Friday, December 17, 2010

Great day in Harlem

Numerous sites have this famous photograph by Art Kane

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Alec Soth

An interesting composition, and interesting subjects (to say the least).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Phoenicia flooded

“I’m good, baby.”

A photographer working for the New York Times was severely injured by a bomb in Afghanistan.

This slide show is taken from the memory card that was in Joao Silva’s camera on Oct. 23 when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine at Checkpoint 16, near the village of Deh-e-Kuchay, Afghanistan. Mr. Silva, a contract photographer for The New York Times, and Carlotta Gall, a Times correspondent, were on patrol with a squad of 10 or 15 American soldiers and a unit of Afghan soldiers and police officers. Mr. Silva lost both his legs in the explosion and suffered internal injuries. He is recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Joao Silva’s damaged equipment.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Donovan Wylie

From a periodic email from Magnum Photos, saw his work.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Adriana Zehbrauskas

A story in the New York Times on 3 November, about the Day of the Dead celebrated in Ciudad Juárez,is accompanied by a photograph by Ms. Zehbrauskas. Googling her name returns numerous links, including her portfolio in the Polaris Images website. She's Brazilian.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Carl Van Vechten

Reading In search of Nella Larsen : a biography of the color line, by George Hutchinson (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006). Van Vetchen figures very prominently in the book, as an important figure in her life: mentor, friend, sponsor. A look at his Wikipedia entry does not even mention her.

Van Vechten was a complex man, in many ways. One of his pursuits was photography. The Library of Congress has a collection of his photographic works: Creative Americans: Portraits by Carl Van Vechten at the Library of Congress features a searchable database of photographs taken by Van Vechten.

Another one is Carl Van Vechten's Portraits from the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University features a searchable database of over 9,000 black and white prints.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale worth $200 million

Experts: Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale worth $200 million
By Alan Duke, CNN - July 27, 2010 9:01 p.m. EDT

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Rick Norsigian kept two boxes he bought at a garage sale under his pool table for four years before realizing they may be too valuable to store at home. The Fresno, California, commercial painter learned this week that what was in those boxes he paid $45 dollars for a decade ago could be worth more than $200 million. "When I heard that $200 million, I got a little weak," Norsigian said at a Beverly Hills art gallery Tuesday.

Art, forensic, handwriting and weather experts teamed up to conclude the 65 glass plates in the boxes were photographic negatives created more than 80 years ago by Ansel Adams, the iconic American photographer whose images of the West inspired the country.

Adams heirs skeptical about lost negatives claim

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photographing America


Photographing America, 1929-1947: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans  [curator, Agnès Sire].
London : Thames & Hudson, 2009.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where are pictures taken?

Eric Fischer on Flickr

Tourists and locals share an uneasy detente at times on New York’s crowded streets. When it comes to photography, however, there’s evidence that these two tribes dwell in different cities. Eric Fischer, a 37-year-old computer programmer from Oakland, Calif., created a map using geotagging data on the photo-sharing websites Flickr and Picasa to plot the points in New York (and 71 other cities) captured by shutterbugs. He then devised an ingenious system for separating tourists from locals. A user with many shots of the same city taken over a wide range of dates is deemed to be a local, and marked on the map with blue dots. Tourists get a red dot. (Yellow dots could not be placed in either camp).

The results are quite revealing. Midtown, as expected, is aflame with tourist red, as is the area in Lower Manhattan where the Statue of Liberty can be seen. The East Village and Chinatown, however, are far more blue. Another split happens in two prime Manhattan green spaces: Central Park is heavily photographed by tourists, while the scenic stretch of Riverside Park along the Hudson on the Upper West Side is shot almost entirely by locals.
The map shows a few far-flung hot spots. The Meadowlands and Yankee Stadium are bright red, while Citi Field is purple. Beyond the sports stadiums, few locations in New Jersey, the Bronx or Queens register as photo fodder for either locals or tourists.
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is completely covered by red dots. The nearby Manhattan Bridge, however, looks to be a purple-hued shared subject for tourists and locals, while the all-blue Williamsburg Bridge is predominantly shot by locals.
Brooklyn might be the most revealing borough of all. Unlike the Bronx and Queens, which show little evidence of geotagged photograph uploads, Brooklyn features plenty of photography, mainly by locals. One you leave the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge, there are few red dots to be seen.
And for those who want to avoid tourists all together this summer? Fischer’s New York map offers an inadvertent tip: go to Governors Island. The tourists, at least as indicated by Flickr photos, haven’t found there their way there yet.
As for Fischer, it turns out he’s fairly ordinary guy when he travels with a camera. “I have unfortunately only spent a few hours in New York City myself,” he explained in an email. ” It turns out that the pictures I took while I was there were pretty typical of what other tourists were taking.”

June 8, 2010, 4:09 PM ET
Aaron Rutkoff: Data Shows Where Locals, Tourists Snap Shots of NYC

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2nd Avenue subway

These are magnificent shots of the Second Avenue subway tunnel being built under New York streets.

