We are proud to share that V Magazine has selected Wayne Lawrence's Cinnamon, on view at the ROSEGALLERY booth at PULSE Miami, as a fair highlight in their latest Miami dispatch.
To read the article, please click here.
We are proud to share that V Magazine has selected Wayne Lawrence's Cinnamon, on view at the ROSEGALLERY booth at PULSE Miami, as a fair highlight in their latest Miami dispatch.
To read the article, please click here.
By Nancy Honicker
When I was a kid living on Greenwood Hill in Pottsville, we staged a Tom Thumb wedding at the local playground. Everyone got involved, even the bullies, decked out in their Sunday best. We girls wore frilly dresses and plastic hair bands with veils attached. In the empty lot that was our playground, we lined up for photographs and a few days later, there we were, on display in The Pottsville Republican.
I still have that photo, I can still name the kids huddled around the bride, and, what strikes me is how dusty we were. Despite our finery, despite our efforts to look our best, our patent leather Mary Janes had lost their sheen and the boys' oxfords looked shabby and gray. It wasn't our fault. We had done our best, but the playground was no more than coal dirt and every step we took stirred up a cloud of dust.
Playing baseball, when we slid into base, we blackened our pants and sneakers. Wearing shorts, we darkened our bare knees. Blackened sneakers, dark knees, the stuff of summers spent on coal banks and coal dirt lots.
I've just been to a photography exhibit in Paris bearing that name - "Dark Knees." The photographer, a pioneer of street photography with an international reputation, is from Wilkes-Barre. His name is Mark Cohen and for more than 50 years, night after night, after days spent in a commercial photography studio, he has tracked pictures, an affair of choice and chance, in the streets of Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and towns in between.
I did not know Mark Cohen's work and I discovered him listening to the radio, listening to an announcer struggle in French with the pronunciation of "Wilkes-Barre," as I asked myself if he was really talking about the Wilkes-Barre I know.
Listening more closely, I learned that a photographer from that town was showing his work at "Le Bal," an exhibition space in Paris devoted to photography. Checking out the information on the web, I promptly got on the metro and went to see the show.
There, against blood-red walls, I discovered a continuous line of 16-by-20 photographs, mostly black and white, traveling across the four walls of a large underground exhibition space. I did not discover Wilkes-Barre or the coal region: no breakers, no strip mines, no deserted downtown that had once seen better days. There was nothing that deliberately drew attention to a specific time or place. There weren't even people, at least not people posing, composed faces, bodies shot from head to toe.
Instead, there are fragments: a coat collar, a pearled eyeglass chain, a chin, a brooch, two calves wrapped in rayon knee socks, two feet wearing leather buckle shoes. Sometimes there is only a forehead, a hairline, bodies without head or feet, hands folded in the lap of a girl wearing cut-off jeans, a bare bony torso, dark knees against a background of vacant lots and clapboard houses, with a stairway leading to paradiseâ¦
There are also still lifes: the tops of unlaced boots, a string of outdoor lights, tomatoes ripening on an old wooden table in somebody's backyard.
These fragments, these photos, often beautiful and shot through with a disturbing grace, are not restful. Cohen's exhibition is not restful. Truncated bodies, defiant or frightened eyes, a fist slammed against a car window with the photographer inside, connote aggression and this notion is inherent to his technique and work.
Cohen has defined himself as a "trigger-happy gunslinger" and he has called his way of taking photos "grab shots."
Working for 35 years as a commercial photographer, when he closed shop each day, he began a second life, becoming a different person from the man "doing" weddings or annual reports.
At nightfall, he set out, a stalker of sorts, with three rolls of film, a lightweight camera and a flash, entering a world filled with pictures, out there waiting for him. What was necessary, as much as style and technique, was the courage to make the "grab."
Walking through the streets of Wilkes-Barre, Cohen, like a gunslinger, shot from the hip, camera in one hand, flash in the other. Constantly on the move but using a wide-angle lens, he had to get close to people, dangerously close at times, confronting raised fists, threats, insults and run-ins with the police. Approaching his subjects, according himself "artistic license" to burst into their lives, Cohen "flashed" them, grabbing the picture and then, just as quickly, merging back into the flow of street life.
Returning to his studio after having shot more than 100 photos, he might make no more than eight prints. In many of the shots, choice and accident did not mesh-or the picture he envisioned did not take off once he captured it within the rectangle that is his signature format, one he never crops.
The next night, he was back in the street, following instinct, believing chance, luck, fate, call it what you will, would deliver new treasures, fragments of himself as much as of the place where he anchored his work.
