Posts Tagged ‘Bert Stern’

Photography | Auctions | Portraits of Women

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Modern & Contemporary Photographs
Yann Mouel
Drout
Paris, France
Sale: 9th November, 2012

Photographies
Sotheby’s
Paris, France
Sale: 16th November, 2012

Photographies
Christie’s
Paris, France
Sale: 16th & 17th November, 2012

Modern & Contemporary Photography
Villa Grisebach
Berlin, Germany
Exhibition: 23rd–27th November, 2012
Sale: 28th November, 2012

Are real women, as portraiture subjects for photography under-represented? Maybe. A glance through the catalogue of today’s Yann Le Mouel auction of Modern & Contemporary Photographs in Paris – one of four major European photography auctions this month – reveals that of the 261 lots some 42 are portraits of well-known 20th century male figures or groups, among them: politician Fidel Castro, artists Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, musicians Johnny Hallyday, Serge Gainsbourg, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, Billy Idol, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, and photographer Donald McCullin. Although many unidentified females appear, often nude, partially-clothed or in a couple of instances, pornographic poses, famous or even identified women are rather less in evidence. Of the few labeled ladies, Princess Diana in tiara and pearls, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, Colette by Janine Niepce and Weegee’s Norma Devine at Sammy’s Bar, New York, 4 December, 1944, strike a bold presence.

To mark the 65th anniversary of Magnum Photos, Sotheby’s Paris is offering a unique set of 65 images dedicated to the nude – an unusual subject for this co-operative, whose photographers are better known for chronicling world events – a very mixed bag of works in which images by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Eve Arnold are included alongside those from the younger generation of Magnum photographers, such as Paolo Pellegrin and Harry Gruyaert. Jane Mansfield and Marylin Monroe are amongst the mainly female subjects, of whom few others are identified. Elsewhere in the same sale, there’s an unusual full length photograph of Lizica Conreanu, Romanian dancer and member of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes posed in a dance position, in the artist’s studio, by sculptor Constantin Brancusi, together with a stark, asymmetrical, untitled head and shoulders portrait of a woman by Dora Maar. Diane Arbus offerings include Woman with a Briefcase and Pocketbook, N.Y.C., 1962 and topless, Waitress, Nudist Camp, N.J., 1963. Bold, explicit images from Helmut Newton’s Big Nudes series, each identified by first name only, are also on offer.

A print of Peter Lindbergh’s The Wild Ones, shot in New York in 1991 that features super-models, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patiz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder and Stephanie Seymour is included in the Christie’s sale in Paris, next weekend. There’s a couple of pictures of Kate Moss, too, and hot American art photographer Alex Prager’s Eva, from the series Week-end, 2009. All beautiful, but do models really count as famous people? Perhaps a few, like Kate Moss, transcend their clothes-horse role and become celebrities, in the process taking on tangible personality. Striking close-ups by Man Ray of mannequins push female anonymity to the limit, however his striking, uncompromising profile of the surrealist artist, Bona, 1955 – who, with a little research, it was possible to discover is Bona de Mandiargues – has profound substance. Peter Beard’s Karen Blixen in Rungstedland for the End of the Game, Dec. 3rd, 1961 is up close and feels very personal. Here too, Cecil Beaton’s multiple-exposure, portrait of actress Beatrice Lillie, shot around 1930, makes a strong statement. Interestingly, (always referred to as ‘first wife of László Moholy-Nagy‘) Lucia Moholy’s 1926 portrait of artist Lily Hilderbrandt, is one of the few images of named women, in these four November auctions, photographed by a woman. Another is Annie Liebovitz’s remarkable Louise Bourgeois, New York, from 1997, being sold at Berlin’s Villa Grisebach, where 184 lots are on offer, varying in content from recent architectural photography by minimalist photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, Boring Photographs, 2000, 468 C-type prints by Martin Parr, and works by Daido Moriyama, to 1950s and 60s images by Will McBride and much earlier stuff from photography pioneers such as Karl Blossfeldt. Images of identifiable women, again, are few in number but there is a very sensuous, sexually-liberated, colour portrait of Marilyn Monroe, shot in 1962, from the man who surely captured her character and vivacity better than any other, Bert Stern – a snip at an estimated €1.000-1.500. There’s also a characterful and beguiling, 1976 close-up by Robert Lebeck of Romy Schneider in a tweed flat cap, smiling, with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth. Jackie Kennedy and her Sister at the Funeral of Robert Kennedy, New York, 1968, by the same photographer and showing the grieving sisters, kneeling side by side, hands clasped in prayer, draws the emotions in another direction. Milton H Greene’s 1952 portrait of Marlene Dietrich – recognisable from her swathe of blonde hair and perfectly-shaped legs – whose face isn’t shown, cleverly turns the negative aspect of anonymity on its head.

