Filtering by Category: Ken Graves

The Awkward Formalities of High School Prom by Ken Graves and Eva Lipman on The New Yorker

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In the early nineties, husband-and-wife duo Ken Graves and Eva Lipman collaborated to document "an essential landmark in the education of American Teen-agers, Prom".  The photographs depict a graceless youth, uninhibited celebration with awkward courtship, tension of sexuality and adolescent social anxieties.  

Read The New Yorker article in full with a 15 image gallery HERE.

Ken Graves, a San Francisco born artist, who passed away last month at the age of 74, was known for his collage work revealing the wit and precision of his mind and hands. Rearranging found photographs from early to mid-twentieth century American magazines and inserting a range of materials, Graves created surreal images that open a world of interpretive narratives. Kenneth Graves received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1960s and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ken Graves and Eva Lipman photographs are currently on view at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco.  

The Home Front by Ken Graves reviewed by Adam Bell

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The Home Front
Reviewed by Adam Bell

The Home Front
Photographs by Kenneth Graves 
Mack, London, England, 2015. 80 pp., 45 black and white illustrations, 9x6¾".

As a formative moment in the lives of American Baby Boomers, the Vietnam-era has been endlessly paraded in popular visual culture for decades — hippies, Flower Power, rock concerts, protests, political scandals and assassinations. Given the well-trod visual record of the mid-60s to early-70s, it’s rare to find photographic work that offers a fresh and unique perspective of the turbulent era. Focusing on city streets, public fairgrounds, and suburban cul-de-sacs, Kenneth Graves’ The Home Front offers a humorous and playful look at San Francisco during the war. Eschewing the expected, Graves reveals moments of absurdity, pointed sociological detail and whimsical formal delights. Brilliantly designed to resemble a dossier or report, the manila Swiss-bound book is an absurdist sociological missive — part Garry Winogrand and part Eugene Ionesco.

 The Home Front. By Kenneth Graves. Mack, 2015.

The Home Front. By Kenneth Graves. Mack, 2015.

From the cover image of two men frozen and bewildered on an empty sidewalk to the closing image of a couple, whose heads are cut off by the kitchen cabinets, kissing over an empty array of dinner ware, Graves delights in the absurdities of the banal. Men and women are caught wearing silly costumes or contorted in odd poses. Legs jut inwards from outside the frame or up from behind beds, and heads peer in through windows or emerge from the foreground. While there is humor and oddity in the moments Graves captures, he steers clear of simple or mean-spirited visual puns. Instead, he is sympathetic observer who highlights our common frailty, solitude and anxieties. Continually directing our eye to poignant and absurd tableaux, Graves’ dynamic framing gives a sense that theatrics surround and circle us daily.

  The Home Front . By Kenneth Graves. Mack, 2015.

The Home Front. By Kenneth Graves. Mack, 2015.

Yet beneath the absurdity, there is a lingering anxiety. Like Tod Papageorge’s American Sports, 1970: or, How We Spent the War in Vietnam, the book offers a pointed look at America society and the simmering political climate in the late 60s and early 70s. Although he enlisted in the Navy as a young man, Graves was no hippie and does not wear his politics on his sleeve. He would likely bristle at the moniker of a ‘concerned photographer,’ but his work exudes a subtle politics that both celebrates and critiques what he sees and captures. Over the course of Grave’s work from the mid-60s to 70s, the Vietnam War expanded into Cambodia and Laos. All the while, the American bodies kept coming home. Simmering below the surface, the war played out at home. Men in uniform stand silent and sullen, bearing the burden of their obligation both at home and abroad, while others simply carry on, raising their children or going to the county fair. In the opening image, we see Graves’ daughter or that of one of his peers standing in a corner and measuring herself with a ruler that bears Graves’ name. In another, a man leans back to watch a trapeze act in the distance. His balding head is thrust in our face. These moments of levity are balanced with more poignant ones like that of a legless man, likely a veteran, who peers into a military themed arcade game named Texas Ranger Gatling Gun. Gazing intently through the viewfinder, he shoots down his imaginary enemies again and again. 


Read more at: Photo-Eye

Exhibition Review, LA Times: Photography that likes to break the rules

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Our exhibition Her First Meteorite: Volume 2 was reviewed by Leah Ollman for the LA Times this morning. 

 Ken Graves,  A Prolonged Childhood , unique photo collage, c. 1990

Ken Graves, A Prolonged Childhood, unique photo collage, c. 1990

"Ever since the earliest photographic technologies, bushwhackers have willfully deviated from marked trails, but never, it seems, have more renegades tweaked convention than in the past decade or two. " - Leah Ollman

Read the rest of the review on LA Times.com

Source: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/...

Ken Graves' Oddball Events in Photographs featured in The New Yorker

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The San Francisco Bay area in the 1960's was home to members of The Beats and Haight-Ashbury Hippies, upheaval in the black community, the Free Speech movement and several University strikes, to name a few.  The Vietnam War was well under way and America was in turmoil.  Ken Graves, a former US Navy turned artist mentions “I found myself, upon discharge, in a city and at a particular historical moment characterized by rebellion and protest against the dangers implicit in too much authority.”

 PHOTOGRAPH BY KENNETH GRAVES / COURTESY MACK

PHOTOGRAPH BY KENNETH GRAVES / COURTESY MACK

"The pictures here, made by Kenneth Graves as a young man in the Bay Area, show a world full of disjunction, of oddball events that seem to fall out of the sky and into his lap—or, more appropriately, into his field of vision. But they are more than amused observations. They show something of the world he came back to when he decided to settle in San Francisco amid the tumult of the nineteen-sixties." ~Sandra S. Phillips

Read on HERE.

Buy the book The Home Front HERE.

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-boo...