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Frances Benjamin Johnston
Frances Benjamin Johnston, Self-Portrait (as "New Woman"), 1896 ©Library of Congres
Frances Benjamin Johnston
Frances Benjamin Johnston

Frances Benjamin Johnston

Country: United States
Birth: 1864 | Death: 1952

Frances "Fannie" Benjamin Johnston (15 January 1864 – 16 May 1952) was an early American female photographer and photojournalist whose career lasted for almost half a century. She is most known for her portraits, images of southern architecture, and various photographic series featuring African Americans and Native Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

The only surviving child of wealthy and well connected parents, she was born in Grafton, West Virginia, raised in Washington, D.C., and studied at the Académie Julian in Paris and the Washington Students League following her graduation from Notre Dame of Maryland Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies in 1883 (now known as Notre Dame of Maryland University). An independent and strong-willed young woman, she wrote articles for periodicals before finding her creative outlet through photography after she was given her first camera by George Eastman, a close friend of the family, and inventor of the new, lighter, Eastman Kodak cameras. She received training in photography and dark-room techniques from Thomas Smillie, director of photography at the Smithsonian.

She took portraits of friends, family and local figures before working as a freelance photographer and touring Europe in the 1890s, using her connection to Smillie to visit prominent photographers and gather items for the museum's collections. She gained further practical experience in her craft by working for the newly formed Eastman Kodak company in Washington, D.C., forwarding film for development and advising customers when cameras needed repairs. In 1894 she opened her own photographic studio in Washington, D.C., on V Street between 13th and 14th Streets, and at the time was the only woman photographer in the city. She took portraits of many famous contemporaries including Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington. Well connected among elite society, she was commissioned by magazines to do "celebrity" portraits, such as Alice Roosevelt's wedding portrait, and was dubbed the "Photographer to the American court." She photographed Admiral Dewey on the deck of the USS Olympia,[6] the Roosevelt children playing with their pet pony at the White House and the gardens of Edith Wharton's famous villa near Paris.

Her mother, Frances Antoinette Johnston, had been a congressional journalist and dramatic critic for the Baltimore Sun and her daughter built on her familiarity with the Washington political scene by becoming official White House photographer for the Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, "TR" Roosevelt, and Taft presidential administrations.

Johnston also photographed the famous American heiress and literary salon socialite Natalie Barney in Paris but perhaps her most famous work, shown here, is her self-portrait of the liberated "New Woman", petticoats showing and beer stein in hand. Johnston was a constant advocate for the role of women in the burgeoning art of photography. The Ladies' Home Journal published Johnston's article "What a Woman Can Do With a Camera" in 1897[9] and she co-curated (with Zaida Ben-Yusuf) an exhibition of photographs by twenty-eight women photographers at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, which afterwards travelled to Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Washington, DC. She traveled widely in her thirties, taking a wide range of documentary and artistic photographs of coal miners, iron workers, women in New England's mills and sailors being tattooed on board ship as well as her society commissions. While in England she photographed the stage actress Mary Anderson, who was a friend of her mother.

In 1899, she gained further notability when she was commissioned by Hollis Burke Frissell to photograph the buildings and students of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Hampton, Virginia in order to show its success. This series, documenting the ordinary life of the school, remains as some of her most telling work. It was displayed at The Exhibit of American Negroes of the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900.

She photographed events such as world's fairs and peace-treaty signings and took the last portrait of President William McKinley, at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 just before his assassination. With her partner, Mattie Edwards Hewitt, a successful freelance home and garden photographer in her own right, she opened a studio in New York in 1913 and moved in with her mother and aunt.

Hewitt wrote Johnston love letters over the course of their relationship, which are chronicled in "The Woman Behind the Lens: The Life and Work of Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1864–1952." Many of the early letters focused on Hewitt's admiration for Johnston's work, but as their romance progressed, they became increasingly full of words of love: "...when I need you or you need me — [we] must hold each other all the closer and with your hand in mine, holding it tight..."

