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Mitch Epstein
Mitch Epstein

Mitch Epstein

Country: United States
Birth: 1952

Mitchell Epstein (born 1952) is an American fine-art photographer, among the first to make significant use of color. Epstein's books include Sunshine Hotel (2019), Rocks and Clouds (2018), New York Arbor, (2013) Berlin (2011); American Power (2009); Mitch Epstein: Work ( 2006); Recreation: American Photographs 1973-1988 (2005); and Family Business (2003), which won the 2004 Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award.

Epstein's work has been exhibited and published extensively in the United States and Europe, and collected by numerous major museums, including New York's Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate Modern in London. He has also worked as a director, cinematographer, and production designer on several films, including Dad, Salaam Bombay!, and Mississippi Masala.

Epstein was born and raised in a Jewish family in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He graduated from Williston Academy, where he studied with artist and bookmaker Barry Moser. In the early 1970s he studied at Union College, New York; Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island, and the Cooper Union, New York, where he was a student of photographer Garry Winogrand.

By the mid-1970s, Epstein had abandoned his academic studies and begun to travel, embarking on a photographic exploration of the United States. Ten of the photographs he made during this period were in a 1977 group exhibition at Light Gallery in New York. In 1978, he journeyed to India with his future wife, director Mira Nair, where he was a producer, set designer, and cinematographer on several films, including Salaam Bombay! and India Cabaret. His book In Pursuit of India is a compilation of his Indian photographs from this period.

From 1992 to 1995, Epstein photographed in Vietnam, which resulted in an exhibition of this work at Wooster Gardens in New York, along with a book titled Vietnam: A Book of Changes. “I don’t know that Mitch Epstein’s glorious photographs record all of what is salient in end-of-the-twentieth century Vietnam,” wrote Susan Sontag for his book jacket, “for it’s been more than two decades since my two stays there. I can testify that his images confirm what moved and troubled me then… and offer shrewd and poignant glimpses into the costs of imposing a certain modernity. This is beautiful, authoritative work by an extremely intelligent and gifted photographer.” Reviewing an exhibition of the Vietnam pictures for Art in America, Peter Von Ziegesar writes, “In a show full of small pleasures, little prepares one for the stunning epiphany contained in Perfume Pagoda… Few photographers have managed to make an image so loaded and so beautiful at once.”

Having lived and traveled beyond the United States for over a decade, Epstein began to spend more time in his adopted home of New York City. His 1999 series The City investigated the relationship between public and private life in New York. Reviewing The City exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins in New York, Vince Aletti wrote that the pictures “[are] as assured as they are ambitious.”

In 1999, Epstein returned to his hometown of Holyoke, Massachusetts, to record the demise of his father's two businesses—a retail furniture store and a low-rent real estate empire. The resulting project assembled large-format photographs, video, archival materials, interviews and writing by the artist. The book Family Business, which combined all of these elements, won the 2004 Krazna-Kraus Best Photography Book of the Year award. In 2004, his work was exhibited during evening screenings at Rencontres d'Arles festival, France.

From 2004 to 2009, Epstein investigated energy production and consumption in the United States, photographing in and around various energy production sites. This series, titled American Power, questions the meaning and make-up of power—electrical and political. Epstein made a monograph of the American Power pictures (2009), in which he wrote that he was often stopped by corporate security guards and once interrogated by the FBI for standing on public streets and pointing his camera at energy infrastructure. The large-scale prints from this series have been exhibited worldwide.

In his Art in America review, Dave Coggins wrote that Epstein “grounds his images… in the human condition, combining empathy with sharp social observation, politics with sheer beauty.” In the New York Times, Martha Schwendener wrote: “What is interesting, beyond the haunting, complicated beauty and precision of these images, is Mr. Epstein's ability to merge what have long been considered opposing terms: photo-conceptualism and so-called documentary photography. He utilizes the supersize scale and saturated color of conceptualism, and his odd, implied narratives strongly recall the work of artists like Jeff Wall.”