Night after night, Cohen forayed into the streets of Wilkes-Barre, fueled by a shot of adrenaline and the desire to delve deeper into himself.
Recognition and critical acclaim came early and in 1973, at age 30, the photographer had a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Had he settled in the city, he might have become a star of the New York photography world. Instead, after a quick visit, Cohen got back in his car and drove home to Wilkes-Barre because he "felt like he wasn't done there."
Forty years later, the photographer moved to Philadelphia. It took a long time to wrap things up.
Cohen claims he could have just as well taken his photos in Elmira, N.Y., as in Wilkes-Barre. I'm not so sure. Too much coal dust, too much darkness, too much grace born of a violent, mystical marriage between a man and a place: the coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania, an intrinsic part of that self he mined for nearly 50 years.
Some readers may already know Cohen's work. Some may have seen his 2010 exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There is also a book, "Grim Streets," published in 2005. But, except for a college show in the early '60s, there has never been an exhibit of his work on his home turf. Too close for comfort? I wish we could have a chance to tell.
To read the article in the Republican Herald, please click here.
Come to ROSEGALLERY to celebrate the opening of Abelardo Morell : Outside In.
The reception for the artist is from 6-8pm.
Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Avenue, Building G5
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Paper Self, 2012 Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY
Eggleston is a big deal in the photography world. He is credited with the invention, or at least the dispersions of the idea of color photography. His work is legendary. Through the 60s and 70s he took America in it’s bleakest condition and added a splash of color.
Sometime in the mid 90s, Eggleston started taking pictures of clouds from his car window. From there he naturally progressed to taking pictures of clouds as an art form, focusing his lens skyward and capturing what’s above.
At first view, someone unfamiliar with Eggleston’s work would perhaps say, “These are just pictures of clouds.” The word ‘just’ is very important. Employing a time tested method, I made my way to the gallery with someone completely ignorant of not only Eggleston, but of artistic photography in general.
“These are just pictures of clouds.”
“Fine, these are pictures of clouds.”
“They are a Rorschach test. You can see anything in them.”
“I see clouds.”
What my friend lacked was a reference point. The clouds are clouds and our brains perceive the images. Young children lay in the grass looking up at the clouds and see rabbits, dragons, faces – but ultimately, they see clouds.
The Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto takes pictures of the sea. His pictures, black and white, all look fairly similar. They look like the sea. Black and white, with a flat clear sky of gray separated by the horizon from a darker ruffled mass. So why is Sugimoto lauded for his seascapes, while I poke fun at Eggleston?
The Japanese are known for their minimalist approach to art. There is a history that welcomes Sugimoto into their ranks. We go to an Eggleston show expecting the same thing he was doing 10, 20 years ago. The artist must move forward, and the pictures should be scrutinized as new work.
The cloudscapes are innocent. The sky is blue and I see a Rhino in the white curls.
Review by John Hutt
WILLIAM EGGLESTON At Zenith I, 1979-2013 (C) Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.
"If you have your camera up to your eye, you can't keep track of what's going on," says photographer Mark Cohen. "By holding my camera down here" – he gestures to his waist – "I can suddenly take pictures." Cohen has a peculiar style of shooting: he does it secretly, and always at hip level. Working like a sniper, he gets close, snaps low, then moves away before anyone has the chance to bristle. "There's no conversation," he says. "I'm not interested in having to explain myself. I'm just using people on the street in the most transitory way."
Cohen has been pursuing scrappy street photography in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for 55 years, ever since he received a plastic camera at the age of 13. "I don't take my camera everywhere," he says. "I go for designated walks where I'm just taking pictures." A selection of images, culled from his years of walking around the industrial town, is now on display with Dark Knees, an exhibition at LE BAL in Paris, and available as a photobook.
Cohen likes to keep his wits about him while he walks, and finds that holding the camera low allows him to be extra watchful for antagonists. But his furtive shooting technique has always been laced with danger. One of his images is of a man, angered by the invasion of his personal space, swinging a punch at Cohen (Man Flinching, 1969). "That type of interaction took a psychological toll over the years," he says. "I made a lot of nifty pictures by being that close to people. But after a while, I went to a wider lens. 28mm. Then 35mm. Now I'm at 50mm, so I feel very safe."
But isn't getting audaciously close, almost predatory, integral to his work? "The trespass makes it happen, yes," he says. "When you're trying to make a new object, you've got to make something happen. And you learn to read people's reactions quickly." After all these years, honing in on details to find images has become automatic. "Here's a wonderful button – I love to see the buttons come out," he says, examining his silver print of a lady's coat. Or, of Seedpod in the Snow (1978), he comments that the orderly row of kernels "look like they're on a bus". The titles of the images – Wisp of Hair, Red Bow/Bare Back,Shirtless Boy with Chain – emphasise his powerful fixations.
