Durgesh - a friend of mine - is a gifted ameteur landscape photographer. I had been pestering him for ages to start a photoblog. He finally created one.
Please welcome him to the blogosphere.
I checked out a few exhibitions in NYC last weekend:
Alex Webb's ongoing exhibition at Ricco/Maresca is good. The other ongoing show in that gallery by Bill Barminsky looked quite interesting too.
Garry Winogrand's exhibition in Pace/MacGill through Oc 16 (review here). You should check it out if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.
Howard Greenberg has an intriguing series of nudes by Kenro Izu against a dark shadowy blue background on large format cyanotype over platinum/palladium prints on exhibition. The prints were intriguing. I know very little about printing; so let me just quote from The gallaery press release:
"Using a custom built large format camera, Izu produces 14x20 inch negatives. He then prints the negatives directly onto a fine watercolor paper that has been hand coated with a platinum emulsion. The addition of one to two layers of blue cyanotype adds nuance of multiple tones, bringing luminous abstract forms out of a rich velvety darkness. ....."
"In 1932, he stuck his camera between the slats of a fence near the St.-Lazare railway station in Paris at precisely the right instant and captured a picture of the watery lot behind the station, strewn with debris. A man has propelled himself from a ladder that lies in the water. Photographs of puddle jumpers were clichés then, but Mr. Cartier-Bresson brings to his image layer on layer of fresh and uncanny detail ..." (Link)
He was the last of the giants.
Magnum has a very generous retrospective online.
PDN has put up an interesting portfolio of Rueben Cox here Cox's interview (available through the same page) is loaded with good advise. PDN Edu also showcased Vincent Laforet's work. As you may had noticed, (if you have checked out the photography links on my nav bar!) he has an interesting photography links page on his site. Vincent Laforet is an NYT staff photographer. That site also houses his Pakistan and Afghan war photographs.
Anyway, he has a story in StortsShooter on creating a digital darkroom. Everything that he mentions is way too expensive. But it is worth checking out if you are into digital photography.
I shoot only film, with (so far) only a passing interest on digital. But then, I am an ameteur photographer. For professional photographers, films are apparently going the dinosaur way faster than most people thought.
There are interesting photography exhibitions going on in London this summer. Kimmelman made a detour to London on his way back from Venice to catch The Guy Bourdin exhibition in V&A and 'Cruel and tender' show in Tate, (arguably) the first photoography retrospective there. (The article was free when I first bookmarked it, but it is now priced. Unless you have access to the archive anyway, it is probably not worth the price of admission)
From whatever I have seen of Bourdin's photographs (Link NOT work safe), I have always been curious about him. The current spate of coverages in art magazines following the V&A retrospective, gave me the opportunity to catch up. Pre-Bourdin fashion world was largely pictorial. It would navigate the safe territory of conventional female sexuality to sell products. But in the seventies, Bourdin's spreads in Vogue alongwith those of Helmut Newton's blew them away. using loud colors, metaphors drawn from the art world transposed into fetishistic images bordering on soft porn, Bourdin introduced the idea of staged narratives into the fashion world the reverberations of which are still being felt.
As the May/June issue of 'Tate Arts and Culture' notes,
Both Gustav Courbet's 'Jo, La Belle Irlandaise' (1866) and Bourdin's image for Charles Jourdan in the summer of 1977 depict a beautiful redhead gazing at a reflection of herself, her flaming hair set off by a contemporary background....Bourdin adds his own signature touches - the high gloss materials, the provocative gamine pose -transporting the scene to the present day, while the contrasting light and darkness add surprising depth and wonderment.
"There is nothing so poetic in the world as the death of a beautiful woman" - Edgar Allan Poe (said). A model lies (nearly) nude in the semi darkness of a hotel room , her Charles Jourdan-sandalled feet overhanging the end of the plain bed. The door to the room is wide open; a small boy passing in the corridor catches a glimpse of her immobile figure. The model's head and shoulders are violently cropped out of the image, and 'replaced' by those of a mime like figure on a television screen facing us, the viewer......"
The resemblance of this woman to a corpse is not imagined. Her position nearly parallel to the picture plane, her rigid, joined legs, the rumpled white bed linen and the pleated white loincloth are virtually identical to those of LE christ Mort by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-74) in the Louvre. The V&A exhibition reveals that Bourdin created a precise, full size drawing of this scene in preparation for the photograph: notably, the woman's feet are bare, as are Christ's.
The suggestion of autobiographical elements in the image - that Bourdin is picturing 'his and our greatest fear', the loss of the mother - is plausible. The boy in the picture is not a professional model, but the artist's son.
