Issue #114  11/15/2006
Four New Special Exhibits Go Up On I Photo Central: Steel, Surrealism, Rare Books, and Images By Susan McCartney

Charles Schwartz, Ltd. has put up a new Special Exhibit on I Photo Central on images of U.S. Steel's plants and facilities at http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/105/3/1 .

U.S. Steel was--and in many ways still is--an industrial super-power, and these images are testament to its glory. They were taken in the 1940s and 1950s when the company was in its prime (with more than 35 plants and facilities and 350,000 workers). Innovation and optimism were industrial watchwords of the time.

These images are the fruits of a vast project, conducted and commissioned by U.S. Steel itself, that effectively documents the company's mind-boggling array operations--it has an incomparable sweep and historical value (and only a small sampling is represented here). Many well-respected lensmen gave their talents to this project, including Russell Aikins, who worked for Fortune magazine, and Fritz Henle, who is represented in major museums (and whose works sell for upwards of $5,000). To a man, they rise above their purely documentary commission, incorporating aesthetic elements both dramatic and subtle. Dark lattice works of coils and scaffolds are framed and cropped against bright skies. Blast furnace towers pictured from below take on a monumental grandeur. Not to be missed is the undeniably sculptural presence of many of these vertical behemoths, their quiet merits all the more discernable, in our Post-modern, post-Bernd-and-Hilla-Becher era.

It is likely that U.S. steel didn't know, or care what photographic treasures it had reaped with this project. In this case, time was on their side.

Vintage Works, Ltd. has also added another three new Special Exhibits. The first of these Special Exhibits is entitled, "Surrealism and Experimental Photography", and it can be found at http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/100/1/1 .

While, as one might suspect, most of the work comes from the fertile Between-the-Wars period, a number of images show the work of more current practitioners who continue to push the edge of photography.

Major names from that earlier period, such as Man Ray, Francois Kollar, Marta Hoeppfner, Arthur Siegel (as well as his brother Bernard), Jean Dreville, Barbara Morgan, Germaine Krull, Edmund Kesting, Geza Vandor and Georgi Zimin, are added to the later experimental photographers, such as Clarence John Laughlin, Marcel Marien, Joel-Peter Witkin, Jerry Uelsmann and Krzysztof Pruszkowski. Of course, many more such images can be found throughout the I Photo Central website, but the exhibition serves to spotlight some of the most interesting images.

Also new from Vintage Works is a Special Exhibit, entitled, "A Library of Rare Photography Books and Portfolios", which can be found at http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/106/1/1 . This special selection of rare books spans the gamut from early and virtually never seen 19th-century documents to scarce and in-demand contemporary books and portfolios.

The range is quite astounding, comprised of the correspondence between Niepce and Daguerre about the invention of photography through several scarce volumes illustrating Andreas Gursky's contemporary photography.

Other 19th-century finds include the Collection du Journal La Lumiere (the Rare First Volume from 1851) originally owed by the important amateur photographer Edouard Delessert. It comes with perhaps a unique table of contents.

Important portfolios, such as Frantisek Drtikol's Ten Nudes in pigment process, the sought-after Czech "Fotografie 1928-58", a group of 17 early Microscopic Images, Petr Helbich's "Chvaly: Uvahy a Fotografie" and the very scarce "Man Ray et Ses Amis", are all in the selection. There are also four portfolios (platinum) and volumes from 21st Century Publishing, including Flor Garduño's "The Sonnets of Shakespeare", "Sally Mann", Eikoh Hosoe's "Flowers of Evil" (Les Fleurs du Mal), and Joel-Peter Witkins' Songs of Innocence.

Modern volumes include monographs by Josef Sudek (signed), Henri Cartier-Bresson (his most important monographs), Jame Fee (signed and with prints), William Eggleston (signed), Larry Clark (a signed copy of "Teenage Lust: An Autobiography"), Karl Blossfeldt, Andy Warhol (signed), Bruce Davidson (signed copy of Subway), Richard Avedon (signed copy of "Portraits"), Marcus Doyle (with signed print), Aaron Siskind (signed) and Danny Lyon (signed).

A third new Special Exhibit just listed by Vintage Works is entitled, "Susan McCartney: Having Fun, Observing Life", which can be found at http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase_view.php/103/1/0 . I recently had the pleasure to meet this talented photographer and was greatly enthused by her work, which I have featured here.

Susan McCartney has been taking pictures since the age of 12 and studied fine art and graphic design at the Hammersmith College of Art in London and the Cooper Union in New York. She refined her photography and vision at master classes given by legends Richard Avedon, Alexey Brodovitch, Harold Kreiger, Walter Rosenblum, Melvin Sokolsky and Henry Wolf. She has a degree in photography from the New York School of Visual Arts.

McCartney is better known for her brash color travel work, but these rare vintage black and white images of her adopted city and its inhabitants seem to reflect a sense of amazement, humor and gentle sympathy for her subjects that is rare. From the somberness of statuary in a Queens cemetary that she somehow imbues with life to the bizarre fake Santas on Houston Street to the loving images of her daughter growing up, McCartney takes it all in and with her photographs shares this unique vision with us all.

We have also continued to change images and add to our essays for all our Special Exhibits, so they are worth another peek, especially if you have not looked lately. And, if you see one you like, let a friend know too!

You can see these fine new exhibits and others (now a total of 61active Special Exhibits in all!) at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php .

Don't forget to check out the archived exhibits at the bottom of the page as well. And remember that there are many fine essays on the various photographers and topics represented by these Special Exhibits, some of them the most complete any where in the English language (or any other language for that matter). The essays can be accessed by simply clicking on the "About this Photographer" or "About this Exhibit" at the top left corner of the Special Exhibit main page.