She lectured at New York University on business for women and they produced a series of studies of New York architecture through the 1920s. In early 1920 her mother died in New York.

In the 1920s, she became increasingly interested in photographing architecture, motivated by a desire to document buildings and gardens which were falling into disrepair or about to be redeveloped and lost. As her focus in architecture grew, she became specifically interested in documenting the architecture of the American South. Johnston was interested in preserving the everyday history of the American South through her art; she accomplished this by photographing barns, inns, and other ordinary structures. She was not interested in photographing the grand homes and estates of the American South, but rather the quickly deteriorating structures in these communities that portrayed the life of common southerners. Her photographs remain an important resource for modern architects, historians and conservationists. She exhibited a series of 247 photographs of Fredericksburg, Virginia, from the decaying mansions of the rich to the shacks of the poor, in 1928. The exhibition was entitled Pictorial Survey--Old Fredericksburg, Virginia--Old Falmouth and Nearby Places and described as "A Series of Photographic Studies of the Architecture of the Region Dating by Tradition from Colonial Times to Circa 1830" as "An Historical Record and to Preserve Something of the Atmosphere of An Old Virginia Town."

Publicity from the display prompted the University of Virginia to hire her to document its buildings and the state of North Carolina to record its architectural history. Louisiana hired Johnston to document its huge inventory of rapidly deteriorating plantations and she was given a grant in 1933 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to document Virginia's early architecture. This led to a series of grants and photographs of eight other southern states, all of which were given to the Library of Congress for public use. In December 1935, she began a year long project to capture the less evolved structures of the Colonial Era in Virginia. This was effort was intended to be a one year project, but evolved into an eight year extensive project, in which she surveyed 50,000 miles and 95 counties in Virginia.

Johnston was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects for her work in preserving old and endangered buildings and her collections have been purchased by institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Although her relentless traveling was curtailed by petrol rationing in the Second World War the tireless Johnston continued to photograph. Johnston acquired a home in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1940, retiring there in 1945, where she died in 1952 at the age of eighty-eight.

Source: Wikipedia

 

