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Melvin Sokolsky
Melvin Sokolsky

Melvin Sokolsky

Country: United States
Birth: 1933 | Death: 2022

Melvin Sokolsky is an American photographer and film director. Born in New York City in 1933, Sokolsky was raised on the Lower East Side. He had no formal training in photography, but started to use his father's box camera at about the age of ten. Always analytical, he started to realize the role that emulsion played as he compared his own photographs with those his father had kept in albums through the years. "I could never make my photographs of Butch the dog look like the pearly finish of my father's prints, and it was then that I realized the importance of the emulsion of the day."

Around 1954, Sokolsky met Robert Denning, who at the time worked with photographer Edgar de Evia, at an East Side gym. "I discovered that Edgar was paid $4000 for a Jell-O ad, and the idea of escaping from my tenement dwelling became an incredible dream and inspiration."

Whether floating models down the Seine in a bubble, or shrinking his subjects, Alice-like, to miniature heights, Melvin Sokolsky helped to pioneer illusory fashion photography long before the age of digital enhancement took hold. Though he is best known for his editorial fashion photographs for publications such as Harper's Bazaar (for which he produced, in 1963, the Bubble series of photographs depicting fashion models “floating” in giant clear plastic bubbles suspended in midair above the River Seine in Paris), Vogue, and The New York Times, Sokolsky’s work is not limited to that field.

Three quarters of his print photography has been for advertising, which does not usually carry a byline. As Sokolsky said in an interview: “I resented the attitude that ‘This is editorial and this is advertising. I always felt, why dilute it? Why not always go for the full shot?” Toward the end of the 1960s, Sokolsky worked as both commercial director and cameraman. He did not, however, abandon the world of print photography; in 1972 he was asked to photograph the entire editorial content of McCall's Magazine, a first for any photographer.

Source: Wikipedia


Melvin Sokolsky was born and raised in New York City where he started his distinguished career as a stills photographer. At the age of twenty-one he was invited to join the staff of Harper's Bazaar. Within the next few years he worked as a major contributor to four prestigious magazines: Esquire, McCall's, Newsweek, and Show. His photographs of internationally famous personalities have appeared in many of the major museums and magazines worldwide.

In 1962, Sokolsky photographed the entire editorial content of McCall's Magazine, a first in its time. He is best known of his infusion of surrealism in his fashion photography, with his iconic series of women encased in plastic bubbles, floating around various cityscapes.

In 1964, Sokolsky was invited by the School of Visual Arts in New York to teach a special class at his studio in New York. In 1969, Sokolsky embarked on a new career in television commercials as director/cameraman. Sokolsky has been honored with twenty-five Clio Awards, and is the recipient of every major television commercial award including the coveted "Directors Guild" nomination. Many of Sokolsky's commercials are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1972, Sokolsky versed in all phases of special effects and cinematography, presented a computerized zoom lens that he designed to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. The system was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award. 1975, Sokolsky was invited by the Japanese Graphic Society to lecture in Tokyo and Kyoto, and was subsequently named Honorary Professor of Photography.

In 1986, the Victoria and Albert Museum installed an exhibition of photographs called Shots of Style, a retrospective of the worlds major fashion photographers. The Victoria & Albert included Sokolsky's photographs in the exhibit, and subsequently placed many of them in their permanent collection. In 1991, the Victoria and Albert Museum mounted a show called Appearances, that is slated to travel around the world.

