Hurricane Katrina is the largest disaster to have ever hit the United States. We have all seen the blitz of media coverage, but the details on how exactly it has affected the photography community are just surfacing.
IMPACT ON AREA MUSEUMS
The Times-Picayune's web site reported that the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) survived Katrina and the floods without significant damage. But when Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives finally arrived in the area Wednesday (August 31), NOMA employees who were staying inside the museum were faced with a major problem. FEMA wanted them to move to a safer location, but there was still no way to secure the artwork inside.
According to the paper's reporters, "six security and maintenance employees remained on duty during the hurricane and were joined by 30 evacuees, including the families of some employees. Harold Lyons, a security console operator who stayed on at the museum, said FEMA representatives were the first outsiders to show up at the museum in days. They immediately tried to persuade staffers to leave the building. That would have left no one to protect the museum’s contents and no one inside the museum had the authority to give that order, Lyons said as he inspected the grounds."
The museum itself was apparently undamaged by the hurricane, and floodwaters had not reached the building. The museum’s generators were still functioning, providing some air conditioning to preserve its priceless art collection, which includes an important collection of photography, one of the best in the South.
It was reported that museum workers had taken down some pieces in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden before the storm, but a modernist tower sculpture by Kenneth Snelson was destroyed in the lagoon. Ironically Snelson also had another of his tower-sculptures destroyed in the 9/11 disaster.
The American Association of Museums website further reported on a phone call with John Bullard, the director of the New Orleans Museum of Art, who had been on vacation when the storm hit. According to that information, the museum has decided to bring in a larger generator for climate control instead of moving the collection. There has been no structural damage to the building, and Bullard happily reported no water in the basement.
Kacey Hill, public information director for the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans issued a statement that early reports indicate that the Louisiana State Museum's nine historic French Quarter properties have sustained varying degrees of modest to severe damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Curatorial staff has conducted a preliminary survey of both facilities and collections for immediate stabilization purposes. Continuing assessment of conditions is underway, but it is too soon to fully realize the extent of the site repairs and collection treatment needed.
The Clarion-Ledger reported that the covering over a skylight that was to be repaired blew off at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, MS. Director Betsy Bradley said that as a result leaks are recurring and ceiling tiles are down in the atrium area. The art was removed prior to the storm and was not damaged. Bradley said the museum would re-open very soon.
Other smaller Gulf Coast museums and institutions suffered water and wind damage that will particularly impact historical archives in some instances.
A new charity has been created and papers filed by a group of photo industry companies called appropriately P.H.O.T.O. Over 40 companies have already pledged their support. For more information, try this link: http://www.photographyblog.com/index.php/weblog/comments/hurricane_katrina_photo_relief_fund/ . As I understand it, commercial photographers affected can apply for funds and equipment.
Photo District News (PDN)'s website has several articles about New Orleans photographers and their plight, including that of noted New Orleans photographer Herman Leonard and his family. You can view these stories at:
FIRST-HAND REPORT BY GALLERY OWNER
One photography dealer and AIPAD member, Joshua Mann Pailet (http://www.agallery.com ), was caught in the New Orleans aftermath of Katrina and he tells his story below. Pailet also reflects the anger, the pride and the openhearted qualities of much of the storm's victims and the nation as a whole. His company, A Gallery for Fine Photography, is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He was part of the group that did not initially heed the warnings for evacuation.
At first we received emails from Josh, passed on by other members of AIPAD to the larger community of dealers. His first-hand account is reported below, but, as Josh himself notes, "It only applies to this tiny historic piece of land I was blessed to be in at the moment this storm arrived. I am keenly aware that other neighborhoods in New Orleans and all around the Gulf Coast experienced a nightmare of biblical proportions that seems to grow daily. I am the luckiest man in New Orleans and this planet."
Pailet finally left New Orleans on last Thursday night, four days after the levees broke. Below are his immediate reflections after finally fleeing the city and his reflections a few days later.
"Friday, September 2, 2005: Just got out last night. I could have stayed; my supplies would have lasted for seven more days. But, the fires have started.
"The reports of looting downtown are exaggerated. Yes, they broke into the grocery stores, drugstores, gas stations, for food, water, diapers, milk etc. Of course all the rest got stolen as well. Canal Street had a few hours of thugs doing sports shops, but all other shops and the entire French Quarter is safe and untouched. The storm did glass and roof damage and uprooted trees. The Uptown area just needs to be swept. Actually it looks less dirty than a typical Mardi Gras day.
"I was never threatened. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of our people are heroic, stoic and human beings of great quality. The flood did not get into the French Quarter or into the area along the river to Audubon Park. I stayed and helped, and photographed and bicycled these areas every day. No shooters--some idiots--but everyone doing the best to get along and survive. In other flooded areas, it is very desperate and there are some battles going on, but very isolated.
