories through works by photographers from different backgrounds and perspectives who captured difficult images of ethnic discrimination and racialised violence, from the Holocaust to white supremacist terror of the 1960s.

Drawing on unprecedented access to Life magazine’s picture and paper archives as well as photographers’ archives, the exhibition brings together more than 180 objects, including vintage photographs, contact sheets, assignment outlines, internal memos, and layout experiments. Visitors can trace the construction of a Life photo-essay from assignment through to the creative and editorial process of shaping images into a compelling story. This focus departs from the historic fascination with the singular photographic genius and instead celebrates the collaborative efforts behind many now-iconic images and stories. Particular attention is given to the women staff members of Life, whose roles remained forgotten or overshadowed by the traditional emphasis on men at the magazine. Most photographs on view are original working press prints – made to be used in the magazine’s production – and represent the wide range of photographers who worked for Life, such as Margaret Bourke-White, Larry Burrows, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Frank Dandridge, Gordon Parks, and W. Eugene Smith.

Interspersed throughout the exhibition, three immersive contemporary “moments” feature works by artists active today who interrogate news media through their practice. A multimedia installation by Alfredo Jaar, screen prints by Alexandra Bell, and a new commission by Julia Wachtel frame larger conversations for visitors about implicit biases and systemic racism in contemporary media.

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography offers a revealing look at the collaborative processes behind many of Life‘s most recognisable, beloved, and controversial images and photo-essays, while incorporating the voices of contemporary artists and their critical reflections on photojournalism.

The exhibition is accompanied by a multi-authored catalogue, winner of the College Art Association’s 2021 Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award.

Text from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Red Jackson, Harlem, New York' 1948

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Red Jackson, Harlem, New York
1948
Gelatin silver print
Princeton University Art Museum
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Life Magazine (1883-1972) '[Harlem Gang Leader opening spread]' 1948

 

Life Magazine (1883-1972)
[Harlem Gang Leader opening spread]
1948
From LIFE Magazine, November 1, 1948, pages 96-97
Illustrated periodical
Princeton University Art Museum
Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation
Text © 1948 LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Henri Cartier‑Bresson (French, 1908-2004) 'Untitled (Peiping)' 1948

 

Henri Cartier‑Bresson (French, 1908-2004)
Untitled (Peiping)
1948
Gelatin silver print
Life Picture Collection
© Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Jay Eyerman (American, 1906-1985) '3-D Movie Contact Sheet' 1952

 

Jay Eyerman (American, 1906-1985)
3-D Movie Contact Sheet
1952
Gelatin silver print, contact sheet
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Jay Eyerman (American, 1906-1985) 'Audience watches movie wearing 3‑D spectacles' 1952

 

Jay Eyerman (American, 1906-1985)
Audience watches movie wearing 3‑D spectacles
1952
Gelatin silver print
The Howard Greenberg Collection – Museum purchase with funds donated by the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust
© LIFE Picture Collection
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Fritz Goro (American born in Germany, 1901-1986) 'Red laser light focused through a lens blasts a pin‑point hole through a razor blade in a thousandth of a second' 1962

 

Fritz Goro (American born in Germany, 1901-1986)
Red laser light focused through a lens blasts a pin‑point hole through a razor blade in a thousandth of a second
1962
Photograph, colour transparency
Life Picture Collection
© LIFE Picture Collection.
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 'Vintage NASA Photograph of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing' 1969

 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Vintage NASA Photograph of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing
1969
Photograph, chromogenic print
Abbott Lawrence Fund
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Alfredo Jaar (Chilean living New York, b. 1956) 'Life Magazine, April 19, 1968' 1995

 

Alfredo Jaar (Chilean living New York, b. 1956)
Life Magazine, April 19, 1968
1995
Suite of three pigment prints on Innova paper
© Alfredo Jaar
Courtesy Alfredo Jaar and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York
Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

Alfredo Jaar (Chilean living New York, b. 1956) 'The Silence of Nduwayezu' 1997

Alfredo Jaar (Chilean living New York, b. 1956) 'The Silence of Nduwayezu' 1997

 

Alfredo Jaar (Chilean living New York, b. 1956)
The Silence of Nduwayezu
1997
One million slides, light table, magnifiers, illuminated wall text
78 7/10 × 118 1/10 in. (200 × 300cm)

 

 

One million slides featuring eyes in close-up of boy who witnessed murder of his parents.

“In 1994, in the face of what he described as “the criminal, barbaric indifference of the so-called world community”, Jaar travelled to Rwanda to witness the horrific aftermath of one of history’s most violent conflicts. Three months prior, an estimated one million Rwandans had been systematically killed during one hundred days of civil unrest. The artist dedicated six years to this project in which he seeks to bring attention to personal stories to pay tribute to the victims of the genocide.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is an installation titled The Silence of Nduwayezu, which comprises one million slides featuring a pair of eyes in close-up. The eyes belong to Nduwayezu, a five year old Tutsi boy who Jaar met at a refugee camp in Rubavu. Like many Rwandan children, Nduwayezu had witnessed the killing of his own parents, a trauma so deep it affected his ability to speak.

“The installation tangibly represents the steadily escalating number of Tutsis killed in the massacre by showing one million identical slides of Nduwayezu’s eyes piled high on a giant light table. […] By borrowing Nduwayezu’s eyes and making them stare at us as if we were gazing in a mirror, Jaar reminds us of the silence of the international community – the absence of images – that exacerbated the calamity and consequences experienced by the people of Rwanda. […] The Silence of Nduwayezu fills the information void left by the silence of the international community, yet at the same time, it is also a meditative gesture, casting doubt on the ability of photographs to ever relay the enormity of raw human experience, or to make it part of the viewer’s world.”

Anonymous text. “Alfredo Jaar: 25 Years Later,” on the Goodman Gallery website January 2022 [Online] Cited 06/12/2022

 

Alexandra Bell (American, b. 1983) 'Gang Leader' 2019

 

Alexandra Bell (American, b. 1983)
Gang Leader
2019
Screenprint, chine colle on paper and archival pigment print on paper
25 x 44 inches each
Courtesy of the Artist
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

“It’s imperative to show how a turn of phrase or a misplaced photo has real consequences for people at the margins who are still suffering under the weight of unfair and biased representation.” ~ Alexandra Bell

.
Presented as a series of boldly reworked New York Times articles, each of the six works exhibited in Counternarratives perform visual examinations that reveal news media’s complicity in perpetuating racial prejudice in America. Through redactions of original text, revised headlines, and margins replete with red sharpie annotations, Bell reveals the implicit biases that control how narratives involving communities of colour are depicted and in turn disseminated under the aegis of journalistic ‘objectivity.’ Bell identifies misleading frameworks and false equivalencies in journalism’s coverage of events like the murder of the unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer, Darren Wilson in 2014, which is explored in her work “A Teenager With Promise.” The series demonstrates the extent to which white-centered, sympathetic news coverage remains pervasive within even liberal news organisations. By arguing back and calling out these inequities, Bell gives voice to the ways in which power operates through language to articulate our lived, bodily experiences in the world.

Anonymous text. “Alexandra Bell: Counternarratives,” on the Charlie James Gallery website 2019 [Online] Cited 07/12/2022

 

Alexandra Bell (American, b. 1983) 'A Teenager with Promise (Annotated)' 2018

 

Alexandra Bell (American, b. 1983)
A Teenager with Promise (Annotated)
2018
Screenprint, chine colle on paper and archival pigment print on paper
44 x 35 inches/each
Courtesy of the Artist
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

 

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07
Nov
19

Exhibition: ‘Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 9th July – 10th November 2019

Curator: Amanda Maddox and Paul Roth

 

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Flavio' 1978

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Flavio
1978
Paper Closed: 21.6 × 15.1 cm (8 1/2 × 5 15/16 in.)
Collection of the Ryerson Image Centre
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Playing God can be a tricky business

 

 

“Playing God can be a tricky business”

There are some heartbreaking images (in particular by French/Brazilian photographer Henri Ballot), but in Parks photographs we never seem to hear Flavio’s voice – just his representation through the image. Despite Parks coming from a similar background of poverty and disenfranchisement and wanting the best for the boy, one can only wonder about the psychological effects of showing him the promised land and then having it all taken away.

The only time we come close to hearing Flavio’s wishes and his voice is in a snippet: “In spite of his wish to remain in the United States, Flávio was sent back to Brazil in 1963. Now 70 years old, he has never returned to the United States.”

Marcus

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

 

On assignment to document poverty in Brazil for Life magazine, American photographer Gordon Parks encountered one of the most important subjects of his career: Flávio da Silva. Parks featured the resourceful, ailing boy from an impoverished Rio favela (Portuguese for shantytown) and his family in the heart-rending 1961 photo essay “Freedom’s Fearful Foe.” It resulted in donations from Life readers but sparked controversy in Brazil. This exhibition explores the celebrated photo essay, tracing the extraordinary chain of events it triggered and Parks’ representation of Flávio over several decades.

