This beautiful portrait of Judy Garland by Yousuf Karsh is from 1946, a year in which he photographed many actors including Lionel Barrymore, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Joseph Cotten, Sidney Greenstreet, Boris Karloff, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lorre, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, and many more.
We have Alexander Fleming! Dr. Fleming was a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist. His best-known discoveries are the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance benzylpenicillin (Penicillin G) from the mould Penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain.
is a BAXTER ST
2015 Workspace Resident. His new body of work, Tear Sheets - currently on view at BAXTER ST Camera Club of New York - pushes conversations that, as he puts it, "are my history." The images in his new body of work deal with issues of gender, identity, HIV/AIDS awareness, abstraction and photography. Silano is a photographer of photographs; a historian in many senses, and his work challenges the stigma of both the camera and HIV/AIDS. The images in the show are cultivated appropriations of historic queer ephemera, psychiatric literature like Martin S. Weinberg's 'The Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations,' as well as various porno mags from the 70's - 80's. Magazines are favorites of Silano: Blueboy, Torso and Honcho
These weren't just the cum rag, boy blasted, flip throughs of their day, they were also a platform of activism, nightlife, awareness, and gay rights. Historically these things were used as a way of illuminating secrets. The images in Tear Sheets add to a new context of queered identity - what it is and what it is capable of becoming.
The world has changed for gays since the AIDS crisis - the death of many. Today, there are new developments in medicine, technologies, and there are new rights - HOORAH. Never before has this powerful interconnectedness been so accessible and so present; so able to bring together as well as divide. The advances of our times are exciting and contradictory. Silano's work is a reflection of these juxtapositions. The world spins forward, and we look back in commemoration - to learn and reflect, to see new. From this inquest of space and history there is discovery and invention. Here the parts come together - for Silano. The images he makes are inescapably contemporary for all their awareness and sensibility.
The wrecked savagery of sex and print are salvaged by the treatment of Silano's compositions. "The work comes from boxes of scraps that for a while I couldn't think of what to do with," he shares. The removal in the work happens as an affect of his excavating his archive. The work plays out before us. His appropriations become void and lucid, highly suggestive and pensive.
At their most basic, the photos are abstract. They posses a quality of recognition and a hunger to delve deeper - to learn more. His images are at times figurative, always sculptural - becoming almost architectural. Depth and space are a tricky deception in a photograph. Silano plays off these sensibilities and discomforts. His iconography is one of a picture's generation - an aesthetic of elimination, down to a single idea. This suggests a sense of the sublime in nature.
Silano is as much a historian as he is an archivist. When I offered him a friend's VHS porn collection a few years back, he jumped at the offer. He's a collector of things, moving, still, tactile and articulated. These parts fuse in his practice - and the images are just as much photographs as they are collage. Cutting and tearing appropriated images - placed precisely - there is gesture, and the hand is always present in front of his camera. It's interesting however to note the use of negative space, huge fields of white, sometimes black. The edges of the appropriated image, or object, casts a shadow on the voided space. Suddenly, the photos teeter in a questioning way. Depth and object are brought into the flat surface of the photo. There is a sense of forgetting, of something lost. But then, he builds on top, next to, tucked behind - overlapping so as to become something new, or at least, changing the meaning of where it began. Reinterpretation blossoms from Silano's metamorphoses.
All these pretty words for such pretty things - the facts are the facts - the work is engaging for a multitude of reasons.
Douglas Eklund, Exhibition Curator of the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has put it best in regard to The Pictures Generation and how they, "worked at the intersection of personal and collective memory, rummaging through the throwaway products of their youth... in search of moments that both never existed yet were indelibly stamped in the mind." The scavenging of Silano's photography is addressing this history of indelible making. Some of these are before his time, but there's always a yearning to know what happened just before you got here. The work in Tear Sheets is a way of capturing and reanimating something that's been lost.
I'll give you an example: Six of the seven original members of The Village People are still around. It's a desire like that, to find out, to know that something isn't gone, and now is full of potential in its anonymity. Anyone can search for a sense of culture that seemed important at a certain time, but now is so vague, it's almost antique. Capturing that hazy memory - remembering it - and allowing it to become what it wasn't before, is Pacifico Silano's most powerful asset as an artist.
's The Phone Book is one of the first photography books that features photographs taken entirely on an iPhone, with the Hipstamatic app. The book is squarely packed with photographs our observer made on the streets both at home in NYC and abroad.
The Phone Book by Robert Herman, is out now from Schiffer Publishing
, in time for the holidays.
Face in the window, Battery Park City, New York
Metropolitan Life, Flatiron Building, New York
Au Revoir. Florent's, New York
Avenue of the Americas, New York
Jardin des Rosiers, Paris
Another random image from my Karsh archives.... Here is the Earl of Athlone
in a gorgeous portrait from 1946.
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"The remote New Mexico community of Pie Town is famous for the photographs that Farm Security Administration
photographer Russell Lee made there during the Great Depression. In this book author-photographer Arthur Drooker
documents his own travels to Pie Town to find out what became of it seventy years after Lee visited."
Arthur and I met this year at Photolucida
, and I engaged with a different body of work to this that, excitingly, you and I will have to wait to for, but I am thrilled to now see this sweet, reverent project come to fruition.
"Pie Town Revisited includes a dozen Russell Lee images and fifty-two images Drooker made that capture the soul of the place and its people today. In addition to these color photographs, Drooker's essay describes his experience creating this unique historical record. The work is a portrait in words and pictures of the rugged individualists in this tight-knit community, recalling an America as it was and as it yearns to be again. Pie Town, as Drooker sees it, is indeed as American as apple pie."
