News from the World of Photography: January 2017


Old Photographs That Capture America at a Crossroads

The New York Times Style Magazine

"There’s an old French expression: The nearer the gallows, the clearer the truth,” says the documentary photographer Joel Sternfeld. “And my truth began with Walker Evans.” The iconic photographer of the Great Depression was a key inspiration on Sternfeld’s own influential 1987 photography book “American Prospects,” images from which go on display at London’s Beetles+Huxley gallery this week, alongside pictures that have never been shown before.

“It seemed to me that Evans was describing an America in which the physical world was crumbling, but the human spirit was intact,” the photographer says. “And as I looked around at America in the late 1970s, it seemed like the very opposite was occurring. A brand-new physical world was arising of interstate highways, fast-food chains, motel chains, new technology buildings, the new industrial parks — but the human spirit was under assault.”

Sternfeld spent years traversing the country with his camera, looking for ways to capture this dynamic. His photographs show displaced Americans like the Kickapoo man, living in straw huts after centuries of persecution — or a boy perched on a bench in Red Rock State Campground, his family having failed to find work locally. These are contrasted with images that show then-cutting-edge luxuries and innovations such as an Orlando wave park, or a Ferrari parked in front of the pink lawn of a Santa Monica home.

Sternfeld believes that now is the right time to show the work again; in today’s America he sees the same extremes of wealth and poverty, advantage and despair. Of what is perhaps his most famous image — a firefighter shopping for pumpkins while a house blazes in the distance — he says, “It completely embodied what I was trying to say. You know, here it is — Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Here was this graceful old house, and it was being torn down to put up condominiums.”

Image: McLean, Virginia, December 1978. ©Joel Sternfeld

Inside the Harrowing Journeys of Refugee Mothers

National Geographic

When you hear “refugee crisis,” you might envision photos of small boats afloat on dark waters and packed with people wearing neon-orange life vests. You might think of hands reaching for loved ones across fences, of borders being guarded by men with machine guns, of makeshift tent settlements teeming with homeless families. The pictures we think of are high-energy, chaotic, and full of movement.

The photographs of Greek photojournalist Myrto Papadopoulos are different. They’re quiet, still, and intimate. Each of these women is a mother, sometimes pregnant, sometimes holding her child.

Papadopoulos has documented the refugee crisis since 2010. As she spent time in refugee camps in Greece, she noticed that women would often be left behind with the children while their husbands forged ahead to find new lives for them in Europe. “I felt the women were left out and were the ones who were really suffering,” Papadopoulos says. “And on the other hand, I felt that they would keep these people moving, and they were the reason to continue the journey. Their children were the reason to continue the journey.”

And for these women, the journey is incredibly difficult. Some give birth while traveling. Papadopoulos says she’s seen women walking while carrying newborns as young as ten days old. Some mothers miscarry due to the harsh physical conditions, others have abortions, and still others suffer the deaths of their small children. There are NGOs in some refugee camps that help with pre- and post-natal care and provide forms of birth control when available. But as a whole, being pregnant or being a mother to young children compounds the hardships that all refugees face.

She asked each of these women to share their experiences. Their stories (edited for length and clarity) accompany their portraits...

Image: ©Myrto Papadopoulos

Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change

International Center of Photography
New York, NY
27 January - 7 May 2017


Today, viewers are barraged by seemingly endless streams of new kinds of media images on an unprecedented scale. Perpetual Revolution explores the relation between the overwhelming image world that confronts us, and the volatile, provocative, and often-violent social world it mirrors.

This exhibition proposes that an ongoing revolution is taking place politically, socially, and technologically, and that new digital methods of image production, display, and distribution are simultaneously both reporting and producing social change. The epic social and political transformations of the last few years would not have happened with the speed and in such depth if it weren’t for the ever-expanding possibilities offered by this revolution.

Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change presents six of these critical issues transformed by visual culture: #BlackLivesMatter, gender fluidity, climate change, terrorist propaganda, the right-wing fringe and the 2016 election, and the refugee crisis.

Image: #1960Now: Art+Intersection, 2015. ©Sheila Pree Bright


Artist to Photograph Doomed Structures at Los Angeles County Museum

The New York Times

Since 2013, critics have publicly debated the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s plans for a $600 million campus redesign by Peter Zumthor that requires razing three deteriorating 1965 buildings designed by William Pereira and a 1986 addition by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. While many, including Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture Critic for The Los Angeles Times, generally support the Zumthor plan, some favor renovation of the existing buildings or have voiced their emotional attachment to the old structures.

“There’s this real sense of nostalgia for place, even if the place doesn’t function anymore,” said the museum’s director, Michael Govan. Rather than sweeping such sentiments under the rug as he stewards the campus overhaul, Mr. Govan has commissioned the artist Vera Lutter  “to confront these sites that have meaning and preserve them through her work.”

