10 April 2012

Paul Strand: method and vision

 
Portrait, Washington Square Park, 1917 




Pears and Bowls, 1916




Wild Iris, Maine, 1927



  
  Wall Street, 1915




  
Portrait of Georges Braque, 1957


The “full acceptance” of reality is the method and goal of the photographer, observed Paul Strand. However, full objectivity has to be something different from a passive receptivity but must emerge from an active and vigilant attitude that requires the photographer’s control of his subject. Or rather, it requires the coming together of subject and object in the intervening space of the photograph, synthesizing and perhaps transcending both, a mediating space, both familiar and unusual, made of masses and voids, light and shadows, made of the equivalence of presence and absence,  of correspondences of vision and forms in the world, of the coalescence of equivalent forms in a frame, of a spatialized time and a space of  gradually superposed temporalities.


Marcelo Guimarães Lima


 links:


 



08 April 2012

Group f/64 Manifesto (1932)


Ansel Adams by Dorothea Lange




Group f/64 Manifesto

The name of this Group is derived from a diaphragm number of the photographic lens. It signifies to a large extent the qualities of clearness and definition of the photographic image which is an important element in the work of members of this Group.

The chief object of the Group is to present in frequent shows what it considers the best contemporary photography of the West; in addition to the showing of the work of its members, it will include prints from other photographers who evidence tendencies in their work similar to that of the Group.

Group f/64 is not pretending to cover the entire of photography or to indicate through its selection of members any deprecating opinion of the photographers who are not included in its shows. There are great number of serious workers in photography whose style and technique does not relate to the metier of the Group.

Group f/64 limits its members and invitational names to those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods. The Group will show no work at any time that does not conform to its standards of pure photography. Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form. The production of the "Pictorialist," on the other hand, indicates a devotion to principles of art which are directly related to painting and the graphic arts.

The members of Group f/64 believe that photography, as an art form, must develop along lines defined by the actualities and limitations of the photographic medium, and must always remain independent of ideological conventions of art and aesthetics that are reminiscent of a period and culture antedating the growth of the medium itself.

The Group will appreciate information regarding any serious work in photography that has escaped its attention, and is favorable towards establishing itself as a Forum of Modern Photography.

 



Group f/64

On November 15, 1932, at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, eleven photographers announced themselves as Group f/64: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards, Preston Holder, Consuelo Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston, and Edward Weston. The idea for the show had arisen a couple of months before at a party in honor of Weston held at a gallery known as "683" (for its address on Brockhurst Street in San Francisco)—the West Coast equivalent of Alfred Stieglitz's gallery 291—where they had discussed forming a group devoted to exhibiting and promoting a new direction in photography that broke with the Pictorialism then prevalent in West Coast art photography. The name referred to the smallest aperture available in large-format view cameras at the time and it signaled the group's conviction that photographs should celebrate rather than disguise the medium's unrivaled capacity to present the world "as it is." As Edward Weston phrased it, "The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh." A corollary of this idea was that the camera was able to see the world more clearly than the human eye, because it didn't project personal prejudices onto the subject. The group's effort to present the camera's "vision" as clearly as possible included advocating the use of aperture f/64 in order to provide the greatest depth of field, thus allowing for the largest percentage of the picture to be in sharp focus; contact printing, a method of making prints by placing photographic paper directly in contact with the negative, instead of using an enlarger to project the negative image onto paper; and glossy papers instead of matte or artist papers, the surfaces of which tended to disperse the contours of objects.

Hostetler, Lisa. "Group f/64". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/f64/hd_f64.htm (October 2004)

Franz Roh (1890-1965)


actress, 1930


 
Large body curves, about 1922-28




untitled, 1930




 Railrod tracks at night, about 1930
Gelatin silver print



Homagem to Max Ernst, 1937, collage



Total Panic II, 1937, collage




Franz Roh’s involvement with art extended from history, theory and criticism to production, which took the form of both “reality-photos” that captured the expressive and symbolic potential of fragments excerpted from the real world and experimental techniques—including negative printing, photomontage and collage—that enhance our capacity to experience the world visually. Although his career as a critic grew out of his ability to describe the characteristics of art movements in terms of the juxtaposition of opposites, the works of art he created demonstrate his ability to explore a multiplicity of approaches. The critic who proclaimed the waning of Expressionism and the rise of Magic Realism in post-war painting was also the artist who delighted equally in the object and the experiment, noting “next to a new world of objects we find the old seen anew.” As complex and multifaceted as the intellect and imagination of their maker, Roh’s photographs and collages underscored his belief in photography as a new form of visual communication in his own day. Today they encourage artists to embrace the newest technologies available when communicating their vision.


