1. Guido Guidi’s delicate conceptual work “Preganziol, 1983”

    Above Preganziol, 1983. ©Guido Guidi/Courtesy Mack Books

    In 1983, and within the confines of small single room of an apartment or house, Italian photographer Guido Guidi undertook what at first glance could be considered a simple exploration of light. Here, in this unfurnished room with its two windows that sit diagonally opposite each other to one corner, Guidi produced a precise body of work — titled, Preganziol 1983 — that Roberta Valtorta describes in his essay “Space, Time, Void” as a “pearl of great price in contemporary Italian photography.” 

    You can read my full text on this work on the Photobookstore blog.

  2. Fleur Olby transports the viewer into their own personal wonderland in ‘Green on White’

    Above Sarracenia, from Green on White (©Fleur Olby/Courtesy of the photographer).

    ‘What strikes human eyes determines not only the knowledge of the relations between various objects, but also a given decisive and inexplicable state of mind. Thus the sight of a flower reveals, it is true, the presence of this well-defined part of a plant, but it is impossible to stop at this superficial observation; in fact the sight of this flower provokes in the mind much more significant reactions, because the flower expresses an obscure vegetal resolution.’ Georges Bataille: The Language of Flowers

    The transformation of architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside Power Station on the banks of London’s River Thames, into one of the worlds great modern art galleries in the form of Tate Modern appears as an almost natural evolution. However the same can not be said of another of Scott’s designs; possibly his most iconic creation and certainly one of his smallest designs; the scarlet red K6 telephone box, that has become a symbol of the United Kingdom, so familiar the world over.

    However the Gallery on the Green in Settle, North Yorkshire is precisely that, a vibrant red beacon of art, that is described as the ‘smallest public art gallery in the world,’ and open 24/7 and ‘filled to capacity at least twice a day!’ Where once the illuminated panel in the telephone box that sits below the Royal crest drew those who needed to contact friends and family or call for help in a world before the advent of the mobile telephone, it is now the word ‘gallery,’ that is illuminated and attracts visitors to the art displayed inside.

    It is within the confines of this unanticipated space that photographer Fleur Olby presents Green on White, an installation that combines the vibrancy of her elegant photographic forms with the very essence of the flowers that she portrays in her exquisite and jewel like photographs. ‘I wanted to make a small installation which is a way I am interested in working,’ says Olby. 

    As the title suggests, Olby isolates her chosen subjects on a white background, heightening their sculptural and abstract qualities in her compositions. In one of these photographs, Fritillaria imperialis, six vibrant yellow petals form a cauldron of life, from the very heart of which a lemon yellow stamen rises, from pools of rich greens hues that radiate outwards, each cradling a pearl like form of innocence; in contrast, we see Olby reveal the complex architectural like structure and beauty of a leaf in Fern II, its feather like form arching across the plane of virgin white like a feather caught in the breeze; and in Barred horsetail, the prehistoric plant reveals itself like strands of DNA. 

    The beauty of these natural forms, that Olby captures so eloquently in her work, is heightened within the unique gallery space, as she plays with the very essence of their being. On the floor of the gallery — this one metre square — Olby has planted white hyacinths in a cushion of moss; the heavenly fragrance of which fills the senses as you open the door, capturing the visitor and transporting them into their own personal wonderland. 

    Green on White is at Gallery on the Green, Settle, North Yorkshire, until 18 May 2013.

  3. Jo Metson Scott: Portraits from a war

    ‘I definitely was not pro-the-war… I had a structure of beliefs… I wasn’t apolitical… just I wasn’t as polticised at that time. I knew it was all bullshit but if you’d asked me then “why is it bullshit?” I would have been like “Oh… well… just cos” but as time has gone on it’s like… “Where do I begin?”’ Nathan Brinlee

    I’ve written a review of British photographer Jo Metson Scott’s significant new work The Grey Line — which explores the moral objection that an increasing number of soldiers have to the war in Iraq. You can read my review in the May issue of Creative Review magazine. 

  4. The intimate flower portraits of British photographer Julian Anderson

    Above Untitled from the Cinder Path. (©Julian Anderson/Courtesy of the photographer).