Anonymity itself is of course compelling and single names – probably often invented, sometimes with the intention of obscuring the the identity of the sitter or of adding exotic cachet – tantalising. Full, real names, however, lift the veil and bring the viewer into direct contact with the subject, whatever the sex, allowing us the privilege of intimacy and them the dignity of existence and perhaps a deserved place in history.

Images from top
From the Villa Griesbach sale:
Louise Bourjois, New York, 1997
Annie Leibovitz
Gelatin silver print

Marylin Monroe, From ‘The Last Sitting’, 1962
Bert Stern
C-Print, 1978. Kodak-Paper

Marlene Dietrich, 1952
Milton H Greene
Vintage gelatin silver print with gouache

From the Christie’s sale:
Karen Blixen in Rungstedland for the End of the Game, Dec. 3rd, 1961
Peter Beard
Gelatin silver print mounted on cardboard, enhanced with ink, gouache
and blood

Kate Moss, Little Nipple, 2001
Rankin
Archive Lambda print

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Books | Taschenzine

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Taschen Booklist
Winter 2011/12

Taschen do something very clever. The book publishing house that proudly boasts it was established as long ago as 1980 and, as it says on the cover of its Winter 2011/2012 Booklist, ‘is for optimists only’, likes to surprise and even to shock. While many publishers have cut costs by putting their lists of forthcoming books exclusively on-line, Taschen’s, published biannually, which arrived here in the middle of this week – only 30 high street shopping days to go until Christmas! – takes the form of a well-produced magazine.

Whoever came up with the concept and put it together – probably Benedikt Taschen himself, who edits it – pays close attention to getting the details right. The cover is printed web-offset and the inside pages using the gravure method – only suitable for runs of over 300,000 copies due to the substantial costs involved (some of these having clearly been off-set by the inclusion of genuine, up-market advertising for the likes of Mercedes Benz, Chopard, Pirelli and Maybach) – giving it the familiar, floppy feel of news-based magazines like Stern, Paris Match, The (UK) Sunday Times Style section, The New York Times Magazine or even SAGA.

The cover shot is more than a little cheesy; it has a low-budget tang to it. It says this is a popular magazine; it’s inclusive, not exclusive; there’s something for everyone here. The cover type is overly colourful and looks like it might have been done in a rush to meet a tight deadline, however, the company name TASCHEN is subtly lacquered-over – perhaps to convey just a hint that what one is looking at is not all that it appears. Inside, looking for all the world like a list of features with page numbers, there’s – what could be more natural – a contents page. What could be a jauntily written editor’s intro, actually is just that and is signed off by Herr Taschen himself. The ‘features’ are mostly lavishly-illustrated using photographs or illustrations from the approximately 120 books individually listed at the back with prices. But there are what must be specially commissioned illustrations of the famous from Moby, Quincy Jones and Mario Testino to Rem Koolhaas, Pamela Anderson and Diane Keaton, each with a nice quote about their favourite Taschen book alongside them. These attempt to demonstrate the reach and ground this once best known for its cut-price art book publishing house has gained over the past twenty-five years. Taschen himself makes an appearance photographed, paparazzi-style, in a series of black and white images, most memorably in a full-bleed double-page spread with director Billy Wilder and photographer Helmut Newton at the 1960-built architectural landmark, Chemosphere house, in the Hollywood Hills in 1999. Newspaper USA Today’s quote about the Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot book – from Taschen, obviously – appears alongside: ‘A Wilder gift you couldn’t find for film fans.’ There’s a fashion ’story’ about photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s work – limited editions to 1,200 copies of the book are available, numbered and signed by the artists. This is up-market stuff but the way it’s packaged makes it feel democratic, accessible to the masses. Wine and food are covered; cars too. There’s sexy glamour from Bert Stern’s historic last sitting with Marilyn Monroe and a design ‘feature’ about information graphics. The Man from La Mancha, about a book on Pedro Almadóvar opens on a dramatic spread image with sparse headline, standfirst and quote, which is followed by a substantial text written by the director. There’s quite a lot of film-based stuff; Movies of the 2000 [sic] – the title of which must be a dodgy bit of translation from the presumably original German into English – opens with a complex double page spread of small film-stills and screaming headline, which, if this was in a real magazine, might be expected to lead somewhere, but doesn’t. There are a couple of spreads – please excuse the pun – about The Big Book of Pussy – the offending organ having been masked out by little, yellow smiley faces – immediately followed by a spread of illustrations of Toucans,’Big-billed technicolor marvels’, which at first glance might be taken for a special offer of the type one associates with sets of decorative plates, had the book cover not been slipped in at the bottom.