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Diane Arbus
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Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer and writer noted for black-and-white square photographs of "deviant and marginal people (dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers) or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal.". Arbus believed that a camera could be “a little bit cold, a little bit harsh” but its scrutiny revealed the truth; the difference between what people wanted others to see and what they really did see – the flaws. A friend said that Arbus said that she was "afraid... that she would be known simply as 'the photographer of freaks'"; however, that phrase has been used repeatedly to describe her. In 1972, a year after she committed suicide, Arbus became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale. Millions of people viewed traveling exhibitions of her work in 1972–1979. 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The first major exhibition of her photographs occurred at the Museum of Modern Art in a 1967 show called "New Documents," curated by John Szarkowski. The show also featured the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. Some of her artistic work was done on assignment. Although she continued to photograph on assignment (e.g., in 1968 she shot documentary photographs of poor sharecroppers in rural South Carolina for Esquire magazine), in general her magazine assignments decreased as her fame as an artist increased. Szarkowski hired Arbus in 1970 to research an exhibition on photojournalism called "From the Picture Press"; it included many photographs by Weegee whose work Arbus admired. Using softer light than in her previous photography, she took a series of photographs in her later years of people with intellectual disability showing a range of emotions. At first, Arbus considered these photographs to be "lyric and tender and pretty," but by June, 1971, she told Lisette Model that she hated them. Associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Saul Leiter, Arbus helped form what Jane Livingston has termed The New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. Among other photographers and artists she befriended during her career, she was close to photographer Richard Avedon; he was approximately the same age, his family had also run a Fifth Avenue department store, and many of his photographs were also characterized as detailed frontal poses. Another good friend was Marvin Israel, an artist, graphic designer, and art director whom Arbus met in 1959. Arbus experienced "depressive episodes" during her life similar to those experienced by her mother, and the episodes may have been made worse by symptoms of hepatitis. 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Dennis Stock (July 24, 1928 – January 11, 2010) was an American photojournalist and documentary photographer and a member of Magnum Photos. He was born in New York City and died in Sarasota, Florida. Stock served in the United States Army from 1947-1951. Following his discharge, he apprenticed under photographer Gjon Mili. In 1951, he won a first prize in a Life magazine competition for young photographers. That same year, he became an associate member of the photography agency Magnum. He became a full partner-member in 1954. In 1955, Stock met the actor James Dean and undertook a series of photos of the young star in Hollywood, Dean's hometown in Indiana and in New York City. He took a photograph of Dean in New York's Times Square in 1955 (the year Dean died) that became an iconic image of the young star. It appeared later in numerous galleries and on postcards and posters and was one of the most reproduced photographs of the post-war period. The black and white photograph shows the actor with a pulled up collar on a casual jacket and a cigarette in his mouth on a rain-soaked, gray day. From 1957 until the early 1960s, Stock aimed his lens at jazz musicians, photographing such people as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington. With this series of photographs he published the book Jazz Street. In 1962, he received the first prize at the International Photo Competition in Poland. In 1968, Stock left Magnum to start his own film company, Visual Objectives Inc., and made several documentaries, but he returned to the agency a year later, as vice president for new media and film. In the mid-1970s, he traveled to Japan and the Far East, and also produced numerous features series, such as photographs of contrasting regions, like Hawaii and Alaska. In the 1970s and 1980s he focused on color photography of nature and landscape, and returned to his urban roots in the 1990s focusing on architecture and modernism.