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


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

Clarence Hudson White (1871 – 1925)

Clarence H. White
The Ring Toss, 1899

Clarence H. White
Drops of Rain, 1903

Clarence H. White,
Boy with Wagon, 1898
from: Camera Work, No 23, 1908

11 March 2012

Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye (1999)

Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye (1999) A PBS documentary


The Photo Secession

Advertisement for the Photo-Secession
and the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, 
designed by Edward Steichen.
Published in Camera Work no. 13, 1906

The following notice appeared in Camera Work, no. 3, Supplement, July 1903

The Photo-Secession

    "So many are the enquiries as to the nature and aims of the Photo- Secession and requirements of eligibility to membership therein, that we deem it expedient to give a brief résumé of the character of this body of photographers.
    The object of the Photo-Secession is: to advance photography as applied to pictorial expression; to draw together those Americans practicing or otherwise interested in the art, and to hold from time to time, at varying places, exhibitions not necessarily limited to the productions of the Photo-Secession or to American work.
    It consists of a Council (all of whom are Fellows); Fellows chosen by the Council for meritorious photographic work or labors in behalf of pictorial photography, and Associates eligible by reason of interest in, and sympathy with, the aims of the Secession.
    In order to give Fellowship the value of an honor, the photographic work of a possible candidate must be individual and distinctive, and it goes without saying that the applicant must be in thorough sympathy with our aims and principles.
    To Associateship are attached no requirements except sincere sympathy with the aims and motives of the Secession. Yet, it must not be supposed that these qualifications will be assumed as a matter of course, as it has been found necessary to deny the application of many whose lukewarm interest in the cause with which we are so thoroughly identified gave no promise of aiding the Secession. It may be of general interest to know that quite a few, perhaps entitled by their photographic work to Fellowship, have applied in vain. Their rejection being based solely upon their avowed or notoriously active opposition or equally harmful apathy. Many whose sincerity could not be questioned were refused Fellowship because the work submitted was not equal to the required standard. Those desiring further information must address the Director of the Photo-Secession, Mr. Alfred Stieglitz, 1111 Madison Avenue, New York."

The Linked Ring

 The Photographic Salon exhibition of 1902 (source: Leggat pdf)
The Salon was created in 1893 by members of the Linked Ring.

"Many artists regard the hanging of their work at the Royal Academy almost as an accolade. So too with photographers. In the 1880s, the exhibitions mounted by the Photographic Society were regarded as the premier event. However, several of its members were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Society's emphasis on scientific as opposed to aesthetic matters. As time went on differences between the photographic scientists and photographic artists became greater and more acrimonious, and Henry Peach Robinson was becoming increasingly frustrated by the failure of the Photographic Society to recognize that there was an artistic dimension as well as a scientific one to photography. The Photographic News for 19 August 1892 pinpointed the problem: "If photography is ever to take up its proper position as an art it must detach itself from science and live a separate existence." 

 Commenting upon the proceedings of the Photographic Society, Robinson wrote  "For years art has scarcely been mentioned... The feeling that art had nothing to do with the Society became so pronounced two or three years ago that one of the officials expressed his opinion that papers on art may be tolerated if they could be got and there was nothing better to be had...." The circumstances which led to the final breakup between Robinson and the Photographic Society were relatively trivial, but they were the last straw, and led to the resignation of Robinson and George Davidson from the Society. At that time Robinson was a much respected Vice-President of the Society, and had been a member for many years, and his resignation was followed by that of several other distinguished photographers of the time.

In May 1892, a few months after the disastrous Council meeting which had culminated in these resignations, Robinson founded the Linked Ring, a brotherhood consisting of a group of photographers based in London, pledged to enhance photography as a fine art. Famous members of this brotherhood (which was by invitation only - one could not apply for it) included Frank Sutcliffe, Frederick Evans, Paul Martin, and Alfred Stieglitz.

Though the formation of this group was, as their publicity indicated, "a means of bringing together those who are interested in the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable", it is also very likely that serious photographers were now trying to distance themselves from the growth of photography for all, brought about by the introduction of simple cameras. The idea that anyone could press a button and take a photograph caused the more dedicated to look for new techniques which the "snap photographers" would never aspire to.

 from A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s by Dr. Robert Leggat