Tuesday, July 13, 2010
NEW ARRIVALS: Photography
Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Eyes in His Eyes
Frida Kahlo leans against a concrete wall, looking somberly down while an ankle-length skirt flutters around her. Elsewhere, the tight screws of plough blades stack interlocked on a warehouse floor, utilitarian subjects coalescing into a heady abstract pattern. From his first days as a photographer--with the backing of such greats as Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, Paul Strand and Henri Cartier-Bresson--Manuel Alvarez Bravo worked over a wide range of styles and subject matter--formalist abstraction, architecture, interiors, landscapes, still lifes, and portraits--with a consistent focus on the landscape and social geography of Mexico. In his concise vision of his homeland, it was both a real and symbolic landscape populated with subjects detained in dream world tableaux of desire, solitude, candor and foreboding. Eyes in His Eyes reintroduces some of the artist's overlooked masterpieces, and reveals, for the first time, a broad selection of never-before-seen images from his private archives. In his 80-year career, Alvarez Bravo printed, published and exhibited only a thousand images. This portfolio, culled with the help of the artist himself, and completed after his death, is full of unfamiliar abstractions, portraits, landscapes and street photography. It provides an invaluable re-entry into the visual poetry of one of Mexico's most gifted artists and a Modern master of photography.
Susan Meiselas: Nicaragua: June 1978-July 1979
Originally published in 1981, Susan Meiselas' Nicaragua is a modern classic--a seminal contribution to the literature of concerned photojournalism. John Berger praised the work for its ability to, "take us right inside a revolutionary moment... Yet unlike most photographs of such material, these refuse all the rhetoric normally associated with such pictures: The rhetoric of violence, revolutionary heroism and the glorification of misery." Nicaragua forms an extraordinary narrative of a nation in turmoil. Starting with a powerful and chilling evocation of the Somoza regime during its decline in the late 1970s, the images trace the evolution of the popular resistance that led to the insurrection, culminating with the triumph of the Sandinista revolution in 1979. The 2008 edition includes Pictures from a Revolution, a DVD in which Meiselas returns to the scenes she originally photographed, tirelessly tracking down the subjects and interviewing them about the reality of post-revolution Nicaragua. The DVD booklet features a new interview with Meiselas in which she discusses the history of the project.
Wallace Berman: Photographs
The quintessential visual artist of the Beat generation, Wallace Berman's influence has continued to radiate throughout the American art scene and in our popular culture since the 1950s. As an artist, Berman worked in relative obscurity up until his premature death, at the age of 50, in 1976. Since then, however, interest in his work, and recognition of its importance, have steadily increased. The subject of the recent--and highly lauded--traveling exhibition and accompanying catalogue, Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle, he was the central and binding figure in a diverse community of artists, poets, actors and musicians, and was revered for his wisdom as well as his achievements as an artist, publisher and filmmaker. However, until the 1999 discovery of an archive of his photographic negatives, very few people have known that Berman was also an extremely accomplished photographer. He documented the West Coast Beat culture of the 1950s, the first stirrings of the hippie culture that took root in the canyons of Southern California in the 60s and the diverse cast of characters who passed through his famously creative world with amazing intimacy and candor. Berman's photographs are gathered here for the first time ever.
Mary Ellen Mark: Ward 81
In 1975, photographer Mary Ellen Mark was assigned by The Pennsylvania Gazette to produce a story on the making of Milos Forman's film of Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, shot on location at the Oregon State Hospital, a mental institution. While on set, Mark met the women of Ward 81, the only locked hospital security ward for women in the state: The inmates were considered dangerous to themselves or to others. In February of 1976, just before the ward closed (it ceased to exist in November of 1977, when it became the female section of a coeducational treatment ward), Mark and Karen Folger Jacobs, a writer and social scientist, were given permission to make a more extended stay, living on the ward in order to photograph and interview the women. They spent 36 days on Ward 81, photographing and documenting. Jacobs recalls their slow, inevitable assimilation: "We felt the degeneration of our own bodies and the erosion of our self-confidence. We were horrified at the thought of what we might become after a year or two of confinement and therapy on Ward 81." This new hardcover edition adds 10 pictures to the original.
Surfing San Onofre to Point Dume: Photographs by Don James
Back in print and available from D.A.P. for the first time, this beloved best-seller tells the story of the heady and innocent years of Santa Monica's nascent surf scene just prior to America's entry into World War II. Beautifully designed, this intimate, album-sized collection of photographs, printed in rich duotones and evocative color, captures the optimism and experimentation, the styles, the flirtatiousness and the freedoms taken--all from an insider's point of view. They were made by the young Don James, a teenager who documented the scene with his father's old Kodak folding camera when he wasn't up on a longboard himself. Out in the surf, down on the sand, aboard somebody's boat, dancing around a campfire, back-flipping off the lifeguard stand, collecting lobster, drinking at the bar and generally wearing as little as possible, here are the regulars of the southern California beach scene, un-self-conscious and perpetually glamorous, alongside loving portraits of the beach and the ocean themselves.
The viewing public's image of Weegee is of the prototypical New York tabloid news photographer: tough, garrulous and on the scene, ready to cover two murders in one night. But the inventive Jewish immigrant Arthur Fellig (1899-1968), who assumed the self-mocking nickname Weegee, was also one of the most original and creative photographers of the twentieth century. His work for The New York Times, the Herald Tribune, World-Telegram, Daily News, Post, Journal-American and Sun, his images of the masses at Coney Island, the confrontation of wealth and poverty at opening night at the opera, and the aftermath of brutal crime scenes are, by now, classics. But beyond the iconic images that have been so widely circulated, what do we know of Weegee the photographer--his history, his methods, his meaning? Drawing on ICP's unique archive of nearly 20,000 prints by this celebrated master, Unknown Weegee presents 120 photographs that have never been made available to the public. They reveal a politically astute and witty social critic and attest to the seriousness and self-consciousness of his photographic endeavors. With essays by Luc Sante and ICP curator Cynthia Young.
Robert Frank: Zero Mostel Reads a Book
The female subject absorbed in a book has prompted masterworks from Vermeer, Monet, Vuillard and Matisse, among many others. Less often portrayed are men in the act of reading--even Manet’s portrait of Émile Zola depicts the writer staring away from his open volume. Is it the supposed passivity of this act that has discouraged men from modeling it? This mini-genre remains even less explored yet by photographers, though it surely offers the supreme opportunity for coaxing subjects of either sex into unself-consciousness, if not outright reverie. In Zero Mostel Reads a Book, Robert Frank takes a male comic actor for his subject but flouts the genre’s quietist sobriety in every way possible. Mostel is depicted in cartoonish dimensions, bemused, baffled and apoplectic, as he makes his way through an unidentified hardback volume, while seated at a table or on a sofa in a large lounge area. First published in 1963 by The New York Times “for the fun of it” and a collector’s item ever since, this lovely publication relates a series of theatrical and playful vignettes in which Mostel’s most famous roles--Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Max Bialystock in The Producers--are clearly signaled. It is a delightful moment of slapstick in the Frank oeuvre.
Malick Sidibe: Chemises
That the beginnings of Malick Sidibé’s career as a photographer coincided with Mali’s independence from France (in 1960) was serendipitous, and he was certainly the right man to portray the country’s postcolonial euphoria. Sidibé focused on the explosion of youth culture and music in 1960s Bamako, photographing all the happening events and ceremonies, including football matches, weddings, Christmas Eve celebrations and parties at clubs like Los Cubanos, Les Caïds, Les Las Vegas--names that convey the influx of Western music into Mali. Visiting as many as five of these venues in one evening, Sidibé would capture Bamako’s youth in a close-up snapshot style that conveys the joyful conviviality of this era, and the blending of African and western cultures in dances like the Mali Twist, and in curious combinations of traditional and European clothing. Sidibé would then display his carefully numbered index prints, glued onto administrative folders, on his studio walls for customers--usually the subjects of his photographs--to peruse. These are the “chemises” of this book’s title. As an invaluable document of 1960s Mali, and as a large portion of Sidibé’s oeuvre, Chemises is an essential volume for anyone interested in contemporary African photography.
Born in Mali in 1935, Malick Sidibé opened his own studio in Bamako in 1958. His photography is now exhibited around the world, and he is considered one of Africa’s greatest portrait photographers.
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers
Henri Cartier-Bresson's writings on photography and photographers have been published sporadically over the past 45 years. His essays--several of which have never before been translated into English--are collected here for the first time. The Mind's Eye features Cartier-Bresson's famous text on “the decisive moment” as well as his observations on Moscow, Cuba and China during turbulent times. These essays ring with the same immediacy and visual intensity that characterize his photography.
Raymond Depardon: Manhattan Out
Acclaimed French photographer, filmmaker and journalist Raymond Depardon arrived in New York in the winter of 1980. He came to visit a friend who had just taken a job in the city, and to kill time he strolled around the streets with his Leica. As a self-imposed constraint, and to encourage serendipitous results, he decided to take pictures without ever using the camera's viewfinder. Working incognito throughout the nooks and crannies of New York City, Depardon amassed two or three rolls a day--but when the time came to assess the results, he was thoroughly disappointed. He never mentioned the experiment to anybody and has only now decided to unveil these "blind" pictures to his public. Reexamining the work some 27 years "after the photographs were taken, Depardon was surprised to discover that most of his subjects were aware that they were being photographed, and that consequently the images contain more artifice than he had expected. His subjects project an affect of indifference in their knowing glances towards the camera lens, thereby immortalizing the very spirit and charm of 1980s New York, a period for which there is increasing fondness and nostalgia today. With an essay by the great philosopher Paul Virilio, this monograph opens up an exciting and hitherto lost chapter in Depardon's storied career.
