News from the World of Photography: October 2017

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William Eggleston, at 78, in a New Key


The New York Times

William Eggleston is widely considered one of modern photography’s most influential artists. The prolific piano playing that’s been his other lifelong passion, however, has remained more of an insiders’ secret.

“People know my photographs because they’re published in books and shown in galleries and museums and so forth, and yet I don’t perform music in public, ever — only in front of good friends who really want to hear it and who really listen,” Mr. Eggleston, who is 78, said in a recent phone interview from his Memphis apartment...

The Grain of the Present


Pier 24
San Francisco, CA
1 April 2017 - 31 March 2018

The Grain of the Present, Pier 24 Photography’s ninth exhibition, examines the work of ten photographers at the core of the Pilara Foundation collection—Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, Nicholas Nixon, Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, and Garry Winogrand—whose works share a commitment to looking at everyday life as it is. Each of these figures defined a distinctive visual language that combines formal concerns with a documentary aesthetic, and all of them participated in one of two landmark exhibitions: New Documents (1967) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, or New Topographics (1975) at the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester.

Looking back, inclusion in these exhibitions can be seen as both a marker of success and a foreshadowing of the profound impact this earlier generation would have on those that followed. Although these two exhibitions were significant, most of these photographers considered the photobook as the primary vehicle for their work. At a time when photography exhibitions were few and far between, the broad accessibility of these publications introduced and educated audiences about their work. As a result, many contemporary photographers became intimately familiar with that work, drawing inspiration from it and developing practices that also value the photobook as an important means of presenting their images.

The Grain of the Present features the work of these ten groundbreaking photographers alongside six contemporary practitioners of the medium—Eamonn Doyle, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ed Panar, Alec Soth, Awoiska van der Molen, and Vanessa Winship. This generation embodies Wessel’s notion of being “actively receptive”: rather than searching for particular subjects, they are open to photographing anything around them. Yet the contemporary works seen here do not merely mimic the celebrated visual languages of the past, but instead draw on and extend them, creating new dialects that are uniquely their own.

Nicholas Nixon: Exhibition in Madrid. Fundación MAPFRE Bárbara de Braganza Exhibition Hall


Fundación MAPFRE
Madrid, Spain
14 September 2017 - 7 January 2018

Concentrating particularly on portraiture, Nicholas Nixon occupies a distinguished and unique place in the history of photography over recent decades. His work exposes the constant tension between the content and the emotions that underlie his images. His photos reveal to us the realities of his daily life through a very refined technique and careful composition. We are presented with themes and aspects of life that, through their familiarity and humanity, induce the viewer to feel part of and identify with the images. 

Over his career spanning nearly fifty years, Nixon has always worked using series. Some of them such as The Brown Sisters or his family portraits extend throughout his entire career. His method of working requires a great deal of time: as much due to the intimacy and confidence he demands from his subjects as for the technique he employs (large format camera). The relationship he needs to establish with his subjects and the themes on which he concentrates once again demand a lot of time in order for him to achieve his objective: the elderly, the sick, the intimacy between couples and the family. 

After showing in Madrid, in 2018 and 2019 the exhibition will move to the Centro Andaluz de la Fotografía, C/O Berlin and Fondation A in Brussels.

Catharsis: Amak Mahmoodian, Sara Davidmann, Mariela Sancari
 

Belfast Exposed
Belfast, Ireland
27 October - 23 December 2017


Belfast Exposed is pleased to present Catharsis - a new group exhibition which brings together three projects by contemporary photographers who use portraiture in innovative ways to explore and come to terms with complex family or personal histories.  Employing different strategies, each artist uses photography as a means to unravel or respond to a repressed narrative around personal identity.  Through the process of creative investigation they open a broader dialogue around the constraints that societal norms can impose upon the freedom of individual expression.  

Bruce Davidson: American Photographer


Nederlands Fotomuseum
Rotterdam, Netherlands
16 September 2017 - 7 January 2018


This autumn the Nederlands Fotomuseum will be presenting the first retrospective in the Netherlands of the work of American photographer Bruce Davidson (b. 1933). Since the 1950s, Davidson has devoted his time and energy to photographing those for whom the ‘American Dream’ has turned out to be unattainable and who have attempted to hold their own in society.

