News from the World of Photography: May 2017


A Commitment to the Community: The Black Photographers Annual, Volume I

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)
Richmond, Virginia
16 February - 3 October 2017

In 1973, a group of African American photographers in New York City published the first volume of The Black Photographers Annual. In a brief forward that succinctly outlined the new publication’s purpose, novelist Toni Morrison wrote: “It was conceived as a commitment to the community of Black artists. . . . There is no higher praise for any project than that it is rare, true, and free. And isn’t that what art is all about? And isn’t that what we are all about?” Emerging from the broader context of the Black Arts Movement, which grew out of the civil rights movement, as well as the more specific context of the collective of African American photographers known as the Kamoinge Workshop (Kamoinge is taken from the Kikuyu language of Kenya and means “to work together”), the Annual featured the work of nearly 50 artists.

This exhibition is the first of four rotations that explore each of the four volumes of The Black Photographers Annual, which ended in 1980. The first installation features 20 photographs by several of the artists whose work appears in the first issue, including Anthony Barboza, Roy DeCarava, Louis Draper, LeRoy Henderson, Beauford Smith, Ming Smith, and Shawn Walker. Curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.


Image: Boy and H, Louis Draper, 1961

Close-Up: An Extensive Interview with Edward Burtynsky

ProPhoto Daily

Edward Burtynsky is a legendary Canadian fine art photographer who specializes in chronicling the extraction and destruction of the earth and it’s minerals, mines and more. His images bring a painterly beauty to the banal. A photographer and master printer for over forty years, Burtynsky has pioneered a unique way of looking at the planet. I had the opportunity to speak with the artist at the Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles, where his latest exhibition "Industrial Abstract" was recently on view.

Image: © Edward Burtynsky

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Illuminating Opera Houses and Abandoned Movie Palaces

The New York Times LENS Blog

Growing up in 1950’s Tokyo, Hiroshi Sugomoto sometimes was brought to tears by the movies he saw with his mother. He still remembers feeling ashamed by those public displays of emotion. Above all, he remembers the emotional connection he felt being inside the theaters.

After teaching himself photography in his early teens, one of his first subjects was Audrey Hepburn — or at least a 20-foot-tall image of her projected onto a theater screen. He discovered that by employing a shutter speed of a 30th of a second he could produce a still image of a single frame of the movie. But he eventually realized, in New York City in 1976, that the light that entranced him on screen could also illuminate the interiors of America’s remaining movie palaces.

This vision led to his seminal, and surreal, “Theater” series that captures the splendor of cinema and is also a meditation on the nature of time. By leaving his shutter open for the full length of a movie to create a single still image with a luminescent white screen, Mr. Sugimoto offers a meditation on impermanence and the fleeting nature of civilization.

Image: © “On the Beach” (1959) at Paramount Theater. Newark. 2015.

Han Young Soo: Photographs of Seoul 1956-63

ICP at Mana
Jersey City, New Jersey
24 February - 9 June 2017 

This exhibition is the first major U.S. showing of the work of Korean photographer Han Youngsoo, who captured the dramatic transformation of Seoul in the years after the end of the Korean War.

After taking part in bitter frontline fighting as a young South Korean soldier during the Korean War (1950–53), Han Youngsoo returned to Seoul at the conflict’s end and found a devastated, impoverished city. Choosing photography as a profession, he witnessed a period of profound transformation in Seoul that saw the rapid creation of a modern city and urban society. His photographs, rarely seen outside of Korea until now, offer a fascinating window onto the changing everyday lives of the city’s inhabitants during a historic moment.

Image: Han YoungSoo, Meongdong, Seoul, Korea, 1958. © HAN YOUNGSOO FOUNDATION

GENESIS: Sebastião Salgado

Museum of Photographic Art (MOPA)
San Diego
24 May - 30 September 2017

Genesis is a quest for the world as it was, as it was formed, as it evolved, as it existed for millennia before modern life accelerated and began distancing us from the very essence of our being. It is a journey to the landscapes, seascapes, animals and peoples that have so far escaped the long reach of today’s world. And it is testimony that our planet still harbours vast and remote regions where nature reigns in silent and pristine majesty.

Through these photographs, Genesis aspires to show and to share this beauty. It is a visual tribute to a fragile planet that we all have a duty to protect. An exhibition organized by Lélia Wanick Salgado, the exhibition Curator. With the support of the Brazilian company VALE. 

Members Opening Reception: Friday, 2 June, 7-9pm
Free to current MOPA members and one guest. Enjoy a hosted bar and dessert. 
RSVP Here 

 Image: Sebastião Salgado, The Mursi and the Surma women are the last women in the world to wear lip plates. Mursi village of Dargui in Mago National Park, in the Jinka Region. Ethiopia. 2007.© Sebastião SALGADO / Amazonas images. Courtesy of the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego.

