Archive for the ‘Other People’s Work’ Category
From January to March of this year, Michelangelo’s David/Apollo, normally resident in the Bargello museum in Florence, was on loan to the National Gallery of Art in DC. Being a huge Michelangelo fan, I had to go see it. The last time it was exhibited here in the US was during Harry Truman’s presidency. In fact, there are only three known or attributed works by Michelangelo in the United States (a drawing and two sculptures, one of which is in a private collection), so it’s a rare day when you can get to see something from his hand.
One of Michelangelo’s “unfinished” sculptures, much speculation exists around the entire series of the “unfinished” carvings – were they unfinished because Michelangelo was always biting off more than he could chew and didn’t have time, or did he deliberately leave them “unfinished” because he was making an artistic statement about the relationship between the image, the stone and the carving? Either way, they make for a tantalizing insight into the mind and the technique of one of the world’s greatest sculptors.
I’m almost as fascinated by the people who come to look at art as I am the art itself. Sometimes (frequently, actually) I’m very annoyed with museum patrons because they’ll blithely traipse right between you and a work or the wall label for it that you’re trying to look at, rented headset on, completely oblivious to the fact that you now cannot read or see the exhibit. But when they’re not blocking your view, the way they look at art is endlessly interesting. Some will point, some will stand back and appraise, some will “print-sniff” and get close enough the guards have to warn them off. Some will ingest silently, others will pontificate to their audience of friends (and anyone else within earshot), often as not with art history textbook opinions and/or not entirely accurate “facts” about the artwork and/or the artist.
Lightbox Gallery call for entries – Katherine Thayer memorial Gum Bichromate show
Regular readers of my blog will probably remember the notice I posted last year about Katherine Thayer’s passing. Katherine was a tremendous gum bichromate printer and an extremely generous teacher of the process. Lightbox gallery in Astoria, Oregon is organizing a commemorative exhibit and has put out a call for entries for the show (link above).
To reprint the notice on the LightBox web page,
LIGHTBOX PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY CALL FOR ENTRIES
Two Friends Who Never Met
An Exhibit of Gum Bichromate Prints
In Memory and in Honor of Katharine Thayer
featuring the work of Katharine Thayer and Diana Bloomfield
with a juried exhibit of Gum Bichromate Prints
Juror – Diana Bloomfield
We welcome you to share in the beauty of the hand-made print, and specifically, the gum bichromate print,
with a juried exhibit as part of this memoriam for Katherine.
This exhibit serves to illuminate Katharine’s artistry— her admiration for, dedication to, and mastery of gum printing.
This exhibit also celebrates her legacy and her years-long friendship with Diana.
I had a mental picture of the kind of photograph I wanted to make. I had never seen any photographs like them, but I was determined to find a way to make them, these pictures I saw in my head. Their colors were soft and relatively unsaturated, but with a kind of glow about them . . . I set out first to teach myself to print in gum, then to adapt the method to produce the kinds of pictures I wanted to make, and have been making them ever since – Katharine Thayer – katharinethayer.com
Katherine Thayer was a long-time resident of Oregon and a masterful gum bichromate printer. She was also a generous teacher to those who struggled to learn this ultimately rewarding, yet often challenging, 19th century printing process. In Katharine’s words, “learning gum printing involves some trial and error, and there’s no short cut to mastery; a person successful in mastering the process will have some staying power and possess a sense of humor and some tolerance for failure.”
Katharine was also a decades-long member of “The List” , an Alternative Process listserv— a free and open online discussion list related to all things ‘alternative’ in the photographic printing world. For Katharine, of course, this meant gum printing. Currently, over 600 people world-wide are members of this List, and this is where Diana Bloomfield, a native North Carolinian, photographer and printer, first met Katharine. In the middle of teaching herself to make gum prints, Diana gleaned invaluable bits of information from those on the List, but she learned the most from Katharine and from her website (KatharineThayer.com). In the midst of all the questions, and in-between Katharine’s tireless mentoring, the two became good friends. They corresponded via email almost daily, and they were once in a group pinhole exhibit together in the Seattle area. Diana was also in a group exhibit at LightBox, where Katharine was a frequent visitor. Still, they never met.