 

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1961

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image (approx.): 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Family's Day Begins, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1961, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Family’s Day Begins, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 27.3 × 35.6 cm (10 3/4 × 14 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (The da Silva Children Climbing the Hillside), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1961

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (The da Silva Children Climbing the Hillside), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 33.7 × 23.2 cm (13 1/4 × 9 1/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased in part with funds provided by the Photographs Council, Trish and Jan de Bont, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, Manfred Heiting, Lyle and Lisi Poncher, and Devon Susholtz and Stephen Purvis
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Mário da Silva, Crying after Being Bitten by Dog, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1961, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Mário da Silva, Crying after Being Bitten by Dog, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 20 × 13.3 cm (7 7/8 × 5 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Catacumba Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1961, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Catacumba Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.9 × 18.7 cm (7 1/16 × 7 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Flávio da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1961

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Flávio da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 33.7 × 22.2 cm (13 1/4 × 8 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Isabel da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1961, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Isabel da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 32.7 × 22.2 cm (12 7/8 × 8 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Abia and Isabel da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1961, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Abia and Isabel da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23 × 29.9 cm (9 1/16 × 11 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Nair da Silva, Holding Zacarias), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1961, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Nair da Silva, Holding Zacarias), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 30.5 × 22.9 cm (12 × 9 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Paulo Muniz (Brazilian, 1918-1994) 'Untitled (Gordon Parks and Flávio da Silva at Airport, Soon to Fly to United States), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative July 5, 1961, printed later

 

Paulo Muniz (Brazilian, 1918-1994)
Untitled (Gordon Parks and Flávio da Silva at Airport, Soon to Fly to United States), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative July 5, 1961, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Framed: 72.9 × 57.6 cm (28 11/16 × 22 11/16 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation Courtesy of the artist’s estate/IMS

 

Unknown maker. 'Untitled (Four Officials Inspect Catacumba Favela)' August 7, 1967

 

Unknown maker
Untitled (Four Officials Inspect Catacumba Favela)
August 7, 1967
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.1 × 24 cm (7 1/8 × 9 7/16 in.)
Diários Associados Collection-Rio de Janiero/Instituto Moreira Salles

 

Unknown maker. 'Untitled (Removal of Residents' Possessions, Catacumba Hill, Avenida Epitácio Pessoa)' October 15, 1970

 

Unknown maker
Untitled (Removal of Residents’ Possessions, Catacumba Hill, Avenida Epitácio Pessoa)
October 15, 1970
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.1 × 18 cm (9 1/2 × 7 1/16 in.)
Diários Associados Collection-Rio de Janiero/Instituto Moreira Salles

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927) 'Flávio Catches His First Fish, Denver, Colorado' Negative about 1962, print about 1977

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927)
Flávio Catches His First Fish, Denver, Colorado
Negative about 1962, print about 1977
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 25.4 × 20.3 cm (10 × 8 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© José Gonçalves

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927) 'Untitled (Snapshot of Flávio da Silva and the Gonçalves Family)' Negative 1961-63; printed 1976

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927)
Untitled (Snapshot of Flávio da Silva and the Gonçalves Family)
Negative 1961-63; printed 1976
Chromogenic print
Sheet: 12.7 × 8.9 cm (5 × 3 1/2 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© José Gonçalves

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927) 'Untitled (Snapshot of Flávio da Silva and the Gonçalves Family)' Negative 1961-63; printed 1976

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927)
Untitled (Snapshot of Flávio da Silva and the Gonçalves Family)
Negative 1961-63; printed 1976
Chromogenic print
Sheet: 8.9 × 12.4 cm (3 1/2 × 4 7/8 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© José Gonçalves

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927) 'Flávio Waves Goodbye to the Gonçalves Family from the Train That Will Take Him to New York, Denver, Colorado' Negative July 27, 1963, print about 1977

 

José Gonçalves (American, born 1927)
Flávio Waves Goodbye to the Gonçalves Family from the Train That Will Take Him to New York, Denver, Colorado
Negative July 27, 1963, print about 1977
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 20.3 × 25.4 cm (8 × 10 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© José Gonçalves

 

 

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today an exhibition of photographs by celebrated artist Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006). On view July 9-November 10, 2019 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story explores one of the most important photo essays Parks produced for Life magazine and traces how its publication prompted an extraordinary sequence of events over several decades. The exhibition is co-organised by the Getty and the Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto, Canada in partnership with Instituto Moreira Salles, Brazil, and The Gordon Parks Foundation, New York.

“Gordon Parks’ photographs chronicling social justice, civil rights, and the African-American experience in the United States are both a vital historical document and a compelling body of artistic work,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “And, of all his varied projects, Parks considered the photographs of Flávio among his most important achievements. The great impact that it had, and still has today, can only be appreciated by presenting these photographs in their full socio-political context, which is what this exhibition does for the first time.”

An accomplished filmmaker, composer, writer and poet, Parks is best remembered for his prolific career as a photographer. He became the first African-American photographer on staff at Life magazine, where he covered subjects ranging from fashion to social injustice. In 1961 the magazine sent him to Brazil with a specific assignment: to document poverty in Rio de Janeiro for a special series on Latin America. Told to photograph the hardworking father of a large, impoverished household, Parks all but disregarded these instructions and turned his attention instead to one resident in particular – an industrious, severely asthmatic twelve-year-old boy named Flávio da Silva who lived in Catacumba, one of Rio’s working class neighbourhoods known as favelas.

Over the course of several weeks Parks photographed Flávio as he performed household chores and entertained his seven brothers and sisters – daily activities that were often interrupted by debilitating asthma attacks. Having himself grown up in abject poverty in Kansas, Parks felt deep sympathy for his subject and forged an emotional bond with him. Ultimately Parks advocated for a comprehensive photo essay dedicated to Flávio’s story in the pages of Life; editors responded by publishing a twelve-page piece, titled “Freedom’s Fearful Foe: Poverty,” in June 1961. The exhibition will include images from this spread, as well as outtakes from the assignment.

Within days of its publication in the magazine, Flávio’s story emerged as a blockbuster. Moved by Parks’ heartbreaking coverage, Life‘s readers wrote thousands of letters and spontaneously donated money to support the da Silva family and the revitalisation of the favela. Upon seeing the images, the president of the Children’s Asthma Research Institute and Hospital (CARIH) in Denver, Colorado offered to treat Flávio as a patient, free of charge. In July 1961, Life sent Parks back to Rio as part of the magazine’s follow-up efforts. After helping to move the da Silva family from Catacumba, Parks accompanied Flávio from Rio to the United States. For the next two years Flávio lived and received treatment at CARIH but spent most weekends with a Portugeuse-speaking host family who introduced him to various aspects of American culture.

Anticipating a compelling story about Flávio’s medical progress and experience in the U.S., Life assigned a local photographer, Hikaru “Carl” Iwasaki, to document the boy’s arrival in Denver, admission to the hospital, and acclimation at school. A selection of these images will be on view in the exhibition, including some that Life never published, alongside snapshots made by Flávio’s host father in Denver, José Gonçalves. In spite of his wish to remain in the United States, Flávio was sent back to Brazil in 1963. Now 70 years old, he has never returned to the United States.

When published in 1961, “Freedom’s Fearful Foe: Poverty” was also met with criticism, particularly within the Brazilian press. Outraged and determined to retaliate against Life‘s negative portrayal of the Catacumba favela and its residents, the Brazilian magazine O Cruzeiro sent staff photographer Henri Ballot to report on poverty in New York, where Life was headquartered. While exploring the Lower East Side in Manhattan, Ballot documented an immigrant family from Puerto Rico – Felix and Esther Gonzalez and their children – who lived in a derelict one-bedroom apartment. Arguing that poverty was equally endemic in the United States, O Cruzeiro published Ballot’s photographs in October 1961 in the photo essay “Nôvo recorde americano: Miséria” (New American Record: Misery). Photographs from this story, as well as from an investigative exposé on Parks’ reportage also published in O Cruzeiro in 1961, will be on view in the exhibition.

Over the years Parks periodically returned to Flávio as a subject. In 1976 he published Flávio, which recounted and updated the story through words and pictures. In the book’s introduction, Parks provided insight into his own conflicted engagement with certain photographic assignments that focused on people like the da Silva family, acknowledging that he “was perhaps playing God” by digging “deeper and deeper into the privacy of these lives, hoping … to reshape their destinies into something much better.” Following this admission, Parks returned to Brazil only once in the 1990s; it marked the last time Parks and Flávio saw each other prior to Parks’ death in 2006.

“Parks regarded poverty as ‘the most savage of all human afflictions,’ in no small part because he was born into destitution,” says Amanda Maddox, co-curator of the exhibition and an associate curator at the Getty Museum. “As a photographer he consciously wielded his camera as a weapon – his chosen term – in an attempt to combat economic and racial inequality. Viewed in this context, his documentation of Flávio da Silva – for Life and beyond – reveals the complexity of his empathetic approach and the inherent difficulties of representing someone else’s personal story – a story that resonated with many people over many years – in any form.”