Project Space
London, UK
17 May - 10 June 2017

Internationally renowned photographic agency Camera Press celebrates its 70th anniversary this year with a special exhibition entitled ‘Camera Press at 70 – A Lifetime in Pictures’ which will coincide with Photo London 2017. Drawing on an unparalleled collection of images, and featuring work by some of the most iconic figures in the industry, this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into photography from the 1940s to the present day.

The photographs in this exhibition reveal the changing trends in portrait photography as well as the evolution of the role of celebrities and distinguished public figures over the last 70 years.

The more formal studio portraits of the 1940s such as Karsh’s iconic bulldog shot of Winston Churchill are followed by 1950s Hollywood glamour epitomized by stars such as Marilyn Monroe. The swinging Sixties heralds the influence of a more relaxed, intimate, documentry-style of photography, as seen in Jacques Lowe’s seminal photographs of JFK and the work of one of the world’s first paparazzi, Elio Sorci. This is then contrasted with the gritty social-realism of punk and the arrival of Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s.

Image: Yousuf Karsh/Camera Press

Do UK Museums Take Photography Seriously?


         This spring, the collection of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) was transferred from the National Media Museum in Bradford to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. When news of the move was announced in 2016, there was a good deal of criticism, including a letter to the Guardian signed by a long list of leading photographers, historians, curators, dealers, and critics, as well as protests from two MPs representing constituencies in Bradford. The public controversy surrounding the transfer of objects focused on charges of cultural vandalism and centralisation, but the history of this particular collection – one of the most important in the world – touches on much broader questions of how museums should collect such a varied medium. As Michael Pritchard, the chief executive of the RPS, puts it, ‘Photography’s diversity is its strength, but also its downfall. It’s so ubiquitous in terms of our culture and our history that it sometimes might not be recognised.’...

Image: Shop sign, rue Geoffroy-St-Hilaire, Paris, (c. 1900), Eugène Atget. © Victoria and Albert Museum

Mike Mandel: Good 70s


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
20 May - 20 August 2017

Good 70s explores the tongue-in-cheek, socially conscious work of conceptual artist and photographer Mike Mandel (American, b. 1950), focusing on projects he made during what was, for him, an incredibly productive decade. This exhibition includes photographs, books, and a film, all made during the same period he was collaborating with his friend, the photographer Larry Sultan. 

Some of Mandel's diverse projects from the 1970s include Myself: Timed Exposures (1971), in which he inserts himself into funny and commonplace situations; Seven Never Before Published Portraits of Edward Weston(1974), which reproduces correspondence he initiated with men named Edward Weston; his Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards (1975), featuring subjects such as Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham; and his book SF Giants: An Oral History (1979).

Image: Untitled, from the series Myself: Timed Exposures, 1971 © Mike Mandel

Prix Pictet 2017: Richard Mosse Wins Prize with Heat-map Shots of Refugees

The Guardian

The Irish photographer Richard Mosse has been awarded the 2017 Prix Pictet for his series Heat Maps, made using a military camera that is classified as a weapon under international law. The hi-tech surveillance device, designed to detect body heat from a distance of over 30km, was used by Mosse to track the journeys of refugees from the Middle East and north Africa. The result is a series of large-scale prints – and an acclaimed film, Incoming – that reconfigures the refugee crisis as a spectral, almost sci-fi drama of human endurance and survival.

Given that the Pictet judges have tended
tocanonise work that is grandstanding in ambition and large-scale in presentation – Nadav Kander, Mitch Epstein and Luc Delahaye have all won in recent years – Mosse is an unsurprising winner. His application of state-of-the-art technology to the most urgent and contested issue of our turbulent times makes him very much the photographic artist of the moment.

Image: © Richard Mosse, Prix Pictet 2017

Steve Cagan: Working Pictures

San Francisco Camerawork (SFC)
San Francisco
11 May - 1 June 2017

Steve Cagan, Working Pictures is a career survey and the first solo exhibition on the west coast to highlight Cagan's five decades of work integrating photography and activism. Cagan’s work gives voice to causes both local and international, ranging from the demise of industry and labor issues in his home state of Ohio, to the social and political strife of refugees in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and most recently to issues with indigenous peoples in Colombia fighting to preserve a way of life. 

This exhibition will at once celebrate the aesthetic excellence of his work through beautifully printed photographs, while perhaps more importantly showing his work at work through the many publications, posters, and other forms of distribution he employs to give his images a voice from within. 

