Todd: June 2004 Archives
Summer is here and the gallery owners aren't. Since most of their wealthy clientel has decamped to the Hamptons, why not put on a group show to expose a little of the warehouse inventory? Yossi Milo has done just that with "Pool Party", following in the footsteps of last summer's Yancey Richardson show "Enchanted Evening." Pool Party includes a number of photography luminaries (Diane Arbus, O. Winston Link, Garry Winogrand, Mary Ellen Mark, Joel Sternfield) but highlights some lesser known names (lesser known at least to me). Over 30 different artists are included in the show.
Shows like this one are a good opportunity to get a taste of a variety of artists, though it is often difficult to make a judgement about a photographer based on a single picture. Obviously, those with a recognizable and steady working style would make this easier. But, then, how can you know this from a single example? All in all, good to be introduced to their names and do research later.
The picture above, a sef-portait by Anthony Goicolea, was about the only thing I could find online that is definitely in the show. I like the striking blues and an unsettling atmosphere, but the self-replication teeters on the brink of overkill.
For some reason, thematic collecting strikes me as a particularly extreme form of obsession. I have a rather short attention span, so perhaps it's just me. The Guggenheim is currently showing "Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection", a prime example of this sort of craziness. Over the course of the last 10 years, Henry Buhl collected over a thousand photographs pertaining to nothing but hands. The museum has two lectures associated with this show, one tonight and the other next week:
Photophilia: Collecting Photographs
Tuesday, June 22 at 6:30 PM
This panel addresses the ways photographs are collected, and how the very gesture of gathering images becomes a significant aspect of contemporary art practice. Participants: Geoffrey Batchen (art history professor and author of Burning with Desire and Each Wild Idea, Marvin Heiferman (curator at ICP), and Jeff L. Rosenheim (assist. curator at the Met). Moderated by Jennifer Blessing, Exhibition Curator.
The Tactile Photograph
Tuesday, June 29 at 6:30 PM
This panel addresses the ways in which the sense of touch is evoked in photographs, whether through the representation of form or as an integral part of the creative process. Participants: Carol Armstrong, Jeanne Dunning, Kathy O'Dell, and Gary Schneider. Moderated by Jennifer Blessing, Exhibition Curator.
Both lectures are in in the Peter B. Lewis Theater and cost $10 ($7 for members, seniors, and students).
1071 5th Avenue (at 89th Street)
I received the regular Jen Bekman email newsletter today. At least I think it's regular. Anyway, Bekman previewed an October show by Tema Stauffer. Serendipitously, Stauffer is currently showing in Minneapolis where my wife and I are spending the weekend. Her show is at the Minneapolis Center for Photography at the University of Minnesota. The photos are mainly night shots but with wonderful vibrant color.
Through July 30 at the Nash Gallery
405 - 21st Ave South
I will be in Minnesota this weekend visiting friends from school. While there I hope to swing by the Weinstein Gallery to see Robert Polidori's show. Polidori shoots for the New Yorker from time to time, though not as often at the overexposed Richard Avedon, sadly. Minn. Public Radio has a short RealAudio interview with Polidori. He talks a bit about the split between art and commerce as well as his thinking on making architectural photographs.
Oddly, the Weinstein Gallery's Web site is just a page on Alec Soth's personal site. Soth's excellent show, Sleeping by the Mississippi, will be there next month.
Through July 3 at Weinstein Gallery
908 West 46th Street
Last August Sander post, I promise. In conjunction with the current exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yancey Richardson is showing a selection of images from "The Woman", one of the major categories in Sander's "People of the 20th Century". Sander's project was explicitly focused on visually defining archetypical personas with the idea that one should be able to read a portrait and come away with an understanding of what the person did and what their personality was like. Unfortunately, the Met's curator prevents you from attempting to test this theory by placing the photo titles to the left of each image so that as you circle the exhibition rooms clockwise you are tipped off to the subject's profession by the title. This heavily colors the impression each portrait gives. Frankly, it would be fairly easy for many portraits to exchange titles with no ill effect. In fact, some of the subjects appear more than once in different guises, which would seem to shed some doubt on Sander's overarching theme.
Through July 9 at Yancey Richardson Gallery
535 West 22nd Street, 3rd floor
On Sunday, June 20, the Met will be holding a lecture and showing a film about Sander's work. Susanne Lange, director of the Sander Archiv, and research associate Gabriele Conrath-Scholl will speak from 2-3:30 pm in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. The lecture will be followed by a short film (22min.), Homage to August Sander, which contrasts photographs taken by Sander in a small farming village with interviews of the inhabitants circa the late 1970s. Both events are "free with Museum admission", which means if you're not a member they cost $12.
There is also a current show of Sander's less well-known landscape photography underway at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Following the destruction of remaining copies and printing plates for Face of Our Time and increased scrutiny from the Nazi security apparatus, Sander relocated to rural >> and temporarily set aside his portrait work in favor of less politically sensitive landscapes. Thanks to Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes for the tip.
Through Sept. 5 at The Phillips Collection
1600 21st St, NW
John Perreault started his May 24th Artopia entry "Why have I written so little about photography?" and then banged out a 2000 word essay on Weegee. On June 7th he made two additional entries of similar length and scope, so perhaps he felt a need to make up for the oversight. One post is on John Coplans; the other on Picasso's muse, Dora Maar.