In addition to more than 100 photographs, the exhibition will also include original issues of Life that featured Flávio’s story, previously unseen ephemera related to Flávio’s time in Denver, and private memos, correspondence, and records held by Life and Parks.

Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story is on view July 9-November 10, 2019 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center. The exhibition is co-curated by Amanda Maddox, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Paul Roth, director of the Ryerson Image Centre. An accompanying book is available, published by Steidl Verlag, with essays by Maddox and Roth, as well as Sergio Burgi, curator at Instituto Moreira Salles; Beatriz Jaguaribe, professor of comparative communications, School of Communications, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro; and Maria Alice Rezende de Carvalho, professor of sociology, Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum Cited 27/10/2019

 

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Ely-Samuel Gonzalez on His Bed, Manhattan, New York' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Ely-Samuel Gonzalez on His Bed, Manhattan, New York
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.5 × 15.8 cm (9 1/4 × 6 1/4 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Apartment Building Where the Gonzalez Family lives, Manhattan, New York' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Apartment Building Where the Gonzalez Family lives, Manhattan, New York
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16 × 23.9 cm (6 5/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Child Playing Surrounded by Trash, Manhattan, New York' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Child Playing Surrounded by Trash, Manhattan, New York
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16 × 24 cm (6 5/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Bedroom in the Gonzalez Family Apartment, Manhattan, New York' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Bedroom in the Gonzalez Family Apartment, Manhattan, New York
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.3 × 24 cm (7 3/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Child Crying at the Window, Manhattan, New York' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Child Crying at the Window, Manhattan, New York
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.2 × 18 cm (9 1/2 × 7 1/16 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Photographer Henri Ballot with Ely-Samuel (on the Left) and His Brothers, Manhattan, New York' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Photographer Henri Ballot with Ely-Samuel (on the Left) and His Brothers, Manhattan, New York
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.8 × 24.4 cm (7 × 9 5/8 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Maria Penha da Silva, Flávio's Grandmother, and Her Other Grandchildren, Reading 'Life', Guadalupe, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Maria Penha da Silva, Flávio’s Grandmother, and Her Other Grandchildren, Reading ‘Life’, Guadalupe, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16 × 24 cm (6 5/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997) 'Aracy, a Neighbour of the da Silva Family, Pointing out Where the Photographs for Gordon Parks's Reportage Were Taken in the da Silvas' Former Home, Catacumba Hill, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1961

 

Henri Ballot (French / Brazilian, 1921-1997)
Aracy, a Neighbour of the da Silva Family, Pointing out Where the Photographs for Gordon Parks’s Reportage Were Taken in the da Silvas’ Former Home, Catacumba Hill, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1961
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.8 × 15.9 cm (9 3/8 × 6 1/4 in.)
Henri Ballot/Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (The da Silva Family), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1976, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (The da Silva Family), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1976, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.9 × 34 cm (9 × 13 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' Negative 1976, printed later

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Negative 1976, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 × 23.5 cm (13 1/2 × 9 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1976

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1976
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Flávio da Silva Looking at Gordon Parks's Book 'Moments Without Proper Names', Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1976

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Flávio da Silva Looking at Gordon Parks’s Book ‘Moments Without Proper Names’, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1976
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Flávio and Cleuza da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1976

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Flávio and Cleuza da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1976
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1999

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1999
Gelatin silver print
Image: 20.3 × 25.4 cm (8 × 10 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil' 1999

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled (Flávio da Silva), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1999
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 25.4 × 20.3 cm (10 × 8 in.)
The Gordon Parks Foundation
© The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

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

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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09
Dec
15

Exhibition: ‘Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 19th September – 20th December 2015

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Kansas City, Missouri, March 1967'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Kansas City, Missouri, March 1967
1967 (negative); 1968 (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 1/8 x 10 1/2 inches (18.1 x 26.7cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

Following on from the magnificent Francesca Woodman, here we have an artist from a previous period who investigates aspects of alienation, despair, loss and hope. These are of the era:

Post-McCarthyism but still caught in that cataclysm / Henri Cartier-Bresson / Irving Penn / Ansel Adams / Saturday Evening Post / Allen Ginsberg / Beat Generation / emerging counterculture of the 1960s.

It is an Americana (the despairing history, geography and culture of the United States) with an elusive meaning and a aesthetic that seems to be tight … but one that can’t stand to be scratched.

While some of the images are memorable (such as Vengeful Sister, Chicago, 1956) there is not much living, lying underneath. Nothing that reveals itself to me over time, that makes me return to the image again and again, for insight and, possibly, refreshment. A little hope and much sadness.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

“City streets were Heath’s first studio: Philadelphia; Chicago; New York, where he came to prominence; and later Toronto. Isolation is a prevailing theme: Subjects gaze cryptically into the camera, their expressions unreadable. Often they stare beyond the frame, lost in thought. Crowds of individuals populate a single location, but don’t interact; disconnected, in their own worlds.

The dispossessed and alienated are Heath’s subjects, and he wrote his autobiography with their images: children with ragged clothes and dirty faces, stone-faced or crying, hardly ever smiling. A sweet-faced girl with tangled hair and huge light eyes stares out from the cover of Heath’s masterwork A Dialogue with Solitude, as if to say, “Here I am,” and nothing more…

Heath, who had to find his way alone, photographed passengers looking out of car windows and riding in elevated trains, going who knows where? Many photos are of just one person, and even the group shots set one occupant apart. Faces are expressionless, but their eyes are full of sorrow, uncertainty, loneliness, fear. We recognise that look: the one we all have when our public mask falls away and our faces betray the thoughts that wake us in the middle of the night.”

.
Pamela J.  Forsythe. “Alone together,” on the Broad Street Review website October 18, 2015 [Online] Cited 07/09/2015. No longer available online

 

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Berkeley, California, 1964'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Berkeley, California, 1964
1964
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 x 6 13/16 inches (11.7 x 17.3cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Erin Freed, New York City, 1963'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Erin Freed, New York City, 1963
1963
Gelatin silver print
7 5/16 x 8 3/4 inches (18.6 x 22.2cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Carl Dean Kipper, Korea, 1953-54'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Carl Dean Kipper, Korea, 1953-54
1953-1954
Gelatin silver print
6 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches (17.1 x 24.8cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Philadelphia, 1952'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Philadelphia, 1952
1952
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

Experience Dave Heath’s bittersweet vision of modern life in his powerful photographs of loss and hope.

From a crowd gathered in Central Park to solitary figures lost in thought, Dave Heath’s images conjure feelings of alienation and a desire for human connection. Multitude, Solitude highlights the photographer’s black-and-white pictures of the 1950s and 1960s, an intense period of self-discovery and innovation for the artist. During these pivotal years, Heath developed groundbreaking approaches to narrative and image sequence, producing exquisite individual prints, handmade book maquettes, his poetic masterwork, A Dialogue with Solitude, and multimedia slide presentations. His sensitive explorations of loss, pain, love, and hope reveal Heath to be one of the most original photographers of those decades.

This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of Heath’s deeply personal early work. Abandoned by both his parents by the age of four, Heath lived in Philadelphia foster homes and in an orphanage until the age of sixteen. The turmoil of his childhood profoundly shaped Heath and his artistic vision. Just before his sixteenth birthday, he encountered a poignant photo-essay about foster care in Life magazine, and became intrigued by photography’s potential to transcend simple reportage. Almost entirely self-taught, Heath channeled his feelings of abandonment into a body of work that underscores the importance and difficulties of human contact and interaction. Multitude, Solitude reaffirms Heath’s status as a key figure in twentieth-century photography and highlights his deeply empathetic sensibility.

 

About the artist

Born in Philadelphia in 1931, Dave Heath became interested in photography as a teenager. In the following years he trained himself in the craft, taking courses in commercial art, working in a photo-processing lab, and studying paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. While stationed in Korea with the US Army, he photographed his fellow soldiers, creating images that are at once candid and subdued. In 1957 Heath moved to New York City and established himself as a major artistic talent.Heath taught at the Dayton Art Institute, Ohio, and Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, before moving in 1970 to Toronto, where he headed the photography program at Ryerson University for many years. His work is in the collections of leading museums, including The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Heath’s major monograph, A Dialogue with Solitude, was published in 1965 and reprinted in 2000. His work has been included in important historical studies and surveys, such as Robert M. Doty’s Photography in America (1974); John Szarkowski’s Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960 (1978); James Borcoman’s Magicians of Light: Photographs from the Collection of the National Gallery of Canada (1993); and Keith F. Davis’s An American Century: From Dry-Plate to Digital (1999).

