Fashion photographer Irving Penn passed away on October 7th at his home in Manhattan. He was 92. Noted for his simple, but elegant style, Penn became a longtime fixture in Vogue magazine, starting in 1943. In fact his last image in Vogue, which was a still-life of aging bananas, appeared in the most recent August issue. The publication honored the old master in its July 2007 issue, when Penn turned 90.
Represented by New York dealer and confidant Peter MacGill of Pace/MacGill Gallery, Penn seemed like an omnipresent figure in the art world despite his early commercial orientation. Andy Grundberg writing in the New York Times attributed his artistic success to the same "compositional clarity and economy" that made up Penn's fashion and commercial work.
Grundberg noted in his obituary of Penn: "Instead of offering spontaneity, Mr. Penn provided the illusion of something fixed, his gaze precisely describing the profile of a Balenciaga coat or of a Moroccan djellaba in a way that could almost mesmerize the viewer. Nothing escaped the edges of his photographs unless he commanded it. Except for a series of close-up portraits that cut his subjects' heads off at the forehead, and another, stranger suite of overripe nudes, his subjects were usually shown whole, apparently enjoying a splendid isolation from the real world."
In recent years, his prints helped boost the fortunes of the New York and London auction rooms, especially at Christie's where he has been a favorite. The most recent results at the October New York photography auctions just hours and days after his death might not be completely reflective of that impact yet, although several works did hit new highs, while others went quite low.
Penn donated photographs to the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. His archives are at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Born in Plainfield, NJ, in 1917, Penn studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art from 1934 to 1938, and worked as an assistant at Harper's Bazaar in 1939.
Penn married fashion model Lisa Fonssagrives in 1950, and she remained one of his favorite and most sought-after subjects. She passed away in 1992.
Penn is survived by his son, Tom, with Fonssagrives. Fonssagrives also had a daughter, Mia, from a previous marriage.
Auction House Millon-Cornette de Saint Cyr will hold an auction of more than 500 photographs by Ilse Bing acquired by the current collector directly from the Ilse Bing Estate.
Vintage exhibition prints, drawings, documents and other manuscript material are included in the auction, which will be held in Paris at Drouot Montaigne, 15 avenue Montaigne 75008 Paris on November 16, 2009, 7 pm (local time). The phone and fax during viewing: phone: +33 148 00 20 91 and fax: +33 148 00 20 83. The sale can be viewed November 14-15, from 11 am to 6 pm, and November 16, from 11 to 12 am, at Drouot Montaigne. You can also preview by appointment with the expert Christophe Goeury.
For more information and condition reports, you can contact the expert Christophe Goeury at +33 142 54 16 83 or +33 6 16 02 64 91, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org . In the past few years, Goeury has put together the sales of several major photography collections and estates, including the catalogues for Brassaï, Blanc and Demilly, and Sacha Stone.
Ilse Bing was one of the great photographers of her generation. Born in Frankfurt in 1899 into an affluent bourgeois family, she studied at the university before becoming part of the avant-garde of photography. In 1930, when she arrived in Paris in a city bubbling over with artistic creativity, she was the only professional to work exclusively with a Leica. Emmanuel Sougez, the famous photographer and critic, gave her the nickname that stuck for the rest of her life, "Queen of the Leica". Ilse Bing explained: "This small format camera seems to be an extension of my eye that moves with me; it lets me make things more alive".
Ilse Bing is one of the great, rare women photographers, along with Lee Miller, Dora Maar, Bérénice Abbott, Germaine Krull and Florence Henri who brought a completely new outlook to an era of huge growth for the illustrated press and advertising. The 500 prints for sale cover the three main phases of her life as a photographer that reflected where she lived: her German period at the end of the 1920s (modern photojournalism); her years in Paris, "les années folles", or the crazy years, during the 1930s; and her New York photography, which began in 1936.
Goeury puts this sale into context when he notes, "Auctioning a collection of 500 original prints spanning the working life of an artist as important as Ilse Bing is an important event for the art photography market, and gives admirers, collectors and professionals the chance to buy historical prints."
Estimates are reasonable and range from €300 to €15,000 (for an album of 12 photographs of the Moulin Rouge).