Source: www.sokolsky.com


 

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Minor White
United States
1908 | † 1976
Minor Martin White was an American photographer, theoretician, critic and educator. He combined an intense interest in how people viewed and understood photographs with a personal vision that was guided by a variety of spiritual and intellectual philosophies. Starting in Oregon in 1937 and continuing until he died in 1976, White made thousands of black-and-white and color photographs of landscapes, people and abstract subject matter, created with both technical mastery and a strong visual sense of light and shadow. He taught many classes, workshops and retreats on photography at the California School of Fine Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, other schools, and in his own home. He lived much of his life as a closeted gay man, afraid to express himself publicly for fear of loss of his teaching jobs, and some of his most compelling images are figure studies of men whom he taught or with whom he had relationships. He helped start and for many years was editor of the photography magazine Aperture. After his death in 1976, White was hailed as one of America's greatest photographers. White was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the only child of Charles Henry White, a bookkeeper, and Florence May White, a dressmaker. His first name came from his great, great grandfather from the White family side, and his middle name was his mother's maiden name. During his early years he spent much of his time with his grandparents. His grandfather, George Martin, was an amateur photographer and gave White his first camera in 1915. As a child White enjoyed playing in the large garden at his grandparents' home, and this influenced his decision later on to study botany in college. White's parents went through a series of separations starting in 1916, and during those periods White lived with his mother and her parents. His parents reconciled for a while in 1922 and remained together until they divorced in 1929. By the time White graduated from high school he was already aware of his latent homosexuality. In 1927 he wrote about his feelings for men in his diary, and to his dismay his parents read his diary without his permission. After what he called a brief crisis period, during which he left home for the summer, he returned to live with his family while he started college. His parents never spoke of his homosexuality again. White entered the University of Minnesota in 1927 and majored in botany. By the time he should have graduated in 1931 he had not met the requirements for a science degree, and he left the university for a while. During this period he became very interested in writing, and he started a personal journal that he called "Memorable Fancies." In it he wrote poems, intimate thoughts about his life and his struggles with his sexuality, excerpts from letters that he wrote to others, occasional diary-like entries about his daily life, and, later on, extensive notes about his photography. He continued to fill the pages of his journal until he directed most of his energy into teaching around 1970. In 1932 White re-entered the university and studied both writing and botany. With his previous credits, he was able to graduate in 1934. The next year he took some graduate classes in botany, but after six months he decided that he lacked real interest in becoming a scientist. He spent the next two years doing odd jobs and exploring his writing skills. During this period he began creating a set of 100 sonnets on the theme of sexual love, his first attempt at grouping his creative output. In late 1937 White decided to move to Seattle. He purchased a 35mm Argus camera and took a bus trip across country toward his destination. He stopped in Portland, Oregon, on his way and decided to stay there. For the next 2-1/2 years he lived at the YMCA in Portland while he explored photography in depth for the first time. It was at the YMCA that he taught his first class in photography, to a small group of young adults. He also joined the Oregon Camera Club in order to learn about how photographers talk about their own images and what photography means to them. White was offered a job in 1938 as photographer for the Oregon Art Project, which was funded by the Works Progress Administration. One of his tasks was to photograph historic buildings in downtown Portland before they were demolished for a new riverfront development. At this same time he made publicity photos for the Portland Civic Theater, documenting their plays and taking portraits of the actors and actresses. In 1940 White was hired to teach photography at the La Grande Art Center in eastern Oregon. He quickly became immersed in his work and taught classes three days a week, lectured on art of local students, reviewed exhibitions for the local newspaper and delivered a weekly radio broadcast about activities at the Art Center. In his spare time he traveled throughout the region, taking photographs of the landscape, farms and small town buildings. He also wrote his first article on photography, "When is Photography Creative?," which was published in American Photography magazine two years later. White resigned from the Art Center in late 1941 and returned to Portland where he intended to start a commercial photography business. That year three of his photographs were accepted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for inclusion in their "Image of Freedom" exhibition. At the close of the exhibition the museum purchased all three prints, the