    Bordered by the coastline of south-east England on one side, and the busy Hastings to London railway line on the other; a thin slither of cinder path forms a no-mans land, that winds its way along the East Sussex coast. It is against this largely unremarkable backdrop that the British photographer Julian Anderson, whilst out walking near his home in 2009, noticed a collection of delicate and varied looking plants that he found himself drawn too. 

    Whilst the flower has long been a subject that has held a power over the photographer throughout the mediums history, Anderson — who is known and admired for his quiet and sensitive portraits; 25 of which are held in the permanent collection of London’s National Portrait Gallery’s — choose to approach his new found subject not like the still-life photographer who carefully arranges his subject matter, but like that of the portrait photographer. Working in his distinctive black-and-white style and with his trusted twin-lens reflex camera (the same camera he uses for many of his celebrated portraits), the photographs he would make of these beautiful plants — which are currently on show at The Black Shed Gallery — are both delicate and intimate, the small format prints pulling the viewer in, just like the plants themselves do when they are noticed by other observant walkers who travel the cinder path. 

    ‘I deliberately chose to print these little flowers as suitably small-scale and intimate images in order to engage the viewer with their subtlety and delicacy,’ states Anderson, who was drawn to the ‘simple beauty, fragility and ability to flourish in such an exposed and hostile environment.’ Working over a period of two years, and limiting himself to photographing in springtime, when his subjects are in their prime, we see three crown like flower heads, on long slender stems in one of his photographs, or more correctly portraits, that contrasts with the rich and dark background, that slowly reveals its man made detail; in another we encounter a plant that appears almost alien in its form; and in a third, a wispy and delicate stem curves into Anderson’s composition from the lefthand side, its form isolated against the darkness to be found beyond.

    In Anderson’s twelve exquisite flower portraits, we encounter delicate beauty and personality, but we also find admiration for these wonderful plants who are able to make their home in such hostile conditions, and their continual battle with the natural and manmade environs around them.

    Cinder Path is at The Black Shed Gallery, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, until 27 April 2013.

  5. Atlas photographique de la Lune: Loewy and Puiseux’s masterpiece of 19th century photography

    Above Atlas photographique de la Lune by Maurice Loewy and Pierre Henri Puiseux, 1894-1910. (Courtesy of MAPP Editions).

    In 1894 two French astronomers Maurice Loewy (1833-1907) and Pierre Henri Puiseux (1855-1928) began an undertaking that would consume their lives for the next fourteen years, as they endeavoured to photographically map much of the moon; a massive undertaking that Loewy would not live to see completed. Whilst the pair where certainly not the first to photograph the moon, that honour falls to the British-born, New York University chemistry professor and photographer John William Draper (1811-1882) who is credited with producing the first clear photograph of a female face between 1839–40, and in the same period the first detailed photograph of the Moon.

    However Loewy and Puiseux’s objective and desire was to go far beyond the single photographic representation of the moon that Draper captured; or for that matter the later and more detailed work of Lewis Rutherfurd (1816-1892) — who developed the first telescope designed specifically for astrophotography — and whose lunar photographs where widely praised for their ‘faultless accuracy that any topographic map would be hard pressed to match,’ and ‘drew particular attention to how these images held the potential to accelerate the study of lunar geology.’ What the French pair set out to accomplish was to map a larger extent of the moons surface in astronomical detail than had been accomplished before; an achievement that would not be equalled for almost 60 years — placing their Atlas photographique de la Lune, alongside the likes of Eadweard Muybridge’s (1830-1904) Animal Locomotion (1887); or Edward S. Curtis’ (1868-1952) The North American Indian (1907-30), as one of the great photographic publishing ventures of the 19th century. 

    With earlier astronomical maps of the Moon, being either engravings, like Beer and Mädler’s Mappa Selenographica (1838) or lunar drawings, such as those completed by Julius Schmidt (1874) — both widely regarded at the time as the authoritative works of lunar mapping — Loewy and Puiseux set out to utilise the still relatively young medium of photography in their work. To do so, the duo first had to design a special telescope that allowed for 18 centimetre diameter photographic plates to be used, from which they would make the final large-format Heliographs. But this would be just one of the many obstacles that they would have to overcome as they strove to produce the Atlas photographique de la Lune, which would consist of 12 large-format (710 x 575mm) atlas booklets each containing six plates (with the exception of volume one, which contained only five), and 13 text volumes; a total of 71 plates in all.  

