Friday, June 29, 2007

Seen on the Street: Photographers’ ‘Everyday Epiphanies’

Alex Webb


When artists talk about “training the eye,” they generally don’t mean doing exercises to maintain 20/20 vision. They mean honing a set of instincts, learning to see relationships among colors or objects or spaces. The title of this small but potent collection of contemporary photographs from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection describes this kind of vision another way: seeing what is “Hidden in Plain Sight.” The show focuses mostly on versions of street, rather than studio, photography.

The artists here discovered “found still lifes,” as the wall text puts it, which resulted in “everyday epiphanies.” These are prefaced by an epigraph from Henry David Thoreau, written in his diary in August 1851: “The question is not what you look at but what you see.” Thoreau may have been speaking of nature or writing, but his dictum works well enough for photography. (It’s still an odd choice for a show focusing on 20th- and 21st-century photography, but never mind.)


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Photos show everyday life amid catastrophe

Karin Apollonia Müller,

Art reviews: Karin Apollonia Müller, Hirsch Perlman, Jimmy Baker, Bill Komoski

By Christopher Knight @ LA Times

For at least a decade, Karin Apollonia Müller has been making savvy photographs that consider the disquieting contradictions of ordinary experience, a project for which Southern California has been her muse. Müller divides her time between Los Angeles and Germany, where she was born (in Heidelberg) in 1963. Perhaps it takes an outsider to see a place with fresh eyes, because she understands the perplexing city in ways that deeply resonate.

Her seven recent large-scale photographs at the Karyn Lovegrove Gallery are as fine as any she's made. One reason is that she begins with an array of events — wildfires, mudslides, freeway catastrophes and such —that are L.A. clichés and that also make the city the nation's reigning symbol of imminent apocalypse. (Had there been a recent earthquake, it no doubt would have figured in her pictures.) But the resulting work is less journalistic or documentary than cinematic, even though she doesn't stage the scenes.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Wolfgang Tillmans, Paying Attention

By Michael O'Sullivan @ Washington Post

The last thing you're likely to see on your way out of "Wolfgang Tillmans," a touring retrospective on the 38-year-old German contemporary photographer at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is a photograph called "You're Not Paying Attention." Lifted from the slogan on an American flag decal shot by the artist, it could be taken as the show's rallying cry.

It's a message that could therefore more properly have been delivered at the beginning of the show, rather than at the end. If a viewer can make it all the way through the show -- idiosyncratically installed by the artist throughout 10 galleries on the museum's second floor -- without having changed the way he or she looks at these photographs, maybe even photography in general, there's little hope that Tillmans's parting shot is going to get through. Through the course of the show itself, on the other hand, the artist does his damnedest to subvert (or at least question) the very way we pay attention to pictures.


Wish Hue Were Here

by Daniel Kunitz @ The Village Voice

For decades, people saw color photography in black and white: It was for amateurs or crass commercialism; it was emphatically not for art. Kodacolor, considered the first true color negative film, was introduced in 1942. As late as 1997, the Oxford History of Art volume on the photograph still claimed, "Color photographs remain problematic. They are central to the snapshot, but are still invariably rejected by the professional and art photographer . . ." By then this assertion was already moldy, yet it gives a sense of how reluctant people were to embrace color. In fact, by 1997, color had become utterly central to photography, in large part because of a renewed appreciation for several American photographers who came to prominence in the '70s. Two current shows presenting work from that decade suggest why our reception of color has been so blurry.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Life for Bruce Davidson's Classics

By Miki Johnson @

In the early '90s, Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson suggested a project on Central Park to the National Geographic editors he'd been working with in recent years. They hadn't done a piece on the park in decades, so they agreed, but insisted Davidson shoot in color, a thorn in the predominantly black-and-white photographer's side.

"But I was a good boy and I exposed about 500 rolls of Kodachrome," Davidson says. "And they hated it." Upon hearing that National Geographic had decided to give the Central Park story to another photographer, Davidson says he "went right back into the park and worked in black and white for three more years."


I'm back

Just returned from a week in Colorado, hope you missed me. Posting will resume now!



Friday, June 08, 2007


Duke Ellington, Paris, 1958

@ Jackson Fine Art (Atlanta)

Press Release : Great music inspires listeners to feel. We emotionally react when we hear the hook or melody of an exceptional song. Rarely, however, are listeners given the opportunity to witness the experience of the musician as great music is being made. Distinguished photographer Herman Leonard has captured these moments in his photographs of the some of the most imaginative and expressive musicians that have ever lived. Jackson Fine Art is thrilled to exhibit Jazz Giants, a selection of Leonard's photographs of jazz's biggest legends, including Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. Leonard's personal love of jazz music drew him to the New York nightclubs in the 1940s and 50s, but his camera was his ticket inside. He wanted "to make people see the way music sounded." The result was a simultaneous unleashing of creative power released through sound, song, and the click of Leonard's camera. His creative use of lighting, profiles, and camera angles were surely inspired by jazz's own experimental nature. Leonard's personal admiration for his subjects is evident in the photographs taken in between moments on stage. His visual record of jazz music is, in concert, the personification of a musical epoch as well as a profound body of art. The Smithsonian Institution owns the entire Images of Jazz series in its permanent collection. Devastatingly, Leonard lost over six thousand photographs as well as his New Orleans studio during Hurricane Katrina. His efforts to salvage his life's work and the story of jazz are documented in the film Saving Jazz. Leonard claims "to be present when the artist actually creates his work is a profound privilege." It can be assumed that the jazz legends in Leonard's photographs feel the same way about him.

Jackson Fine Art

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

James Nachtwey: TED Prize wish: Share a vital story with the world


"Accepting his 2007 TED Prize, photojournalist James Nachtwey talks about his decades as a war photographer. A slideshow of his photos, beginning in 1981 in Northern Ireland, reveal two parallel themes in his work. First, as he says: "The frontlines of contemporary wars are right where people live." Street violence, famine, disease: he has photographed all these modern WMDs. Second, when a photo catches the world's attention, it can truly drive action and change. In his TED wish, he asks for help gaining access to a story that needs to be told, and developing a new, digital way to show these photos to the world. Help grant James Nachtwey's wish "


The Online Photographer

The Online Photographer has moved! Apparently Mike had some issues with Blogger and has moved TOP to a new home. There are still some bugs to work out, but Mike is dilligently setting up the new space and things will get back to normal.

The NEW Online Photographer

Friday, June 01, 2007

Garry Winogrand with Bill Moyers, 1982

@ 2point8

"When I’m photographing, I see life. That’s what I deal with. I don’t have pictures in my head. I frame in terms of what I want to include, and naturally, when I want to snap the shutter. And I don’t worry about how the picture’s gonna look - I let that take care of itself. We know too much about how pictures look and should look, and how do you get around making those pictures again and again. It’s one modus operandi. To frame in terms of what you want to have in the picture, not about how - making a nice picture. That, anybody can do."