TAUBMAN FAMILY RELIQUISHES CONTROL OF SOTHEBY'S IN A RESTRUCTURING OF STOCK; HEFFEL LAUNCHES MAJOR PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE AUCTION; YOUNG AMERICA: THE DAGUERREOTYPES OF SOUTHWORTH & HAWES ON EXHIBIT; PEOPLE AND PLACES IN THE NEWS; NEW PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS/CATALOGUES; PHOTO MAGAZINE GETS A NEW NAME AND A SHOT OF COLOR
TAUBMAN FAMILY RELIQUISHES
CONTROL OF SOTHEBY'S IN A
RESTRUCTURING OF STOCK
Sotheby's Holdings, Inc.'s largest shareholders, A. Alfred Taubman, his family and affiliates, have exchanged 14,034,158 class B shares of the company owned by them for $168 million in cash and 7.1 million class A shares of the company. As a result of the transaction, the Sotheby's dual class super-voting share structure, which has been in place since its initial public offering in 1988, has been eliminated, and all remaining class B shares (which previously carried ten votes per share) have been automatically converted to class A shares (which carry one vote per share) on a one-for-one basis pursuant to the company's charter. With this exchange, the total number of shares outstanding has decreased by approximately 11% to 57.3 million shares. There is now a single class of common stock outstanding with each share entitled to one vote. The Taubman family now owns 7.1 million shares, representing 12.4% of total shares and votes outstanding. Prior to this transaction, the 14,034,158 class B shares owned by the Taubman family represented approximately 22% of the total shares outstanding and 62% of the total votes outstanding. Each class B share carried ten votes per share and the class B shares were entitled to elect 75% of the members of Sotheby's board of directors.
Sotheby's Holdings, Inc.'s Chairman Michael I. Sovern said: "The board of directors believes it is in the long-term interests of Sotheby's and all Sotheby's shareholders to eliminate the controlling rights of the class B shareholders and combine our two classes of stock into a single structure, one much more attractive to investors which allows governance more consistent with the best practices of public companies. We also anticipate that the transaction will have an overall positive impact on future earnings per share as we will have significantly reduced the number of shares outstanding."
Sovern continued, "We appreciate the clear indication of confidence in the strength of our business and the endorsement of our management team that the Taubman family's decision to remain as significant shareholders represents."
Actually, that "confidence" and "endorsement" looked more like the SEC rules and Sotheby's handcuffed the Taubmans to that part of the deal. As the Sotheby's release noted: " Under the terms of the transaction agreement entered into between the Taubman family and Sotheby's, the Taubman family also has agreed not to sell shares of the Company until September 2007, except pursuant to aggregate sales at levels permitted under Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933. In addition, the Taubman family has agreed to various standstill provisions in connection with the transaction."
It was no secret that Sotheby's was still suffering from the connection to Taubman and his illegal activities while Sotheby's chairman. Taubman served a 10-month jail sentence in 2003-2004, and other investors were chaffing from what they considered cavalier actions by Taubman, who maintained family board control despite his white-collar crime. Sotheby's stock jumped nearly 5% on the news.
President and CEO Bill Ruprecht said: "The significant improvement in our results over the last several years and the strong financial position the company now enjoys have made this important transaction possible. We have just reported the best second quarter of revenues in our history and the best profits since 1990 and we are optimistic about the continued strength of the art auction market.
"This transaction aligns voting rights with the economic interests of our shareholders and eliminates the inefficiencies of a dual class share structure. We believe that simplifying our structure will enhance share liquidity, increase our strategic and financing flexibility, have a positive impact on earnings per share and place all of our shareholders on an equal footing. We are confident of our position in the marketplace and our prospects and believe that this transaction is a very prudent use of our financial resources."
Sotheby's says it will use cash on hand and additional borrowings to finance the transaction.
Robert S. Taubman, Taubman senior's son, will remain on the board, but will step down as a member of the executive and nominating committees. In addition, Jeffrey Miro, a current member of the board, has indicated he does not intend to seek re-election at the 2006 annual meeting of shareholders.
HEFFEL LAUNCHES MAJOR
PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE AUCTION
Heffel Gallery will close on its major online auction this Saturday, September 24 starting at 4 pm EST. The web site for the photography auction can be found at: http://www.heffel.com/New/online/Lots.aspx?Search=0&ID=0&Page=1&AucID=-1
. If this connection breaks in transit simply go to I Photo Central's Calendar at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/calendar/calendar_items.php/5
and scroll down to the Heffel logo and click on it.
