Richard Misrach

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Source: Draft edited and extended from Wikipedia

Richard Misrach (born in Los Angeles, California in 1949) is an American photographer “firmly identified with the introduction of color to ‘fine’ [art] photography in the 1970s, and with the use of large-format traditional cameras” (Nancy Princenthal, Art in America). He is perhaps best known for his depictions of the deserts of the American west, and for his series documenting the changes brought to bear on the environment by various man-made factors such as urban sprawl, tourism, industrialization, floods, fires,petrochemical manufacturing, and the testing of explosives and nuclear weapons by the military.

The Desert Cantos

Misrach’s longest-running and most ambitious project, the Desert Cantos, is an ongoing series of photographs of deserts. Begun in 1979 with a Deardorff 8×10” view camera, the series is ongoing and numbers 33 cantos as of 2013.

Misrach’s use of the term “canto” was inspired in part by the cantos of Ezra Pound. The Italian term “canto” was used to denote that the vast enterprise has been broken down into individual thematic essays or “cantos,” which together make up the whole work, or “song cycle.” Some of these cantos consist of only a few images, while others run into hundreds. Some may be regarded as “documentary” in mode, some more metaphorical. Some may be considered aesthetic in intent, some “political” – though as an ambitious and intelligent photographer, aesthetics are never pursued at the expense of politics, or vice versa. Misrach’s goal may be said to be a search for the photographic Holy Grail, to fuse reportage with poetry. To progress – as he put it – “from the descriptive and the informative to a metaphorical resolution.” (1989 article in Creative Camera, Gerry Badger)

Beginning with “The Terrain,” in which images of apparently untouched wilderness are punctuated by human elements such as a lone telephone pole or a train, theCantos include spectacles like the space shuttle landing (“The Event”) and car racing (“The Salt Flats”), man-made fires and floods like the Salton Sea (“The Flood”) and desert seas created by the damming of rivers, as well ascolor-field studies of empty skies (“The Skies”). Images of military training and testing sites feature extensively in the Cantos and the series’ corresponding publications: “The War” resulted in the 1991 book Bravo 20: The Bombing of the America West, co-authored by Myriam Weisang Misrach, and nuclear testing was addressed in Violent Legacies, published in 1992. “The Pit” documented mass graves of dead animals in the Nevada desert while “Pictures of Paintings” focused on the representation of the western landscape in museums across the American West. “The Playboys” depicted issues of Playboy, discovered by the photographer at a military site, that had been used for target practice.

The Los Angeles Times quotes Misrach regarding the Cantos:

The desert … may serve better as the backdrop for the problematic relationship between man and the environment. The human struggle, the successes … both noble and foolish, are readily apparent in the desert. Symbols and relationships seem to arise that stand for the human condition itself.

Border Cantos

Misrach’s Border Cantos series comprises photographs of the border between the U.S. and Mexico taken since 2004, and most extensively since 2009. In 2012 he began a collaboration with composer Guillermo Galindo, who manufactures playable instruments from objects found along the border. Misrach and Galindo have recovered artifacts from the border zone including water bottles, clothing, back-packs, Border Patrol “drag” tires, spent shotgun shells, ladders, and sections of the border wall itself, all of which have been transformed by Galindo into instrumental sculptures. The pair’s collaborative project will be featured in a museum exhibit in 2016 which will tour the United States through 2018.

The Oakland–Berkeley fire and Hurricane Katrina

In October 1991, a firestorm raged in the Oakland–Berkeley hills, killing 25 people, wounding 150 and destroying over 3,500 dwellings. This fire – one of the worst in California’s history – happened a few miles from Misrach’s studio and the photographer visited the site a few weeks later, taking hundreds of pictures. However, out of respect for the victims of the fire, he put the work away for two decades. “1991: The Oakland–Berkeley Fire Aftermath: Photographs by Richard Misrach,” an exhibition of Misrach’s photographs of the firestorm’s aftermath, was finally shown for the first time concurrently by the Berkeley Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California in 2011. These exhibits included handcrafted elegy books in which visitors shared their recollections, a video story booth for recording memories, and an open-microphone meetings. The collected responses from local residents, as well as the prints — sets of which Misrach donated to the museums — were kept in the collections.

To date, the majority of Misrach’s large-format documentary images of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast taken immediately after Hurricane Katrina have not been shown, with the exception of Destroy this Memory, a book published five years after the disaster, consisting entirely of pocket-camera pictures of messages left on houses, cars, and trees by survivors of the hurricane. A Los Angeles Times review called the book “a raw testament, shot between October and December 2005, just after the waters began to recede but the emotions had certainly not. Without captions or a contextual introduction to detract from the potency of the photographs themselves, the book is a powerful document allowing survivors to speak eloquently for themselves — even in absentia.” Proceeds from Destroy this Memory were donated to the Make It Right Foundation to help rebuild the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Complete sets of the photographs were also donated to five museums—the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Golden Gate Bridge and Petrochemical America

When Misrach moved to a house in the Berkeley hills in 1997, he was inspired by the spectacle of weather and light surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge (see images) , which sat only seven miles from his front porch. For four years he photographed the bridge from the same location and with the same vantage point under different climate conditions. These images are conventionally visually stunning in their horizontal bands of sunset colours using very low horizons.