"From Monday to late yesterday there were no military, Red Cross, FEMA, or anyone with supplies downtown. Even the New Orleans Police and Fire Departments were largely absent. I stayed in the Quarter at A Gallery for Fine Photography. The building and contents are presently fine. I will be going back soon to help the other people.
"The amazing people of New Orleans will survive and rebuild. The media stayed on Canal Street and are missing the real story. Unfortunately, the "looting" story is all they had downtown, and its repetitious playing of that footage has setback recovery. It falsely scared off the rescuers, I guess. There were too many rumors reported without eyewitness verification. It is a bad business needs to change. Please spread the word.
"Bush and his people have been bad to us. Every hour matters to the remaining people. The surrounding region is overwhelmed with recovery. Baton Rouge has 200,000 people to help. LSU is a triage center. EVERYONE is pitching in. The entire situation is complex and difficult for everyone. Many shortages, gasoline especially.
"By the way, since early Tuesday, access into New Orleans via the downtown Miss. River Bridge has been clear to Baton Rouge. Everyone else got in that way, why not the military? Four hours away by car is Fort Polk, one of the largest bases around. Bring the boys home, especially the National Guard.
"New Orleans needs your love and positive thoughts. Email and spread the word. Contact your leadership in Washington and keep the pressure on. Especially today and tomorrow (Editor's note: Thursday and Friday of last week). Remember that these people are the heart and soul of the New Orleans everyone loves."
After Pailet got out to an area (Baton Rouge) where he could reflect a bit more, he sent me this follow-up:
"New Orleans is my home and birthplace. I remained in downtown New Orleans during the difficult first five days. In the French Quarter, downtown, and along the Mississippi River, I witnessed the survivors of this powerful storm struggle to maintain dignity and life.
"Along this narrow unique corridor of the original city boundaries, there was no flooding. All around us, the waters rose, and the struggle roared louder than the hurricane winds of that historic storm.
"During this time, communication was non-existent. Rumors ruled the street. The outlaws were bad, but a tiny percentage. The community worked together to have the stamina to remain calm and alive.
"NO water or food was delivered into these historic quarters until late Friday afternoon. NO evidence was seen of Authority or control.
"We were not destroyed through looting or shooting. In fact, I witnessed a far more remarkable scene than TV or radio was able to report.
"The other less famous, but equally important neighborhoods of this remarkable city were deluged with water, fear, anger, bullies and HEROES. Our policeman, fireman and individual citizens used their wits and struggled to rescue many thousands of stranded friends and families while their own lives had been shattered.
"The historic French Quarter and Riverfront community up St. Charles Avenue and along the Mississippi River survived intact and can be ready for your return soon after the electricity and running water is restored.
"We are eager to see the misery calmed and life and vitality restored. Despite the visual images you are seeing, you will be surprised in the upcoming weeks. As we unite, together we can move forward to bring us together again.
"The daily challenges are being addressed in a manner that requires everyone to remain flexible, cooperative, resourceful, inventive and respectful. ALL displaced CITIZENS must have the opportunity to return to their original neighborhoods. These unique neighborhoods must be rebuilt.
"The complex and multi-dimensional problems of this event are going to be solved, step-by-step, day-by-day, brick by brick. The people, who are the heart and soul of this great city, will be back. It is essential to bring ALL home to let the magic that you love about New Orleans blossom in the spring. The great gumbo of New Orleans requires that ALL our friends and families have a chance to return to their roots. The unique qualities that we love will shine if we continue to act with true dignity and bring back to EVERY neighborhood--the artists, cooks, workers, musicians, professionals, carpenters, and more. This is truth for New Orleans and every community that surrounds it for miles and miles and miles.
"Tonight, we are scattered and battered. Each day, the outpouring of concern has kept us going forward. We will clean it up and want everyone back to their neighborhoods and homes. For some of us, this will be soon. For the vast majority, it will be much longer.
We need your help, and the fantastic response from around the world and especially across the USA must continue. The love for New Orleans is evident. We sincerely thank you. We know the stress is spreading and touching all of you.
"Everyone in the entire region has been affected. I am presently in Baton Rouge organizing and helping people find a place to live, work and send their children to schools. Baton Rouge has taken in over 350,000 people and nearly doubled in size. Some of us are in hotels, friends' homes, strangers' homes, shelters, churches, temples, arenas, gymnasiums, vehicles, tents and every available resource you can imagine.
