Posts Tagged ‘Camera Work’

Photography | Reutersward: Nudes & Landscapes

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Blaise Reutersward: Aktstudien und Deutsche Landschaften
(Nude studies and German Landscape)
Camera Work
Berlin, Germany
24th August – October 12th, 2013

Following in the wake of then deputy fashion director Kerstin Schneider, photographer Blaise Reutersward’s unruly shock of blond hair seemed to arrive in my office at German Elle in Munich, a millisecond before he did. It was the late 1990s and and most of the female staff were dressed head-to-toe in black (Tom Ford) Gucci or maybe Jil Sander, the younger ones in less expensive Strenesse, the editor, Renata Rosenthal in Issey Miyake – sometimes with scarily-weird green contact lenses. On the surface, Blaise, tanned, in bright blue and white checked shirt and jeans – I’m not sure what he wore on his feet, probably Converse – was a breath of fresh air, much like his photography, the naturalness of which cut a swathe through the rather stilted, heavily stylised stuff that was coming out of Paris and New York at the time. Reutersward’s models didn’t pose, they moved about under blue skies with puffy, whispy white clouds in them, wearing the clothes with ease, their hair catching the breeze. But, Reutersward himself, unsmiling, hiding beneath his hair, avoiding eye-contact, ostensibly coming in to discuss layout ideas for his photographs was deeply serious about his work and knew exactly how he wanted it to be presented.

Born in 1961, in Stockholm, Sweden, where he still lives and is based, in the one picture (2010) of him that resulted from an internet search, only sea and sky fill the background, although the tan remains, replaced by a stubble crop the long blond hair is gone, and he sports a black T-shirt – maybe a sop to fashion, or perhaps signifying the broody, mysterious side to the photographer that I had been aware of at our single meeting and which would later be revealed via his personal work.

Unable to compete with German Vogue for the best photographers, German Elle was and probably remains the poor relation, but, certainly during the period I was the magazine’s art director (1996-1999) – many of the photographers coming in via the fashion department, who were extremely picky about who they would work with – it provided a testing ground for talented new, not necessarily young – Blaise would have been around 35 years old at the time – photographers, keen for a chance to get published. Reutersward was one of those who impressed German Vogue and soon found himself regularly shooting for them, and throughout the past 15 or so years, for French Vogue as well as those in Japan and China. He may not have achieved the success or fame of giant of Swedish fashion photography, Mikael Jansson, but he has stuck to his guns, consistently producing sensitive, timeless images of female fashion and beauty, most often in a natural setting with a minimum of artificial lighting.

Typically understated, Reuterward’s website shows nothing other than a slideshow of a few dark photographs from Aktstudien und Deutsche Landschaften, his forthcoming exhibition of large format nude portraits and German landscapes at Berlin’s Camera Work. The landscapes new, the nudes produced over the past 10 years, he uses his great skill and unique eye for composition to create an intense dialogue between the objects of his obsession.

Photographs from top
Aktstudie 002
Grevgatan, Stockholm, Sweden

Deutsche Landschaft 1205
Ariel view of Sylt, Germany

Deutsche Landschaft 1207
Schönau am Königssee,
Berchtesgaden National Park,
Bavaria, Germany

Deutsche Landschaft 1206
Neinhäger Holz,
Mecklenburger Bucht, Germany

All images ©Blaise Reutersward
Courtesy Camera Work


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Exhibition | Ralph Gibson’s Selective Eye

Friday, June 15th, 2012
Ralph Gibson
Camera Work, Berlin, Germany
16th June – 4th August, 2012

American photographer, Ralph Gibson’s Leda, 1974, is simply one of the most erotic pictures I’ve ever seen. But is it a game? Is it meant to be humourous? Or is it for real? The ambiguity itself is tantalising. As with many of his pictures, nothing is explained; the viewer is left to draw whatever conclusion he/she chooses. Leda was the very first Gibson image I was shown when I was introduced to his extraordinary work in the late 90s by a female photographer friend, who was already a big fan. And I could see why: glimpses of a mysterious and secret world, many of Gibson’s pictures appear to exude a close understanding of female sensuality and sexuality.

British editorial art director/curator, David King’s maxim has been described as: ‘If you can crop any more off a picture then you haven’t cropped it enough.’ Not refuting the accuracy of the description, King later clarified his doctrine by explaining that, obviously, if it’s a fantastic picture then you leave it alone, but most photographs are enhanced by cropping. As a magazine art director, myself – often praised for the skill of my cropping, reviled on the odd occasion (by sensitive photographers) for its insensitivity – I was immediately struck by the impact of Gibson’s images that are the product of his highly selective eye and absolute economy of crop. Could anyone, other than perhaps fashion and beauty photographer, Hiro, who throughout the 1960s to 1990s produced many closely-cropped, elegant images for magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and French Vogue – have come close to the graphically succinct statement of Gibson’s Mary Jane, 1980?

Born in 1939 in Los Angeles, California, Gibson, whose work is in the collections of over 150 international museums and galleries, assisted American documentary photography icons Dorothea Lange – and later – Robert Frank before embarking on his own freelance career as a photographer in the late 1960s. He crops, as they did, as Henri Cartier Bresson, as Eugene Richards does and as most other great photographers do or have done – in camera. Like Cartier-Bresson, Gibson uses only Leica cameras and, among a long list of other, major commendations, won the Leica Medal of Excellence Award in 1988.

