Saturday, July 3, 2010
NEW ARRIVALS: Photography
Catherine Opie: American Photographer
This comprehensive new exhibition catalogue, published to accompany the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum's major mid-career survey of Catherine Opie's work, is the first to gather all of the artist's key projects to date in a single volume. Opie is best known for her subtle but potent portraits of people from the queer communities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. In this definitive volume, each of Opie's series--among them Portraits, Freeways, Domestic, Icehouses and In and Around Home--is reproduced in full color plates alongside works that were not displayed in the exhibition, allowing for the most complete overview of this important Los Angeles artist's work to date. In addition, this volume features a lead essay by exhibition curator Jennifer Blessing, which surveys Opie's artistic career and its historical contexts; a series of interviews with the artist by Russell Ferguson, Chair of the Department of Art at UCLA; and a brief personal reflection by internationally renowned novelist Dorothy Allison, whose work explores many concerns similar to Opie's. It also includes introductory essays on each of the artist's series by Nat Trotman, Assistant Curator at the Guggenheim, as well as a newly researched, exhaustive exhibition history and bibliography, making it the primary source for future research on Opie's work.
America and the Tintype
One of the most intriguing and little studied forms of nineteenth-century photography is the tintype. Introduced in 1856 as a low-cost alternative to the daguerreotype and the albumen print, the tintype was widely marketed from the 1860s through the first decades of the twentieth century as the most popular photographic medium. The picture-making preference of the people, it was almost never used for celebrity portraiture: It was affordable, portable, unique and available almost everywhere. Because of its ubiquity, the tintype provides a startlingly candid record of the political upheavals that rocked the four decades following the American Civil War-and the personal anxieties they induced. As this book's author, Steven Kasher, argues, the tintype studio became a kind of performance space in which sitters could act out their personal identities. Sitters brought to the tintype studio not just their family and friends but also the tools of their trade, costumes, toys, stuffed animals and other such props. Often they would enact stereotypes and fantasies that reflected or challenged conventional gender, race and class roles. Surprisingly, the tintype was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, rarely used in other countries, and this book demonstrates how this modest form of photography provides extraordinary insight into the development of national attitudes and characteristics in the formative years of the early Modern era. Featured in this book are more than 200 remarkable examples of tintypes, mostly drawn from the Permanent Collection of the International Center of Photography in New York.
Come Sunday: Photographs by Thomas Roma
In 1990, Thomas Roma began photographing the exterior of houses of worship in his native Brooklyn, which features more churches per square mile than any other place in the United States. One morning, the pastor of an African-American Christian church housed in a former Jewish temple invited Roma to join the congregation with his camera, explaining that God's work was not in the buildings, but in what went on inside. Roma eventually photographed more than 150 services in 52 African-American churches, richly fulfilling his desire "to make religious pictures for modern times." Only 100 copies of Come Sunday remain available, and each of these has been signed by the photographer himself.
Edward Weston: Nudes
Edward Weston was born in Highland Park, Illinois, in 1886, and began his career as a door-to-door portrait photographer in 1906. After a spell in Mexico City during the early 1920s--where he ran a studio with Tina Modotti--he moved to California and commenced the work for which he is most famous: close-ups of nature, nudes and landscapes. This volume celebrates Weston's nudes, of which Hilton Kramer wrote: “To Weston's eye... the landscape of the human body was an unending revelation of forms both voluptuous and abstract. His genius as an artist lay in his ability to respond to both with equal passion.”
A black-and-white photograph captures a woman, curlers in her hair and a baby in her arms, standing in a messy kitchen and saying, “How can I worry about the damned dishes when there are children dying in Vietnam?” California photographer Bill Owens is best known for his critically acclaimed series Suburbia, which was published as a monograph in 1972, and has long been considered one of the classic photo books of the era. For this influential and evocative project, Owens simply shot friends and acquaintances in his Livermore, California, neighborhood and allowed them to speak for themselves. Ordinary people had rarely been so riveting.
A comprehensive monograph, this volume consists of several sections of work from 1969 to the present, opening at the height of flower power, with images of the Beat generation, Woodstock and the protests against Vietnam. Owens has always remained intrigued by America as a subject: there follows a series of images focusing on urban America, its endless grids and homogeneous cities. In his most recent photos, many of which are in color and previously unpublished, Owens reveals how suburbia has evolved in the last 40 years--from the friendly place he captured in the 1970s to one characterized by sprawl and anonymity.
