Posts Tagged ‘spiritual photography

24
Oct
21

Photographs: Marcus Bunyan. ‘Resonance’ 2021

October 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

Resonance noun: the power to bring images, feelings, etc. into the mind of the person reading or listening; the images, etc. produced in this way…

 

 

A body of work for 2021. Very proud of this sequence…

Taken in heavy overcast conditions with slight rain after a thunderstorm had passed through on my Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera, at Eagle’s Nest, Bunurong Marine and Coastal Park, Victoria, Australia.

A period of intense seeing and previsualisation.

No cropping, all full frame photographs. The colours are as the camera saw them.

See the layout of the series on my website.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

48 images
© Marcus Bunyan

 

Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Photographs are available from this series for purchase. As a guide, a digital colour 16″ x 20″ print costs $1,000 plus tracked and insured shipping. For more information please see the Store web page.

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'Resonance' 2021

 

 

Marcus Bunyan website

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08
Dec
17

In conversation: Marcus Bunyan and Elizabeth Gertsakis discuss his new work, ‘The Shape of Dreams’ 2013-2017

December 2017

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2013 - 2017

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled from the series The Shape of Dreams 
2013-2017
Silver gelatin print
© Marcus Bunyan

 

 

In conversation

EG: Just saw your most recent Art Blart and your work. It’s very beautiful. Congratulations. At first I didn’t know whose they were. Then I went through them one by one, and only after responding to them ‘unknown’ I saw it was your work. SO BEAUTIFUL, so potent and yet, within the ambivalence and questioning there was space for great stillness and contemplation. Powerful and so poetic. The one of the children, close up is dazzling, but so are the open fields, mountains, roadways and minute images of flight.

MB: Thank you so much Elizabeth. Yes, my work would you believe. I can now believe after 4 years hard work. A poem to the uncertainty of human dreams. It’s a conceptual series in the vein of my hero Minor White – contemplative, poetic as always with me, but with an edge under the poetry as you so correctly observe EG – you are caught in the dream in the end image, suspended in time and space, in your imagination. You are always so spot on with your observations.

EG: Your own tendency is also closely linked to language and ideas?

MB: This is very true. The basis for all my work is body, time, space, environment and their link to language and ideas… and how conceptual work can be spiritual as well.

EG: I’m with you on that one, and political as well.

MB: Indeed – all my work, including this series, is very anti-war.

EG: What is unseen, invisible in these images is definitely the dark quiet hole of hell that war is. Or at least those that invest in it.

MB: The key image in this regard is the one of the explosion.

EG: But the ones of the distant and misdirected aerial machines also…

MB: Indeed, and the second one, where all the men are looking away while the cloud expands in the background.

EG: Yes, the casual indifference and banality of it.

MB: You have it perfectly Elizabeth!

EG: But the children, oh those children, and the innocent implacability of the natural world.

MB: To find these images on Ebay and then spend four years of my life cleaning and saving them was an incredible experience. It was almost like I was breathing these images as I was saving them, looking into each one and being immersed in them. Thus, the art demands contemplation from the viewer in order to begin to understand its resonances.

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Many thankx to Elizabeth Gertsakis for her wisdom, knowledge, friendship and advice throughout the year. These observations of my work mean a great deal to me.

SEE THE FULL SEQUENCE INCLUDING SIZE AND SPACING OF IMAGES (ENLARGE AND USE SCROLL BAR)

SEE THE FULL IMAGES

Photographs are available from this series for purchase. As a guide, a digital colour 16″ x 20″ costs $1000 plus tracked and insured shipping. For more information please see my Store web page.

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2013 - 2017

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2013 - 2017

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2013 - 2017

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2013 - 2017

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled from the series The Shape of Dreams
2013-2017
Silver gelatin print
© Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Marcus Bunyan website

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26
Jan
16

Exhibition: ‘The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White’ at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

Exhibition dates: 20th October 2015 – 31st January 2016

 

This is such as disappointing posting… not for the quality of the work, which is exceptional, but for the lack of it.

I have been waiting for this exhibition for a very long time and asked MoPA for the press images:

1/ Nine were supplied from the Jupiter Portfolio, NOT even the whole sequence, to illustrate the exhibition
2/ The images supplied were so small as to be more than useless
3/ I then wrote to the Minor White Archive at Princeton University asking for more images. No reply

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So I have scanned the images from the Jupiter Portfolio myself so that at least you can see one whole MW sequence online. Unfortunately, I can only show you the sequence vertically on this site but the space between the images, that frisson between two disparate images (what MW calls ice/fire), is part of ** what you should FEEL in your HEART.

In the sequence we have the line of light over the sea in the first image, Devil’s Slide, San Mateo County, California (1947), which is then picked up in the line of the upper thigh and buttock in the second image Nude Foot, San Francisco (1947) with its gorgeous sensuality. Again, that line is illuminated in the third image Columbus Avenue, San Francisco (1949) by the white above the sandblaster’s head, while the heart shape arrow points back to the buttock in the previous image, perhaps subconsciously referencing White’s homosexuality. The white lettering of this image is then intensified, expanded and abstracted in the next image, Birdlime and Surf, Point Lobos, California (1951), these markings then flowing through into the lines of the telegraph pole in the infra red photograph of two barns Vicinity of Danville, New York (1955).