    ‘Loewy and Puiseux’s address to the the Academy of Science in Paris on the 9th July 1894 was the first in a long series on the subject and outlined their project to produce the first complete photographic atlas of the moon,’ writes Quentin Bajac, Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in his introduction to the much welcomed digital edition of Atlas photographique de la Lune, by MAPP Editions (a digital sibling of Steidl). ‘On a scale of around 1.8 meters in diameter, which was close in scale to the map drawn by Schmidt, it would be realised with the help of images which were not only unquestionably authentic but also precise and rich in detail, unmarred by errors in perception and judgement. This was possible largely due to the technological advancements made in previous years in light sensitive plates and image enlargement.’

    To produce the perfect negatives — with the right level of detail — and baring in mind that exposure times at the time could be as long as three seconds, Loewy and Puiseux needed exacting weather conditions. The ‘optimal conditions were a calm atmosphere and little to no change in temperature, factors which did not combine often,’ says Bajac. ‘In the first year, out of 50 or 60 evenings spent making photographs of the moon, just four or five nights gave the faultless results they needed.’ In total they took over 6,000 photographs during the projects duration, with a mere 71 making up the final work or to put it another way, less than two percent of the photographs they made would feature in the final work. 

    Today, complete copies of the now highly desirable Atlas photographique de la Lune are extremely rare — late last year two single plates, Mare Nectaris and another of the Montes Alpes region, sold at a Bonham’s auction for US$9,375 inc. premium, whilst an almost complete set (minus one text volume), sold for £45,000 at Christies in 2006 — this it has been suggested is largely a problem with the work being published over such an extended period of time. Although Loewy and Puiseux did exhibit their photographs in other forms, most notably at the Universal Exhibition of 1900, where Bajac says ‘a collection of seven larger images were presented at the Palais de l’Optique,’ and where the main ‘attraction was a telescope that measured 60 metres in length and supposedly allowed you to see the moon as if it were a metre away.’

    In addition to the text volumes, each of the 71 heliograph’s in Atlas photographique de la Lune was presented with a translucent and annotated overlay that outlined the various craters and key features of the moon’s surface — which in this digital edition is displayed with a single tap of the screen. On one heliograph, we see the Mer de la Tranquillité (Sea of Tranquility) dominating the right-hand side of the image, whilst the Mer des Crises (Sea of Crises) sits to the left in Crisium basin; whilst the smaller craters are marked with equal care and attention to detail. ‘Of the two photographic atlas projects undertaken at the end of the twentieth century, one by the Paris Observatory [Loewy and Puiseux ] and the other by the Lick Observatory in the USA (Atlas of the Moon, 1896–1897), the former was by far the more ambitious and by and large the more accomplished,’ suggests Bajac. 

    Atlas photographique de la Lune, is published by MAPP Editions. (Whilst optimised for viewing in iBooks on the iPad, it is also compatible with Readium for Chrome and Azardi).

  6. Roger Mayne: aspects of a great photographer

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    Above Girl on the Steps, St Stephens Gardens, W2, 1957. (©Roger Mayne/Courtesy of the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath).

    ‘Photography involves two main distortions — the simplification into black and white and the seizing of an instant in time,’ stated the British photographer Roger Mayne in 1960. ‘It is this particular mixture of reality and unreality, and the photographer’s power to select, that makes it possible for photography to be an art. Whether it is good art depends on the power and truth of the artist’s statement’ he would conclude.

    In Roger Mayne: Aspects of a great photographer, at Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery (which forms the photographers first museum show for over two decades) we see a collection of both vintage and later prints from the deprived area of London around Southam Street in North Kensington, that he documented extensively in the late 1950s and 1960s — before its eventual redevelopment in 1969 to make way for the monumental Trellick Tower that still looms over the west London skyline — and which would cement the photographers reputation. He would write, ‘The reason for photographing poor streets is that I love them. Empty, the streets have their own kind of beauty, a kind of decaying splendour and always great atmosphere — whether romantic on a hazy winter day, or listless when the summer is hot; sometimes it is forbidding; or it may be warm and friendly on a sunny spring weekend when the street is swarming with children playing, or adults walking through or standing gossiping.’

