PAC•LA Newsletter: October 2016


News from the World of Photography

Marc Riboud, Photojournalist Who Found Grace in the Turbulent, Dies at 93


The New York Times

Marc Riboud, the celebrated French photojournalist who captured moments of grace even in the most fraught situations around the world, died in Paris on Tuesday. He was 93. The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Catherine Chaine, said.

Mr. Riboud’s career of more than 60 years carried him routinely to turbulent places throughout Asia and Africa in the 1950s and ’60s, but he may be best remembered for two photographs taken in the developed world. The first, from 1953, is of a workman poised like an angel in overalls between a lattice of girders while painting the Eiffel Tower — one hand raising a paintbrush, one leg bent in a seemingly Chaplinesque attitude. The second, from 1967, is of a young woman presenting a flower to a phalanx of bayonet-wielding members of the National Guard during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration at the Pentagon.

The Unforgettable Images of Legendary Photographer Bruce Davidson

The Washington Post

Photographer Bruce Davidson was shooting scenes of urban poverty on East 100th Street in New York, when a woman asked him why he was there. When he said he was shooting images of the ghetto, she responded, “What you call a ghetto, I call my home.”

Davidson, a member of the Magnum Photos collective, worked hard to balance the dire situations that residents lived in with moments of beauty and resilience. It was also a common thread throughout his life’s work. No matter the situation, Davidson’s subjects maintained their inalienable right, as humans, to dignity. This is apparent in Davidson’s book, “Bruce Davidson” (Prestel, May 2016), a collection of his most important work including the civil rights era, the subway, a circus and a Brooklyn gang.

While Davidson could take a photo in an instant, reform came slowly. “[My work] doesn’t change anything overnight,” he said via email, “No matter how long I photographed on East 100th St., it wasn’t going to change that fast.”

Louis Faurer at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris
9 September- 18 December 2016


The Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson is delighted to be able to offer a wide-ranging selection of photographs by Louis Faurer. The project was first discussed with Howard Greenberg, whose gallery has long defended Faurer’s work. Deborah Bell, who knows practically all there is to know about the oeuvre, was extremely generous with her time and her personal archives. Last but not least, the Estate of Louis Faurer and Mark Faurer were enthusiastic participants from the outset. This exhibition has the good fortune to be coproduced with the Centro José Guerrero in Granada. 

World-Class Photojournalism at Home in the South Bronx

The New York Times LENS Blog


When Eugene Richards opens his next exhibit, it will not be at a Chelsea gallery or a major Midtown museum. It will be at a location that he much prefers: the Bronx Documentary Center.

It is a fitting location for an exhibition of images of poverty in America from the 1980s. If the show were in downtown Manhattan, he said, the audience “might not be that interested and see it as ‘urban archaeology’,” he said. But at the B.D.C., poverty is not an abstract concept, since it is in Melrose, a South Bronx neighborhood that has been among the country’s poorest urban communities.  

Mr. Richards may be one of the best-known photographers, but he is a fairly solitary figure who is not a member of a collective, or a photo agency. He tends to keep to himself and his family when he is not exhibiting his long-term projects or teaching workshops.  But the B.D.C., where he often speaks with students, is where he finds a much-needed sense of community that reflects the city’s diversity.  “It’s the total opposite of the usual photographic experience,” he said. “It’s like getting into a room full of friends. It’s important to me because it’s the only place I can go in New York that is diverse and where we’re all there to talk about photography and issues. It feels like a homecoming.”

Three Young Photography Stars, Tapped by Gursky

The New York Times Style Magazine  


Andreas Gursky has long been the subject of exhibitions; since the German photographer and Kunstakademie Düsseldorf professor’s first solo outing in the late 1980s, his large-format images have been mounted in the Museum of Modern Art, Paris’s Centre Pompidou, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Art Museum, to list a few. But this weekend, Gursky picks up the mantle of curator, with the opening of “Louisa Clement, Anna Vogel, Moritz Wegwerth,” featuring three of his former students, at Sprüth Magers Berlin. While he has organized the end-of-semester presentations (“Akademierundgänge”) at the academy, he has never coordinated a museum or gallery show until now. He says he gladly accepted the “special task,” explaining, “I am not curating artworks of students, but individual artistic personalities who pursue their artistic path with strong commitment.” Here, Clement, Vogel and Wegwerth discuss their practices — and their former teacher.