Text from the Philadelphia Museum of Art website

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Drowning Scene, Central Park, New York City, 1957'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Drowning Scene, Central Park, New York City, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
6 3/8 x 9 9/16 inches (16.2 x 24.3cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Drowning Scene, Central Park, New York City, 1957' (detail)

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Drowning Scene, Central Park, New York City, 1957 (detail)
1957
Gelatin silver print
6 3/8 x 9 9/16 inches (16.2 x 24.3cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Vengeful Sister, Chicago, 1956'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Vengeful Sister, Chicago, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
7 3/16 x 8 15/16 inches (18.3 x 22.7cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) '7 Arts Coffee Gallery, New York City, 1959'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
7 Arts Coffee Gallery, New York City, 1959
1959
Gelatin silver print
7 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'New York City, 1958-59'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
New York City, 1958-59
1958-1959
Gelatin silver print
7 x 8 5/8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) '5th Avenue at 43rd Street, New York City, 1958'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
5th Avenue at 43rd Street, New York City, 1958
1958
Gelatin silver print
6 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Santa Barbara, California, 1964'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Santa Barbara, California, 1964
1964
Gelatin silver print
5 x 7 9/16 inches (12.7 x 19.2cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Rochester, New York, 1958'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Rochester, New York, 1958
1958
Gelatin silver print
6 9/16 x 9 13/16 inches (16.7 x 24.9cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Washington Square, New York City, 1959-1960'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Washington Square, New York City, 1959-1960
1959-1960
Gelatin silver print
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

Forever the outsider

Heath left Philadelphia to serve in the Korean War, where he photographed fellow soldiers and his impressions of war. Soon after his return, he departed for Chicago, where he worked as a photographer’s assistant. He began to assemble handmade books, grouping photos into themed essays and putting text to the images, establishing the template he would use in A Dialogue with Solitude.

Relocating to New York in 1957, Heath studied with photojournalist W. Eugene Smith, refining his photo essay technique and adopting Smith’s practice of making fine art prints of his work. He took photos with available light, in the street and at favourite haunts like Washington Square Park and Seven Arts Coffee Gallery, mounting the Dialogue exhibition in 1963. In that same year, he won his first Guggenheim.

 

Accepting life on its own terms

When Dialogue went to print in 1965, Heath employed the same editorial control he had with earlier creations, selecting, sizing, and laying out every photo, dictating typeface and size, and selecting text from famous authors, such as William Butler Yeats, Hermann Hesse, and T.S. Eliot. Only in the preface did he use his own words:

“Pressed from all sides by the rapid pace of technological progress and increased authoritarian control, many people are caught up in an anguish of alienation. Adrift and without sense of purpose, they are compelled to engage in a dialogue with the inmost depths of their being in a search for renewal.” He concludes, “What I have endeavoured to convey in my work is not a sense of futility… but an acceptance… that the pleasures and joys of life are fleeting and rare.”

The final sections convey a few of those pleasurable moments: In two photos entitled Chicago (1956), a small boy stands, head thrown back in exultation, and two boys mug for the camera. In Fifth Avenue, New York City (1960), a father snuggles his baby to his face, looking over the child’s head protectively, and in Barbara Freed and Her Son Sean, New York City (1959), a toddler heads toward a pair of outstretched female hands. Heath selected the final excerpt from Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”:

All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death?

.
Pamela J.  Forsythe. “Alone together” on the Broad Street Review website October 18, 2015 [Online] Cited 07/09/2015. No longer available online

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Greenwich Village, New York City, 1957'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Greenwich Village, New York City, 1957
1957
Gelatin silver print
12 5/8 x 9 9/16 inches (32.1 x 24.3cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'New York City, 1962'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
New York City, 1962
1962
Gelatin silver print
10 13/16 x 7 7/16 inches (27.5 x 18.9cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Chicago, 1956'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Chicago, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
12 9/16 x 8 9/16 inches (31.9 x 21.7cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Chicago, 1956'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Chicago, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
9 3/4 x 6 5/8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Chicago, 1956'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Chicago, 1956
1956
Gelatin silver print
10 x 8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Washington Square, New York City, 1960'

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931)
Washington Square, New York City, 1960
1960
Gelatin silver print
12 5/8 x 8 5/8 inches (32.1 x 21.9cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Washington Square, New York City, 1958'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Washington Square, New York City, 1958
1958
Gelatin silver print
12 5/8 x 8 3/8 inches (32.1 x 21.3cm)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016) 'Howard Crawford, c. 1953-54'

 

Dave Heath (American, 1931-2016)
Howard Crawford, c. 1953-54
c. 1953-1954
Gelatin silver print
13 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri: Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Thursday – Monday: 10am – 5pm
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

Philadelphia Museum of Art website

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14
Jun
15

Exhibition: ‘Gordon Parks: Segregation Story’ at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Exhibition dates: 15th November 2014 – 21st June 2015

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia
1956
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

The more I see of this man’s work, the more I admire it.

A sense of history, truth and injustice; a sense of beauty, colour and disenfranchisement; above all, a sense of composition and knowing the right time to take a photograph to tell the story. It’s all there, right in front of us, in almost every photograph. Photographs of institutionalised racism and the American apartheid, “the state of being apart”, laid bare for all to see.

From the languid curl and mass of the red sofa on which Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama (1956) sit, which makes them seem very small and which forms the horizontal plane, intersected by the three generations of family photos from top to bottom – youth, age, family … to the blank stare of the nanny holding the white child while the mother looks on in Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia (1956). I love the amorphous mass of black at the right hand side of the this image. From the neon delightful, downward pointing arrow of ‘Colored Entrance’ in Department Store, Mobile, Alabama (1956) to the ‘WHITE ONLY’ obelisk in At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama (1956). And so the story flows on like some great river, unstoppable, unquenchable…

But then we have two of the most intimate moments of beauty that brings me to tears as I write this, the two photographs at the bottom of the posting Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama (1956). Just look at the light that Parks uses, this drawing with light. And then the use of depth of field, colour, composition (horizontal, vertical and diagonal elements) that leads the eye into these images and the utter, what can you say, engagement – no – quiescent knowingness on the children’s faces (like an old soul in a young body). This is a wondrous thing.

Notice how the photographer has pre-exposed the sheet of film so that the highlights in both images do not blow out. Pre-exposing the film lessens the contrast range allowing shadow detail and highlight areas to be held in balance. Also notice how in both images the photographer lets the eye settle in the centre of the image – in the photograph of the boy, the out of focus stairs in the distance; in the photograph of the three girls, the bonnet of the red car – before he then pulls our gaze back and to the right of the image to let the viewer focus on the faces of his subjects. In both photographs we have vertical elements (a door jam and a telegraph post) coming out of the red colours in the images and this vertically is reinforced in the image of the three girls by the rising ladder of the back of the chair. Masterful image making, this push and pull, this bravura art of creation.

Surely, Gordon Parks ranks up there with the greatest photographers of the 20th century.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the High Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Many thanx also to Carlos Eguiguren for sending me his portrait of Gordon Parks taken in New York in 1985, which reveals a wonderful vulnerability within the artist.

 

 

Carlos Eguiguren. 'Gordon Parks, New York' 1985

 

Carlos Eguiguren (Chile, b. 1955)
Gordon Parks, New York
1985
4 x 5″ transparency film
© Carlos Eguiguren

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

This portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton Sr., aged 82 and 70, served as the opening image of Parks’s photo essay. The well-dressed couple stares directly into the camera, asserting their status as patriarch and matriarch of their extensive Southern family. Photography is featured prominently within the image: a framed portrait, made shortly after the couple was married in 1906, hangs on the wall behind them, while family snapshots, including some of the Thorntons’ nine children and nineteen grandchildren, are proudly displayed on the coffee table in the foreground.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Department Store, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Department Store, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

Joanne Wilson, one of the Thorntons’ daughters, is shown standing with her niece in front of a department store in downtown Mobile. The pair is impeccably dressed in light, summery frocks. The jarring neon of the “Colored Entrance” sign looming above them clashes with the two young women’s elegant appearance, transforming a casual afternoon outing into an example of overt discrimination. Notice the fallen strap of Wilson’s slip. Though this detail might appear discordant with the rest of the picture, its inclusion may have been strategic: it allowed Parks to emphasise the humanity of his subjects.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

A group of children peers across a chain-link fence into a whites-only playground with a Ferris wheel. Although they had access to a “separate but equal” recreational area in their own neighbourhood, this photograph captures the allure of this other, inaccessible space. The children, likely innocent to the cruel implications of their exclusion, longingly reach their hands out to the mysterious and forbidden arena beyond. The pristinely manicured lawn on the other side of the fence contrasts with the overgrowth of weeds in the foreground, suggesting the persistent reality of racial inequality.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

The Jim Crow laws established in the South ensured that public amenities remained racially segregated. These laws applied to schools, public transportation, restaurants, recreational facilities, and even drinking fountains, as shown here. The photograph documents the prevalence of such prejudice, while at the same time capturing a scene of compassion. Here, a gentleman helps one of the young girls reach the fountain to have a refreshing drink of water.