The Canadian firm has put together an impressive line-up for an online auction, including photography from such major photographers as Abbott, Baldus, Bourke-White, Brassai, Caponigro, Carter, Cartier-Bresson, Curtis, Davidson, Doisneau, Eisenstaedt, Evans, Faurer, Garduno, Hardy, Horst, Kenna, Klein, Magritte, Metzker, Moon, Morgan, Morris, Renger-Patzsch, Riboud, Siskind, Steichen, Stock, Tata, Tripe and Witkiewicz. Work by Canadian photographers, including Barbeau, Bourdeau, Karsh (a large Winston Churchill) and Vanderpant, are also up for sale.
There is a 15% premium but the prices are in Canadian dollars (about 86 U.S. cents to the Canadian dollar), effectively offsetting the premium.
For more information, contact either of the two Heffel locations: Toronto at 1-416-961-6505 and Vancouver at 1-604-732-6505. Photography expert Tessa Ohlendorf can also be reached by email at: email@example.com
KATRINA COVERAGE CONTINUES
This is a follow-on story to our initial story on the impact of Hurricane Katrina's impact on photography and culture of the area.
NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS
FIRE BACK AT FEMA CENSORSHIP
In the aftermath of the storm, there was considerable controversy when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from New Orleans (shades of Iraq's similar ban).
The National Press Photographers Association responded quickly and pointedly. NPPA president Alicia Wagner Calzada said, "It is entirely inappropriate for a federal agency to make demands on what journalists can and cannot shoot and publish."
"While events surrounding this disaster are emotionally charged it is important to remember that government agencies should not be allowed to decide what images or stories are important to the public. As we begin to look at the events that transpired after Katrina, stories and images from the area will play an important role.
"We are sensitive to the grief and the loss connected to Hurricane Katrina and are attempting to deal with these images in a way that preserves the dignity of those who have died, but we also believe that these images are a critical tool in telling the story of this terrible tragedy and a part of honoring those that have died is telling their story."
Calzada said that images from the storm and its aftermath will be used later to describe what happened, and to help with decisions that will affect efforts not only now but also for future disasters. "Attempting to dictate what images should or should not be made, or published, gives the impression of a federal agency that is more worried about its image and how they will be perceived than it does an agency focused on dealing with the problem at hand."
INSTITUTIONS SUFFER MIXED FATES
In Louisiana, William Greiner, who helped build the photography collection, reported to me that the Ogden Museum of Southern Art escaped relatively unscathed. According to Greiner and other reports, "The museum was not looted or flooded. It had generator power for most of the storm and aftermath, the director is now working hard to have power restored."
Many of Mississippi's historic sites, artifacts and documents have been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to assist with restoration efforts may contact the Foundation for Mississippi History, POB 571, Jackson, MS 39205.
FRIEDLANDER OFFERS PRINTS
FOR NEW ORLEANS MUSICIANS
Music is the heartbeat of New Orleans,” according to photogapher Lee Friedlander, who has visited the city often over the past fifty years.
To help New Orleans musicians recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he has donated for sale a group of photographs, all of which were made in New Orleans.
All of the purchase price will go directly to the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund, a non-profit organization. Checks should be made out directly to the organization.
Friedlander's 11 x 14 in. prints are priced at $3,000 and 16 x 20 in. and 20 x 24 in. prints priced at $5,000. My understanding is that these prices are actually lower than Friedlander's normal rates.
The prints, which are on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art may be purchased through: Janet Borden, Inc., 560 Broadway, New York, NY 10012; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
; phone: 1-212-431-0166.
Other photography arts groups are also making plans for benefits, and we will try to report on them in future newsletters.
YOUNG AMERICA: THE DAGUERREOTYPES
OF SOUTHWORTH & HAWES ON EXHIBIT
By Matt Damsker
From October 1, 2005-January 8, 2006, George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY; January 28, 2006-April 9, 2006, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Gallery, Andover, MA.
A thorough overview of the work of two of photography's earliest achievers, "Young America" makes clear that Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes were as good at marketing their wares as they were at making them. Partnering in 1843 at a studio in the heart of Boston, MA, Southworth and Hawes spent the next two decades bringing style and substance to the then-novel daguerreotype process, which had captivated the metropolitan corners of a youthful United States.