(Source: en.wikipedia.org) Dennis Stock was born in 1928 in New York City. At the age of 17, he left home to join the United States Navy. In 1947 he became an apprentice to Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili and won first prize in Life's Young Photographers contest. He joined Magnum in 1951. Stock managed to evoke the spirit of America through his memorable and iconic portraits of Hollywood stars, most notably James Dean. From 1957 to 1960 Stock made lively portraits of jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Gene Krupa and Duke Ellington for his book Jazz Street. In 1968 Stock took a leave of absence from Magnum to create Visual Objectives, a film production company, and he shot several documentaries. In the late 1960s he captured the attempts of California hippies to reshape society according to ideals of love and caring. Then throughout the 1970s and 1980s he worked on color books, emphasizing the beauty of nature through details and landscape. In the 1990s he went back to his urban origins, exploring the modern architecture of large cities. His recent work was mostly focused on the abstraction of flowers. Stock generated a book or an exhibition almost every year since the 1950s. He taught numerous workshops and exhibited his work widely in France, Germany, Italy, the United States and Japan. He worked as a writer, director and producer for television and film, and his photographs have been acquired by most major museum collections. He served as president of Magnum's film and new media division in 1969 and 1970.(Source: Magnum Photos)
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United States
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Michael Ackerman
Israel/United States
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Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. His family moves to New York in 1974. Lives and works in Warsaw. Since his first exhibition, in 1999, Michael Ackerman has made his mark by bringing a new, radical and unique approach. His work on Varanasi, entitled "End Time City," breaks away from all sorts of exoticism or any anecdotal attempt at description, to question time and death with a freedom granted by a distance from the panoramic – whose usage he renewed – to squares or rectangles. In black and white, with permanent risk that led him to explore impossible lighting, he allowed the grainy images to create enigmatic and pregnant visions. Michael Ackerman seeks – and finds – in the world he traverses, reflections of his personal malaise, doubts and anguish. He received the Nadar Award for his book "End Time City" in 1999, and the Infinity Award for Young Photographer by the International Center of Photography in 1998. In 2009, he won the SCAM Roger Pic Award for his series "Departure, Poland". 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Infinity Award, Young Photographer, International Center of Photography, 1998. 2014 L’intuition – A projection in collaboration with musician Vincent Courtois, curated by Christian Caujolle. Performed In la Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, 4 Fevrier Le Lux Scene national de Valence, Festival Banlieues blues, Paris and Rencontres photographiques d’Arles SUSPENSION Noun: Suspension, Verb: suspend: “To cause to stop for a period, hold in abeyance; suspend judgment.” In Michael Ackerman's work, documentary and autobiography conspire with fiction, and all of the above dissolve into hallucination. The particular journeys of his book Half Life encompass New York, Havana, Berlin, Naples, Paris, Warsaw, and Krakow, but the locations aren’t necessarily recognizable at all. Michael has been moving towards this erasure of geographical and other distinctions in his photographs for some time. It hasn’t become dogma - the Smoke photographs shot in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown remain a beautifully regional document, but they document a neighborhood as a particular dream state rather than a set of facts, and the photos could wander easily into his other bodies of work. In all cases, there is surely a trajectory away from the constraints of a traditional documentary mode towards a very different way of getting at the world. Some notes about particular photos in Half Life: A family, seen on a decaying porcelain tombstone portrait - solarized by decades of exposure - is falling apart, as families do, is holding on together, as families do. The shape of their little monument is uncannily like that of the Hotel Centrum on a later page, where such a family, had they existed in the same era, would not have been able to stay. The Centrum, a modern Polish megalith, floats absurdly in the frame, freed from all scale but heavy on the page. A naked man kneeling on a bed; we find him in supplication or some unspecific bondage. He is trapped, caught between stations, and the terrible but accepted scratch lines on the negative make it feel like TV or video, as if the man is seen through some screen, receding. It’s no longer a portrait of a particular person. It seems as if the man has become some vague entity, a sick feeling, a migraine headache, I don’t even know. A man goes up stairs or an escalator and his hand is ridiculously long, maybe like that of Nosferatu in Murnau’s silent film. The stairs begin in Lodz but, according to the next page, pass a landing in Havana. Suspension... A woman, naked, holds her arms against her torso. She looks up, somehow in simultaneous surprise and recognition. I can’t say if her face shows love or sadness or fear, but there’s something inevitable in her expression. It’s strange how she seems so caught in flux, while her shadow, so dark on the wall, is just the opposite, permanent.