The machine will run in three 24-hour shifts every week, said William Goodrich, program executive with the MTA. It will dig through to East 63rd Street by November of 2011 at which time crews will reassemble it to dig on the Eastern tunnel.

Crews will start work on the eastern side of the tunnel in November of 2011.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Photographer Whose Beat Was the World

April 9, 2010
Art Review | 'Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century'
A Photographer Whose Beat Was the World

Rarely has the phrase “man of the world” been more aptly applied than to the protean photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the subject of a handsome and large — though surely not anywhere near large enough — retrospective opening at the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday.

For much of his long career as a photojournalist, which began in the 1930s and officially ended three decades before his death in 2004, Cartier-Bresson was compulsively on the move. By plane, train, bus, car, bicycle, rickshaw, horse and on foot, he covered the better part of five continents in a tangled, crisscrossing itinerary of arcs and dashes.

In addition to being exhaustively mobile, he was widely connected. Good-looking, urbane, the rebellious child of French haute bourgeois privilege, he networked effortlessly, and had ready access to, and friendships with, the political and culture beau monde of his time.

Nehru, Matisse, Jacqueline Kennedy, T .S. Eliot, Truman Capote, George Balanchine, Coco Chanel and Alberto Giacometti sat for portraits. And he created classic likenesses of them: the elderly Matisse in a dovecote of a studio; the wizened Giacometti caught in midstride like his sculptures; Capote with his amphibian stare; Chanel mummified in a suit of her own design.

The third and crucial constant in his career was, of course, a camera: in Cartier-Bresson’s case, a hand-held Leica, as neat and sleek as a pistol. Whether he was traveling as a journalistic eye for hire or sauntering through Paris of an afternoon, the camera went too. He shot thousands upon thousands of rolls of film at 36 exposures a roll, meticulously numbering each roll before sending it off to be developed — a process he had no interest in — by magazines or photo agencies. (He was a founding member of the Magnum Photos cooperative in 1947.)

Cartier-Bresson seldom saw his work until it was in print, and then sometimes had occasion to be appalled. Suffice it to say that the Modern’s display, with black-and-white prints (he hated color film), framed and hung against pristine white and gray walls, is a far remove from the hurly-burly magazine layouts in which many of these pictures first appeared.

Cartier-Bresson’s dematerialized working method, so focused on the shutter moment, set a model for modern photojournalism, a field he basically invented. Equally influential was the way he approached that moment: with a Zen combination of alertness and patience that allowed him to be absorbed by unfolding events as they absorbed him.

Some of these events were small and sweet: a man sailing over a puddle, lovers smooching, a kid zooming by on a bike. Others were huge. In 1945 he was in Germany to record the aftermath of World War II. (He had spent almost three years as a prisoner of war in German camps.) In 1948 he was in Shanghai when citizens were storming banks for gold in the last frantic days before Communist forces arrived. He witnessed the end of the British Raj. He photographed Gandhi just before he was assassinated, then documented the funeral.

There’s some of all of this in the MoMA retrospective, “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century,” organized by Peter Galassi, the museum’s chief curator of photography. The show unfolds in 13 thematic sections. All but the first are chronologically mixed, and the pictures in that opening section, almost all from the 1930s, are some of the freshest he ever made.

He was in his 20s then. Raised in Paris, he had ambitions to be an artist. He studied with a painter who worked in a late-Cubist style, but hung out in the Surrealist circle around André Breton, soaking up leftist politics and heterodox aesthetics.

In 1930, with his painting prospects looking dim (Gertrude Stein had dropped a discouraging word about his talent), he picked up a camera. An early piece at MoMA, a 1932 shot of a man passed out on a Paris street, might be taken as a formative experiment of street photography. And Surrealism naturally had its impact: his shots of light-bleached plazas and factory walls are pure De Chirico.

After seeing photos of Africa by an older colleague, Martin Munkacsi (1896-1963), Cartier-Bresson headed there in 1930, beginning a lifetime of perpetual motion. By middecade, he had gone from Africa back to France, then to Italy, Spain, Mexico and the United States. Many of his signature works are from this period: Mexico City prostitutes squeezing through narrow windows; a Spanish child seemingly gripped by an ecstatic fit (he was looking up at a ball thrown out of camera range); and a quartet of stout and at-ease French picnickers lounging by a river.

He was given gallery shows, though he already knew he wasn’t making gallery art. He insisted that he wasn’t making art at all. His photographs were — what? A species of social commentary, journalistic illustration, diary keeping? They were certainly ephemeral and unprecious; he meant them for mass publication, for practical use. The brilliantly composed picnic scene was created as part of a campaign to win more vacation time for workers.

The experience of World War II confirmed his view of photography as an instrument for visualizing social change. And it fulfills this role macrocosmically in several of his magazine photo essays, no two alike in format. In 1958 he returned to China to document Mao’s Great Leap Forward in a pictorial series that is thorough without being revealing. He was under constant watch, and the images — upbeat and uptight — reflect this.