Claiming to offer "perfect Daguerreotypes," Southworth and Hawes never wanted for customers--nor for famous sitters such as Louisa May Alcott, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lola Montez, and Daniel Webster, all of whose Southworth & Hawes portraits are iconic images today, and several of which are on display here. But as this exhibition details, the partners were not content to merely expose their silver-coated plates and collect their fees. Instead, they trumpeted their innovativeness by offering their "Heads simply" images--cameos, essentially--which produced artful busts, along with delicately hand-colored portraits (thanks to Hawes' background as an oil painter), children's photos, and images of the recently deceased.
They also crafted their own "parlor stereoscope," to which they circulated season tickets to prominent citizens, who would extol the wonders of three-dimensional photography and generate even more business for the partners.
Working versions of the stereoscope are on display at this exhibit--along with such other S&H inventions as a brass photographic-plate polisher--and they still convey the charming illusion of depth quite well. The success and drive with which Southworth and Hawes drummed up revenue suggests that they had more than a touch of P.T. Barnum in them, but at the same time they were deeply serious about advancing the range of photography, and this show offers superb examples of their best efforts. They were, for example, determined to break ground by offering daguerreotypes that captured large groups of sitters as well as single portraits, and there are several plates that show how carefully they would arrange groups in their studio, which relied on natural lighting and posed a challenge for more than a few subjects at a time.
Southworth and Hawes were also among the first commercial American photographers to venture beyond the studio for subject matter, bringing the daguerreotype process outside and into an historical documentary role. The exhibition includes a wall of fascinating S&H studies that depict a recreation of one of the very first surgeries performed under anesthesia, as Dr. John Collins Warren used an ether-soaked sponge on a young seamstress named Athalana Golderman at Massachusetts General Hospital. The daguerreotype provides a window on this medical milestone with haunting clarity and immediacy.
So, too, did Southworth and Hawes train their lens on the simpler photographic pleasures of a cloudy Bostonian sky above the squat buildings of the day, or a military parade that passed below the high windows of their studio, along with pastoral images of Massachusetts scenery.
Throughout, the exhibit, which was reviewed while it was still up at the International Center for Photography in New York City, makes clear that Southworth and Hawes were as dedicated to the early evolution of photography as they were to their careers. The portraits of young women, for example, are careful studies of mid-19th century personality, capturing spirit and intelligence in simple, well-posed exposures that do not seem fussy or stilted today. Likewise, famous personages such as Daniel Webster are given their due, in a painterly style with sculptural detail, as stewards of the young republic.
For all their artistry, of course, Southworth and Hawes were no less scrupulous in their chemical-mechanical technique, which led to plates that are about as well preserved now as one could hope for after a century and a half. The daguerreotype process is a fairly complicated procedure involving highly polished silver-plated copper which becomes a black board (by reflection) upon which to make a picture. The light-sensitive coating of iodine, bromine, and chlorine acts with a vapor of mercury to form contrasting images, and the timing of the various parts of the process were, at the time of S&H, matters of trial and error. The plate would be further coated with a pure gold leaf to protect the image like varnish on a painting, after which it would be sealed under glass, with a border between to prevent any chafing.
Southworth and Hawes accomplished all this better than just about any other practitioners, and they preserved their work in special metal containers, so few of their surviving plates have the original period framing or casing. But they are well represented here with period reproduction matting by Alan A. Bekhuis of CasedImage.com, and wood frames from A.J.VanDenburgh Wood Products.
As for the lighting, daguerreotypes are best viewed in strong natural light from a horizontal source in otherwise dim conditions. While not utilizing this form of light, the exhibition still does a decent job of illuminating these treasures with carefully aimed overhead spots that allow for good, minimally reflective views. Thanks to this lovingly crafted show, the proof of Southworth's and Hawes' committed--and commercial--genius is still there for everyone to see.
PEOPLE AND PLACES IN THE NEWS
The J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM has a new director, MICHAEL BRAND, formerly director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Brand's strengths are in Asian art and raising funds. It is unclear whether or not he will be as supportive of photography as past directors. He did not really support much of a photography program at VMoFA, but perhaps the Getty's new mix will encourage him to branch out.
SOPHIE GORDON has been named the new curator of the ROYAL PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION at Windsor Castle. She will leave her former post at the Alkazi Collection at the end of this month.
ANNE BALDASSARI will become the new director of the PICASSO NATIONAL MUSEUM on October 22nd. Her show "Picasso/Dora Maar, the Red Period" is scheduled for February15, 2006.