Gibson’s early close-ups – Umbrella and Car, 1954 – of sections of cars are reminiscent of Paul Strand’s (1890–1976) early, modernist-inspired photography – Wire Wheel, New York, 1917 – that hover on the edge of the abstract. But, whereas Strand’s images, in line with prevailing modernist preoccupations of the time, remain objective studies, Gibson’s are enigmatic, hinting at a story – something beyond the picture area that the viewer must invent, imagine for himself. In this way they come closer to the surrealist photographs of André Kertész and Man Ray. Often his female nudes – Untitled, 2008 – subjected to strong natural light, are reduced to a series of light, sensual, softly-toned areas crossed by heavy geometrical shadows. At the brink of abstraction – Torso Palms, 1973 – they hold back, and it’s at that point the viewer is forced to stop and think: is it me, or does the shape of the breasts really resemble the underside of a phallus?

Images from top
Leda, 1974 © Ralph Gibson
Christine, 1974 © Ralph Gibson
Umbrella and Car, 1954 © Ralph Gibson
Untitled, 2012 © Ralph Gibson

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Photography | Hollywood & Berlin in Detail

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Hollywood in Style: a homage to the icons of film
Camera Work, Berlin, Germany. Until 4th March, 2012
Robert Polidori
CWC Gallery, Berlin, Germany. Until 21st April, 2012

Based in the well-to-do Charlottenburg area of Berlin – one of the most galleried cities in the world – Camera Work is regarded as one of the world’s top 10 photography galleries. Named after the legendary, quarterly photographic journal published in New York by Alfred Stieglitz from 1903 to 1917, the gallery opened its doors in 1997 and has a well-earned reputation for presenting the work of many photography greats: Man Ray, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Peter Beard, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Helmut Newton, but also for exhibiting young, up-and-coming artists.

The Kennedys archive, part of Camera Work’s permanent collection is a wide-ranging compilation of photographic work, official documents, private documents, and memorabilia of the Kennedy family. First put on show at the Camera Work building in 2004, it now has its own premises where, on the occasion of The 62nd Berlin International Film Biennale, Camera Work is exhibiting Hollywood in Style – much of the content also belonging to the gallery’s collection –  a photographic homage to the icons of film. Archive images by Edward Steichen and Horst P Horst that testify to the glamour of the screen legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly striking characteristicly elegant poses, are juxtaposed against more ballsy shots of 1950s bad boys James Dean and Marlon Brando. A sexy Sophia Lauren exemplifies the free spirit of 1960s movies; Jack Nicholson, the characterful 70s and 80s, while the distinctly sensual, provocative and style conscious stars of today: Angeline Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, are captured by contemporary photographers: Nadev Kander, Annie Leibovitz and Anton Corbijn.

Emerging from the same stable, a second gallery CWC – Camera Work Contemporary, housed in a former Jewish girls’ school – opened last week in Berlin’s Mitte district, home to the city’s major internationally famous art galleries and will, alongside contemporary photography, exhibit large-scale retrospectives in painting and sculpture, as well as conceptual group exhibitions. As its debut, CWC presents Polidori, a major showing of the work – including some seen here for the first time – of the substantial oeuvre of the Canadian-born photographer, Robert Polidori, born in 1951, who lives in New York and Paris and has achieved international success via substantial photo stories in magazines such as The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Geo and Vanity Fair. His work has been shown by numerous galleries and is also featured in the collections of several museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Famous for the extremely high level of detail in his photographs – literally nothing is left unsharp – the selected images, which on the surface appear as straightforward architectural and urban scenes – Gallery of the Battles, Chateau de Versailles, 1985 – Unit 4 Control Room, Chernobyl, 2001 – View of Central Park from the East, New York City, 2004 – possess the unnerving quality of drawing the viewer ever further in to examine and question each detail in turn and to puzzle endlessly over their relationship to one another and to the whole.

Images from top
Jeremy Irons with Monicle, London, 1990
© Michel Comte

Michel Anguir by Jacques D’Agar, 1675. Salle la Surintendance de Colbert,
Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord – RDC, Chateau de Versailles, 1984
© Robert Polidori

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Photography | Camera Works

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Photographs
Sotheby’s New York, USA. Sale October 5th, 2011
Exhibition opens 30th September

Maybe you can’t afford to buy but if you are interested in 19th, 20th and 21st century collectable photography, many of the biggest names are here and Sotheby’s exhibitions are open to the public. Let’s start with fashion – Avedon, Horst, Penn. Peter Beard is also represented by his enormous and beautiful illustrated work: Maureen Gallagher and Late-Night Feeder (see below). A rare print of Diane Arbus’s disturbing portrait Viva is going under the hammer. Ansel Adams prints for sale include, among others: Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, and a mural of Leaves, Mt. Rainier National Park. There are works by Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Edward Outerbridge and Imogen Cunningham. Prints of two well-known images – Spectacles and The First Round (see above) – by French modernist Pierre Dubreuil are also in the auction. From earlier times there’s a massive print of Alexander Gardner’s portrait of Abraham Lincoln. In addition to the prints, a complete collection of Alfred Stieglitz’s famed quarterly, Camera Work, is up for sale.

Top. Lot 110 Estimate $150/250,000
Pierre Dubreuil The First Round. Circa 1932

Above. Lot 170 Estimate $120/180,000
Peter Beard Maureen Gallagher and Late-Night Feeder, 2:00am. 1987

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and anything else that interests me and I think might interest you

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