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August 1st, 2013

Detroit Native Dave Jordano Uses Street Photography to Counter “Ruin Porn”

 

© Dave Jordano 2013

© Dave Jordano 2013

Photographer Dave Jordano’s three-year project “Detroit–Unbroken Down,” featured in this week’s Time magazine and on a recent post on Time’s Lightbox, represent a return to Jordano’s roots – both personally and professionally. Jordano grew up in Detroit, and he began revisiting it three years ago to document how it had changed since 1977, when he moved to Chicago to launch his commercial photography career. The project also represents a return to the documentary street photography he had done before he began shooting ad campaigns. Almost a decade after he began transitioning from advertising work to fine-art photography, Jordano, 65, has had several projects exhibited and sold prints to several museum collections. But, he says, “This Detroit work is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think the project’s finished yet.”

In 2010, Jordano noticed that there were many photo books being published about Detroit, all focused on “abandonment and emptiness.” He says, “The term ‘ruin porn’ was used to describe it.” Jordano still had the street photos he’d shot in Detroit as a photo student in the 1970s, and he decided to try a re-photographing the same streets 35 years later. But the project soon changed course. Over the course of 22 trips in the last three years, he’s started focusing on “portraiture and small moments.” He explains, “There are people living here and they’re stuck here because they can’t afford to leave.” His view of Detroit isn’t rosy. City neighborhoods lack grocery stores, bus service or street lights; calls to 911 take at least an hour to rouse a response. “Anyone there will tell you it’s awful, but this is what they deal with every day” he says. His images capture people managing to survive.

As a native of Detroit, Jordano says, “I was just more emotionally connected to the place than photographers who were just coming in and out, and then posting work that made the whole city look bad.” (more…)

July 31st, 2013

How Not to Schmooze a Gallery Owner

In PDN‘s Fine-Art issue, photographers explain how they met the gallery owners who recently signed them: at portfolio reviews, through referrals from colleagues, and by having their work seen in group shows or competitions. They did not, however, make the mistake of trying to introduce themselves when the gallery owners were preoccupied by trying to sell photos. Gallery owners have said that art fairs and gallery openings are the worst times to hand them business cards or promos.

ArtBusiness.com, the website of an art appraisal and consulting service for artists and collectors, has a new article on the etiquette of attending art openings. It lists “behavioral blunders” artists sometimes make, such as: “Ask the artist to introduce you to the gallery owner,” “Whip out your cell phone and start showing people images of your latest art.” It also lists the blunders the rest of us make. A personal favorite is, “Stand in front of a single piece of art with your friends and talk for half an hour straight without ever moving or even thinking about occasionally checking to see whether you’re blocking anyone’s view.”

We don’t agree that every item on their list is a frequently seen “blunder.” A few are matters of common courtesy rather than some plague on the art world. But it’s a useful reminder that while an opening looks like a party, it’s a professional setting, and impressions count. We can imagine how wider adoption of these tips would give more people at an opening a chance to actually see the art, and maybe get more helpings of the cheese cubes or pretzels, too. The full list can be found here.

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July 1st, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Scott Strazzante on iPhone Street Photography

Chicago Tribune staff photographer Scott Strazzante has built an Instagram following of more than 18,000, and is also author of a popular blog called Shooting from the Hip. He sat down for a video interview with PDN at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia last month to explain the tools and techniques he uses to capture unguarded moments of everyday people on the streets of Chicago, New York and other cities he visits while covering news and sports assignments for the Tribune.

Scott Strazzante on iPhone Street Photography from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

June 27th, 2013

Obituary: Fine-Art Photographer Sarah Charlesworth, 66

© Sarah Charlesworth

“Carnival Ball, 2011″ from “Available Light.” © Sarah Charlesworth/courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.

 

Sarah Charlesworth, a fine-art photographer, teacher and member of The Pictures Generation, died on June 26 in Falls Village, Connecticut, of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 66 years old.

Charlesworth was born in East Orange, New Jersey, and graduated from Barnard College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in art history. She cofounded the nonprofit art magazine BOMB in 1981, and her work was featured on the cover of its launch issue. She began teaching art and photography in 1983, and has regularly instructed classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Rhode Island School of Design and New York University. Recently, she was appointed a lecturer at Princeton University.