GORDON BALDWIN has retired from the J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM. He will continue as a photography curator, however, starting with an exhibition for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
My friend FRANÇOISE SCHEIN is one of a group of artists and architects involved in the redesign of the Luxembourg RER station in Paris. The exhibition, sponsored by the ASSOCIATION INSCRIRE, depicts information on and photographs of the Favela of Brazil, one of the worst slums in the world, yet with its own unique life. The redesign of the station incorporating the exhibit opens Sept. 23rd.
By Matt Damsker
ANDRÉ KERTÉSZ: THE EARLY YEARS.
By Robert Gurbo. Edited by Robert Gurbo and Bruce Silverstein. W.W. Norton & Co., 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110. Web site address: http://www.wwnorton.com
. W.W. Norton & Co., Ltd., Castle House, 75/76 Wells St., London, WIT 3QT. This book accompanies an exhibition held at Bruce Silverstein Photography, New York City, October-November 2005. Bruce Silverstein Photography, 535 West 24th St. New York, NY 10011; phone: 1-212-627-3930; fax: 1-212-691-5509. ISBN: 0-393-06160-4. 81 pages; 61 plates.
The formative work of a great artist affords an obvious opportunity to read perhaps too much into his later, greater achievements, but in the case of Andre Kertesz, it's fascinating to observe how consistently the seeds of his mature work were sown in his early photographs. This wonderful book--and its accompanying exhibition in October and November of this year at New York City's Bruce Silverstein Photography--is the first devoted solely to Kertesz's earliest vintage photographs, the so-called "Hungarian Contacts" that were discovered in a small, all but forgotten box after the artist's death in 1985.
Under the circumstances, these tiny prints would be charming regardless of their quality, but they reveal all one could hope for from a great photographer--an instinctive eye for affecting yet unsentimental composition, and a distinctive style. Created during a 13-year period in his native Hungary (from 1912 to 1925), they tell us that Kertesz was joyously experimenting with the possibilities of the camera, exploring the expressive powers of distortion, shadow, and portraiture. Most of all, they are stamped with the vision of a true modernist.
This is evident in the very first print, an elegantly composed image of Kertesz's camera on its tripod, seen from the middle distance against a huge, shadowing tree, with a bright meadow in the background. By objectifying the very instrument of photography in this gently ironic manner, Kertesz invokes an almost Duchampian spirit. Other images are less conceptual, yet still touched with the shock of the new--as in a shot of two men pulling at a fallen horse ("Country Accident"), or of shadowy figures against a house in Budapest, the image dramatically framed by a thick L-shaped shadow.
Another photograph, taken from a high hillside vantage, explores the geometry of field, meadow, and farm structures with the rigor of a Cézanne and an inspired sense of the visual field, balancing the volumetric variety of the buildings with their complex placement in the landscape. Such formal explorations affirm Kertesz's seriousness about the dimension of photographic expression, while the portraiture that makes up the lion's share of these prints points to the powerful humanism that is often at the heart of his work.
Much of this, we realize, was engendered by his experience as a soldier during World War I, and Kertesz's camera brings us into intimate contact with those days. A 1914 self-portrait (one of many; Kertesz role-played a great deal in those days, to the extent of dressing as a woman in one photo) in a soldier's uniform reveals a skinny young Kertesz, diffidently posed against a stark wintry backdrop that hints of death. Then, in 1915, there is the breathtaking "Force March to the Front, Poland," for which Kertesz stepped outside the marching line of his regiment to snap a photo of the entire mass of soldiers snaking along the road for miles ahead. Other wartime shots, of the army in motion, on trains, or at rest, or hunkered down in the trenches, shooting at the enemy, are filled with urgency and immediacy.
As for the many intimate portraits collected here--of Kertesz and his wife, Elizabeth, along with his brother, Jeno--they are at once celebrations of familial love and, always, well-realized expressions of joy and possibility. The shots of Jeno, in particular, convey childlike glee, as Kertesz captures the lanky, clownish Jeno in all manner of playful guises--as a nude Pan with a flute, as an Icarus with wings scampering along the seaside, or as a dancing sprite silhouetted against the sky.
At the same time, the Kertesz whose camera had become an inseparable companion, documenting the whimsicalities and wonder of those days, was crafting a style and a modernist vision that would continue to blossom in his mature years. The images from the 1920s--of wandering violinists, street sweepers, figures in horse-drawn carriages confronting us in the hazy twilight, of nuns gathered at a cemetery--contain the classic touchstones of Kertesz, and stand up to his later work quite well. Indeed, as Robert Gurbo details in the book's informative essay, the young Kertesz was a romantic who looked for "the poetic" in everything, and especially in photography, which led him to heights of creativity even in these early shots.