Buried in the Weegee post is a bit on the role of captioning, something we don't talk about much anymore since the mass media photo magazines have all folded. (I'll write some on the related impact of August Sander's titles in a few days.) John Coplans' work is described as "grizzly self-portrait nudes" - not exactly an enticement. Maar's work appears to presage Arbus's freaky images. Plus there's a long section that outlines Perreault's taste in photography, which is quite differenet from mine. At least he doesn't go in for conceptual stuff, but he shows a preference for accidental photography, which I find troubling by its deemphasis of the artist. Shows discussed in his posts:
Through July 23 at Ubu Gallery
416 E. 59th St.
(212) 753 4444
Through June 26 at Andrea Rosen
525 W. 24th St.
Through June 26 at Per Skarstedt Fine Art
1018 Madison Ave.
Through June 28 at Dorsky Gallery
11-03 45th Ave., Long Island City
Via Coincidences, Aperture has posted an excellent, short interview with Bill Hunt, Director of Photography at Ricco/Maresca Gallery. He talks about how he drifted into collecting photos and current trends in the art photography.
"Aperture : What advice would you give to a young collector just starting out, for example, how to develop an educated eye, how to go about looking for pictures?
Bill Hunt: First of all you go to galleries and museums, and you go to pre-sale exhibitions at the auction houses and look at the catalogs. It's a way to see the whole history of photography as well as what's in the marketplace.
Open yourself up to the visceral experience of looking at photographs and paying attention to what makes your heart beat faster—not what makes your head pound. When you start to notice what are the exceptional moments—what pictures really turn you on—try to identify and articulate what appears to be your own taste in photography."
I have let my Aperture subscription lapse because of the political slant of the mag, plus about 75% of the stuff they print just doesn't do it for me. I assume this interview was a Web-only feature, which is surprising since their site has been so "content-free" for so long.
A couple of weeks back, New York magazine featured an unusually large and extensive spread of photos from the new show at the Municipal Art Society, "Governor's Island: Lost and Found". The photos by Lisa Kereszi and Andrew Moore catalog the now deserted island which has been transferred from Federal control to New York State for the price of $1. The show consists of interiors and exteriors of the buildings on the island, all of which appear to be in reasonably good shape, though completely stripped of anything that wasn't locked down. Moore, a professor of photography at Princeton, has done some excellent architectural work and both interior and exterior images in this show. Kereszi stuck mainly to interiors, one of which I've displayed above. Oddly, in investigating her work, I ran across a portrait of a former co-worker of mine, Jabe Bloom, in Zing magazine.
We all seem to have a fascination with deserted habitats. I recently was in Nevada where ghost towns litter the desert and old Virginia City has been repopulated with gambling tourists. "Lost and Found" follows in the same vein as the recent Andreas Magdanz show of photographs of the Dienststelle Marienthal, a Cold War-era bunker in the former West Germany. Robert Polidori's Chernobyl photos, "Zones of Exclusion", also come to mind. These empty spaces, littered with the debris of former lives, are intimate portraits of people long gone.
Through July 8 at Urban Center
457 Madison Ave. (btwn 50th and 51st)
Mon-Wed, Fri, and Sat 11am - 5pm
Early last year I read a review of the August Sander show at SFMoMA and was dying to see it. A call to the museum revealed that the photographs would be returning to the Sander Archive in Cologne when the show concluded and I ruled out a trip to SF when the photography department couldn't definitively tell me when the show would end. Now, People of the 20th Century has unexpectedly arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC.
Peruse a selection of portraits from Sander's project, a catalog of various personalities found across Germany, and one will immediately understand why the images were deemed unacceptable by the Third Reich. Some 30+ images can be seen at the Side Collection (via coincidences). Sander cataloged some seriously odd looking Germans, far from the ideal muscular, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryan of Hitler's fantasy. As a result, a good portion of the series was destroyed by the Nazis.
Sander's straightforward style lends an air of objectivity to his portraits. Subjects are often square to the camera, shot full-length and staring straight into the lens. A number of commentaries on his pictures note his ability to uncover inner attitudes in his subjects. Personally, I think its more likely the viewer is projecting his own biases onto the images. Specifically, I am thinking of Anthony Lake's New Yorker review of the show. Lake focused on an image of a Hitler Youth and noted how the image demonstrated the seething hate lying within this 15 year old kid. I wish I could find a version of the shot online, but I think if Lake had stuck his finger over the swastika armband, he'd have seen the uncertain bravado of a teen Boy Scout instead.
This also brought to mind two Eric Soloman pictures I saw last summer at the Laurence Miller gallery. Solomon was an early photojournalist in Germany and these two pics were taken from the peanut gallery of the Weimar-era Reichstag. The first shows Nazi delegates protesting a speech by simultaneously holding up their newspapers as an opponent took the podium. The second shows the empty seats after these same delegates have staged a walkout. The lone Nazi remaining is Joseph Goebbels. The to-be propoganda minister calmly watches the procedings, wearing a tweed suit. In the absence of his party uniform and any identifcation of who he is, it's quite difficult to imagine what evil would spill from his mouth. We are quick to overestimate the insightfulness of photographs.
Through Sept 19th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street