first time his images entered a public collection. The following year the Portland Art Museum gave White his first one-man show, exhibiting four series of photos he made while in eastern Oregon. He wrote in his journal that with that show "a period came to a close." In April 1942 White was drafted into the United States Army and hid his homosexuality from the recruiters. Before leaving Portland he left most of his negatives of historic Portland buildings with the Oregon Historical Society. White spent the first two years of World War II in Hawaii and in Australia, and later he became Chief of the Divisional Intelligence Branch in the southern Philippines. During this period he rarely photographed, choosing instead to write poetry and extended verse. Three of his longer poems, "Elegies," "Free Verse for the Freedom of Speech," and "Minor Testament," spoke to his experiences during the war and to the bonds of men under extreme conditions. Later he would use some of the text from "Minor Testament" in his photographic sequence Amputations. After the war White traveled to New York City and enrolled in Columbia University. While in New York he met and became close friends with Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, who were working in the newly formed photography department at the Museum of Modern Art. White was offered a job as photographer for the museum and spent many hours talking with and learning from Nancy Newhall, who he said strongly influenced his thinking about and his direction in photography. In February 1946 White had the first of several meetings with photographer Alfred Stieglitz in New York. White knew of Stieglitz's deep understanding of photography from his various writings, and through their conversations White adopted much of Stieglitz's theory of equivalence, where the image stands for something other than the subject matter, and his use of sequencing pictorial imagery. At one of their meetings White wrote in his journal that he expressed his doubt that he was ready to become a serious photographer. He wrote that Stieglitz asked him "Have you ever been in love?" White answered "yes," and Stieglitz replied "Then you can photograph." During this time, White met and became friends with some of the major photographers of the time, including Berenice Abbott, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Harry Callahan. Steichen, who was director of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art, offered White a curatorial position at the museum, but instead White accepted an offer from Ansel Adams to assist him at the newly created photography department at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) in San Francisco. White moved to San Francisco in July and lived in the same house as Adams for several years. While there Adams taught White about his Zone System method of exposing and developing negatives, which White used extensively in his own work. He wrote extensively about it, published a book and taught the exposure and development method as well as the practice of (pre)-visualization to his students. While in San Francisco White became close friends with Edward Weston in Carmel, and for the remainder of his life Weston had a profound influence on White's photography and philosophy. Later he said ...Stieglitz, Weston and Ansel all gave me exactly what I needed at that time. I took one thing from each: technique from Ansel, the love of nature from Weston, and from Stieglitz the affirmation that I was alive and I could photograph. Over the next several years White spent a great deal of time photographing at Point Lobos, the site of some of Weston's most famous images, approaching many of the same subjects with entirely different viewpoints and creative purposes. By mid-1947 White was the primary teacher at CSFA and had developed a three-year course that emphasized personal expressive photography. Over the next six years he brought in as teachers some of the best photographers of the time, including Imogen Cunningham, Lisette Model, and Dorothea Lange. During this time White created his first grouping of photos and text in a non-narrative form, a sequence he called Amputations. Although it was scheduled to be shown at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the exhibition was canceled because White refused to allow the photographs to be shown without text, which included some wording that expressed his ambiguity about America's post-war patriotism. From The Temptation of St. Anthony Is Mirrors (1948) The next three years were some of White's most prolific in terms of creative output. In addition to taking dozens of land- and waterscapes, he made dozens of photographs that evolved into some of his most compelling sequences. Three in particular showed his continuing struggles with his sexuality. Song Without Words, The Temptation of St. Anthony Is Mirrors, and Fifth Sequence/Portrait of a Young Man as Actor all depict "the emotional turmoil he feels over his love and desire for men." In 1949 White purchased a small Zeiss Ikonta camera and began a series of urban street photographs. Over the next four years he took nearly 6,000 images, all inspired by his newfound interest in the poetry of Walt Whitman. The project, which he called City of Surf, included photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown, the docks, people on the streets and various parades and fairs around town. The period of 1951-52 is one of the formative times in White's career. He participated in a Conference on Photography at the Aspen Institute, where the idea of creating a new journal