Monday, December 14, 2009

Larry Sultan, California Photographer, Dies at 63


Larry Sultan, a highly influential California photographer whose 1977 collaboration, “Evidence” — a book made up solely of pictures culled from vast industrial and government archives — became a watershed in the history of art photography, died on Sunday at his home in Greenbrae, Calif. He was 63.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Katherine, who is known as Kelly.

In the mid 1970s using a grant and a letter of introduction from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. Sultan and Mike Mandel, who had met as students at the San Francisco Art Institute, somehow managed to persuade several large companies, agencies and research institutions like the Bechtel Corporation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the San Jose Police Department and the United States Department of the Interior to let them rummage through their documentary photo files.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Contemporary Art Photographers Mess With the Medium

By Martha Schwendener @ The Village Voice

The question of why certain practices thrive at particular moments feels like the art world equivalent of asking why honeybee populations have collapsed in the last decades or mussels have started growing in the Hudson. Why, for instance, are contemporary photographers—or, if you like, artists working with photography—obsessed with abstraction, materiality, and process?

First, the evidence. A good place to start is "Processed: Considering Recent Photographic Practices" at Hunter College (East 68th Street and Lexington, through December 12). The show includes artists like Marco Breuer, whose spectral abstractions, made by scratching and scuffing chromogenic paper, are hung across from Josh Brand's photograms that look like muted Josef Albers paintings.


Monday, November 09, 2009

The Restless Medium

By Jed Perl @ The New Republic

Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box. His writing amounts to a set of matching stainless-steel boxes. He puts potential critics on notice that the best they can hope to do is leave a few fingerprints or scratches on these perfectly polished surfaces. And so many people back away. Fried wants us to feel that we could as easily demolish the Great Pyramid of Giza with a pick-axe as successfully question his interpretations of his chosen themes--which now include the art of the camera, in his new book, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roy DeCarava, Pioneering Photographer, Dies at 89

By Randy Kennedy @ NYTimes

Roy DeCarava, the child of a single mother in Harlem who turned that neighborhood into his canvas and became one of the most important photographers of his generation by chronicling its people and its jazz giants, has died. He was 89.

His death was announced by Sherry Turner DeCarava, his wife and an art historian who wrote frequently about his work.

Mr. DeCarava trained to be a painter, but while using a camera to gather images for his printmaking work, he began to gravitate toward photography, in part because of its immediacy but also because of the limitations he saw all around him for a black artist in a segregated nation. “A black painter, to be an artist,” he once said, “had to join the white world or not function — had to accept the values of white culture.”


Friday, September 25, 2009

America, Captured in a Flash


Like probably a zillion other school kids, “My country tears of thee” was the way I understood the first line of “America.” Maybe that’s the way the Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank heard it too when he came to the United States from Europe in 1947, at 22, with English his second, third or fourth language.

Sadness seems to trickle through the 83 photographs in his classic 1959 book, “The Americans,” his disturbed and mournful song-of-the-road portrait of a new homeland and the subject of a 50th-anniversary exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


DCC Digital Classic Camera 5.0

The Minox re-invented!

"The new digital Classic Camera from MINOX comes in a really stylish format! On the outside it features a miniaturized shell, designed in great detail, and inside it is packed with innovative technology in the form of a powerful digital camera. A unique harmony of classic design and state-of-the-art features. This new edition of the wee camera is a logical and up to date further development of the previous DCC model, and features a color monitor and a memory card slot, making the miniature camera geared to continue a success story."


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Digital Print

"This invaluable resource demystifies the complex, rapidly changing, and sometimes confusing world of digital print technologies. It describes the major digital printing processes used by photographers and artists over the past forty years, explaining and illustrating materials and their deterioration, methods of identification, and options for acquiring and preserving digital prints. A removable poster provides a ready reference for identifying specific processes and materials."


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

André Kertész: On Reading, at The Photographers' Gallery

By Alastair Smart @ Telegraph UK

An urchin on the streets of Manila; a demoiselle in a Parisian café, even a Trappist priest in his study – all were caught in the act by André Kertész. Caught in the act of reading, that is. A pioneer of snapshot photography, Kertész always saw pictorial potential in folk absorbed by a good book, newspaper or letter.

Thriving on the paradox that even in the most crowded, public space one can enjoy such a solitary, private activity, he snapped some 200 readers over his career. Forty of these photos feature in On Reading, a new Kertész exhibition at the Photographers' Gallery.


Wrong place, wrong man? Fresh doubts on Capa's famed war photo

By Giles Tremlett @ The Guardian

New evidence has emerged that one of the most famous war photographs, shot during the Spanish civil war by Robert Capa, was taken well away from the battlefield, reopening the debate as to whether it is a fake.