Transposing down a pitch, MW then turns these lines from the horizontal plane to the vertical and they descend softly into the swirling cosmos of Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester, New York (1958), one of my favourite photographs by the artist for its indeterminate, morphic “air.” These striations and nodules of presence are then repeated in varying forms through the next four images – through peeling paint, ice crystals, rock and the darkly printed ivy and wood. These photographs move you through the elements, like a piece of music. The markings on wood in Ivy, Portland, Oregon (1964) are then echoed in the marker in the photograph Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (1970), to be finally stretched and elongated vertically in the sublime Vermont (1971).

Just imagine holding this composition, this music (“visual literacy”) in your head for nigh on 28 years before you sequenced these images, before you had them all together and you knew what you needed to say… as a human being and as an artist.

** The time between does indeed reference White’s belief that the space between the images is as important as the image itself, but it is also the ability of the images to speak to images further down the line (and time) of the sequence, and further down the line of the imagination. How seeds planted earlier in the sequence can reappear as puncture, prick, punctum, spirit, revelation even, the closer we come in meditation and a sense of quietness to the photographs. This is the joy of the art of Minor White.

To finish let me say a couple of things. As far as I can ascertain, this is about the only complete sequence of his online. It is such a pity that so great an artist, who taught photography as art to the world (and was my absolute hero when I started studying photography in 1991), should not have his work available to be seen as it should be seen, in a sequence. Free for everyone to see around the world, to study and to understand what he was trying to say with his revelatory art.

I am so over museums trying to protect what they have, instead of spreading the love and the understanding of the art. They are custodians of the art NOT the owners. Some of them should remember that…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

PS. Minor White was always the person I most looked up to when I started photography as I tried to photograph in meditation, forming a link between myself, the object back through the camera to the film, hoping for some form of revelation in the negative and the subsequent print. He, Paul Strand and Eugene Atget, with a bit of Stieglitz and Aaron Siskind thrown in for good measure, where my guiding stars.

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Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Photographs side by side cannot help being mutually affected. Transpose them, the meaning changes.”

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Minor White, 1976

 

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Jupiter Portfolio' 1975 Portfolio of 12 gelatin silver prints

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Jupiter Portfolio
1975
Portfolio of 12 gelatin silver prints

 

 

The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) presents an original exhibition dedicated to the work and legacy of American photographer Minor White (1908-1976) in The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White.

The exhibition is the first major museum examination solely focusing on White’s sequences, a unique style of presentation he refined throughout his career. As a poet, writer, educator, curator and photographer, White believed in the power of images to be transformed when positioned sequentially, creating a new whole and a new level of interpretation, said MOPA Executive Director Deborah Klochko.

“One the most important American photographers of the 20th century, White’s work is still vital and important 40 years after his death,” Klochko said. “The title of the exhibition, The Time Between, references White’s belief that the space between the images is as important as the image itself.”

Many of the images in The Time Between are considered to be White’s most iconic. The exhibition features two bound albums, three digital sequences and eight print sequences presented together for the first time as White intended. White promoted the idea of “visual literacy,” which teaches the reading of images, similar to how his sequences encourage viewers to see the images in a larger context.

Press release from MOPA

 

Grouping photographs was Minor White’s preferred mode of presentation, and the sequence, of all his arrangements, was his most sophisticated form of pictorial expression.

Initially the sequence was an outgrowth of White’s work in poetry. However, in the realm of photographic art, perhaps his most important inspiration was the sequences of Alfred Stieglitz begun in the 1920s. Stieglitz taught that no all photographs need function as individual or summational works, but that certain images in a structured context could serve in support of others and could create a total statement more complex and multifaceted than single works alone or loose assortments of related pictures.

In addition to the influence of Stieglitz’s sequences, White learned a great deal about laying out of photographs from Nancy Newhall at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1945-46. She had been influenced by Stieglitz’s work and by her conversations with him beginning in the late 1930s, and it was she who encouraged Minor White to meet Stieglitz.

While White was at the museum, Nancy Newhall was organising a retrospective of Edward Weston’s photographs. Her installation of this exhibition was a revelation to him. Nancy Newhall was gifted in her understanding of photographs and had a remarkable feeling for the dynamics of expression in pictorial art and an acute sensitivity for the photographer’s unique approach. Her interpretation of the iconographic elements contained in individual photographs was superb, and the way in which she could create a sympathetic ordering of such pictures was extraordinary.

Minor White’s sequences, highly structured groupings of pictures with similar formats, sometimes contain ten, twenty, or thirty photographs. They need to be studied in a state of concentration, or heightened awareness, and involve recognition of both the content and feeling, the intellectual and emotional aspects, of each image in relation to its adjacent images. However, one must read the images as an ensemble, in their cumulative assertion of a complex and inter-connected idea, to sense the import of the artist’s statement.

Describing the sequence as “a cinema of stills,” Minor White wrote, “The time between photographs is filled by the beholder, first of all from himself, then from what he can read in the implications of design, the suggestions springing from treatment, and any symbolism that might grow from within the work itself … The meaning appears in the mood they [the symbols] raise in the beholder; and the flow of the sequence eddies in the river of his associations as he passes from picture to picture.”