Visit Arthur Drooker's website
for more images and info on Pie Town, and your opportunity to purchase the book, Pie Town Revisited, which is out now from University of New Mexico Press.
Photographer Frances F. Denny
wants you to know you can be an imperfect feminist. That's an OK thing to be. Ideals of 1920's feminism and femininity have changed. Denny's first solo show, currently at ClampArt
in New York City, contemplates and questions ideals of being a woman. As one who grew up in the nineties, she may be the first to admit it was a rather glorious age of shiny stickers, glittery goo, pearly nail polish, balloons, and bright colors. Clouds, stars, ponies and the like! These things became cornerstone caricatures of girlhood. To a large extent, they still are. It seems poignant to point out that as a kid growing up in the nineties, identity seemed pretty amorphous for a good while there. There were odd edges around what cool was and I'm not sure we wanted it to be a specific thing. We grew up on a much different Nickelodeon, with an almost unrecognizable Britney Spears. We were cool with being totally quirky, maybe even okay with being completely poor. We weren't perfect, but we loved our bright colors and tons of sugar! And let's be honest, nineties kids were a little twisted. There was something in the air back then. Denny has put a good amount of this nurture into her photographs and exhibition, Pink Crush
"How are we taught to be women? How are we taught to be feminine?" Denny is committed to a deep exploration of development; she's insightfully curious about experimenting. The work in Pink Crush explores the aesthetics of a woman who grows through a filter of pop culture and commercialism. Pinky and shimmery objects always seem to be the safe default to celebrate a woman's anything. Her works aren't a rebellion against this, but there is a desire to study and survey. The shape of the contemporary woman has become a strangely commodified landscape.
"The work burst from my head, like the birth of Athena." She is matter-of-fact. "Books and stories are far more generative to me and the work I make." Denny has not trapped herself in a rebellion of gender or a crisis of identity. She is practically a scientist; she studies so as to further the language and form of what it means to be woman. Her results are the wonderfully cultivated photographs of Pink Crush.
Denny's work has sympathy with the intimate, ornate and inescapably recognizable. There is a deeply personal quality in the photographs; her subjects and objects become more figurative and less specific in identity. The ambiguity cultivates a universal sense of anyone and everyone. The photographs may make you feel uncomfortable at times in their obscurity, but it's that uncertainty that makes them so wonderful. The pictures are a way to grasp a sense of woman through iconography, but they nurture a virtue to which anyone can relate. The images are highly saturated appearing unnatural - even plastic - yet they have a familiarity and a common motif of mending. The compositions, in their duality, stimulate a wonderfully confusing sense of engagement, a desire. You can almost taste the photos - some are sweet, others are explosive and sour.
Beyond the work, "which at times I wanted to feel a bit like a regurgitation of the girly aisle in a party store," Pink Crush is being displayed in tandem with a show of work that is from her first printed book published by Radius Books
, "Let Virtue Be Your Guide." Denny shares how lucky she feels to have a role in photography. "I am so grateful to Brian [Clamp of ClampArt] and David [Chickey, of Radius Books] for letting me have the chance to make and show work that is about women being women." Denny and her work never for a moment lose sight of the gratitude it takes to achieve equality. Equality is nothing if we aren't people first. The parts that make us who we are help us become more whole. Pink Crush does that. It embraces the stuffness of being woman. The photos make it possible to understand the self. They aren't for a moment ashamed of their identity. The colors, the kooky shapes, the dirty leftovers, the uneven edges and all that stuff in-between, make a woman. She is a whole person.
Frances Denny's exhibitions have been extended - go see Pink Crush plus Let Virtue be Your Guide at ClampArt
, Chelsea, NYC, through December 30th.
All images © Frances F. Denny
Ayr, from Brighter Later © Brian David Stevens
"In his book The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald describes the sea anglers along the shore near Lowestoft; he writes: 'I do not believe that these men sit by the sea all day and all night so as not to miss the flounder rise or the cod come in to shallower waters, as they claim. They just want to be in a place where they have the world behind them, and before them nothing but emptiness.'"
"This emptiness was what I set out to observe on my series Brighter Later; of course emptiness can mean many things, but to me it was a space wanting to be filled, a space of optimism and possibilities. Looking out to sea you truly are looking into the future, seeing the weather and the waves that will at some point arrive at the shores of this island, you predict their inevitable, unstoppable approach." - Brian David Stevens
British photographer Brian David Stevens' beautiful project looks out, to the future, through a child's eyes - celebrating his joy at closing one eye and then the other as a kid, he made these coastline photos into diptychs. He talks of the emptiness but says "...to me it was a space wanting to be filled, a space of optimism and possibilities. Looking out to sea you truly are looking into the future, seeing the weather and the waves that will at some point arrive at the shores of this island, you predict their inevitable, unstoppable approach."
How sad I am reading about Joan's political proclivities, but we can enjoy this gorgeous portrait from 1956, aged just 23, and not least of all, let's appreciate the outfit. The photo was taken the same year Joan starred in "The Opposite Sex," based on a play by Clare Boothe Luce.
Clare Boothe Luce, 1954 by Yousuf Karsh
Another cracking portrait by Mr. Karsh, which is not done any justice here in such a small size but is spectacular blown up!
"Throughout most of his career he led the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in various capacities from shortly after its founding in 1919 until his retirement in 1970."
Detail - what is this he is holding?