The German artist is known for searing, ghostly photographs of industrial relics made through a camera obscura process that projects an inverted black-and-white image directly onto light-sensitive paper. Mr. Govan calls this project a “bookend” to Ms. Lutter's photographs of a former Nabisco factory in 1999 before its transformation into Dia:Beacon, commissioned by Mr. Govan when he directed that institution.

Over 250,000 Photographs from the George Eastman Museum Go Online


"The George Eastman Museum, among the oldest archives of photography in the world, recently launched an online platform that allows you to search through over 250,000 objects from its collections. Aside from thousands of photographs that date back to the medium’s earliest years, the digital archive also features objects from its massive library of artifacts that together chronicle the history of image-making, from vintage cameras to film splicers to advertisements for the Eastman Kodak Company. There is also plenty of material related to the eponymous founder himself — did you know he was a shooter in more ways than one?

With over 8,000 photographers represented in museum’s holdings, the database is a rich, remarkable resource, particularly for researchers who know exactly what they are searching for. Browsing it can be overwhelming, but the search option has many filters in place, and the museum has also organized the objects by helpful classifications like “Lantern Slide” and “Blueprint.”

One particularly valuable bonus the recent launch offers is unique access to a number of photographers. The museum holds the collections of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, Lewis Hine, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Nickolas Muray, and Edward Steichen, so their works are only available here for you to easily browse."

Image: Lewis W. Hine, Women Exercising, Swim (ca. 1918‑1935)

The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders 

Photographic Center Northwest
Seattle, Washington
12 January - 12 March 2017

The Boomer List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders will feature 19 large-format portraits of influential baby boomers, including Samuel L. Jackson, actor, Erin Brockovich, environmentalist, Peter Staley, AIDS activist, and Amy Tan, author. Each image represents a year of the baby boom, from 1946 to 1964, chosen by award-winning photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (“The Black List,” “The Latino List” and “The Out List”) to reflect the depth, diversity and talent of the baby boomer generation. Michelle Dunn Marsh, PCNW Executive Director, will share remarks about the exhibition during a Members’ Preview on Thursday, January 12th, 5:30 – 6pm. 

Public and Private: East Germany in Photographs by Ulrich Wust

Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk, Virginia
17 November 2016 - 23 April 2017

Peer behind the Iron Curtain to see how creativity resists conformity. Ulrich Wust's photos capture the depersonalization of urban life in cities beset by standardized prefab housing blocks and looming Soviet monuments.  

At the same time, he reveals the creative interior lives of those living 
under the German Democratic Republic. Images of house parties, nightclubs, and shop windows suggest the struggle for self-expression and individuality amid the totalitarian states regime of sameness. In Wust's first U.S. retrospective, the gritty immediacy of 35mm black-and-white street photography gives way to poetic reverie.

Image: Palast der Republik, Berlin. ©Ulrich Wust 

Richard Renaldi: Manhattan Sunday

George Eastman Museum
Rochester, New York
21 January - 11 June 2017

Exhibited at a museum for the first time, photographer Richard Renaldi’s new series consists of portraits, urban still lifes, and streetscapes made in the wee hours of Sunday morning, when post-bacchanalian characters join early-morning workers in New York City’s nooks and crannies. Renaldi uses an 8×10-inch view camera to make his pictures, resulting in meticulous black-and-white images that magnify the uniqueness of each subject while capturing the singular mood that suffuses the city in the hours before dawn. Implicit in the work is Renaldi’s personal experience as a gay nightclub denizen in New York during and after the AIDS crisis, as well as his appreciation for the myriad and motley ways that the urban context encourages social awareness and a strong, if temporary, sense of community.

Image: 04:55 ©Richard Renaldi

Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobooks Auction

Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
14 February 2017

Exhibition Dates:
9-11 February: 12pm - 5pm
13 February: 12pm - 5pm
14 February: 10am - 12pm


‘I knew that a battlefield of suffering was in my eyes': The many faces of Frida Kahlo

The Washington Post

Frida Kahlo, known to for her paintings, was also no stranger to the camera. She was one of the most photographed women of her generation, emanating her sensuality, personal fashion, and unique beauty. Her father was well-known photographer Guillermo Kahlo and through sitting for portraits she learned the power of the medium. Kahlo stated: “When my father took my picture in 1932 after my accident, I knew that a battlefield of suffering was in my eyes. From then on, I started looking straight at the lens, unflinching, unsmiling, determined to show that I was a good fighter to the end.”