"The generosity and kindness of the great people of Baton Rouge, Houston, and every town and state for hundreds and even thousands of miles is remarkable to witness. They are nurturing my fellow citizens of New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. It will continue.
"Many of you have asked to help. We need your resources and immediate attention to a multitude of tasks.
"We must continue rescuing, protecting, housing and restoring health all at once. This test and challenge will require stamina and willpower, infrastructure, money, and planning. Timing is truly critical. Everywhere I look, the efforts and overtime are phenomenal. Imagine!
"My fellow survivors continue to inspire others. No doubt major mistakes have been made. This can be debated at a later date. I ask all of you to continue focusing on New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast area and pushing this effort forward. Each of you has a role to play as this situation stabilizes.
"Tonight, I feel that the children need our most immediate attention. In Baton Rouge alone, there are over 35,000 new children of kindergarten to high school age who are in dire need of stability and education. This story is repeated in numerous communities all over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and many more. Tomorrow should be a school day for these beautiful children. We must begin to provide and prepare them for the future now!
"Schools, teachers, personnel, and supplies need to come together quickly. An Education Relief Task Force is organizing this effort. I strongly urge you to continue supporting ALL charitable efforts with your donations.
"I believe that the Baton Rouge Area Foundation ( http://www.braf.org ) is the proper place to direct your financial contributions at this very moment. The educational crisis is critical. The New Orleans School System is wiped out and bankrupt.
"As you think about this, if we can get our children on a positive track, then parents will begin to rest easier and thus able to solve all the problems we need to address. From this will spring forth all the other great projects needed.
"At times this emotional roller coaster we are all on causes us to briefly stop. It is paramount that we work together diligently for a very long time to achieve this goal for our children. It can and must be done. With this will follow the jobs and the dignity we all need to rebuild.
"Bring your energy, ideas, and donations NOW.
"Throughout all of this, I have heard my mother's words echo: 'Pick up the pieces and get on with it.'
"Thank you for your prayers, positive thoughts, and energy. You keep me, and many others, moving forward on this path to recovery. Every moment of everyday we encounter a changing reality."
WHERE TO DONATE
Pailet recommends the following two websites for your donations. Go to:
http://www.braf.org or http://www.habitat.org .
I would add these sites to your list of organizations helping with Katrina storm victims for your possible donations: http://katrina.salvationarmy.org/USNSAHome.htm , http://www.americares.org/ , http://www.brfoodbank.org/index.shtml , and http://www.charitynavigator.org/ (this last website for ratings and listings of charities helping out with Katrina's victims). The three I have mentioned are all very highly rated and very efficient with their money (even more than the Red Cross).
Be aware that there are already unscrupulous scam artists trying to take advantage of this tragic situation. Do NOT respond to email or phone solicitations of donations. Most reputable charities do not use these methods. Often these scams send you to a look-alike site for a major charity. The best way is to go directly to an organization's website to make your donation or call by phone.
Besides the stories above there are many other galleries, photographers and museums affected by the storm and flooding. We hope to bring you more updates in the next few newsletters. We encourage others in the affected areas, who are in the photography arts, to contact us with their details at email@example.com .
Paris Photo, the world's largest and arguably most important venue for vintage, modern and contemporary photography, will celebrate its ninth year by hosting 105 photography dealers and publishers from 14 countries. Located in the Carrousel du Louvre, 99 rue de Rivoli, Paris (in the first arrondissement), the show kicks off with the Preview for media/art professionals: Wednesday, November 16, from 7 pm to 10 pm.
The normal schedule for the public exhibition runs: Thursday, November 17: 11 am-8 pm; Friday, November 18: 11 am-9 pm; Saturday, November 19: 11 am-8 pm; and Sunday, November 20: 11 am-7 pm. General admission per day is 15 Euros; for Groups/Students, 7.5 Euros; and the catalogue is 15 Euros.
The selection of exhibitors for 2005 will be more international than ever, with over 72% of participants based outside France. In addition to the 22 French galleries, the largest contingent of exhibiting galleries is USA based (19), followed by Spain (14), Germany (12), Holland (6), UK (4), Switzerland (3), Austria (2), Italy (2), Japan (2) and one representative each from Belgium, Finland, Hungary and Luxemburg.
The 2005 edition is comprised of 26 new participants. Their presence attests to the show management's emphasis placed on creating a balance between classic, modern and contemporary and helps address a growing concern expressed about the tilt of this show towards contemporary cutting edge imagery.
Established galleries added this year specializing in 20th century vintage images include Deborah Bell (New York), Catherine Edelman (Chicago), Luisotti (Santa Monica), Rose Gallery (Santa Monica) and Vintage Works (Chalfont), which will also include 19th, as well as 20th century vintage material and contemporary work.
