Thursday, October 25, 2007

Steichen Reconsidered in All His Exposures

By ALAN RIDING @ The New York Times

PARIS, Oct. 16 — When artists constantly reinvent themselves, they may be admired for their virtuosity, but they also risk being tagged as dilettantes. Surely, the argument goes, great artists should aspire to depth, not breadth. If they believe fervently in something one moment, how can they turn away from it the next?

It is a question that continues to haunt Edward Steichen’s reputation long after his death at 93 in 1973. He was recognized in his lifetime as one of the great photographers of the 20th century, yet with his penchant for changing directions and playing multiple roles, he bequeathed too many Steichens for easy classification.

Did he excel in all his photographic ventures — in “pure” art, fashion and advertising, portraiture, nature, combat, even as a powerful director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York — or did he become a brand name, famous for being famous?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Views of Tumult Between Two Wars

By ROBERTA SMITH @ New York Times

For some of us in the art world, the history of photography began expanding suddenly and rapidly in the late ’70s. The big bang was a 1978 book of photographs from the collection of Sam Wagstaff. It was an elegant object: a pale pink, stylishly square cover distinguished by a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph of tulips.

I remember feeling dumbfounded by the 150-odd images inside, most from before World War I. They were beautiful and riveting in their direct access to other times and places. But while familiar to photo-savvy people, names like Henry Fox Talbot, Francis Frith, Gustave Le Gray, August Sander and Édouard-Denis Baldus were at best extremely vague for most of us.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Out of the shoe box

The photographer's shots, rescued from storage, are on display at Rose Gallery in Santa Monica.

By Hugh Hart, Special to The LA Times

ON the wall of his studio darkroom in Mexico City, Manuel Alvarez Bravo posted a scrap of paper on which he'd scrawled "Hay Tiempo." "There is time."

In 2002, time ran out for Alvarez Bravo, who died at age 100. But by then, with photographs recasting everyday Mexican City street life as lyrical dreamscapes, he had created a celebrated body of work rooted in Mexico's post-revolution artistic renaissance that flourished in the 1930s.

At 95, Alvarez Bravo, slowed by ill health, revisited a lifetime's worth of themes, sifting through shoe boxes crammed with neglected proof sheets and negatives that had accumulated in his studio over the last 60 years, work he'd shunted aside in his perpetual push to produce something new.


Friday, October 19, 2007

White Stripes Cameras

The White Stripes and Lomography have released special edition Diana and Holga cameras. If you want one hurry, there were only 3000 made. They are going for $180.00.

The website

Monday, October 15, 2007

Master of the Medium

By Maria Morris Hambourg @ ArtForum

It is rare for a curator to reign with virtual sovereignty over an entire medium, but during his nearly three decades as director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (from 1962 until his retirement in 1991), John Szarkowski did. His outpouring of exhibitions and catalogues at the pulpit of modern art and photography placed him on a singular pedestal in a recurrent spotlight, but it was less these conditions than his penetrating mind, eloquence, and perspective that made his opinion matter so much. In a field dominated by journalism and almost devoid of serious critical thought, Szarkowski was a flare of intellect, a lone poet among jobbing professionals. One would be hard-pressed to name another instance in which one man’s vision of an unrecognized art simultaneously created and educated its audience.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gallery Vandals Destroy Photos

By CAROL VOGEL @ New York Times

A grainy video of four masked vandals running through an art gallery in Sweden, smashing sexually explicit photographs with crowbars and axes to the strain of thundering death-metal music, was posted on YouTube Friday night.

This was no joke or acting stunt. It was what actually happened on a quiet Friday afternoon in Lund, a small university town in southern Sweden where “The History of Sex,” an exhibition of photographs by the New York artist Andres Serrano, had opened two weeks earlier.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Colour Field Polaroids

I ran across the work of Grant Hamilton and really like the work. In grad school (way back when) I pusued "colour field" painting as well as I could.

Grant's website

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chris Jordan @ Bill Moyers Journal

"For many years, all I was interested in about photography was aesthetic beauty. And so, I would go out looking for that. And actually what I would do is go out driving around the Port of Seattle or I'd go down to Tacoma and drive around the port there. What I was interested in at the time was just color, places where color appears inadvertently or places where there's this color that appears in a very complex and beautiful way, but nobody intended it."

"And one day, I found a pile of garbage that was really beautiful, I thought, and so I photographed it. And I made a big print and hung it on my wall. And people would come over and look at it and they would start talking about consumerism. And they'd walk up and say, "Oh, look, there's an Altoid's can." Or there's a, whatever particularly consumer product that they recognized in the photograph. And then they would start talking about garbage and waste and they would tell me, "Chris, this is a different kind of image that you haven't made before." And they would sort of urge me to follow the thread. And I told them "I'm not interested in all that. Like, don't talk to me about modern art. And don't tell me to come up to date. Just check out my cool cosmic color theory." - CJ

Bill Moyers Journal