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-Shopping, Mobile, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Ondria Tanner and Her Grandmother Window-Shopping, Mobile, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

RARE PHOTOS BY GORDON PARKS PREMIERE AT HIGH MUSEUM OF ART

Featuring works created for Parks’ powerful 1956 Life magazine photo essay that have never been publicly exhibited.

The High Museum of Art presents rarely seen photographs by trailblazing African American artist and filmmaker Gordon Parks in Gordon Parks: Segregation Story on view November 15, 2014 through June 21, 2015.

The exhibition, presented in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation, features more than 40 of Parks’ colour prints – most on view for the first time – created for a powerful and influential 1950s Life magazine article documenting the lives of an extended African-American family in segregated Alabama. The series represents one of Parks’ earliest social documentary studies on colour film. The High will acquire 12 of the colour prints featured in the exhibition, supplementing the two Parks works – both gelatin silver prints – already owned by the High. These works augment the Museum’s extensive collection of Civil Rights era photography, one of the most significant in the nation.

Following the publication of the Life article, many of the photos Parks shot for the essay were stored away and presumed lost for more than 50 years until they were rediscovered in 2012 (six years after Parks’ death). Though a small selection of these images has been previously exhibited, the High’s presentation brings to light a significant number that have never before been displayed publicly. As the first African-American photographer for Life magazine, Parks published some of the 20th century’s most iconic social justice-themed photo essays and became widely celebrated for his black-and-white photography, the dominant medium of his era. The photographs that Parks created for Life’s 1956 photo essay The Restraints: Open and Hidden are remarkable for their vibrant colour and their intimate exploration of shared human experience.

The images provide a unique perspective on one of America’s most controversial periods. Rather than capturing momentous scenes of the struggle for civil rights, Parks portrayed a family going about daily life in unjust circumstances. Parks believed empathy to be vital to the undoing of racial prejudice. His corresponding approach to the Life project eschewed the journalistic norms of the day and represented an important chapter in Parks’ career-long endeavour to use the camera as his “weapon of choice” for social change. The Restraints: Open and Hidden gave Parks his first national platform to challenge segregation. The images he created offered a deeper look at life in the Jim Crow South, transcending stereotypes to reveal a common humanity.

“Parks’ images brought the segregated South to the public consciousness in a very poignant way – not only in colour, but also through the eyes of one of the century’s most influential documentarians,” said Brett Abbott, exhibition curator and Keough Family curator of photography and head of collections at the High. “To present these works in Atlanta, one of the centres of the Civil Rights Movement, is a rare and exciting opportunity for the High. It is also a privilege to add Parks’ images to our collection, which will allow the High to share his unique perspective with generations of visitors to come.

 

A Day in the Life

For The Restraints: Open and Hidden, Parks focused on the everyday activities of the related Thornton, Causey and Tanner families in and near Mobile, Ala. The images present scenes of Sunday church services, family gatherings, farm work, domestic duties, child’s play, window shopping and at-home haircuts – all in the context of the restraints of the Jim Crow South.

Key images in the exhibition include:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile Alabama (1956)
  • Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama (1956)
  • Department Store, Mobile Alabama (1956)
  • Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia (1956)
  • Willie Causey, Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama, Shady Grove, Alabama (1956)

 

About Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas. He grew up poor and faced racial discrimination. Parks was initially drawn to photography as a young man after seeing images of migrant workers published in a magazine, which made him realise photography’s potential to alter perspective. Parks became a self-taught photographer after purchasing his first camera at a pawnshop, and he honed his skills during a stint as a society and fashion photographer in Chicago. After earning a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for his gritty photographs of that city’s South Side, the Farm Security Administration hired Parks in the early 1940s to document the current social conditions of the nation.

By 1944, Parks was the only black photographer working for Vogue, and he joined Life magazine in 1948 as the first African-American staff photographer. In 1970, Parks co-founded Essence magazine and served as the editorial director for the first three years of its publication. Parks later became Hollywood’s first major black director when he released the film adaptation of his autobiographical novel The Learning Tree, for which he also composed the musical score, however he is best known as the director of the 1971 hit movie Shaft. Parks received the National Medal of Arts in 1988 and received more than 50 honorary doctorates over the course of his career. He died in 2006

 

About The Gordon Parks Foundation

The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks, makes it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.” The Foundation is a division of The Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.

Press release from the High Museum of Art

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Store Front, Mobile Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Store Front, Mobile Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Willie Causey, Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Willie Causey, Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Collection of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006) 'Black Classroom, Shady Grove, Alabama' 1956

 

Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006)
Black Classroom, Shady Grove, Alabama
1956
Promised gift of The Gordon Parks Foundation
Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

 

 

Although this photograph was taken in the 1950s, the wood-panelled interior, with a wood-burning stove at its centre, is reminiscent of an earlier time. Parks’s photograph of the segregated schoolhouse, here emptied of its students, evokes both the poetic and prosaic: springtime sunlight streams through the missing slats on the doors, while scraps of paper, rope, and other detritus litter the uneven floorboards. One of the Thorntons’ daughters, Allie Lee Causey, taught elementary-grade students in this dilapidated, four-room structure. After Parks’s article was published in Life, Mrs. Causey, who was quoted speaking out against segregation, was suspended from her job. She never held a teaching position again.

 

 

High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree Street,
N.E. Atlanta, GA 30309

Opening hours:
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 12 – 5pm

High Museum of Art website

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09
Jun
13

Exhibition: ‘The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951’ at The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida

Exhibition dates: 14th March – 16th June 2013

 

Alexander Alland. 'Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge)' 1938

 

Alexander Alland (Ukranian-American, 1902-1989, born Sevastopol, Ukraine)
Untitled (Brooklyn Bridge)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: William and Jane Schloss Family Foundation Fund

 

 

Conscience of the brave

Bradley Manning.
A slight, bespectacled, intelligent gay man.
A man who has the courage of his convictions.
He revealed truth at the heart of the world’s largest “democracy.”

There is something insidious about the American nation. Not its citizens, not its place, but its government. This government has perpetrated evil in the name of its people. Think of Iraq and Afghanistan, invasions in the name of freedom, the support of puppet governments, the assassinations, the military advisors on the ground, the profits made.

The torture. The deaths.

Bradley Manning revealed all of this because he has a mighty moral compass. He knows right from wrong. He was not afraid to expose the hypocrisy that for many years has beaten, unfettered, in the breast of a nation. The home of the brave and the free is sadly under attack from within. In the name of its people.

And why is this text relevant to this posting?

So often in the history of America, dissension is shut down because of some imagined menace, from within or without. Here another group of people (photographers documenting American social conditions) were persecuted for standing up for social causes, for the freedom to expose injustice where it lives. The paranoia of patriotism.

As Harold Pinter has so pithily observed,

“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Except the hypnotist is a deranged psychopath, a divided split personality arraigning god, greed and guns. Out of one, many sins.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

“When the persecution of an individual who has exposed an evil is pursued so ruthlessly and yet the evil itself is studiedly ignored, all of us know that there is something very wrong with the way that our society is conducting itself. And if we do not protest in the strongest terms about what is being done in our name, then we become complicit.”

.
Alan Moore

 

“The US has shown remarkable energy in its pursuit of alleged whistleblowers. Has it investigated the deaths of those innocent civilians with the same vigour? With any vigour whatsoever? And which would you consider a crime? To conceal the deaths of innocent civilians, or to reveal them? I know what my answer would be.”

.
Les Barker

 

“To suggest that lives were put in danger by the release of the WikiLeaks documents is the most cynical of statements. Lives were put in danger the night we invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, an act that had nothing to do with what the Bradley Mannings of this country signed up for: to defend our people from attack. It was a war based on a complete lie and lives were not only put in danger, hundreds of thousands of them were exterminated. For those who organised this massacre to point a finger at Bradley Manning is the ultimate example of Orwellian hypocrisy.”

.
Michael Moore

 

“Private Manning is the world’s pre-eminent prisoner of conscience, having remained true to the Nuremberg principle that every soldier has the right to ‘a moral choice.’ His suffering mocks the notion of the land of the free.”

.
John Pilger

 

 

Louis Stettner. 'Coming to America' c. 1951

 

Louis Stettner (American, b. 1922)
Coming  to America
c. 1951
Gelatin silver print The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund

 

 

Louis Stettner

Louis Stettner (November 7, 1922 – October 13, 2016) was an American photographer of the 20th century whose work included streetscapes, portraits and architectural images of New York and Paris. His work has been highly regarded because of its humanity and capturing the life and reality of the people and streets. Starting in 1947, Stettner photographed the changes in the people, culture, and architecture of both cities. He continued to photograph New York and Paris up until his death. …

Back from the war Stettner joined the Photo League in New York. Stettner visited Paris in 1946 and in 1947 moved there. From 1947 to 1949 he studied at the “Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques” in Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in Photography & Cinema. He went back and forth between New York and Paris for almost two decades and finally settled permanently in Saint-Ouen, near Paris, in 1990. Stettner still frequently returned to New York.