* * * In the early stages of his building the Half Life book, Michael and I talked about where to put the series of pictures taken from train windows, mostly in deep winter. At one point they were scattered throughout, at other times they fell together in a bloc, but in any case, the body of work, and the book as a whole, started to feel to me like they ran on rails in the snow, and the places and people within them were stops, things seen or felt in passing. They’re encountered, drift away, are longed for, returned to, left behind again. If Michael’s work is sometimes tough, the landscapes remind us back to a balancing delicacy, a faith in beauty. Michael deeply loves the snow trains that cut archaically through Europe, especially through Eastern Europe, especially the overnight trains which he and I share as our transportation of choice. On these you travel but are nowhere for the duration of the trip, floating through whiteness if it’s wintertime. This nothing in which things float is echoed in his prints, though the white is sometimes heavily vignetted, as if darkness wants in. Alternately, the backgrounds can be of total blackness, and then the subject radiates like a candle. But back to the snow trains, which often run through the most ignored and beautiful parts of cities, where commercial facades drop away like forced smiles into debris and frozen mud and warehouses, which then give way to fields. Riding on one of these trains outside of Katowice, Poland en route to Paris, Michael spotted in the distance the warped row of dead train cars seen in the book. Desperate to photograph them, he guessed at their location and eventually returned. He got off at the closest stop, trudged through the snow, and found the trains, but approaching across a frozen field, camera in hand, his legs suddenly plunged through a chasm in the whiteness, a missing manhole cover. In what he referred to as a “rare case of quick thinking,” he stuck out his arms, breaking the fall, and managed to pull himself out. No one knew he was there, and if he’d perished, it would’ve been for the love of trains, and of wreckage, and of course, of pictures. * * * Many in the panel of men at the beginning of Half Life were photographed in bars. Some were found in a bar in Paris where the old and ageless proprietor became one of Michael’s favorite people, not just in the city, but in the world. Her bar was a special refuge, and though she was difficult, she truly took Michael in. This tiny bar remains a constant, a place of return, but many of the regulars he’s met over the years are now gone. For some moments however, they drew, or seemed to draw, terribly close, with alcohol as glue and pictures proof -- but of what… mutual need, eventual isolation, or the pendulum swing between the two… A bar is something like the center of an hourglass: at the top is time disappearing, and at the bottom, time spent. But to those in the place, the regulars, the middle is the only thing apparent and there time has stopped. (An interesting circumstance for others in the time-stopping business, and not just still photographers. The phenomena is beautifully understood in Daumier’s paintings of drinkers or Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son). It is illusory, of course; the people are held in that place where, like the proverbial cartoon character who’s gone off a cliff, they just don’t realize the ground has dropped away beneath their feet. Once again, suspension. Which also has a musical definition: The prolongation of a tone in one chord into the following chord, usually producing a temporary dissonance. This prolongation of tone, an ongoing search, gives the work continuity, as does the dissonance, which can be restlessness or loss. I won’t talk much here about the emotional drive behind the work, or the personal ramifications, but that’s my hesitation, not Michael’s. There’s a picture in Half Life of the photographer and a woman, both with shaved heads, a troubled mirroring, a last strange union. The photograph is a pact: see you now, see you later, so long... In the last few years, such goodbyes have given way to a series of welcomings, explorations of the concrete changes and dream states of immediate family, wife and child. These pictures, deeply caring but by necessity fearless, reverberate with bluntness, warmth, shock, matter of fact erotics, and of course love, which when regarded honestly, includes a steamer trunk of contradictions. So, there is fear mixed in with the fearlessness, the joy includes some trepidation, the innocence is utterly real, but tangled and fleeting. How disappointing it would be if a photographer so open to the wrenching truths of the world would suddenly pull all punches when faced with the most intimate situation of all. How unfortunate it would be, for all of us, if investigations of intimacy were left to the whitewashers and the advertisers, the puritans and the pornographers. And so, in the recent work, new tightropes are stretched and new risks are taken. But in looking back at Michael’s work as a whole, I’m reminded that one of the great challenges artists face is when to pull back from the proverbial edge - those addicted to pushing the envelope sometimes fall into a negative trap which has its own complacency. A kind or subtle or purely beautiful image might actually be the risk that they can’t seem to take. The walking of tightropes has always been integral to Michael’s work, but I don’t see him falling into that dark trap, which is why the work is thorny but never cynical, heavy but also sweet. Beyond all of that, I still don’t understand how the pictures happen, how he gets them. It certainly isn’t about the equipment, the cameras come and go, sometimes literally broken but still pressed into use. I think Michael feels that taking pictures and taking chances should be kindred enterprises. I’ve met few artists less uptight about the technology and intricacies of gear and production, though he does of course become completely intimate with what he needs in order to get at what he feels. Once I heard him suggest in a Q & A that he just doesn’t care about technique, but knowing the time and tortures he’s given over to darkroom work, I thought that was a touch disingenuous. He meant that technique and technology are never the core of the matter, and that he doesn’t like to be precious about them. And he needs accidents; they might reveal something, break something open. Sometimes they might go too far and the image itself is obliterated: again, necessary risk. I’ve seen him photograph without putting the camera to his eye, as if to confirm that what he was after wasn’t primarily even about seeing. (That too is deceptive; with time, some photographers know what the camera is getting, regardless of where it’s held). Maybe I mean that compared to many other photographers, Michael’s work isn’t so concerned with sight itself. If he could have been a writer, painter, or a musician, that might have worked too. In any case, the results speak for themselves, and the results are often kind of insane. Sadly, because of the madness of these photographs and the digital times we’ve entered, people increasingly assume that certain pictures must be computer manipulations. Michael is no purist, but that simply isn’t what is going on here. Do you see how it matters that even if these are accidents of light and the distorting lens, they are things that somehow happened, that were? They come out of the real; however unlikely or impossible, they are measurements - not constructions. They are measurements, but in the end, of the interior as much as of the world. But like I said, Michael’s not a purist, and in his impure searching, he occasionally walks a thin line between accepting pure actuality and giving it a nudge. We argue about it. I don’t know what to make of the picture where someone else’s old portrait of Anna Akhmatova is held up and rephotographed. I guess Michael wanted to invite her into that streetscape, felt she was part of his history or emotional landscape; maybe he just loved her profile and wondered, what the hell, why not? Sometimes the work is funny. The absurdly mismatched nude couple in the book aren’t funny but they are, as is the man who wears a monocle made of smoke. The Coney Island hotdog signs reading ‘Franks’ and the American flag they stutter towards comprise a whimsical tribute to one particular, beloved photographer; first name - Robert. Occasional whimsy aside though, Half Life is a rough ride through damaged places and situations. And what’s it like to be with Michael when he’s photographing such things? Well, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, or easy, or pleasant. Sometimes artists push their work, and their luck along with it. Sometimes Michael just plunges in. I was crossing the street with him on the Lower East side once when a woman suddenly appeared, coming towards us in the intersection. Something in her presence struck us instantly with force -- she might have been beautiful or she might have been mutilated -- we had no time to register anything; but he lunged and got off one picture as I stood by and winced. I doubt she noticed at all, but what if she had? (The picture is in Fiction; it appears to be of a ghost in a miniskirt, perhaps with a black eye.) Such pictures do not come out of discretion, or delicacy, or fair exchange. In many of Michael’s pictures mutual understanding simply may or may not have existed. There is a harshness to this observation; it troubles me, and yet I can say that Michael’s pictures are always, deeply made without judgment, in total acceptance. That in itself is a kind of love. And the subjects obviously extend him enormous trust. (Well... except when they don’t. Walking with Michael on a street in Krakow, he photographed another approaching woman, a middle-aged matron. She yelled angrily at him in Polish; he kept walking but yelled back, in Polish: “You’re beautiful.”) It is probably no accident then that the gesture of the embrace recurs again and again in Michael’s work. Which leads me to what may be my favorite set of pictures that Michael has taken, of the couple on the stairs: To what do we owe this strange and tender record ? And what is the record of? An older man and his young girlfriend collapsed in drunken surrender… or perhaps a father and son broken together on a subway staircase ? Who is holding who up? Was the man once a boxer? If the younger one is in fact a woman, is she his lover? The stairs are at once unyielding and rippling, bending and unbending. This couple, whatever their relationship and circumstance, are attended to then in a series of photographs, equally harsh and gentle, unwrapped over time. But what time is given - minutes, hours, or an unending day or an unending night? You can just about hear the tinny loudspeakers in the background of the train station, and thinking of stations, I am reminded that the 13th station is the descent from the cross. The actual circumstances, the truth of it, the year and the gender, hardly matter, don’t matter at all. At its best, the work speaks past such details, and even beyond photography.
Stephen Shore
United States
1947