The tone and pace of the content is keenly balanced, some items picture-lead, others text-heavy, some short, some long, in such a way as to convince anyone casually flicking through the pages that he’s holding a real magazine. There’s no crossword or puzzle page but there is a game that encourages the reader to search for the character Faulpeltz – familiar, apparently, to past recipients of this publication – hidden within the pages of the magazine: the successful participants earning the chance of winning the Taschen sweepstake or book tokens. This is psychologically-clever salesmanship. First-timers are drawn in, made to feel comfortable in familiar territory – it’s the game that advertorial plays, when it apes the editorial of the magazine it appears in – until suddenly the penny drops and you feel rather let down, fooled. Make no mistake; this ‘magazine’ is 100% advertorial. But maybe in this particular case you can convince yourself to rest easy – this is a smartly-executed joke – you might have been fooled but now you get it and it’s so well done that you’re not ashamed at all that you were had. On the contrary, you begin to appreciate the level of intellectual thought and creative consideration that went into this fine thing. You want to tell all your friends about it: do a blog post on it – exactly what they want you to do. You might put it aside – you never know, one day it might be a collector’s item, and be worth something. Anyway, that’s what I’m going to do with mine.

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Photography | Big Nudes

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Le Imaginaire du Nu
Hotel Drouot, Paris. Exhibition 27th & 28th June 2011. Sale 28th June

Nudes, especially as a subject for books, exhibitions and auctions, are big right now, especially in France. Not that the nudes themselves are huge in proportions, you understand, with the possible exception of the amazons in high stilettos in Helmut Newton’s classic, Big Nudes (1990) that is among a list of 10 books on this particular génre of photography selected for La Lettre de la Photographie by photographer and collector, Bruno Mouron, prompted, almost certainly, by the huge up coming auction and exhibition L’imaginaire du Nu at Hôtel Drouot in Paris.

Early daguerreotypes and prints will be sold back to back with photographs from the beginning and middle of the 20th century: Bill Brandt, Robert Doisneau, Horst, Krull, Man Ray, Willy Ronis and contemporary works by, among others, Araki, Bourdin, Ralph Gibson, David Hamilton, Sam Haskins, Horvat, Lindbergh, George Platt-Lynes, Jeanloup Sieff, Bert Stern and Joel Peter Witkin. The majority, as might be expected, are images of women but male nudity is also represented in pictures by, for example, Bruce of Los Angeles and Robert Mapplethorpe.

Interesting to note, though, that despite the current vogue, we’re already halfway through the year and Mapplethorpe’s Nudes 2011 calender, which includes graphic black and white images of both males and females of our species is still available from Te Neues.

Pamela Hanson, Carla Bruni, Vogue Hommes, 1994, top
Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, 1935, below


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Swiss goes pop in Düsseldorf

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011


Zeitgeist & Glamour: The decades of the jet set

February 5th – May 15th, 2011, NRW Forum Düsseldorf, Germany

Diane Arbus, Eve Arnold, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Harry Benson, Guy Bourdin, Raymond Depardon, Terence Donovan, Elliott Erwitt, Ron Galella, Dennis Hopper, William Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Billy Name, Terry O’Neill, Bob Richardson, Jeanloup Sieff, Francesco Scavullo, David Bailey, Lord Snowdon, Bert Stern (Bert Stern’s Twiggy, VOGUE, 1967. © Bert Stern. See above)… just some of of the photographers, whose work is represented in this exhibition, many of whom were or became, alongside the glamorous subjects they followed from the Côte d’Azur, St. Moritz, Paris, London, Rome, and New York– among them, Brigitte Bardot, Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, Karl Lagerfeld – jet-setters themselves.

On show are 400 photographs, never exhibited before in public, from the Swiss collector Nicola Erni that collectively capture the unique zeitgeist of the 2oth century’s Swinging 60s and early 70s – Warhol’s Factory, Studio 54, Swinging London, Blow up, Pop Art, sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll – as seen through the lens of famous portrait and fashion photographers. Individually, each of these was creating new styles of photography, developing new techniques and forms of presentation that shaped the visual culture of the era. The paparazzi (See picture above – which may well have been the product of a prior arrangement between and in the interests of both subject and photographer(s) – by Giacomo Alexis: Un gelato in faccia di Rino Barillari da Sonia Romanoff in Via Veneto, Roma, 1970. © Giacomo Alexis) are represented, too; a new breed of photographer, who took pictures of famous personalities in their private lives and sold them to whichever newspaper and magazine bid the highest.

Were you around in the 60s & 70s? What do/did you think about all this stuff?
Please leave a comment

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