In 2008, Epstein won the Berlin Prize in Arts and Letters from the American Academy in Berlin. Awarded a 6-month residency, he moved to Berlin with his wife and daughter from January to June 2008. The photographs he made of significant historical sites were published in the monograph Berlin (Steidl and The American Academy in Berlin, 2011).

Source: Wikipedia


In 2013, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis commissioned and premiered a theatrical rendition of Epstein’s American Power photographic series. A collaboration between Epstein and cellist Eric Friedlander, the performance combined original live music, storytelling, video, and projected photographs and archival material. Epstein and Friedlander also performed at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio (2014), and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2015).

His new series, Property Rights, was exhibited at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne in the fall of 2019 and at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas in 2020-2021. Recent solo exhibitions include: Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2020), Museum Helmond, Netherlands (2019), Andreas Murkudis, Berlin; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York; Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris (2016-17); as well as Fondation A Stichting in Brussels (2013); Sikkema Jenkins & Co., NY (2012); Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne (2012); Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris (2011); Kunstmuseum Bonn (2011); and Musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne (2011).

In 2020, Mitch Epstein was inducted as an Academician to the National Academy of Design. In 2011, Epstein won the Prix Pictet for American Power. Among his other awards are the Berlin Prize in Arts and Letters from the American Academy in Berlin (2008), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003).

Source: mitchepstein.net


At Cooper Union, Epstein was a student of photographer Garry Winogrand and was influenced both by Winogrand and William Eggleston's use of color. Epstein helped pioneer the redefinition of color photography as art form, as he was one of the earlier practitioners of fine-art color photography. He is well known for documenting his projects as books, which he feels allows him to form a narrative structure for his photographs. Epstein shoots film, as he believes he would not get the tonal rendering and detail for his large prints if he were to use digital.

Source: International Center of Photography


 

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It is up to us to apply them to our technique, to improve ourselves, but there is a whole group of fetishes which have developed on the subject of technique. Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see... The camera for us is a tool, not a pretty mechanical toy. In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxieties and uncertainties of daily endeavor. In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing." He started a tradition of testing new camera lenses by taking photographs of ducks in urban parks. He never published the images but referred to them as "my only superstition" as he considered it a 'baptism' of the lens. Henri Cartier-Bresson is regarded as one of the art world's most unassuming personalities. He disliked publicity and exhibited a ferocious shyness since his days in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Although he took many famous portraits, his own face was little known to the world at large (which presumably had the advantage of allowing him to work on the street in peace). He dismissed others' applications of the term "art" to his photographs, which he thought were merely his gut reactions to moments in time that he had happened upon. "In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotiv."Source: Wikipedia Henri Cartier-Bresson has intuitively chronicled decisive moments of human life around the world with poetic documentary style. His photographs impart spontaneous instances with meaning, mystery, and humor in terms of precise visual organization, and his work, although tremendously difficult to imitate, has influenced many other photographers. His photographs may be summed up through a phrase of his own: "the decisive moment," the magical instant when the world falls into apparent order and meaning, and may be apprehended by a gifted photographer.Source: International Center of Photography
John Coplans
United Kingdom
1920 | † 2003
John Rivers Coplans was a British artist, art writer, curator, and museum director. His father was Joseph Moses Coplans, a medical doctor and a man of many scientific and artistic talents. His father left England for Johannesburg while John was an infant. At the age of two, John was brought to his father in South Africa; from 1924-1927 the family was in flux between London and South Africa, settling in a seaside Cape Town suburb until 1930. Despite the instability of his early home life, Coplans developed an enormous admiration for his father, who took him to galleries at weekends and instilled within him a love for exploration, experimentation, and a fascination with the world. In 1937, John Coplans returned to England from South Africa. When eighteen, he was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as an Acting Pilot Officer. Due to his hearing being affected by a rugby match, two years later, he volunteered for the army. His childhood experience living in Africa led to his appointment to the King’s African Rifles in East Africa. He was active as a platoon commander (primarily in Ethiopia) until 1943, after which his unit was deployed to Burma. In 1945 Coplans returned to civilian life and decided to become an artist. After being demobilised, Coplans settled in London, rooming at the Abbey Art Centre; he wanted to become an artist. The British government was giving grants to veterans of the war, and he received one such grant to study art. He tried both Goldsmiths and Chelsea College of the Arts, but found that art school did not suit him. He painted part-time for clients including Cecil Beaton, Basil Deardon whilst running his business John Rivers Limited which specialised in interior decorating. In the mid-1950s, Coplans began attending lectures by Lawrence Alloway at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Here he was introduced to the budding Pop Art movement, which he would become deeply involved in as both critic and curator. His experience viewing exhibitions such as the Hard-Edged Painting exhibition (ICA, 1959) and New American Painting (The Tate, 1959) helped to solidify his growing passion for not just Pop Art, but American art as well. During this period he struggled as a young artist to find his artistic voice, and developed an abstract painting practice which reflected trends of tachism and Abstract Expressionism pioneered by Americans Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Coplans would later refer to this early painting work as "derivative"; these paintings were shown in exhibitions at the Royal Society of British Artists (1950) and later at the New Vision Center. In 1960, Coplans sold all of his belongings and moved to the United States, initially settling in San Francisco and taking a position at UC Berkeley as a visiting assistant design professor. Here he met gallerist Phil Leider, the future editor of ArtForum. Leider connected Coplans to John Irwin, who wanted to start a magazine. Coplans convinced Irwin that the West Coast needed an art publication: one that gave voice to art that was important, but had not yet received critical attention. He further suggested that it should be published in square format so that both vertical and horizontal images would be viewed equally, thus giving birth to ArtForum's iconic shape—and to the successful foundation of ArtForum itself. Coplans was a regular writer for the magazine. His perspective on art writing was anti-elitist, using popular appeal and excitement over new work to “stimulate debate and awareness” especially for West Coast artists. Finding himself conflicted between his painting and writing careers, he chose the latter and devoted the next twenty years of his life to the magazine, as well as curatorial pursuits and a career as a museum director. It was not until 1981, at the age of 62, that he returned to his career as an artist.Source: Wikipedia John Coplans had a career in reverse. He was 60 by the time he established himself as a photographer, having already had a long and active life as a curator, editor, writer, artist and decorator. A pioneer of selfportraiture, he took large format black-and-white close-ups of his bare body that sent ripples of shock, recognition and frequent praise through the international art world. A major element in the fascination was an obsession with one of our few remaining taboos: the process of ageing and physical decrepitude. And with the anonymity of identity: in Coplans' words, "To remove all references to my current identity, I leave out my head." The blow-ups of sagging flesh, creased folds, odd protuberances and body hair of an old man become the documentary tale of the decline of Everyman. After a brief spell teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1962 Coplans co-founded Artforum magazine and, for the next two decades, his career was to be as artistically various as it was financially precarious. Artforum was intended to combat the anti-intellectualism Coplans felt he had encountered at Berkeley, and the notion that there was nothing to be said about art, since you either made it or looked at it. His whole background was in stimulating debate and awareness, at a popular rather than an elite level. Inevitably, as he later explained, "The thing was how to get the eastern establishment to read about west coast art". Within five years, the magazine was relocated to Manhattan, with Coplans acting as west coast editor. As a museum curator, he enjoyed similarly shifting fortunes. His first project was a pop art exhibition at the Oakland art museum, and, in 1963, he became director of the university gallery at Irvine, organising an important show by Frank Stella. From 1967 to 1971, he transferred to the Pasadena art museum. Alongside established artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Donald Judd, he gave Robert Irwin, Richard Serra and James Turrell their first shows. In 1971, Coplans moved to New York to became editor of Artforum, and, in 1975, published his own version of events leading to the bankruptcy and takeover of the Pasadena art museum, “Diary Of A Disaster.” During his seven years at the helm, Artforum increasingly jettisoned the militant formalism with which it had been identified, and became a platform for the catholicity of Coplans' artistic tastes, including19th-century photography and contemporary European abstract art. In 1978, the publisher gave Coplans the choice of buying the magazine or quitting. Not being in a position to do the former, he became director of the Akron art museum in Ohio, where, again, he combined curatorial work with launching a new magazine, appropriately named Dialogue. He also published books on photographers, ranging from Weegee to Brancusi, and started his own photographic experiments. By 1980, Coplans was back in New York, and the following year had his first solo show at the Daniel Wolf Gallery. At last, he had found not only the medium but also the subject of his artistic expression. He called his works auto-portraits, and, created by means of a live-feedback video camera with an automatic shutter, they honed in on the physical landscapes of the body with all the sculptural focus - but without the distortions of the lens - of Bill Brandt's Perspective Of Nudes (1961). This was to become Coplans' constant subject matter. In 1986, he had his first show of self-portraits at the Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York. Sandra Phillips, the long-time photography curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, immediately saw the importance of the work. His first major museum exhibition followed at SF MoMA in 1988, and the exhibition traveled on to the Museum of Modern Art in New York that same year. The work was rapidly acquired and shown by the The J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Whitney Museum of Art; in 1997 (the same year he remarried), a major retrospective was staged MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Centre in Queens. He published books of the work, principally the anonymous-sounding A Body, Body Parts and A Self-Portrait, and finally Provocations, which includes his photo-essays and criticism. Coplans has a daughter, Barbara, and a son, Joseph; he has two granddaughters. He was married four times. His fourth wife, photographer Amanda Means, is the Trustee for the John Coplans Trust in Beacon, New York. John Coplans was born June 20, 1920 in London and died on August 21, 2003 in New York.Source: The John Coplans Trust
Diana Cheren Nygren
United States
Diana Cheren Nygren is a fine art photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her work explores the visual character of place defined through physical environment and weather. Place has implications for our experience of the world, and reveals hints about the culture around it. Her photographs address serious social questions through a blend of documentary practice, invention, and humor. Diana was trained as an art historian with a focus on modern and contemporary art, and the relationship of artistic production to its socio-political context. Her emphasis on careful composition in her photographic work, as well as her subject matter, reflects this training. Her work as a photographer is the culmination of a life-long investment in the power of art and visual culture to shape and influence social change. Her project When the Trees are Gone has been featured in Dek Unu Mag, Square Magazine, Photonews, Domus Magazine online, Cities Magazine, and iLeGaLiT, and won Best In Show in the exhibition Nurture/Nature juried by photographer Laura McPhee, the Grand Prize in Photography from Art Saves Humanity, Discovery of the Year in the 2020 Tokyo International Foto Awards, 2nd place in Fine Art/Collage in the 2020 International Photo Awards, silver in Fine Art/Collage in the Budapest International Foto Awards, bronze in Fine Art/Digitally Enhanced in the 2020 Prix de la Photographie, was longlisted for the Hopper Prize and the BBA Photography Prize, and was a finalist for Fresh2020 and Urban2020 and a Merit Winner in the 2020 Rfotofolio Selections. The Persistence of Family
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For more than 25 years, French photographer Patrick Cariou has traveled to places around the globe, documenting people living on the fringes of society. Whether photographing surfers, gypsies, Rastafarians or the rude boys of Kingston, Cariou celebrates those who meet the struggles of life with honor, dignity and joy. Bringing together works from his groundbreaking monographs including Surfers, Yes Rasta, Trenchtown Love and Gypsies, Patrick Cariou: Works 1985–2005 (published by Damiani) takes us on a scenic journey around the world, offering an intimate and captivating look at cultures that distance themselves from the blessings and curses of modernity.
Exclusive Interview with Niko J. Kallianiotis
Niko J. Kallianiotis' Athênai in Search of Home (published by Damiani) presents photos taken in and around Athens, the city in which he grew up. The images reflect the artist's eagerness to assimilate back into a home that feels at once foreign and familiar. Throughout the years the city and the surrounding territories have experienced their share of socio-economic struggles and topographic transformations that have altered its identity. The city of Athens in Kallianiotis' photographs is elliptically delineated as a vibrant environment that binds together luxury and social inequality. The photographer depicts a city in which the temporal and the spatial elements often clash with each other while conducting his research for a home that has changed over the years as much as he did.
Exclusive Interview with Ave Pildas
My new book STAR STRUCK focuses on the people and places of Hollywood Boulevard. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles in the '70s, I started shooting there. I was working at Capital Records, just a block and a half away, as a one of four art directors. At lunchtime, we would go out to eat at the Brown Derby, Musso, and Franks, or some other local restaurant, and I got to observe all the activity that was occurring on Hollywood Boulevard. It was amazing and it was fun, even though the location was ''on the turn''.
Exclusive Interview with Elaine Mayes
In The Haight-Ashbury Portraits, 1967-1968 (published by Damiani) during the waning days of the Summer of Love, Elaine Mayes embarked on a set of portraits of youth culture in her neighborhood. Mayes was a young photographer living in San Francisco during the 1960s. She had photographed the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and, later that year the hippie movement had turned from euphoria to harder drugs, and the Haight had become less of a blissed-out haven for young people seeking a better way of life than a halfway house for runaway teens.
Exclusive Interview with Theophilus Donoghue
A new release, Seventy-thirty (published by Damiani) depicts humanity's various faces and expressions, from metropolitans to migrants, unseen homeless to celebrities such as Robert De Niro, Muhammad Ali, Rene Magritte, Janis Joplin, and Andy Warhol. Steve Schapiro photographs early New York skateboarders while Theophilus Donoghue documents current Colombian breakdancers. Alternately profound and playful, father and son's photographs capture a vast range of human emotions and experiences. For this project, Schapiro selected images from the 60s civil rights movement and, with Donoghue, provided photos from today's Black Lives Matter protests and environmental rallies.
Exlusive Interview with Jessica Todd Harper about her Book Here
Like 17th-century Dutch painters who made otherwise ordinary interior scenes appear charged with meaning, Pennsylvania-based photographer Jessica Todd Harper looks for the value in everyday moments. Her third monograph Here (Published by Damiani) makes use of what is right in front of the artist, Harper shows how our unexamined or even seemingly dull surroundings can sometimes be illuminating
Exclusive Interview with Roger Ballen about his Book Boyhood
In Boyhood (published by Damiani) Roger Ballen's photographs and stories leads us across the continents of Europe, Asia and North America in search of boyhood: boyhood as it is lived in the Himalayas of Nepal, the islands of Indonesia, the provinces of China, the streets of America. Each stunning black-and-white photograph-culled from 15,000 images shot during Ballen's four-year quest-depicts the magic of adolescence revealed in their games, their adventures, their dreams, their Mischief. More of an ode than a documentary work, Ballen's first book is as powerful and current today as it was 43 years ago-a stunning series of timeless images that transcend social and cultural particularities.
Exclusive Interview with Kim Watson
A multi-dimensional artist with decades of experience, Kim Watson has written, filmed, and photographed subjects ranging from the iconic entertainers of our time to the ''invisible'' people of marginalized communities. A highly influential director in music videos' early days, Watson has directed Grammy winners, shot in uniquely remote locations, and written across genres that include advertising, feature films for Hollywood studios such as Universal (Honey), MTV Films, and Warner Brothers, and publishers such as Simon & Schuster. His passionate marriage of art and social justice has been a life-long endeavor, and, in 2020, after consulting on Engagement & Impact for ITVS/PBS, Kim returned to the streets to create TRESPASS, documenting the images and stories of LA's unhoused. TRESPASS exhibited at The BAG (Bestor Architecture Gallery) in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, September 17, 2022 – October 11, 2022.
Exclusive Interview with Julia Dean, Founder of the L.A. Project
Julia Dean, Founder of the Los Angeles Center of Photography, and its executive director for twenty-two years, began The L.A. Project in 2021. A native Nebraskan, Julia has long sought to create a special project where love for her adopted L.A., and her passion for documentary photography can be shared on a grander scale.
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