There is a kind of image that, although quite serene in itself, is charged with energy and dynamism. In such images, the drama per se may not be overt, and yet its weight is felt in this calm moment. The paintings of Edward Hopper are quintessential examples of this phenomenon.
ROBERT ADAMS's books What We Bought and Denver (in an expanded edition) are being reissued by Yale University Art Gallery this year. GERRY BADGER is an architect, photographer, and writer. He is the co-author, with Martin Parr, of Phaidon's two volume Photobook: A History.
In 1976, when William Eggleston was launched upon a rather unsuspecting audience with a major one-person show at New York's Museum of Modern Art, his work was savaged by critics and widely disparaged by the general public. The complaint—that his pictures were too casual, banal, and vulgar—gives some sense of just how outré the show must have seemed, concurring as it did with one of the great nadirs in American culture: a bombastic bicentennial year of tall ships, corporate rock, streakers, and The Donnie and Marie Show.
Dialogue Among Giants: Carleton Watkins And The Rise Of Photography In California
The J. Paul Getty Museum's exhibition Dialogue Among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California is— as its sweeping title indicates—overwhelming: with more than 150 diverse images installed throughout several galleries, the exhibition presents a spectacular, pre-cinema Western epic spanning five decades, from the California Gold Rush to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
The muted theatricality of Dayanita Singh's work has long been derived from her photographing the props and prostheses of intimate or institutional life. Though she is still perhaps best known for her black-and-white images of middle-class Indian families and her portraits of a Delhi eunuch, Mona Ahmed, the photographer has increasingly abstracted almost-animate objects from their public or private purlieus: rows of drying latex gloves, a stuffed bird in a dusty nook, an anonymous death mask beneath a bell jar.
Some artists, courageous, driven, ingenious, make art even under threat from oppressive regimes. In 1933, Hans Bellmer, protesting the Nazis, decided not to make any art that was "socially useful" and began photographing depressed dolls with migratory limbs.
Standing in the middle of Shirana Shahbazi's show in Paris last November, I couldn't help wondering whether there was something wrong with me. A score of variously sized, handsome photographs adorned the walls of the prestigious Centre Culturel Suisse, a testament to the esteem in which this thirty-four-year-old Iranian artist is currently held.
The photographers whose work has been affected by Edward Hopper are so numerous as to make one wonder if any have completely escaped his gravitational pull. Earlier this year, I put together a book and exhibition that focus on eight of these photographers—none of them Hopper imitators (plenty of whom exist), but rather artists who found aspects of Hopper's intuitions echoing in their own sensibilities.
If we were to see the interiors photographed by Daniel and Geo Fuchs without knowing what these rooms once were, we might not be deeply stirred by them. It was in these spaces that thousands of citizens of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) were detained and brutally interrogated.
"His controversial portraits of the beau monde and the leather-bar underworld unflinchingly confronted the era of dangerous sex." So Vanity Fair summarized Robert Mapplethorpe's endeavor, already in the past tense, in a profile published a month before his death in March 1989.
Drama and myth framed the life and death of Maya Deren. She was born Eleanora Derenkowski in Kiev in 1917—during the early days of the Russian Revolution—and died forty-four years later in New York City, with whispers of a Voudou curse veiling the circumstances of her death.
It might seem glib to assert that fashion photography is changing: surely that is the nature, and indeed the point, of the beast it serves. But there is a difference between a pantomimed aesthetic change and an evolutionary change of cultural and commercial conditions—quite a difference.
Daniel D. Mich, the longtime editor of Look magazine, once said that the great American illustrated magazine was a form that blended "pictures with words to create a new means of communication." For nearly forty years, from 1937 through 1971, look and Life were a pair of big, shiny, competitive twins in this market (Life started a few months earlier and lasted a few months longer, though at the end Look reached more readers).
After completing a project on North Korean refugees in 2006, Korean-born Suyeon Yun decided to travel throughout the United States with her large-format camera, visiting and photographing American war veterans in forty-two states. Her subjects have served in conflicts past and present, from World War II to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Don McCullin is the acknowledged dean of those photographers who have repeatedly witnessed the horrors of war. Working since the 1960s in Biafra, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and Vietnam, among other places, his imagery of exhausted and wounded troops, of civilians and soldiers struck with madness, of people starving and ill, reveal in intimate detail many of the agonizing ways in which atrocity can be visited.
Renowned art critic and art historian Michael Fried's first book on photography, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, was recently published by Yale University Press. In this book, Fried returns to the notions of theatricality, literalness, and objecthood that he introduced in his influential 1967 essay "Art and Objecthood," and the origins of which he went on to explore in his trilogy Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (1980); Courbet's Realism (1990); and Manet's Modernism: or, The Face of Painting in the 1860s (1996).
Going through the images for selection in this book made me reflect yet again on a photograph's extraordinary capacity to convey emotion and not just depict. The images seem to dance between the reality, the very being of their subject, and the photographer's feeling for them.
David Okuefuna, The Dawn Of The Color Photograph: Albert Kahn's Archives Of The Planet
Kahn used his private fortune to recruit professional photographers, supply them with trunk-loads of autochrome plates (and often ciné film cans as well) and dispatch them all over the world. During these journeys—undertaken before the creation of the long-haul transport systems we take for granted today—Kahn's photographers recorded in intimate detail the lived experiences and cultural practices of thousands of ordinary people from across the globe....
Robert Poole, Earthrise: How Man First Saw The Earth
The view of the distant Earth inspired optimism.... One commentary stood out above all others: the poet Archibald MacLeish's essay "Riders on the Earth." "For the first time in all of time," he wrote, "men have seen the Earth: seen it not as continents or oceans from the little distance of a hundred miles or two or three, but seen it from the depths of space; seen it whole and round and beautiful and small."
If photography is a global village, the Paris Photo Fair might be the village green, especially when accompanied by the raft of exhibitions that marked the Mois de la Photographie. Last fall, expectation was particularly keen, partly because there was a deal of anxiety about the state of the photo-art market, and because the fair's scope was to be global in reach, with a Japanese theme and a European-American axis to the citywide exhibition program.
Max Blagg On Boris Lipnitzki's 1953 Portrait Of Blaise Cendrars
I've had this portrait of the French-Swiss writer Blaise Cendrars (real name Frédéric Louis Sauser) hanging above my desk for about twenty years now. A friend brought it back from a little photography shop on the rue de Seine in Paris. This picture of him seated at his ancient typewriter, with that great dented brow, Gauloise hanging from his lip, writing another astonishing novel with his left hand on a tiny portable typewriter, constantly and pointedly reminds me that even if there is no way I could ever write as much or as well with two good hands as he did with one, at least I should continue to try.