News from the World of Photography: November 2018

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Guns and poses: Deutsche Börse photography prize shortlist revealed


The Guardian

This year’s Deutsche Borse photography prize shortlist is a considered choice of four artists whose approaches draw on documentary, archival appropriation and conceptualism. They are: Susan Meiselas for her retrospective exhibition, Mediations; Laia Abril for her deeply-researched book, On Abortion; Arwed Messmer for his archival exhibition, RAF: No Evidence and Mark Ruwedel for his show, The Artist and Society.

This photographer wanted to humanize Ellis Island’s immigrants. His images are still powerful.


The Washington Post
 
To the new arrivals at Ellis Island in the early 1900s, the thin bespectacled man waving them down seemed to be a part of the immigration process.

They had spent weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of becoming Americans, and now that they had disembarked from the crowded ships, they hoped there were only a few steps remaining.

After being herded into an immense brick building, the crowds of newcomers were directed this way and that, told to sit, stand, open their luggage and, for a select few, found themselves cornered by Lewis Hine, a man toting a heavy, boxlike camera on a rickety tripod.

Usually, Hine did not speak their language. He motioned to them what he wanted to do. They waited anxiously while he set up the camera, and then the machine emitted a resounding bang. Sparks flew. Thick smoke filled the air. When it cleared, the immigrants were sent on to the next step — likely never knowing they had just become a part of one man’s project to make the country more welcoming toward them...

Roger Fenton's Photographs of the Crimea


The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace
London, UK
Until 28 April 2019

 

This is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on Roger Fenton's pioneering photographs of the Crimean War, taken in 1855. Fenton was already an accomplished and respected photographer when he was sent by the publishers Agnew's to photograph a war that pitched Britain, France and Turkey as allies against Russia.  Arriving several months after the major battles were fought in 1854, Fenton focused on creating moving portraits of the troops, as well as capturing the stark, empty battlefields on which so many lost their lives. 

Published in contemporary newspaper reports, Fenton's photographs showed the impact of war to the general public for the first time.  Through his often subtle and poetic interpretations Fenton created the genre of war photography, showing his extraordinary genius in capturing the futility of war.

Time Travel Back to 1970s L.A. with These Vintage Photos


Los Angeles Magazine

 Thinking of ’70s L.A. now probably brings to mind the golden days of Laurel Canyon, antics on the Sunset Strip, or maybe a few New Age cults. But a new group show at Joseph Bellows Gallery peels away some of those layers of nostalgia to show images of how the region looked to photographers as they lived it.

Work in the show comes from photographers Bevan Davies, Philip Melnick, John Humble, Grant Mudford, Terry Wild, and Ave Pildas. The images selected from each artist capture small moments of how the city looked at the time. Some of the locations are still recognizable now, others have evolved more visibly in the ensuing decades...

 

Arbus, Untitled and Unearthly


The New York Times

Beginning in 1969 and continuing through the last two years of her life, Diane Arbus traveled regularly by bus to New Jersey to photograph people at residences for the developmentally and intellectually disabled. Her first destination, the coeducational Woodbridge State School, was just across the Hudson from her Manhattan apartment. Quite soon, though, she determined that an all-female institution in Vineland, in the southern part of the state, provided richer opportunities.

The photographs in the “Untitled” series, at the David Zwirner gallery through Dec. 15, are mostly taken in Vineland. Departing significantly from the work that built Arbus's reputation, they include some of the most mysterious and haunting pictures of her 15-year artistic career.

The “Untitled” exhibition is the first in Zwirner’s new partnership with the Fraenkel Gallery of San Francisco to co-represent the Arbus estate. Rather than start with her iconic portraits of sideshow freaks, cross-dressers, pro-Vietnam war demonstrators and nudists, the New York gallery opted to show this less familiar, late work, which until now has never been seen in its entirety...

V&A's impressive new Photography Centre opens with major commissions and month-long photography spotlight


Creative Boom

The world’s first photographic experiments and earliest cameras; works by pioneering female photographers, Julia Margaret Cameron, Agnes Warburg, Madame Yevonde and Cindy Sherman; pictures by 20th-century greats Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, Brassaï, Cecil Beaton and Irving Penn, and contemporary works by Martin Parr, Sian Bonnell, Mary McCartney, Peter Funch, Cornelia Parker and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

This is just some of what to expect at the V&A’s impressive new Photography Centre, which spans four new galleries, more than doubling the museum’s space dedicated to photography...


The New York Times

Quentin Bajac, the chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, will return to his native Paris to become director of the Jeu de Paume, France’s national photography museum.