This exhibition is curated by Jeanne Friscia and made possible through the generous support of Frank Mainzer and Lonnie Zwerin.

Image: Steve Cagan, School children and their teachers greet a peace caravan down
the Atrato
 River in El Chocó, one of the areas that suffered greatly in Colombia’s civil war, 2003.

The New Yorker

In her remarkable photo essay “From the Shadows to the Light,” the French photographer Nadège Mazars has emulated the chiaroscuro of the Italian painter Caravaggio to evoke the transition that is under way in Colombia following fifty-two years of civil war. After the signing of a historic peace agreement with the government late last year, the country’s seven-thousand-odd Marxist FARC fighters recently began moving into a series of camps...

In her portraits of a dozen fighters, taken just prior to their move into these disarmament camps, Mazars focusses our eye on the individual fighters by engulfing them in shadow but leaving their facial features illuminated. Each of the subjects (who provided Mazars with their noms de guerre but kept their real names private owing to security concerns) stares arrestingly back at the camera. Some wear smiles and others a more studied wariness, but all are assertive. We immediately sense that these are not the vulnerable members of a defeated group laying down arms in an act of abject submission but, rather, still-proud fighters. Their expressions seem to reflect what their leaders have been saying all along, that while the FARC guerrillas may have agreed to end their violent campaign, they intend to continue fighting for their political ideals even without weapons...


Exhibition: How Cameras and Cars Conquered Time and Space, Together

Pro Photo Daily  

The camera and the car came of age together. And together they altered our relationship to reality — one, noted the British Journal of Photography recently, by stopping time, and the other by speeding everything up.

On view at the Fondation Cartier in Paris through September 24 is the exhibition “Autophoto,” which explores how the automobile and the art of photography have combined to change how humans experience the world. The show brings together 500 works made by 100 historic and contemporary artists from around the world, including Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Lee Friedlander, William Eggleston, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Bernard Plossu, Juergen Teller, Luciano Rigolini, Stéphane Couturier, Alejandro Cartagena, and Malick Sidibe.

Image: Los Alamos series, c. 1974, by William Eggleston

The Photographer's Gallery
London, UK
3 March - 11 June 2017

This major exhibition is the first since 1999 to show the iconic work of British photographer Roger Mayne (1929-2014). It includes his pioneering photographs of 1950's and early 1960's community life in London’s Southam Street. Mayne’s humanistic approach has influenced subsequent generations of photographers, and made a significant contribution to post-war British photography.

Also featured are examples of Mayne’s less well-known work from outside the Capital, including early work in Leeds where Mayne first developed his photographic interests. These pictures of street life around the city chart his development from pictorialism to his characteristic realist style. Between 1961-65, Mayne was commissioned to photograph the newly developed estate of Park Hill in Sheffield. His photographs captured both the nuance of daily social interactions and the sharp angles, shades and abstract forms of the urban environment.

Image: Girls dressed up for a 'teenage night' at a Sheffield Club, 1961 © Roger Mayne

A Retrospective of a Forgotten 1930s Photographer of Famous Faces


Lusha Nelson’s art career was brief, but prolific. In the 1930s as a staff photographer for Condé Nast publications including Vogue and Vanity Fair, he captured icons like Katharine Hepburn and Jesse Owens with a direct elegance, always avoiding retouching or manipulation of his portraits. He mingled with Alfred Stieglitz and was mentored by Edward Steichen; he was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1937 photography survey; he surveyed the streets of Depression-era New York with a documentarian eye; and he even once ran away with the circus, following Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey from Manhattan to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

So why don’t many people remember his name? After a quick rise from teenaged Latvian immigrant to successful modernist photographer, Nelson died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 30 in May of 1938. Most of his archives were stored in private hands, the majority of them later purchased at a 1980s estate sale. It wasn’t until a 2015 acquisition of over 4,000 of his prints, negatives, and archival materials by the Philbrook Museum of Art that the breadth of his work was exhumed. Now the Tulsa, Oklahoma museum is exhibiting Nelson’s first retrospective, called Lusha Nelson Photographs: Celebrity, the Forgotten Man, and 1930s America, part of a decade-long initiative by the institution to retrieve and contextualize his legacy.

Image:  Lusha Nelson, “Jean Arthur” (1935), published in Vanity Fair, August 1935
(courtesy Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma)

The New York Times LENS Blog

On a continent where same-sex relations are illegal in most countries, and where being gay is punishable by death in some states, homosexuality is widely considered “un-African.”