Established contemporary art galleries added this year include Art:Concept (Paris), Julie Saul (New York), Volker Diehl (Berlin), Yancey Richardson (New York) and Scalo (Zürich).
Emerging new galleries include F 5,6 (Münich) and Mem (Osaka).
Special monographic, group and thematic shows will pay homage to 19th-century pioneers of photography such as Baldus and Charles Nègre, and 20th -century masters Diane Arbus, Erwin Blumenfeld, Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Guy Bourdin, Robert Doisneau, André Kertesz, Lee Friedlander and others.
Established contemporary art figures will include David Hilliard, Stephen Shore, Richard Misrach, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Massimo Vitali, and Jeremy Deller, among others.
There will also be a focus on new discoveries by emerging contemporary photographers and international trends from the Helsinki School and the Osaka School.
Another distinctive feature of the 2005 edition is the strong presence of photography book publishers whose number has steadily grown over the years as part of a renewed interest in the photo book as a collectible item, as well as an original work in its own right for photographers. From rare books to digital prints, Paris Photo 2005 will bring together an exceptional array of 15 global photo publishers with new exciting additions such as Denis Ozanne (Paris), Trolley (London) and Steidl (London), among others.
Paris Photo 2005 will celebrate Spain as its special guest of honor, Spain as the locus of an ebullient art scene in Southern Europe.
Out of the 14 selected Spanish participants, six galleries (Luis Adelantado, Valencia; Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid; Estiarte, Madrid; Max, Madrid; Kowasa, Barcelona; Moises Perez de Albeniz, Pamplona) are presenting group shows in the general sector of the fair and eight galleries are present in the Statement Exhibition, with solo shows by emerging Spanish artists: Pablo Genoves (Bacelos, Vigo), Sergio Belinchon (Dels Angels, Barcelona), Naïa del Castillo (Distrito4, Madrid), Bleda y Rosa (Fucares, Madrid), Mayte Vieta (Palma12, Vilafranca Penedes), Alicia Martin (Oliva Arauna, Madrid), Jordi Bernado (Senda, Barcelona), and Raul Belinchon (T20, Murcia).
This program on Spanish art at Paris Photo will be complemented by special screenings of contemporary videos in the Project Room that are in the collection of three main Spanish institutions: ARTIUM (vitoria), CAB (Burgos) and MUSAC (Leon).
A Central Exhibition will highlight a selection of the latest acquisitions from the photographic collection of the Comunidad de Madrid. This public collection has, since its creation in 1999, accumulated more than 300 key works, in both reportage and contemporary art, by outstanding Spanish artists such as Cristina Garcia Rodero, Alberto Garcia-Alix, and Antoni Muntadas.
Rosa Olivares, publisher and editor of EXIT magazine, will curate these special programs.
First introduced in 2004, the BMW-Paris Photo Prize to promote creative contemporary photography will be awarded once again in 2005 to a photographer/artist represented by a participating gallery. The 2005 theme is "Spirit on the move". A prestigious jury of experts will award the 12,000 euros (US$ 15,000) prize on Friday, November 18.
Close-Up, Paris Photo's signature program for international collectors, will offer VIP visitors access to a series of special tours and events. Programme highlights include viewings of important private collections and curator-led tours of exhibitions: Dada at the Pompidou Center, Hommage à Bill Brandt at the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation, Michal Rovner at the Jeu de Paume, Miguel Rio Branco at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, and Joan Fontcuberta at the Instituto Cervantes. Advance registration in the Close-Up Collectors Program is required.
For more information on this year's Paris Photo, call +33 141 90 47 70 or go to: http://www.parisphoto.fr .
FAMOUS FACES FINE FOTOS JOINS SITE
Famous Faces Fine Fotos has joined the I Photo Central website group and moved its own website to the I Photo Central server and database. The company specializes in masterworks (limited edition and vintage prints) by 20th and 21st century photographers with an emphasis on famous and interesting people.
Subjects include entertainers, sports stars, rock legends, presidents, spiritual leaders, change advocates and others who have made an impact on culture, politics and even religion. The company features images from many top photographers, including Alfred Eisenstaedt, Yousef Karsh, Phillipe Halsman, George Hurrell, Roy Schatt and Andre De Dienes. Famous Faces is also a Master Dealer for TIME-LIFE and will be adding many of their photojournalistic images shortly.
The company, run by Robert Jones, also represents many of today's best contemporary photographers. Among them are Mark Seliger, Mary Ellen Mark, Harry Langdon, Len Prince, Neil Leifer and Patrick Alt.