Concurrently, Misrach was working in Louisiana, following a commission he received from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. In 1998, he began documenting “Cancer Alley,” (see images) a stretch along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is home to over 135 plants and refineries. The resulting images were exhibited as part of the “Picturing the South” series at the High Museum. He resumed photographing the area in 2010 and completed the series in 2012 with another exhibition at the High Museum, “Revisiting the South,” and the publication of Petrochemical America, a book pairing Misrach’s images with an “ecological atlas” by architect and Columbia University professor Kate Orff. Orff’s writing and infographic-style work in the book articulate the complex industrial, economic, ecological, and historical problems that inevitably gave rise to the places featured in Misrach’s photographs.

On the Beach and On the Beach 2.0

In January 2002, following an exploratory trip in November 2001, Misrach started his On the Beach project, consisting of serial photographs taken from the same building overlooking a beach in Hawaii. The project’s title refers to the Cold War-era Nevil Shute book and subsequent 1959 sci-fi movie, On the Beach, in which a nuclear disaster goes unnoticed by a group of happy beach-goers who suddenly find themselves the only survivors. According to Smithsonian magazine, the series was “deeply influenced by the events of September 11, 2001;” the aerial perspectives of figures suspended in the ocean or on the beach reminded Misrach of news photographs of people falling from the twin towers.

The resulting photographs were very large: Smithsonian reports that “the largest measure six by ten feet and are so detailed you can read the headlines on a beachgoer’s newspaper.” The beach images “seem much more beautiful, almost in a way more soft than some of his other work,” writes Sarah Greenough, photography curator at the National Gallery of Art: “After you look at them for a while, though, they are hardly soft at all. There really is something very ominous going on.” Misrach also captured people in action – a man tossing a woman through the air or someone doing a headstand in the water – which was especially noteworthy given the time-consuming and cumbersome view camera used. The photographer has said that the work is of a piece with his usual focus on humanity and the environment, but “it is much more about our relationship to the bigger, sublime picture of things.”

Misrach completed the series in 2005 and went on to publish a large-format book called On the Beach in 2007, voted by Photo District News readers as one of the most influential books of the decade.

Returning to the same beach while on vacation in late 2011 with a new digital camera, he began working at the same location but with a different intent and mood: the artist says he was becoming “more comfortable with metaphysical questions,” and the subjects of his 2011 images appear at play and in harmony with nature. The title of the series, On the Beach 2.0, alludes to the fact that the photographs are grounded in their technological moment in time – as do the individual titles, which refer to the date and exact minute of each shot.

Conversely, reviewer Allegra Kirkland points out that parts of this body of work are the closest Misrach has come to traditional portraiture since Telegraph 3 AM. The use of a digital camera and a telephoto lens introduced a new degree of speed and proximity to the artist’s shooting methods; although faces are often obscured by a towel or magazine, many of the images in On The Beach 2.0 might still be considered gestural portraits.

Kirkland writes: “The [On The Beach 2.0] series is about waiting and what happens when you do—the strange, small, secret moments that compose life… Ten years after the debut of the original project, Misrach seems to be affirming that man and nature do not always have to exist in opposition.”

Reverse photographs and iPhone images

Misrach has created a number of reverse images, essentially presenting large prints in their negative form. Another exhibit of this work was shown in 2011, consisting entirely of small-scale color prints taken with an iPhone camera. These revisit Bombay Beach, California, a flood zone where he [photographed] found objects and detritus – evidence of man’s presence in the landscape. These compositions were also manipulated: positive becomes negative and objects are transformed in a reversed color spectrum.”

Selected grants, awards, and commissions[edit]

Misrach’s book Desert Cantos received the 1988 Infinity Award from the International Center for Photography, and his Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West, co-authored with Myriam Weisang Misrach, was awarded the 1991 PEN Center West Award for a nonfiction book.[8] His Katrina monograph Destroy This Memory won Best Photobook of the Year 2011 at PhotoEspaña.[16]

He has received numerous awards including four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for a Publication, and the Distinguished Career in Photography Award from the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies. In 2002 he was given the Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography by the German Society for Photography, and in 2008 he received the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Photography.[14]

In 2010, Apple licensed Misrach’s 2004 image Pyramid Lake (at Night) as the inaugural wallpaper for the first iPad.[26] The opening credits of the 2014 HBO series True Detective featured a montage of images from Misrach’sPetrochemical America.[27]

Background and education[edit]

In 1967, Misrach left Los Angeles for the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained a B.A. in Psychology after briefly pursuing a degree in Mathematics. While on campus he was confronted with the anti-war riots and began photographing the events around him;[7] he also learned the rudiments of photography with Paul Herzoff, Roger Minick, and Steve Fitch at the ASUC Berkeley Studio.[5]

Misrach’s first major photography project, completed in 1974, depicted homeless residents of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California. This suite of photographs was shown at the International Center of Photography and published as a book, Telegraph 3 AM,[8] which won a Western Book Award in 1975.

Early work

Having hoped that Telegraph 3 AM would help improve life on the streets, Misrach was frustrated by the book’s minimal impact and retreated to the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, and Baja, California, where he took photographs devoid of human figures entirely.[5] Working at night with a strobe that illuminated the landscape around him, he experimented with unusual printing techniques in the university darkroom and created richly hued, split-toned silver prints. A resulting 1979 book was published without a title or a single word of accompanying text besides nominal identifying information on the book’s spine. In 1976 he traveled to Stonehenge to continue his split-toned night studies, and in 1978 he began working in color on journeys to Greece, Louisiana, and Hawaii.[5][7]

Joel Meyerowitz

Google Images for Aftermath

Reflections on Ground Zero : BBC Documentary

Compare with the way another photographer – a policeman John Bott whose health was seriously damaged by the photography work he did. Unlike Meyerowitz he did not profit from the photos he took.

