Sunday, March 31, 2013

Eggleston and Frank lead Christies April 5, NYC sale

The sale is led by one of the most important examples by Robert Frank to have ever been presented at auction. Frank made this print of Trolley - New Orleans, 1955 (estimate: $400,000-600,000), in 1961 for his two-person exhibition with Harry Callahan at the Museum of Modern Art, the last show organized by Edward Steichen before his retirement in 1962. It is the only early exhibition print of this image in private hands and the only one printed by Frank himself. Trolley - New Orleans, which graced the cover of Frank’s seminal book, The Americans, was identified by Sid Kaplan, Frank's printer since 1968, as a particularly difficult one to print. However, this example encompasses a full tonal range, with rich blacks and nuanced whites. Extending the exceptional provenance, Frank gave the present lot to Sidney Rapoport who developed a special form of offset lithography with which he printed the 1968 and 1969 editions of The Americans. The current owner acquired it from Mr. Rapoport.

Photographs by William Eggleston from the collection of Tom and Carolyn Young - Christie's is will present six lots on behalf of the Young family. These works symbolize the meaningful and enduring friendship of two significant artists who have had such an impact on one another and on those around them. Tom Young is a gifted abstract expressionist painter who was a founding member of the radical 10th Street co-operative galleries in New York City in the 1950s, where he worked alongside Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. He met William Eggleston in 1960 when he was an artist-in-residence at 'Ole Miss' (University of Mississippi). It was here that Tom became a close friend and something of a mentor. Around 1964, having abandoned his studies without graduating, Eggleston went to Paris to take photographs and returned to Memphis without a single shot. He explained to Young that he was unable to work because he disliked everything around him. Young suggested that Eggleston use this malaise as the basis for his photographs. Eggleston's subsequent 'democratic' approach was fully realized in the photographer's magnificent and disturbingly vibrant 'Greenwood, Mississippi' of 1973 (Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000), which is inscribed affectionately, 'To Tom, I love you my friend. Damn the tarantulas, full steam ahead.'

You can go to Christies site HERE, their e-catalogue is well worth a look.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Eggleston lawsuit - dismissed

William Eggleston - Untitled, 1970
A New York collector has lost his legal battle against the photographer William Eggleston in US federal court. Jonathan Sobel, a financier, says that his collection of more than 190 photographs by Eggleston, which includes limited edition prints, was devalued by an auction of Eggleston's works at Christie's New York in March 2012.

The sale was controversial because it included new, larger format editions of the photographer's famous dye-transfer images that the artist first produced in the 1970s and early 1980s. The 36 lot sale totalled $5.9m with the top lot, Untitled 1970, setting a world auction record for a single print by the photographer at $578,000 (est $200,000-$300,000).

Sobel sought damages from Eggleston and his son William Eggleston III, as trustees of the Eggleston Artistic Trust, for violation of the New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law (Acal), fraudulent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel.

From 2008 to 2011, Sobel bought eight limited edition works by Eggleston, each of which was individually numbered, measuring about 16 by 20 inches. The same images were consigned to Christie's but in a larger size (44 by 60 inches), and were digitally manufactured from computer-generated files.

The court papers state that "Sobel's belief that the works were limited editions was a principal factor in his decision to purchase them... he argues that the defendants violated the Acal by holding out the limited edition works as restricted to a maximum number of multiples and subsequently creating and selling the reprints." The court ruled that "nothing in the statute suggests that such behaviour violates the Acal". Sobel could not be reached for comment. 

“The decision is important because it confirms that artists who work in multiples will continue to have the right to use the images that they create,” Eggleston’s lawyer John Cahill of Lynn Cahill LLP, told ARTINFO in an e-mail. Virginia Rutledge, art lawyer and advisor and consultant to Eggleston's legal counsel, added that “the decision is right on the New York law, and is an important affirmation that artists are entitled to continue to work with images that they create to produce new editions. This is good news for artists, and their audiences.”
Sobel’s lawyer Thomas Danziger did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Through a representative, Sobel told ARTINFO: While the judge has given her opinion, we respectfully disagree with it and we do not think it is fair or equitable for photography or print collectors.” Though he did not specify whether he plans to file an appeal — in her decision, the judge denied his request to amend the existing complaint — Sobel seems determined to have the last word. We have become aware of potential new facts in our case as a result of a suit that has been filed in Tennessee, and we are reviewing that information at this time,” he said. 
Gareth Harris and Charlotte Burns - The Art Newspaper, and Julia Halperin ARTINFO March 29

Daido Moriyama at Steven Kasher Gallery NYC

Daido Moriyama, Provoke No 2, 1969
 NEW YORK, NY.- Steven Kasher Gallery presents an exhibition of new and classic photographs by Japan’s most important photographer, Daido Moriyama. This is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Moriyama’s work ever mounted in an American art gallery. Entitled Daido Moriyama: Now and Now, the installation, designed by Moriyama, has three sections. The front gallery will show panoramas in color and black and white, each containing 14 linked pictures that Moriyama has selected and sequenced from the Record series of publications (1972-ongoing). The middle gallery will feature large silkscreen-on-canvas prints created in 2007. The back gallery will present key iconic images. The photographs were taken in Tokyo, New York, Paris, Italy, and beyond, using both film and digital cameras.

Moriyama’s output since 1968 is legendary. He has produced over 150 books of his own photographs. His fan base is legion, and he has influenced several generations of photographers in Japan and abroad. He is as artistically potent now at the age of 75 as he was when his work began to make waves in late 1960s. His diaristic, rapid-fire, made-for quick-publication work seems particularly pertinent today in our era of social-network photography. Moriyama has had over 100 solo exhibitions worldwide. At MoMA he was a central figure in the groundbreaking 1974 New Japanese Photography, and is a key figure in the current exhibition Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde. In 1999 SFMoMA organized and exhibited the retrospective Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, which was also shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Japan Society in New York (jointly). In 2012, LACMA mounted Fracture: Daido Moriyama and the Tate Modern devoted its first ever retrospective of a photographer to Moriyama (along with a concurrent retrospective of William Klein).