Steeped in the works of Poe, Charles Baudelaire, the surrealist artists and those from their pantheons, not to mention Alfred Hitchcock and popular detective stories, Bourdin brought the taste for the macabre to his magazine work. The list of expired heroines he portrayed disguised as fashion models runs from Cleopetra and Snow White to Elizabeth Siddan posing for John Everett Millas as the drowning Ophelia (1851-52, Tate Bretain). Although conceived for supposedly superficial fashion magazines, we can read nearly all of Bourdin's fashion and beauty work as memento mori, pointing to the vanity of the very glamorous world he represents.
Bourdin had a lousy personal life. His first wife is suspected of having committed suicide. His two girlfriends who followed her certainly did. Bourdin actually wanted to be a painter and used to paint at leisure. He did not think much of his advertising work and consistently refused permission for an exhibition of his photographs or publication in a book form. He was also very demanding. It was also the pre-photoshop, pre-digital era. He used to subject his models to rather horrifying ordeals in order to get the effect that he wanted. One model had pretty serious trouble getting stuff off her face after one her shoots. Another almost drowned while a narrative Bourdin was shooting went awry. Some refused to work with him. Others thrived and came back again and again. He maintained fanatical control over his finished image and is probably the only one from that era who did not let the magazine or the advertiser change anything in the photograph (Short bio here).
During the eighties, prudishness came back into vogue. Bourdin's work lost favour with the advertisers. Once grunge took over the fashion scene, Bourdin's name went off the public radar.
It is only now, over the last few years, that Bourdin is coming back into circulation again. Pictured magazine in their June 2003 issue said
What he did ws reference it to the nth degree. "I thought I'd like almost to take the exact idea of the steak on the face, or the girl tied to the tree, or the hosepipe, or the water being thrown or the shiny green backgrounds and the shiny red red backgrounds, and the ring flas and everything ...I wanted to bring it all back in one go, throw it all over the fashion scene and see how it looked."
Re'mi Babinet, creative director of BETC Euro RSCG says "Bourdin was the first person in advertising to say that the image of a product is not just a picture, or a pack shot; it's a whole universe, a whole world.
That concept is now so central to advertising and the milieu of fashion that it's almost impossible to imagine a time before branding really got its claws into the hearts and minds of consumers. But it wasn't just this that set him apart, it has his dedication to the idea that he could sell without ever having to sell out.
Charlotte Cotton (curator of the exhibition) singles out Steven Meisel as Bourdin's most accomplished successor. "He's the best. A huge proportion of the advertising you see is by Steven Meisel - Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Versace, Valantino - and every campaign is so different." The connections are there to be made; his current campaign for Dolce and Gabbana features model Gisele surrounded by CCTV cameras and monitors, each trained on a different part of her body. The sense of voyeurism, and the play on the act of looking are undeniably 'Very Bourdin'. His advertisements for Valentino echo Bourdin's image of a model with alarge photograph held in front to preserve modesty."
...Perhaps closest of all in terms of artistry are Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. "Their production process strikes me as quite similar," says Cotton "The way that Bourdin worked, he virtually invented a life story for a charecter or a kind of a scene before he took the photograph. Inez and Vinoodh do that as well and the fact that the emphasis is on everything before the shutter has clicked is something which I think puts them in the same league as Bourdin." They too have worked the homage vibe, not least in a campaign for Patrick Cox shoes that recalls the tone of the Bourdin/Jordan advertising."
Art Auction magazine in their last issue went further. It claimed that the cinematic images of Gregory Crewdson and Philip diCorcia or the staged narrative of Cindy Sherman follow directly in the tradition of Bourdin and what he accomplished. (I think Crewdson's current work is more accessible than Bourdin's, but it has the same edginess.)
Pictured quoted Knight as saying:
Two of the most brilliant nature photographers out there have websites of their own:
Lanting also has a website. Not as many photographs there, but a lot of content that is interesting to browse through.
Steve McCurry has an absolutely awe inspiring gallery of photographs on his website. I am grateful to reader Jeff Halbrook for sending this lnk to me.
PDN's list of 30 emerging photographers for 2003. I always look forward to this particular issue.
Arian French has a wonderful art blog that has all sorts of interesting links.
The first time I looked at an Avedon portrait, I was uneasy. Those were the photographs that Avedon shot of his father who was dying of cancer. It was only recently, that I went back to Avedon. To me, they are still not easy portraits to look at. But his vision and his humanity is more understandable now.
The most eloquent introduction to his work is his essay included in Richard Avedon Portraits. I strongly recommend that you read it if you get a chance.
There is a Thomas Struth exhibition going on in the Met that is worth checking out. I could only spend a little time there and would like to go back again later.
For some reason, I always heard Struth's name uttered alongwith that of Andres Gursky.I saw the Gursky exhibition in MOMA in 2001, but was not really moved by it. So, I did not really go out of my way to check out Struth photographs. But Struth is different. He is not hard like Gursky. May be I am reading it wrong. But I thought there is something cold about Gursky. Struth is more poignant, poetic at times.