Stettner’s professional work in Paris began with capturing life in the post-war recovery. He captured the everyday lives of his subjects. In the tradition of the Photo League, he wanted to investigate the bonds that connect people to one another. In 1947 he was asked by the same Photo League to organise an exhibition of French photographers in New York. He gathered the works of some of the greatest photographers of the era, including Doisneau, Brassaï, Boubat, Izis, and Ronis. The show was a big success and was largely reviewed in the annual issue of U.S. Camera. Stettner had begun a series of regular meetings with Brassaï who was a great mentor and had significant influence on his work. In 1949, Stettner had his first exhibition at the “Salon des Indépendants” at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

In 1951 his work was included in the famous Subjektive Fotografie exhibition in Germany. During the 1950s he free-lanced for Time, Life, Fortune, and Du (Germany). While in Paris he reconnected with Paul Strand, who had also left New York because of the political intolerance of the McCarthy era – Strand had been a founder of the Photo League that would be blacklisted and then banned during those years.

In the 1970s Stettner spent more time in New York City, where he taught at Brooklyn College, Queens College, and Cooper Union.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Erika Stone (born 1924, Frankfurt, Germany) 'Lower Eastside Facade' 1947

 

Erika Stone (German, b. 1924)
Lower Eastside Facade
1947
Gelatin silver print
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection
Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund,
John S. and Catherine Chapin Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League

 

 

Stone’s adroit cropping of this image emphasises the coy upward gaze of the woman in the advertisement, away from the laundry line (emblem of poverty), and suggests the social mobility of the postwar era.

 

Marvin E. Newman. 'Halloween, South Side' 1951

 

Marvin E. Newman (American, b. 1927)
Halloween, South Side
1951
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund

 

 

Marvin Newman

Born in New York; Newman attended Brooklyn College, where he studied sculpture with Burgoyne Diller and photography with Walter Rosenblum. Following Rosenblum’s suggestion, he joined the Photo League in 1948, taking classes with John Ebstel. The Photo League, founded in 1936, blazed a trail for serious photographers for 15 years, providing a forum for ideas, cheap darkroom space, and the vision of using the art of picture taking to change the world. Newman then attended the Institute of Design, Chicago (1949-52), where, after studying with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, he received one of the first MS degrees in photography (1952).

During this time, Newman won national contests, including one sponsored by American Photography (1950) and another by Time, Inc. (1951). His work appeared in the Always a Young Stranger exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and in a one-man show at Roy De Carava’s A Photographer’s Gallery (1956). Well-known as a photojournalist, Newman has been a major contributor to Sports Illustrated since its inception (1953), as well as to Life, Look, Newsweek, and Smithsonian magazines. In addition, he has been the national president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, authored or coauthored eight books on photography, and received the Art Director’s Gold Medal for Editorial Photography.

 

Ida Wyman (born 1926, Malden, Massachusetts) 'Spaghetti 25 Cents, New York' 1945

 

Ida Wyman (American, 1926-2019)
Spaghetti 25 Cents, New York
1945
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund

 

 

This Italian restaurant was near the offices of Acme Newspictures, where Wyman became the company’s first female photo printer in 1943. After the war she lost her job at the agency. The “Ladies Invited” sign on the window is a reminder of a time when unescorted women were not always welcome in public dining establishments.

 

Ida Wyman

When I began working in the 1940s, few women were doing magazine photography in a field that was almost exclusively male. As I progressed from box camera to Speed Graphic (my first professional camera), and then to a Rolleiflex, I stopped thinking about the mechanics of film speed, f-stops, shutter speed, and began focusing on subject matter that interested me. What interested me so much were ordinary people and their everyday activities. Early on, I had documented children’s games and unusual architectural details in my Bronx neighbourhood. I decided to expand, to go elsewhere, taking the subway to Harlem, Chinatown, and lower Manhattan, exploring those neighbourhoods and looking for photos.

I became a member of the Photo League in 1946. I considered myself a documentary photographer and the League’s philosophy of honest photography appealed to me. I also began to understand the power of photos to help improve the social order by showing the conditions under which many people lived and worked. Even after leaving the League the following year, I continued to emphasise visual and social realities in my straightforward photographs.

Beginning with my earliest photos seeing New York City with my feet, and in whatever part of the country I was in, I continued my own walkabout, learning the area, engaging my subject, listening, and respecting their dignity. This continued to be my approach when taking photos. My photographs depicted daily life in America’s modern metropolitan centres, including Chicago and Los Angeles as well as New York.

 

Aaron Siskind. 'The Wishing Tree' 1937

 

Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991)
The Wishing Tree
1937, printed later
from Harlem Document, 1936-40
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Lillian Gordon Bequest

 

 

Harlem’s legendary Wishing Tree, bringer of good fortune, was once a tall elm that stood outside a theatre at 132nd Street and Seventh Avenue. When it was cut down in 1934 Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the celebrated tap dancer, moved the stump to a nearby block and planted a new Tree of Hope beside it to assume wish granting duties. A piece of the original trunk is preserved in the Apollo Theatre on 125th Street, where performers still touch it for luck before going onstage.

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer. 'Hebrew Immigration Aid Society' c. 1946

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer (American, b. 1920, Lakewood, New Jersey)
Hebrew Immigration Aid Society
c. 1946
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin in memory of Max Alperin

 

 

The efforts of the New York­ based Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS) to rescue European Jews during the war were severely hampered by US immigration laws. After the war it aided in the resettlement of some 150,000 displaced persons, including, presumably, these three, whom Handelman Meyer has chosen to photograph in close-­up. She conveys both their common suffering and their individuality, emphasising differences in body language and dress.

 

Sonia Handelman Meyer

I first heard of the Photo League from Lou Stoumen in Puerto Rico in 1942. I was working for the U.S. Army Signal Corps and Lou was preparing to join Yank Magazine. When I returned to New York City, I walked up the rickety stairs to League Headquarters and took a beginners class with Johnny Ebstel. I bought a used Rolleicord for a precious $100, and dared to go out on the city streets to photograph the life around me. Soon the guys began to come back from the war and the heady life of Photo League workshops, exhibits, lectures, photo hunts, and committee assignments intensified. I took eye-heart-soul opening workshops with Sid Grossman, worked as the paid (!) secretary for a year or so, and worked on the Lewis Hine Committee under Marynn Ausubel.

I photographed in Spanish Harlem, Greenwich Village, midtown Manhattan, at the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, at an anti-lynching rally in Madison Square Park, at a Jehovah’s Witness convention in Yankee Stadium, and on Coney Island. Mostly, I photographed children and reflections of my city – rough-edged, tender, and very beautiful in its diversity. Some of this work was shown in the major 1949 exhibition, This is the Photo League.

The heartbreaking end of the League coincided with a huge change in my personal life. I got married and my husband began to go to college and we were out of NY for a while. And then the biggest change: our own family arrived and the joys of our son, and later our daughter, absorbed my time. Prints and negatives were stashed away in boxes and I lost track of all the old friends at the League. After so many years of being in the shadows, you can imagine my pleasure, at 90+ years of age, to have my photographs out of their boxes and onto walls where they can be seen, thought about, and enjoyed – and perhaps again take their place in the history of the Photo League.

 

Arthur Leipzig. 'Chalk Games, Prospect Place, Brooklyn' 1950

 

Arthur Leipzig (American, 1918-2014)
Chalk Games, Prospect Place, Brooklyn
1950
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Rictavia Schiff Bequest

 

Arnold Eagle. 'Chatham Square Platform, New York City' c. 1939

 

Arnold Eagle (Hungarian-American, 1909-1992)
Chatham Square Platform, New York City
c. 1939
Silver gelatin print

 

Joe Schwartz. 'Slums Must Go! May Day Parade, New York' c. 1936

 

Joe Schwartz (American, 1913-2013)
Slums Must Go! May Day Parade, New York
c. 1936
Gelatin silver print
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection
Museum Purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund, John S. and Catherine Chapin
Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League

 

Morris Huberland. 'Union Square, New York' c. 1942

 

Morris Huberland (Polish-American, 1909-2003 born Warsaw, Poland)
Union Square, New York
c. 1942
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund

 

 

The Norton Museum of Art’s newest special exhibition, The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951, is a formidable survey of the League’s history, and its artistic, cultural, social, and political significance. Opening March 14 and on view through June 16, 2013, this striking exhibition includes nearly 150 vintage photographs from Photo League collections at the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, and The Jewish Museum in New York City.

The exhibition is organised by Mason Klein, Curator of Fine Arts at The Jewish Museum and Catherine Evans, the William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography of the Columbus Museum of Art. It premiered in at The Jewish Museum in 2011 to rave reviews. The New York Times called The Radical Camera a “stirring show,” and the New York Photo Review hailed it as “nothing short of splendid.” The New Yorker named the exhibition one of the top 10 photography exhibitions of 2011. The Norton is the final venue on the exhibition’s tour.