Discussion Exercise 3.3 ‘Late Photography

Biography Wikipedia

Joel Meyerowitz (born March 6, 1938) is a street photographer and portrait and landscape photographer.

He began photographing in color in 1962 and was an early advocate of the use of color during a time when there was significant resistance to the idea of color photography as serious art. In the early 1970s he taught the first color course at the Cooper Union in New York City where many of today’s renowned color photographers studied with him.

In 1962, inspired by seeing Robert Frank at work, Meyerowitz quit his job as an art director at an advertising agency and started photographing streets of New York City with a 35 mm camera and black-and-white film. Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, Lee Friedlander, Tod Papageorge and Diane Arbus were photographing there at the same time. Meyerowitz was inspired Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Eugène Atget.

After alternating between black-and-white and color, Meyerowitz “permanently adopted color” in 1972, well before John Szarkowski’s promotion in 1976 of color photography in an exhibition of work by the then little-knownWilliam Eggleston. Meyerowitz also switched at this time to large format, often using an 8×10 camera to produce photographs of places and people.

Meyerowitz appears extensively in the 2006 BBC Four documentary series The Genius of Photography and in the 2013 documentary film Finding Vivian Maier.

He is the author of 16 books including:

Cape Light, considered a classic work of color photography.

Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive (2006) – he was the only photographer allowed unrestricted access to its Ground Zero immediately following the attack.

 

 

 

Mitch Epstein

Mitchell “Mitch” Epstein (born 1952 in Holyoke, Massachusetts) is an American photographer. His best known work on landscape is American Power (2009). From 2004 to 2009, Epstein investigated energy production and consumption in the United States, photographing in and around various energy production sites. This series questions the meaning and make-up of power—electrical and political. Epstein made a monograph of the American Power pictures (Steidl, 2009), in which he wrote that he was often stopped by corporate security guards and once interrogated by the FBI for standing on public streets and pointing his camera at energy infrastructure. The images also reflect the political climate of fear and paranoia across America in the wake of 9/11.

The large-scale prints from this series have been exhibited worldwide, and a selection won the Prix Pixtet Award among others.

Google Images for American Power 

Epstein collaborated with his second wife, author Susan Bell, on a public art project and website based on American Power. The What Is American Power?project used billboards, transportation posters, and a website to “inspire and educate people about environmental issues.” The website: http://whatisamericanpower.com (a Flash-based display that I find somewhat annoying)

Wikipedia review quotes:

In his Art in America review, Dave Coggins wrote that Epstein “grounds his images…in the human condition, combining empathy with sharp social observation, politics with sheer beauty.”

In an essay for the catalogueContemporary African Photography from The Walther Collection: Appropriated Landscapes (Steidl, 2011), Brian Wallis wrote, “Epstein has made clear that his intention is neither to illustrate political events nor to create persuasive propaganda. Rather, he raises the more challenging question of how inherently abstract political concepts about the nation and the culture as a whole can be represented photographically…But equally significant is the unique form of documentary storytelling that he has invented in American Power—colorful, sweeping, concerned, intimate, honest.”

In the New York Times, Martha Schwendener wrote: “What is interesting, beyond the haunting, complicated beauty and precision of these images, is Mr. Epstein’s ability to merge what have long been considered opposing terms: photo-conceptualism and so-called documentary photography. He utilizes the supersize scale and saturated color of conceptualism, and his odd, implied narratives strongly recall the work of artists like Jeff Wall.”

His other work

(Wikipedia)

Epstein graduated from Williston Academy, where he studied with artist and bookmaker Barry Moser. In the early 1970s he studied at Union College, New York; Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island, and the Cooper Union, New York, where he was a student of photographer Garry Winogrand.

Epstein’s eight books include:

  •  Berlin (Steidl & The American Academy in Berlin, 2011);
  • American Power (Steidl, 2009);
  • Mitch Epstein: Work (Steidl, 2006);
  • Recreation: American Photographs 1973-1988 (Steidl 2005);
  • Family Business (Steidl 2003), which won the 2004 Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award.

1970s United States

By the mid-70s, Epstein had abandoned his academic studies and begun to travel, embarking on a photographic exploration of the United States. Ten of the photographs he made during this period were in a 1977 group exhibition at Light Gallery in New York. Ben Lifson wrote in his Village Voice review: “Mitch Epstein’s ten color photographs are the best things at Summer Light…. At 25, Epstein’s apprenticeship is over, as his work shows. He stands between artistic tradition and originality and makes pictures about abandoned rocking-horses and danger, about middle-age dazzled by spring blossoms, about children confused by sex and beasts. He has learned the terms of black-and-white photography, and although he adds color, he hasn’t abandoned them, loving photography’s past while trying to step into its future.”

India

In 1978, he journeyed to India with his future wife, director Mira Nair, where he was a producer, set designer, and cinematographer on several films, including Salaam Bombay! and India Cabaret. His book In Pursuit of India is a compilation of his Indian photographs from this period.