of photography was discussed by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, Frederick Sommer and others. Soon after Aperture magazine was founded by many of these same individuals. White volunteered for and was approved as editor, and the first issue appeared in April 1952. Aperture quickly became one of the most influential magazines about photography, and White remained as editor until 1975. Near the end of 1952 White's father, from whom he had been estranged for many years, died in Long Beach, California. In 1953 Walter Chappell introduced White to the I Ching, an ancient Chinese book of philosophy and divination, and White continued to be influenced by and refer to this text throughout the rest of his life. He was especially intrigued by the concepts of yin and yang, in which apparently opposite or contrary forces may be conceived as complementary. Later that same year a reorganization at CSFS resulted in White's teaching role being cut back, and as a result he began to think about a change in his employment. Concurrently, Beaumont Newhall had recently become the curator at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and Newhall invited White to work with him there as a curatorial assistant. He exhibited September 28 - November 3 1954 at Limelight Gallery in New York and was included in that gallery's Great Photographs at the end of that year.[16] Over the next three years White organized three themed exhibitions[where?] that demonstrated his particular interests: Camera Consciousness, The Pictorial Image and Lyrical and Accurate. In 1955 he joined the faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he taught one day a week. White's photographic output declined during this time due to his teaching and editorial work, but he continued to produce enough images that by the end of 1955 he had created a new sequence, Sequence 10/Rural Cathedrals, which included landscape images from upstate New York that were shot on regular and infrared film. By 1955 White was fully engaged in teaching, having been appointed as instructor at the new four-year photography program at RIT as well as conducting classes and workshops at Ohio University and Indiana University. Walter Chappell moved to Rochester later in the year to work at the George Eastman House. Chappell engaged White in long discussions about various Eastern religions and philosophies. White began practicing Zen meditation and adopted a Japanese style of decoration in his house. Over the next two years the discussions between White and Chappell metamorphosed into lengthy discourses about the writing and philosophy of George Gurdjieff. White gradually became an adherent of Gurdjieff's teachings and started to incorporate Gurdjieff's thinking into the design and implementation of his workshops. Gurdjieff's concepts, for White, were not just intellectual exercises but guides to experience, and they greatly influenced much of his approach to teaching and photography throughout the rest of his life. During this same period White began making his first color images. Although he is better known for his black-and-white photography, he produced many color photographs. His archive contains nearly 9,000 35mm transparencies taken between 1955 and 1975. In 1959 White mounted a large exhibition of 115 photos of his Sequence 13/Return to the Bud at the George Eastman House. It was his largest exhibition to date. It later traveled to the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. White was invited to teach a 10-days', all-expense paid workshop in Portland to accompany the exhibition. He took advantage of the funding to photograph landscapes and did nature studies across the country. From his experience in Portland he developed the idea for a full-time residential workshop in Rochester in which students would learn through both formal sessions and, following a combination of thinking from Gurdjieff and from Zen, through an understanding gained by the discipline of such tasks as household chores and early morning workouts. He would continue this style of residential teaching until he died. In the early 1960s White also studied hypnosis and incorporated the practice into some of his teachings as a way of helping students experience photographs. White continued to teach extensively both privately and at RIT for the next several years. During this time he traveled across the U.S. in the summers taking photographs along the way. In his journal he referred to himself during this period as "The Wanderer," which had both literal and metaphorical meanings due to his search for understanding life. In 1962 he met Michael Hoffman, who became a friend, colleague and, later, assumed the editorship of Aperture magazine. White later named Hoffman to be the executor of his will. In 1965 White was invited to help design a newly formed program in visual arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. After being appointed as a Visiting Professor, White moved to the Boston area and purchased a 12-room house in suburban Arlington so he could increase the size of his residential workshops for selected students. Soon after moving to the Boston area, he completed a different kind of sequence called Slow Dance, which he would later integrate into his teachings. He continued to explore how people understand and interpret photography and began to incorporate techniques of Gestalt psychology into his teachings. In order to help his students experience the meaning of "equivalence," he started requiring them to draw certain subjects as well as photograph them. White began to experience