The normal contact for the auction house is Millon Cornette de Saint Cyr, 5 avenue d’Eylau 75116 Paris, France. Phone: +33 1 47 27 94 34 and fax: +33 1 47 27 70 89; its website is http://www.millon-associes.com . The contact at the auction house for the sale is Beatrice Brengues, who can be reached at + 33 147 27 15 92, or by email at: email@example.com .
There is a printed catalogue that can be ordered and the catalogue can be seen online on Millon's website at: http://www.world-encheres.com/millon/vo16112009/asp/index.asp .
The Daguerreian Society will hold it 21st Symposium on November 12-15, 2009 in Philadelphia. Exclusive tours are being offered to registrants by three premier institutions, beginning Wednesday, November 11, with the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, Project Basho and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Society will officially open the 21st Symposium with a celebration Thursday evening, November 12th, at the I Photo Central and Vintage Works, Ltd. Gala Reception courtesy of Alex Novak, in the historically significant Library Company of Philadelphia.
Alex Novak, will moderate a lively panel discussion on "Issues in the Conservation of Daguerreotypes" with panelists, Adrienne Lundgren, Grant Romer, and Jiuan-Jiuan Chen. Cliff Krainik will be presenting "John Plumbe in Philadelphia", and Jeffrey I. Richman, historian at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, will discuss "Green-Wood's Great Daguerreians". Jean-Pierre Spilbauer, mayor of Bry sur Marne, France, will provide an update on the "Discoveries in the Restoration of Daguerre's Diorama".
Curator Sarah Weatherwax will speak on her exhibit at the Library Company, "Catching a Shadow: Daguerreotypes in Philadelphia, 1839-1860". Additionally, Elena Simonova-Bulat, a photograph conservator at Harvard's Weissman Preservation Center will lecture on "Preservation of Daguerreotypes at Harvard", and Matthew Isenburg will finish the day with "The Many Faces of Daguerre".
The Daguerreian Society has pulled off a coup in that the Chester County Historical Society will have a major exhibit actually in the headquarters hotel, the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia Main Line during the Symposium. Pamela C. Powell, photo archivist at CCHS, is bringing "The Daguerreotype: Portraiture at the Dawn of Photography" for display throughout the Symposium.
The photography trade fair will be open to the general public Saturday, November 14, from 10 am to 4 pm, with a $5 entrance fee. There are some trade fair tables still available for any interested dealers.
For further information on joining the Society, attending the Symposium or trade show and discounted hotel reservations, go to http://daguerre.org/symposia/symposium2009.php . The discounts on hotel rooms is only through October 27th, so make your reservations now.
The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) has announced that The AIPAD Photography Show New York, one of the most important international photography events, will be held March 18-21, 2010, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.
The 30th edition of the Show will open with a Gala Preview on March 17. Approximately 75 of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries will present a wide range of museum-quality work including contemporary, modern and 19th century photographs, as well as photo-based art, video and new media. The AIPAD Photography Show New York is the longest running and foremost exhibition of fine art photography.
AIPAD has also announced the addition of eight new members to the non-profit organization, comprising the world’s leading photography art dealers. The new members are as follows:
--Amador Gallery, New York, NY, specializing in modern and contemporary photography;
--Danziger Projects, New York, NY, focusing primarily on artists working in photography, and also exhibiting video and painting;
--Gallery 339, Philadelphia, PA, presenting important contemporary artists, and known as Philadelphia’s hub for fine art photography;
--Charles Guice Contemporary, Berkeley, CA, specializing in modern and contemporary art, film/video, and new media by nationally and internationally recognized artists;
--Higher Pictures, New York, NY, focusing on mid 20th century and contemporary work with an emphasis on historical revisionism in photography;
--Monroe Gallery of Photography, Santa Fe, NM, specializing in photojournalism and humanist photography in addition to representing important modern and contemporary artists;
--Photography at Quaritch, London, UK, known primarily for fine 19th and early 20th century photography by British and European photographers;
--Rick Wester Fine Art, New York, NY, an art services company specializing in artist representation, advising private collectors and corporations, secondary market sales and appraisals.
"What's interesting about these new AIPAD members is that they offer a wide range of specialties--from 19th century work to new media," noted Stephen Bulger, president of AIPAD and president of Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto.
GAD EDERY has a show of Mitch Dobrowner's magical landscape work on exhibit at 5 rue des sablons, 75116 Paris, door code: A5791 (metro: Trocadéro or Victor Hugo). The work can viewed until November 3rd by appointment.