Vietnam

From 1992 to 1995, Epstein photographed in Vietnam, which resulted in an exhibition of this work at Wooster Gardens in New York, along with a book titled Vietnam: A Book of Changes. “I don’t know that Mitch Epstein’s glorious photographs record all of what is salient in end-of-the-twentieth century Vietnam,” wrote Susan Sontag for his book jacket, “for it’s been more than two decades since my two stays there. I can testify that his images confirm what moved and troubled me then…and offer shrewd and poignant glimpses into the costs of imposing a certain modernity. This is beautiful, authoritative work by an extremely intelligent and gifted photographer.” Reviewing an exhibition of the Vietnam pictures for Art in America, Peter Von Ziegesar writes, “In a show full of small pleasures, little prepares one for the stunning epiphany contained in Perfume Pagoda…Few photographers have managed to make an image so loaded and so beautiful at once.”

United States 1990s

Having lived and travelled beyond the United States for over a decade, Epstein began to spend more time in his adopted home of New York City. His 1999 series The City investigated the relationship between public and private life in New York. Reviewing The City exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins in New York, Vince Aletti wrote that the pictures “[are] as assured as they are ambitious.”

In 1999, Epstein returned to his hometown of Holyoke, Massachusetts, to record the demise of his father’s two businesses—a retail furniture store and a low-rent real estate empire. The resulting project assembled large-format photographs, video, archival materials, interviews and writing by the artist. The book, Family Business (Steidl), which combined all of these elements, won the 2004 Krazna-Kraus Best Photography Book of the Year award. In reviewing the book, Nancy Princenthal wrote in Art in America, “The family business chronicled by Mitch Epstein was a small-town retail furniture with a sideline in real estate, and his patiently plotted bell curve of its history is worthy of Dreiser….” In 2004, his work was exhibited during evening screenings at Rencontres d’Arles festival (at the in Théatre Antique), France.

Google Images for ‘Family Business’

 

Berlin

In 2008, Epstein won the Berlin Prize in Arts and Letters from the American Academy in Berlin. Awarded a 6-month residency, he moved to Berlin with his wife and daughter from January–June 2009. The photographs he made there of significant historical sites were published in the monograph Berlin (Steidl and The American Academy in Berlin, 2011).

 

 

 

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky, OC (born February 22, 1955) is a Canadian photographer and artist known for his large-format photographs of industrial landscapes. Burtynsky’s most famous photographs are sweeping views of landscapes altered by industry: mine tailings, quarries, scrap piles. The grand, awe-inspiring beauty of his images is often in tension with the compromised environments they depict.

Exploring the Residual Landscape

Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.

These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire – a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.

Ed Burtynsky website

Oil  2009

His series Oil (2009) resolves an epiphany he had in 1997, when he realised just how tightly connected all of our global activity was to petrol and its raw material – oil.

The monograph is divided into three sections:

  • images of extraction and refinement;
  • the consumption of oil and motor culture;
  •  abandoned ‘oilfields run dry’ and motor vehicles of all descriptions resigned to huge scrap heaps.

The images within Oil  evoke a terrifying sense of the sublime. It is within the third section that the images have their most potent effect, for instance seemingly endless rows of impotent, rusting fighter jets in Arizona, or a channel cutting through a canyon of stacked worn car tyres in California. Some of the most striking images are those made at the Chittagong ship breakers in Bangladesh. The proportions of the structures that the workers pick apart, almost by hand, are awesome, and just as affecting are the horrendous conditions in which they work. Although not overtly critical in any explicitly rhetorical sense (i.e. like Kennard’s montages), it is impossible to read Burtynsky’s position as anything but one of grave concern for our consumption of this valuable substance.

Some images in Burtynsky’s Oil can be interpreted from different perspectives: great stacks of compressed oil drums or bits of car parts might speak of excess and consumption but, whilst they refer to manufacturing in a past tense, these are also the raw materials for current industries, ready to be melted down and turned into new things.

China

He has made several excursions to China to photograph that country’s industrial emergence, and construction of one of the world’s largest engineering projects, the Three Gorges Dam.

Burtynsky discussing his work made in China

Other work

Wikipedia

Burtynsky was born in St. Catharines, Ontario. His parents had immigrated to Canada in 1951 from Ukraine and his father found work on the production line at the local General Motors plant. Burtynsky recalls playing by theWelland Canal and watching ships pass through the locks. When he was 11, his father purchased a darkroom, including cameras and instruction manuals, from a widow whose late husband practiced amateur photography.With his father, Burtynsky learned how to make black-and-white photographic prints and together with his older sister established a small business taking portraits at the local Ukrainian center. In the early ’70s, Burtynsky found work in printing and he started night classes in photography, later enrolling at the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, Burtynsky formally studied graphic arts and photography. He obtained a diploma in graphic arts from Niagara College in Welland, Ontario, in 1976, and a BAA in Photographic Arts (Media Studies Program) from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, Ontario, in 1982.

His early influences include Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Eadweard Muybridge, and Carleton Watkins, whose prints he saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 1980s. Another group whose body of work shares similar themes and photographic approaches to Burtynsky’s work are the photographers who were involved in the exhibition New Topographics.

 

Photographic series

  • 1983 – 1985 Breaking Ground: Mines, Railcuts and Homesteads, Canada, USA
  • 1991 – 1992 Vermont Quarries, USA
  • 1997 – 1999 Urban Mines: Metal Recycling, Canada Tire Piles, USA
  • 1993 – Carrara Quarries, Italy
  • 1995 – 1996 Tailings, Canada
  • 1999 – 2010 Oil Canada, China, Azerbaijan, USA
  • 2000 – Makrana Quarries, India
  • 2000 – 2001 Shipbreaking, Bangladesh
  • 2004 – 2006 China
  • 2006 – Iberia Quarries, Portugal
  • 2007 – Australian Mines, Western Australia
  • 2009 – 2013 Water Canada, USA, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Iceland, India

Video: Manufactured Landscapes

In 2006, Burtynsky was the subject of the documentary film, Manufactured Landscapes, that was shown at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

Video: Watermark

Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal, who was his director on the 2006 documentary Manufactured Landscapes, are co-directors of the 2013 documentary film, Watermark. The film is part of his five-year project Water focusing on the way water is used and managed.

 

Technique

Most of Burtynsky’s exhibited photography (pre 2007) was taken with a large format field camera on large 4×5-inch sheet film and developed into high-resolution, large-dimension prints of various sizes and editions ranging from 18 x 22 inches to 60 x 80 inches. He often positions himself at high-vantage points over the landscape using elevated platforms, the natural topography, and more currently helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Burtynsky describes the act of taking a photograph in terms of “The Contemplated Moment”, evoking and in contrast to, “The Decisive Moment” of Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 2007 he began using a high-resolution digital camera.

The Long Now Foundation

In July 2008 Burtynsky delivered a seminar for the Long Now Foundation entitled “The 10,000 year Gallery”. The foundation promotes very long-term thinking and is managing various projects including the Clock of the Long Now, which is a clock designed to run for 10,000 years. Burtynsky was invited by clock designer Danny Hillis to contribute to the Long Now project, and Burtynsky proposed a gallery to accompany the clock. In his seminar, he suggested that a gallery of photographs which captured the essence of their time, like the cave paintings at Lascaux, could be curated annually and then taken down and stored. He outlined his research into a carbon-transfer process for printing photographs that would use inert stone pigments suspended in a hardened gelatine colloid and printed onto thick watercolour paper. He believes that these photographs would persist over the 10,000 year time-frame when stored away from moisture.

 

Shimon Attie

website

Wikipedia:

Shimon Attie (born Los Angeles in 1957 ) is an American visual artist. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, The Rome Prize in 2001 and a Visual Artist Fellowship from Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study in 2007. His work spans a variety of media, including photography, site-specific installation, multiple channel immersive video installation, performance, and new media. Much of Attie’s practice explores how a wide range of contemporary media may be used to re-imagine new relationships between space, time, place, and identity. Much, though not all, of Attie’s work in the 90s dealt with the history of the second world war. He aims to engage his audience in a direct confrontation with collective memory and the historical narrative of a place.

The Writing on the Wall (1992–94)

The work explores loss and trauma in relation to place. It consisted of a series of site-specific projections in Scheunenviertel, which was Berlin’s Jewish quarter. Through meticulous research, Attie used images from before the 1930s and projected these onto the remains of buildings, which have since been demolished as the area has been redeveloped. These ‘montages’ are very carefully arranged, so that pictorial elements from the projected photographs complement architectural details, such as windows and doorways. The resulting effects are provocative, ghost-like tableaux in a temporal transgression, where fractured narratives converge unnaturally in one space.

See images

Recent work

More recent projects have involved using a range of media to engage local communities to find new ways of representing their history, memory and potential futures. Attie’s artworks and interventions are site-specific and immersive in nature, and tend to engage subject matter that is both social, political and psychological. In 2013, Shimon Attie was awarded the Lee Krasner Award for Lifetime Achievement in Art.

See: http://www.shimonattie.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13

Lots of You Tube videos but rather long lectures

Matthew Brady

Mathew B. Brady (ca. 1822 – January 15, 1896) was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism.

short documentary film on Brady

Brady was born in Warren County, New York, the youngest of three children of Irish immigrant parents. At age 16 he moved to Saratoga, New York, where he met famed portrait painter William Page. Brady became Page’s student. In 1839 the two traveled to Albany, New York, and then to New York City, where Brady continued to study painting with Page, and also with Page’s former teacher, Samuel F. B. Morse. Morse had met Louis Jacques Daguerre in France in 1839, and returned to the US to enthusiastically push the new daguerrotype invention of capturing images. He soon became the center of the New York artistic colony who wished to study photography. He opened a studio and offered classes; Brady was one of the first students.

In 1844 Brady opened his own photography studio in New York, and by 1845 he began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans. He opened a studio in Washington, D.C. in 1849.

Brady’s early images were daguerreotypes, and he won many awards for his work; in the 1850s ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in the American Civil War photography. In 1850 Brady produced The Gallery of Illustrious Americans, a portrait collection of prominent contemporary figures. The album, which featured noteworthy images including the elderly Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage, was not financially rewarding but invited increased attention to Brady’s work and artistry. In 1854, Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri popularized the carte de visite and these small pictures (the size of a visiting card) rapidly became a popular novelty as thousands of these images were created and sold in the United States and Europe.

In 1856 Brady created the first modern advertisement when he placed an ad in the New York Herald paper offering to produce “photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes.” His ads were the first whose typeface and fonts were distinct from the text of the publication and from that of other advertisements.

 Civil War documentation 

He was head of a team of photographers who documented
the American Civil War. Brady and his team recorded the cruelty and futility of war through photography of the dead.