While powerful work on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Africa has been done by documentary photographers like Robin Hammond of New Zealand, with his project “Where Love Is Illegal,” the approach of liberal Western media can reinforce the notion that homosexuality in Africa is a “perversion” of traditional African values introduced by foreigners, or a colonial legacy that imposed European religious conservatism and rails against such relations as “unnatural.”

But work such as the Ghanaian artist Eric Gyamfi’s “Just Like Us” project, and that of Zanele Muholi, a South African activist who explores the experiences of black lesbians in her country, shows how homosexuality is an inherent part of African society, and history, said John Fleetwood, the former head of Johannesburg’s Market Photo Workshop and the director of Photo, a new African initiative.

“Their work has done great things for how people think and gives other artists the confidence to make their own expressions,” Mr. Fleetwood said. “And what we’re finding is that the public is suddenly standing in front of exhibitions that show this part of our culture.”

Image: Solly Sefako. Phiri, Soweto, 2012. From the series “uMama. © Jabulani Dhlamini/Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 

France Allemagnes(s), 1870-1871: A New Perspective on a Little Known War

L'Oeil de la Photographie

Musée de l’Armée
Paris, France
13 April - 30 July 2017

This exhibition aims is to give a new perspective on the Franco-German War of 1870-1871, overshadowed by the two global conflicts, by offering the two countries’ points of view, whether they be immediate or retrospective, and to give this conflict larger perspectives. One starting in 1864, the beginning of the German unification wars, to 1875 with the crisis called the “War in Site” (Krieg in Sicht). The other beginning in 1813, corresponding to the German Liberation wars (Befreiungskriege), followed by the Congress of Vienna in 1815,  up to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The traces left by the war’s witnesses and participants in the arts, literature, or even urban environments are numerous, like the
neighbourhood of La Défense  west of Paris, the Victory Column (Siegessäule) in Berlin, or even the Straße der Pariser Kommune. They are largely addressed throughout this exhibition with a great variety of objects, paintings, sculptures, as well as an exceptional ensemble of photographs from that time. Also evoked are the major transformations born from these events, whether they be political, diplomatic, military, ideological, social, economic, or religious.

Image: Pietro Dovizielli, Temple of Vesta (1855)

Nine Chinese Photographers You Need to Follow

TIME Lightbox

The unprecedented economic boom in China since the early 1980s has also sparked an explosion of interest in photography.

Despite the government’s tightening restrictions on media, young photojournalists and documentary photographers continue to push the limit, investigating issues central of a society under constant transition. The fine arts, a market in general on the rise in recent years has offered a new voice for visual artists looking for new modes of experiment and expression.

This list features the new generation of Chinese photographers and visual artists, all under 35, who were born and raised in a time of sweeping change. As China continues to diversify and assert its influence around the globe, these artists offer a glimpse into the ever-changing country and what it means to be Chinese today.

Image: © Pinglang Zhou 


Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP)

Columbia College, Chicago
13 April - 2 July 2017


Known as one of the world’s most provocative artists, Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957) creates work that boldly confronts contemporary political and social issues, both in China and abroad. As an outspoken human rights activist, writer and curator, Ai’s practice crosses multiple disciplines including sculpture, public works, film, music, poetry, photography and social media. #AiWeiwei is an exhibition specifically designed for the Museum of Contemporary Photography that focuses on Ai’s early diaristic photographs from the 1980s and 90s in New York and Beijing along with a series of recent social media based installations that center on what Ai refers to as photo activism. Ai’s fame drives over half a million visitors to his twitter and Instagram pages and he uses these tools, sometimes leveraging irony and humor, with disorienting effect, to bring attention to serious humanitarian issues and the constellation of state forces around them. The accompanying publication will feature an interview with Ai Weiwei by MoCP executive director Natasha Egan and texts by graphic designer and lecturer Liz McQuiston and independent curator John Tancock.

Image: Photographs of Surveillance, 2010-2015, Bugs, Beijing, 2015 

A 19th-Century Photographer of Scottish Industrialization Gets His First Survey


Thomas Annan, who opened a photographic firm in Glasgow, Scotland in 1857, was among the first photographers to use the new medium to document urban living conditions. In particular, he focused on the closes, or narrow passageways, of the city where the impoverished lived in crowded squalor. By the end of the century, many of these tenements would be demolished under the Glasgow City Improvements Act of 1867.

Despite the enduring interest in his legacy, such as the National Library of Scotland’s new online platform for navigating his Glasgow plates, there hasn’t been a survey exhibition of Annan’s nearly three decades worth of work. On May 23, the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Center in Los Angeles will open the first, titled Thomas Annan: Photographer of Glasgow.


Image: Thomas Annan, “High Street, from College Open” (1868-71) (courtesy Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal)