Posts Tagged ‘Harry Gruyaert’

Photography | Harry Gruyaert: Fifty-Fifty

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Belgium, Antwerp. Carnival, 1992



Roots by Harry Gruyaert
Gallery Fifty One
and Fifty One Too
Antwerp | Belgium
11 September > 3 November 2018



Belgium, Antwerp. Zoo, 1975



Colour is very important to photographer Harry Gruyaert, so why is a good deal of the work in this show black and white? The truth is complex and personal.

When Gruyaert (b 1941), having studied photography and filmmaking, upped sticks, leaving his home town of Antwerp in 1962, because he found the place so dull that he couldn’t bear to be there any longer, looking for visual stimulation, he moved to Paris. Nine years later, having spent time in India, Japan, Morocco and New York – where he discovered the vibrant hues of pop art and thereafter shot exclusively in colour – he developed a morbid fascination with his native country. Deciding to return as often as he could in order to record the banality of Belgian life in all its diversity, he found to his frustration that he could only see Belgium in black and white. It was some years later, when he had become more deeply engrossed in the project, that he felt able to begin shooting in colour.

Belgium, Banneux, 1975



Belgium, Boom, 1988



Belgium, Province of Limburg, 1975



Shot between 1970 and 1992, the substantial body of photographs Gruyaert produced – humour is to be found within it but not much joy – tell the story of his relationship with the land and the people he rejected through the eye of a detached voyeur, obsessively observing all that he was no longer a part of.

Although the colour allows for more complex, painterly compositions – of which Gruyaert is a master – and the viewer is conscious of an obvious time shift towards a more affluent decade – occasionally lifting the mood – little separates the content of the colour and black and white images.

Belgium, Brussels. Palais des Beaux Arts-Museum, 1981



Gruyaert, who continues to live in Paris, and insists he is not a photojournalist, nevertheless joined Magnum Photos in 1982. In the early 1970s, while he was living in London, he produced his TV Shots, a series of photographs of distorted colour television images, resembling pop art paintings. Half documentary photographer/half fine artist, Gruyaert’s images in Roots contain as many clues to his struggle with the conflicting strands of his own creativity – contradictions to which he freely admits – and his feelings about his nationality during the 70s and 80s, as they do to the cultural identity of Belgians living in Belgium in the same period.

The monograph Harry Gruyaert was published by Thames and Hudson in 2015. Retrospective exhibitions of the photographer’s work were held at Paris’s Maison Européenne de la Photographie in 2015 and at the Fotomuseum Antwerp in 2018.

The colour images included in Roots by Harry Gruyaert (first published in book form in 2012, and recently republished), are being shown in Gallery Fifty One while, simultaneously, the black and white prints will be on view at Fifty One Too.

All photographs by Harry Gruyaert, ©Harry Gruyaert, courtesy Gallery Fifty One.
All images are archival pigment prints, printed later


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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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