You can find all of Famous Faces inventory on I Photo Central and on its website at: http://www.famousfacesfinefotos.com . Famous Faces is a private dealer, by-appointment only, located at 14547 Granada Circle, Leawood, KS 66224. The phone number is 1-913-851-1451. You can also contact Bob Jones by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
NEARLY 150 NEW IMAGES POSTED
TO I PHOTOCENTRAL WEBSITE
You can find nearly 150 new images up on the I Photo Central web site, posted up just this week. Photographers, whose important images have just been posted up to the website, include: Adam-Solomon, Aubry, Auradon, Baldus, Bayard, Bellon, Berthier, Bisson Freres, Cartier-Bresson, Demachy, Doisneau, Halsman, Hardy, Karsh, Lauschmann, Leifer, Marville, Nadar, Petiot-Groffier, Pruszkowski, Comte Roger du Val, Spagnoli, Van Vechten, Weiss and many others. This brings the total to nearly 5,400 images up on the website, making I Photo Central, by far and away, the largest and most important website for fine photography on the Internet.
Just go to http://www.iphotocentral.com/search/search.php and go to the drop down menu on "Time Frame of Posting" and click on "Past Week" or "Past Month". You will see all of the great images posted up within the last 30 days--most just this week.
SEVEN NEW SPECIAL EXHIBITS ADDED
You will find seven new Special Exhibits up on I Photo Central, added to the other 31 current exhibits that were already on display. We have also continued to change many images and add to our essays for all our Special Exhibits, so they are worth another peek, especially if you have not looked lately. You can find all of these Special Exhibits at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php .
The first of the new Special Exhibits is "The Crimea: First War to Be Documented in Detail by Photography" and includes a major new essay on the war and its photographers, plus 18 important and rare photographs relating to the Crimean War and one engraving (Fenton's photography wagon). To view the exhibit and essay, just click: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/68/1/1 .
"Robert Doisneau: Seconds Snatched from Eternity" is another Special Exhibit that features important vintage or near vintage work by this French photographer, who recently set a new world auction record for post-war 20th-century French photography. To view the exhibit and essay, just click: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/74/1/0 .
Ray Bidegain is a talented photographer from Portland, OR, whose work in hand-coated platinum and platinum/palladium just sparkles with creativity. Vintage Works, Ltd. has just become Bidegain's exclusive photography dealer. His prints are elegant and understated works of art. I was first attracted to one of Bidegain's iconic images, "Tulips", which I bought from a friend and fellow dealer. After promptly reselling the stunning piece, I felt I had lost a friend. In the search for biographic information, I wound up getting in contact with Ray directly. His unassuming and friendly nature just sealed the deal, and I found myself representing a lot of new friends in the wonderful images that I invite you to take a peek at yourself. These beautiful nudes, still lifes and northwest landscapes are featured in the Special Exhibit "Ray Bidegain: Precious Light, Precious Platinum", which can be found at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/73/1/1 .
Eyes are supposed to be the windows of our souls or minds, but then what of the window itself? Is it not a means to capture a symbolic message? What does it mean to look through, at and be looked at through a window? Windows provide a literal and figurative opening. They access light for the photographer and so much more. "The Windows of Our Souls" is a Special Exhibit devoted to this topic, which you can find at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/72/1/0 .
Vintage Works has also put up three Special Exhibits that feature some of the company's newest acquisitions. "A Few Favorite Recently Acquired 19th-Century Photographs" can be found at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/70/1/0 . "A Few Favorite Recently Acquired 20th-Century Photographs" can be found at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/69/1/0 . And, if you are either on a budget or just like a bargain, you can see "A Few Favorite Recently Acquired Photographs Priced under $1,000" at http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/71/1/0 .
CHARLES SCHWARTZ'S WORK
FEATURED AT KLOTZ GALLERY
I Photo Central photo dealer Charles Schwartz's camera obscura images will be part of a group show at Alan Klotz Gallery, 511 W 25th St, Suite 701, New York City.
The show,"Contemporary Obscurists: The Camera Obscura in Contemporary Photography" runs from September 15-November 12, 2005. It will feature the work of Stephen Berkman, Rebecca Cummins, Vera Lutter, Abelardo Morell, Shi Guorui, Charles Schwartz and Bill Westheimer.
The opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 15 from 6-8 pm.
Charles Schwartz has also published a four-color catalogue of his and Bill Westheimer's work with the camera obscura, which contains an essay by Gail Buckland on the work itself and a short description of Schwartz's camera obscura and how it works by Jennie Hirschfeld. Copies of the catalogue are available from Alan Klotz gallery for $15. Klotz can be reached at 1-212-741-4764 or by email at: email@example.com .