Davidson depicts major themes as civil rights, violence, poverty, racism and immigration, all from a personal perspective. For many years, for instance, he tagged along with a street gang in Brooklyn and travelled with civil rights activities to the South to take part in The Selma March. This approach has given him first-hand experience with the subjects of his work and enabled him to poignantly show what the ‘American Dream’ has meant for them. The exhibition features almost 200 photographs, including work from his famous series The Dwarf, East 100th Street and Subway.

The exhibition is the result of collaboration with Magnum Photos and the Fundación MAPFRE. The exhibition and international tour have been made possible thanks to the support of the TERRA Foundation for American Art.

A Green and Pleasant Land: British Landscape and the Imagination, 1970s to Now


Towner Art Gallery
Eastbourne, UK
30 September 2017 - 21 January 2018

This major survey exhibition focuses on artists who have shaped our understanding of the British landscape and its relationship to identity, place and time. Exploring how artists interpret urban and rural landscape through the lens of their own cultural, political or spiritual ideologies, the exhibition reveals the inherent tensions between landscape represented as a transcendental or spiritual place, and one rooted in social and political histories.

Though primarily photography, A Green and Pleasant Land includes film, painting and sculpture by over 50 artists, illustrating the various concerns and approaches to landscape pursued by artists from the 1970s to now.

Artists included in the exhibition: Keith Arnatt, Gerry Badger, Craig Barker, John Blakemore, Henry Bond and Liam Gillick, Paul Caponigro, Thomas Joshua Cooper, John Davies, Susan Derges, Mark Edwards, Anna Fox, Melanie Friend, Hamish Fulton, Fay Godwin, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Graham, Mishka Henner, Paul Hill, Robert Judges, Angela Kelly, Chris Killip, John Kippin, Karen Knorr, Ian Macdonald, Ron McCormick, Mary McIntyre, Peter Mitchell, Raymond Moore, John Myers, Martin Parr, Mike Perry, Ingrid Pollard, Mark Power, Paul Reas, Emily Richardson, Ben Rivers, Simon Roberts, Paul Seawright, Andy Sewell, Theo Simpson, Graham Smith, Jem Southam, Jo Spence, John Stezaker, Paddy Summerfield, The Caravan Gallery, Chris Wainwright, Patrick Ward, Clare Woods and Donovan Wylie.


The British Journal of Photography

“There are two important things about this show,” says Clément Chéroux, senior curator of photography at SFMOMA. “First, the quantity of work – more than 300 photographs, quite a large selection, because we were able to get support from most of the big institutions – MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, the Musée du Quai Branly and so on, and private collections from around the world.

“Second, is the fact that it is arranged thematically rather than chronologically. Usually when you look at important retrospectives they are chronological, but we organised by theme because we wanted to organise it around Evans’ passion for the vernacular. He was fascinated with vernacular culture.”

It is, as Chéroux says, a huge show – the first to take up the SFMOMA’s entire Pritzker Center for Photography, which, at over 1000 square meters, is America’s largest photography gallery. But though a retrospective of this size is entirely appropriate for one of the 20th century’s key photographers, what’s emphasized isn’t his monumental importance or his ongoing influence. Instead, it hones in on his love for the more humble and every day...

At FotoFocus, the Radical Notion That Women Are People


Aperture
 

    Two weeks before the Women’s March on January 21, 2017, Sara Vance Waddell posted a message on Facebook asking marchers to save their protest signs. Vance, a philanthropist who primarily collects art made by female-identified artists, wanted to make an exhibition of artwork from the march at the gallery in her home in Cincinnati, Ohio. When the signs that protesters sent began piling up, Waddell realized she had a bigger project on her hands. Like many Americans, prior to the 2016 presidential election, Waddell hadn’t thought of herself as an activist. But suddenly it was clear, as one participant wrote in thick black ink on a cardboard placard, that “The Future is Nasty.”

Are we living in a moment of emergency feminism? Among the gathering of artists, critics, scholars, and cultural workers at the FotoFocus symposium “Second Century: Photography, Feminism, Politics,” presented in Cincinnati in October, there was a mood of enlivened solidarity, a sense that if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. The symposium opened with a panel discussion by FemFour, the group that Waddell assembled to turn her Women’s March project into a traveling exhibition, but the subsequent panel discussions and keynote addresses often took on the energy of a teach-in. Although the FemFour’s project is not concerned specifically with photography, their discussion seemed an appropriate way to open FotoFocus. For curator Maria Seda-Reeder, who worked with Waddell to assemble the collection, the Women’s March project had an emotional dimension. In working with FemFour, she had connected to other women who were also “mad as hell.”...

