Muhammad Ali by Gordon Parks

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Vintage photograph by Gordon Parks, Muhammad Ali, 1966 at Miami (8 x 10 inches)

Gordon Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was an American photographer, musician, writer and film director, who became prominent in U.S. documentary photojournalism in the 1940s through 1970s—particularly in issues of civil rights, poverty and African-Americans—and in glamour photography. As the first famous pioneer among black filmmakers, he was the first African-American to produce and direct major motion pictures—developing films relating the experience of slaves and struggling black Americans, and creating the “blaxploitation” genre. He is best remembered for his iconic photos of poor Americans during the 1940s (taken for a federal government project), for his photographic essays for Life magazine, and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft. Parks also was an author, poet and composer.

1839…The DAGUERREOTYPE

The daguerreotype (French: daguerréotype) process, or daguerreotypy, was the first publicly announced photographic process, and for nearly twenty years, it was the one most commonly used. It was invented by Louis-Jaques-Mandé Daguerre and introduced worldwide in 1839. By 1860, new processes which were less expensive and produced more easily viewed images had almost completely replaced it. During the past few decades, there has been a small-scale revival of daguerreotypy among photographers interested in making artistic use of early photographic processes.

758aee112b0adc7af39d3802b51d8829To make a daguerreotype, the daguerreotypist polished a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish; treated it with fumes that made its surface light-sensitive; exposed it in a camera for as long as was judged to be necessary, which could be as little as a few seconds for brightly sunlit subjects or much longer with less intense lighting; made the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; removed its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment; rinsed and dried it; then sealed the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure.

Viewing a daguerreotype is unlike looking at any other type of photograph. The image does not sit on the surface of the metal, but appears to be floating in space, and the illusion of reality, especially with examples that are sharp and well exposed is unique to the process.

hb_2001.756The image is on a mirror-like silver surface, normally kept under glass, and will appear either positive or negative, depending on the angle at which it is viewed, how it is lit and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal.

The darkest areas of the image are simply bare silver; lighter areas have a microscopically fine light-scattering texture. The surface is very delicate, and even the lightest wiping can permanently scuff it. Some tarnish around the edges is normal, and any treatment to remove it should be done only by a specialized restorer.

Several types of antique photographs, most often ambrotypes and tintypes, but sometimes even old prints on paper, are very commonly misidentified as daguerreotypes, especially if they are in the small, ornamented cases in which daguerreotypes made in the US and UK were usually housed. The name “daguerreotype” correctly refers only to one very specific image type and medium, the product of a process that was in wide use only from the early 1840s to the late 1850s.


Louis Daguerre
 

William Eggleston – Vernacular, Colored, Photorealistic…

William Eggleston, ‘Untitled [Supermarket boy with carts], Memphis,’ 1965

    William Eggleston (born July 27, 1939), is an American photographer. He is widely credited with increasing recognition for color photography as a legitimate artistic medium to display in art galleries.

William Eggleston was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Sumner, Mississippi. His father was an engineer and his mother was the daughter of a prominent local judge. As a boy, Eggleston was introverted; he enjoyed playing the piano, drawing, and working with electronics. From an early age, he was also drawn to visual media, and reportedly enjoyed buying postcards and cutting out pictures from magazines.

At the age of 15, Eggleston was sent to the Webb School, a boarding establishment. Eggleston later recalled few fond memories of the school, telling a reporter, “It had a kind of Spartan routine to ‘build character’. I never knew what that was supposed to mean. It was so callous and dumb. It was the kind of place where it was considered effeminate to like music and painting.” Eggleston was unusual among his peers in eschewing the traditional Southern male pursuits of hunting and sports, in favor of artistic pursuits and observation of the world. Nevertheless, Eggleston noted that he never felt like an outsider. “I never had the feeling that I didn’t fit in,” he told a reporter, “But probably I didn’t.”

Eggleston attended Vanderbilt University for a year, Delta State College for a semester, and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) for about five years, none of these experiences resulting in a college degree. However, it was during these university years that his interest in photography took root: a friend at Vanderbilt gave Eggleston a Leica camera. Eggleston studied art at Ole Miss and was introduced to abstract expressionism by visiting painter, Tom Young.

Eggleston’s early photographic efforts were inspired by the work of Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank, and by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s book, The Decisive Moment. Eggleston later recalled that the book was “the first serious book I found, from many awful books…I didn’t understand it a bit, and then it sank in, and I realized, my God, this is a great one.”[1] First photographing in black-and-white, Eggleston began experimenting with color in 1965 and 1966 after being introduced to the medium by William Christenberry. Color transparency film became his dominant medium in the later 1960s. Eggleston’s development as a photographer seems to have taken place in relative isolation from other artists. In an interview with Director of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) John Szarkowski describes his first encounter with the young Eggleston in 1969 as being “absolutely out of the blue”. After reviewing Eggleston’s work (which he recalled as a suitcase full of “drugstore” color prints) Szarkowski prevailed upon the Photography Committee of MoMA to buy one of Eggleston’s photographs.