For years, Cohen's approach was to shoot three rolls of film over a two-hour walk, develop the rolls directly, have dinner, then go back to the darkroom, develop eight to nine prints directly from the negatives, and cast aside the rest. Cohen did this several times a week for decades. He estimates he has 600,000-800,000 images that he's never seen or developed, not even on contact sheets.
"It's something I've never encountered before," marvels Diane Dufour, the curator of the LE BAL show. "And it's something I have trouble understanding. It's almost vertiginous to think of the number of photos we could have selected just from the negatives Mark has never seen." Cohen has recently revisited some of his overlooked images. He's even compiled a dummy book of rediscovered pictures, tentatively called No Contact No Print, which is how he classifies the forsaken negatives.
The 1970s were a notable era for Cohen. His photos were showcased in an expo at MoMA in 1973 under John Szarkowski, and he regularly showed new work at galleries, though he always retreated back to Wilkes-Barre. Removing himself from the New York scene gave him a "purity", he says, by virtue of "not having a personality so involved in the dissemination of work". But by his own admission, he "dropped out" in the late 80s.
"Gallerists couldn't sell my stuff," he says matter-of-factly. "My work's not the most optimistic. It's not like Yosemite." The framing is unexpected and the subjects sometimes gritty. Cohen often photographed the poorer neighbourhoods in his area because they were "more exposed": children playing outside, people lingering in the streets. "This guy's teeth are so terrible," he says, looking at the craggy, not-so-pearly-whites inLaughing Man's Teeth (1976). "This", he says,"is not right for someone's living room". Though gallery interest waned, it didn't put a dint in his productivity.
He moved to Philadelphia six months ago, and is still acclimatising to living in a metropolitan space for the first time. But he still operates in exactly the same way, going on single-minded photographic missions: "I get on a trolley and go to a specific intersection. I like to go to the same one 10 times, so I understand the texture of the neighbourhood," he says. As for Wilkes-Barre, he sees no need to dwell on it any more: "The slice of America I've been looking at is everywhere."
To visit The Guardian website and read the article in its entirety, please click here.
ROSEGALLERY will be exhibiting classic works by Mark Cohen in Booth C9 at Paris Photo 2013.
ROSEGALLERY is pleased to be working with photographer Wayne Lawrence, who is part of the 5th Annual FLAG Art Fair in Brooklyn, NY. Lawrence's work will be on view from October 5 through December 14. Lawrence, who is included in the 'emerging artists' group show, has a dedicated floor of his work curated by Awol FLAG Art Foundation celebrates its 5th anniversary this fall with two exhibitions Cecily Brown, Untitled (Blood Thicker than Mud), 2012. Oil on linen, 109 x 171 inches. Photo ©Cecily Brown. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photograph by Robert McKeever. Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email Share on print Share on gmail More Sharing Services 4 NEW YORK, NY.- The FLAG Art Foundation celebrates its 5th anniversary this fall. To commemorate this milestone, the 9th floor features a 5th Anniversary Group Exhibition and on the 10th floor, Images of Venus from Wayne Lawrence’s Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera curated by Awol Erizku. Both exhibitions are on view October 5 through December 14. FLAG has organized 30 exhibitions since it opened to the public in 2008. FLAG would like to thank the curators and artists for their participation. Their vision and talent have been invaluable and has impacted thousands of viewers. FLAG remains committed to its mission to encourage the appreciation of contemporary art among a diverse audience. Through the duration of the exhibitions, FLAG will host a series of salon events to thank FLAG's supporters and welcome new viewers. In the spirit of FLAG’s focus on collaboration, the events will intersect art with performance, fashion, food, and more. 9th floor The 5th Anniversary Group Exhibition includes 15 emerging and established artists, the majority of whom have previously shown at FLAG. Cecily Brown • Marc Dennis • Ellen Gallagher • Jane Hammond • Nir Hod • Jim Hodges • Wayne Lawrence • Josephine Meckseper • Julie Mehretu • Chris Ofili • Ged Quinn • Charles Ray • Gerhard Richter • Jeff Sonhouse • Mathew Weir 10th floor Identifying and promoting emerging talent is core to FLAG's program.
