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Phil Stern
Phil Stern

Phil Stern

Country: United States
Birth: 1919 | Death: 2014

Phil Stern was an American photographer noted for his iconic portraits of Hollywood stars, as well as his war photography while serving as a U.S. Army Ranger with "Darby's Rangers" during the North African and Italian campaigns in World War II.

Settling in Los Angeles after the war, Stern was staff photographer for Look magazine. He also worked for Life magazine and Collier's. He was present on numerous film productions as still photographer, and in that capacity took photographs of a huge cross-section of the film community. Stern's images of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Marlon Brando and even musician Louis Armstrong have become widely recognized icons.

A lifelong smoker, Stern died at the age of 95 in Los Angeles from COPD and congestive heart failure which he had been battling for over three and a half decades.

Source: Wikipedia


I’ve taken mountains and mountains of stuff, which I occasionally describe as mountains and mountains of shit. It so happens, there’s a little gem here and a little gem there. You dig out those gems.

-- Phil Stern


Phil Stern created portraits of stars of the silver screen – including James Dean, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe – that were both iconic and intimate. His subjects looked natural, even self-absorbed or introverted.

The lower half of his most famous portrait of James Dean (1955) is a black cable-knit jumper; the upper half reveals Dean’s face only from halfway up his ears. His eyes are rolled up, framed by straight eyebrows. The white plane of Dean’s forehead under a shiny shock of tousled hair, and the pale background, inevitably draw attention to those mischievous eyes, bisecting the frame and challenging the viewer.

By contrast, one 1953 image of Marilyn Monroe shows her as wistful and withdrawn, looking into the distance with an air of abstraction, her hands nervously fingering the loosened bow at the waist of her gown. As Stern told Entertainment Weekly in 1993: “I was never interested in the glamour, I was interested in the tears and agony behind it.”

His friendship with John Wayne gave him access to perhaps his most subversively casual image. It shows Wayne lighting up, eyeline going straight to a woman’s bared leg. But it’s not what he’s doing but what he’s wearing that draws the viewer’s eye: the cowboy hat and loose jacket conform to type, but below the waist the over-constricting gingham shorts, plump legs and girly espadrilles are a risible disaster.

Stern’s pictures of musicians are very different in character. Formal ones – such as of the Rat Pack on stage in 1962 – are mainly of lineups. One senses his preference for the moodiness of Sinatra alone, shot from behind and dressed – as if by Raymond Chandler – in a hat and long mackintosh, pacing down a bleakly dirty corridor towards a dead end. Another Rat Pack member, Sammy Davis Jr, performed a rooftop diamond-shaped jump. Despite his tightly drawn up (and shiny) brogues, his white outfit and right-angled arms with their delicately spread fingers are reminiscent of a Hindu dancer (1947).

Stern loved jazz, and he photographed Louis Armstrong in a coincidentally similar pose, not jumping but perched on a stool, trumpet upended on his knee as he looks down and laughs into his chest (1957). Stern enjoyed the image so much that he made a lifesize cardboard cutout of it, and had his own portrait taken alongside. A less artfully composed shot shows Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald together, in full swing, singing at a studio recording.

There was more to Stern’s career than showbiz, however. He enlisted as a combat photographer in the second world war, and won a Purple Heart for his courage and willingness to risk his life picturing infantrymen under fire. Stern documented US troops advancing through north Africa, and was invalided home with severe shrapnel wounds to his arms and neck. In 1943 he returned to cover the Allied invasion of Sicily for Stars and Stripes, the US army magazine. According to his biographer, the journalist Herbert Mitgang: “His pictures of the invasion and its aftermath remain among the most outstanding documents in the annals of combat photography in any war, before or since.”

The postwar decades saw a media boom: the heyday of photo magazines and blockbuster movies aimed at a predominantly young mass audience. Stern rode the publicity of a new generation of stars who became, at least in part through his attention, poster pinups. Interviewed later by the Los Angeles Times, he mused on his transfer from war to celebrity photography. “ [The war] very well might have helped me get access ... I don’t really know for sure, because some of them wanted publicity so bad that you didn’t have to have a Purple Heart for that. All you had to have was an expensive camera.”

Source: The Guardian


Look, Matisse I ain’t. You know how they have on the invitations, “a reception for the artist will be held at...” And I say, “Look, you gotta change this. I’m not an artist. I’m a photographer, a skilled craftsman.”

-- Phil Stern


 

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What I want to be able to do is to change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day."Source: Wikipedia Originally trained as a sculptor, Muniz’s work began to take on its mature form with The Best of LIFE; he drew from memory pictures of Life magazine photographs included in the coffee table book The Best of Life after losing the book in a move. He then photographed his drawings and kept only the photographs, thereby establishing his signature working style. Muniz subsequently applied this methodology to works in the art history canon, reproducing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as iconic photographs of Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe using chocolate syrup and replicating a Donald Judd sculpture by using dust taken from the Whitney Museum’s halls and galleries. To make the series Pictures of Garbage, Muniz spent two years working with garbage pickers at Jardim Gramacho, an open-air dump site near Rio. He photographed several of the pickers as subjects of classical portraits, with the background details supplied by the garbage they scavenged. This effort was captured in the documentary Waste Land, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Muniz’s photographs are in many collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art; the Tate Gallery; and the Victoria and Albert Museum.Source: International Center of Photography
MD Tanveer Rohan
Bangladesh
1982
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Marna Clarke
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Ruud van Empel
Netherlands
1958
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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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