“The crushing force of time is before my eyes, and I myself try to keep pressing the shutter release of the camera. In this inevitable race between the two of us, I feel I am going to be burnt up.” – Daido Moriyama Daido Moriyama was born in 1938 along with a twin brother, who died when Daido was two. In his mid-twenties, working as a photography assistant, Moriyama encountered Kerouac’s On the Road. Moriyama cites Warhol and Weegee as primary influences, as well as William Klein and Atget. Moriyama first came to prominence in the mid-1960s with his gritty depictions of Japanese urban life. His highly innovative and intensely personal approach incorporates high contrast, graininess, and tilted vantages to convey the fragmentary nature of modern realities. Moriyama’s images convey the artist’s boldly intuitive exploration of urban mystery, memory, and photographic invention. Moriyama’s work immerses us in the melancholic beauty of life at its most ordinary.

The exhibition runs March 28 until May 4, 2013

Daido Moriyama, Record No 8, Japan, 2007
Daido Moriyama, Record No 7, Tokyo, 2007
Daido Moriyama, Record No 6, Tokyo, 2006

Friday, March 29, 2013


I've posted before about UK based PHOTOBOOKSTORE and their information packed newsletter. And not without reason.Their March II mailing has just hit my inbox and as always it's full of substance and a whole library of photobooks that I can't wait to get my hands on. This mailing is divided into: new arrivals, from Japan, recent recommended
photobooks and out of print and rare. This is a great resource (and source) for anybody who wants to keep up to date with the photobook world. You can link to PHOTOBOOKSTORE - HERE.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

10x10 American Photobooks - need our support

Ten specialists from the photobook community are each selecting 10 contemporary American photobooks that they consider to be influential. These 100 books will be displayed in the 10x10 American Photobooks exhibit at the Tokyo Institute of Photography for a 4-week run in September 2013. The 10x10 project makes photobooks accessible to the international bibliographic community and builds upon the success of the first 10x10 event, which exhibited Japanese post-war photobooks in NYC in 2012.

The 10x10 team are producing a catalogue in collaboration with bookdummypress. The publication is a way for photobook addicts to experience the entire 10x10 project, even if they can’t jet over to Tokyo to see it. The stylish and inventive Japanese manga design-inspired edition will be released with the opening of the September 2013 Tokyo reading room. The bilingual Japanese-English publication will present illustrated selection lists from all the specialists, along with essays (not previously published) on American photobook culture by noted artists, writers, publishers, curators and bibliophiles. The 10x10 American Photobooks catalogue will provide the full 10x10 experience. 

The 10x10 project  needs the support of the photography community and have launched a crowd-funding platform to make the project possible.  You can go there HERE. There are only 9 days left to get this project off the ground, 70% of the funds are committed. Let's make it happen!

Here are the specialists selecting the books for the reading room:
1. Shannon Michael Cane / Printed Matter
2. Lindsey Castillo, Rebecca O'Keefe, and Grant Willing / The Camera Club of New York
3. Bruno Ceschel / Self Publish, Be Happy
4. Christina Labey / Conveyor Arts
5. Larissa Leclair / Indie Photobook Library
6. Leigh Ledare / Photographer
7. Harper Levine and John Gossage / Harper’s Books and Loosestrife Editions
8. David Senior / Museum of Modern Art Library Bibliographer
9. David Solo / Photobook Collector

10. Alec Soth and Brad Zellar / Little Brown Mushroom

Here are the specialists selecting the books for 10x10 online:
1. Adam Bell / Photographer and writer
2. Tom Claxton / Claxton Projects
3. Joerg Colberg / Conscientious
4. Matt Johnston / The Photobook Club
5. Melanie McWhorter / Photo-eye, Bookstore Manager
6. Eric Miles / Photo-eye, Director of rare books and online auctions
7. James Pomerantz / Photographer and Photo Researcher at The New Yorker Magazine8. Heidi Sanders / 6 Decades Books
9. Douglas Stockdale / The Photobook10. Philip Tomaru / Arts & Sciences Projects

Here are the writers for 10x10 essay collection:
1. Bryan Formhals / LVP Magazine
2. William E. Jones / Artist, filmmaker and writer
3. Evan Mirapaul / Photobook collector, writer
4. Andrew Roth / PPP Editions + Roth Gallery
5. Michael Saur / Writer
6. Ken Schles / Photographer, writer, bookmaker
7. David Levi Strauss / Writer
8. Miwa Susuda / Dashwood Books
9. Tony White / Maryland Institute College of Art
10. Bernard Yenelouis / Writer

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sean Davey - Dog Food and Oysters

Sean Davey is an Australian photographer whose work I like. In 2004 and in 2005 Sean visited the USA where he photographed with black and white film and a 35mm Yashica camera that he bought at a flea market in New York for $30. Sean traveled across the USA and into Mexico where he photographed the scenes and the people he came into contact with. Eight years after the first images from this series was made, they have been sequenced into a small book of 65 photographs with the intriguing title of Dog Food & Oysters.
The book is printed in an edition of 500 and is now available for pre-order. All copies of the book are numbered and signed by the author. To order a copy you can go HERE.

Sean Davey grew up in Canberra (Australia), where he studied photography throughout high school. Sean developed an early interest in documentary photography through his father’s Time/Life books. “I was enthralled by photographs without knowing who made them. Later I realised that my favourite images were made by the likes of Eugene Smith and Larry Burrows.” Sean’s first project (on political protests – made when he was 17) was exhibited at The Art Gallery of NSW in 1997.
After university and two years working as a sound recordist and camera assistant, Sean undertook a traineeship with Fairfax Media in Sydney. For three years he worked across numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Sun-Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Financial Review. In Sean’s first year as a trainee photographer he was nominated for a Walkley Award for news photography. In 2003/04 Sean travelled to Europe and the USA where he photographed freely for a year with black & white film. Since 2005 Sean has been primarily working on photography related projects in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Sean’s work has been exhibited at The Monash Gallery of Art (Melbourne), KickArts Contemporary Arts (Cairns), National Library of Australia, State Library of NSW and Cairns Regional Gallery, as well as in numerous group exhibitions. Sean is currently Manager of Projects and Education at PhotoAccess in Canberra, as well he teaches photography at Canberra Institute of Technology. In 2011 Sean opened The Photography Room in Queanbeyan, NSW.