Illuminating India: Photography 1857-2017


Science Museum
London, UK
4 October 2017 - 31 March 2018


Shortly after its invention in Britain in 1839, photography arrived in India. It was used by the British as a tool to document and exert power over the people, architecture, and landscapes of the subcontinent but it also became a medium for Indians themselves to express their unique experiences of the country.

This exhibition brings to light the previously overlooked Indian photographers who worked in parallel with their foreign counterparts from the 1850s onwards.

Pivoting around two key dates—1857, the year of the Mutiny and 1947, the year of Independence and Partition—it is an ambitious survey of the technological and artistic development of photography in India that examines the role the medium has played in charting the country’s modern history.

Among the images are works by Samuel Bourne, art photography pioneer Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Henri Cartier-Bresson and award-winning contemporary photographer Vasantha Yogananthan.

Hilla Becher on making art and a life with Bernd


British Journal of Photography 


An exclusive interview with Hilla Becher, revisited as Hauser & Wirth Zurich stages a large new exhibition of Bernd & Hilla Becher's seminal work, curated by their son Max. First posted on 25 March 2015

One of the dominant influences in contemporary European photography is wheeled into the restaurant at the NRW Forum, a grand art gallery a stone’s throw from the Rhine.

It’s the height of the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend, and people of all ages are passing through the galleries on either side of us. Many of them won’t realize it, but most of the photography here is deeply indebted to this slight and unassuming woman, born in East Germany before the war, and now happily talking over pasta and wine in the café.

She has now been without Bernd, her husband, for more than seven years, after he died from complications during heart surgery. That straight bob of blonde hair is greying. She is now 81, and sits slightly stooped in her wheelchair. You have to strain to hear what she says, yet she recounts her life with a remarkable wit and poise. Some people start to switch off at this age; Hilla Becher, it seems, could not be more connected to her surroundings...

Passport Photos and Online Porn: The Dizzying World of Thomas Ruff


The New York Times 

Thomas Ruff was explaining how pleased he was about his forthcoming retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery here when we were interrupted by an unearthly shrieking. A fire alarm had gone off; we and the technicians installing the show would have to be evacuated. Dumped politely but unceremoniously on the street, we continued the conversation on the sidewalk, with Mr. Ruff broadcasting his thoughts to pedestrians and passing traffic.

The incident was unplanned (a false alarm), but had a twinge of poetic justice. Revered in his native Germany and among the photographic cognoscenti, Mr. Ruff, 59, has often seemed a little outside the art-world mainstream. While contemporaries including Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth — both of whom trained, like Mr. Ruff, with the pioneering conceptual photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher — have become stars of the market and familiar names in museum collections worldwide, Mr. Ruff’s work, though far from unknown, is not seen nearly as often as it should be. The Whitechapel exhibition is the biggest Ruff retrospective the English-speaking world has yet seen...

The Photographer Who Saw America’s Monuments Hiding in Plain Sight


The New York Times Magazine
 

Almost inevitably for an artistic career stretching over more than five decades, the quality of the work is uneven. Unlike Winogrand, Friedlander hasn’t given up on editing, but he is more interested in taking pictures and getting them out than in scrupulously curating his own oeuvre. “It’s a generous medium, photography,” he is quoted as saying in the epigraph to the MoMA catalog. He was thinking particularly of a picture of his uncle, which also included a bunch of other, unintended information. “The American Monument” came about in similar fashion, when he noticed that memorials and statues of all kinds cropped up in multiple contact sheets, some of which were primarily concerned with other matters. After that, he began seeking out such monuments in the course of his travels throughout the States.

On receipt of a lifetime achievement award from the International Center of Photography in 2006, the 71-year-old Friedlander responded that the honor, while welcome, was premature. At the glamorous reception and dinner, he spent the evening photographing, snapping guests and the other honorees like a cub photographer eager to make the most of what might prove to be his big break. That break actually came in 1967 at MoMA when he, Garry Winogrand (who died in 1984) and Diane Arbus (who died in 1971) were chosen to represent a shift in documentary photography from social concerns toward more personal ends. It’s possible that his reputation, as it has risen in the decades since, has also suffered, in the way that Dizzy Gillespie’s did in comparison with that of his doomed fellow bebop pioneer Charlie Parker.