    Alongside the prints, are four contact sheets from the first four rolls of film that Mayne exposed on this expansive project — the archive of which can now be found in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum — which offer an insight to what he found on that first visit to the area, and includes a number of the iconic images from the series. ‘I remember my excitement when I turned the corner into Southam Street,’ he once said, and excitement and energy that would draw him back time-and-time again with his lightweight Zeiss Super Ikonta, slowly gaining the trust of the areas residents, and would build to create a significant social document of a hard life lived to the full on the urban streets, in an era when it was still safe for children to make the streets their playground.

    Roger Mayne: aspects of a great photographer is at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, until 7 April 2013.

  7. From Pablo Picasso to Catherine Deneuve: the photographic portraits of Man RayAbove Solarised Portrait of Lee Miller, c.1929. (©Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012/Courtesy The Penrose Collection/Lee Miller Archives/National Portrait Gallery, London).
I first heard that the National Portrait Gallery was planning an extensive exhibition devoted to the photographic portraits of Man Ray’s early last year whilst judging a London photography competition; and it instantly became an eagerly (for me at least) anticipated exhibition — and this morning the long wait was over, when I was lucky enough to see this comprehensive show ahead of its public opening tomorrow.
The 150 works included in Man Ray Portraits, are drawn from both public and private collections around the world — the Pompidou Centre, the J. Paul Getty Museum and both New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the addition of special loans from the artists estate, the Man Ray Trust Archive — and forms the first major British exhibition devoted to the influential American’s portraits, that spans his career in both American and Paris between the years 1916 and 1968. 
Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia in 1890, and raised in New Jersey, many of the Man Ray — a nom de plume he began to use in 1912 — portraits on show will be familiar, however a significant percentage will be less so, with many prints being exhibited in London for the very first time, including studies of Barbette, Ava Gardner, Lee Miller, Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) and the French actress Catherine Deneuve, who remains one of Man Ray’s last living subjects. 
Having turned down a scholarship to study architecture in favour of painting, Man Ray initially taught himself photography purely in terms of reprography, through which he sought to reproduce his artworks; however he would delve deeper into photography in 1920, when he turned to portrait photography as a means to financially supporting his painting. The following year he moved to Paris — a move largely defined by his life-long friendship with Marcel Duchamp — whom he had first met at the Ridgefield artist colony in New Jersey in 1915, and with whom he had unsuccessfully attempted to establish a proto-Dada movement.
With his close connections to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, Man Ray became ‘ideally placed’ to produce many of his now iconic images, that define this intense and vibrant period in our cultural history. It was also during these early days in Paris that he began to experiment with the photogram, or as he would term them ‘Rayographs.’ Whilst he was certainly not the first to explore the potential of the camera-less image, his work is instrumental in the development of the practice; from which we saw the emergence of the solarisation process, a technique that he would eventually utilise in his portraits, such as those of Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Zurkinden, Suzy Solidor and of course Miller, as well as his own Self-Portrait with Camera, all of which are included in Man Ray Portraits.
‘I was very fortunate in starting my career as a painter,’ Man Ray once stated. ‘When first confronted with a camera, I was very much intimidated. So I decided to investigate. But I maintained the approach of a painter to such a degree that I have been accused of trying to make a photograph look like a painting. I did not have to try, it just turned out that way because of my background and my training.’
The exhibition also includes portraits of many of the influential and cultural elite of the first half of the 20th century — Marcel Duchamp, Berenice Abbott, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, James Joyce, Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Barbette, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson; more formal portraits that contrast with the often highly personal and intimate studies of his friends and lovers, like those of de Montparnasse, Miller (who was also his assistant and an highly accomplished photographer in her own right), Ady Fidelin, and his last muse and wife Juliet Browner.
Throughout Man Ray Portraits we see an artist continually pushing at the boundaries of photography and experimenting with its many techniques, despite the fact that photography was never his principal artistic medium — although today it is his photography that is possibly most celebrated. He would once stated, ‘I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.’ 
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he left Paris and returned to the United States, taking up residence in Hollywood, where he would devote himself once more to painting. Whilst he was largely disappointed that in America he was recognised for his photography and not for the filmmaking, painting, sculpture, and other media in which he worked; recent research has revealed, he did not completely turn his back on photography, producing ‘a number of significant photographic portraits’ in these years, several of which are included in the exhibition. 
Following a decade long absence, he returned to the French capital in 1951 — where he would live until his death in 1976 — continuing his primary focus on painting as it had been in Hollywood, however he did continue to experiment with photography, this time embracing the relatively new colour medium — a little known facet of his work — which is represented in the exhibition with a number of portraits, including those of Juliette Greco and Yves Montand. Man Ray always preferred ‘inspiration to information,’ and in Man Ray Portraits, there is much to delight and inspire, from the iconic to the unfamiliar; and even the previously unsen.
Man Ray Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 27 May 2013. From 22 June – 8 September 2013 the exhibition will be at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, before arriving at the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, from 14 October 2013 – 19 January 2014. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. 