Harry Callahan - retrospective at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg

Harry Callahan, Chicago, c. 1951
 HAMBURG.- Harry Callahan (1912-1999) is regarded as one of the most innovative and influential artists in the history of 20th-century US photography. Deichtorhallen Hamburg is taking the artist’s creative intensity, the aesthetic standing his oeuvre enjoys in the context of 20th-century US photography and the fact that 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of his birth as an opportunity to present his oeuvre in an extensive retrospective with over 280 works. The exhibition runs from March 22 through June 9, 2013.

The exhibition is to date the most extensive show of his work, and includes both his black-and-white gelatin silver prints and his color works produced using the dye-transfer process. Harry Callahan was one of the first to overcome the prevailing aesthetics of Realism by advancing the New Vision, which László Moholy-Nagy had established in the New Bauhaus in Chicago, and Ansel Adams’ so-called “straight photography” in an innovative, highly sensitive way.

Between 1946 and 1997 the Museum of Modern Art in New York alone honored Callahan’s photographic oeuvre in a total of 38 exhibitions. Together with the painter Richard Diebenkorn, Callahan represented the USA at the 1978 Venice Biennale, the first photographer ever to do so. Nonetheless, in Europe Callahan’s multifaceted work is still considered a rarity in the history of photography. In addition to photographs of nature and landscapes, Callahan’s oeuvre, spanning a period of nearly 60 years as of 1938, embraces pictures of his daily strolls through cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Providence, Atlanta, and New York.

Portrayed frequently in very intense light, his leitmotifs were streets, shop windows, buildings and pedestrians hurrying past. Very early on he regarded photography as a purely artistic medium, and saw himself as an art photographer rather than a representative of applied photography. In later years other works, in which his wife Eleanor and daughter Barbara were the focal point, were superseded by another major experiment: the photographs he took on numerous trips to France, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, and Ireland.

His works document the emergence of Modernism, which was taking an ever-greater hold on everyday life. Relating to his three main themes, nature, the familiar figure of his wife Eleanor, and cities, Callahan’s images reflect his life in ever-new references that become increasingly less interwoven with one another. At the same time they trace the social and cultural transformation in the USA discreetly, elegantly, and with a tendency to abstraction, recording the changes as a seismograph does earth tremors. In his images Callahan consistently reflects on both his own and the camera’s way of seeing.

A 256 page catalogue with texts by Julian Cox, Peter MacGill, Dirk Luckow and Sabine Schnakenberg, supports the exhibition. You can find it on Amazon, HERE.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Photobooks - 5 arrivals in my postbox

Here are five recent arrivals in my post box, all original, inventive photobooks and well worth a look. With thanks to, Matej, Filipe, Bruno, Thomas and Gabriele. Website links are below.

AMERICA, MY WAY - Matej Sitar - I am a photography artist based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In my work I am discovering and capturing the relationship between the individual and his surroundings. Besides the co text, the visualization plays a big role in my photographs.

BLUE MUD SWAMP - Filipe Casaca - my home is where you are, Lisbon, Portugal

COMPACT - Bruno Zhu 

HERRENREISE 2012 - Thomas Bonfert
thomasbonfert - Vienna, Austria

PELIKAN - Gabriele Harhoff
gabrieleharhoff - I am a photographer based in Hamburg, Germany.

Photography in a new light in major US museums

From the New York Times issue of March 20, there is an interesting piece, The Lens Rises in Stature. This is a take on how the major US museums are looking at photography today to better cater for a hungry audience of people who want to see photography shows. It's true people want to see photography shows, these shows are popular. And just as camera artists can always do it better, so too can public art museums.

Quentin Bajac, who recently arrived from the Pompidou Center in Paris to run the Museum of Modern Art’s photography department, had a somewhat different take on the way the Internet has changed things. We’re in a time when there are too many photographs online, he said. We have to help people learn to swim in that new ocean of images. He sees his mission as educating the eye. 
 Although Mr. Bajac has yet to curate his first show at MoMA, he signaled an approach different from the one seen in the exhibition currently on view: Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light. While such monographic exhibitions are important, Mr. Bajac said, I’m thinking of photography within a far broader context - with film and painting, architecture and drawing - making connections that show it to be equal in status with all the arts.

Britt Salvesen of the Los Angeles museum says she believes this generation of curators approach the medium with a broader outlook in part as a response to the way artists are using photography. You can’t draw boundaries anymore, she said. 

You can read the full story HERE.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

fototazo - a unique photography site

There are a lot of photography sites out there but fototazo is unique, and special. It's a  site that combines social giving and photography. Its mission is to raise funds to purchase equipment for young, emerging photographers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds from Colombia - and eventually from around the world - that demonstrate a high level of artistic ability and commitment. The grant program aims to serve those already building a career in photography whose development is currently limited by the inability to purchase necessary equipment.

Supporting fototazo not only allows a young photographer to continue their pursuit in the field, it also deepens the collective voice of contemporary photography by providing images from those who have historically been excluded from participating fully in the dialogue of the medium by its costs.

In addition to its microgrant program, fototazo runs an equipment delivery program explained here, coordinates a mentorship program for young emerging Colombian photographers discussed here, and also provides free bi-weekly photography classes in Medellín to the photographers selected to participate in the mentorship program.

fototazo features in-depth interviews and project releases of new work by selected contemporary photographers, writing from photographers on the work of other photographers and on their own images and an online gallery as well as more posts of original content. You can see the site links page for a complete listing of articles.

Donations to the current microgrant or to the fototazo general fund to support its operations can be made here. A page explaining how to apply for a grant can be found here.

For more information about how to donate used equipment, please send an email to

fototazo was launched January 26th, 2011 by Tom Griggs, a photographer and educator based in Medellín and Philadelphia.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gerry Badger - on line...

I came across Gerry Badger's new website. It's well worth a look. Apart from co-writing the two volumes of The Photobook: A History with Martin Parr, Gerry is an accomplished photographer not to mention photographic critic and architect. You can go there HERE.

Photographs from Berlin Series (2007 - 2010)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Photography - conceptual (or not), rules (or not)

In a recent post about WassinkLundren's bookwork Empty Bottles, on his always interesting blog Conscientious Joerg Colberg talks about conceptual photography. Joerg says - If you’re a conceptual photographer, chances are you’ll be either ignored or misunderstood (or both) by large segments of photoland. I think this is true. Why? Perhaps it's because photographers (publishers too) opt for the easy route of making and publishing documentary work that, well, doesn't demand too much, either of them or the reader of the work. Straight documentary photographs deal with the way things are - what you see is what you get. There are generally no hidden layers in this sort of work, nothing provocative, nothing that transcends it just being a photograph.

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. Sol Levitt wrote, Ideas alone can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made before hand. Thus the execution of a work is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

This said, I don't believe that conceptually driven work has to be anti-aesthetic. Surely it's a question of balance where content and form work in harmony and where the artist recognizes their responsibility to opens the reader to the possibility of a sense of wonder.

It seems to me that this sort of work best comes from the whole arena of one's experience, looking at the emotional issues that drives us all - hope, love, loss, impermanence, death. These are truths that resonate beyond what you might expect from pictures of coal mines or abandoned suburbs.

Joerg Colberg also talks about rules - I do believe very strongly that any photographer needs to understand the rules of her/his medium, regardless of what they’re doing. This may well be so, however I prefer Duane Michals's take - and in not learning the rules, I was free. I always say, you're either defined by the medium or you redefine the medium in terms of your needs.

I've said this before and at the risk of being repetitive; in the end, a work of substance be it conceptually driven or of a documentary nature, has to be measured by its authenticity. 
This only comes from the artist's passion, commitment and drive to engage heart and head in the making of the work - regardless of systems, rules, dealers, markets and their mothers. It may be wishful thinking but I strongly believe that work made with authenticity, the right motivation and persistence will find a willing and accepting audience.

Both photographs by Duane Michals

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sochi Project - a unique and rewarding collaboration

Rob Hornstra is a quietly spoken yet fiercely determined Dutch photographer whom I've had the pleasure of getting to know on my many trips to Europe. I like Rob and I admire and respect his work. The Sochi Project is a collaboration between Rob and writer, film maker Arnold Van Bruggen. They says this about the project.

In 2014, the Olympic Games will take place in Sochi, Russia. Never before have the Olympic Games been held in a region that contrasts more strongly with the glamour of the Games than Sochi. Just 20 kilometres away is the conflict zone Abkhazia. To the east the Caucasus Mountains stretch into obscure and impoverished breakaway republics such as Cherkessia, North Ossetia and Chechnya. On the coast old Soviet sanatoria stand shoulder to shoulder with the most expensive hotels and clubs of the Russian Riviera.

Between now and 2014 the area around Sochi will change beyond recognition. The extreme makeover is already underway; refugee flats and poverty-stricken resorts are disappearing at high speed from the partly fashionable, partly impoverished seaside resort of Sochi. Thousands of labourers from across Russia and abroad live in prefab accommodation in order to have the stadiums, hotels and modern infrastructure finished on time. Helicopters fly backwards and forwards with building materials. The economic crisis is glossed over as much as possible.

Photographer Rob Hornstra and writer/filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen plan to document the changes in the area around Sochi over the coming five years. The Sochi Project will be a dynamic mix of documentary photography, film and reportage about a world in flux; a world full of different realities within a small but extraordinary geographic area.

Kummer and Herrman is a Utrecht based design company which has played an important  pivotal role in the development of The Sochi Project. There is an interview with Jeroen Kummer on the blog the logging road HERE, which opens up a discussion on the benefits of collaboration and the need for establishing a strong design position.

Jeroen says - What is remarkable about The Sochi Project, and what makes a long-term project like this significant, is its journalistic value. It is both a photo documentary and a journalistic work-in-progress. In the choices we made we took both aspects into account: how to write a narrative history with text and images.
The concept of The Sochi Project is outstanding, and as such distinctive from many other documentaries. The decision alone, to start a long-term documentary, and collaboration for a five-year period, and tempting to invoke spin-offs, is unusual. It is remarkable that from the very start Rob and Arnold had the intention to collaborate together with our office, Kummer & Herrman, for five years, the full term. 

You can go to The Sochi Project website HERE.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Photobook MasterClass - Arles 2013

Arles 2012, Photobook Masterclass
It's good to see that Markus Schaden, Wolfgang Zurborn, Thekla Ehling, and Frederic Lezmi together with special guest Tina Schelhorn from Lichtblick School will be in Arles again this year to continue their successful series of hands-on Photobook workshops. These five offer a unique combination of photobook making expertise. Workshop participants are going to have their bookmaking game lifted with intensive input on editing, sequencing, design and production. Essentially, the tools to make a great photobook.

The workshop is limited to a maximum of ten participants each of whom will come away with a newly created photobook dummy of their own project.

The Program: June 28 - July 3, 2013
11am – 1 pm Morning Lectures  /  4 pm – 7 pm Work on the book dummies
Friday – Kick-off with review of all photobook projects of the participants
Saturday – Developing the Photobook: Dummies, Studies and More / Markus Schaden
Sunday – Sequencing the Photobook / Wolfgang Zurborn
Monday – Object and Desire / Frederic Lezmi and Thekla Ehling
Tuesday – Exhibiting the Photo Project / Tina Schelhorn
Wednesday – The Masterclass goes public: Exhibition, Screening, Party

You can find out more HERE at the Lichtblick School website 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Facebook Censors Paris’s Jeu de Paume

After censoring a Gerhard Richter nude on the Pompidou Center’s page last summer, Facebook is at it again. The social network removed a 1940 photograph of a partially nude woman from the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume’s page and even disabled the museum’s account for 24 hours because of its infringement of Facebook community standards.
The image, from the Paris museum’s current exhibition of photographs by Laure Albin Guillot, was removed on Friday. Afterwards, the Jeu de Paume reposted the photo with a black square covering the breasts and related what happened, adding that “we have already committed other violations previously, when posting nudes by Willy Ronis and Manuel Álvarez Bravo. With another warning from Facebook, our account is at risk of being permanently deactivated.” The museum’s solution? “Therefore we will post no more nudes, even if we think that their artistic value is great and that these photographs — which are not at all pornographic — respect ‘the right to publish content of a personal nature.’”
The media-focused blog Arrêt sur Images was not happy about the museum’s self-censorship. “So this is how a center for art and culture devoted to the history of photography agrees to censor itself to satisfy the requirements of the sexually repressed management of Facebook,” Alain Korkos wrote. “This is how a social network brought the Jeu de Paume to its knees.”
In fact, the museum’s responses have been somewhat contradictory. Museum director Marta Gili told Libération that it is not a question of self-censorship because “now, instead of putting up photos of nudes, we’re going to describe them, and, you’ll see, this will seem much more shocking to people.” But the museum also posted a letter on its Facebook page thanking its friends for their support and writing that “we are counting on this debate to lead to a review of Facebook’s ‘community standards’ and we will refuse in the future to submit to any kind of censorship.”
When Facebook took down Richter’s “Ema” from the Pompidou Center’s page, it was because the nude painting was mistaken for a photograph. (When the museum complained, the image was restored.) The question still remains as to why Facebook’s “community standards” allow nude paintings or sculptures but not nude photographs. Perhaps the bigger question is whether a huge global company can be said to represent a single “community” and whether these standards are really doing a service to Facebook’s nearly one billion users.
“Behind all this there’s an obsolete fundamentalism, a sort of religious radicalism that doesn’t want nudity, especially female nudity,” Gili told Libération. “Because it’s not a coincidence that it’s always women’s bodies that cause them problems.”
— Kate Deimling, ARTINFO France

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Joan Fontcuberta - 2013 Hasselblad Award Winner

Googlegrammes series: "Googlegram: Niépce", 2005 © Joan Fontcuberta

The Hasselblad Foundation is pleased to announce that Catalan photographer Joan Fontcuberta is the recipient of the 2013 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography for the sum of SEK 1,000,000 (approximately EUR 110,000). The award ceremony will take place in Barcelona on 7th March, 2013. An exhibition of his work, Joan Fontcuberta – 2013 Hasselblad Award Winner will open on 25th October, 2013 at the Hasselblad Center at the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden. That day, The Hasselblad Foundation will host a symposium with the award winner, and a book on the work of Joan Fontcuberta, published by Mack, will be launched.

The Foundation’s citation regarding the decision to award the 2013 prize to Joan Fontcuberta reads as follows: Joan Fontcuberta is one of the most inventive contemporary photographers, with an over 30-year achievement of constantly investigating and questioning the photographic medium. His work is distinguished by original and playful conceptual approaches that particularly explore photographic conventions, means of representation and claims to truth. He challenges concepts of science and fiction in interdisciplinary projects that extend far beyond the gallery space. In addition to his photographic practice, Joan Fontcuberta’s capacities as a writer, teacher and curator have been greatly inspirational to the younger generation.

This year’s award committee, which submitted its proposal to the Foundation’s board of directors, consisted of: 
Ute Eskildsen (chair), Professor – Head of the Department of Photography, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany until 2012. Thomas Joshua Cooper, Professor, Photography Department, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Great Britain. Marcel Feil, Deputy-Director, Artistic Affairs, Foam Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Agnès Sire, Director, Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Garry Winogrand at SFMoMA

 Widely acknowledged as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) captured moments of everyday American life in the postwar era, producing an expansive picture of a nation rich with possibility yet threatening to spin out of control. He did much of his best-known work in New York in the 1960s, becoming a major voice of that tumultuous decade. But he also roamed widely around the United States, from California and Texas to Miami and Chicago. He photographed the rich and powerful and everyday strangers on the street; antiwar protesters and politicians; airports and zoos. In many of these pictures, humor and visual energy are the flip sides of an anxious instability. As photographer and guest curator Leo Rubinfien says, "The hope and buoyancy of middle-class life in postwar America is half of the emotional heart of Winogrand's work. The other half is a sense of undoing."
When he died suddenly at age 56, Winogrand left behind thousands of rolls of exposed but undeveloped film and unedited contact sheets — some 250,000 frames in total. Nearly 100 of these pictures have been printed for the first time for this long-awaited retrospective of his work. By presenting such archival discoveries alongside celebrated pictures, Garry Winogrand reframes a career that was, like the artist's America, both epic and unresolved.
The exhibition opens at SFMoMA, March 9 until June 2. 

 This exhibition has been jointly organized by SFMoMA and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Jeu de Paume in Paris, and Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid.

SFMoMa have published a substantial catalogue to support this show. Running to 448 pages this landmark retrospective catalogue looks at the full sweep of Winogrand’s exceptional career. Drawing from his enormous output, which at the time of his death included thousands of rolls of undeveloped film and unpublished contact sheets, the book will serve as the most substantial compendium of Winogrand’s work to date. Lavishly illustrated with both iconic images and photographs that have never been seen before now, and featuring essays by leading scholars of American photography, Garry Winogrand presents a vivid portrait of an artist who unflinchingly captured America’s swings between optimism and upheaval in the postwar era.
Edited by Leo Rubinfien; With contributions by Sarah Greenough, Susan Kismaric, Erin O'Toole, Tod Papageorge, and Sandra Phillips.

The book is available at AMAZON - HERE

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bill Brandt - Shadow and Light at MoMA, NYC

Bill Brandt. Bombed Regency Staircase, Upper Brook Street, Mayfair. c. 1942.

Bill Brandt is a founding figure in photography’s modernist traditions, and this MoMA exhibition represents a major critical reevaluation of his heralded career. Brandt’s distinctive vision - his ability to present the mundane world as fresh and strange - emerged in London in the 1930s, and drew from his time in the Paris studio of Man Ray. His visual explorations of the society, landscape, and literature of England are indispensable to any understanding of photographic history and, arguably, to our understanding of life in Britain during the middle of the 20th century.
Brandt’s activity during the Second World War, long distilled by Brandt and others to a handful of now-iconic pictures of moonlit London during the Blackout and improvised shelters during the Blitz, are presented here for the first time in the context of his assignments for the leading illustrated magazines of his day, establishing a key link between his pre- and postwar work. Brandt’s crowning artistic achievement, developed primarily between 1945 and 1961, is a series of nudes that are both personal and universal, sensual and strange, collectively exemplifying the “sense of wonder” that is paramount in his photographs. Brandt’s work is unpredictable not only in the range of his subjects but also in his printing style, which varied widely throughout his career. This exhibition is the first to emphasize the beauty of Brandt’s finest prints, and to trace the arc of their evolution.

The show runs until August 12. 

There is a 208 page catalogue that supports the show, you can get it from Amazon HERE.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Morten Andersen - at LE BAL, Paris

If you happen to be in Paris this Wednesday night, March 3,  you can head for Le Bal and enjoy the discussion between Morten Andersen and Rémi Coignet, critic and author of the blog Des livres et des photos.
Norwgian born, Morten is a prolific and idiosyncratic photographer who has made a decided mark with his always surprising books works.  He says this about himself: Since 1999, the photo book was the main way for exposure of my work. So far, I have published twelve books, mostly self-publishing. Not only the book is an art object in its own right, but it is also a democratic medium, accessible and intimate, where the sum of the images and layout work create a whole,  greater than the sum of its parts, which, as in a novel or a movie, composes a story that transports in new places and makes you live new experiences. In all these books, motivation photograph is born of a sense of curiosity, a desire to discover and explore places and environments, whether Oslo, Norwegian Forest, in my neighborhood of the underground rock scene in Oslo or cities around the world. 

You can check out Morten's work on his website HERE.


Ed Ruscha at Gagosian NYC

Ed Ruscha at Gagosian gallery NYC

Opening Tuesday night, and running until April 27, Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, NYC, presents an exhibition of Ed Ruscha’s artist books together with books and works of art by more than 100 contemporary artists that respond directly and diversely to Ruscha’s original project. Organized by Bob Monk, “Ed Ruscha Books & Co.” has been drawn from private collections, including Ruscha’s own. Most of the books are installed so that viewers can interact with them and browse their pages.

Inspired by the unassuming books that he found on street stalls during a trip to Europe, in 1962 Ruscha published his first artist book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations under his own imprint, National Excelsior Press. A slim, cheaply produced volume, then priced at $3.50, Twentysix Gasoline Stations did exactly what its title suggests, reproducing twenty-six photographs of gasoline stations next to captions indicating their brand and location. All of the stations were on Route 66, the road mythologized by the eponymous TV series and in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Ruscha’s book traveled more or less west to east, from the first service station in Los Angeles, where he moved as a young man, back to Oklahoma City, where he grew up. 
Initially, the book received a poor reception, rejected by the Library of Congress for its “unorthodox form and supposed lack of information.” However, during the sixties it acquired cult status, and by the eighties it was hailed as one of the first truly modern artist's books. Ruscha followed up Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) with a succession of kindred publications, including Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968), and Real Estate Opportunities (1970), all of which combined the literalness of early California pop art with a deadpan photographic aesthetic informed by minimalist sequence and seriality.

Ruscha’s artist books have proved to be deeply influential, beginning with Bruce Nauman’s Burning Small Fires (1968), for which Nauman burned Ruscha's Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) and photographed the process. More than forty years later, photographer Charles Johnstone relocated Ruscha's Twentysix Gasoline Stations in Cuba, producing the portfolio Twentysix Havana Gasoline Stations (2008). The most recent homage is One Swimming Pool (2013) by Dutch artist Elisabeth Tonnard, who re-photographed one of the photographs from Ruscha's Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968) and enlarged it to the size of a small swimming pool, consisting of 3164 pages the same size as the pages in Ruscha's original book. The pages of this ‘pool on a shelf’ can be detached to create the life-size installation.
“Ed Ruscha Books & Co.” will coincide with the publication of MIT Press's Various Small Books: Referencing Small Books by Ed Ruscha (2013), which documents ninety-one of the books inspired by Ruscha’s own, reproducing covers and sample layouts from each, along with a detailed description. Various Small Books… also includes selections from Ruscha’s books and an appendix listing most of the known Ruscha book tributes.

Carol Vogel's piece in the February 28, New York Times, Conceptual Inspiration, by the Book, is well worth a read. This bit resonated with me:
50 years ago Mr. Ruscha saw creating books as a cheap way to get his work in front of the public. Today there appears to be a kind of backlash against the digital universe, as artists are again embracing the notion of artist books despite the proliferation of electronic reading devices. “The quality of images on the Internet is deplorable,” said Mr. Monk, a Briton who lives in Berlin and creates books. “And printing these days has actually gotten cheaper.”
At the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., the demand for artist books and even exhibition catalogs has not diminished despite the availability of art books that can be seen online. “The book is a more intimate engagement with the artist,” said Tom Eccles, director at the Center for Curatorial Studies. “We find that we’re getting more visitors to our library than to our exhibits, in part because libraries are social spaces. Books have a durational audience. People still want a material relationship with the real thing.”  You can read the complete New York Times piece HERE.

Ed Ruscha in 1970

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Photograph - and the photo market, an overview

Peter Beard's "Orphan Cheetah Triptych" made $662,500 at Christie's NYC, October 2012
Originally published in ART AUCTION March 2 edition and reprinted in BLOUIN ARTINFO this overview of the market for photographs makes interesting reading. The piece covers an assessment of the auction market, online selling and photo specific art fairs. For anybody wanting to buy, or sell photographs, this will bring you up to date.