periodic discomfort in his chest in 1966, and his doctor diagnosed his ailment as angina. His symptoms continued throughout the rest of his life, leading him to intensify his study of spiritual matters and meditation. He turned to astrology in an attempt to increase his understanding about life, and his interest in it became so significant that he required all of his current and prospective students to have their horoscopes completed. By this point in his life White's unorthodox teaching methods were well established, and students who went through his workshops were both mystified and enlightened by the experience. One student who later became a Zen monk said "I really wanted to learn to see the way he did, to capture my subjects in a way that didn't render them lifeless and two-dimensional. I didn't realize that Minor was teaching us exactly that: not only to see images, but to feel them, smell them, taste them. He was teaching us how to be photography." White began writing the text for Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations, which was the first monograph of his photographs, in late 1966, and three years later the book was published by Aperture. It included 243 of his photographs and text, including poems, notes from his journal and other writings. Peter Bunnell, who was one of White's early students and then Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote a lengthy biography of White for the book. During this same time White completed Sequence 1968, a series of landscape images from his recent travels. During the next several years White conceived of and directed four major themed photography exhibitions at MIT, starting with "Light7" in 1968 and followed by "Be-ing without Clothes" in 1970, "Octave of Prayer" in 1972 and "Celebrations" in 1974. Anyone could submit images for the shows, and White spent a great deal of time personally reviewing all of the submissions and selecting the final images. White continued to teach extensively and make his own photographs even though his health was declining. He devoted more and more time to his writing and began a long text he called "Consciousness in Photography and the Creative Audience," in which he referred to his 1965 sequence Slow Dance and advanced the idea that certain states of heightened awareness were necessary to truly read a photograph and understand its meaning. In order to complete this work he applied for and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970, and Consciousness in Photography and the Creative Audience became required reading for a new course he taught at MIT called "Creative Audience." in 1971 he traveled to Puerto Rico to explore more of his color photography, and in 1974 and 1975 he journeyed to Peru to teach and to further his own Gurdjieff studies. In 1975 White traveled to England to lecture at the Victoria and Albert Museum and to teach classes at various colleges. He continued on a hectic travel schedule for several weeks, then flew directly to the University of Arizona in Tucson to take part in a symposium there. When he returned to Boston after nearly six weeks of travel, he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized for several weeks. After this White's focus turned even more inward, and he photographed very little. He spent much of his time with his student Abe Frajndlich, who made a series of situational portraits of White around his home and in his garden. A few months before his death White published a short article in Parabola magazine called "The Diamond Lens of Fable" in which he associated himself with Gilgamesh, Jason and King Arthur, all heroes of old tales about lifelong quests. On June 24, 1976, White died of a second heart attack while working at his home. He bequeathed all of his personal archives and papers, along with a large collection of his photographs, to Princeton University. He left his house to Aperture so they could continue the work he started there. Source: Wikipedia
Frederick Sommer
United States
1905 | † 1999
Frederick Sommer (September 7, 1905 – January 23, 1999), was an artist born in Angri, Italy and raised in Brazil. He earned a M.A. degree in Landscape Architecture (1927) from Cornell University where he met Frances Elizabeth Watson (September 20, 1904 – April 10, 1999) whom he married in 1928; they had no children. The Sommers moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1931 and then Prescott, Arizona in 1935. Sommer became a naturalized citizen of the United States on November 18, 1939. Considered a master photographer, Sommer first experimented with photography in 1931 after being diagnosed with tuberculosis the year prior. Early works on paper (starting in 1931) include watercolors, and evolve to pen-and-ink or brush plus drawings of visually composed musical score. Concurrent to the works on paper, Sommer started to seriously explore the artistic possibilities of photography in 1938 when he acquired an 8×10 Century Universal Camera, eventually encompassing the genres of still life (chicken parts and assemblage), horizonless landscapes, jarred subjects, cut-paper, cliché-verre negatives and nudes. According to art critic Robert C. Morgan, Sommer's "most extravagant, subtle, majestic, and impressive photographs—comparable in many ways to the views of Yosemite Valley’s El Capitan and Half Dome by Ansel Adams—were Sommer’s seemingly infinite desert landscapes, some of which he referred to as 'constellations.'" The last artistic body of work Sommer produced (1989–1999) was collage-based largely on anatomical illustrations. Frederick Sommer had significant