DIEMAR/NOBLE PHOTOGRAPHY has a current exhibition of works by the British photographer Jonathan Olley. The exhibition focuses on two projects, "Castles of Ulster" and "The Forbidden Forest". "Castles of Ulster" is an extraordinary series of images that Olley made between 1998 and 1999. It features the monstrous architectural progeny of Northern Irelands 'troubles'--an imposing legacy of fortified police stations, watch towers and army barracks. Many regard "Castles of Ulster" as one of the most important documentary projects produced in the UK for decades. Alongside this work, Diemar/Noble presents Olley's new ongoing series, "The Forbidden Forest", in which he continues to explore the peripheral effects of warfare on the landscape--this time undertaking a study of live ammunition abandoned in theaters of war. These images focus on Verdun. Between 1916 and 1918, this land played host to one of the deadliest battles of the First World War, in which around 800,000 young French and German men lost their lives. Almost 100 years later, vast quantities of live ammunition render the land unusable. Untouched and overgrown, the polluted and dangerous hills now literally resemble a wild enchanted forest, whose overgrown surface masks the deadly reality of its grim liberator beneath. The exhibition runs until November 21, 2009.
DIEMAR/NOBLE PHOTOGRAPHY will hold an opening reception on November 25th, for a major retrospective of George Rodger (1908-1995). Rodger was a founding member of the Magnum photo agency and is one of the 20th century's most important photojournalists. This exhibition will mark the 60th anniversary of Rodgers travels through Sudan where he photographed the Nuba tribe, documenting their daily lives and their competitions in wrestling, spear and bracelet fighting. The exhibition has been organized in collaboration with the George Rodger archive and features his some of his most celebrated images, alongside many that have remained unpublished, amongst them images of the Acholi tribe, taken in 1954. The exhibition will run from November 26, 2009-January 16, 2010. Gallery hours are 11- 6, Tuesday through Saturday, Diemar/Noble Photography is located at 66/67 Wells Street, London W1P 3PY; Telephone +44-(0)207 636 5375.
CONTEMPORARY WORK/VINTAGE WORKS notes that the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) in Balboa Park announced a major gift of 135 Arthur Tress photographs to the Museum's permanent collection. "Tress is an important photographer from the well of artists who emerged in the late 1960s. He brought whimsy and 'personal' to the otherwise heavily documentary trend of those years," says MoPA Curator Carol McCusker. "With his inclusion, MoPA's collection expands its 1960s/1970s holdings, a chapter in photo-history that is yet to be written and fully appreciated."
CONTEMPORARY WORK/VINTAGE WORKS also reports that artists Claudia Kunin and Jerry Spagnoli recently participated in the first exposition of international contemporary daguerreotypes, and Daguerre's panorama, which ran through October 18th in Bry-Sur-Marne at the Hotel de Malestroit, just 7 miles from the center of Paris. Spagnoli gave a demonstration on how to make a daguerreotype and showed some of his contemporary daguerreotypes. Kunin had six of her double-layered fabric ghost stories hanging in the exhibition.
I PHOTO CENTRAL AND VINTAGE WORKS are co-sponsoring the gala reception of the Daguerreian Society's 21st Annual Symposium in Philadelphia at the Library Company on November 12th. Alex Novak will be moderating a panel session on Conservation and the Daguerreotype at the Symposium on November 13th. For more details on the Symposium and the photography trade fair on Saturday, November 14th, go to: http://daguerre.org/symposia/symposium2009.php . Vintage Works will be one of the exhibitors at the table-top photography trade fair.
Willy Ronis, the last of the great wartime and post-war French photographers known for their humanistic images of Paris, died at age 99. Ronis passed away early September 12th in a Paris hospital after being on dialysis for some time.
Ronis, like fellow photographers Brassaï, Édouard Boubat, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, wandered and photographed the streets and residents of Paris.
Willy Ronis was born on August 14, 1910, in Paris, where his Jewish parents had fled from the czarist pogroms in from Odessa and Lithuania. The family started a photography studio, and Ronis helped retouch photographic prints as a child. At age 15 he was given his first camera by his father.
Despite wanting to be a concert violinist and pressured by his father to study law, he took over the family studio when his father became ill with cancer in 1932. It was then that Ronis met and befriended David Seymour, Robert Capa and Cartier-Bresson.