Stephen Shore (born October 8, 1947) is an American photographer known for his images of banal scenes and objects in the United States, and for his pioneering use of color in art photography. His books include Uncommon Places (1982) and American Surfaces (1999), photographs that he took on cross-country road trips in the 1970s. In 1975 Shore received a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1971, he was the first living photographer to be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he had a solo show of black and white photographs. In 1976 he had a solo exhibition of color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2010 he received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society. Shore was born as sole son of Jewish parents who ran a handbag company. He was interested in photography from an early age. Self-taught, he received a Kodak Junior darkroom set for his sixth birthday from a forward-thinking uncle. He began to use a 35 mm camera three years later and made his first color photographs. At ten he received a copy of Walker Evans's book, American Photographs, which influenced him greatly. His career began at fourteen, when he presented his photographs to Edward Steichen, then curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Recognizing Shore's talent, Steichen bought three black and white photographs of New York City. At sixteen, Shore met Andy Warhol and began to frequent Warhol's studio, the Factory, photographing Warhol and the creative people that surrounded him. In 1971, he was the first living photographer to be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with a show of black and white, sequential images. Shore then embarked on a series of cross-country road trips, making "on the road" photographs of American and Canadian landscapes. In 1972, he made the journey from Manhattan to Amarillo, Texas, which provoked his interest in color photography. Viewing the streets and towns he passed through, he conceived the idea to photograph them in color, first using 35 mm hand-held camera and then a 4×5" view camera before finally settling on the 8×10 format. The change to a large format camera is believed to have happened because of a conversation with John Szarkowski. In 1974 a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant funded further work, followed in 1975 by a Guggenheim Fellowship. Along with others, especially William Eggleston, Shore is recognized as one of the leading photographers who established color photography as an art form. His book Uncommon Places (1982) was influential for new color photographers of his own and later generations. Photographers who have acknowledged his influence on their work include Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Martin Parr, Joel Sternfeld, and Thomas Struth. Stephen Shore photographed fashion stories for Another Magazine, Elle, Daily Telegraph and many others. Commissioned by Italian brand Bottega Veneta, he photographed socialite Lydia Hearst, filmmaker Liz Goldwyn and model Will Chalker for the brand's spring/summer 2006 advertisements. Shore has been the director of the photography department at Bard College since 1982. His American Surfaces series, a travel diary made between 1972 and 1973 with photographs of "friends he met, meals he ate, toilets he sat on", was not published until 1999, then again in 2005. In recent years, Shore has been working in Israel, the West Bank, and Ukraine.Source: Wikipedia Shore emerged in the 1970s as one of the major exponents of color photography, shooting bleak yet lyrical scenes of the North American landscape. Documenting everyday settings and objects, from hotel swimming pools and televisions to parking lots, gas stations, and deserted roads, Shore exhibited an ability to transform commonplace surroundings into compelling works of art, working with a subject matter similar to Walker Evans. Between 1973 and 1979, Shore made a series of road trips across North America, documenting the vernacular landscape through his view camera, and taking a more formal approach to photographing than in his earlier work. A number of these images later formed Shore's now-classic book, Uncommon Places (first published by Aperture in 1982 and republished in 2004 and 2007). These images arouse recollections of experiences, but in an artful, carefully crafted and calculated manner. His images are made with a large-format camera, which gives his photographs a precise quality in both color and form that has become a signature trait of his work. Shore's use of the large-format camera and innovative color printing has made him one of the most influential photographers to emerge in the last half of the twentieth century, credited with inspiring numerous contemporary photographers.Source: International Center of Photography
Hugo Thomassen
Netherlands
1972