Lee Friedlander’s “The American Monument” was first published in 1976. That’s “monument” singular, though one of the many singular things about Friedlander is that he’s nothing if not a pluralist. Whitman-like, he is great, contains multitudes. In an essay appended to the sumptuous new edition of this landmark work, Peter Galassi (who curated the 2005 Friedlander retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art) deems it “pointless” to try to count precisely how many books the photographer has published since 1976 before settling on roughly one a year. The retrospective was huge, and, inevitably, the accompanying catalog was almost too hefty to lug home comfortably. It was sort of monumental, though monuments tend to be erected to the dead.
Eventually he had enough pictures for a book — which, in Friedlander-ese, means more than enough. The original edition boiled thousands of potential candidates down to 213, the bulk of them taken between 1971 and 1975, supplemented by a brilliant afterword by Leslie George Katz. That essay still feels remarkably fresh in the reprint, even though Katz’s observations occasionally gleam with a faith in the assumption of the continued worth of monuments that may turn out to be “discredited,” “outmoded” or ironically apposite, as when he says of their power, “Something like racial memory is at work.”...



The Eye of Photography

On October 22nd 2017 The Griffin Museum of Photography, near Boston, gave Elizabeth Avedon a  Lifetime Achievement award,  for promoting new and emerging photographers, and “whose ongoing commitment to photography has created far-reaching impact”. Elizabeth Avedon, a book designer for decades, for years a frenetic writer on young photographers and their work on her blog, the daughter-in-law of the famous photographer, is also a contributor to The Eye of Photography since its debut. Today’s edition is entirely dedicated to her.

In the past years, she has been profiling notable leaders in the world of photography such as Joel-Peter Witkin, W.M. Hunt, Anne Wilkes Tucker, among many others. She has received awards and recognition for her photography exhibition, design and publishing projects, including the retrospective exhibition and book, Avedon: Photographs 1949-1979 for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and Atlanta’s High Museum; and Richard Avedon: In the American West for the Amon Carter Museum. Elizabeth Avedon recreated the original 1974 Museum of Modern Art exhibit, Jacob Israel Avedon: Portraits of the Photographers Father with Photographs by Richard Avedon, for the opening of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona.

In conjunction with Random House, she co-published the series Elizabeth Avedon Editions/Vintage Contemporary Artists, pairing distinguished art critics such as Donald Kuspit, Peter Schjeldahl, and Barbara Rose with contemporary artists Francesco Clemente, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, Eric Fischl among others. Former Director of Photo-Eye Gallery, Santa Fe; Creative Director for The Gere Foundation; Art Director for Polo Ralph Lauren national ads; Elizabeth Avedon mentions one of her favorite projects was with the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography on a juried black and white photo publication, fossils of light + time, reflecting the spirit of a seductive quote by Daido Moriyama: "If you were to ask me to define a photograph in a few words, I would say it is “a fossil of light and time.”

“The Twitter feed of master photo book designer, curator and author Elizabeth Avedon is a one-stop shop for the best and latest in photography,” wrote Mia Tramz in TIME Magazine. “As a hub of the photographic world, Avedon’s feed surfaces must-see photography exhibits, the most interesting photo events and content from her equally excellent blog where she frequently interviews the industry’s most legendary figures.”

Elizabeth Avedon’s award has been presented by Sean Perry, an architecture photographer based in Austin, Texas and New York City.

Biennial of Photography on Industry and Work


Foto/Industria
Bologna, Italy
12 October - 19 November 2017

For this third edition, presenting fourteen exhibitions by some of the world’s most important photographers, the MAST Foundation is multiplying its commitment by creating a temporary, living and participatory community that is renewed every two years with the same urge to exchange ideas triggered by the narrative force of the images.


Swann Auction Galleries 

Robert Delpire, Champion of Photography as Art, Dies at 91


The New York Times

Robert Delpire, a French publisher and editor whose championing of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Josef Koudelka helped elevate photography as an art, died on Sept. 26 in Paris. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by Michael Hoppen, whose gallery has exhibited the photographs of Sarah Moon, Mr. Delpire’s wife.

Mr. Delpire (pronounced del-PEER) created his own photographic universe in Paris — publishing books, curating exhibitions and directing the Centre de National de la Photographie for more than a decade after it opened in 1982. It is now part of the Paris arts center Jeu de Paume.

“He was an uncompromising lion,” Peter MacGill, of the Pace/MacGill Gallery in Manhattan, said in a telephone interview. “He would
not,
if he felt something was to be done a certain way, let other realities encroach on the making of a book or exhibition. He didn’t care...