The exhibition explores the fascinating blend of aesthetics and social activism at the heart of the Photo League. League members were known for capturing sharply revealing, compelling moments from everyday life. The League focused on New York City and its vibrant streets – a shoeshine boy, a brass band on a bustling corner, a crowded beach at Coney Island. Many of the images are beautiful, yet harbour strong social commentary on issues of class, race, and opportunity. The organisation’s members included some of the most noted photographers of the mid-20th century – W. Eugene Smith, Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Lisette Model, Berenice Abbott and Aaron Siskind, to name a few.

In 1936, a group of young, idealistic photographers, most of them Jewish, first-generation Americans, formed an organisation in Manhattan called the Photo League. Their solidarity centred on a belief in the expressive power of the documentary photograph, and on a progressive alliance in the 1930s of socialist ideas and art. (The Photo League also helped validate photography as a fine art, presenting student work and guest exhibitions by established photographers.) The Radical Camera presents the development of the documentary photograph during a tumultuous period that spanned the New Deal reforms of the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Offering classes, mounting exhibitions, and fostering community, members of the Photo League focused on social reform and the power of the photograph to motivate change. At the height of their influence, their membership included the most important photographers of their day including Berenice Abbot, Aaron Siskind, Barbara Morgan, Sid Grossman, Weegee (Arthur Fellig), and Lisette Model. Featuring more than 175 works by these artists as well as many more Photo League members, The Radical Camera traces the organisation’s interests, attitudes toward photography, and impact during its 15-year lifespan.

The innovative contributions of the Photo League during its 15-year existence (1936-1951) were significant. As it grew, the League mirrored monumental shifts in the world starting with the Depression, through World War II, and ending with the Red Scare. Born of the worker’s movement, the Photo League was an organisation of young, idealistic, first-generation American photographers, most of them Jewish, who believed in documentary photography as an expressive medium and powerful tool for exposing social problems. It was also a school with teachers such as Sid Grossman, who encouraged students to take their cameras to the streets and discover the meaning of their work as well as their relationship to it. The League had a darkroom for printing, published an acclaimed newsletter called Photo Notes, offered exhibition space, and was a place to socialise.

The Photo League helped validate photography as a fine art, presenting student work and guest exhibitions by established photographers such as Eugène Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Edward Weston, among others. These affecting black and white photographs show life as it was lived mostly on the streets, sidewalks and subways of New York. Joy and playfulness as well as poverty and hardship are in evidence. In addition to their urban focus, “Leaguers” photographed rural America, and during World War II, took their cameras to Latin America and Europe. The exhibition also addresses the active participation of women who found rare access and recognition at the League. The Radical Camera presents the League within a critical, historical context. Developments in photojournalism were catalysing a new information era in which photo essays were appearing for the first time in magazines such as Life and Look. As time went on, its social documentary roots evolved toward a more experimental approach, laying the foundation for the next generation of street photographers.

In 1947, the League came under the pall of McCarthyism and was blacklisted for its alleged involvement with the Communist Party. Ironically, the Photo League had just begun a national campaign to broaden its base as a “Center for American Photography.” Despite the support of Ansel Adams, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, Paul Strand, and many other national figures, this vision of a national photography centre could not overcome the Red Scare. As paranoia and fear spread, the Photo League was forced to disband in 1951. The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951 has been organised by The Jewish Museum, New York, and the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Major support was provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Limited Brands Foundation.”

Press release from The Norton Museum of Art website

 

Sy Kattelson. 'Untitled (Subway Car)' 1949

 

Sy Kattelson (American, 1923-2018)
Untitled (Subway Car)
1949
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

 

Jerome Liebling. 'Butterfly Boy, New York' 1949

 

Jerome Liebling (American, 1924-2011)
Butterfly Boy, New York
1949
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund
© Estate of Jerome Liebling

 

Lee Sievan. 'Salvation Army Lassie in Front of a Woolworth Store' c. 1940

 

Lee Sievan (American, 1907-1990)
Salvation Army Lassie in Front of a Woolworth Store
c. 1940
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund

 

 

This is a classic photograph. Look at the triangle that forms the central part of the image, from the girl at left looking with disdain at the matriarch singing then down to the look on the organ players face. Notice the girl at right covering her ears so she cannot hear the racket. Imagine the legs of the organ player going up and down, pumping air into the organ; and finally observe the shadow of a man’s face captured by reflection in the shop window as he walks past the scene. Magic.

 

Rosalie Gwathmey. 'Shout Freedom, Charlotte, North Carolina' c. 1948

 

Rosalie Gwathmey (American, 1908-2001)
Shout Freedom, Charlotte, North Carolina
c. 1948
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Gay Block and Malka Drucker Fund of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig). 'Max Is Rushing in the Bagels to a Restaurant on Second Avenue for the Morning Trade' c. 1940

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American born Ukraine, 1899-1968)
Max Is Rushing in the Bagels to a Restaurant on Second Avenue for the Morning Trade
c. 1940
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Joan B. and Richard L. Barovick Family Foundation and Bunny and Jim Weinberg Gifts

 

Bernard Cole. 'Shoemaker’s Lunch' 1944

 

Bernard Cole (English, 1911-1992, born London, England)
Shoemaker’s Lunch
1944
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York,
Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

 

Rebecca Lepkoff. 'Broken Window on South Street, New York' 1948

 

Rebecca Lepkoff (American, 1916-2014)
Broken Window on South Street, New York
1948
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Esther Leah Ritz Bequest

 

Arthur Leipzig. 'Ideal Laundry' 1946

 

Arthur Leipzig (American, 1918-2014)
Ideal Laundry
1946
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Esther Leah Ritz Bequest

 

Consuelo Kanaga. 'Untitled (Tenements, New York)' c. 1937

 

Consuelo Kanaga (American, 1894-1978)
Untitled (Tenements, New York)
c. 1937
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: The Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens Gift

 

 

Leftist political activism was a strong element in Kanaga’s work, beginning with her photographs of a labor strike in San Francisco in 1934. She provided photographs for progressive publications such as New Masses, Labor Defender, and Sunday Worker. Underlying this formal study of tenement laundry lines (a common motif in League imagery) is Kanaga’s empathy for the living conditions of the working class.

 

Ruth Orkin, 'Boy Jumping into Hudson River' 1948

 

Ruth Orkin (American, 1921-1985)
Boy Jumping into Hudson River
1948
Gelatin silver print The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund

 

Sol Prom (Solomon Fabricant). 'Untitled (Dancing School)' 1938

 

Sol Prom (Solomon Fabricant) (American, 1906-1989)
Untitled (Dancing School)
1938
from Harlem Document, 1936-40
Gelatin silver print
The Jewish Museum, New York
Purchase: Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund

 

 

Mary Bruce opened a dancing school in Harlem in 1937. For fifty years she taught ballet and tap, giving free lessons to those who could not afford them. Her illustrious pupils included Katherine Dunham, Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee, and Marlon Brando.

 

 

The Norton Museum of Art
1451 S. Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 832-5196

Opening hours:
Thursday – Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Closed Wednesdays

Norton Museum of Art website

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24
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life’ at Haus der Kunst, Munich

Exhibition dates: 15th February – 26th May 2013

 

NEVER AGAIN!

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

 

 

Eli Weinberg. 'Crowd near the Drill Hall on the opening day of the Treason Trial, Johannesburg, 19. December 1956' 1956

 

Eli Weinberg (South African born Latvia, 1908-1981)
Crowd near the Drill Hall on the opening day of the Treason Trial, Johannesburg, 19. December 1956
1956
Times Media Collection, Museum Africa, Johannesburg

 

Gille de Vlieg. 'Coffins at the mass funeral held in KwaThema, Gauteng, July 23, 1985' 1985

 

Gille de Vlieg (South African born England, b. 1940)
Coffins at the mass funeral held in KwaThema, Gauteng, July 23, 1985
1985

 

Gille de Vlieg. 'Pauline Moloise (mother of Ben), two women & Winnie Madikizela Mandela mourn at the Memorial Service for Benjamin Moloise, who was hanged earlier that morning. Khotso House, Johannesburg, October 18, 1985' 1985

 

Gille de Vlieg (South African born England, b. 1940)
Pauline Moloise (mother of Ben), two women & Winnie Madikizela Mandela mourn at the Memorial Service for Benjamin Moloise, who was hanged earlier that morning. Khotso House, Johannesburg, October 18, 1985
1985

 

Jodi Bieber. 'Protest against Chris Hani's assassination' 1993

 

Jodi Bieber (South African, b. 1966)
Protest against Chris Hani’s assassination
1993
© Goodman Gallery Johannesburg

 

 

Complex, vivid, evocative, and dramatic, Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life represents the most comprehensive exhibition of its kind, attempting to formulate an understanding of apartheid’s legacy in South Africa through visual records. These images responded to the procedures and processes of the apartheid state from its beginning in 1948 to the first non-racial democratic elections that attended its demise in 1994. Featuring more than 600 documentary photographs, artworks, films, newsreel footage, books, magazines, and assorted archival documents, the exhibition will fill more than 2,000 square meters of the East Wing of Haus der Kunst. Starting in the entrance gallery (where two film clips are juxtaposed; one from 1948 showing the victorious Afrikaner National Party’s celebration rally, and another of President F. W. De Klerk in February 1990 announcing Nelson Mandela’s release from prison) the exhibition offers an absorbing exploration of one of the twentieth century’s most contentious historical eras.