FLAG presents Images of Venus from Wayne Lawrence's Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera curated by artist Awol Erizku. Awol exhibited in FLAG's 2011 Art² and 2013 personal, political, mysterious exhibitions. The Orchard Beach series resonates with Awol's approach to portraiture. When discussing Wayne's work, Awol notes it quotes both photography and painting and that it both engages and leaves the spectator wanting to see more. The images are subtle yet confrontational; this aspect of the artist's image making enables him to navigate two complementary axes-as a form of documentation and as a reference to classical portraiture.
"Originally from St. Kitts, West Indies, I immigrated to the United States almost 20 years ago, settling in Los Angeles, California, where I worked as a commercial carpenter for five years. In my mid-twenties, while searching for new direction in my life, I discovered the autobiography of Gordon Parks, A Choice of Weapons, along with the work of Richard Avedon and Eli Reed at the local library. As an immigrant searching for my place within American society, I immediately identified parallels within Parks' life story and my own journey. The inherent emotion in Reed and Avedon's work was palpable, and I felt immediately that I, too, could master this new language of photography. For the first time I was faced with imagery that dealt with the human condition, and I committed to use photography as a tool for my own personal education and to confront long-standing ideas about race and class. In 2002, while continuing my pursuit of photographic education in California, I received news that my older brother, David, had been murdered back home in St. Kitts. This tragedy marked a major turning point in my journey, and photography became an integral part of my healing process. With the realization that my life's work, my survival, would require a heightened level of personal engagement, I gave up the isolation I had always felt in Los Angeles and relocated to the bustling streets and diverse culture of New York City. With a new sense of purpose, over the next six years I began focusing my lens on the only beach in New York's Bronx, Orchard Beach. Although the Bronx is considered one of the most diverse communities in America, its image has been largely defined by the urban blight that the city endured during the late 1960's through the 1980's when arson, drug addiction, and social neglect decimated many of its neighborhoods. Built in the 1930's, Orchard Beach, or 'Chocha Beach' as it is commonly known, remains an oasis for generations of Bronx families but is stigmatized as one of the worst beaches in New York. My personal experience of Orchard Beach, however, has been one of the most fulfilling of my life, and I have strived over many years to create an honorable representation of the community there. Orchard Beach consists of portraits of proud men and women with audacious attitude, loving couples, and families at play. In this work I am interested in challenging the stereotypes associated with working-class people by highlighting themes of community, cultural pride and the individuals' quest for identity." - Wayne Lawrence
We are pleased to announce that we will be showing selections from 'The Non-Conformists' at Paris Photo this year. We hope you can join us and see this fantastic work in person! Not going to be in Paris? Visit TIME LightBox to view some a slideshow of selected works from this series. To purchase a copy of The Non-Conformists, click here.
“In the 70s, in Britain, if you were going to do serious photography, you were obliged to work in black-and-white,” master photographer Martin Parr tells TIME. “Color was the palette of commercial photography and snapshot photography.”
“It’s only late in the decade that we began to see color photographers being shown in museums — like Eggleston and Stephen Shore,” he adds. “I took note of that and got excited.”
A few years later, in 1982, Parr made the switch from monochrome and never went back. To the many fans who have come to know his work over the last three decades in color, it may come as a surprise encountering Parr’s first major project in black-and-white. The Non-Conformists finally finds closure over 35 years after it was started with the publication this month of his latest monograph from Aperture.
It was 1975, and two years out of art school, Parr moved from the gritty, bustling city of Manchester to a picturesque mill town in the English countryside called Hebden Bridge. There, he found a traditional way of life in decline. Factories were closing, industry was leaving and the town was gentrifying. A new community was emerging made up of “incomers — youthful artistic refugees… in search of alternative lifestyles and cheap housing,” Parr’s wife Susie writes in her introduction to the book.
With four other artists, he opened up a storefront workshop and darkroom in the middle of town. Equipped with a Leica and a single lens, he took to the streets and began one of his earliest extended photographic studies.
“Places change all the time and the type of people who live there change. I was not so much looking at the new incomers,” of which he was a part, “but at the traditional lifestyle there.”
He would wander around, attend events listed in the local paper, and on Sundays, go to services at the Non-Conformist churches which were all over town. In these chapels, which had historically distanced themselves from the rules of the Church of England, he and his wife, who had been working on an accompanying text for his pictures, found the focus for the body of work.
“There’s a certain independent spirit these Non-Conformists have, which not only gave the chapels their names,” — like the Mount Zion Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel — “but was also very emblematic of the fading attitude of the whole place,” he says.
Parr’s photographs in which he aimed to capture that attitude reveal a greatly skilled young documentary photographer with a keen eye for British quirk, anticipating the tremendously poignant sense of humor for which he has become known. There is great wit in these images, but it’s more subtle and less sardonic than his later saturated color work; it seems above all, affectionate.