artistic relationships with Edward Weston, Max Ernst, Aaron Siskind, Richard Nickel, Minor White, and others. His archive (of negatives and correspondence) was part of founding the Center for Creative Photography in 1975 along with Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Wynn Bullock, and Aaron Siskind. He taught briefly at Prescott College during the late 60s and substituted for Harry Callahan at IIT Institute of Design in 1957–1958 and later at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1934, Frederick Sommer visited Los Angeles. Walking through the art museum one day, he noticed a display of musical scores. He saw them not as music, but as graphics, and found in them an elegance and grace that led him to a careful study of scores and notation. He found that the best music was visually more effective and attractive. He assumed that there was a correlation between music as we hear it and its notation; and he wondered if drawings that used notational motifs and elements could be played. He made his first “drawings in the manner of musical scores” that year. (After reviewing this text, Fred asked that the author refer to his scores “only” in this way. When the author suggested that it was perhaps too long to be repeated throughout the text, he laughed and said, “Well, use it at least once.”) Although people knew of his scores, and occasionally brought musicians to his house to play them, no one ever stayed with it for long. In 1967, both Walton Mendelson and Stephen Aldrich attended Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona, where Sommer was on the faculty. They barely knew of his reputation as a photographer, and nothing of the scores. Towards the end of September he invited them to his house for dinner, but they were to come early, and Mendelson was to bring my flute. “Can you play that?” he asked, as they looked at one of the scores, framed, and sitting atop his piano. With no guidance from him, they tried. Nervous and unsure of what they were getting into, they stopped midway through. Mendelson asked Aldrich where he was in the score: he pointed to where Mendelson had stopped. They knew then, mysterious though the scores were, they could be played. On May 9, 1968, the first public performance of the music of Frederick Sommer was given at Prescott College. Sommer had no musical training. He didn't know one note from another on his piano, nor could he read music. His record collection was surprisingly broad for that time, and his familiarity with it was thorough. What surprised Mendelson and Aldrich when they first met him were his visual skills: he could identify many specific pieces and almost any major composer by looking at the shapes of the notation on a page of printed music. Of Sommer's known works, his drawings, glue-color on paper, photographs, and writings, it is only these scores that have been a part of his creative life throughout the entirety of his artistic career. He was still drawing elegant scores in 1997. And like his skip reading, they are the closest insight to his creative process, thinking and aesthetic. Bruce Silverstein Gallery is the New York representative of the Frederick & Frances Sommer Foundation.Source: Wikipedia Frederick Sommer was an artistic polymath, with deep interests in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and collage. With his work he intended to engage the world formally, to harvest its chance gifts, decontextualizing and rearranging found images and objects according to often shocking visual affinities. The artist played with a wide variety of forms, textures and scale to create startling compositions amid objects and sites others found too insignificant to notice. Sommer was intent on expanding the limits of where beauty could be found, and after viewing a display of original musical scores, he began to formulate his own theories correlating the graphic design to the sound of musical scores. Alongside many great artists of the period including Edward Weston, Max Ernst, Man Ray and Aaron Siskind, Sommer created a unique and avant-garde body of work formulated from his interest in Surrealism. His works have been exhibited by the world’s most important institutions, including the George Eastman House, Rochester; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Delaware Art Museum; Serpentine Gallery, London; Charles Egan Gallery, New York; Philadelphia College of Art; Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington D.C.; Pasadena Art Museum, California; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Institute of Design, Chicago; Zimmergalerie Franck, Germany; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Work by the artist is represented in major museum collections internationally such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Maison Européenne de la Photographie; George Eastman House, Rochester; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Sommer’s work has been published widely. Noteworthy publications include Frederick Sommer: Photography, Drawing, Collage (2005), The Mistress of the World Has No Name: Where Images Come From (1987), Frederick Sommer at Seventy Five, a Retrospective (1980), and Venus, Jupiter and Mars: The Photographs of Frederick Sommer (1980).Source: Bruce Silverstein Gallery
Li Zhensheng
China
1940