In 1970, Eggleston’s friend William Christenberry introduced him to Walter Hopps, director of Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery. Hopps later reported being “stunned” by Eggleston’s work: “I had never seen anything like it.”

Eggleston taught at Harvard in 1973 and 1974, and it was during these years that he discovered dye-transfer printing; he was examining the price list of a photographic lab in Chicago when he read about the process. As Eggleston later recalled: “It advertised ‘from the cheapest to the ultimate print.’ The ultimate print was a dye-transfer. I went straight up there to look and everything I saw was commercial work like pictures of cigarette packs or perfume bottles but the colour saturation and the quality of the ink was overwhelming. I couldn’t wait to see what a plain Eggleston picture would look like with the same process. Every photograph I subsequently printed with the process seemed fantastic and each one seemed better than the previous one.” The dye-transfer process resulted in some of Eggleston’s most striking and famous work, such as his 1973 photograph entitled The Red Ceiling, of which Eggleston said, “The Red Ceiling is so powerful, that in fact I’ve never seen it reproduced on the page to my satisfaction. When you look at the dye it is like red blood that’s wet on the wall…. A little red is usually enough, but to work with an entire red surface was a challenge.”

At Harvard, Eggleston prepared his first portfolio, entitled 14 Pictures (1974). Eggleston’s work was exhibited at MoMA in 1976. Although this was well over a decade after MoMA had exhibited color photographs by Ernst Haas, the tale that the Eggleston exhibition was MoMA’s first exhibition of color photography is frequently repeated,[n 1] and the 1976 show is regarded as a watershed moment in the history of photography, by marking “the acceptance of colour photography by the highest validating institution” (in the words of Mark Holborn).

Around the time of his 1976 MoMA exhibition, Eggleston was introduced to Viva, the Andy Warhol “superstar”, with whom he began a long relationship. During this period Eggleston became familiar with Andy Warhol’s circle, a connection that may have helped foster Eggleston’s idea of the “democratic camera”, Mark Holborn suggests. Also in the 1970s Eggleston experimented with video, producing several hours of roughly edited footage Eggleston calls Stranded in Canton. Writer Richard Woodward, who has viewed the footage, likens it to a “demented home movie”, mixing tender shots of his children at home with shots of drunken parties, public urination and a man biting off a chicken’s head before a cheering crowd in New Orleans. Woodward suggests that the film is reflective of Eggleston’s “fearless naturalism—a belief that by looking patiently at what others ignore or look away from, interesting things can be seen.”

Eggleston’s published books and portfolios, include Los Alamos (actually completed in 1974, before the publication of the Guide) the massive Election Eve (1976; a portfolio of photographs taken around Plains, Georgia before that year’s presidential election); The Morals of Vision (1978); and Flowers (1978); Wedgwood Blue (1979); Seven (1979); Troubled Waters (1980); The Louisiana Project (1980). William Eggleston’s Graceland (1984) is a series of commissioned photographs of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, depicting the singer’s home as an airless, windowless tomb in custom-made bad taste. Other series include The Democratic Forest (1989), Faulkner’s Mississippi (1990), and Ancient and Modern (1992).

Some of his early series have not been shown until the late 2000s. The Nightclub Portraits (1973), a series of large black-and-white portraits in bars and clubs around Memphis was, for the most part, not shown until 2005. Lost and Found, part of Eggleston’s Los Alamos series, is a body of photographs that have remained unseen for decades because until 2008 no one knew that they belonged to Walter Hopps; the works from this series chronicle road trips the artist took with Hopps, leaving from Memphis and traveling as far as the West Coast. Also not editioned until 2011, Eggleston’s Election Eve photographs were taken prior to the 1976 presidential election in Plains, Georgia, the rural seat of presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, and along the road from Memphis, Tennessee.

Eggleston also worked with filmmakers, photographing the set of John Huston’s film Annie (1982) and documenting the making of David Byrne’s film True Stories (1986).

© BR/Reiner Holzemer
William EGGLESTON by ©BR/Reiner Holzemer

 

Saul Leiter – Portrait of Jean Shrimpton – 1966

saul-leiter

August, 1966 for British Vogue (beauty story on red make up)

George Hurrell – Glamour in Hollywood – 1930’s

Gene Tierney by George Hurrell (1930’s)

 

Germaine Krull – Lumières d’exil, ISBN: 9782070787708

Germaine Krull was described as “an especially outspoken example” of a group of early 20th-century female photographers who “could lead lives free from convention”

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Germaine Krull (1897-1985) led an extraordinary life that spanned nine decades and four continents. She witnessed many of the high points of modernism and recorded some of the major upheavals of the twentieth century. Her photographs include avant-garde montages, ironic studies of female nudes, press propaganda shots, as well as some of the most successful commercial and fashion images of her day. Her political commitments led her from communist allegiance to incarceration in Russia as a counterrevolutionary to support of the Free French cause against Hitler to a reclusive existence among Tibetan monks in India. Kim Sichel’s study of this remarkable artist reveals a life of deep convictions, implausible transformations, complex emotional relationships, and inspired achievements.