at Ubu Gallery, New York
from September 14–December 22, 2006
info@ubugallery.com www.ubugallery.com

03 April 2012

Photo-Eye by Franz Roh and Jan Tschichold


Franz Roh, Jan Tschichold:
Foto-Auge / Oeil et Photo / Photo-Eye

Akademischer Verlag Dr. Fritz Wedekind, Stuttgart, 1929
printer: Heinrich Fink, Stuttgart
size: 30 x 21 cm
photographer: El Lissitzky (cover)
designer: Jan Tschichold



A new objectivity

The advent of the portable camera allowed for changes in the practice of photography, in the methods and goals of photographers.  Photography leaves the comforts of the studio, its tempo or rhythms, its formal ideas and established procedures and searches for novelty in the cadences, the pulses and figures of everyday life. Photographers such as Giuseppe Primoli and Paul Martin stand in between the amateur art of their predecessors and the developing discipline of photojournalism, as observed by I. Jeffrey (1). 


 

Roma - Via Ostiense 1890
self-portrait of Giuseppe Primoli
photographing the flooded street




The informal, the improvised, the ephemeral are made into new plastic values translating the energies of urban life, the heterogeneous world of modern civilization unified in the commodity form of its material products and social exchanges, and similarly equalized in the “democratic” vision of the camera, a vision more and more unconcerned with distinctions of taste, propriety, traditional aesthetics values, and other similar distinctions.  In this respect we can say that, like money, the photograph is, in some important ways, the great “cynic and leveler” (Marx) destroying traditional ways of seeing and their associated social-cultural concepts and practices. And yet imagination is a fluid and unpredictable force, and the image a more unstable unity of meaning/ signification that can provide for, as much as it can and escape from the workings and functions of ideology. 


The portable camera allows for the emergence of the undetected photographer amid the flow and fluxes of everyday life. We witness the birth of a kind of “subject-less” art, an art of “pure objectivity” both in the sense of the “hidden” or perhaps, in fact, the disappearing subject behind the camera, and the kind of bafflement we may experiment in identifying the theme, content, meaning or subject of photographs, the exact reason for an image to appear or be recorded in this rather than that other possible form or moment. “ What exactly was Martin’s subject? “ asks the historian of photography (2). Or, we can understand that the “incomplete”, paradoxically impermanent character of the images of Martin, and also Primoli and other “photographers of daily life”, refers to photography itself as an open form, to its new kind of autonomy, the autonomous life of the image reflecting the autonomy of the modern subject, unless this latter can be understood more specifically as an effect of photography itself.

Marcelo Guimarães Lima

1)   Jeffrey, I., Photography: a concise history, London 2010 (originally published in 1981)
2)   Jeffrey, I., op cit, page 109


links:


 
MARTIN, Paul, «  Couple on Yarmouth Sands », 1894



  
MARTIN, Paul, «  Couple on Yarmouth Sands », 1892




 Paul Martin, Street Accident in London (1895)  





Giuseppe Primoli
entrance to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Rome,  1890 





 Giuseppe Primoli
Annie Oakley in Rome with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1890 





 Giuseppe Primoli, Three Figures, n/d









Giuseppe Primoli, portrait of Eleonora Duse, Venice , 1894








01 April 2012

James Craig Annan (1864-1946)


James Craig Annan, 1864-1946
The Dark Mountains | Camera Work | 15 x 20.2 cm | 1904





James Craig Annan, 1864-1946
Prof. John Young of Glasgow University | Camera Work | 19.9 x 15.5 cm | 1904






James Craig Annan, 1864-1946
 Gitana - Granada | Camera Work | 19.5 x 13.7 cm | 1914
 

 



JAMES CRAIG ANNAN was a master photogravure printer and a leading pictorialist photographer around the turn of the twentieth century. He produced most of his own work as well as that of others in the photogravure process, which he learned from its inventor, Karl Klíc.