In 1936, after his father’s death, Ronis sold the family business and became a freelance photographer.
After the fall of France in 1940, Ronis fled south to Vichy France and spent a year with a traveling theatrical troupe. When the Germans occupied the south of France, he went into hiding. It was during this time that he met his future wife, the painter Marie-Anne Lansiaux. Lansiaux became the subject of one of Ronis' most famous photographs, "Provençal Nude" (1949). His wife died in 1991 and there are no immediate survivors.
In 1944 Ronis returned to Paris. In 1946 he joined the Rapho photo agency. Edward Steichen included him in two important exhibitions at the New York Museum of Modern Art, "Five French Photographers" in 1951 and "The Family of Man" in 1955. In 2005, a retrospective of his work was shown at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.
Despite his failing health, Ronis had traveled to the Arles photo festival just this past July to receive a special honor and to view the retrospective of his work that was organized for the Rencontres d'Arles.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, praised Ronis as "the chronicler of postwar social aspirations and the poet of a simple and joyous life."
In August when the Paris newspaper "Le Figaro" asked him how he would like to be remembered, he said simply, "As a fine fellow and a good photographer."
Hasted Hunt will become Hasted Hunt Kraeutler. The gallery has relocating to 537 West 24th Street, which is the ground floor gallery space formally occupied by Charles Cowles.
The gallery also added Joseph Kraeutler as a new partner. Kraeutler has most recently been managing director of Klever Holdings, where he handled its sub¬stantial art holdings and negotiated private treaty sales on behalf of a select group of clients. Before that position he was New York director of photographs with Phillips de Pury & Co. He began his career in New York at Janet Borden, Inc., after finishing degrees in art and business.
The gallery is open from 11 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment.
Contact information remains the same: phone: 1-212 627-0006; fax: 1-212 627-5117. But the email has changed to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
The gallery is now representing Edward Burtynsky and will kick off the new space with the international debut of "Edward Burtynsky: Oil", which runs until November 28th. This exhibition is produced in conjunction with an accompanying monograph from Steidl and a major show for Burtynsky at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC.
The Photo Review, a critical journal of photography, will hold its Annual Benefit Auction on Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 7 p.m. in the Dorrance-Hamilton Building at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
The event will feature an international slate of photographers, as well as a host of Philadelphia artists. Beginning and experienced collectors alike will have the opportunity to bid on work by such historic masters as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward S. Curtis, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Leonard Misonne, Gordon Parks, Man Ray, Herb Ritts, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, Josef Sudek, Eugène Atget, Barbara Morgan and Clarence H. White.
Among the contemporary photo stars whose work will go on the block are Michael Bishop, Marilyn Bridges, Carl Chiarenza, Lois Greenfield, Jefferson Hayman, Henry Horenstein, Michael Kenna, Mark Klett, Elaine Ling, Joe Mills, Jeffrey Milstein, Bill Owens, Catherine Steinmann, George Tice, James Fee, Jonathan Torgovnik, Philip Trager, and Joel-Peter Witkin, while featured local luminaries include Andrea Baldeck, Paul Cava, Paula Chamlee, Susan Fenton, Larry Fink, Judy Gelles, David Graham, Nancy Hellebrand, Catherine Jansen, D. W. Mellor, Ray K. Metzker, Andrea Modica, Wendy Paton, Laurence Salzmann, Michael A. Smith, Sarah Stolfa, Ron Tarver, Daniel Traub, Stephen G. Williams, and Stanley Wulc.
In addition, a broad range of 19th-century photographs is up for bid, including work by Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, Édouard Baldus and Henry Dixon, as well as anonymous work including a wonderful large painted salt print of a woman in the original 1850s frame. According to Photo Review editor Stephen Perloff, prices will range from $50 to $8,000.
A silent auction, concurrent with the live auction, will feature photography and computer equipment and software, film and paper, restaurant meals, museum memberships, theater tickets, photography books, etc.
A preview will be held at the Dorrance-Hamilton Building on Friday, November 20 from 11 am to 5 pm, and on Saturday, November 21 from 11 am to 6 pm, just prior to the auction. Proceeds from the auction, a popular event since 1983, fund such activities as an annual juried competition for emerging photographers. Admission is free with purchase of the fully illustrated catalog, available through The Photo Review at 1-215-891-0214. Buyers may preview the auction now on-line, and place bids at http://www.photoreview.org/auction.htm .