Reading White’s sequences depends on understanding both the symbolic and the descriptive capabilities of his photography…

“The Sequence,” from Bunnell, Peter. Minor White: The Eye That Shapes. The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1989, p. 231

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Devil's Slide, San Mateo County, California' 1947

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Devil’s Slide, San Mateo County, California
1947
No. 1 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Nude Foot, San Francisco' 1947

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Nude Foot, San Francisco
1947
No. 2 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Columbus Avenue, San Francisco' 1949

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
1949
No. 3 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Birdlime and Surf, Point Lobos, California' 1951

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Birdlime and Surf, Point Lobos, California
1951
No. 4 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Vicinity of Danville, New York' 1955

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Vicinity of Danville, New York
1955
No. 5 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester, New York' 1958

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester, New York
1958
No. 6 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Rochester, New York' 1959

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Rochester, New York
1959
No. 7 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Beginnings, Rochester, New York' 1962

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Beginnings, Rochester, New York
1962
No. 8 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Notom, Utah' 1963

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Notom, Utah
1963
No. 9 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Ivy, Portland, Oregon' 1964

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Ivy, Portland, Oregon
1964
No. 10 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Cape Breton, Nova Scotia' 1970

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
1970
No. 11 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

Minor White (American, 1908–1976) 'Vermont' 1971

 

Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Vermont
1971
No. 12 from Jupiter Portfolio, sequenced 1975
Gelatin silver print
The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White
© Trustees of Princeton University

 

 

Museum of Photographic Arts
1649 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619.238.7559

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

MOPA website

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26
Dec
14

Exhibition: ‘Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition dates: 21st October 2014 – 4th January 2015

 

Paul Strand. 'White Fence, Port Kent, New York' 1916 (negative); 1945 (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
White Fence, Port Kent, New York
1916 (negative); 1945 (print)
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 12 13/16 inches (24.5 × 32.5cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

Seeing clearly

What can you say about one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium, a man with a social conscience, a man who’s fame “rests on his extraordinary artistic talent as well as his belief in the transformative power of the medium in which he chose to work.”

From a personal perspective, in my first year at university learning the history of the medium in the early 1990s, the image White Fence, Port Kent, New York (1916, below) was proposed as the first truly modernist photograph. I remember seeing this image for the first time, placing myself in that time (the First World War) and trying to understand what a shock that photograph must have been to the world of Pictorialism. Even now, the strength of that white picket fence is electrifying in its frontality and geometric solidity. In this image, “Strand deliberately destroyed perspective to build a powerful composition from tonal planes and rhythmic pattern.”1 A year earlier Strand had produced what is one of my favourite photographs of all time, a modernist image – Wall Street, New York (1915, below), with the dark maw of industry ready to swallow the rushing workers framed in streaming sunlight. We cannot underestimate the impact that Strand’s revolutionary photographs had on the history of photography.

You only have to look at the images. Look at the tonality and intense stare in Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France (1951, below), so haunting and beautiful. Observe the ensemble of figures so tightly choreographed in The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis) (1953, below) or the darkness and weight of the cheese in Parmesan, Luzzara (1953, below) – an image I had never seen before – as it presses into the upturned hand. Magnificent. What seems so difficult to others and what is difficult in reality, is expressed simply and eloquently by Strand, whether it be portraits of tribal elders, market squares or oil refineries. That is the mark of a master craftsman, when the difficult appears simple and insightful at one and the same time. I vividly recall seeing a folio from The garden series (1957-67, printed in the year of his death 1976) – still lifes of his garden in Orgeval, outside Paris – at the National Gallery of Victoria and being awestruck by their tonality, their beauty, quietness and lyricism. No ego here… just a reflection of life on earth and “the beauty of myriad textures.” Several of these photographs are at the bottom of the posting.

An aphorism that I was taught when first starting out as a photographer was that Strand said it took ten years to become a photographer. Ten years of study to understand your equipment, your medium and what you are trying to say yourself as an artist – and to get rid of ego in the work, to let the work just speak for itself. Whether he actually said this I am not sure, but from my experience I would say that it is about right. Strand starting studying photography at the Ethical Culture School in 1907 under the tutelage of documentary photographer Lewis Hine and his first important images were produced in 1915. The timeline is there.

For Strand, “the camera was a machine – a modern machine,” says curator of the exhibition Peter Barberie. “He was preoccupied with the question of how modern art – whether it’s photography or not – could contain all of the humanity that you see in the western artistic traditions.”

A big ask but a great artist to produce such work.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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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.

 

 

“Who can say what amalgam of memory, dreams, study, pain and discipline brought Paul Strand to photograph Mr. Bennett and to record him so perfectly? The picture is almost as unaccountable as the fact of Mr. Bennett, we are left with our little cosmologies and the certainty that we will never fully know. But we continue to speculate, as with all great art, because the picture is clearer than life and this is consoling.”

.
Robert Adams, Why People Photograph

 

“Treating the human condition in the modern urban context, Strand’s photographs are a subversive alternative to the studio portrait of glamour and power. A new kind of portrait akin to a social terrain, they are, as Sanford Schwartz put it, “cityscapes that have faces for subjects.””

.
Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

“The portrait of a person is one of the most difficult things to do, because in order to do it it means that you must almost bring the presence of that person photographed to other people in such a way that they don’t have to know that person personally in any way, but they are still confronted with a human being that they won’t forget. The images of that person that they will never forget. That’s a portrait.”