COLOR PHOTO ART BOOK
BY MARCUS DOYLE
I Photo Central dealer Vintage Works, Ltd. has announced the publication of its first limited edition book, which is entitled: Marcus Doyle: Night Vision/Intimacies of an Unblinking Eye. Twenty-six photographs by Doyle will be reproduced in full color and will be accompanied by an essay by noted photography critic Matt Damsker.
The 32-page book will be offered in a special edition, which will be cloth hardbound (plus color dust jacket) and slip-cased and will come with an 8 x 10 inch signed photograph and be limited to only 100 copies (ISBN 0-9771415-1-9), for a starting list price of $500 U.S. (prices will go up $100/20 copies). A softbound edition, which is limited to 1,400 copies (ISBN 0-9771415-0-0), is list priced at $39.95 U.S. Both versions of the book will be available October 15, 2005. If you order before October 15th, shipping will be included free of charge.
To quote Matt Damsker's essay: "The photographs of Marcus Doyle transform the familiar spaces and landscapes of the modern world into twilight zones--nearly surreal, almost alien, yet always recognizable for what they are…Doyle's large-format approach, with saturated colors that result from exposures as long as three hours, turns his unstaged tableaux into visions of exalted expectancy amidst man's tendency to trivialize. Indeed, it is as if these easily overlooked spaces are awaiting the arrival of nothing less than an intergalactic mother ship. But Doyle doesn't strive for any rhetorical or ironic effect, although his photographs are rich with aesthetic ironies. Photography, after all, is fundamentally about light, yet for the most part Doyle photographs darkness, painstakingly capturing the fugitive illumination that is always there yet often invisible to the naked eye. Just as ironic is the rigorous absence of human figuration, yet all of Doyle's deserted landscapes have been impinged upon by human development, urban sprawl or feeble gestures that aim to reincorporate the natural world where man has more or less rolled over it."
To view some of the images in the new book and for more information on the photographer, you can go to http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/57/1/1 .
To order copies of the book, contact: Vintage Works, Ltd., 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914 USA. Phone: 1-215-822-5662; Fax: 1-215-822-8003; email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
SNEAK PREVIEW: BIG DESIGN CHANGES
COMING TO I PHOTO CENTRAL SITE
A major redesign of the I Photo Central site is coming shortly. But while the site will look considerably different, it will still function much the same--only better.
Award-winning designer Eva Stoermer and programmer/data base expert Stephen Toth have been working diligently to bring this new design together. Expect to see a new I Photo Central by October. There will be more details in the next newsletter.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is planning a memorial service for Robert Sobieszek. Robert Sobieszek was the Senior Curator and Department Head, Photography, for LACMA. Sobieszek passed away in July after a long battle with cancer. He was only 62 years old.
The service will be held Thursday, September 22 at 6:30 pm at LACMA's Bing Theater. Cocktails will be served on the Los Angeles Times Central Court following the service.
Sobieszek's contributions to photography are almost too numerous to mention, including authoring ten books and contributing to or editing 90 others. During his stay at LACMA, he had greatly increased the size of the photography collection by approximately 5,600 images. During the last Photo LA, Sobieszek still made the rounds in a wheel chair. I remember his friendly, good humored manner at my booth. He will be dearly missed by the photo community.
Gifts in honor of Sobieszek can be made to: LACMA's Photography Acquisition Fund, Attn: Diana Veach, Development Office, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036.
By Matt Damsker
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Ended August 29, 2005.
Few would argue against mounting a Lee Friedlander retrospective, not when the photographer has spent nearly a half-century developing and extending a vital, freewheeling, endlessly curious approach. But with some 500 photographs on the walls of MOMA, this sprawling overload of a show lacks the sort of curatorial selectivity that might help us absorb Friedlander's output, build upon his strengths and leave us more dazzled than dazed.
Instead, Chief Curator of Photography Peter Galassi has decided, perhaps in tribute to Friedlander's prolificacy, that more is more, and so we get more shots than anyone could possibly require of tree branches obscuring our view of Grand Teton scenery--or, for that matter, of Friedlander's comic shadow falling on his subjects as he shoots. For Friedlander fans, and photography lovers in general, that's a minor complaint; the gems of "Friedlander" are easily enough mined, while Galassi's overkill is at least rigorous: he arranges things in tight groupings that carry us from period to period, celebrating the artist's multifaceted consistency.
The show's only color shots mark the start of Friedlander's career in the 1960s as a freelance magazine and album-cover portraitist. This wall of iconic musician portraits--Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and others--reminds us that Friedlander staked out a bold yet sensitive close-up technique before running wild, as it were, in the streets. And Friedlander's street photography is always a revelation--the famous embrace of overlapping visual information, of things reflected in shop windows, of foreground and background converging in the random dramas of modernity.