“Black-and-white is certainly more nostalgic, by nature,” he says. “My black-and-white work is more of a celebration and the color work became more of a critique of society.”
Parr and his wife, whom he had married in Hebden Bridge, became very active in the community during their documentation, if at first only to gain trust and access. Some church members mistook their interest as one in keeping the chapel life going in the future. The documentation came to an end, however, and the Parrs moved on. By the late 90s, most of the chapels had closed and the communities disappeared. Hebden Bridge today, “sandblasted and quaint,” his wife writes, “is a lesbian stronghold and a lively commuter town to professionals working in Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.”
“We did this photographic documentation and that’s all that’s left,” Parr says. “Virtually everyone in the photographs is dead now. It was just another era. But that’s the great thing about photographs; they’re there forever.”
Since her 1999 breakthrough series, ID400, Tomoko Sawada’s work has remained at the cutting edge of conceptual photography and contemporary art. Until recently, Sawada’s pictures have focused exclusively on her self and her assumed identities, employing an uncanny ability to alter her persona, producing simple, fresh images that raise questions about cultural identity, gender performativity, the perception of the self and authorship in photography. And like ID400, many of her series have relied on the repetition of images in grids, a format appropriate to work highly consistent in form but elastic in detail.
Her most recent work, produced during a residency with The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is both a startling departure from the past and an innovative use of her iconic style honed over the past decade. In 2012 she was invited by the museum to work with a local business and produce a new body of work based on the unique materials, history and processes associated with the host institution, which in this case, was Heinz, a brand synonymous with the city’s legacy. Sawada, who is acclaimed for her humorous and extensive self-portraits, collaborated with Heinz to investigate branding as a form of portraiture. The result is a tangle between an artist who has, up to this point, only used images of her self in a multitude of guises and a condiment company easily recognized on store shelves the world over.
Sign/KETCHUP & Sign/MUSTARD are large grids of 56 images of the Heinz condiment bottles. At a distance the plastic, inverted bottle featuring the iconic Heinz label looks a bit like a head, a direct reference to Sawada’s previous I.D.-style self-portraits. Upon closer inspection one realizes that “Tomato Ketchup” or “Mustard” has been translated into 56 languages from the countries around the globe where Heinz is sold. The artist has altered the company’s linguistic face in a manner that parallels her previous work, which relied on morphing her own face into a striking range of identities based on age, ethnicity and personality. But rather than over-the-the counter cosmetics and costume changes, she dresses her Heinz bottles with text; she accumulated the text using Google image search, translation websites, Wikipedia, and her artist page on Facebook where she enlisted international friends and fans in the task. And even with the linguistic change, what remains is the brand’s utter recognizability. In Tomoko Sawada’s photographs the languages themselves can be hard to identify but the corporate identity is impossible to shake. She exposes our culture’s overwhelming ability to identify with the face of an international brand, even as we may struggle to recognize a neighboring culture and its language.
Tomoko Sawada was born in 1977 in Kobe, Japan and studied at the Seian University of Art and Design. She has been a recipient of the Grand Prize at the Canon New Cosmos of Photography, the ICP Infinity Hyogo Arts Award and the prestigious Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award. Her work is held by internationally renowned collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the International Center of Photography, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Essl Collection, Klosternerberg, Austria, the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Museum. Monographs of Tomoko Sawada’s work include: ID400, Seigensha Art Publishing, 2004; School Days, Seigensha Art Publishing, 2006; Masquerade, Akaaka Art Publishing, 2006.
To read this in its entirety, please click here and be directed to the Artweek.la website.
Join us at the opening of Tomoko Sawada's latest works SIGN and SKIN at ROSEGALLERY. The gallery has arranged a meeting with the artist for PAC/LA members. September 26, 6-8 PM.
Not a member of PAC/LA? To participate in events like Thursday Night with Tomoko Sawada, click here.
PAC/LA is an independent, non-profit organization fostering individual and community-wide appreciation of the photographic arts.
Throughout the year, PAC/LA offers:
Perhaps best known for his work covering the Civil Rights era, Davidson said he likes to immerse himself in things he knows nothing about–and, to revisit subjects over time. The focus of this particular gallery show is Los Angeles, where Davidson was sent nearly 50 years ago on assignment for Esquire magazine. His take on the city now, he says, is completely different.
We talked to Davidson about the spiritual nature of the March on Washington, how this long-time New Yorker changed his mind about LA, and how he is now delighting in chronicling the ordinary in his neighborhood on the Upper West side. -Lisa Napoli
Click here to stream the podcast of Bruce's interview with Lisa Napoli on All Things Considered.