.
Paul Strand

 

 

Paul Strand. 'Wall Street, New York' 1915 (negative); 1915 (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Wall Street, New York
1915 (negative); 1915 (print)
Platinum print
9 3/4 × 12 11/16 inches (24.8 × 32.2cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

Paul Strand’s 1915 photograph of Wall Street workers passing in front of the monolithic Morgan Trust Company can be seen as the quintessential representation of the uneasy relationship between early twentieth-century Americans and their new cities. Here the people are seen not as individuals but as abstract silhouettes trailing long shadows down the chasms of commerce. The intuitive empathy that Strand demonstrates for these workers of New York’s financial district would be evident throughout the wide and varied career of this seminal American photographer and filmmaker, who increasingly became involved with the hardships of working people around the world. In this and his other early photographs of New York, Strand helped set a trend toward pure photography of subject and away from the pictorialist” imitation of painting.Wall Street is one of only two known vintage platinum prints of this image and one of the treasures of some five hundred photographs in the Museum’s Paul Strand Retrospective Collection.

Martha Chahroudi, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 230.

 

 

Manhatta (1921) | Paul Strand – Charles Sheeler

 

Paul Strand. 'Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico' 1931

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
1931 (negative); 1931 (print)
Platinum print
5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (15 x 11.7cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2013
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Women of Santa Ana, Lake Pátzcuaro, Mexico' 1933

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Women of Santa Ana, Lake Pátzcuaro, Mexico
1933
Platinum print
4 11/16 × 5 7/8 inches (11.9 × 14.9cm)
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with Museum funds, 2010
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

Redes / The Wave (1936)

 

Paul Strand. 'Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont' 1944

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont
1944
From Portfolio Three. 1944
Gelatin silver print
7 1/4 × 9 3/16 inches (18.4 × 23.3cm)
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with Museum funds, 2010
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. "Never Despair" 1963-64

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
“Never Despair”
1963-64
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4cm)
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
Gift of Lynne and Harold Honickman
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Chief and Elders, Nayagnia, Ghana' 1963-64

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Chief and Elders, Nayagnia, Ghana
1963-64
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting the first major retrospective in nearly fifty years to be devoted to Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976), one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium. It explores the remarkable evolution of Strand’s work spanning six decades, from the breakthrough moment when he brought his art to the brink of abstraction to his broader vision of the place of photography in the modern world. This exhibition examines every aspect of Strand’s work, from his early efforts to establish photography as a major independent art form and his embrace of filmmaking as a powerful medium capable of broad public impact to his masterful extended portraits of people and places that would often take compelling shape in the form of printed books. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography celebrates the recent acquisition of more than 3,000 prints from the Paul Strand Archive, which has made the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world’s largest and most comprehensive repository of Strand’s work.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director, stated: “Strand’s achievement was remarkable. The distinctive place he holds in the history of modern photography rests on his extraordinary artistic talent as well as his belief in the transformative power of the medium in which he chose to work. From his early experiments with street photography in New York to his sensitive portrayal of daily life in New England, Italy, and Ghana, Strand came to believe that the most enduring function of photography and his work as an artist was to reveal the essential nature of the human experience in a changing world. He was also a master craftsman, a rare and exacting maker of pictures. We are delighted to be able to present in this exhibition a selection of works drawn almost exclusively from the Museum’s collection, and to share these with audiences in the United States and abroad. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography will introduce a new generation of visitors to a great modern artist.”

Paul Strand’s career spanned a period of revolutionary change both in the arts and in the wider world. Always motivated by a strong sense of social purpose, he came to believe that depicting the human struggle, both economic and political, was central to his responsibility as an artist. The exhibition begins with his rapid mastery of the prevailing Pictorialist style of the 1910s, reflected in serene landscapes such as The River Neckar, Germany (1911). On view also are his innovative photographs of 1915-17 in which he explored new subject matter in the urban landscape of New York and innovative aesthetic ideas in works such as Abstraction, Porch Shadows, Twin Lakes, Connecticut (1916). These new directions in Strand’s photography demonstrated his growing interest both in contemporary painting – especially Cubism and the work of the American artists championed by Alfred Stieglitz – and in discovering for photography a unique means of expressing modernity. Strand’s work of this period includes candid, disarming portraits of people observed on the street – the first of their type – such as Blind Woman, New York (1916), and Wall Street, New York (1915), an arrangement of tiny figures passing before the enormous darkened windows of the Morgan Trust Company Building, which illustrates Strand’s fascination with the pace of life and changing scale of the modern city.

During the 1920s – a period often called “the Machine Age” – Strand became transfixed by the camera’s capacity to record mesmerising mechanical detail. At this time his ideas about the nature of portraiture began to expand significantly. These new and varied concerns can be seen in the sensuous beauty of close-up images of his wife, Rebecca Salsbury Strand, to cool, probing studies of his new motion picture camera, such as Akeley Camera with Butterfly Nut, New York (1922-23). His ideas about portraiture also extended to his growing preoccupation with photographic series devoted to places beyond New York, such as the southwest and Maine, where he would make seemingly ordinary subjects appear strikingly new. The exhibition looks at Strand’s widening engagement with his fellow artists of the Stieglitz circle, placing his works alongside a group of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and John Marin, as well as photographs by Stieglitz, who played an important role in launching Strand’s career. These juxtapositions reveal the rich interaction between Strand and his friends and peers during this time.