Let me also add that EVERYONE seems to think very highly of Gursky, so I guess could be just that I did not get it. (Incidentally, there is another Gursky exhibition going on in SFMOMA).
Update: Tyler Green blogged about the Struth exhibition earlier. He did not much like the streetscapes. But I completely agree with his opinion about Met's crowd control.
There are some interesting photographs of New York night life in Giovannu Del Brenna's portfolio.
Tom Vanderbilt wrote a nice profile of Bruce Davidson in NYT.
(both links via Romenesko's media news)
Keating was part of the NYT team that won a pulitzer last year for its coverage of 9/11 (he was also arrested by the NY port authority police for photographing the recovery of bodies of their fellow workers). His photo essay Rt 66: A Journey Across America is still available in the NYT archive.
It can be argued that a lot of photojournalism is orchestrated by someone or other. That many more important events are either staged or manipulated by or for photographers. But still this doesn't feel right.
I hope Keating manages to pick up the pieces of his life and continue to make great images.
I think PDN's online gallery is slowly emerging as the most interesting collection of images, commentary and soundbites on photography on the net.
The 2002 Moby awards currently on the Mobilives homepage is a hilarious read.
There is a a provocative commentary on "the most overrated and underrated ideas" in NYT
LAT profiles the faces to watch for in 2003. LAT website has an annoying registration process that you have to go through to access this. But they post a lot of good stuff these days. So you may want to swallow your dislike and get it over with now. (via Modern Art Notes)
Piece unique gallery is a comprehensive collection of Vietnam war photographs by some of the most well known war photographers from that era. The photos are categorized by photographers and have accompanying photographer bios and interviews. I feel slightly uncomfortable about the shopping cart in every page.
Update: Catherine Leroy of Pieceunique reminded me on an e-mail that part of the proceeds from the sale of the prints is going to the Vietnam Veterans Assistance fund. (For some reason, she had not been able to post the comment to this post. I'll try to figure that out when I have some time ....)
Talking of street photography, I had run into this Henri Cartier bresson portfolio in mefi sometime back that I have been meaning to post for some time. (More Bresson portfolios here and here). I also think of Martin Parr as primarily a street photographer. And in spite of Bresson's disdain for him (He was famously disgusted when he heard that Parr has gotten admittance in Magnum), he has gone on to do incredibly well in Magnum. He has a unique eye that captures the ridiculous even in mundane circumstances.
But the street photographer that I really admire from the Bresson era is André Kertész. (Some his works are displayed in Petrimoine Photographique and in Jane Corkin's). I find his images elegant and powerful in a very quiet way.
Drugs in the blood is a heart rending photoessay that was published in yesterday's New York Times. Brenda Ann Kenneally has been photographing ' the legacy of drugs in her Brooklyn neighbourhood ...where she lives with her young son' for a long time. The small images in the Web edition doesn't hit you as hard as those in print edition do, although Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's accompanying story will haunt you.
Brenda won the Eugene Smith memorial award last year and some of her work is displayed there.
recent visual treats:
Manhattan skyline at night from FDR drive
The lush lush green of South Jersey and its quiet countryside after driving through the industrial ghetto that is New Jersey
I hope I am not the only one out here who is sad about the way films are fast going out of fashion. This month's PDN has a story about how an increasing number of stock photographers are opting for digital. Apparently, most still shoot slides on location (mainly because of fear of screwing up) and agencies appear to think that their learning curve still have ways to go before the majority start creating acceptable stock on digital. But digital seems to be the way to go. The consumer market is already transformed by digital cameras. For some reason, it turns me slightly cold. I know still photographs shot on slides would still be touched up on photoshop before publication. It bothers me a little. But digital cameras don't turn me on at all. I like the idea of portability and ease with which I can send images captured on digital cameras to my friends and family. But for personal photography, I still like the feel of a Nikon film camera on my hands. Unless my feelings for digital cameras change, I have a feeling that in five years time I would a member of a dwindling minority who shoots on slides/negatives.
Michael Nichols, the National Geographic wildlife photographer, now has a website. It has some incredibly powerful images. This photograph breaks your heart. this also got to me. But most of the photographs in that site are happy photographs. His pungent commentary adds flavour to the site.
I have been browsing through Borneo Rain Forest by Michael Klum. Klum is not as famous as Nichols. His photographs also have a different personality. But the works of both show the same care for nature and wildlife that differentiate great photographers from the rest.
I was shocked to hear that Kuro5hin is broke. If you are one of those who care about k5, have gained from it, you may want to chip in. I rarely go to K5. I get my fix at mefi. But I'll be very sad to see it go, if at all it comes to that.
Simson Garfinkel wrote an interesting column on Spamassassin. I have been using it for one of my e-mail accounts and have had good experience with it, though it tags incorrectly all the e-mails that I forward myself from my hotmail accounts. Need to figure that out.
