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Matt Black
Matt Black

Matt Black

Country: United States
Birth: 1970

Matt Black is from California’s Central Valley, a rural, agricultural area in the heart of the state. He started photography working at his hometown newspaper. He was nominated to Magnum Photos in 2015. Since 2015, he has travelled over 100,000 miles across 46 states for his project American Geography. Other works include The Dry Land, about the impact of drought on California’s agricultural communities, and The Monster in the Mountains, about the disappearance of 43 students in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Both these projects, accompanied by short films, were published by The New Yorker. His work has appeared regularly in TIME Magazine, The New Yorker, The California Sunday Magazine, and other publications. He has been honored three times by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Prize, including their top honor for journalism. In 2015, he received the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award for Humanistic Photography, and was named a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective. He lives in Exeter, a small town in the Central Valley.

Source: Magnum Photos


Matt Black, an artist from California’s Central Valley, produces enigmatic narrative works in his native region and in related places that are deeply grounded in societal and environmental concerns. Since 2014, Black has traveled over 100,000 miles across 46 states for his project American Geography, a personal portrait of an increasingly divided and unequal America. Black’s gripping images of some of the most marginalized communities in America are as visually captivating as they are brutally honest and human.

A member of Magnum Photos, Matt Black creates work that while rooted in the documentary tradition, is also noted for its deeply personal approach, its emotional engagement, and visual intensity. Excerpts from American Geography have been widely published and exhibited in the United States and internationally. A book of the project will be published in 2021 by Thames and Hudson, to accompany a traveling exhibition that opened at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg in 2020. Other bodies of work include The Dry Land, about the impact of drought on California’s agricultural communities, and The Monster in the Mountains, about the disappearance of 43 students in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero in 2014. Both of these projects, accompanied by short films, were published by The New Yorker.

In addition to the New Yorker, portfolios of Black’s work have appeared in TIME Magazine, The California Sunday Magazine, as well as many international publications such as Le Monde, France and Internazionale, Italy. Black’s Instagram feed The Geography of Poverty, where he experiments conceptually with GeoTagging and other digital documentary approaches, has over 233,000 followers and earned him TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year in 2014. He has been honored three times by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Prize, has been named a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective, and was the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award in 2015 for Humanistic Photography.