Over the next several decades Strand traveled widely, seeking always to establish a broader role for photography. The exhibition conveys his growing interest in the medium’s unique ability to record the passage of time and the specific qualities of place, as seen in Elizabethtown, New Mexico (1930), one of many photographs he made of abandoned buildings. It shows Strand returning to a core motif – the portraiture of anonymous subjects – during the time when he lived in Mexico, from 1932 to 1934. This period abroad had a profound influence on him, deepening his engagement with the politics of the left. Many of the works he created at this time, whether depicting individuals, groups of people, or even religious icons, show in their exceptional compositions a deep empathy. This can also be seen in his series devoted to Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula from the same decade.

By the 1940s, books would become Strand’s preferred form of presentation for his work, reflecting a synthesis of his aims both as a photographer and filmmaker, and offering him the opportunity to create multifaceted portraits of modern life. In his photographs of New England, Strand drew upon cultural history, conveying a sense of past and present in order to suggest an ongoing struggle for democracy and individual freedom. Images of public buildings, such as Town Hall, New Hampshire (1946), and portraits of people he met, including Mr. Bennett, East Jamaica, Vermont (1943), were reproduced in Time in New England. This book was published in 1950, the year Strand moved to France in response to a growing anti-Communist sentiment in the U.S., and reflected his political consciousness. Strand described New England as “a battleground where intolerance and tolerance faced each other over religious minorities, over trials for witchcraft, over the abolitionists … It was this concept of New England that led me to try to find … images of nature and architecture and faces of people that were either part of or related in feeling to its great tradition.”

The exhibition also highlights his project in Luzzara, Italy (1953), where he focused his attention on the everyday realities of a northern village recovering from the miseries of war and fascism. This series is centred on images of townspeople, as seen in The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis) (1953), and fulfils his long-held ambition to create a major work of art about a single community. Strand’s photographs of Luzzara were published in Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village (1955).

In 1963, Strand was invited to Ghana at the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah, its first president following the end of British rule. Fascinated by Ghana’s democracy during these years, Strand was excited to photograph a place undergoing rapid political change and modernisation. He saw modernity in the efforts of a newly independent nation to chart its future unfolding simultaneously alongside traditional aspects of Ghanaian culture. Portraiture was central to the project, as seen in Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana (1964), in which a young schoolgirl balances books on her head. The project led to the publication of Ghana: An African Portrait (1976).

In Strand’s later years, he would increasingly turn his attention close to his home in Orgeval, outside Paris, often addressing the countless discoveries he could make within his own garden. There he produced a remarkable series of still life. These were at times reflective of earlier work, but also forward-looking in their exceptional compositions that depict the beauty of myriad textures, free-flowing movement, and evoke a quiet lyricism.

In addition to Strand’s still photography, the exhibition features three of his most significant films. Manhatta (1921), his first film and an important collaboration with painter and photographer Charles Sheeler, will be shown in full. This brief non-narrative “scenic” is considered the first American avant-garde film. It portrays the vibrant energy of New York City, juxtaposing the human drama on the street with abstracted bird’s-eye perspectives taken from high buildings and scenes of the ferry and harbour, all punctuated by poetry from Walt Whitman. Two of the films are seen in excerpts. Redes (1936), Strand’s second film, reflects the artist’s growing social awareness during his time in Mexico. Released as The Wave in the U.S., the film is a fictional account of a fishing village struggling to overcome the exploitation of a corrupt boss. Native Land (1942) is Strand’s most ambitious film. Co-directed with Leo Hurwitz and narrated by Paul Robeson, it was created after his return to New York when Strand became a founder of Frontier Films and oversaw the production of leftist documentaries. Ahead of its time in its blending of fictional scenes and documentary footage, Native Land focuses on union-busting in the 1930s from Pennsylvania to the Deep South. When its release coincided with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was criticised as out-of-step with the nation, leading Strand to return exclusively to still photography.

Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography is curated by Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with the assistance of Amanda N. Bock, Project Assistant Curator of Photographs. Barberie said, “Whether he was printing in platinum, palladium, gelatin-silver, making films, or preparing books, Strand was ultimately more than a photographer. He was a great modern artist whose eloquent voice addressed the widest possible audience, and this voice continues to resonate today.