The exhibition highlights the different strategies adopted by photographers and artists; from social documentary to reportage, photo essays to artistic appropriation of press and archival material. Through these polysemic images, the exhibition embarks on a tour of how photographers and artists think with pictures, the questions these images pose, and the issues of social justice, resistance, civil rights and the actions of opposition to apartheid raise. In so doing, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid brings together many iconic photographs that have rarely been shown before, to propose a fresh historical overview of the photographic and artistic responses to apartheid.

A fundamental argument of the exhibition is that the rise of the Afrikaner National Party to political power and its introduction of apartheid as the legal foundation of governance in 1948 changed the country’s pictorial perception from a “relatively benign colonial space based on racial segregation to a highly contested space in which the majority of the population struggled for equality, democratic representation, and civil rights” (Okwui Enwezor). From the moment apartheid was introduced, photographers in South Africa were immediately aware of how these changes taking place in politics and society accordingly affected photography’s visual language: The medium was transformed from a purely anthropological tool into a social instrument. No one photographed the struggle against apartheid better, more critically, and incisively than South African photographers. For that reason, with the notable exception of a few Western photographers and artists, including Ian Berry, Dan Weiner, Margaret Bourke-White, Hans Haacke, Adrian Piper, and others, the works in the exhibition are overwhelmingly produced by South African photographers.

Resisting the easy dichotomy of victims and oppressors, the photographers’ images present the reading of an evolving dynamic of repression and resistance. Ranging in approach between “engaged” photography of photo essays to the “struggle” photography of social documentary which was aligned with activism, to photojournalistic reportage, the photographers did not only show African citizens as victims, but more importantly as agents of their own emancipation. Included in the exhibition are seminal works by Leon Levson, Eli Weinberg, David Goldblatt and members of Drum magazine, such as Peter Magubane, Jürgen Schadeberg, Alf Kumalo, Bob Gosani, G.R. Naidoo, and others in the 1950s. Also represented are the investigative street photography of Ernest Cole and George Hallett in the 1960s, the reportage of Sam Nzima, Noel Watson, and protest images of the Black Consciousness movement, and student marches in the 1970s to those of the Afrapix Collective in the 1980s, as well as reportages by the members of the so-called Bang Bang Club in the 1990s. The exhibition concludes with works by a younger generation of South African photographers, such as Sabelo Mlangeni and Thabiso Sekgale, and the collective Center for Historical Reenactments, whose projects offer subtle reappraisals of the after effects of apartheid still felt today.

These South African photographers represented a clear political belief. They were opponents of the apartheid regime, and they employed photography as an instrument to overcome it. The independent photo agency Afrapix, founded in 1982 by Omar Badsha and Paul Weinberg, saw itself as a group of “cultural workers”. They believed political convictions came first, and that photography, like writing or acting, was part of the anti-apartheid movement. This attitude was supported by photographers such as Peter McKenzie, who – at a cultural conference organised by the ANC (African National Congress) in Gabarone, Botswana in 1982 – argued that the work of cultural producers is necessarily part of the struggle against apartheid. McKenzie’s argument stood in sharp contrast to that of David Goldblatt, who had the opinion that photographers should report on events with as much inner distance as they can muster.

On the other end of the spectrum, the so-called “struggle” or “frontline photography” is characterised by immediacy, giving the impression of being in the middle of the action. “If you want a picture, you get that picture, under all circumstances” was the leitmotif of one of the leading figures, Peter Magubane.

The photographs’ subjects are different historical events. These include the “Treason Trial” of 1956-1961, which ended with the acquittal of 156 anti-apartheid activists, including Nelson Mandela; the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, in which police shot 69 demonstrators dead; Mandela’s release in 1990 after 27 years in prison; and the civil war between opposing political factions during the 1994 election. Yet this exhibition is not a history of apartheid itself. Instead it aims to critically interrogate the normative symbols and signs of the photographic and visual responses to apartheid. For example, ritualised gestures were also part of the apartheid imagery. The “thumbs up” as a sign of solidarity among activists belonged to the movement’s nonviolent start when civil disobedience and strikes were still regarded as effective agents. After the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, the resistance became militarised. The cherished “thumbs up” was transformed into the upraised fist, the general symbol of black power. Since the burial of the Sharpeville massacre’s victims, black South Africans expressed their sense of community and identity at funerals. Their public mourning thus became a ritualised form of mass mobilisation and defiance.

From the ordinary and mundane to the bureaucratic and institutional, the corrosive effects of the apartheid system on everyday life are explored in the multiplicity of public signage that drew demarcating lines of segregation between whites, Africans, and non-Europeans. For example, Ernest Cole engaged in a sustained study of apartheid signage at train stations, banks, buses, taxi ranks, and throughout the streets of cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria in the early to mid-1960s. Another exemplary image is a photo from 1956 taken by Peter Magubane. It draws attention to the fact that racial segregation restricted movement in both private and public space. The image shows a young white girl sitting on a bench with the inscription “Europeans only” as her black nanny strokes her neck, but must do so from the back bench.

However, the everyday was not limited to the humiliations of policed segregation. “Drum” magazine, one of the most important media outlets for African social life, combined the gritty realism of reportage and the fantasy of normality in the self-constructions of non-European dandies, beauty queens, and the exuberance of township life. Its pages offered images of entertainment, representations of leisure, cultural events, and celebrity portraits. The magazine encompassed a full range of motifs, from relentless documentary photography to fashion shoots, dance revues, and concerts. Through the magazine, photographs found an audience that was politically sensitive and attentive; it also gave South African photographers the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues from other African countries, India, and Europe for the first time.

In 1990, the interest of the international press was focused on Mandela’s imminent release. Photographs from South Africa had finally prepared the ground for the participation of world opinion in shaping the country’s future. In this context, the exhibition also asks whether photography can help inform the political face of the world.

Press release from the Haus der Kunst website

 

Jurgen Schadeberg. 'The 29 ANC Women’s League women are being arrested by the police for demonstrating against the permit laws, which prohibited them from entering townships without a permit, 26th August 1952' 1952

 

Jurgen Schadeberg (South African born Germany, 1931-2020)
The 29 ANC Women’s League women are being arrested by the police for demonstrating against the permit laws, which prohibited them from entering townships without a permit, 26th August 1952
1952
Courtesy the artist

 

Jurgen Schadeberg. '20 defiance campaign Leaders appear in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on a charge of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act, August 26, 1952' 1952

 

Jurgen Schadeberg (South African born Germany, 1931-2020)
20 defiance campaign Leaders appear in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on a charge of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act, August 26, 1952
1952
Courtesy the artist

 

Ranjith Kally. 'Chief Albert Luthuli, former President General of the African National Congress, Rector of Glasgow University and 1960 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, gagged by the government from having any of his words published in his country, confined to small area around his home near Stanger in Natal, April 1964' 1964

 

Ranjith Kally (South African, 1925-2017)
Chief Albert Luthuli, former President General of the African National Congress, Rector of Glasgow University and 1960 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, gagged by the government from having any of his words published in his country, confined to small area around his home near Stanger in Natal, April 1964
1964
© Bailey’s Archives

 

Jurgen Schadeberg. 'Nelson Mandela, Treason Trial' 1958

 

Jurgen Schadeberg (South African born Germany, 1931-2020)
Nelson Mandela, Treason Trial
1958
Courtesy the artist

 

Eli Weinberg. 'Nelson Mandela portrait wearing traditional beads and a bed spread. Hiding out from the police during his period as the "black pimpernel," 1961' 1961

 

Eli Weinberg (South African born Latvia, 1908-1981)
Nelson Mandela portrait wearing traditional beads and a bed spread. Hiding out from the police during his period as the “black pimpernel,” 1961
1961
Courtesy of IDAFSA

 

Greame Williams. 'Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela as he is released from the Victor Vester Prison' 1990

 

Greame Williams (South African, b. 1961)
Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela as he is released from the Victor Vester Prison
1990
Courtesy the artist
© Greame Williams

 

 

Haus der Kunst
Prinzregentenstraße 1
80538 Munich
Germany
Phone: +49 89 21127 113

Opening hours:
Monday, Wednesday  -  Sunday 10 am  -  8pm
Thursday 10am  -  10pm
Closed Tuesdays

Haus der Kunst 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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