"The war years were difficult for André," writes Gurbo. "First he contracted typhoid. Then, in 1915, he was shot and wounded. After being hospitalized and receiving experimental treatments, he would swim every day as part of his convalescence. It is here that he discovered and recorded his first 'distortion.' Sitting above the pool in the bleachers, he observed and photographed the rippling effects of the moving water that refracted his vision of the swimmers as they cut through the pool's surface (Underwater Swimmer, Esztergom, Hungary, 1917, plate 28). This altered state offered a visual paradox. A somewhat deformed, headless body is gracefully gliding through the frame--a hopeful metaphor of man, battered by war, somehow managing to progress."
IN FOCUS: PAUL STRAND. PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM.
Weston Naef, General Editor; introduction by Anne M. Lyden. Published by The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. ISBN-13: 978-0-89256-808-2. 144 pages; 47 plates; paperback. Getty Publications, 1200 Getty Center Dr., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682. http://www.getty.edu
Paul Strand's mastery spanned much of the 20th century, resulting in a body of photographic art that sets a high humanistic standard to match his compositional rigor. The sharply etched tonalities and dimensionality of his views are rewarding enough, but combined with a great portraitist's gift for capturing faces and figures at their most expressive, Strand's vision often seems peerless. The J. Paul Getty Museum is blessed with 186 Strand prints, and this collection of about 50 of them is a superb sampling that ranges from the misty pictorialism of his beginnings in 1913 to the rustic height of his mature style in Europe through the 1950s.
Strand's modernist credentials were forged impeccably, as a student of Lewis W. Hine in the early 1900s, and as a protégé of Alfred Steiglitz, who virtually declared Strand the future of the medium when he devoted the final issue of his publication, Camera Work, to Strand's photos in 1917. By then, Strand had absorbed enough influences--including the Cubist innovations on display at the watershed New York Armory exhibition of modern art in 1913--to break new ground with his images. And so it wasn't long before his pictorialist period--exemplified by a soft-focus, impressionist view of trees in Central Park--gave way to formal adventures and indelible shots, such as the 1915 photo, taken from an elevated vantage point, of pedestrians flowing through City Hall Park in New York. Worthy of Degas or Manet, this view of the crowd, with its subtle serpentine rhythm of figures and careful, vertical cropping, evokes Japanese art; yet the atmosphere is pure Manhattan.
In 1916, Strand began using a camera with a false lens that would allow him to photograph people on the street in close up without their being aware, since the false lens pointed forward while the real lens, under his arm, was set at 90 degrees from his line of sight. Strand's ethics may have been questionable, but the deception resulted in some deathless artworks, most famously his 1917 image of a blind woman, her coat buttoned with a municipal badge issued to beggars, and a sign with the word "Blind" hanging around her neck. This photo, which illuminates the invisible humanity of New York, resonates with modernist power, vaulting photography toward conceptualism--the textual prominence of the "Blind" sign suggests that we are as blind to her as she is to us--and also stands as a watershed in social realism.
Strand's purely formal explorations are no less important, though. A 1929 image of a rural shed in Quebec, surrounded by other outbuildings under a richly clouded sky, takes its lead from Cezanne's volumetric treatment of line, shape, and mass, yielding a black-and-white composition of great complexity and depth. Similarly, Strand's famous 1931 shot of New Mexico's Rancho de Taos church rivals Georgia O'Keefe's paintings of the same structure, with its high windowless bulk and wing-like buttress. Strand lets the pure form of the church take up almost the entire frame rather than set it in an expansive landscape, and the effect embodies the spiritual mystery and primitive architectural force of the place. Yet there's power as well in the simple celebratory photo of an apple tree in bloom somewhere in New England, of iced-over farmhouse windows and latched wooden barn doors, and of seascapes in which the light and dark of clouds, sky and sea are accented and contrasted by the human, animal and mineral details on the shore.