The exhibition “Mirror, Mirror . . . Portraits of Frida Kahlo” features fifty-seven photographs by twenty-seven photographers, that range from family to historically recognized photographers such as Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston. Weston’s portraits of Frida show her at her most regal. He said of her in a journal that though she looked like “a little doll” alongside her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, she was “strong and quite beautiful … and causes much excitement in the streets of San Francisco. People stop in their tracks to look (at her) in wonder…”

Image: Frida Kahlo at 18, Mexico, 1926 (Guillermo Kahlo/Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art)

Antony Armstrong-Jones, Photographer and Earl of Snowdon, Dies at 86

The New York Times

Antony Armstrong-Jones, the dapper photographer who became the Earl of Snowdon after he married Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1960, and plunged into a life of privileges, parties, quarrels and infidelities that ended in divorce 18 years later, died on Friday at his home in London. He was 86.

His death was confirmed by Buckingham Palace.

Tony, as his friends called him, flouted conventions, flunked out of Cambridge and used his London studio for portrait sittings and parties. He was a talented photographer whose pictures of royalty and world celebrities were widely published and hang in museums and national galleries.

Image: Dame Helen Mirren, Antony Armstrong-Jones/Trunk Archive

111 New Street Photography Discoveries


"Flip through these photographs and you will see the world’s city streets through the eyes of more than 100 remarkable street photographers—photographers and images discovered by our editors in 2016. 

The slideshow provides a bit of a kaleidoscope, jumping from one scene to another, from vibrant neon colors to graphic black-and-white, from bustling metropolis to lonely street corners. It provides a unique way to appreciate the people, forms, colors and cultures that pulse through our daily urban lives on planet earth."

—Jim Casper

Editor’s Note: All of these photographers were discovered by our editors while reviewing submissions for the LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2016. To see more great street photography, be sure to see all of the winners and finalists from the competition.

Image: ©Adam Wong

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Black Box

Foam Fotografiemuseum
16 December 2016 - 8 March 2017


A notably intellectual artist, the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948, Tokyo) contains a highly mediated conceptual element that encourages the spectator towards philosophical reflection. The artist reinterprets some of the principal genres in the classic tradition of photography. Sugimoto is a master craftsman and has rejected digital technology in favor of traditional methods.

In the exhibition Hiroshi Sugimoto - Black Box, Foam presents an overview of the work of the Japanese artist. On display are a total of 34 large-format works that offer a survey of the artist’s last forty years of artistic activity. The exhibition offers a survey of his work through his major series: Theaters (1976-ongoing); Lightning Fields (2006-ongoing); Dioramas (1976-2012); Portraits (1994-1999); and Seascapes (1980-ongoing).

The images are characterized by great visual beauty and notable technical virtuosity, emphasized by his habitual use of large formats. Taken as a whole, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work constitutes a profound meditation on the nature of perception, illusion, representation, life and death.

Image: Hyena-Jackal-Vulture,1976. ©Hiroshi Sugimoto

Sy Kattelson’s View of Postwar Street Life in New York

The New York Times

Sy Kattelson started taking photographs before World War II, using a camera so big and unwieldy it took two people to operate. His subjects were models for catalogs or magazines, and his images were often used as source material for illustrations. When Mr. Kattelson, who will turn 94 next month, returned from the war, it was with a more portable camera and a sharper eye. He joined the left-leaning Photo League and began documenting the street life of lower-middle-class New Yorkers.

“Most people doing that type of work were doing poverty-stricken people, like on the Lower East Side,” said Mr. Kattelson, who grew up in the Bronx and Queens, the son of an electrician and a shop owner. “I started to think, ‘What about people like me, who were not in poverty?’ So I tried to show people what they were living like.” Often overshadowed by better-known members of the Photo League, such as Sid Grossman or Lisette Model, Mr. Kattelson continued to evolve after the League dissolved in 1951, under suspicion of being a Communist organization. “I didn’t want to keep making the same pictures all over again,” he said from his home in Saugerties in the Hudson Valley. By the 1980s, he said, “I got interested in double exposures and putting pictures together” in collages. He added, “I wanted to get more information in pictures.”

Image: ©Sy Kattelson

Finding a Muse in the Vanishing Neighborhoods of Buenos Aires

The New York Times LENS Blog


Facundo de Zuviría's muse is Buenos Aires, but far from the cosmopolitan climes of this Argentine capital. For him, the city reveals its true character in its barrios, where mom-and-pop stores occupy old, low-slung buildings. He had understood that in the 1980s when he worked in a cultural program that took him all over the city. But it really hit home during Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001.

His images during that period of hardship — when he and many of his compatriots were out of work — led him to notice how many of those small stores that gave neighborhoods a unique flavor were disappearing, sometimes overnight. He started taking pictures of the closed gates, straight-ahead compositions featuring repetitive lines and shapes, sometimes slathered with graffiti or weathered signs, all rendered in black and white. They are graceful, melancholy and almost reverent, in some cases reminiscent of Walker Evans (whose work Mr. de Zuviría did not know when he started seriously taking pictures).

Image: Barracas,1986. ©Facundo de Zuviría