    From Pablo Picasso to Catherine Deneuve: the photographic portraits of Man Ray

    Above Solarised Portrait of Lee Miller, c.1929. (©Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012/Courtesy The Penrose Collection/Lee Miller Archives/National Portrait Gallery, London).

    I first heard that the National Portrait Gallery was planning an extensive exhibition devoted to the photographic portraits of Man Ray’s early last year whilst judging a London photography competition; and it instantly became an eagerly (for me at least) anticipated exhibition — and this morning the long wait was over, when I was lucky enough to see this comprehensive show ahead of its public opening tomorrow.

    The 150 works included in Man Ray Portraits, are drawn from both public and private collections around the world — the Pompidou Centre, the J. Paul Getty Museum and both New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with the addition of special loans from the artists estate, the Man Ray Trust Archive — and forms the first major British exhibition devoted to the influential American’s portraits, that spans his career in both American and Paris between the years 1916 and 1968. 

    Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia in 1890, and raised in New Jersey, many of the Man Ray — a nom de plume he began to use in 1912 — portraits on show will be familiar, however a significant percentage will be less so, with many prints being exhibited in London for the very first time, including studies of Barbette, Ava Gardner, Lee Miller, Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) and the French actress Catherine Deneuve, who remains one of Man Ray’s last living subjects. 

    Having turned down a scholarship to study architecture in favour of painting, Man Ray initially taught himself photography purely in terms of reprography, through which he sought to reproduce his artworks; however he would delve deeper into photography in 1920, when he turned to portrait photography as a means to financially supporting his painting. The following year he moved to Paris — a move largely defined by his life-long friendship with Marcel Duchamp — whom he had first met at the Ridgefield artist colony in New Jersey in 1915, and with whom he had unsuccessfully attempted to establish a proto-Dada movement.

    With his close connections to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, Man Ray became ‘ideally placed’ to produce many of his now iconic images, that define this intense and vibrant period in our cultural history. It was also during these early days in Paris that he began to experiment with the photogram, or as he would term them ‘Rayographs.’ Whilst he was certainly not the first to explore the potential of the camera-less image, his work is instrumental in the development of the practice; from which we saw the emergence of the solarisation process, a technique that he would eventually utilise in his portraits, such as those of Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Zurkinden, Suzy Solidor and of course Miller, as well as his own Self-Portrait with Camera, all of which are included in Man Ray Portraits.

    ‘I was very fortunate in starting my career as a painter,’ Man Ray once stated. ‘When first confronted with a camera, I was very much intimidated. So I decided to investigate. But I maintained the approach of a painter to such a degree that I have been accused of trying to make a photograph look like a painting. I did not have to try, it just turned out that way because of my background and my training.’

    The exhibition also includes portraits of many of the influential and cultural elite of the first half of the 20th century — Marcel Duchamp, Berenice Abbott, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, James Joyce, Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Barbette, Igor Stravinsky, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, Le Corbusier, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Coco Chanel and Wallis Simpson; more formal portraits that contrast with the often highly personal and intimate studies of his friends and lovers, like those of de Montparnasse, Miller (who was also his assistant and an highly accomplished photographer in her own right), Ady Fidelin, and his last muse and wife Juliet Browner.