Through his wanderings in Mexico, France, Italy, and Scotland from the 1950s onward, Strand captured people, textures, objects, and landscapes with consistent artistry, from the poor Lusetti family and their noble Roman faces to the rugged Scot visages and stonework of the Outer Hebrides. The photographs speak for themselves, but there is also wonderful commentary throughout this book, beginning with a fine introduction by Anne M. Leydon, associate curator at the Getty, who also provides detailed descriptions of each plate. The volume rounds out with the transcript of a roundtable discussion about Strand and his work, featuring Leydon and five other photography experts. Their insights are generous, inspiring a deeper appreciation of Strand's achievement.
PHOTOGRAPHS: A SELECTED OFFERING 2005
Catalogue from Richard Meara Fine Books and Photographs Ltd., available from Jubilee Photographica, 10 Pierrepont Row, Camden Passage, Islington, London, NI 07860 793707; phone: +44(0)1932 863924; fax: +44(0)1923 860318; mobile: +44(0)7860 793707; email: email@example.com
. 64 pages; 60 photographs.
This is British collector and dealer Richard Meara's first major catalogue, stocked with 60 original vintage images from the 19th and 20th centuries. The selection is quite good, and the reproductions in this modestly bound and unfussy publication do justice to the originals, the condition of which is described, along with size and other specifics, below each image.
Meara has separated his selections into four groupings: The Jeweled Image, consisting manly of cabinet cards and cartes de visite; Exotic Travels; Early Practitioners; and Bizarre and Surreal. The result is a neatly organized trip through photography's early days, and its preoccupation with the celebrated, the unusual, and the taboo. An image of Queen Victoria, in plump mid-life profile, using a spinning wheel, is a classic, and perhaps Whistlerian, picture of its era, while H.L. Germons' portrait of "Millie Christine," black Siamese twins from Carolina, is poignant and dignified.
In fact, all of the images merit a bit more than a passing glance. The handsome visage of a young violinist, Anton Kubelik, dated 1902 and signed across the lower corner by Kubelik, is a striking picture of aesthetic youth. Similarly, a highly valued (at 800 pounds) half-plate French daguerreotype from 1850 of a young man in a cadet's uniform, with his friend leaning on his shoulder, conveys a nice sense of lost gentility. As for the exotica, it ranges from the Americas to Indonesia, and these rarities connect us with cultural moments both timeless and thoroughly dated. A platinum print of a nude Ceylonese woman, reclining casually, is a study in pure, unassuming voluptuousness, while an image of Japanese prostitutes standing outside their brothel ("Nectarine") in full kimonoed splendor, is somehow a tender portrait of its place and time. And a wonderful image of a "Chinese Hand," in this case a woman's hand with four of the five fingernails grown to great length, suggests the mysteries of the East in a simple close-up.
Other images remind us of early photographers' interest in racial characteristics, especially a group of six Zulu warriors in a studio setting, from 1900. Photographed in their tribal garb, and carefully exposed to emphasize skin tone, they regard us with wary pride. Less elegant, an 1870 group of four carte-de-visite-sized prints of black people posed in western domestic settings are variously titled "Negro," Negra," and "Mulata," as if for an anthropological study.
As for the early practitioners of photography, there is a fine image of Rome's Arch of Titus by Robert MacPherson, as well as a good Roger Fenton (of soldiers, posed in their Crimean camp in 1856) and some fine views of Italy by Giuseppe Alinari. The bizarre and surreal entries range from the near-pornographic (two "Filles de Joie" in a carefully staged erotic coupling, circa 1880) to the whimsical (a man and woman standing on stilts, for no particular reason) to the truly bizarre (two Zulu girls playing ping pong). The catalogue's final anonymous image--of a starving flute player in India, circa 1870--walks the line between exploitation and unflinching realism, but it is a powerful photo of poverty and humanity, as the boy's emaciated frame and tilted-back head, his mouth agape, near death, confront us with painful immediacy.
(Matt Damsker is an old friend who used to work for me as Editor-in-Chief on a magazine for which I was publisher. He 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 Marcus Doyle: Night Vision will be published October, 2005)
(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.)
PHOTO MAGAZINE GETS A NEW
NAME AND A SHOT OF COLOR
Inked Magazine, a new magazine for collecting fine art black and white photography, has changed its name to Focus Fine Art Photography Magazine or Focus Magazine for short. The change comes just in time for the launch of its third issue, which focuses on the works of master platinum printer/photographer Tom Millea. The third issue also highlights works from multiple galleries and photographers from California's Monterey Peninsula.
As announced in the Publisher’s Letter, Focus Magazine is also broadening its scope to reach collectors of color fine art photography.
For a PDF preview of the current issue, please visit http://www.focusmag.info/focusoct.pdf