Capa's dramatic "The Falling Soldier", the photograph of a Spanish militiaman being killed by a bullet as he charges down a slope, was taken miles away from where the civil war was being fought at the time, according to a university lecturer, José Manuel Susperregui.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Kodak to retire Kodachrome film

@ Electronista

Kodak this morning said it would soon phase out its longstanding Kodachrome film, putting an end to a significant era of film photography. The company says it plans to end the 74-year production as sales of the classic film now make up less than one percent of its film camera business, which itself is in the minority at Kodak. About 70 percent of the company's income is from digital photography.


Friday, June 05, 2009

A Photographer Who Refused to Think Like a Photographer


If you were a serious photographer in the 1960s, you traveled the country documenting social change (Garry Winogrand, Robert Frank) or pursued technical perfection in the studio (Richard Avedon, Irving Penn). Photography had to be pure, true to itself and its subjects.

This was unfair, because other artists were allowed to incorporate bits of photographs into their paintings, drawings and prints, or work from photographic sources. Yet any attempt by a photographer to dabble in older art forms was suspect. It smacked of deference or, worse, manipulation.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The History of Now

by Kurt W Forster @ TATE Etc.

Armin Linke has a studio in a humdrum part of Milan, but if one wishes to do more than catch a glimpse of this peripatetic photographer, one needs to travel with him. He packs his bags whenever something grabs his attention. At first this has nothing to do with the camera, but everything to do with his eye and a disarming intelligence. Linke quietly scrutinises his chosen location, selecting a view that is of a scope and depth to warrant taking a picture. One day in Iraq, before the last war, he did just that, some distance from one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces on a slope of asphalt and sand. While he set up his camera, a group of men uniformly dressed in black walked into his view. They were leaving the palace after bearing birthday wishes for the president. The resulting photograph is really composed of two images: one is premeditated, taking in the sweep of a symbolic site (with few or no symbols, apart from the tall lamp posts, as if it were an airport); the other is created by coincidence. It is precisely the accidental that endows the picture with an uncanny meaning: men are leaving the site of power, as if the place were to fall vacant at their departure. By dint of its dual nature, the image enfolds a brief moment within a static frame. Linke caught an instant (gone the moment he snapped the picture) whose symbolic time had not yet come, but whose enduring backdrop ceased to hold any significance. Instead of fading into obsolete reportage as the years go by, the picture continues to acquire incalculable references.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The red, yellow and blue planet

by Benjamin Secher @ The Telegraph

The year was 1903 and, less than a decade after they'd invented cinema, Auguste and Louis Lumière were once again down at the Paris patent office claiming a breakthrough in photography; this time, a practical system for recording the world in glorious true colour.

They named their radical technique the autochrome, identified its innovative component as potato starch - millions of granules of the stuff, dyed red, yellow and blue, and pressed between two plates of glass - then, with their typical sense of drama, retired to the laboratory for four years to perfect their invention.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Phase One Launches P 40+ with Sensor+

@ dpreview

Phase One has announced the P40+ medium format digital back. The new system incorporates the company's Sensor+ technology that offers both a full 40MP resolution capture mode and a second 10MP 'Sensor+' mode for faster image capture. The Sensor+ mode also increases maximum sensitivity from ISO 800 (in full resolution mode) to ISO 3200. The camera has started shipping at approximately €14,990 for the digital back and €16,990 for the camera system.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Works by Photography’s Old Masters


When the three weathered cardboard boxes — known collectively, and cinematically, as the Mexican suitcase — arrived at the International Center of Photography more than a year ago, one of the first things a conservator did was bend down and sniff the film coiled inside, fearful of a telltale acrid odor, a sign of nitrate decay.

But the rolls turned out to be in remarkably good shape despite being almost untouched for 70 years. And so began a painstaking process of unfurling, scanning and trying to make sense of some 4,300 negatives taken by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour during the Spanish Civil War, groundbreaking work that was long thought to be lost but resurfaced several years ago in Mexico City.

Read On

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stubbornly Practicing His Principles of Photography

By RANDY KENNEDY @ New York Times

“LISTEN, do I have time to feed my pig?” the photographer Danny Lyon asked, picking up the telephone one morning at his home in rural New Mexico. “It will only take about 10 minutes. I’ll call you back,” he said, adding: “That way I can start the day with a clean conscience.”