At first, the effect of the Civil War on Brady’s business was a brisk increase in sales of cartes de visite to transient soldiers. However, he was soon taken with the idea of documenting the war itself. He first applied for permission to travel to the battle sites to an old friend, General Winfield Scott, and eventually he made his application to President Lincoln himself. Lincoln granted permission in 1861 with the proviso that Brady finance the project himself. His efforts to document the American Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio right onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history. Despite the obvious dangers, financial risk, and discouragement of his friends, Brady is later quoted as saying “I had to go. A spirit in my feet said ‘Go,’ and I went.” His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the First Battle of Bull Run, in which he got so close to the action that he barely avoided capture.

He employed Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Thomas C. Roche, and seventeen other men, each of whom was given a traveling darkroom, to go out and photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally stayed in Washington, D.C., organizing his assistants and rarely visited battlefields personally. This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that Brady’s eyesight had begun to deteriorate in the 1850s.

In October 1862 Brady opened an exhibition of photographs from the Battle of Antietam in his New York gallery titled “The Dead of Antietam.” Many images in this presentation were graphic photographs of corpses, a presentation new to America. This was the first time that many Americans saw the realities of war in photographs as distinct from previous “artists’ impressions”.

Mathew Brady, through his many paid assistants, took thousands of photos of American Civil War scenes. Much of the popular understanding of the Civil War comes from these photos. There are thousands of photos in the National Archives taken by Brady and his associates, Alexander Gardner, George Barnard, and Timothy O’Sullivan. The photographs include Lincoln, Grant, and common soldiers in camps and battlefields. The images provide a pictorial cross reference of American Civil War history. Brady was not able to photograph actual battle scenes as the photographic equipment in those days was still in the infancy of its development and required that a subject be still in order for a clear photo to be produced.Like Fenton, Brady and his colleagues moved people and objects
to create a more graphic or telling image.

Following the conflict a war-weary public lost interest in seeing photos of the war, and Brady’s popularity and practice declined drastically.

During the war, Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy. Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, loss of eyesight and devastated by the death of his wife in 1887, he became very lonely. He died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on January 15, 1896, from complications following a streetcar accident.

Brady can be considered a pioneer in the orchestration of a “corporate credit line.” In this practice, every image produced in his gallery was labeled “Photo by Brady;” however, Brady dealt directly with only the most distinguished subjects and most portrait sessions were carried out by others.

Alec Soth

Alec Soth website

You Tube videos – many!

Alec Soth (born 1969, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States) is an American photographer, notable for “large-scale American projects” featuring the midwestern United States. His photography has a cinematic feel with elements of folklore that hint at a story behind the image.  His work tends to focus on the “off-beat, hauntingly banal images of modern America” according to The Guardian art critic Hannah Booth. He is a member of Magnum photo agency.

Soth has had various books of his work published by major publishers as well as self-published through his own Little Brown Mushroom.

Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004)

Alec Soth used the great Mississippi river in a series was made over a period of five years. This brings together Soth’s much more long-standing personal relationship with the river. Like the path of the river itself, the subject matter and style of Soth’s ruthlessly edited series meanders, traversing American cultures, and dips intimately, yet somehow respectfully, in and out of strangers’ lives. The river itself rarely features in the final edit, and allusions to the Mississippi’s industrial and social heritage are subtly suggested.

Vimeo of book

Read an interview with Soth and see the images at: http://seesawmagazine.com/soth_pages/soth_interview.html

Publications  (Wikipedia list)

  • Sleeping by the Mississippi. Photographs by Alec Soth, essays by Patricia Hampl and Anne Wilkes Tucker. Göttingen: Steidl, 2004.
  • Niagara. Göttingen: Steidl, 2006. ISBN 978-3865212337. Photographs by Alec Soth, essays by Richard Ford and Philip Brookman.
  • The Image To Come: How Cinema Inspires Photographers. Göttingen: Steidl, 2007.
  • Fashion Magazine. Paris: Magnum, 2007. ISBN 978-2-9524102-1-2.
  • Dog Days, Bogotá. Göttingen: Steidl, 2007.
  • Sheep. Oakland: TBW Books, 2008.
  • Last Days of W. St. Paul, Minnesota: Little Brown Mushroom, 2008.
  • Dog Days Bogota. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 978-3-865214-51-5.
  • Broken Manual. Göttingen: Steidl, 2010. ISBN 978-3-869301-99-0. With Lester B. Morrison.
  • Brighton Picture Hunt. Photographs by Carmen Soth, edited by Alec Soth. Brighton: Photoworks, 2010. ISBN 978-1903796429.
  • From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 2010. ISBN 978-0-935640-96-0. Catalogue of a retrospective exhibition curated by Siri Engberg. Foreword by Olga Viso; texts by Geoff Dyer, “Riverrun”; Britt Salvesen, “American History”; Barry Schwabsky, “A Wandering Art”; a poem by August Kleinzahler, “Sleeping it off in Rapid City”; and Soth in conversation with Bartholomew Ryan, “Dismantling My Career”. Includes separate book The Loneliest Man in Missouri by Soth, inserted into back cover.
  • Ash Wednesday, New Orleans. Kamakura, Japan: Super Labo, 2010.
  • One Mississippi. Nazraeli Press, 2010.
  • The Auckland Project. Photographs by Soth and John Gossage. Radius Books, 2011.
  • Rodarte. Photographs by Soth and Catherine Opie. JRP|Ringier, 2011.
  • Postcards From America. Photographs by Soth, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Paolo Pellegrin, Mikhael Subotzky, and Ginger Strand. Magnum, 2011.
  • La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Edizioni Punctum, 2011.
  • Looking for Love. Berlin: Kominek Bücher, 2012.
  • Ping Pong Conversations: Alec Soth with Francesco Zanot. Rome: Contrasto, 2013. ISBN 978-8869654091. Transcripts compiled from conversations between Soth and Zanot, with new and previously published photographs by Soth. Zanot contributes an introduction, “Alec Soth: the Recycling of Photography”.
  • Songbook. Göttingen: Steidl, 2015. ISBN 978-1910164020.