Catalog: Fully illustrated catalog available for $12. Credit cards are accepted.
Contact: Stephen Perloff, phone: 1-215-891-0214; fax: 1-215-891-9358; email: email@example.com ; website: http://www.photoreview.org .
Photography conservator Jose Orraca died September 14th. For 40 years he was a premier conservator of photography and the teacher of many others who are currently practicing around the world.
Initially Orraca was a paper conservator at the Library of Congress in the late 1960s when he decided to specialize in photography. He studied photo chemistry at RIT. He went on to survey and conserve the Stieglitz bequest collections at the request of Georgia O'Keeffe, after which he became the conservator at the George Eastman House. He went on to teach conservation at the Winterthur Museum, where he also served as chief conservator.
As New York photo dealer Alan Klotz noted in his post about Orraca's death: "He was a good friend of mine since 1971, and he will be sorely missed. He was a student of mine in the first history of photography class I ever taught. We became fast friends. Teaching was of paramount importance to Jose, and his students were the center of his life. He was generous with his time and attention to their training, and in turn they were devoted to him and stayed in touch for years after their 'graduation'. Jose was an old soul, giving and warm, and wise. He was spiritual, expansive, and passionate about everything he did, from photography to cooking. He was famous for his Hispanic elegance, and style, his quick smile, and easy laugh…in all, a hard man to replace."
New York photography dealer Howard Greenberg recalls, "I always thought of Jose as an unsung hero. While he was a world class conservator and taught so many of our known and established conservators their trade, his Latin style was, perhaps, politically incorrect, and he never seemed to receive the recognition he earned and deserved. I will carry very fond memories of driving down from Woodstock, parking illegally, and spending time with Jose over conservation, information, stories and lots of laughs. The inevitable parking ticket, although I could little afford it, always seemed worthwhile. Jose was a real good guy. I'll miss him and hope that, somehow, in our photo world, he will be remembered for his accomplishments and warmth."
Orraca is survived by his wife Sadako and his son Carlos.
Jerry Burchfield, artist/photographer, curator, author and educator who lived in Southern California died from colon cancer on September 11, 2009, Orange, CA. He was 62 years old.
Burchfield was born on July 28, 1947 in Chicago. From 1973 to 1987, Burchfield was the co-owner with Mark Chamberlain of BC Space Gallery, a pioneering alternative gallery space dedicated to showing non-conformist contemporary photography. From 1987 to 2009, he was a professor of photography and photography gallery director at Cypress College, Cypress, CA.
The author of several books and catalogues on photography, Burchfield co-founded the Laguna Wilderness Press. Known as an environmentally conscious artist-activist, Burchfield's work received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. In April, 2004, Burchfield was the featured artist for Arts OC's 5th Annual Arts Awards.
In 2006, Burchfield received an Art in Public Places Award from the Architecture Foundation of Orange County and the AIA, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Artists for a Better World, and was the Honored Educator at the Western Regional Conference of the Society for Photographic Education. Also, during the summer of 2006, Burchfield, along with his colleagues in The Legacy Project, produced the Great Picture, which resulted in the world's largest functioning pinhole camera obscura and the world's largest photograph.
Artist Ted Kuykendall passed away recently in Roswell, NM. A memorial service will be held November 21st from 3-5 pm at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, 409 East College, Roswell, NM.
Kuykendall was born in Roswell in 1953. He apprenticed with the fiberglass sculptor Luis Jimenez. He learned the basics of photography through his friend Richard Schaeffer in 1975.
Six year later, while attending photography classes at the University of New Mexico, he began combining a variety of found objects and photographic prints to create sculptural “sets,” which he then photographed.
From 1985-1987, Kuykendall was a fellow at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, where he began producing large-scale prints, which explored sometimes bizarre juxtapositions and ambivalent spatial relationships.
In 1991, Kuykendall received the Willard Van Dyke Memorial Grant in Santa Fe.
In 2007, he was again awarded a fellowship to the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. The work produced during this residency was shown at the Roswell Museum and Art Center in October of 2008.
By Matt Damsker
PAUL OUTERBRIDGE: NEW COLOR PHOTOS
FROM MEXICO AND CALIFORNIA, 1948-1955.