Check out Lomobar's gallery. It presents photographs is a very unusual fashion. But it doesn't jar and the quality of photographs is quite high i.e. if you like the slight distortions that lomo gives. (via Mood-Indigo.net)
I have just been very busy at work for the past one week or so. Hence the prolonged silence. I hope to start weblogging regularly again from this week.
PDN's Photo Annual 2002 showcases the nominated photgraphers. It is a treasure trove of interesting photographs and photography websites. You ought to check it out while it is online.
Vanrens Bergen photographs old abandoned places in his spare time. The site has some terrific photographs of the places that he has explored. The photographs have a haunting quality to them. (via Iconomy).
Amtabh Ghosh's 'Countdown in South Asia' is one of the most lucid, thoughtful and anguished books that I have read on the nuclear situation in South Asia. Unfortunately the book is not easily available outside India. He has now made the notes and the interviews that he took for writing the book available on his website.
There is an exhibition of Edward Weston's photographs ('Last years in Carmel') going on in SFMOMA. Weston's photography changed tenor during those years in Carmel. Gone was the cold detached polish of his earlier works. His images of Point Lobos have a lot more pathos. His nudes of Charis; as their marriage was disintegrating around them, have a lot more intensity than the impersonal geometry of his previous works.
Edward Weston led a full and by the social standards of those days, an unconventional life. But by the early forties, it was taking the shape of a Greek tragedy. He contracted Parkinson's disease in 1944. Charis left him in 1945. In a haunting passage, Janet Malcolm described an incident from Maddow's "Edward Weston: fifty years".
Yet, we go back now and look at these expensively framed photographs in the immaculately maintained halls on San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and dont feel pity. We feel awe at how the immenseness of human achievements outlasts the everyday tragedies of human lives.
In case you are planning to go and it matters: there are no entry fees on on the first tuesday of every month in SFMOMA.
-Tracy Chiang, a photographer quoted in '25 and Under / Photographers'
I thought it was a very acute statement; though her photographs didn't resonate with me.
Now, talking about intolerable situations for men; I am having a terrible time putting together a new style sheet for my weblog. CSS doesn't seem to be as simple as it looked initially. I have a very good mind to stick to the templates! Hopefully I would be through with it by tomorrow and will have moved RandomNotes to my domain.
It of course didnt help matters that I spent most of yesterday kicking around Castle Rock State Park (off highway 35, near Saratoga). It has great vistas and nice rock formations; on a clear day, you can see as far as Monteray from certain places. It was all very nice. But now I have tons of office work to catch up up with too.
Vincent Laforet's website has some very good photographs. He is a staff photographer on NYT. The website is not very well designed. But dont get put off by that. He also has some of the best photography links that I have seen recently.
'With these hands' is an interesting site that chronicles the lives of four very different farming families through photos and audio commentary. I hate it when I dont have control over how I want to view images. But otherwise its good site to browse through.
PDN has profiled 30 emerging photographers in its website. There are some amazing photographs out there. And some great links. I am still going through them.
Raffaele Ciriello was killed by Machine gun fire by Israeli troops in Ramallah (via mefi). I didn't know his name. But I knew of 'Postcards From Hell', a site created by him. You have to go see the site (I linked to an archived version, the actual site is down) to realize why its such a great loss for humanity.
Two photogalleries about Kashmir in camera works (Washington Post). Without getting into a discourse on the subject, it does a very good job of showing you what is going on in there.
The plight of the French photo agencies seems to have been largely ignored by the press here. ‘Le photojournalisme agonise' (in French) chronicles the layoff and the other problems at three of the most legendary French photo agencies Sygma, Gamma and Sippa. (A bad English translation is available here). The French press and the Sygma photographers are of course blaming Bill Gates, big business, American greed at al. But the decline of the great photojournalism agencies seem to be a worldwide phenomenon. Russell Miller pointed out in 'Magnum: Fifty Years at the Front Line of History' , how increasingly hard it has been for photoagencies to stay sustainable doing just journalism. I would be curious to know whether there are photo agencies out there that are making money doing great photojournalism work.
(PDN has good coverage of this in their print edition)
Elinor Carucci's photography.
Carucci, a young Israeli photographer captures human intimacy. She photographs herself, her family and people around her. 'Nerve' has a small selection of her work that are better presented (registration required). But I found the images in her own site a lot more powerful.
Not work safe.
MSNBC's The Year in Pictures 2001
Raphael Carter's Home Page from Sylloge.
Very cool personal site. Want to go back there and explore.
nomadic photo gallery Nice photography
Journal E: Real Stories From Planet Earth is an incredibly beautiful site. There are a few new features. The story on the WTC tragedy by the Magnum photographers present some of most powerful images of 9/11