Retrospective: Anthony Hernandez


24 September-1 January 2017  

Anthony Hernandez is the first retrospective to honor the more than 45-year career of this major American photographer. Featuring approximately 160 photographs — many never shown before — the exhibition includes a remarkably varied body of work united by its formal beauty and its subtle consideration of contemporary social issues. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Anthony Hernandez developed his own individual style of street photography, one attuned to the desolate allure and sprawling expanses of his hometown. Over the course of his career, he has deftly moved from black-and-white to color photography, from 35mm to large-format cameras, and from the human figure to the landscape to abstracted detail. Highlights from the exhibition include black-and-white photographs from the early 1970s taken on the streets of downtown L.A., color pictures made on Rodeo Drive in the mid-1980s, and selections from his critically acclaimed seriesLandscapes for the Homeless, completed in 1991. Although Hernandez has turned his lens on other cities — including Rome, Italy, and various American locales — Los Angeles, and especially the regions inhabited by the working class, the poor, and the homeless, has been his most enduring subject.

Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World


Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin
15 August 2016-1 January 2017  

Elliott Erwitt (b. 1928) has created some of the most celebrated photographs of the past century. Erwitt's photographs have been published in countless international magazines and newspapers, and, more recently, in delightful books presenting his persistent interests and recurring subjects, such as museums and beaches, women and children, and, of course, dogs.Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World presents more than 200 of these remarkable images, along with contact sheets, advertisements, books, and magazines, as well as a selection of videos representing Erwitt's work in motion pictures.

Examining the development of Erwitt's unique vision over 70 years, the exhibition presents examples of Erwitt's early experiments in Los Angeles, portraits of children in Europe, and explorations of New York City.

Voyages: Six Travel Photographers


The New York Times Magazine 

The appeal of the road trip, or the long through-hike, or the pilgrimage, is that the ‘‘point’’ is so deliberately minimal — to arrive at, you know, the end — and the decisions involved so banal (stop for gas now, or in a bit?) that the distinction between signal and noise is blurred. The point of a photograph of a trail, or some billboard half-seen out the window of a bus, is that it could easily be exchanged for the image taken immediately before or immediately afterward. The random sample communicates in one unpremeditated frame all the significance that particular person’s drive down that particular road could possibly contain. This is the aspiration common to road-trip literature and road-trip photography: The moment at the gas station is held, insistently, to express as much about the total experience as the shot of the Eiffel Tower.

But there remains, at least for me, a tension between the stories we tell about the road and the photographs we take along the way...

MCA Exhibition: Witness

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago                
2 July 2016 - 19 February 2017

The photographer as witness is a familiar conceit, one that evokes the artist’s responsibility to observe the lives of others. It’s a role that has been reinforced by traditions of photojournalism, documentary photography, and anthropology, while taking on new forms and renewed urgency in recent years. The photographs in Witness, drawn largely from the MCA’s collection, put pressure on familiar understandings of the photographer’s role as self-appointed observer. These works record, reflect on, or stage different kinds of encounters between photographer and subject. In doing so, the artists lead us to think about the various people who play a part in a given photograph—including the viewer—and how they contribute to, or sometimes confound, what it seems to convey.

On the Border

The Atlantic                 

The border between the United States and Mexico has become a major issue in the upcoming presidential election. It stretches 3,169 kilometers (1,969 miles), crossing deserts, rivers, towns, and cities from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. Every year, an estimated 350 million people legally cross the border, with some 400,000 entering into the United States illegally. No single barrier stretches across the entire border, instead, it is lined with a patchwork of steel and concrete fences, infrared cameras, sensors, drones, and nearly 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents. Getty Images photographer John Moore has covered many miles of the border over recent years, capturing images of surveillance, escapes, arrests, detentions, and encounters between those crossing the border and those securing it.

Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road

Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY                
1 October 2016 - 8 January 2017

Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road presents recent work by Los Angeles–based artist Catherine Opie, one of the essential figures in contemporary photography. Taken over the course of six months at the Bel Air, California, residence of Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011), the photographs in the exhibition are selected from two series, Closets and Jewels and 700 Nimes Road. Inspired by William Eggleston’s images of Elvis Presley’s Memphis estate, Graceland, Opie creates a portrait of Taylor from her personal space and mementos.

Opie photographs rooms, closets, shoes, clothing, and jewelry that intimately depict the life of screen star and cultural icon Elizabeth Taylor, compiling an indirect portrait of a life defined by wealth and fame. With an investigative eye, Opie documents the grandeur and minute details of the home in a range of visual scales. Scrutinizing without revealing the complete picture, objects accumulate, rooms become landscapes, and clothing is transformed into fields of color and texture. Opie’s lens portrays Taylor’s life experience and eccentricity as an illusory subject, one that cannot be specifically designated or precisely described. In the artist’s words, the project is not about the relationship to celebrity, but about “the relationship to what is human.”

Malick Sidibé Headlines Fair of Contemporary African Art

British Journal of Photography               

In conjunction with the 1:54 fair of contemporary African art in London, Somerset House is to stage the first major solo show of the Malian photographer, who died this year after a lifetime spent photographing the lives and culture of the Malian capital, Bamako, in the wake of the country’s independence.

Before Martin Luther King pioneered the civil rights movement in America, as Nelson Mandela met his wife Winnie in South Africa, and began to develop the ideals of non-violent protest that would form the bedrock for the end of Apartheid, a young photographer called Malick Sidibé was creating images in Bamako, Mali that would come to define the emancipation, the irrepressible freedom, of black Africans.

But Sidibé, with his incredibly elegant, dynamic street images did more than that – capturing the myriad and multivalent contradictions, tensions and complexities of the postcolonial African freedom movement, of how the influence of whites, the economic superiority of whites, fused with the ancestral cultures and heritages of this new, exuberant youth and independence movement of the 1950s and 60s.

See It Now: Stranger Things in Roger Ballen's "Theatre of Apparitions"

ProPhoto Daily              

Could Ranger Ballen’s art get any more unsettling?

The answer, happily, is yes.

The South African photographer, whose work has examined real people and imagery places — foreboding, ominous places and people hidden from general view — is known for enigmatic imagery that plumbs the human subconscious. Now he has a new book called The Theater of Apparitions  that delves more deeply than ever into the dark corners of the mind — primal, nightmarish crawl spaces that David Lynch might think twice about before entering.

“These images share a complete absence of conscious awareness,” Ballen notes in the book. “They are all pictographs made into photographs: They are born out of the unbearable, the unacceptable and even the unthinkable.”

“Apparitions, as Ballen defines them, spring from human emotions we are encouraged to suppress—lust, aggression, loneliness, pain, and all things id,” notes the Creators Project. “The theater is divided into seven ‘Acts’ that organize these feelings, ranging from Fragmentation to Eros to Burlesque. Selected from over 700 shots captured over the course of six years, each image triggers a feeling that wouldn't normally survive conscious consideration.”

John Akomfrah and Kader Attia Photographs Donated to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

British Journal of Photography             

The Contemporary Art Society has acquired two moving image works by John Akomfrah and Kader Attia at Frieze London for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, addressing themes of colonisation and migration.

Peripeteia, 2012, by John Akomfrah, and Dispossession, 2013, by Kader Attia were purchased through the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund, which was set up in 2012 and this year is working in partnership with Frieze London to support the acquisition of contemporary works of art for Contemporary Art Society museum members across the UK.

John Akomfrah’s Peripeteia, acquired from Lisson Gallery, is the first part of a proposed trilogy that looks at the traces, appearances and disappearances of early African life in Europe.

The Mystery at the Heart of Great Photographs

The New York Times Magazine            

“There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described.” The fact that versions of this observation have been attributed to two very different street photographers, Garry Winogrand and Lisette Model, underlines its wisdom and its mystery. It helps explain why attempts to stage photographs — to create fictions — only rarely work as powerfully as the kind of quotations from reality that we get in documentary photographs. Larry Sultan once said he “always thought of a great photograph as if some creature walked into my room; it’s like, how did you get here? ... The more you try to control the world, the less magic you get.” Winogrand had no objection to staging things; it was just that he could never come up with anything as interesting as what was out there in the streets. But when does the staging start?