 

Robert Frank

Robert Frank The Americans

Robert Frank (born 1924), along with Diane Arbus and others, was one of the founder members of the New York School of photographers in the 1940s and 50s.

The Americans, by Robert Frank, was a highly influential book in post-war American photography. With the aid of his major artistic influence, the photographer Walker Evans, Frank secured a Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 1955, he set out on a two year journey across America, during which time he took 28,000 images of American society.

Frank’s journey was not without incident. While driving through Arkansas, Frank was arbitrarily thrown in jail for three days after being stopped by the police who accused him of being a communist (their reasons: he was shabbily dressed, he was Jewish, he had letters about his person from people with Russian sounding names, his children had foreign sounding names – Pablo & Andrea, and he had foreign whiskey with him). He was also told by a sheriff elsewhere in the South that he had “an hour to leave town.”

 

Only 80 or so of these images actually made it into Frank’s book, The Americans. The book was first published in France in 1958. In 1959, The Americans was finally published in the United States by Grove Press, with the text removed from the French edition due to concerns that it was too un-American in tone. The added introduction by Kerouac, along with simple captions for the photos, were now the only text in the book, which was intended to mirror the layout of Walker Evans’ American Photographs.

The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both high and low strata of American society. The book as a whole created a complicated portrait of the period that was viewed as skeptical of contemporary values and evocative of ubiquitous loneliness. Frank found a tension in the gloss of American culture and wealth over race and class differences, which gave his photographs a clear contrast to those of most contemporary American photojournalists.

Frank’s images also challenged established photographic values. His use of unusual focus, low lighting and cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques. His images had blurred people and sloping horizons and asked questions of the viewer. They didn’t open up easily but required careful reading; for this reason, Frank’s work is seen as a major step forward for photography and its ability to communicate in new and different ways.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the book’s original publication (15 May 2008), a new edition was published by Steidl.  Robert Frank was deeply involved in the design and production of this edition, in which most images are recropped and two slightly different photographs are used.

Robert Frank discussed with his publisher, Gerhard Steidl, the idea of producing a new edition using modern scanning and the finest tritone printing. The starting point was to bring original prints from New York to Göttingen, Germany, where Steidl is based. In July 2007, Frank visited Göttingen. A new format for the book was worked out and new typography selected. A new cover was designed and Frank chose the book cloth, foil embossing and the endpaper. Most significantly, as he has done for every edition of The Americans, Frank changed the cropping of many of the photographs, usually including more information.

Exhibitions

Frank’s photographs were on display at the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until January 4, 2009. A celebratory exhibit of The Americans were displayed in 2009 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Walker Evans

American Photographs (1938) by Walker Evans (1903–75)

Other Google images

From Wikipedia

Walker Evans (November 3, 1903 – April 10, 1975) was an American photographer best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans’s work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8×10-inch camera. He said that his goal as a photographer was to make pictures that are “literate, authoritative, transcendent”. Many of his works are in the permanent collections of museums and have been the subject of retrospectives at such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art or George Eastman House.


Biography

Born in St. Louis, Missouri,he spent his youth in Toledo, Chicago, and New York City. Evans took up photography in 1928 around the time he was living in Ossining, New York. His influences included Eugène Atget and August Sander. In 1930, he published three photographs (Brooklyn Bridge) in the poetry book The Bridge by Hart Crane. In 1931, he took photo series of Victorian houses in the Boston vicinity sponsored by Lincoln Kirstein. In 1933, he photographed in Cuba on assignment for the publisher of Carleton Beals’ then-forthcoming book, The Crime of Cuba, photographing the revolt against the dictator Gerardo Machado. In Cuba, Evans briefly knew Ernest Hemingway.

Depression-era photography

In 1935, Evans spent two months at first on a fixed-term photographic campaign for the Resettlement Administration (RA) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. From October on, he continued to do photographic work for the RA and later the Farm Security Administration (FSA), primarily in the Southern United States.

In the summer of 1936, while on leave from the FSA, he and writer James Agee were sent by Fortune magazine on assignment to Hale County, Alabama, for a story the magazine subsequently opted not to run. In 1941, Evans’s photographs and Agee’s text detailing the duo’s stay with three white tenant families in southern Alabama during the Great Depression were published as the groundbreaking book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Its detailed account of three farming families paints a deeply moving portrait of rural poverty. Noting a similarity to the Beals’ book, the critic Janet Malcolm, in her 1980 book Diana & Nikon: Essays on the Aesthetic of Photography, has pointed out the contradiction between a kind of anguished dissonance in Agee’s prose and the quiet, magisterial beauty of Evans’s photographs of sharecroppers.