Bruce Davidson first came to Los Angeles in 1964 on assignment for Esquire magazine. As a young New Yorker in LA, he found himself at odds with what he described as a “cultural desert with acrid air, bumper-to-bumper traffic, tall palms, and seedy Hollywood types.” Davidson approached this foreign landscape with the sardonic eye of an outsider looking in. The resulting images, shot with a 35mm camera, play with archetypes and stereotypes of the city with a quick and clever irony: bodybuilders and starlets; sunbathers and signwavers; the similarly glimmering cars and glistening surf of a beach parking lot; desperate hopefuls walking the streets in search of something more.
Nearly 45 years after Davidson first visited Los Angeles, he returned to the city with a vastly different shooting agenda. The crowded and buzzing social landscape of 1964 now serves as a distant backdrop for the quiet integrity of Davidson’s clawed up yuccas, attenuated palms, and parched hillsides. The Nature of LA looks at plant life and the politics of water in Los Angeles with a newfound compassion and patience. Using a 4x5 view camera on a tripod slows his photographic process and allows these contemplative images to take shape. The word nature’s dual meaning— both flora and fauna, and character or temperament—situates the work within a broader scope than straight photographic representation. The series speaks to man’s impact on the land and nature’s prevailing will. He writes, “hundreds of towering palm trees reach to the sky and give poetic posture to concrete freeways, tacky strip malls, and the endless grid of local streets.” No longer at odds with a foreign landscape, Davidson lets the “pockets of beauty” emerge from the so-called “cultural desert” of his youth.
In the intervening years between these bodies of work, the culture of Los Angeles has not changed significantly, but rather the artist’s experience of it. This exhibition marries the two series, the wry and the romantic, to present a multifaceted portrait of our city.
To view the Paris Photo Agenda post and see what other participants are up to, click here.
Three very different styles of landscape photography are being served up in a small but savory sampling of images from deep in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Part of a series of exhibitions meant to showcase objects that rarely see the light of day, “Landscapes in Passing” features work from a trio of photographers, each of whom is represented by a single body of black-and-white work: Elaine Mayes, Robbert Flick and Steve Fitch.
The show spans a single decade and begins with Mayes’s “Autolandscape” project documenting her 1971 cross-country road trip from San Francisco to Amherst, Mass. Shot from inside a moving car — sometimes while she was driving — the 18 images are arranged in geographic order and include pictures from 11 states. (Only one image of Utah, hung outside the entrance to the show, is out of sequence.)
Because her camera was moving, there’s a bit of blur in most of the images, which only adds to the feeling of exhilarating speed and spontaneity that comes from the fact that Mayes usually wasn’t even looking through the viewfinder. As a result, there’s a random quality to the subject matter, which avoids the photogenic grandeur of scenic parklands for the banality of street signs, offramps, distant mountains and telephone poles. Most of Mayes’s sea-to-shining-sea travelogue emphasizes hypnotic monotony over purple mountain majesties.
“Autolandscape” contains a double meaning, referring both to the artist’s vehicular vantage point and to the automatic nature of the shooting, which was guided primarily by instinct, not aesthetics. Flick’s photos, from his 1980 “Sequential Views” project, are similarly robotic.
Each of Flick’s works contains a 10-by-10 grid of 100 postage-stamp-size images of such Los Angeles area neighborhoods as Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. Like Mayes, Flick is also a documentarian of the landscape, except he’s moving through it on foot, not in a car. Shot at prescribed intervals, his grid of Inglewood, for example, documents a stroll down 10 blocks of Regent Street. Look very closely at the left-hand row, and you can just make out the street signs.
Surprisingly, the effect is less numbing than you might think. Shooting the quintessential car culture as a pedestrian — with his shutter blinking every few steps or so — Flick creates an almost filmlike effect, like an extended tracking shot. Evoking frames of a movie, Flick’s sequential views aren’t so much panoramas as miniature “cineramas.”
Steve Fitch’s work is unlike anything else in the show. Shot between 1971 and 1976 for a series (and book) called “Diesels and Dinosaurs,” the images document a Western America characterized by truck stops, motels, drive-ins, roadside reptile zoos and dilapidated dinosaur sculptures. Wit — along with careful composition — replaces the seemingly haphazard, deadpan tone of Mayes’s and Flick’s work.
Most of Fitch’s humor derives from irony. His idea of “nature” or “landscape” is epitomized by Woody Woodpecker on the screen at a Dallas drive-in or a mural of mountains painted onto the wall of the Big Chief Motel on Highway 80 in Gila Bend, Ariz.