Annan was the son of photographer Thomas Annan, known for his early documentation of the slums of Glasgow. He joined his father's business at a young age and began assisting in studio portraiture and photographic reproductions of artwork. In 1883, he and his father traveled to Vienna to study with Klíc, T. & R. Annan and Sons of Glasgow soon became Britain's foremost gravure printing establishments.


Annan became popular as a professional portrait photographer but also produced personal work, primarily portraits and genre scenes. In 1894 he was elected to The Linked Ring, England's most prestigious group of creative photographers. A few years later he published a limited-edition portfolio of his work, Venice and Lombardy: A Series of Original Photogravues. He exhibited widely, at such venues as the London salon, the 1901 Glasgow international Exhibition, Alfred Stieglitz's Photo-Secession Galleries, the Paris salon and the 1910 International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography at the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo. In 1900, Annan was given a one-person retrospective at the Royal Photographic Society, which subsequently awarded him an honorary fellowship, its highest membership level. (read more)







29 March 2012

27 March 2012

George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923)





George Hendrik Breitner, Girl in Red Kimono, Geesje Kwak, 1893–95





The Dam in Amsterdam, 1895 - 1898
pencil and brush on paper, 40 × 51 cm






George Hendrik Breitner, "View of construction site in Amsterdam?" (n.d.), 
modern scan from original negative. Collection RKD, The Hague






George Hendrik Breitner:
Afbraak hoek Wijde Steeg, Amsterdam, ca.1908-10, oil on canvas.




Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Amsterdam (c. 1890–1900)
Photograph, 30 x 35 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam





 "View of Schiedamsedijk and the corner with Leuvebrugsteeg" (circa 1906),
gelatin silver print. Collection RKD, The Hague




George Hendrik Breitner, "Horses and a passerby on Cruquiusweg" (n.d.),
modern scan from original negative. Collection RKD, The Hague



link:

Second-sight: The Photographs of George Hendrik Breitner




 


19 March 2012

An amateur art: the photographs of Emile Zola




EMILE ZOLA. A Restaurant, Taken from the First Floor
or Staircase of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1900.













Emile Zola (1840-1902) learned the rudiments of photography in 1888 from Victor Billaud, a newspaper editor in Royan during a vacation period at the sea side locality, in the Atlantic coast of France. After the completion of his cycle of novels titled The Rougon-Macquart in 1894, Zola dedicated himself fully to photography as a devoted amateur with a quasi-professional zeal and knowledge of photographic technique. He developed his own negatives and made enlargements as well as duly recorded experiments with materials and methods. His photographs document the artist’s private environment, his travels, family life, friends and his interest in all things modern as a witness to a changing world and to the developments of modern culture and of modern life.

Photography is not a central subject in his literary works, and yet his late dedication to photography can be seen as an integral part of the artistic vision and sensibility of the great master of French literature in the early developments of modernity. Zola, the acute observer of the world and of human condition, the master of literary description (a central element to his literary style and method) was also an original, confident and committed photographer who produced around seven thousand plates (of which only a few hundred have survived): images of the man and the artist, at the same time reflecting and being reflected by the times.

Marcelo Guimaraes Lima

18 March 2012

Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) : modernity and the city


Winter - Fifth Avenue, 1893
carbon print (?)
39.9 x 32.4 cm.

 The Terminal/New York, by Alfred Stieglitz, 1902




Reflections—Night, New York, by Alfred Stieglitz, circa 1896




 
From My Window at the Shelton, North, 1931

13 March 2012

Robert Demachy (1859–1936)


 
 Robert Demachy
"In Brittany", 1904
From: Camera Work, No 5 1904





Robert Demachy
"Toucques Valley", 1906
from: Camera Work. No 16 1906






Robert Demachy
Dancer, c. 1909





Robert Demachy
Academie,  1900




 

 
Robert Demachy
Struggle, 1904