Shadow of Truth In his search for shadow, Hugo Thomassen found light. It is not the play of light that intrigues, but the richness of shadow. The bottles are what they are, yet they inadvertently evoke associations. Are we looking at a nocturnal cityscape with figures? Are we witnessing a chance encounter, a moment frozen in time, or simply an elegant composition with one or more bottles as the photographic subject? The bottle as a shape. In actual fact, the bottle has been constructed down in minute detail. Although the associations may suggest coincidence, the composition itself makes no such assumption. After all, it was built layer by layer. Painstakingly so. It is rich in its simplicity. No expense is spared. Each line is deliberate, considered. So much is expressed through so little. Without warning, this piece sends you soaring into the void - at least it had that effect on me. The void in which there is no time, and the severity of silence reigns. From a compositional standpoint, you have no reference point for space and time. As such, you go on your instincts and create a story yourself. Or you experience it in a meditative sense. What am I feeling? Is it abandonment, bottomless loneliness? Or am I experiencing silence, light, and intimacy? The image is poetic, still, melancholy, and harmonious. Reassurance emanates from the strict imposition of order. Coincidence is out of the question. The meaning of the work is hidden in the order that it projects. The interplay of lines formed by light and shadows never becomes a labyrinth, instead forming a guide pointing out the right direction. The photo has a reassuring effect on me which does not indicate a lack of thought. It makes me wander off in my mind’s eye while deciding my own perspective. This piece puts me outside of time. I can find no links to a memory, something which photography usually excels at. The image is new, though I believe I see a shade of art history through which the influence of Giorgio de Chirico, Morandi, and Night Shadows by Edward Hopper subtly shine through. The photograph distils the bottle to its purest form. It lays bare its essence. An idea. Is it truth that we see? Reality being exposed? Or are these simply shadows created by shapes? It is this that Thomassen plays with. Is it a single photograph or a picture composed of several images, a multitude of shots? In a sense, the photographic image is attempting to transcend the flatness of the paper. Photography is the means by which Thomassen explores the world. He exposes order in chaos or reveals an event through an ordering. He is the author of a visual story. His work is a narrative without words. It is excitement without something taking place. It represents an ode to emptiness, silence, and form. The bottle as the bearer of meaning. Everything has been translated into a language that one does not necessarily need to understand, but that one feels. He finds beauty in the composition of things, of objects. Naturally, a bottle is just a bottle, but in a composition and in relation to other bottles, by sheer coincidence a story is created. Thomassen brings light and shadow as nuances to that composition. He does not impose hierarchy onto the image. The background, the negative space, is just as important as the bottle. This piece is so streamlined that there are no secondary subjects. Light and shadow are of equal importance, because they need one another. Hugo Thomassen provides a context to the bottles. It is up to the viewer to make a story out of them - or not, of course. Because what is simply a charming image to one may appear to another as a story about existence and appearances. Ludo Diels
Denis Olivier
France
1969
My first encounter with photography took place when my parents performed some strange static dances with an object in front of their face. Later they would close themselves up in a special room under the house for long periods of time, and no one was allowed in. They diligently made sure that they were left to their own devices while inside. One day I was given permission to enter the room and allowed to stay, but on the condition that I didn't move or went out. I remember there was a unique chemical perfume and a red light. I was bewildered: my parents appeared flashing a white light on a piece of paper using a strange apparatus. Then they dipped it into a clear liquid and Behold! I couldn't believe it, A miracle! They were wizards who created pictures. In the following years I didn't really follow his experiments, I was too young to manipulate cameras and I preferred to draw. Photography, Architecture and Art was always present around us and I still remember the black and white exhibitions that we visited. When I was a teenager, I continued to draw and started to paint a little. I even took part in some local exhibitions. At the age of 17 I began to take some photographs, I was especially fascinated by mineralogical micro mounts. I started studying biochemistry, but after 3 years I changed to Poitiers school of fine-arts, and took an interest in computer graphics and generated imagery. While I was there I meet Alain Fleig who introduced me to art photography. I also felt a need to practice photography, and with a friend we spent a lot of time learning how to develop films and photographs. We did sessions with models, scenery, and discovered France. The second year I had my first personal exhibition in a gallery, which was a great experience, then a training placement with Philippe Salaün, who was at this time Robert Doisneau's developer. Following this I did some jobs for organizations, shows and commissioned works. I then started in December 1995 working with computer graphics and made use of the Internet. I worked in artistic direction for several years, then digital cameras came along and I found a way to work quickly and experiment without using too many resources such as film, chemicals, photo sensitive paper and of course the wonderful resource of water.
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