Source: Robert Koch Gallery


 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Bob Newman
United States
1950
Bob began photographing on a regular basis after retiring as a physician. His images document the challenges and culture within marginalized communities, which are often similar to the underprivileged patients he enjoyed serving. After retirement, photography came to occupy much of this time. Initially his forays were associated with photo trips or workshops. When he first saw images of the Irish Travellers in 2015, he became intrigued. Photographing their culture and lives became his first long-term project. In the last five years, he has returned to visit the Travellers thirteen times, averaging 2-3 visits per year. To date he has visited 30 sites. Returning on multiple occasions has provided an opportunity to take a deep dive into their history and traditions. Statement The Irish Travellers is a long-term photographic project that began in 2016. Often referred to as Pavees, they number about 40,000 in Ireland and are ethnically separate from Romani/Gypsies. No longer nomadic, they now live in extended family roadside camps or halting sites. They are predominantly Irish Roman Catholic, endogamous, and traditional marriages are the norm. The women spend their time with their families, sometimes raising as many as 16 – 18 children. Girls are taught to act and dress provocatively as toddlers. It is exceedingly difficult for Traveller men to find jobs. The unemployment rate is 84%. Most live on a dole from the Irish Government. With time on their hands, horses and dogs play a major role in their lives. They face discrimination and racism because of their differences from the Settled Irish. Despite this, they are a remarkably resilient group who highly prize their culture, traditions and family life. This series focuses on Traveller children.
Cristina de Middel
Cristina de Middel (born 1975) is a Spanish documentary photographer and artist living and working in Uruapan, Mexico. De Middel self-published The Afronauts in 2012, a photobook about the short-lived Zambian space program in Southern Africa. The book quickly sold out and the work was met with critical acclaim. She was nominated for the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for The Afronauts. In 2013, de Middel received the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography. In 2017 she became a nominee member of Magnum Photos and in 2019 an associate member. Source: Wikipedia Cristina de Middel investigates photography’s ambiguous relationship to truth. Blending documentary and conceptual photographic practices, she plays with reconstructions and archetypes in order to build a more layered understanding of the subjects she approaches. Working from the premise that mass media is reducing our real understanding of the world we live in, De Middel responds to an urgency to re-imagine tired aesthetic tropes and insert opinion in place of facts. Her impulse for an unconventional angle developed after a 10-year career as a photojournalist when De Middel stepped outside of straight documentary and produced the acclaimed series The Afronauts (2012). It explored the history of a failed space program in Zambia in the 1960s through staged reenactments of obscure narratives, challenging the traditional depiction of the African continent. De Middel’s ongoing project Gentleman’s Club (which began in Rio de Janeiro in 2015 and has now expanded to every continent around the globe bar Australasia) focuses on prostitution’s less documented side: the male clients. Her intimate portraits of these men subvert the paradigms of the status quo to provide new sources of insight and understanding. As well as her acclaimed personal projects, De Middel has worked on commission for clients including The Nobel Peace Foundation, Christian Dior, Vanity Fair USA, Vogue USA and FC Barcelona. De Middel was born in Spain and is based between Mexico and Brazil. She became a Magnum nominee in 2017.Source: Magnum Photos
Alfred Stieglitz
United States
1864 | † 1946
Through his activities as a photographer, critic, dealer, and theorist, Alfred Stieglitz had a decisive influence on the development of modern art in America during the early twentieth century. Born in 1864 in New Jersey, Stieglitz moved with his family to Manhattan in 1871 and to Germany in 1881. Enrolled in 1882 as a student of mechanical engineering in the Technische Hochschule (technical high school) in Berlin, he was first exposed to photography when he took a photochemistry course in 1883. From then on he was involved with photography, first as a technical and scientific challenge, later as an artistic one. Returning with his family to America in 1890, he became a member of and advocate for the school of pictorial photography in which photography was considered to be a legitimate form of artistic expression. In 1896 he joined the Camera Club in New York and managed and edited Camera Notes, its quarterly journal. Leaving the club six years later, Stieglitz established the Photo-Secession group in 1902 and the influential periodical Camera Work in 1903. In 1905, to provide exhibition space for the group, he founded the first of his three New York galleries, The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, which came to be known as Gallery 291. In 1907 he began to exhibit the work of other artists, both European and American, making the gallery a fulcrum of modernism. As a gallery director, Stieglitz provided emotional and intellectual sustenance to young modernists, both photographers and artists. His Gallery 291 became a locus for the exchange of critical opinions and theoretical and philosophical views in the arts, while his periodical Camera Work became a forum for the introduction of new aesthetic theories by American and European artists, critics, and writers. After Stieglitz closed Gallery 291 in 1917, he photographed extensively, and in 1922 he began his series of cloud photographs, which represented the culmination of his theories on modernism and photography. In 1924 Stieglitz married Georgia O'Keeffe, with whom he had shared spiritual and intellectual companionship since 1916. In December of 1925 he opened the Intimate Gallery; a month later Duncan Phillips purchased his first works from Stieglitz’s gallery, paintings by Dove, Marin, and O'Keeffe. In 1929 Stieglitz opened a gallery called An American Place, which he was to operate until his death. During the thirties, Stieglitz photographed less, stopping altogether in 1937 due to failing health. He died in 1946, in New York. The Collection contains nineteen gelatin-silver photographs of clouds by Stieglitz. Source: The Phillips Collection All images © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe
Ruud van Empel
Netherlands
1958
Ruud van Empel (born 21 November 1958 in Breda) is a Dutch photographer and visual artist. He studied at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunst St. Joost (St Joost Academy of Art) in Breda in the 1970s, and began making independently produced videotapes in the eighties. He moved to Amsterdam in the late eighties to work on his career as a visual artist. His first photographic series were The Office (1995-2001), Study for Women (1999-2002) and Study in Green (2003). The Groninger Museum presented his first solo exhibition in 1999. He made his international breakthrough with his series World-Moon-Venus, which was shown in the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York State. Until mid-1995, Van Empel’s art was primarily generated by a process of assembling analogue photographic images. At that point, he exchanged this traditional collage technique – cutting, pasting and retouching in the darkroom – for image processing on the computer, working in an idea-driven manner. The first series created with this method was The Office (1995). In a technical sense, The Office displays a handicraft-like quality, missing the perfectionist character of his later work. Nevertheless, Ruud van Empel clearly demonstrated that his approach differed from other disciplines such as staged photography. In certain aspects, The Office offered a somewhat surrealistic character and referred to photomontages from the 1920s in terms of style and design. On the basis of this art-historical reference, Van Empel created a new genre within photography – without a ready-to-wear label. The artist himself speaks of the ‘construction of a photographic image’. Although he does make use of pure photomontage – he never applies so-called morphing techniques – the final result strives for content aligned to natural reality rather than to surrealism. The artificiality is visible but the final image is a convincing, autonomous reality. As a consequence, the work does not seem grotesque or absurd but could theoretically actually appear in reality. In that respect, Van Empel’s images are independent. They do not manifest themselves as ‘symbolic’ and have been stripped of all ‘pictorial’ associations. He does not deploy photography as a substitute for painting but rather uses it as an independent form of depiction. Every image consists of photographic sources that are digitally assembled on the computer. The work of Ruud van Empel exists by grace of the camera by means of which he records his building blocks. After The Office, he created the Study for Women series, which comprises a number of female portraits that refer to the magic realism art movement. In this series, produced in the period 2000-2002, he displayed the form language with which he would soon gain worldwide recognition. The Study in Green series from 2003-2004, the Untitled series from 2004, and the three closely related series World, Moon and Venus, which he began in 2005, represented Van Empel’s true international breakthrough. Curator Deborah Klochko invited him to participate in the exhibition entitled Picturing Eden in the George Eastman House. In the book Ruud van Empel Photoworks 1995-2010, she wrote: ‘Van Empel’s virtuosity lies in his capacity to combine in photography the kind of ideas anchored in painting (historical references, the power of a glimpse, use of colour) and cinema (structure with multiple images and the power of a narrative), and to do so on a large scale. To understand his work you must ask yourself: ‘Is it science or art? Is it real or imaginary? Is innocence or decadence?’ Particularly the World series, which explores the theme of innocence, made a deep impression. These works were inspired by photos taken by his father. Van Empel placed neatly dressed, black boys and girls in paradisical settings of unspoiled, non-existent natural surroundings. Great interest in and appreciation of this series are expressed worldwide to this day. The breakthrough in America also led to renewed attention in Dutch museums. Van Empel has had solo exhibitions in Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen, the Groninger Museum and the NoordBrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Since the international recognition of his work gave Ruud Van Empel the status of an artist with an own independent form language, he has progressively extended his oeuvre with the Theatre series from 2010-2013, and Souvenir, which provided a charged picture of his youth in Breda. This series was purchased by the NoordBrabants Museum. A typical feature of the work of Ruud van Empel is the composition of a perfected and idealized representation right down to the finest details. But this always has a darker side, albeit not always evident. Ruud Schenk, curator of the Groninger Museum, wrote about that aspect with reference to the Study for Women series (2000-2002): ‘As a spectator you feel that there is something not quite right about the depiction of the women: they are not completely lifelike, but tend to be a mixture of real women and window dummies. This generates a certain discomfort, an uneasiness that touches upon what was described as 'das Unheimliche' (the uncanny) at the beginning of the 20th century.’ Although the photographic images seem to capture an epoch, you can hardly assign a date to any of them. This timeless element of Van Empel’s work has taken on a different significance in his recent work, as he deals with themes such as transience and Vanity in his Still Life series from 2014, and also portrays older people as in the portrait of an older woman in the Sunday series (2012), or in the Nude series (2014), in which he questions the pose of the model and the aesthetics of nudity. In the Solo Work series, on which Ruud van Empel has been working since 2011, he consistently deals with just one topic in an isolated work. The moral, ethical and aesthetic dilemmas of society and art are presented to us in a photographic form language. The significance of these is shown in the countless publications and international exhibitions of this work, not only in institutions specialized in photography but also in renowned museums for modern visual art.Source: Wikipedia
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