Press release from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Paul Strand. 'Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France' 1951 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France
1951 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Tom Callan and Martin McNamara, 2012
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis)' 1953 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
The Family, Luzzara (The Lusettis)
1953 (negative); mid- to late 1960s (print)
Gelatin silver print
11 7/16 x 14 9/16 inches (29 x 37cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Hauslohner, 1972
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana' 1964

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Anna Attinga Frafra, Accra, Ghana
1964 (negative); 1964 (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches (19.4 × 24.4cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with The Henry McIlhenny Fund and other Museum funds, 2012
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Market, Accra, Ghana' 1963-64

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Market, Accra, Ghana
1963-64
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection
Partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Market Day, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Market Day, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.7 x 15cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Zoë and Dean Pappas
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Oil Refinery, Tema, Ghana' 1963-64

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Oil Refinery, Tema, Ghana
1963-64
Philadelphia Museum Of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Lynne and Harold Honickman
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Place to meet, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Place to meet, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 x 15cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Zoë and Dean Pappas
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Parmesan, Luzzara
' 1953

 

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Parmesan, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 x 15cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Andrea M. Baldeck, MD, and William M. Hollis Jr.,
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'The Farm, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
The Farm, Luzzara

1953
Gelatin silver print
4 11/16 × 5 7/8 in. (11.9 × 15cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Worker at the Co-op, Luzzara
' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Worker at the Co-op, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 × 14.9cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 - 1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'The Couple, Luzzara' 
1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
The Couple, Luzzara
1953
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 × 5 7/8 in. (11.8 × 14.9cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Ralph Citino and Lawrence Taylor
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

About Paul Strand

Born in New York City, Strand first studied with the social documentary photographer Lewis Hine at New York’s Ethical Culture School from 1907-09, and subsequently became close to the pioneering photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Strand fused these powerful influences and explored the modernist possibilities of the camera more fully than any other photographer before 1920. In the 1920s, Strand tested the camera’s potential to exceed human vision, making intimate, detailed portraits, and recording the nuances of machine and natural forms. He also created portraits, landscapes, and architectural studies on various travels to the Southwest, Canada, and Mexico. The groups of pictures of these regions, in tandem with his documentary work as a filmmaker in the 1930s, convinced Strand that the medium’s great purpose lay in creating broad and richly detailed photographic records of specific places and communities. For the rest of his career he pursued such projects in New England, France, Italy, the Hebrides, Morocco, Romania, Ghana, and other locales, producing numerous celebrated books. Together, these later series form one of the great photographic statements about modern experience. The last major retrospective dedicated to Strand was organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1971.

 

The Paul Strand Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

In 2010, the Philadelphia Museum of Art began to acquire the core collection of photographs by Paul Strand. Through the generosity of philanthropists Lynne and Harold Honickman, Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman, and H.F. “Gerry” and Marguerite Lenfest, the Museum received as partial and promised gifts from The Paul Strand Archive at the Aperture Foundation, as well as master prints from Strand’s negatives by the artist Richard Benson.

The Paul Strand Collection permits the study of Strand’s career with prints from the majority of his negatives, including variants and croppings of individual images. Together with other photographs already owned by the Museum, the acquisition makes the Philadelphia Museum of Art the world’s most comprehensive repository for the study of his work.

 

Catalogue

The exhibition will be accompanied by a substantial scholarly catalogue, co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University press in collaboration with MAPFRE. The accompanying publication is supported by Lynne and Harold Honickman and The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Press release from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Paul Strand. 'Blind Woman, New York' 1916 (negative); 1945 (print)

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Blind Woman, New York
1916 (negative); 1945 (print)
Gelatin silver print
12 3/4 × 9 3/4 inches (32.4 × 24.8cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Abstraction, Bowls, Twin Lakes, Connecticut' 1916

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Abstraction, Bowls, Twin Lakes, Connecticut
1916
Gelatin silver print
13 1/16 × 9 5/8 inches (33.1 × 24.4cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Abstraction, Porch Shadows' 1916

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Abstraction, Porch Shadows, Twin Lakes, Connecticut
1916 (negative); 1950s (print)
Gelatin silver print
12 15/16 × 8 15/16 inches (32.9 × 22.7cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Elizabethtown, New Mexico' 1930

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Elizabethtown, New Mexico
1930 (negative); 1930 (print)
Platinum print
9 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches (24.4 x 19.4cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Farmworker, Luzzara, Italy' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Farmworker, Luzzara, Italy
1953 (negative); early to mid- 1980s (print)
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (14.9 x 11.8cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Asenah Wara, Leader of the Women’s Party, Wa, Ghana' 1964

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Asenah Wara, Leader of the Women’s Party, Wa, Ghana
1964
Gelatin silver print
12 1/8 x 9 7/8 inches (30.8 x 25.1cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Mary Hammond, Winneba, Ghana' 1963

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Mary Hammond, Winneba, Ghana
1963 (negative); 1964 (print)
9 1/4 × 7 1/4 inches (23.5 × 18.4cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 2012

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Cobweb in Rain, Georgetown, Maine' 1927

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Cobweb in Rain, Georgetown, Maine
1927 (negative); 1927 (print)
Gelatin silver print
9 11/16 x 7 13/16 inches (24.6 x 19.8cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 125th Anniversary Acquisition
The Paul Strand Collection, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Gift of the Julien Levy Collection, 2001
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico' 1931

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
1931 (negative); 1931 (print)
Platinum print
5 7/8 x 4 5/8 inches (15 x 11.7cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2013
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Toward the Sugar House, Vermont' 1944

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Toward the Sugar House, Vermont
1944 (negative); 1944 (print)
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2010
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Jungle, Ashanti Region, Ghana' 1964

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Jungle, Ashanti Region, Ghana
1964
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 11/16 inches (24.4 × 19.6cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 2012

© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Woman and Boy, Tenancingo, Mexico' 1933

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Woman and Boy, Tenancingo, Mexico
1933 (negative); c. 1940-1945 (print)
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 inches (15 × 11.8cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Rebecca, New York' 1921