Li Zhensheng (born September 22, 1940) is a Chinese photojournalist who captured some of the most telling images from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, better known as the Chinese Cultural Revolution. His employment at the Heilongjiang Daily, which followed the party line, and his decision to wear a red arm band indicating an alliance with Chairman Mao Zedong, allowed him access to scenes otherwise only described in written and verbal accounts. His recent publication of the book, Red-Color News Soldier exhibits both the revolutionary ideals and, more notably, many of the atrocities that occurred during the Cultural Revolution. The Heilongjiang Daily newspaper had a strict policy in accordance with a government dictate that only "positive" images could be published, which consisted mostly of smiling revolutionaries offering praise for Chairman Mao. The "negative" images, which depicted the atrocities of the time, were hidden beneath a floorboard in his house before he brought them to light at a photo exhibit in 1988. Early life Li Zhensheng was born to a poor family in Dalian, which is located in the northeastern province of Liaoning, China. At the time of his birth this was Kwantung Leased Territory, where Japan maintained the puppet regime, Manchukuo. His mother died when he was three, and his older brother, who was a member of the People's Liberation Army was killed during the Chinese Civil War. Zhensheng helped his father, who was a cook on a steamship and later as a farmer, until Zhensheng was 10-years-old. Zhensheng quickly rose to the top of his class despite starting school late. He later earned a spot at the Changchun Film School, where he acquired much of his photographic knowledge. In 1963, he briefly achieved a job at the Heilongjiang Daily, however the Socialist Education Movement soon intervened and he ended up back in the countryside for nearly two years, living with peasants and studying the works of Chairman Mao. Cultural Revolution Zhensheng returned to Harbin just months before the outbreak of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the spring of 1966. A lack of photographic film, marauding Red Guards, and a political dictate against photographing the negative aspects of the revolution restricted what he was able to portray. He soon realized that only people wearing the red-colored arm band of the Red Guards could photograph without harassment. To achieve this, he founded his own small rebel group at the newspaper. Zhensheng then captured some of the most horrific acts of the Cultural Revolution. His collection includes photos depicting dehumanizing tactics used by the Red Guards to humiliate or degrade alleged counterrevolutionaries. Some of the images depict public displays of "denunciations," where the hair of prominent individuals is shaved. Other images show people bearing "dunce" hats; people with black paint spread over their faces; others wearing signs around their necks with writings that criticize their profession or names. Zhensheng also captured scenes of public executions of counterrevolutionaries who were never given a trial for their alleged crimes. At the height of the Cultural Revolution, Zhensheng was once more sent back to the countryside in September 1969. He was sent to the May 7th Cadre School in Liuhe, a labor camp where he and his wife, Zu Yingxia, spent two years performing hard labor. Zhensheng had taken meticulous care of the documented "negative" images he captured while at the newspaper, hiding them beneath a floorboard of his one-room apartment. The dry atmosphere and mild temperatures of Harbin aided the preservation of the photographic negatives. While he was sent away, Zhensheng entrusted a friend to care for the apartment, and instructed him to never reveal the secrets it contained. Zhensheng returned to the newspaper in 1972 as the head of the photography department, and later became a professor at Peking University in 1982. About Red-Color News Soldier Red-Color News Soldier is a literal translation of the Chinese characters written on the armband Li Zhensheng wore during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Although, he says he never gave his alliance to Chairman Mao, wearing the arm band gave him unprecedented access to historic events, which have since shaped Chinese culture. The book covers the period from just before the Cultural Revolution in 1965 to just after in 1976. It is separated into five chronological sections: 1964-1966 titled "It is right to rebel"; 1966 titled "Bombard the Headquarters"; 1966-1968 titled "The Red Sun in our hearts"; 1968-1972 titled "Revolution is not a dinner party"; and 1972-1974 titled "Die Fighting." The veteran China analyst John Gittings was among the reviewers who welcomed Li's book. He noted that Li was a Red Guard as well as a photographer and did not deny that he also led "struggle sessions" against innocent victims; but his pictures reflect a deeper desire to record and understand. Li's book was "unique" for a simple reason: "Although the post-Mao Chinese government has labeled the cultural revolution '10 years of chaos,' it still tries to suppress any real inquiry into the countless human tragedies it caused..." The book, which has not been published in China, took many years to publish. Zhensheng's "negative" pictures (those that depicted the atrocities of the cultural revolution) were first revealed publicly in March 1988 at a Chinese Press Association's photography competition in Beijing. The show, entitled "Let History Tell the Future" consisted of twenty images from his collection, which were deemed "counterrevolutionary. " In December of that year, Zhensheng met Robert Pledge, an American who was director of Contact Press Images, an international photo agency, who had come to Beijing. They agreed to work together on a book of Zhensheng's photos, but to wait until