Krull refused to limit herself to one long-term relationship, one geographical region, or one set of religious and moral beliefs. Contemporary critics ranked her with Man Ray and André Kertesz. Younger photographers such as Berenice Abbott looked up to her. Yet until recently the absence of an archive has made a proper evaluation of Krull’s contribution to photography and to modernism difficult if not impossible. In this book Sichel examines Krull’s autobiographical texts and photographic oeuvre to present and unravel the rich mythology that Krull fabricated around her life and work. The chapters follow the geographical and chronological sequence of Krull’s life, moving from Munich to Moscow to Berlin to Amsterdam to Paris to Brazil to Africa to Bangkok and other locations. This book, which accompanies the first major retrospective exhibition on Krull, should secure Krull’s rightful place among the masters of twentieth-century photography.

Erwin BLUMENFELD…What can I say ?…The Master ?

“Day and night I try, in my studio with its six two-thousand watt suns, balancing between the extremes of the impossible, to shake loose the real from the unreal, to give visions body, to penetrate into unknown transparencies.” – Erwin Blumenfeld

Erwin Blumenfeld (1897–1969) was a photographer and artist born in Germany. He was best known for his fashion photography published in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1940s and 1950s.

In addition to fashion photography, he produced an extensive body of celebrity portraiture, fine-art photography (including black and white nudes), drawings, and Dada collages. He made photographs while a resident of Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the United States, and has been called “one of the most innovative and influential photographers of the 20th century.”

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Tintype me !

Modern Tintype by James Weber

James has been creating photographic art for over 19 years in a variety of photographic mediums including wet plate, film, polaroid, and digital. Portrait and nude studies have always been a constant study of James’ personal work.

“Joséphine”

Most recently, he’s found and immersed himself in the second oldest photographic process ever created, wet plate collodion, which has helped create a bond between himself and the physical work he is creating.

Wet plate shoots on old large format cameras that were initially made from the Civil War era all the way through the Great Depression.  By creating your own emulsion and shooting on glass(ambrotypes) or metal(tintypes), it makes each plate a unique piece of art.  You could never get the same image twice even if you tried due to it’s hand crafted nature.

“Wet plate collodion is a chemical process as much as it is a photographic process.  It takes you back to the roots of the first recorded images.    It’s part Breaking Bad, mixing up the chemistry, and part Ansel Adams trekking up mountains with a large format camera to get the shot.    The process slows you down so that you take in all of the minute details of your subject before you shoot.  Because of this necessary attention to detail, it’s made me better able to see.” (source)

Josef Sudek, the Poet of Prague

“Photographs should not attempt to say everything; rather they should indicate where to look for meaning.”– Joseph Sudek

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Josef Sudek (March 17, 1896 – September 15, 1976) was a renowned Czech photographer.
Born when Bohemia was a kingdom in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he learned bookbinding, but after his 1916 World War I injury, which led to the amputation of his right arm, he took up photography. His inability to accept the norm and prescribed limits of an artistic style and form accompanied him throughout his life.
The amputation of his arm was a traumatic experience for him, and it seemed that photography was a form of redemption, as it allowed him to peek beyond the life of loneliness into the lives of fellow humans and their environment. Few people appear in his photographs, and melancholy is the signature on all. He worked hard to make up for his physical limitations and was very patient, driven by his pursuit of perfection.
His style exhibits traits of Impressionism, Surrealism, Magic Realism, Neo-Romanticism, Avant-Garde, and Czech Poetism Movement, but central to it is a diversity of light values in the low end of the tonal scale, and the representation of light as a substance occupying its own space. Sudek’s work first appeared in America in 1974.
Toward the end of his life he was branded a loner and eccentric; classical music and his famous painter and poet friends kept him company. He experienced several political regimes, yet he always maintained his own perspective of art, oblivious to whims and fashions of the time. He never sought the limelight and largely busied himself with what captured his interest. He published 16 books during his life and left behind over 20,000 photographs and twice as many negatives, most of which have not been published.
Josef Sudek never married. He died in 1976, at the age of 80.

Mary Ellen Mark…Each experience is an adventure

“I just think it’s important to be direct and honest with people about why you’re photographing them and what you’re doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul.” – Mary Ellen Mark

Dennis Hopper – “Apocalypse now”
MARY ELLEN MARK has achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. She has published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. For over four decades, she has traveled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. Continue reading