The crowd at Sotheby’s New York on the evening of December 12 was nervous — and not in a good way. It was the first of three sessions devoted to photographs from the collection of philanthropist Henry Buhl, and not many in the room had high hopes. “Two collectors came up to me beforehand and expressed fears that the market for classic photography might be dead,” recalls Denise Bethel, director of the house’s department of photographs since 1995.

There was cause for concern. The October auction results had been lackluster at best. The average price had declined in the 12 months between sales at Sotheby’s (from $34,452 to $25,944) and Phillips de Pury & Company (from $22,482 to $18,425). Christie’s was the exception, having posted a modest rise from $22,380 to $24,883.

For years auction catalogues had been featuring the same photographs in prints of different vintages by the same photographers, including Ansel Adams’s Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico; Ruth Bernhard’s In the Box; André Kertész’s Chez Mondrian; and Alfred Stieglitz’s Winter—Fifth Avenue, to name only a few perennials. Were dealers simply passing them back and forth until someone was stuck with an old maid? Had this game finally come to an end? There seemed no solid ground for believing that Buhl’s wonderfully eccentric collection, built around the theme of hands, would do enough to lift collectors’ grumpy spirits.

But that’s exactly what happened. By the end of the sale, where the million-dollar threshold was easily topped by two works — László Moholy-Nagy’s Fotogramm, 1925, and Herbert Bayer’s Lonely Metropolitan, 1932, each sold for $1,482,500 — and where auction records were set for four other artists (El Lissitzky, Lee Miller, Peter Hujar, and Helen Levitt), modernist photography no longer seemed passé. Once again it had proved itself a desired collectible and was at the red-hot center of the traditional market.

“With the first session of 100 lots we surpassed almost all the high estimates,” says Bethel, who presided over the 2006 auction that set the record price for a photograph, $2.9 million for Edward Steichen’s Pond—Moonlight, 1904. In her opinion, “the sky’s the limit” for exceptional prints by canonized photographers.

It’s a view widely shared by dealers in the field. “The market is extremely healthy for the highest-quality material,” says Edwynn Houk, who has galleries in New York and Zurich. “There is permanent interest from museums and from the half-dozen collectors who buy at the high end.”

But the Buhl sale also highlighted a divide in the field that has always separated the upper tier from the low and middle. Of the 437 lots offered, just 12 accounted for more than 60 percent of the $12,318,704 total. The buy-in rate was nearly 35 percent. As Houk notes, “What’s sluggish is interest for the secondary, tertiary material, which used to sell steadily.”

Deborah Bell, head of the photographs department at Christie’s New York, notes softening prices for artists who in years past were strong performers at auction. “Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Edward Weston — these have been old reliables for us and have been hitting the bell for years.” Why their prices stagnated or foundered in the past year is hard to say. But “dealers aren’t buying for inventory as much as they used to,” Bell says. “They’re not as flush, and their own client base is shifting. They’re wondering who they are going to be selling to.”

The popularity of art fairs and online sales has broadened the audience that buys photographs and, at the same time, added to what Peter MacGill of New York’s Pace/MacGill Gallery calls a “disintermediation of authority” — the elimination of the expert middleman. He blames the auction houses for mixing too much lesser material with the finer. (For example, he believes the Buhl sale could have done even better with fewer lots — all choice — on offer.)

MacGill’s gallery probably bought half the photographs that sold for more than $700,000 between 2004 and 2008 (including the record-holding Steichen). It also brokered the sale of the Thomas Walther collection to the Museum of Modern Art in New York for $27 million in 2001, and the Manfred Heiting collection to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for $54 million in 2002. He has seen business expand over the past five years with new buyers from China, Brazil, Belgium, and Switzerland.

But MacGill has also felt a market constriction over the last 18 months. Even more troubling, in his opinion, are the trends that are harder to quantify, such as a decline of connoisseurship. One-on-one conversations with clients are being replaced by what he regards as suspect online advice. “We may invest a lot of time educating clients about the history of, say, Emmet Gowin’s prints,” says MacGill. “Then they just go to Artnet, look up the most recent auction price, and disregard everything we’ve told them.”

The dissemination of information that is not always reliable is one of the Internet’s abiding effects, as is the ease it provides in cloaking identity. Auction houses have been forced to adjust to this reality. Collectors can graze through auctions with the anonymity afforded by computers, and online bidding has begun to replace paddle-raising in the salesroom. “I used to know personally everyone who was buying at the very high end,” Bethel says. “But I remember thinking after the Polaroid sale [in 2010] that the names of most of the top buyers were unfamiliar to me.”

The bifurcation of the photography market into classic and contemporary, a split that opened up during the 1980s, remains as wide as ever, and powerful galleries such as Gagosian, David Zwirner, Sonnabend, Marian Goodman, and Matthew Marks all straddle the divide. Artists who use cameras but don’t label themselves photographers — John Baldessari, Gilbert & George, Andreas Gursky, Richard Prince, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman — can routinely command higher prices outside traditional photography auctions. “If we’re offered, say, a Gursky,” Bell notes, “we will usually refer the person to the postwar and contemporary department rather than compete. It’s in the interest of our clients.”

Phillips and Christie’s were behind the surprise “breakout” photographer of the year: Peter Beard. Better known until the past decade for his suave good looks and for being the ex-husband of 1970s supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, the 75-year-old photographer and writer has found a new group of collectors who admire the hand-worked quality of his prints and his close-ups of African animals, shot mainly in the 1960s. The enthusiastic sponsorship of Philippe Garner, the international head of photographs and 20th-century decorative art and design at Christie’s, has helped. Between London and New York, Phillips sold 14 Beard photographs in 2012, including Hunting Cheetahs on the Taru Desert, Kenya, June, 1960. This enormous resin-coated print, measuring nearly 7 by 11 feet and stained with ink, paint, and blood, bordered in snakeskin and framed by driftwood, sold at Phillips London in May for £325,250 ($519,000). Christie’s exceeded that price in its October New York sale, setting a world record for Beard with Orphan Cheetah Triptych, 1968. Estimated at $100,000 to $150,000, it went for $662,500.

William Eggleston experienced a different kind of breakout after his first show at Gagosian Gallery in November 2011 (he continues his longstanding representation with Cheim & Read as well.) The re-editioning of his celebrated compositions as poster-size digital prints was a commercial success at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills outpost, though it prompted a 2012 lawsuit (not settled at press time) by the collector Jonathan Sobel. (Sobel owns 190 early prints by Eggleston, many of them dye transfers, and he argues they have been devalued by the digital series). More important, Eggleston’s triumph suggests that unease about pigment and ink-jet prints, rampant five years ago in traditional photography circles, has pretty much disappeared, at least among buyers of contemporary art. Still, the market seems undecided about what Eggleston has done. A dye-transfer print of his iconic Memphis (Tricycle), 1970, failed to find a buyer at Christie’s New York in October. (“We used the same estimate as in the past,” says a puzzled Bell. “It isn’t as if we were pushing the limit.”) While this would seem to support Sobel’s claim, results from an October-November show of new Eggleston dye transfers — 20 images recently printed from his 1969–74 transparencies — at Rose Gallery, in Santa Monica, complicate the picture: The gallery nearly sold out the run.

Proprietor Rose Shoshana, like MacGill, laments the fact that so many clients are buying at fairs. “It appears to be the way folks like to shop these days: the ‘big box’ store model,” she says. But not everyone is down on art fairs. Houk has noted an increase in international buyers, mainly from the Middle East and Asia. “Half of our business out of the New York gallery last year came from beyond the United States,” he says. A sizable amount of that business was generated at fairs. A former skeptic about their value — in 1997 fairs accounted for only 0.5 percent of his annual sales — Houk has become a convert, if still highly selective about where he goes. Revenues from fairs now make up 25 percent of his business, with Art Basel Miami Beach serving as a convenient place to meet potential South American customers.

Fairs specializing in photography remain the preferred venues for most dealers in the field. The Washington, D.C.–based Association of International Photography Art Dealers has 120 members and a full house for its April fair at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. David Zwirner and P.P.O.W. gallery have joined the organization, indicating that broad-spectrum contemporary dealers see opportunity in the photocentric market. Paris Photo had 150 exhibitors from 22 countries during its four-day run in November. (Among the 130 dealers and 20 book producers were the Gagosian and Marian Goodman galleries.) Julien Frydman, the fair’s director since 2011, has launched several innovative programs, but the boldest step may be the introduction of Paris Photo Los Angeles. Debuting April 25–28 in the Paramount Pictures Studios, the new fair will include galleries showing video and other timebased art. Frydman says work of this kind may be incorporated into the parent fair in Paris for the first time next autumn.

For all the blue-chip excitement surrounding the Buhl results, the area of the market showing the most robust growth in the midrange may be the broad field of vernacular photography. This includes anonymous pictures that provoke historical curiosity, such as the group of mug shots from the San Francisco Police Department, dated 1908–10, that sold at Swann Auction Galleries for $31,200 (est. $4,000–6,000) in February 2012, or distinctive works such as Beal’s Photographic View of New York, a five-panel panorama of lower Manhattan by Joshua Beal. Shot in 1876, with a tower of the Brooklyn Bridge at the center, it fetched $96,000 (est. $12–18,000) in Swann’s sale of photographs and photo books in October. “That’s a great example of what I call cross-pollination,” says Daile Kaplan, director of photographs at Swann. “There was interest from collectors of maritime culture, of New York material, of Americana. Some were awed by Beal’s technique, and others were serious collectors of the best 19th-century photography.”

During the past decade, institutions have shown greater respect for material from outside the fine-art history of photography. In 2007 the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., presented “The Art of the American Snapshot, 1988–1978: From the Collection of Robert E. Jackson.” None of the images was made by a professional. (Thomas Walther had paved this road earlier, publishing a book of anonymous images from his collection in 2000.) In 2011 New York collector Peter Cohen gave the Art Institute of Chicago more than 500 prints, most of them flea-market finds, taken by amateurs between the 1890s and 1970s. The institute mounted a show to coincide with the publication of a catalogue by Yale University Press.

Galleries have encouraged this market tendency. More than a third of the prints for sale in “The Unphotographable” at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery (through March 23) are by unknown photographers. Hans Kraus, the New York specialist in prime 19th-centurymaterial, says, “If it’s a compelling image and print, a name doesn’t really matter.” He adds, “Most daguerreotypes have always been sold that way. One is more likely to know the subject than the photographer. That openness now extends into many areas of 19th-century work, although it’s still not true for 20th-century. For that you still need a name.”
Christie’s New York will have many big names in its April single-owner sale of photographs, most dated between 1920 and 1925, from the Chilean collector Carlos Alberto Cruz. Expected to bring $5.2 million to $8 million, the 76 lots include Weston’s Nude, 1925 (est. $400–600,000); Tina Modotti’s Texture and Shadow, 1924–26 (est. $200–300,000); and Man Ray’s unique Untitled Rayograph, 1923 (est. $250–350,000).

Pedigree names don’t hurt when presenting top-drawer 19th-century photography, either. In April 2012 Christie’s New York sold a complete 20-volume set of Edward Curtis’s North American Indian, published between 1907 and 1930, for $2.9 million, an artist record. Another Curtis set sold in October 2012 at Swann for $1.44 million, the highest price the house has ever seen for works on paper. And a Julia Margaret Cameron album of 75 prints, which is fresh to the market, is one of Kraus’s choice offerings at this month’s European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht. An institution has expressed strong interest and requested that he not disclose the asking price. All Kraus will say is that it’s “way over a million.”
Classic photography, at least in some corners of the art market, is anything but dead.

Herbert Bayer's "The Lonely Metropolitan made $1,482,500 at Sotheby's NYC last December