the political climate was right. Seven months later, in June 1989, the brutal events of Tiananmen Square made worldwide headlines, and Zhensheng became determined to produce a book to show the world the images from the Cultural Revolution. Work on the book began in 1999. Since Pledge did not speak Chinese, and Zhensheng did not speak English, the two had to coordinate work through the use of translators — many of whom became integral parts of their relationship. Zhensheng sent over 30,000 brown envelopes to Pledge's office in New York City, each containing photographic negatives. A number of the images are self-portraits of Zhensheng. This was the result of always returning to the paper with one extra frame on the film roll; a photojournalism technique of always being prepared to cover a breaking news event at the last minute. Zhensheng would "burn off" the last image with a photo of himself shortly before developing the film. Often the poses were humorous and playful. One such image of Zhensheng exposing his bare chest was published in the book He said he was attempting to recreate the old expression of "baring one's chest in the face of adversity," or in his case, communism. During book tours Zhensheng makes a point to speak of his love for China. He says while he disagrees with the government, he still loves his country and hopes democracy will perhaps prevail in the long-term future. He does not believe his images or the book should be considered anti-Chinese, rather a reminder of the painful past many countries endure during their evolution.Source: Wikipedia
Sol Hill
United States
1971
Sol Hill was born in Albuquerque, NM in 1971, to artist parents who founded the first contemporary art gallery in Santa Fe. His early memories were of being with his parents in their respective studios and of being in their gallery in Santa Fe. As a child the mysterious objects and paintings that pervaded the gallery intrigued him. Contemporary art works were prevalent both in the gallery and at home. Looking at those artworks felt like observing some secret alchemical language that Hill wished to learn. Growing up, Hill lived all across the United States, and in Jamaica and Germany. He majored in International Affairs and German at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR and at Maximilian Ludwig Universität in Munich, Germany. He also studied printmaking in college and then became deeply involved with photography while in Germany. He later returned to Santa Fe and founded Zen Stone Furnishings with his wife, a paper artist from Brazil. Together they designed and manufactured hand crafted home furnishings from stone, twigs, copper and handmade paper. After an intense medical crisis, Hill decided to dedicate himself to fine art. He went on to study photography at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, where he received an MFA in 2010. Hill travels regularly and often to Brazil to visit his wife’s family. Travel has powerfully affected his vision as an artist. Although Hill uses some of the latest digital photographic equipment and embraces digital photography, he finds that he is drawn to the kind of liberation found in embracing the mysterious and unfamiliar rather than that which is crisply defined and well known.About Token Feminine:The mannequin is a token feminine used to impart cultural conventions of the idealized female image In this body of work I examine mannequins in storefront windows as symbols of consumer culture. I see them as emblems upon which the desire and fantasy of sex and fashion are draped and from which complex valuations of body image are ingested. The mannequin is a token feminine presence used to impart cultural conventions of the idealized female image. I dissipate these literal mannequin pictures by interrupting the expected information and accepting the digital noise, which are undesirable artifacts produced by false exposure, inherent to the process of capturing digital images. This allows me to explore the nature of the boundary between the reverie of the token feminine and the reality of the commercial icon.About Urban Noise:I seek stillness within the modern day information overload through the act of unconventional street photography. Urban Noise combines an exploration of the aesthetic and conceptual value of digital noise in photography with a contemplative study of the contemporary urban environment. Digital noise is a reviled artifact inherent to digital imaging. I challenge the notion that this artifact is inherently worthless by using it to render photographs into contemporary visual tropes. It is my tool to address the digital nature of the contemporary world. Digital noise is false exposure produced by energies other than light, namely heat, electrical current and “cosmic noise.” Cosmic noise is the term for invisible wavelength energies comprised in part of man-made signals from our built and technological environment mixed with the electro magnetic energy produced by human bodies. The resulting noise from these interfering energies transforms my photographs. The contemporary urban environment is flooded with so much extraneous information that we necessarily turn most of it into background noise to survive. There is so much conflicting information competing for our attention that I am intrigued by how we sort out what is worthy of our attention, from meaningless background noise. I seek my own stillness within the overwhelming cacophony of modern day information overload through the act of unconventional street photography.
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