It’s tempting to dismiss Fitch as the least landscape-y of the three artists. After all, his subject, more often than not, is vernacular architecture.
On one level, his work is about displacement, not place. Still, like Mayes and Flick, he conveys a real sense of a country in which no one — least of all the artist — stays in one place anymore.
The Story Behind the Work
Flick’s series of sequential views were shot for the Los Angeles Documentary Project, a survey sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, that put into service seven photographers (in addition to the Dutch-born Flick) who were known for their work in California: Gusmano Cesaretti, Joe Deal, Douglas Hill, John Humble, Bill Owen, Susan Ressler and Max Yavno.
Surprisingly, all of the artists shot in black-and-white, other than Owen, who focused on swimming pools, clubs and other colorful SoCal stereotypes.
That may be because the NEA survey project was as much conceptual as retinal. Although there aren’t many people in Flick’s images — a rare exception being his grid of a crowded Venice Beach on Labor Day weekend — his photographs are all about man’s effect on the environment. There isn’t much nature in his pictures. Mostly, it’s restricted to the street signs that evoke an American myth of rusticity that exists only in the place names on urban maps: Prairie, Eastwood, Hillcrest, Locust, Fir and Eucalyptus.
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Over the course of the past 25 years, Cuban-born American artist Abelardo Morell has become internationally renowned for works that employ the language of photography to explore visual surprise and wonder. This exhibition of over 100 works made from 1986 to the present is the first retrospective of Morell’s photographs in 15 years. Showing a range of works and series—including many newer color photographs never exhibited before—the exhibition reveals how this persistently creative artist has returned to a photographic vocabulary as a source of great inspiration.
Morell came with his family to the United States as a teenager in 1962. He received a scholarship to attend Bowdoin College in Maine, where he first took a photography course; he later completed an MFA in photography at Yale University, looking to street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank as models. After the birth of his son in 1986, he began making large-format pictures around his home, examining common household objects with childlike curiosity. As a professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, he experimented with optics in his teaching and initiated a series in which he turned an entire room into a camera obscura, photographing the projection of the outside world juxtaposed onto the surfaces of the room’s interior.
These twin poles—examining objects and images with fresh vision and exploring simple optics in myriad forms—have been consistent orientation points for the many series that have since followed. Morell has turned his camera on conveyors of cultural meaning such as books, maps, money, and museums in extensive series that explore the perception of images. He has experimented with techniques as varied as photograms, still-life tableaux, stop-motion studies, and most recently the tent camera—a kind of portable camera obscura that throws the image of a landscape upon the ground’s surface. Now, after decades of working exclusively in black and white, he has begun to embrace color, both returning to old themes and series to view them in a new spectrum and pioneering new ways to understand optical effects, nature, and picture making. Showcasing his ever-inventive practice, this retrospective traces Morell’s innovative career as he continues to mine the essential strangeness and complexity of images.
Image: Abelardo Morell. Camera Obscura: View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom, 2009. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by Richard and Alison Crowell, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, and anonymous donors in honor of James N. Wood, 2011.62. © Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.
To watch the video Abelardo Morell on Photography, Life, and Dancing click here.
Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. When the exhibition closes September 2, it will travel to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. ROSEGALLERY will be mounting an exhibition concurrently with The Universe Next Door opening November 23, 2013.
“The Dream Continues is a poster show of my photographs of popular, transitory murals depicting Martin Luther King, Jr. that I encountered when documenting the urban inner city over a period of forty years. The U.S. Department of State prepared one thousand copies of the thirteen 20” x 30” posters for travel around the world, and ten for me to do with as I wish. My plan is to exhibit those ten sets of posters in locations around the U.S. in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington that took place on August 27,1963.”
Camilo José Vergara is the first photographer to receive the National Humanities Medal, which was awarded to him earlier this year by President Barack Obama. The Dream Continues limited edition posters were funded by the U.S. Department of State and will be on view in various cities throughout the country starting August 14.
To view a slideshow of Vergara's Martin Luther King murals, follow this link (scroll down to the bottom).
Graciela Iturbide is widely acknowledged as one of the most important photographers working in Mexico today. Beginning her photographic practice in 1969, Iturbide was mentored for many years by fellow Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo before emerging from the independent photography movement of the 1970s.
The works in this room represent an overview of her practice over four decades. Her subject matter varies considerably, but her primary concern has always been the depiction of everyday life inMexico, exploring themes of urban and rural life, indigenous rituals, the role of women, identity and the tensions between tradition and modernity.