Among a group of revolutionaries whose work rose to prominence in the late 1960s and ’70s and transformed the nature of documentary photography — a group that includes friends and colleagues of Mr. Lyon’s like Mary Ellen Mark and Larry Clark — the idea of conscience has been imbedded more deeply in Mr. Lyon’s photographs than in those of all but a few of his contemporaries.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Cindy Sherman: I'm every woman

by Waldemar Januszczak @ London Times

The iPod is on. And Chicks on Speed are howling in my ear. “They say I’m vermin,” growls the singer. “Got more faces than Cindy Sherman.” A quick flick of the iPod wheel and I’m with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. In Grand Mal, their singer runs through the problems he’s having with a girl. “She takes Cindy Sherman pictures/And she cuts herself,” admits the poor wretch. Ouch. Back to the wheel. How about Billy Bragg? He, too, is mixed up with a girl who flummoxes him, and his lament stutters like an echo in a tunnel: “Cindy of a thousand lives… Which one of them is you?”


Friday, April 03, 2009

Photographer Sugimoto Strikes a Stone Age Deal with U2

By EDAN CORKILL @ Japan Times

Just two minutes into an interview with artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, it became clear why the famously discreet 61-year-old had agreed to talk about rock band U2's use of one of his photographs on the cover of their latest album, "No Line on the Horizon."

"The first thing I want you to let people know," he said, seated in an office at Ginza's Gallery Koyanagi, "is there is no commercial aspect to my relation with U2. No cash is involved."


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Lumix TS1

By matt buchanan @ gizmodo

This is what I picture when I think of a camera that doesn't take any shit, like a Marine. (There's an army green and charcoal, not just orange, speaking of.) It's a no BS block of brushed metal that's slim enough to actually slide into your pocket.

Read On

One tough camera!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Helen Levitt, Who Froze New York Street Life on Film, Is Dead at 95

By MARGARETT LOKE @ New York Times

Helen Levitt, a major photographer of the 20th century who caught fleeting moments of surpassing lyricism, mystery and quiet drama on the streets of her native New York, died in her sleep at her home in Manhattan on Sunday. She was 95.

Her death was confirmed by her brother, Bill Levitt, of Alta, Utah.

Ms. Levitt captured instances of a cinematic and delightfully guileless form of street choreography that held at its heart, as William Butler Yeats put it, “the ceremony of innocence.” A man handles garbage-can lids like an exuberant child imitating a master juggler. Even an inanimate object — a broken record — appears to skip and dance on an empty street as a child might, observed by a group of women’s dresses in a shop window.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

14 Rare Color Photos From the FSA

@Photo District News

"Even today, many documentary photographers will tell you they are influenced by the works of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and 40s. Under the direction of Roy Emerson Stryker, the FSA sent photographers to document the plight of the rural farmer during the Great Depression and the progress of New Deal programs. When the U.S. entered World War II, the photography program continued under the Office of War Information (OWI)."


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Art of the iPhone impressionist

by Jonathan Jones @ The Guardian

In the early 20th century, the photograph still seemed new. The German intellectual Walter Benjamin tried to understand how photography changed art: it replaced the "aura" of the masterpiece with a new, democratic way of making pictures. Going on for a century later, we're living in the midst of a technological revolution that has left photography itself behind. Here's the latest: artist Jorge Colombo makes pictures of New York street life using the Brushes application (bought for $4.99 - "a great leveller") on his iPhone. The results are impressively delicate and lively.

Lots of people take photos on a phone - the casual record of what you see is fun to share. Colombo's pictures are a creative extension of that: he sketches what he sees in New York, and these fast, fragmentary glimpses of a car park entrance, a pizza joint, a view between buildings have an impressionistic immediacy. He can "draw in the dark", working on the illuminated screen to depict the city by night. They are not pretentious, they do not claim to be more than a sort of visual diary. But they show that a sensitive eye can use any medium to respond to the beauty of the world - whether it's a brush or Brushes.

View Images

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to read a photograph

Photographs can create illusions, communicate arguments or document a changing world. Learn how to look at them here

by Ian Jeffrey @ The Guardian

Understanding photographs has never been straightforward. Not all photographs – including some of the best known – were taken with a clear idea in mind. Even if they were, the idea was soon overlooked or forgotten. An outline history of photography would be easy enough to write, taking into account a symbolist phrase around 1900, followed by abstract "graphic" photography in the 1920s, replaced in its turn by humanist documentary in the 1930s. The would-be historian, however, would soon be puzzled by anomalies: false starts, anachronisms and examples of uneven development. It is almost as if photography took place in a perpetual present in which, for instance, William Fox Talbot (the inventor of the negative-positive process in the 1840s) remains an interesting contemporary. Under these terms of reference it is probably best to look at photographs one at a time, which is what I concentrate on in How to Read a Photograph.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visions and Images

Frederick Sommer

Visions and Images was part of a series on the arts done in the late 1970's and 80's. Interviewies include: Garry Winogrand, Elliot Erwitt, Frederick Sommer, Harry Callahan, Joel Meyerowitz, Arnold Newman, Duane Michals, and Cornell Capa + Burk Uzzle.