    Throughout Man Ray Portraits we see an artist continually pushing at the boundaries of photography and experimenting with its many techniques, despite the fact that photography was never his principal artistic medium — although today it is his photography that is possibly most celebrated. He would once stated, ‘I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.’ 

    With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he left Paris and returned to the United States, taking up residence in Hollywood, where he would devote himself once more to painting. Whilst he was largely disappointed that in America he was recognised for his photography and not for the filmmaking, painting, sculpture, and other media in which he worked; recent research has revealed, he did not completely turn his back on photography, producing ‘a number of significant photographic portraits’ in these years, several of which are included in the exhibition. 

    Following a decade long absence, he returned to the French capital in 1951 — where he would live until his death in 1976 — continuing his primary focus on painting as it had been in Hollywood, however he did continue to experiment with photography, this time embracing the relatively new colour medium — a little known facet of his work — which is represented in the exhibition with a number of portraits, including those of Juliette Greco and Yves Montand. Man Ray always preferred ‘inspiration to information,’ and in Man Ray Portraits, there is much to delight and inspire, from the iconic to the unfamiliar; and even the previously unsen.

    Man Ray Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery, London until 27 May 2013. From 22 June – 8 September 2013 the exhibition will be at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, before arriving at the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, from 14 October 2013 – 19 January 2014. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. 

  8. Life’s a beach for Spanish photographer Lluís Artús

    Artus001

    Above Untitled, from La Platja. (©Lluís Artús/Courtesy of the photographer).

    Following a serious accident that put an end to his career as a deep-sea diver, Spaniard Lluís Artús turned to photography, studying at the Institute d’Estudis Fotografics de Catalunya, before spending ten years working in London. But as we see in his ongoing series La Platja (the Beach) the sea and its environs still maintains a hold for the photographer; whose style combines the visual aesthetics of the commercial realm — the bright harsh light of flash and a vivid sense of colour — with the focus and interest of a more personally motivated photographic project. 

    Artus003

    Above Untitled, from La Platja. (©Lluís Artús/Courtesy of the photographer).

    With his focus on the city beaches around Barcelona — an area he would first visit in 2007 spending a long summer relaxing following his return from the uniform greyness of London — we see Artús explore the everyday life lived on these expanses of golden sand, each bordered by azure blue sea and clear skies, and set against the backdrop of the urban thrall. With his compositions marked by an ‘in-your-face’ approach, he documents the rich tapestry of life and those that spend their days enjoying the Spanish sun and its beaches, as if it where an extension of their apartments; here we encounter thise that come simply to relax or workout, others who come looking to pull, and those for whom the beach is simply a workplace.

    Artus002

    Above Untitled, from La Platja. (©Lluís Artús/Courtesy of the photographer).

    In this vibrant document we see a cross section of the cities cultural mass; however the photographs and social document that the photographer records, is liberated from class by the semi-naked state of those that frequent the beach; a state that leaves few motifs by which to identify or classify those he photographs simply by class — and in that Artús reveals the La Platja as a truly democratic place.

    lluisartus.com

  9. The Rickerby Show: the vintage prints of American photographer Arthur B. Rickerby

    Rickerby001

    Above Smoking Woman Wears Hatpin as Defence Against The Boston Strangler, 1964. Silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper. 27 (28.1) x 34 (35.2) cm. (©Daniel Blau Catalogues/Arthur B. Rickerby/Courtesy of Daniel Blau).

    Whilst a student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, New York born Arthur Burroughs Rickerby (1921 – 1972) began documenting campus sports, and selling his sports photographs to local newspapers. These photographs would quickly draw the attention of Acme Newspictures (now UPI), who would offer the young photographer a full-time position on graduation; but with World War II raging he joined the U.S. Navy and Edward Steichen’s naval photography unit. 

    Working in the Pacific theatre, he would document many major events, including the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa; and the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945, along with the more intimate moments of war, such as burials at sea, and the Japanese prisoners of war held on Guam. 

    Rickerby002

    Above Directing a Plane on a US Aircraft Carrier, c.1942. Silver gelatin print on glossy fibre paper, 26.7x 33.5 cm. (©Daniel Blau Catalogues/Arthur B. Rickerby/Courtesy of Daniel Blau).