In contrast to the objectivity conventionally associated with documentary practice, Iturbide’s works often result from a strong mutual relationship between subject and artist. This type of exchange can be seen most clearly in Iturbide’s work in traditional rural communities, which is based upon her building longstanding relationships with local people.
In the southern Mexican region of Tehuantepec Isthmus, for example, she undertook a decade-long project in Juchitán, a small town known for its rare matriarchal social structure. Her stay produced some of her best-known images and culminated in the seminal photobook Juchitán of Women (1989). Although Iturbide produces the majority of her work in Mexico, this display also includes work from her more recent projects inIndia, Italy and the American states of Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas.
Graciela Iturbide was born in 1942 in Mexico City, where she lives and works.
Text courtesy of Art Limited
What you need to know A new exhibition of early 20th century Mexican art has opened at the Royal Academy in London. Mexico: A Revolution in Art focuses on the art of the cultural renaissance in Mexico from 1910 to 1940, following the 1910 revolution.
The show brings together work from key figures including Diego Rivera (above), Frida Kahlo and José Clemente Orozco and photographers Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Tina Modotti. Their work is shown alongside work by international artists and intellectuals who visited and were influenced by Mexico's cultural scene, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Breton and Robert Capa. Until 29 September.
What the critics like It's "the year's boldest, barmiest exhibition", says Alastair Smart in the Daily Telegraph. Credit must go to curator Adrian Locke for pulling off this fascinating show.
"The prints and photographs are the true stars of the show," says Laura Cumming in The Observer. Modotti's photographs show her gift for capturing the sensual materiality of life, while Alvarez Bravo's monumental works are a revelation.
The show also introduces "an interesting cluster of artistic foreigners attracted to Mexico by all the revolutionary promise", says Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times. Edward Burra evokes the darkness of Mexican belief, while the great American abstractionist Josef Albers captures the light and shade of a Mexican afternoon - lovely.
What they don't like The show's fundamental flaw is that it misses out on the great Mexican murals, says Charles Darwent in The Independent. Since mural painting was central to Mexican art in the decades after the 1910 Revolution – "it is a grave lack, like an ice-cream cone with no ice-cream."
Text and image courtesy of The Week.
Day of Terror, 2010
SANTA MONICA, CA.- ROSEGALLERY announces the American debut of 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, Christian Patterson's groundbreaking series, Redheaded Peckerwood. Photographs, objects and historical ephemera is on view June 29th through August 3, 2013.
Redheaded Peckerwood is Christian Patterson's second major body of photographs and the subject of his highly acclaimed monograph, published by MACK in 2011. The book has been called an "instant classic" and was named one of the best books of the year by Art in America, the New York Times, TIME and the Guardian among many others. Last year the book was awarded the prestigious Recontres d'Arles Author Book Award and it is currently in its third printing.
Redheaded Peckerwood is a work with a tragic underlying narrative - the story of 19 year old Charles Starkweather and 14 year old Caril Ann Fugate who murdered ten people, including Fugate's family, during a killing spree across Nebraska to their point of capture in Douglas, Wyoming. The images record places and objects central to the story, depict ideas inspired by it, and capture other moments and discoveries along the way.
Christian Patterson does not attempt to piece together the precise circumstances of the murders, or any over-arching narrative; rather, he creates images that speak to the themes he considers fundamental to the story - angst, love, rebellion, escape, violence, and loss of innocence. He borrows certain points freely and boldly mixes them with fictional elements, using photography as his primary tool.
Redheaded Peckerwood utilizes and plays with an archive of material, deliberately mixing fact and fiction, past and present, myth and reality as it presents, expands and re-presents the various facts and theories surrounding this story. From a technical perspective, the photographs incorporate and reference the techniques of photojournalism, forensic photography, image appropriation, reenactment, documentary, and landscape photography. On a conceptual level, they deal with a charged landscape and play with photographic representation and truth as Patterson deconstructs the pre-existing narrative.
While photographs are the heart of this work, the artist has combined them with documents and objects belonging to the killers and their victims - a map, poem, confession letter, stuffed animal, and hood ornament - which will be exhibited alongside his photographic prints.
Christian Patterson was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work is found in the permanent collections of The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; The New Orleans Museum of Art; and the Light Work Collection, Syracuse to name a few. Private collections including the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Photography Collection; The Berman Photography Collection; and the collection of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser. This will be Patterson's first solo exhibition at ROSEGALLERY. The gallery is pleased to be the artist's exclusive U.S. representation.
Text courtesy of artdaily.org