May Ray: Fotografie/Photographs 1925-1955
Hardcover (out of print)
Thomas Ruff: Jpegs
How much visual information is needed for image recognition? A pretty small quantity of data will go a long way for the brain and the computer, both of which take shortcuts for the sake of speedy comprehension. In the Jpegs series, German photographer Thomas Ruff exploits this imprecision in digital technology, locating online jpegs and enlarging them until the pixels emerge in a chessboard pattern of near abstraction. A closer look at these images reveals that, in addition to the degeneration of the image into a digital grid, the color and brightness generated by the algorithms of the compression also become visible. Many of Ruff's works in this series focus on idyllic, seemingly untouched landscapes, or conversely, on scenes of war and nature disturbed by human manipulation--subjects ill suited to disruptive pixelation, and therefore perfect for Ruff's purposes. Taken together, these images constitute an encyclopedic compendium of contemporary visual culture that also engages the history of landscape painting. A fittingly deluxe and oversize volume, Jpegs is the first monograph dedicated exclusively to this monumental series.
Robert Frank: Black, White and Things
Inscribed with the quote, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly / what is essential is invisible to the eye,” by writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Robert Frank's handcrafted 1952 book, Black White and Things, was made in an edition of three identical copies designed by Werner Zryd, each with a spiral binding containing original photographs of Frank's travels to cities including Paris, New York, Valencia and St. Louis. First reprinted for an exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., in 1994, this edition has now been designed in a smaller format by Frank. The three categories “black,” “white” and “things,” are shaped more by mood than subject matter: vastly different images—Frank's first wife reclining with their newborn baby, peasants squatting against a flaking wall in Peru and a business man strolling past a snow-filled tree in London—are all gathered in the “white” section, for example.
Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard
The American postcard came of age around 1907, when postal deregulations allowed correspondence to be written on the address side of the card. By 1914, the craze for picture postcards had proved an enormous boon for local photographers, as their black-and-white pictures of small-town main streets, local hotels and new public buildings were transformed into handsomely colored photolithographic postcards that were reproduced in great bulk and sold in five-and-dime stores in every small town in America. Postcards met the nation's need for communication in the age of the railroad and Model T, when, for the first time, many Americans often found themselves traveling far from home. In the Walker Evans Archive at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a collection of 9,000 such postcards amassed by the great American photographer, who began his remarkable collection at the age of 10. What appealed to Evans, even as a boy, were the vernacular subjects, the unvarnished, "artless" quality of the pictures and the generic, uninflected, mostly frontal style that he later would borrow for his own work. The picture postcard and Evans' photographs seem equally authorless, appearing as quiet documents that record a scene with both economy of means and simple respect. This volume demonstrates that the picture postcard articulated a powerful strain of indigenous American realism that directly influenced Evans' artistic development.
Walker Evans (1903-1975) was the progenitor of the documentary tradition in American photography. American Photographs (1938), published to accompany his first retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, is widely considered the monograph against which all other photography books must be judged.
Dayanita Singh: Sent a Letter
Limited Edition Slipcased Set
Dayanita Singh has been making small photo journals of her travels in India for some years now. Each book is made with a certain person in mind, either one she has made the journey with or one that was on her mind on her travels. She makes two handmade copies, one remains with her (she calls this her kitchen museum) and the other with the friend it was made for. A diary with coded images of a time shared. SENT A LETTER contains 7 of these diaries including one of Nony Singh’s photographs of her daughter growing up. The diaries are in accordion folds and open into a mini private exhibition in her friends’ homes. They are presented in a handmade cloth box.
Kurt Hollander: Sonora
Known locally as the “witchcraft market,” the Sonora Market in Mexico City undoubtedly has the cure for what ails you. According to pilotguides.com, Sonora has “rattlesnake skins, desiccated hummingbirds and dried fox skins as well as the live articles like iguanas, frogs and squirrels...” It houses what is arguably the highest concentration of shamans, santeros, voodoo and natural remedies in the world. Stalls are flooded with a seemingly infinite variety of powders, sprays, soaps and incense that claim, through bright colors and delightfully kitschy illustrations, to help one find a job, money or love, to ward off evil spells or help children do well in school. Though much of the appeal of this volume comes from the numerous reproductions detailing the pop aesthetic that has been developed to advertise these aids, a look at the instructions and prayers that accompany the products reveals a darker world of extreme economic, spiritual and sexual suffering. The book contextualizes these advertisements within a culture where magical thinking offers hope to those in desperate search of a panacea.
Editor and writer Kurt Hollander is originally from New York City, and has been living in Mexico City since 1989. He writes for The Guardian and The New York Times. He is also the author of El Super (2006), a visual study of Mexican consumer products.
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