The Baldwin Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, along with the Susan Inglett Gallery in New York City and the Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles, represented Charlesworth in the United States; the Galerie Tanit represented her in Munich. In her current solo show, “Available Light,” which opened at the Baldwin Gallery on June 21, Charlesworth used the sunlight from her studio window and objects, like a crystal ball, a bowl and prisms, to add an element of mystery and illusion to her conceptual, still-life photographs.

Kiki Jai Raj, an associate from the Baldwin Gallery, wrote in an e-mail: “[Charlesworth’s] work, has always embodied, for me, a formal elegance that for all its austerity illuminated the spiritual edge of the great beauty and purity of the scientific properties of light and form in our universe.”

In an Arts & Culture article published in 1999, the Boston Herald noted that Charlesworth’s images “challenge the mind and seduce the eye at the same time.” Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions at many notable institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of Arts.

Charlesworth is survived by Lucy Poe and Nick Poe, her two children with filmmaker Amos Poe.

June 18th, 2013

Pop-up Shop Brings Indie Photo Books to Brooklyn Subway Travelers

Photo courtesy ALLDAYEVERYDAY

Photo courtesy ALLDAYEVERYDAY

If you’re riding on the New York City subway and happen to notice photo books and ‘zines replacing iPads or free newspapers in the hands of your fellow passengers, this may be why: This past Saturday a subway newsstand at the Metropolitan Avenue subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opened as a temporary shop featuring independent photography and art books produced by a handful of well-respected small publishers.

Aptly called The Newsstand, the store is put together by creative firm ALLDAYEVERYDAY in partnership with 8-Ball, a ‘zine fair created by photo editor and curator Lele Saveri.

The shop will be open through July 20th, from 9am-8pm on weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends, which is probably a good idea given the level of pawing the books would be subjected to by the Williamsburg weekend night crowd. Participating publishers, artists and bookstores include:

Desert Island books
Dashwood Books
Ed Varie
Jason Polan
Hamburger Eyes
Nowork
Miniature Garden
MOSSLESS
Pau Wau Publications
Peradam
Swill Children
Rumore Nero
Toilet Paper Magazine
Karma
Dan Murphy Zines

The shop also has a selection of magazines put together by McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan, and a selection of music from Co-Op 87 record store in Brooklyn.

The Newsstand is accessible by both L and G subway lines.

June 17th, 2013

Look3: Gregory Crewdson on Inspiration, Repetition, and Huge Productions

©Jessica Earnshaw

©Jessica Earnshaw

Photographer Gregory Crewdson, who has inspired nearly as much awe for the size of his productions as for his evocative, cinematic work, told an audience at Look3 Festival of the Photograph on Saturday that he’s just starting a new body of work, and he’s done with shooting huge productions.

Crewdson offered no details about his latest project. “I don’t want to go too much more into it, because honestly it’s a bit of a mystery for myself,” he said. But he also said, “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the [production] scale of Beneath the Roses. I feel no need to. So what happens next is going to be a smaller version of that.”

Crewdson made the remarks at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville Saturday afternoon, when he appeared on stage for a conversation about his work and career with NPR host Alex Chadwick.

Crewdson is known for his elaborately lit tableaux, shot at twilight in declining towns and neighborhoods of New England, that capture a sense of anxiety, mystery and foreboding. (more…)

June 17th, 2013

Look3: Josef Koudelka on the Measure of a Photographer, Courage, and Controlling Your Own Destiny

©Tristan Wheelock

©Tristan Wheelock

Legendary photographer Josef Koudelka packed the house at the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville during the Look3 Festival of the Photograph over the weekend, and the audience greeted him with a standing ovation after master of ceremonies, photographer Vince Musi, announced that Koudelka had been reluctant to participate. Koudelka, who has a reputation as a lone wolf among a group of peers known for their independence, has rarely granted interviews during a career that spans more than 40 years.

“Of course I don’t feel very comfortable to be here. I am not a good speaker,” said Koudelka, who was nevertheless gracious to Anne Wilkes Tucker, curator at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, who was also on stage to interview him. “I don’t know what she’s going to ask me, [but] I gave her assurance I would answer everything…I will try to be as honest as possible.”

Koudelka also told the audience at the outset that he “never listened much to what [other] photographers say,” and recounted how Henri Cartier-Bresson had asked him to read and comment on the text of The Decisive Moment before that book was published. “I said to Bresson I’m really not interested and I’m not going to read it.” Koudelka added, “I think the best portrait of a photographer are his photographs, so please judge me on my photographs.” (more…)

June 14th, 2013

Look3: Richard Misrach on Documentary vs. Art, the Complications of Portraiture, and Digital Photography

© Tristan Wheelock

© Tristan Wheelock

Forty years after making his mark in photography with a self-published book of social documentary portraits of homeless people called “Telegraph 3 a.m.,” photographer Richard Misrach is working his way back to portraits–ever so tentatively–as part of his exploration of the passage of time, and the metaphysical questions of aging.