Nazraeli Press, Portland, Oregon. 60 pages; 47 color plates. ISBN No. 978-1-59005-261-7. Edited with texts by Phillip Prodger, Graham Howe and William A. Ewing. Information: http://www.nazraeli.com .
After establishing himself as a leading New York studio and commercial photographer in the 1930s with stunning carbro color prints of nudes and still lifes, Paul Outerbridge wound up, through the vagaries of fortune, in Laguna Beach, CA, where he married and eventually died in 1958. But his Laguna years--during which he made frequent road trips through Mexico and California, snapping rural images and street scenes on 35mm Kodachrome slides--may well have yielded his greatest legacy.
William A. Ewing, in his preface to this excellent hardbound volume of Outerbridge's late work, seems to think so, noting that while Outerbridge's unseen and unsung Kodachromes cannot be said to have influenced subsequent color photographers, "his characteristic style and dramatic use of color clearly anticipate the work of …William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld…What has been called 'the New Color' bears striking parallels to this precursor."
Indeed, Outerbridge shot these on the fly, with no intention of spawning an aesthetic movement or laying claim to a photographic postmodernism that Eggleston et al would so consciously affirm two decades later. In that sense, Outerbridge was no visionary so much as a master of the color process and a superb composer of imagery, who began to focus his curiosity and instinct on the subject matter at hand. The result was a trove of casually inspired masterworks that can stand beside Cartier-Bresson on one hand and Eggleston on the other, blending narrative moments with uninflected observation, all of it in the sunlit-saturated colors that would eventually win acceptance in the art world.
Where Outerbridge most anticipates the likes of Eggleston, he captures a certain Kodachrome banality--disconnected figures glimpsed at a gas station in Mazatlan, for example, with no compositional style in evidence. Still, such a photo is all eye and gut, drawn to the bright industrial architecture of the gas pumps, while the dust and foliage of Mexico make the moment palpable and resonant. More typically, Outerbridge was drawn to the traditional image--children and old folks assembled on a street corner in a telling tableau of time and social realism, or scenes of fish markets and barrio restaurants with brute commerce and the red accents of Coca-Cola signs in easy coexistence.
For the most part, Outerbridge composed with care, waiting for the image to coalesce, aiming for the picturesque and sometime delivering pretty shots that don't cut very deeply--a postcard image of tourists at a coastal lookout in Baja California, for example, captured from a perfect distance that yields a measured mix of loamy brown earth, sun-bleached rocks, slate seas and cloud-adorned skies. But turn the page, and a candid image of well-dressed guests in a sunny Mexican hotel lobby brings us a fleeting whiff of 1950 and also suggests the tonalities and psychic space between people and places of an Edward Hopper painting. Or else there is a photo so striking in its density--groups of fish-loaders, for example, on a dock, with men and objects pressed tightly together in the frame, shadows abutting rich colors, mixing close-up and long shot with uncanny visual coherence. Clearly, Outerbridge was capable of timeless, painterly portraiture; he was also, as these treasures prove, ahead of his time.
GRAHAM HOWE: SLY CONSPIRACIES--PHOTOGRAPHS 1968-2008.
Essay by Colin Westerbrook. Published in conjunction with an exhibition organized by UCR/California Museum of Photography, an institution affiliated with ARTSblock, the University of California, Riverside. 153 pages; approximately 125 color plates. ISBN No. 978-0-9823046-2-4. Information: http://grahamhowe.org ; http://www.curatorial.com ; email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Happily, the same Graham Howe who contributes an essay to the Paul Outerbridge book now has an impressive volume and touring exhibition of his own, spotlighting some four decades of his own varied photography. As Colin Westerbrook, director of the California Museum of Photography, Riverside, notes in his essay, Howe is "mostly recognized as a photo-curator, art writer, and the CEO of Curatorial Assistance, Inc., an arts organization he founded in the late 1980s…But beneath the mild-mannered businessman's façade, the mischievous photographer has continued to lurk."
Mischievous, as Westerbrook explains, because Howe's doesn't comfortably fit into any standard categories of photography but instead feeds off of Conceptualism (without really fitting into that either). A street photographer, a studio artiste, a surrealist--Howe is all and none of these so much as he is a restless eye with a wonderful talent for expressiveness, playfulness and for seeing photographic possibility in anything.