    Following his discharge from the Navy, where he achieved the rank of Captain, Rickerby joined Acme, for whom he would cover stories in China, Japan and Europe; but it is possibly his street photography, especially he produced in New York, that he is best remembered for, along with his sports photographs and of course that earlier work in the Pacific, all of which are represented by vintage prints in The Rickerby Show at London’s Daniel Blau gallery. 

    Always on the cutting edge of photographic technology he championed the use of the smaller 35mm camera at a time when the bulky Speed Graphic was standard equipment for news photographers, and he later he would be an earlier adopter of the zoom lens and motor-drive, especially in his sports photography and the vast body of work he produced of the New York Yankees baseball team. 

    Rickerby003

    AboveNight Doorman, c.1950. Silver gelatin print on semi-matte fibre paper, 27.5 x 35.3 cm. (©Daniel Blau Catalogues/Arthur B. Rickerby/Courtesy of Daniel Blau).

    Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1957, he would leave Acme in 1959, and cut his own albeit brief path as a freelance photojournalist, — contributing photographs to amongst other magazines: Collier’s, Coronet, Life, Look, Parade, Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated, and the Sunday magazines of many major daily newspapers — before joining the staff of Life magazine two years later.

    With Life hiring Rickerby primarily to cover the Kennedy administration, he would photograph both John and Robert F. Kennedy in the Oval office; and would be travelling in the 35th President’s motorcade when at 12.30pm on 22 November 1963 he was fatally shot at Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Of the photographs that he took on that fateful day, it is possibly his shot of the vice president’s limousine parked outside Parkland Hospital, with a bouquet of flowers belonging to Lady Bird Johnson abandoned on the back seat that is the most iconic. He would subsequently cover the presidents funeral for Life and continue on staff until the magazine ceased weekly circulation in 1972. 

    The Rickerby Show is at Daniel Blau, London, until 16 February 2013.

  10. Sociologist Kyler Zeleny sets out to return found snapshots in his ongoing series ‘Found Polaroids’

    Zyler001
    Above Untitled, from Found Polaroids. (©Kyler Zeleny/Courtesy of the photographer).

    In his ongoing project Found Polaroids, Canadian Kyler Zeleny has set out to return as many of the 2,100 Polaroids that he has so far collected to the original owners. As a sociologist Zeleny utilises photography as a supplemental form of exploring ‘societal strata’ in his work that sees him focus on the ‘conscious/unconscious construction of “deviant cultures,” group formations, alternative culture movements, and how this defines and creates social policies.’

    In one of these found photographs, a woman in a red jacket and black trousers stands in front of a large-scale black-and-white print of the American photographer Imogen Cunningham and her model Twinka Thiebaud, taken by Judy Dater during a class on nude photography in 1974. As we look at this small colour print taken by an unknown photographer — with its distinctive aesthetic — we find ourselves pondering a host of questions. What is the relationship of the woman — who stands so proudly in front of this well know image — to the photograph? Is she simply an admirer of Cunningham’s work? Or is it the the scale of the work that allows her to stand between the depiction of the photographer and her model that attracted her? Or maybe she is a curator who has staged an exhibition of the celebrated photographers work?

    Zyler002

    Above Untitled, from Found Polaroids. (©Kyler Zeleny/Courtesy of the photographer).

    In another of the collected images a young woman in pale blue shirt and jeans, dances around a dark interior; a man in a white t-shirt sits at a table, to his left a glass of beer, and in front of him the distinctive frame of a Polaroid print in another; and a young boy makes a self-portrait, his smile masking the effort it takes to control his camera; and a woman is photographed unknowingly as she strides along the side walk, in another of these collected photographs; whilst an open front door decorated with a holiday wreath and balloons was the attraction for another unknown photographer’s camera. 

    In Found Polaroids, Kyler conscript’s the physical form of the photographic image, ‘as a tool of exploration, a guiding compass towards the importance of the family album and found objects… requiring intervention and understanding from generations past.’ And in doing so he questions our own interaction and understanding of the family photo album.

    kylerzeleny.com