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Rebecca, New York
1921 (negative); 1921 (print)
Platinum print
9 1/2 x 7 5/8 inches (24.1 x 19.4cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Mr. Bolster, Weston, Vermont' 1943

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Mr. Bolster, Weston, Vermont
1943 (negative); 1943 (print)
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 inches (14.9 × 11.7cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Fern, Georgetown, Maine' 1928

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Fern, Georgetown, Maine
1928 (negative); 1940s (print)
Platinum print
9 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches (24.4 x 19.4cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, purchased with funds contributed by Barbara B. and Theodore R. Aronson, 2014
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Town Hall, New Hampshire' 1946

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Town Hall, New Hampshire
1946
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, gift of Lynne and Harold Honickman, 2013
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 Paul Strand. 'Cobbler, Luzzara' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Cobbler, Luzzara
1953 (negative); 1953 (print)
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 inches (15 × 11.8cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, gift of Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman, 2012
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Young Man, Luzzaro (Ivo Lusetti)' 1953

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Young Man, Luzzaro (Ivo Lusetti)
1953
Gelatin silver print
5 7/8 × 4 5/8 in. (15 × 11.8cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915 -1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Virgin, San Felipe, Oaxaca, Mexico' 1933

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Virgin, San Felipe, Oaxaca, Mexico
1933
Platinum print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.3cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Bachelor Buttons, Orgeval' early 1960s

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Bachelor Buttons, Orgeval
early 1960s
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4cm)
The Paul Strand Retrospective Collection, 1915-1975
Gift of the estate of Paul Strand, 1980
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Cabbages and Pinks' 1957-58

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Cabbages and Pinks, Orgeval
1957-58
Gelatin silver print
9 5/8 × 7 5/8 inches (24.4 × 19.4cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

Paul Strand. 'Hoar Frosted Vines, Orgeval' 1969

 

Paul Strand (American, 1890-1976)
Hoar Frosted Vines, Orgeval
1969 (negative); 1969 or early 1970s (print)
Gelatin silver print
7 13/16 × 7 13/16 inches (19.8 × 19.8cm)
The Paul Strand Collection, partial and promised gift of Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, 2009
© Paul Strand Archive/Aperture Foundation

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Sunday, 10.00 am – 5.00pm
Monday, 10.00am – 5.00pm
Tuesday, Closed
Wednesday, Closed
Thursday, 10.00am – 5.00pm
Friday, 10.00am – 8.45pm
Saturday, 10.00am – 5. 00pm

Philadelphia Museum of Art website

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18
Nov
09

Review: ‘Heavenly Vaults’ by David Stephenson at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 7th – 28th November 2009

 

David Stephenson. 'Nave, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Nave, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France
2006/07

 

 

I remember many years ago, in the mid-1990’s, seeing the wonderful Domes of David Stephenson displayed in Flinders Lane in what is now fortfivedownstairs gallery. They were a revelation in this light filled space, row upon row of luminous domes seemingly lit from within, filled with the sense of the presence of divinity. On the opposite wall of the gallery were row upon row of photographs of Italian graves depicting the ceramic photographic markers of Italian dead – markers of the impermanence of life. The doubled death (the representation of identity on the grave, the momento mori of the photograph) slipped quietly into the earth while opposite the domes ascended into heaven through their numinous elevation. The contrast was sublime.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the latest exhibition Heavenly Vaults by David Stephenson at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond.

The problems start with the installation of the exhibition. As you walk into the gallery the 26 Cibachrome photographs are divided symmetrically down the axis of the gallery so that the prints reflect each other at both ends and each side of the gallery. It is like walking down the nave of a cathedral and observing the architectural restraint of the stained glass windows without their illumination. Instead of the punctum of light flooding through the stained glass windows, the varying of intensities, the equanimity of the square prints all exactly the same size, all reflecting the position of the other makes for a pedestrian installation. Some varying of the print size and placement would have added much life and movement to a static ensemble.

Another element that needed work were the prints themselves which, with a few notable exceptions, seemed remarkably dull and lifeless (unlike their digital reproductions which, paradoxically, seem to have more life!). They fail to adequately represent the aspirations of the vaults as they soar effortlessly overhead transposing the earth bound into the heaven sent. In the earlier work on the domes (which can be found in the book Visions of Heaven: The Dome in European Architecture) the symmetry of the mandala-like domes with their light-filled inner illumination worked well with the square format of the images making the photographs stand as equivalents for something else, other ineffable states of being.

“The power of the equivalent, so far as the expressive-creative photographer is concerned, lies in the fact that he can convey and evoke feelings about things and situations and events which for some reason or other are not or can not be photographed. The secret, the catch and the power lies in being able to use the forms and shapes of objects in front of the camera for their expressive-evocative qualities. Or to say this in another way, in practice Equivalency is the ability to use the visual world as the plastic material for the photographer’s expressive purposes. He may wish to employ the recording power of the medium, it is strong in photography, and document. Or he may wish to emphasize its transforming power, which is equally strong, and cause the subject to stand for something else too.”1

As Minor White further observes,

“When the image mirrors the man
And the man mirrors the subject
Something might take over”
2

 

When the distance between object and image and image and viewer collapses then something else may be revealed: Spirit.