The chronological nature of this book and exhibition allows us to trace his development, from his moody black-and-white landscapes, hedges, odd objects, and suburban textures of England, France, Australia and Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s to his most recent explorations: color-saturated studies of objects from a Las Vegas dump, in which mattress springs, children's dolls, discarded underwear, clothes hangars, red suitcase linings and pornographic snapshots tell no tales of Sin City.
In between, Howe shows us how American freeways course through the Southwest, adding their rhythm and purpose to the desert's harsh, random sprawl; how the stone monuments and concrete blocks of Europe and elsewhere seem to contain time and history in inscrutable compressions of energy; how forest images and still lifes arranged in grids suggest something about our ways of seeking order; and how full-frame landscapes, horizon-less, can be wonderful, natural abstractions.
Or not. Howe's artful charm lies in his lack of insistence about any of his subjects. They exist for him and his camera, and so they exist for us, but there's always a sense that he is open to what they may mean or how they may affect us. By 1984, his "Color Theory" series bathes everyday objects in spectrographic plays of luminous light, a highly artificialized portfolio of studio work that is as far removed from his landscapes as can be, which may be the point. Howe seems determined not be categorized or easily identified by any one photo or any era of his artistry, and this gives him the total latitude he requires to approach the medium from any and every side.
DARFUR: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LUCIEN NEIMAYER.
Forward by Gov. Bill Richardson. University of New Mexico Press. 90 pages; approximately 70 color prints. ISBN No. 978-0-8263-4619-3; hardcover. Information: http://www.unmpress.com ; phone: +1-800-249-7737.
Easy as it is to focus on contemporary photography as an aesthetic medium struggling to integrate its 19th-century legacies and limitations with its 21st-century digital freedom, portfolios such as this remind us that photography's pure documentary power--and duty--can't be ignored. Lucien Niemayer, a Sante Fe-based photographer who has traveled widely to capture the human condition in extremis, has chronicled the holocausts of Rwanda and Sudan before. This latest volume takes us into Darfur, the largest region of Sudan, where a humanitarian crisis continues, bred from the imposition in 1983 of Muslim sharia law by the Sudanese government and the genocidal ethnic cleansing waged against Sudan's non-Muslim population.
The politics--if that is the word--of the Sudanese struggle are addressed here by Gov. Bill Richardson in his essay, while Niemayer's photographs transcend the issue with their emphasis on a besieged, yet hope-borne humanity. Squalor and suffering are at the edge of these images, certainly, and especially in Niemayer's shots of impoverished Nyala, a city of some two million where food, infrastructure, sanitation, clean water, and electricity are scarce. But Niemayer's subjects find the means to survive and smile, cradling their children amidst a towering infant-mortality rate and very little medical aid.
Moving to the New Sereif refugee camp outside of Nyala, Niemayer locates color--that is, life--in the barren, brown landscape by focusing closely on the people, many of them the Fur tribes people, who have been forced into the camp yet who cling to their tribal identities and proudly weather the indignities of the day. The women and children are expressively at the center of things here, their heads wrapped in brightly hued and immaculately white shawls, carrying on in makeshift, one-room schools and staring with a solemn strength or hopeful joy at the camera.
Neimayer brings us as close to these faces as he can with his camera, employing a frontal style that emphasizes the sheer humanity of each subject, especially the men, who confront us with stolid, stoic self-regard. Several images remind us that starvation stalks this land as much as does hope, as in the image of two withered boys in the Jach refugee camp. But there is also deliverance, or at least momentum--Muslim elders are seen welcoming the relief planes that bring food and supplies to the camps, while the efforts of the everyday are largely confined to survival, as women and children move to and from a sole well. Water is life and, in Darfur, carrying water is reason enough for happiness despite the burden. Niemayer's simple photographs clarify this reality as potently as a cool drink quenches thirst.
Matt Damsker is an author and critic, who has written about photography and the arts for the Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Philadelphia Bulletin, Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. His book, "Rock Voices", was published in 1981 by St. Martin's Press. His essay in the book, "Marcus Doyle: Night Vision" was published in the fall of 2005.
He currently reviews books for U.S.A. Today.
(Book publishers, authors and photography galleries/dealers may send review copies to us at: I Photo Central, 258 Inverness Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914. We do not guarantee that we will review all books or catalogues that we receive. Books must be aimed at photography collecting, not how-to books for photographers.)