Over my lunch break today I caught a wonderful exhibit at the National Gallery of Art entitled Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. The exhibition opened in mid-February and runs through May 5th. It moves to Houston in July to October. One of the singular points the exhibit drives home is the fact that photography has always been subject to manipulation even from its earliest days when daguerreotypes were hand-colored to make them more ‘realistic’, and skies were printed in via multiple negatives to compensate for the shortcomings of early emulsion formulas. One of the coups of the exhibition is the inclusion of Steichen’s “The Pond – Moonlight” from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most people familiar with the work know it as a multi-layered gum bichromate over platinum print. What most don’t realize, however, is that the image may in fact be a composite with the moon having been added, and may also never have been photographed by moonlight (a feat that would have been difficult to achieve with the emulsions available even in 1904). The moon in the image may be an addition or otherwise a manipulation of the print, and the nighttime feel of the image merely an effect of the color choices in the gum layers of the print.
Images have been manipulated for a whole host of reasons, from a desire to make them more real (hand-colored daguerreotypes) to conveying an inner reality (surrealist photography) to evoking an emotional resonance (The Pond, Moonlight) to suggesting a reality that could exist (a Zeppelin docking at the docking tower of the Empire State building) to creating something that never existed (giant crickets consuming giant produce on the back of a wagon) to re-shaping reality for political ends (Nazi and Soviet propaganda posters and publicity photos). All of the above are represented in this exhibit, and placed in an historical and artistic continuum.
There has been much controversy lately over questions of photojournalistic integrity with regards to digital manipulation to include/exclude details to tell a story, from the Iranians photoshopping additional rockets into a picture of a missile test to Edgar Martins getting caught claiming his work was unmanipulated when in fact he was heavily altering his images. This is not new, but in fact the question of manipulative ethics is far more unsettled for far longer than most people realize. In 1906, Horace Nichols was photographing the Epsom Derby on a rainy day. There were gaps in the crowd, so to convey the feeling of the event he wanted to convey, he spliced in a whole sea of additional umbrellas. This was common practice for Mr. Nichols, and he rarely cited it in the captions of his images, but he sustained a career as a serious photo-journalist. It makes you think long and hard about your assumptions of photographic verissimilitude and the historical moment in which photography ‘ceased to tell the truth’.
The exhibition is well worth the visit if you have an interest in the history of photography and questions of honesty and integrity of the photographic medium.
Also worth noting is that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is currently hosting (through May, 2013) a companion exhibit (which I hope will travel as well) entitled After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age
I’ll be up in New York in April for a weekend and so I’ll try to catch it then and see the two shows as brackets for one another. The comparison should be very interesting.
I found a new blog today from a fellow WordPress-ian (is that even a word?) who has a beautiful style, very Sugimoto-esque without being a copycat. It’s entirely in German, so I’ve had to go on images alone, but I thought it was worth relaying.
Walter Schiesswohl is the photographer.
Abstract, Wall Reflections, Chihuly Exhibit, Richmond, VA
Abstract, Wall Reflections, Chihuly Exhibit, Richmond, VA
Ceiling, Chihuly Exhibit, Richmond, VA
This was taken over the Thanksgiving weekend at my visit to Richmond, Virginia and the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. There was a passageway between rooms where the ceiling had been filled with all these marine-inspired glass forms and then lit from above. The glass forms (seen in the last image) then projected these really abstract color and light patterns on the walls. These were interesting enough that I tried to capture some of the effect of it.
Shot with my Contax G2, 21mm lens, and Kodak Ektar 100 film – hand-held.
Trolley Stairs, Glen Echo Park
This is a blended platinum/palladium print (60% platinum, 40% palladium) print, on Bergger COT320 paper. This was by a student from my Intro class, but I reprinted it for this session (the student left the negative behind after the Intro class, and I happened to really like the shot anyway). This one was coated using a glass rod as opposed to a brush, to demonstrate the difference in the coating technique, and the final appearance of the print.