"The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive features interviews Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel conducted with prominent artists, musicians, architects, designers, photographers, directors, actors, writers, and art collectors, documenting the arts world during the nineteen seventies and the nineteen eighties. This collection includes interviews from several programs: American Architecture Now, About the Arts, Barbaralee Diamonstein and, Handmade in America, Inside Fashion, Inside New York's Art World, Interior Design: The New Freedom, and Visions and Images."

Duke University Digital Archives

Visions and Images on YouTube

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism

by Rachel Campbell-Johnston @ The Times Online

It's a good thing that that wobbly bridge got fixed because you can almost feel the stamp of the military boots as Rodchenko and Popova march into Tate Modern. Here is the art of the Russian Revolution: clear, strong, insistent and iconoclastic. As you walk through this show, it takes over your imagination - a bit like Bolshevik troops once took over Red Square.

Are you going to fall into rank? At first it feels pretty hard not to. Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism is a big, powerful exhibition with the pull of an unstoppable force. Although prevailingly intellectual, it has a hard, bold, determined aesthetic that works a bit like a blow from a rifle butt. It smacks itself down direct on the retina.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Suzanne Mooney

On another note there was an interesting little blurb about Suzanne Mooney's new work at SEESAW Magazine. "I photograph the diagram itself. The work denies the erotic charge that the photographic images may have, and becomes a humorous but disturbing comment on glamour photography."

Interesting work.
"The camera simultaneously offers us access to the view whilst denying us the full appreciation of the scenery."

I like the way she thinks....

Suzanne's website

"Park Life" - An Interview with Tod Papageorge

by Aaron Schuman @ SEESAW Magazine

AS: Aaron Schuman
TP: Tod Papageorge

AS: You’ve often said that you were originally inspired to pursue photography because of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Where did you find his work in the first place?

TP: It was totally by accident. I was taking an introductory photography class at university, and I guess I was curious enough to go to the library and look at some bound periodicals. And there was this photograph by this man I’d never heard of; it was totally shocking to me. It provoked me to literally do everything I could in that library to find any other pictures by him. I think I found one more. But those two pictures inspired me to become a photographer.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Photography and the eyes of the beholder

by Liz Jobey @ The Guardian

For anybody interested in the changing nature of photography over the last 30 years, Michael Fried's Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before is an important book. The reputation of its author – one of the leading art historians and critics of the past half-century – is guaranteed to capture the attention of photographers and artists alike. Its size and thoroughness, over 400 well-illustrated pages in a large art-book format, distinguish it from the many volumes of critical theory that contemporary photography has spawned in recent years. And the title unambiguously states that photography matters as art, which settles one long-debated question at a stroke.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Twilight of the color photo

As printed snapshots vanish, we're losing more than shoe boxes full of mementos

By Dushko Petrovich @ Boston Globe

ONE HUNDRED YEARS ago, one of Paris's richest men had a quixotic dream. Returning from a personal trip to China and Japan, the banker Albert Kahn decided to build a huge visual archive of the planet. Kahn believed that mutual misunderstanding was the source of world conflict, so in 1909, he began funding scores of photographers as they set out across five continents. By the time the Great Depression finally bankrupted him 22 years later, Kahn's intrepid op??rateurs had managed to document almost 50 countries, returning to France with 120 hours of film footage and 4,000 black-and-white pictures. This alone would have been a remarkable legacy, but the real jewels of the collection were printed on glass, in a full spectrum the world had never seen. The recently invented technique of the autochrome - which made portable color photography possible - meant that Kahn's emissaries could also amass a staggering total of 72,000 color plates.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A haunting memorial in 'Library of Dust'

Photographer David Maisel became fascinated by canisters of cremated remains at the Oregon State Hospital. They spoke to him of secrets, transformation and loss.

By Leah Ollman @ LA Times

The first photograph in David Maisel's new book presents a view into a storeroom that clearly doesn't get a lot of foot traffic. An old wooden desk with no chair is parked in the corner. Bits of debris have gathered on the stained linoleum floor. The walls are what give this room, and Maisel's book, its name: "Library of Dust."


Friday, January 02, 2009

In Photography, What Puzzles the Eye May Please the Mind

By KEN JOHNSON @ New York Times

NEW HAVEN — Photographs are shameless. They’ll do anything to get your attention. They’ll show you celebrities in and out of their clothes, exotic creatures and objects, places and events that you would never otherwise see.

Another, paradoxical strategy for captivating viewers is to show them something they can’t immediately understand. Whether because of its visual complexity, its oblique perspective, its lighting, its degree of abstraction or the unfamiliarity of its subject, it’s the kind of photograph that makes you stop and think, “What the heck is that?” And it keeps you looking until you’ve figured out what it is you’re looking at.