Misrach’s described his circuitous (and adventurous) journey during an on-stage interview with NPR host Alex Chadwick at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday morning. People have rarely appeared in his images, but Misrach explained that he is sneaking up on portraiture again with a follow-up to his “On the Beach” project, a collection of scenes from a Hawaiian beach photographed from the confines of a small 7th floor hotel balcony. The figures on the beach are small, but the ever-improving digital sensors of his cameras have enabled him to enlarge the details, and see faces.

Still, Misrach is showing only people with their faces obscured–by limbs, objects, or their positions–in his tightly cropped enlargements.

“Portraiture is just not ethically clean. It’s complicated,” Misrach explained.

He abruptly abandoned portraiture after “Telegraph 3 a.m.,” which he published in 1972, didn’t have the impact he had hoped.

“I had the best intentions of changing the world by showing these pictures of people living on streets [of Berkeley, California]. I thought this would really have huge impact on the world. Of course it didn’t. It fell flat, rather than change anything on the street, it became a coffee table book,” Misrach said.

(more…)

June 14th, 2013

Look3: Carrie Mae Weems on Race, Sexuality, History and Finding Meaningful Work

Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis

© Tristan Wheelock

Visual artist Carrie Mae Weems, who appeared on the main stage of the Look3 Festival of the Photograph last night for a conversation about her work with photo historian and curator Deborah Willis, is finally getting the recognition that she deserves. Weems recently received the Gordon Parks Foundation Award, and her rich, wide-ranging oeuvre from the past three decades is the subject of a touring retrospective exhibition.

As an artist, Weems is not easy to pin down. She uses primarily photography, but also written text, audio recording, video and fabric banners to explore a wide range of topics, including race, gender, sexuality, and power. A common thread to it all, she says, is “an overarching commitment to understanding the present by closely examining history and identity.”

But the work is far more playful and accessible than all of that makes it sound. Her work is grounded solidly in reality. (Take a quick tour here: http://carriemaeweems.net/work.html.) And like so many other photographers, she goes to work every morning, follows her interests, and figures things out as she goes along.

“I’m interested in photography and I’m interested in literature and I’m interested in film,” she explained near the beginning of her wide-ranging conversation with Willis. “I’m trying to figure out how to use those modes as a vehicle for expressing certain kinds of ideas…I’m just interested in whatever works.”

Her conversation with Willis, accompanied by a projection of her images, shed light on her artistic process with a grand tour of her various projects over the years . One of the best known is her “Kitchen Table” series, for which Weems used a kitchen table–that iconic object of American domesticity–to explore the experience of women in their role as mothers, wives, friends, and objects of sexual desire.

(more…)

June 5th, 2013

Events, Awards and Other Photo Happenings

Events

Tonight at the New York Public Library, photography educator and historian Deborah Willis will discuss Leonard Freed‘s photographs of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Joining Willis on the panel will be photographers Eli Reed and Jamel Shabazz, scholar Paul M. Farber, writer Michael Eric Dyson, and Freed’s widow, Brigitte Freed. The event begins at 6pm.

The Chris Hondros Fund, which supports photojournalism with fellowships and other programs, is holding a benefit online print auction through June 7. Work by Slim Aarons, James Balog, Al Bello, Andrea Bruce, Robert Capa, Ernst Haas, Michael Kamber, Ed Ou, Joao Silva and many other photographers is for sale.

Free seminars at Review Santa Fe start this Friday with “The Business of Photography.” On Saturday a panel of photographers will discuss “New Methods For Engaging Audiences,” and on Sunday Guggenheim Fellow John Gossage will lecture on “Contemporary Photographic Practice.” For more public events check out the Review Santa Fe event schedule.

Italian photographic education organization Cesura is running a travel workshop in Cairo in November. Led by Gabriele Micalizzi, who covered the Egyptian revolution, workshop participants will also have the option of a two-day supplemental workshop with photographer Moises Saman.

Awards

Kevin Miller received The New Orleans Photo Alliance‘s 2013 Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography Grant for his project on the Panama Canal expansion. (more…)