Crystal Pool, by Patrick Brown
This is a palladium print on light Kozo paper, by Patrick Brown, one of my students in Advanced Topics. He was also in my Intro class. It’s so nice to get follow-on students so you can see their progress!
Kozo paper is a Japanese paper made from tree bark, and it is surprisingly strong for as delicate as it is – this is perhaps a 90 lb paper. It does have a tendency to dissolve in aqueous solutions, but if properly masked when developing, the image area can be preserved, even if the edges do get fringed a bit. This is a perfect example. I included the paper margins to show more clearly what the paper texture looks like.
We had some challenges this class session – the original idea was to try out some different paper types, and I had obtained a sampler of several kinds. We started the morning with Stonehenge, which was supposed to be a good paper, but something was dramatically wrong with the batch we got, as we were making 30 minute exposures and still coming up weak and flat. After this is over, I’ll get a little more for myself and try pre-acidifying it to see if that helps, but no mention of acidification was made in the sample kit and I couldn’t find any reference to acidifying it online. Fortunately we didn’t waste too much time before figuring out it was the paper at fault and not the chemistry, and life moved on.
Danielle Ezzo makes beautiful salt prints. You should check out her work!
She has an upcoming show at Galerie Protege in New York, the opening is October 11.
Lovingly Distant, by Danielle Ezzo
Old Man, 2012, 8×10 tintype
Norman, 2012, 8×10 tintype
Martin, 2012, 8×10 tintype
I discovered Melissa’s wet plate collodion work through a link someone posted on APUG, and I felt it was worth sharing. She has done a beautiful seet of wet plate portraits of the Mohawk Ironworkers who for the last century have been responsible for building the skyscrapers of New York City. The inspiration was the 9/11 10th anniversary last year, and the construction of Freedom Tower on the site of the old World Trade Center. I just felt her work was worth sharing. Please browse her website linked below to see more of her work and to find out more about her.
Melissa Cacciola: Mohawk Iron Workers
If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you probably saw the post about my friend Nick Dong’s art installation at the Renwick Gallery (the Smithsonian Museum of American Arts and Crafts). At that shoot, Nick shot a quickie video of the piece using his point-n-shoot camera. The video quality was somewhat disappointing. He’ll be back in town tomorrow for the exhibit opening, and I’ll be going over to the gallery after hours to shoot video, which I hope to post here when I have it edited. Nick’s need for a video of the installation, plus several personal projects I have in mind (some instructional videos on platinum printing, a Kickstarter funding request, and some artist interviews at Glen Echo Photoworks).
I’m still learning my way around the camcorder – a Canon Vixia HF G10. The touch-screen controls are fairly intuitive, and they get easier the more you play with it and start learning the control layout, but certain things being buried in touch-screen menus is frustrating to someone coming from analog still photography where all the controls are exposed all the time as knobs, buttons or dials. At least this one does have a nice fat manual-focus control ring right around the lens, making it easy to pull focus, and the zoom speed is easy to manage as well. You can vary the zoom speed from almost-imperceptible to WHAM! in a fluid manner instead of having just two or three zoom speeds.
Here is a series of illustrations of the operation of the room. This shows the room getting brighter as Nick sits on the cushion (see, you do get to see his face after all!). Nick’s installation consists of a long, narrow room with the walls covered in elongated hexagonal tiles (each of which Nick made, and hand signed on the back!) . The floor and ceiling are covered in mirror tiles. The opposite end of the room from which you enter is rounded, and at the focus of the hemicircle, a mirror-based seat with a white cushion is located. In the ceiling is a series of LED lights. Sitting on the cushion triggers the lights and music, which build in intensity for approximately one minute before fading out.
Here is a link to the Renwick Gallery’s exhibit announcement:
Renwick Gallery 40 under 40
and here is a link to Nick Dong’s website:
Here are three more images of Nick, up close.