But two photo series that emerged from trips to the Soviet Union, in the 1950s and ’70s, have a different effect. They have distinctive individual moments: workers in bulky coveralls clowning and dancing under Lenin’s portrait; a somber Georgian family taking a roadside meal near an Orthodox monastery. But those moments form a whole: a big, perplexingly unresolved portrait of the Soviet Union, at once shabby and mighty, caught between a mania for progress and the pull of ancient tradition.

Tradition, wherever found, was dear to Cartier-Bresson’s heart, and apparently grew more so over the years. In the 1950s and ’60s, he seemed to view it as being increasingly under assault from aspects of modern culture — global commerce, the mass media — that he otherwise found rich and stimulating, precisely because they were modern.

His work softened. Shots of everyday life in France sometimes took on a travel brochure glow. (He gained an international reputation for being the most French of French photographers.) And images that might have been conceived as emblems of cultural excess (shots of St. Tropez, Le Mans, Club Med) felt easy and obvious.

Mr. Galassi has done well to gather works of various dates in each section, thus avoiding a stark comparison between early and late career. (Cartier-Bresson gave up photography, at least officially, in the mid-’70s in favor of drawing.) Chronological blending also helps to create a tonal balance throughout the show between coolness and charm.

What’s missing? Cumulative intensity. It’s present in isolation: in the throbbing 1946 shot of a mother and son reunited and weeping on a New York City dock, and in the exceptionally large, ashen print that opens the exhibition, a 1962 shot of a funeral in Paris for protesters killed in a demonstration for Algerian independence. But in the show over all, surprisingly little tension builds; ideas and emotions are diffuse.

Along these lines, it is interesting to compare, as Mr. Galassi suggests in the catalog, Cartier-Bresson’s pictures of the United States with those taken at roughly the same time by another European visitor, Robert Frank.

True, the two men were operating under quite different conditions. Cartier-Bresson visited America sporadically over several decades. Usually on assignment, he had to deal with editors, tight schedules and deadlines. Mr. Frank, supported by a Guggenheim grant, was on his own clock. He explored the country thoroughly in a few marathon campaigns geared to a self-assigned project, the creation of a photographic book called “The Americans.”

Mr. Frank was his own editor; he controlled — and wanted to control — every detail of his product. He spent a full year whittling down thousands of negatives into a fixed sequence of 83 prints. In that sequence each image assumed a singular force; together, they were morally and emotionally explosive.

Even with Mr. Galassi’s astute groupings, there are no such explosions at MoMA. Should there be? Are we talking about an impassible line that separates photojournalism (Cartier-Bresson) from art (Mr. Frank)? No, to both questions. I think we’re fundamentally dealing with temperaments and preferences. Mr. Frank’s preference was to compress, cut away, create weight; Cartier-Bresson’s was to keep moving, shooting, taking in more and more and more.

Forced to choose between the two modes, I would probably side with concision and density; though there are endless things to be said for the capacious, in-the-now eye and the sheer joie de vivre that were — are — Cartier-Bresson’s pioneering and sustaining strengths. At MoMA, he is so much and so everywhere that he appears to be nowhere. But while slipping from our grasp, he keeps handing us the world.

“Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century” runs from Sunday through June 28 at the Museum of Modern Art; It travels to the Art Institute of Chicago (July 24 to Oct. 3); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Oct. 30 to Jan. 30); and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (Feb. 19 to May 15).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Western development

Smithsonian American Art Museum - The Pyramid Domes, Pyramid Lake, Nevada, 1867.

Timothy O'Sullivan's American West


At the heart of darkness

Almost every eminent photographer over the past century has made at least a few memorable images at night. Technical hurdles to noctural picture-taking, once a lonesome specialty of astronomers, were overcome long ago with the advent of high-response films and the portable flash. It is odd, therefore, that so few photographers have produced major bodies of nighttime work, especially given the centrality of shadowy goings-on in film noir and other cinema genres. Brassaï, Bill Brandt, Weegee, Ted Croner, O. Winston Link, Henry Wessel and Larry Fink are very much exceptions.

 Robert Adams is another, and his series "Summer Nights, Walking," at the Matthew Marks Gallery in Chelsea through April 17, may rank as the subtlest investigation of the world after dark ever attempted. As an artistic endeavor that successfully joins black-and-white formal experiment to documentary essay, it is unique. 

 Many photographers have adopted the unheroic approach to landscape gleaned from the work of Mr. Adams and his colleagues in the New Topographics movement of the 1970s. This influence hasn't been altogether for the good. Too many of their younger imitators are cavalier to the point of indifference about what deserves to hang on a wall or appear in a book.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Powerful Days

Charles Moore; photographed civil rights violence: his obit appeared 16 March 2010. His colleague, writer Michael S. Durham, wrote "Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore" (1991). A 1995 documentary was made about him, "Charles Moore: I Fight with My Camera."

"I've never seen such hate in anyone's face before," he later said, according to John Kaplan, a professor at the University of Florida, who wrote his master's degree project on Mr. Moore. "It was like I were vermin."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Italia nevada

Found this picture in El of snow in Venice