At their best, Friedlander's visual puns never seem self-conscious or gratuitous so much as wonderfully fortuitous, and very often they provide some relief from his crammed, in-your-face style. A 1964 photo of a street vendor in Rome, for example, depicts the man slumped in fatigue, his face an accidental echo of the worn visage of a Catholic saint in a painting that he's got for sale. A well-known shot of a black dog on a sun-bleached street corner in Albuquerque, New Mexico--it is as if this animal is the only living thing for miles--is cheered up by the barely noticeable sight of a restaurant, "The Dog House," on the far right. And Friedlander's wonderful 1971 image of a war memorial statue in Vermont, "To Those Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice," locates an old woman crossing the street in the middle distance, the folds of her dress almost magically similar to the folds on the gown of the statue in the foreground.
These shots, and others like them, are where Friedlander most obviously shines, bringing a true decisive-moment perfection to his rambling, hipster oeuvre. Roaming the bleak, small-town streets and bland suburbs of America, taking photos as he drives from nowhere to nowhere, he celebrates freedom, mobility, and the democratizing fact of photography, often to excess. Indeed, most of us who've ever fooled with a camera have taken the sort of picture-within-a-picture car photos that capture the rear image in the side view mirror along with whatever's in front of us, and many of Friedlander's car shots are not much better.
Still, he will startle us with a measured beauty that makes the most of his foregrounding style, as in a shot of a peacock in Hawaii, its spread fan of feathers darkly blending in with the lush foliage all around. And as a black-and-white portraitist, Friedlander delivers images of family and friends, some famous, with a warm specificity that conveys what it must have felt like to be in that space at that moment--as in his decades-apart photos of the painter R.B. Kitaj, who evolves from a fire-eyed young artiste--his girlfriend spread nude across his lap--to a serene older man on a sofa. As for Friedlander's nude studies, they are robustly sensual, unflattering, evoking the canvases of Kitaj and Lucien Freud.
But those nudes, we can tell, are not definitive of Friedlander. The great, and not-so-great, outdoors are his ultimate visual playground, and since the 1990s, when he finally gave up his 35-mm Leica in favor of a Hasselblad Superwide, his work has widened to larger, square, richly detailed studies, the picture plane jammed with textures and violent visual rhythms. The naked, overlapping branches of trees in national parks are twinned with images of jagged chain link fencing, crooked posts, stripped wiring, and construction-site detritus in places like Miami, Florida. Chronicling this natural and man-made architecture of a dead, tangled America, Friedlander still haunts the Democracy--dryly, uncompromisingly, seeing things his way.
Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005.
He currently reviews books for U.S.A. Today.
(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive. Books must be aimed at photography collecting, not how-to books for photographers.)
DISFARMER: THE VINTAGE PRINTS.
Essays by Edwynn Houk, Gerd Sander, Richard B. Woodward, and Michael P. Mattis. Accompanying an exhibition of vintage photographs at the Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York, from September 8 to October 15, 2005. ISBN No. 1-57687-304-8; Library of Congress Control No. 2005929961; 234 pages; approximately 190 plates. Published by Edwynn Houk Gallery, 750 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10151; phone: 1-212-750-7070, fax: 1-212-688-4848; email: email@example.com ; website: www.houkgallery.com . Co-published by powerHouse Books, 68 Charlton St., New York, NY 10014-4601; phone: 1-212-604-9074, fax: 1-212-366-5247; email: info@powerHouseBooks.com ; website: www.powerHouseBooks.com .
In the world of portrait photography, the reclamation of Mike Disfarmer's vintage prints might be viewed as something akin to the discovery of the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic back in 1986. Less dramatic, perhaps, but no less rewarding than sunken treasure, Disfarmer's prints are among the great art relics of the 20th century. Indeed, coaxing these prints from the private hands of a widespread rural community in Cleburne County, Arkansas, is a triumph for collector Michael P. Mattis, who began the project less than two years ago.
It is also a triumph for New York's Edwynn Houk Gallery, which launches a landmark exhibit of the prints on September 8, and from which this superb book is drawn. Previously, Disfarmer's work had been known only from the glass-plate negatives that had been rescued from his studio in Heber Springs, Arkansas, after the photographer's death. Born Mike Meyer in 1884, Disfarmer--who changed his last name to disassociate himself from the farming community in which he worked, and from his own family--was an eccentric, a virtual hermit, an apparently misanthropic outsider about whom not terribly much is known. But his work tells us that he was an instinctive master of the medium, a portraitist who grasped the power of photography to capture and enshrine, without flattering, the fleeting truth found in a human face.