Mr. Bajac has served as MoMA’s photography chief since January 2013, only the fifth person to hold the post since its creation in 1940. In New York, he organized a large retrospective of the American photographer Stephen Shore, as well as a century-spanning history of studio photography and an edition of MoMA’s “New Photography” series. He also was co-curator of an acclaimed revisionist presentation of MoMA’s permanent collection at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2017.

Before coming to MoMA, Mr. Bajac served as a photography curator at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, then as chief curator of photography at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

Louis Stettner: Traveling Light


SF MOMA
San Francisco, CA
27 October 2018 - 27 May 2019 


Over the course of his eight-decade career, Louis Stettner created a singular approach to photographing everyday life. Born in Brooklyn in 1922, Stettner began working as a photographer in the 1930s and served in the U.S. Army in World War II before moving to Paris in 1947. There, he studied at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques, became friends with the influential photographer Brassaï (whose work will be on view on Floor 3 from November 17, 2018–February 18, 2019), and developed a unique point of view that melded the boldness of American street photography with the softer humanism more characteristic of his Paris contemporaries. For the rest of his life, he traveled between New York and Paris — his “two loves,” as he called them — constantly finding new inspiration in that geographical duality. From thoughtful images of rush-hour commuters to tranquil observations of daily routines, this thematic retrospective displays the remarkable breadth of Stettner’s work.

A New Home for the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris


The New York Times

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photojournalism pioneer, a man whose wartime images of Europe and portraits of personalities like Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett have become 20th-century classics.

Yet he never allowed himself to be photographed, and he never appeared on television.

“It meant that his face wasn’t widely
recognizable, and that he could blend in everywhere he went, without people knowing it was him,” said Agnès Sire, artistic director of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, which was established in 2003.

One of his only known self-portraits, taken on a trip to Siena, Italy, is a view of his extended right leg, in trousers, with a winding road in the background. The so-called self-portrait was taken “as he was lying on a wall,” Ms. Sire said.

“The subject is completely banal: That’s what’s interesting about it,” she continued. “It’s a private moment — not a moment where you’re posing for a double-page spread in Paris Match magazine.”

The Siena picture is one of about 50,000 original prints that have moved from Montparnasse, on the Left Bank of Paris, to the foundation’s new and bigger home on the Right Bank, in the fashionable Marais district. More than 200,000 negatives and contact sheets have also been relocated...

Contact Warhol: Photography Without End


Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University
Stanford, CA
29 September 2018 - 6 January 2019

 

Photographs by Andy Warhol that have never before been displayed publicly are at the heart of the exhibition Contact Warhol: Photography Without End, which draws on a trove of over 130,000 photographic exposures that the Cantor Arts Center acquired from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in 2014. The collection of 3,600 contact sheets and corresponding negatives represent the complete range of Warhol’s black-and-white photographic practice from 1976 until his unexpected death in 1987.

The exhibition brings to life Warhol’s many interactions with the social and celebrity elite of his time with portraits of stars such as Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli, and Dolly Parton; younger sensations in the art world such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat; and political stars, including Nancy Reagan, Maria Shriver, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Contact Warhol, curated by Stanford Professors Richard Meyer and Peggy Phelan, traces Warhol’s photography from the most fundamental level of the contact sheet to the most fully developed silkscreen paintings. 

Terror in focus: the Jewish photographer who captured the rise of Nazism


The Guardian

In 1920, Roman Vishniac and his new bride Luta arrived in Berlin. Having fled the turmoil of post-revolutionary Moscow, the couple had hastily been married by a station master in a Latvian border town, before traveling to Riga and on to the German capital. There, Vishniac was reunited with his wealthy parents, who had left Russia three years earlier, and he and Luta were married again in a register office before their union was blessed by a traditional Jewish ceremony. So began their new life in a city that an excited Vishniac described as “a living whole … the centre of western Europe”.

The story of their flight is emblematic of Vishniac’s extraordinary life, which was lived out, in part, against Europe’s turbulent early-to-mid 20th-century history. As a child he had experimented with scientific photography, attaching a microscope to a camera in order to produce magnified images of insects and plants. Having gone on to train as a biologist, he found work hard to come by in Berlin. Intrigued by the cosmopolitan nature of the city, he became a keen amateur photographer, strolling the city night and day with a Rolleiflex camera dangling from his neck...

A National Gallery show examines Gordon Parks’s early years


The Washington Post 


He was the youngest of his father’s 15 children. He wrote in his high school yearbook that he wanted to be “a general or a Jazz Sheik.”