The three families headed by Bud Fields, Floyd Burroughs and Frank Tingle, lived in the Hale County town of Akron, Alabama, and the owners of the land on which the families worked told them that Evans and Agee were “Soviet agents,” although Allie Mae Burroughs, Floyd’s wife, recalled during later interviews her discounting that information. Evans’s photographs of the families made them icons of Depression-Era misery and poverty. In September 2005, Fortune revisited Hale County and the descendants of the three families for its 75th anniversary issue.  Charles Burroughs, who was four years old when Evans and Agee visited the family, was “still angry” at them for not even sending the family a copy of the book; the son of Floyd Burroughs was also reportedly angry because the family was “cast in a light that they couldn’t do any better, that they were doomed, ignorant”.

Evans continued to work for the FSA until 1938. That year, an exhibition, Walker Evans: American Photographs, was held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. This was the first exhibition in this museum devoted to the work of a single photographer. The catalogue included an accompanying essay by Lincoln Kirstein, whom Evans had befriended in his early days in New York.

In 1938, Evans also took his first photographs in the New York subway with a camera hidden in his coat. These would be collected in book form in 1966 under the title Many are Called. In 1938 and 1939, Evans worked with and mentored Helen Levitt.

Evans, like such other photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson, rarely spent time in the darkroom making prints from his own negatives. He only very loosely supervised the making of prints of most of his photographs, sometimes only attaching handwritten notes to negatives with instructions on some aspect of the printing procedure.

 Later work

Evans was a passionate reader and writer, and in 1945 became a staff writer at Time magazine. Shortly afterward he became an editor at Fortune magazine through 1965. That year, he became a professor of photography on the faculty for Graphic Design at the Yale University School of Art.

In one of his last photographic projects, Evans completed a black and white portfolio of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.’s offices and partners for publication in “Partners in Banking,” published in 1968 to celebrate the private bank’s 150th anniversary. In 1973 and 1974, he also shot a long series with the then-new Polaroid SX-70 camera, after age and poor health had made it difficult for him to work with elaborate equipment.

The first definitive retrospective of his photographs, whose works “individually evoke an incontrovertible sense of specific places, and collectively a sense of America,” according to a press release, were on view at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in early 1971. Selected by John Szarkowski and simply titled Walker Evans.

Death and legacy

Evans died at his home in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1975.[10]

In 1994, The Estate of Walker Evans handed over its holdings to New York City’s The Metropolitan Museum of Art.[11] The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the sole copyright holder for all works of art in all media by Walker Evans. The only exception is a group of approximately 1,000 negatives in collection of the Library of Congress which were produced for the Resettlement Administration (RA) / Farm Security Administration(FSA). Evans’s RA / FSA works are in the public domain.

In 2000, Evans was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander (born July 14, 1934) is an American photographer and artist. Friedlander studied photography at the Art Center College of Design located in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he moved to New York City where he photographed jazzmusicians for record covers. In 1960, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Friedlander a grant to focus on his art and made subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977.

1960s and 70s: black and white social landscape

His early work was influenced by Eugène Atget, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans.

Working primarily with Leica 35mm cameras and black and white film, Friedlander evolved an influential and often imitated visual language of urban “social landscape,” with many of the photographs including fragments of store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, posters and street-signs.

He also experimented with use of his own shadow as an extra element in the image – giving many of them a more haunted eerie feel of an obvious onlooker to the scene.

1960s social landscape images

1970s images

In 1963, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House mounted Friedlander’s first solo museum show. Friedlander was then a key figure in curator John Szarkowski‘s 1967 “New Documents” exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. In 1973, his work was honored in Rencontres d’Arles festival (France) with the screening “Soirée américaine : Judy Dater, Jack Welpott, Jerry Uelsmann, Lee Friedlander” présentée par Jean-Claude Lemagny.

1980s – present

Friedlander now works primarily with medium format cameras (e.g. Hasselblad Superwide). While suffering from arthritis and housebound, he focused on photographing his surroundings. His book, Stems, reflects his life during the time of his knee replacement surgery. He has said that his “limbs” reminded him of plant stems. These images display textures which were not a feature of his earlier work. In this sense, the images are similar to those of Josef Sudek who also photographed the confines of his home and studio.

Stems Images

Some of his most famous photographs appeared in the September 1985 Playboy, black and white nude photographs of Madonna from the late 1970s. A student at the time, she was paid only $25 for her 1979 set. In 2009, one of the images fetched $37,500 at a Christie’s Art House auction.

In 1990, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Friedlander a MacArthur Fellowship.

He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Special 150th Anniversary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2003. In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander’s career, including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present. In the same year he received a Hasselblad International Award. The retrospective exhibition was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

Lee Friedlander monograph America by Car (2010)

Images

All the images in the series are taken from the driver’s point of view, incorporating into the viewfinder all of the familiar architecture of the cockpit (dashboard, rear-view mirror, views from side windows and wing mirrors and so on). This claustrophobia presents an American landscape at odds with the car and its driver; the windscreen forms a barrier between the individual and the landscape beyond. The car can only take you so far into the wilderness. The vast majority of the images in Friedlander’s book were made after 2001, and several images hint towards the international concerns of the past decade and beyond. The road – or, rather, whatever passing motorists will notice – is where political voices are articulated in loud, upper case letters: “WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS”, declares Little Millers diner in Alaska (p. 89). A campaign vehicle covered with pro-Obama stickers (p.104) is a prime example of using a vehicle as a legitimate extension of ideology and identity. [See Martin Parr’s From A to B (1994)].

Endless gas stations, a ubiquitous motif of the road trip narrative, inevitably contribute to the collection.

Concurrent to this retrospective, a more contemporary body of his work, America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery not far from SFMOMA. “America By Car” was on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in late 2010.