Revisiting Eugene Richard's Sweeping Portrait of Life Below the  Poverty Line

The New Yorker           

Thirty years ago, when Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, commissioned the photojournalist Eugene Richards to travel through fourteen American cities and towns to document poverty, he approached the project with the meticulousness of a policy analyst. “We read news articles and sociology texts, studied maps and statistics charts, searching for ways to address the issues of hunger, homelessness, and unemployment,” Richards, who had previously worked as a civil-rights activist, and had photographed the Arkansas Delta and the neighborhood of Dorchester, Boston, where he grew up, wrote in the foreword to the resulting book, the seminal “Below the Line: Living Poor in America.”

The volume, which was published in 1987, was divided into fourteen profiles of individuals and families, from Mexican-American immigrants living in Texas border towns to the inhabitants of a shantytown on New York City’s Lower East Side. Richards’s photos were accompanied by extensive first-person accounts based on recorded interviews. “It was always meant to be a textual piece,” he told me recently...

Exhibition: The Camera Exposed

Victoria & Albert Museum, London
On now until 5 March 2017            

Every photograph in this display features at least one camera. From formal portraits to casual snapshots, still-lifes to collages, they appear as reflections or shadows, and sometimes as objects in their own right...

After Her Son’s Death, Sally Mann Stages a Haunting Show

The New York Times         

“It’s just indescribable,” Sally Mann, the photographer and writer, was saying. She stood in the kitchen of the home she built on her family’s farm with Larry Mann, her husband of 46 years, and erupted in tears.

“I’m just trying to keep moving,” she said.

On the large dining table were her haunting, evocative photographs taken over the years of the studio in downtown Lexington where her friend, the painter Cy Twombly, had worked. Twombly was born 23 years before Ms. Mann in this same small town in Virginia. In her intimate and elegiac images, some with just the play of light on the wall and floor of the emptied studio, after his death in 2011 it was hard not to feel an acute absence — not of one man but two.

In June, while preparing an exhibition of these photos, Ms. Mann suffered a sudden and most devastating loss. Emmett, her eldest child, who had struggled with schizophrenia in adulthood, took his own life, at the age of 36...

Andreas Gursky's New Exhibition Brings Abstraction into Crystal-Clear Focus


There’s a touch of cheek in the subtitle – ‘not abstract’ – of German photographer Andreas Gursky's latest exhibition. On view at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen’s K20 gallery in Düsseldorf, the show presents a collection new images alongside earlier works exploring photographic abstracting, including a print of Rhein II, (1999), the most expensive photograph ever sold.

In contrast to his 2012 showing in Düsseldorf, an expansive retrospective at Museum Kunstpalast, this exhibition comprises just 20-odd large-scale photographs that form a dialogue with the gallery’s existing collection. The K20 show finally realises an idea Gursky has been discussing with curator and Kunstsammlung NRW director Marion Ackermann closely for a long time.

The most striking works are his new photographs of temples of voracious consumption created especially for the show. In one image, an Amazon warehouse springs to life as a mecca of modern industry, a sea of packages swarming the frame. It’s a violently chaotic affair, and yet, there is rigid order in Gursky’s formal compositions that call to mind paintings by the Old Masters. Elsewhere, there’s calm to be found in his aerial photographs of immaculately preened tulip fields, which offer a soothing respite of light, texture and colour.

This Photographer Playfully Blurs the Line Between Personal and Commercial Images

Slate Magazine         

Roe Ethridge takes artistic and editorial conventions and turns them upside down.

In Ethridge’s practice, commercial work becomes artistic, and personal work looks commercial. Photographs of himself and his family are marked by the slick lighting and glossy finish more commonly found in magazines. His photographs for newspapers and corporate clients, meanwhile, are unusually intimate, and they often end up hanging in his art shows. Frequently, he digitally manipulates found professional images into something altogether messier and more interesting.

“There’s always been a divide between art and commercial photography. That’s the one thing people have grappled with in the past. If you were an art photographer, you did the commercial part secretly...