Gordon Parks fell short of those goals, but in the process of failing, he became a poet, novelist and memoirist; the inventor of a new genre of film; a pianist, composer and librettist; and one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. How did this happen?

If you love an artist’s mature work, his or her early work is almost always riveting. The drama is innate: How did it come to be? What were the breakthroughs? Who and what helped? What explains it?

“Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950,” at the National Gallery of Art, sets out to answer these questions. But just as Parks himself got diverted on his way to becoming a “Jazz Sheik,” the curator, Philip Brookman, gets waylaid, and instead of rooting around in juvenilia, finds himself presenting a show with the force and cogency of a full-blown retrospective...


The New York Times Magazine

Robert Adams’s succinct preface to his 2010 book of photographs “What Can We Believe Where?” begins with uplift: “In common with many photographers,” he writes, “I began making pictures because I wanted to record what supports hope: the untranslatable mystery and beauty of the world.” Adams’s aim was true. Look at one of his photographs and you’ll see a record of mystery and beauty. The photographic elements are simple. Bright sunlight, generally; crisp shadow; the occasional moody nocturne. We feel as if we are being taught to see with a visual primer. Better yet, turn the pages of one of his books (he has made more than 50) or walk around an exhibition of his work, inhabiting the flow of his decisions. You are likely to feel your breath getting calmer and your senses quietened...

The Eye of Photography
 
“In the heart of the Sudan, and to the west of the White Nile, there is a strange and unreal land which the hand of time has hardly touched in passing.” – George Rodger

From 1939-47 Magnum photographer George Rodger covered some of the most violent atrocities of the second world war: from the brutality of the Burma campaign to horrific piles of corpses at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

In 1948, in search of something less barbaric, Rodger arranged to document indigenous people of the Nuba mountains, in the former central Sudanese province of Kordofan, and the Latuka and other tribes of southern Sudan. In doing so, he created some of the most historically important and influential images taken in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century.

Southern Sudan is released to coincide with an exhibition of the same name at David Hill Gallery, London, opening on 2nd November until 25th January.

‘George Rodger belongs to the great tradition of explorers and adventurers. His work is a moving testimony through time and space.’ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Hyperallergic

Time may just be an illusion, yet humans have the need to mark time in order to make sense of our lives. In "Time Frames: Contemporary East Asian Photography" at the Baltimore Museum of Art, works by contemporary East Asian photographers explore time through both subject matter and creative processes, as the artists grapple with their cultural and personal histories.

The exhibition highlights around 40 photographic works by Asian American artists and artists from Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and China that are rarely seen in the US. The photographs represent five ways that the featured artists have engaged with the concept of time: through individual and collective experience, reflection, duration and labor, progress and place, and displacement...

The British Journal of Photography

So far the wildfires in California have claimed the lives of 94 people and laid waste to 1,667,855 acres of land this year. And, according to Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad, they’ve also consumed a world-renown library of photobooks, put together over the last six years by Dutch collector Manfred Heiting.

Based at Cutberth Road, Malibu, Heiting’s collection included vintage photographs, posters, ceramics and art deco furniture – and at least 36,000 photobooks. Residents in this area were told to evacuate a week ago, and the coastal town is now “a war zone”, Heiting told NRC Handelsblad. At the time of the report on 20 November, Heiting has not yet been given the green light to visit his house but he stated that: “On satellite photos I can see that everything in my neighborhood has disappeared. Two or three houses may have survived. The rest was pulverized in a ten-minute fire storm.”

Once a director of Polaroid’s international division, Heiting started collecting photography in the 1970s, when he focused on gathering prints. In 2002 he sold this collection to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and started to focus on photobooks. His collection was considered one of the most complete in the world, including a copy of most of the important photobooks that appeared from 1888-1970 in Europe, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Japan.

Heiting’s expertise and collection were used in a series of compendiums published recently by Steidl – including The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941, The Japanese Photobook 1912-1980, and Czech and Slovak Photo Publications 1918-1998. He also worked on a website to make his archive more widely accessible, and used it in his lectures at the University of California.

According to NRC Handelsblad, the loss of Heiting’s collection is not just his loss, because he had recently donated his library to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. A few thousand books had already been transferred, but the rest was to stay with Heiting until 2023, for use in his research and publications. “The responsible curators were still visiting me at the beginning of October to make a definitive choice,” Heiting reportedly said. “It is terribly disappointing. For us all.”

“It is not easy now to put this loss away,” he adds. “But I have to close it soon. The collection will not come back.”