Importantly, Disfarmer's subjects were the rural poor and modestly middle-class of Heber Springs and thereabouts--the farmers, truckers, workers, and their families whose broad, unassuming faces and diffident postures tell us much about Heartland America in the still-innocent days when cameras were something of a novelty and having one's picture taken was a fairly solemn experience. Most of these prints, shot between the 1930s and the 1950s, document husbands, wives, sons, daughters, siblings and generations of families, and the resemblances so easily scanned from face to face, infant to grandparent, are poignant enough. The many portraits of uniformed men about to ship off to World War II--and in some cases, World War I--are often heartbreaking, as Disfarmer caught the anxiety and unease of small-town sensibility about to be swallowed by the wide, cruel, chaotic world far beyond Heber Springs.
Even so, Disfarmer was no sentimentalist. He posed most of his subjects squarely in front of the camera, gruffly directed them, and took his time, waiting for their features and their limbs to settle into themselves, sometimes startling them with a cowbell or a flash in order to snap them at their most disarmed. His backdrops were a grayish scrim or a white one gridded with dark tape--a Mondrian effect, but nothing really arty--and he was not particularly interested in keeping up with photographic technique, printing from glass plates long after he had to--and on ordinary photo stock. Over the four decades of his work, he barely raised his penny prices, and it seems that he subsisted meagerly, if steadily. He did not network with or befriend his fellow Arkansans--as most small-town photographers had to do to assure themselves a livelihood--but his clientele accepted him and kept him busy, perhaps as something of a local shaman whose ministrations were a rite of passage.
As the essays in this book make clear--especially a fine appreciation by Richard B. Woodward--Disfarmer certainly ranks with the great modern portraitists, from Arbus to Atget, Brassai, Walker Evans, Irving Penn, and Weegee. His work is a key inspiration for Richard Avedon's monumental series, "In the American West," yet it is hard to say whether Disfarmer consciously viewed himself as an artist. There's anecdotal evidence that he thought highly of his picture-taking abilities, and he certainly understood, as Avedon once said, "the smile is a mask." He would not ask his subjects to smile, and so most of the smiling people in his photos are doing so as an honest expression of disposition, which suited Disfarmer well enough. The many shots of sisters, some of them twins, clad in identical dresses, reveal subtle differences of demeanor as unmistakably as fingerprints pinpoint identity. And the psychic distances between people--husbands and wives, parents and children--are often made manifest in the way they awkwardly, and ironically, touch or embrace. Disfarmer's eye was critical, perhaps cold, and so the photographic results evoke compassion in us.
They also affirm that Disfarmer intuited the timeless potential of portrait photography, and had enough technique to set himself apart from all other small-town toilers. The nearly blank backgrounds provide an existential locus against which the hardscrabble stories embodied by his subjects are exuded, unadorned, by their faces and postures. And as Woodward points out, "The luminosity of so many Disfarmer prints is no accident either. His negatives were coated with an orthochromatic emulsion, a film sensitive to the green, blue, and violet parts of the spectrum, and not to red. This lends the flesh of his people a burnished, ruddy tone." In fact, it brings them into a powerful sort of relief, recasting them as icons of a time and place that one man--solitary, strange, and visionary--found a way to immortalize.
(Matt Damsker is an old friend who used to work for me as Editor-in-Chief on a magazine for which I was publisher. He is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, Rock Voices, was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in Marcus Doyle: Night Vision will be published October, 2005)
(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive.)
Bid farewell to summer at the Photo Review's Gala Garden Party on this Saturday, September 10 from 3 to 7 pm. Enjoy music, conversation, drinks and delicious food at a house and garden in historic Rydal, just outside of Philadelphia.
The Photo Review is a non-profit organization devoted to the support of photography.
You can meet photographer Henry Horenstein; gallerist and noted appraiser Sarah Morthland; photographers and publishers Paula Chamlee and Michael A. Smith with new Lodima Press books on Nicholas Nixon, Carl Chiarenza, George Tice and Brett Weston, and American Photo editor David Schonauer, juror of the 2005 Photo Review Competition. Alex Novak, editor of the E-Photo Newsletter and owner of Vintage Works, Ltd. and I Photo Central, will also attend. Other surprise guests are sure to be there. You can hobnob with Photo Review/Photograph Collector editor Stephen Perloff, relax to music by the Midi Trio and buy and have your books personally inscribed by our special guests. You'll also get to look at pictures, as everyone is invited to participate in informal portfolio sharing.
For more information, contact the Photo Review at 140 East Richardson Avenue, Suite 301, Langhorne, PA 19047, 215/891-0214 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can download an invitation and reply card at http://www.photoreview.org/party.htm .