African American Vernacular Photography
These selections from the Daniel Cowin Collection make up an extraordinary group of images of African Americans in a variety of genres and poses, including formal studio portraits, casual snapshots, images of children, images of uniformed soldiers, wedding portraits and so-called "Southern-views" made for tourist consumption, all dating from 1860 to 1960. While some of the sitters are celebrities of their day, the majority are unnamed Americans posing for their portrait. They attest to photography's ability to both record personal history for private uses and to become a document--to document history in a wider context. The Daniel Cowin Collection, given to ICP in 1990 by its namesake, is made up of about 1600 photographs spanning from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, and spanning that era's range of commercial processes and formats--from postcards to stereographs, cartes-de-visite, tintypes, albumen prints and gelatin silver prints. Together they provide an important window into African American life during the period. African American Vernacular Photography reproduces 70 of Cowin's most exceptional color plates.
Eve Sussman & The Rufus Corporation: The Rape of the Sabine Women
Brooklyn-based Eve Sussman founded the Rufus Corporation, an ad hoc group of artists, dancers, actors and musicians who create videos, photographs and live events, in 2003. This volume compiles film stills from two works for which Sussman and her collaborators are most known. "89 Seconds at Alcázar" (2004) is a high-definition video tableau inspired by Diego Velázquez's painting "Las Meninas" (1656). The piece focuses on the 89 seconds when the Spanish royal family and their courtiers would have been in the exact configuration portrayed in the painting. The Rape of the Sabine Women--featuring a mesmerizing score composed by Jonathan Bepler--is an allegorical video that conflates the myth of Romulus' founding of Rome with David's painting "Intervention of the Sabine Women" (1796-99). It is set in an idealized, cinematic version of the 1960s that includes G-men and a decadent party in a chic International Style summer home.
Ray K. Metzker: Light Lines
From his early education at The Art Institute of Chicago in the late 50s Ray K. Metzker inherited the rich vocabulary of avant-garde photography between the wars: photomontage, solarization, multiple printing of negatives, unique perspectives, diagonals, etc. From his first exposure to photography, Metzker never lost the urge to experiment with the grammar and syntax of the medium, whether it was games played within the camera itself (the Doubleframes, for example) or complex manipulations in the darkroom (the celebrated Composites). He has drawn inspiration from the neighborhoods where he has lived (mainly Chicago and Philadelphia) and, increasingly, from nature--though the vegetation he depicts might be a weed-clogged vacant city lot as easily as the vast open plains of the American West. Decomposing, recomposing, deconstructing, reconstructing, Metzker reminds us of the great and inexhaustible potential of black-and-white photography when practiced by a master. With 180 tritone-printed images, this publication offers a rare opportunity to examine the full range of Metzker's brilliant and ever-evolving formal language.
Jock Sturges: Notes
Jock Sturges: Notes gives fans of his unforgettable images a glimpse behind the scenes of his working process, opening up his studio and notes to the viewer for the very first time. A selection of preparatory studies, shot as Polaroids, accompanies the finished works included here—offering visual testimony to the complex process and inspiration that underlies each of the gorgeous images his audience has come to love and admire.
Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920
Throughout his tenure as a registry clerk with the Immigration Division of Ellis Island, Augustus F. Sherman systematically photographed more than 200 families, groups, and individuals while they were being held by customs for special investigations. This volume provides an essential revaluation of Sherman's striking portraits, which predate August Sander's cataloging efforts by several years. A historical document of unprecedented worth, Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits includes almost 100 portraits taken from 1905 through 1920. The subjects are frequently dressed in elaborate national costumes or folk dress, emphasizing the variety and richness of the cultural heritage that came together to form the United States. Romanian shepherds, German stowaways, Russian vegetarians, Greek priests and Ghanaian women in elaborately patterned dresses, are treated with equal gravitas. The resulting body of work presents a unique and powerful picture of the stream of immigrants who came through Ellis Island. In its time, the material contributed to the larger project of ethnographic categorization and typology typical of the early twentieth century, much as Edward S. Curtis's portraits romanticized the “last Indians” or John Thomson's “Street Life in London” identified and codified social class in the late 1800s. Though originally taken for his own personal study, Sherman's work appeared in the public eye as illustrations for publications with titles such as “Alien or American,” and hung on the walls of the custom offices as cautionary or exemplary models of the new American species.
In this book, Peter Mesenhöller, Research Associate with the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of Anthropology in Cologne, Germany, provides new critical context and analysis of this rich collection, but also addresses the individual images as powerful, engaging photographs created by a master portraitist.
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