In this exhibition some of the singular images such as the Crossings, Choirs and Nave of the Church of Santa Maria, Hieronymite Monastery, Belém, Portugal (see photograph below) work best to achieve this revelation. They transcend the groundedness of the earthly plane through their inner ethereal light using a reductive colour palette and strong highlight/shadow detail. Conversely the diptychs and triptychs of Nave and Choir (see photographs below and above) fail to impress. The singular prints pinned to the gallery wall are joined together to form pairs and trios but in this process the ‘space between’ the prints (mainly white photographic paper), the breathing space between two or more photographs that balances their disparate elements, the distance that Minor White calls ‘ice/fire’, does not work. There is no tension, no crackle, no visual crossover of the arches and vaults, spandrels and flutes. Here it is dead space that drags all down with it.

I found myself observing without engagement, looking without wonder or feeling – never a good sign!

The photographs of Domes and Vaults have served David Stephenson well for numerous years but the concept has become tired, the inspiration in need of refreshment through other avenues of exploration – both physical and spiritual.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Daniel and John Buckley Gallery for allowing me to reproduce the photographs from the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. White, Minor. “Equivalence: The Perennial Trend,” in PSA Journal, Vol. 29, No. 7, pp. 17-21, 1963 [Online] Cited 08/05/2019
  2. White, Minor. “Three Canons,” from Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations. Viking Press, 1969

 

David Stephenson. 'Choir, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Choir, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France
2006/07

 

David Stephenson. 'St. Hugh’s Choir, Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
St. Hugh’s Choir, Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England
2006/07

 

 

Installation view of Heavenly Vaults by David Stephenson at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond

 

David Stephenson. 'Nave, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic' 2008/09

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Nave, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
2008/09

 

David Stephenson. 'Choir, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic' 2008/09

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Choir, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
2008/09

 

 

“While the subject of my photographs has shifted…my art has remained essentially spiritual – furthermore than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence.”

.
David Stephenson

 

 

Internationally renowned photographer David Stephenson has dedicated his practice to capturing the sublime in nature and architecture. Fresh from a successful exhibition at Julie Saul Gallery in New York, Stephenson returns to John Buckley Gallery for his third highly anticipated exhibition Heavenly Vaults. The exhibition will feature 26 selected prints from his latest monograph published by Princeton Architectural Press; Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture. Shaun Lakin, Director of the Monash Gallery of Art, will launch the book and exhibition at the opening, November 7th.

Stephenson began to photograph Gothic vaults in Spain and Portugal in 2003, while completing the work for his Domes project, and his first monograph Visions of Heaven: the Dome in European Architecture. He began to focus on the Vaults project in 2006, photographing Gothic churches and cathedrals in England, Belgium and France. With the assistance of an Australia Council Artist Fellowship in 2008-09, Stephenson completed extensive fieldwork for the Vaults project, intensively photographing Romanesque and Gothic architecture in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany. The exhibition at John Buckley Gallery coincides with the launch of his second monograph, Heavenly Vaults: from Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture, published by Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Even though the traditional systems the underpinned church architecture have lost their unequivocal power, David Stephenson’s photographs capture the resonance of those times. More importantly his work also suggest that the feelings of aspiration, transcendence, and infinity these buildings evoke in the viewer have an ongoing relevance beyond the religious setting and help us understand who and what we are.

Excerpt from Foreword, Heavenly Vaults, by Dr Isobel Crombie 2009

.
David Stephenson’s new book of photography is a love letter to the intricate, seemingly sui generis vaults of Europe’s Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals and churches.

Press release from the John Buckley website [Online] Cited 11/11/2009 no longer available online

 

David Stephenson. 'Nave, Church of Santa Maria, Hieronymite Monastery, Belém, Portugal' 2008/09

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Nave, Church of Santa Maria, Hieronymite Monastery, Belém, Portugal
2008/09

 

 

‘While the subject of my photographs has shifted from the landscapes of the American Southwest and Tasmania, and the minimal horizons of the Southern Ocean, and the icy wastes of Antarctica, to sacred architecture and the sky at both day and night, my art has remained essentially spiritual – for more than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence.’

David Stephenson 1998.1

With poetic symmetry the Domes series considers analogous ideas. It is a body of work which has been ongoing since 1993 and now numbers several hundred images of domes in countries including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, England, Germany and Russia. The typological character of the series reveals the shifting history in architectural design, geometry and space across cultures and time, demonstrating how humankind has continually sought meaning by building ornate structures which reference a sacred realm.2 Stephenson photographs the oculus – the eye in the centre of each cupola. Regardless of religion, time or place, this entry to the heavens – each with unique architectural and decorative surround – is presented as an immaculate and enduring image. Placed together, the photographs impart the infinite variations of a single obsession, while also charting the passage of history, and time immemorial.

1. Van Wyk, S. 1998. “Sublime space: photographs by David Stephenson 1989-1998,” National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne np
2. Hammond, V. 2005. “The dome in European architecture,” in Stephenson, D. 2005, Visions of heaven: the dome in European architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, New York p. 190

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955) 'Choir, King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Choir, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England
2006/07

 

David Stephenson. 'Crossing, York Minster, York, England' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Crossing, York Minster, York, England
2006/07

 

 

John Buckley Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

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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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