Posts Tagged ‘Irving Penn’

Sculpture | Robots à la Fonssagrives

Friday, February 27th, 2015

SLS, 2012
46 x 21in / 117 x 53cm

Mia Fonssagrives-Solow: Robots
Kasher Potamkin
New York City | USA
Until 4 April 2015

KA, 2009
36 x 16in / 91 x 41cm

CQ2, 2014
16 x 10in / 91 x 25cm

Rhodes, 2012
24 x 12in / 61 x 30in

The words SOLD OUT shout proudly from beneath a picture of a cute silver robot ring on the Gagosian’s on-line shopping page. The rings are from an edition made in 2010 by sculptor and jewellery designer, Mia Fonssagrives-Solow. If you’re interested in seeing something more substantial, over twenty of her bronze and aluminium sculptures of robots, fembots and aliens that she created over the last seven years, are being exhibited for the first time in Mia Fonssagrives-Solow: Robots at New York’s Kasher Potamkin gallery.

Should the surname Fonssagrives sound familiar – born Lisa Bernstone in 1911, Mia’s mother was a Swede, who studied painting, sculpture and dancing in Berlin, before moving to Paris, where she met and married Fernand Fonssagrives and became a model. Before the couple moved to the United States in 1939, she had already achieved international modelling stardom and was recognisable from the covers of magazines such as Town & Country, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Working with fashion photographers including George Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray, Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld and Richard Avedon, it was reported that she was the ‘highest paid, highest praised, high fashion model in the business.’ Meanwhile, Fernand became a fashion photographer himself, whose career also took off to the point where he was, reportedly, the highest paid photographer in New York. But, sadly, by 1950 things had gone awry between the golden couple and they divorced. Shortly after Lisa married another very famous photographer, Irving Penn. ‘She was the inspiration and subject of some of Penn’s greatest photographs,’ said Alexander Liberman, editorial director of Condé Nast , which publishes Vogue. In later life, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn would become a fashion designer and also a sculptor, producing unremarkable, semi- abstract, figurative work in marble, bronze and fibreglass, and represented by the Marlborough Gallery in New York.

Growing up on the farm the family bought at Huntington on Long Island, Mia was nevertheless constantly immersed in her parents’ world of fashion and art. She says that Penn proved irresistible. Ultimately, she considered him to be her second father. But as she grew and was sent to a progressive, mixed-sex senior school in the city, she struggled, caused trouble, and after being banned from one class, ended up doing woodwork instead. The processes of working with wood, the odours of the freshly cut raw material, the glues, and the resinous finishes, all left a strong impression on her that would influence her future creativity. After attending New York’s famous design school, Parsons, Mia and a friend decided to move to Paris to create a fashion collection together. Things were going remarkably well, but after a time Mia had become restless. However, a timely stroke of luck got them a contract to design clothes for a new Woody Allen film, What’s New Pussycat? (1965) that was filmed in Paris, and they went on to great success designing for Hollywood stars and other films, including the James Bond classic, Thunderball. Ten years later, Mia gave it all up to refine her woodworking skills, afterwards becoming a sculptor and jewellery-maker. She was later to marry self made New York property developer Sheldon Solow, who, according to Forbes magazine has a current net worth of $3.6 billion.

Her sculptures have graced Asprey and the windows of Cartier and Bergdorf Goodman, but not everyone would refer to Mia Fonssagrives-Solow’s robots – ranging in height from young child size to small adult – as high art. However, in an art world dominated by ’serious’ work that a lot is written about and sells for ever-increasing amounts of ’serious’ money, sculpture that is capable of putting a smile on the otherwise mean-mouthed face of a ’serious’ critic is not too bad a thing.

All photos courtesy Kasher Potamkin

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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due must be borne by the source supplier

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Books | Dankeschoen Karl Blossfeldt

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Bryonia alba
White bryony, tendrils

Karl Blossfeldt
The Complete Published Work
By Hans Christian Adam
Hardcover, 544 pp
13.97 x 19.558 cm / 5.5 x 7.7 ins
Multilingual edition: English, French, German
Published by Taschen, 2014

I happened to be living in Munich, in 1996, when Taschen published an earlier, slightly larger format, softback predecessor of this book that ran to only 96 pages. A German friend, aware of my interests in both plants and gardens, as well as photography, kindly gave this little gem to me as a present. However, I made the dreadful faux pas of blurting out that I had just bought a copy myself only the day before. While I sat there wishing that the ground beneath me would open and swallow me up, my friend, crestfallen and humiliated, took back the present with a rueful smile saying that perhaps it would make a valuable addition to her own book collection.

Polypodiaceae Aspidieae
Polypody, young unrolling leaf

Bryonia alba
White bryony, tendrils

Karl Blossfeldt, (1865 > 1932) was not a photographer. His plant photography was a by-product of the teaching philosophy he developed over thirty years and intended to publish. However the publishing project never came to fruition, nor did his plan to create an archive of plant photographs.

Growing up in the central mountains of Germany, Blossfeldt began his working life as an apprentice modeller in an ironworks before he was granted a scholarship for a drawing course in Berlin. By 1890, having won another drawing scholarship to study nature, he found himself travelling throughout southern Europe, collecting plant specimens, and using Rome as a base. Influenced by his Professor, Moritz Meurer, who was already using his own photography as reference for drawing, Blossfeldt began systematically photographing plants.

Back in Berlin in 1898, by now assistant to the director of the Kunstgewerbeschule and giving drawing lessons, he soon became a permanent instructor teaching ‘Modelling from Plants’. He was appointed professor of the school in 1921. His photographic work having come to the attention of a prominent gallerist, Karl Nierndorf, in 1925, Blossfeldt had his first exhibition the following year, as a result of which his pictures were widely published in periodicals and books on design theory and architecture. Nierndorf having taken over the management of Blossfeldt’s photographic output, arranged to have a book of his prints published under the title Urformen der Kunst / Art Forms in Nature. It received enthusiastic acclaim and quickly became recognised by critics as a major work of photography, leading to a second edition the same year. Wundergarten der Natur / The Magic Garden of Nature, his second book, a continuation of the same theme, was published in the year of his death, 1932. Both books are much sought after by collectors.

A product of the arts and crafts movement of the 19th century and scientific in their presentation and purpose, Karl Blossfeldt’s carefully-lit and simply arranged photographic plant portraits are never clinical; his compelling images of leaves, stems and flowers reveal their subjects’ tactile qualities, their intricacies and often almost magical forms. Pioneering an artistic approach to image-making that would be enormously influential on twentieth century photography – from the still lifes of Irving Penn, the white background portraits of Richard Avedon, to the houses and water towers of Berndt and Hilda Becker – his legacy is one of the most important and most beautiful collections of plant photography ever created.

Aesculus parviflora
Bottle brush, tips of twigs

The book I had bought in 1996 had only the photographer’s name, Karl Blossfeldt, as its title and contained a short, succinct and well-written text by Professor Doktor Rolf Sachsse, who currently teaches History and Theory of Design at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste (Fine Arts Academy) Saar in Saarbrücken. Moving around a fair bit during the intervening years, somewhere along the line I mislaid my copy. I remember that it had cost me around 20 Deutschmarks, equating to about £8.27 or €10, in today’s money. The original price of Taschen’s bumper Karl Blossfeldt. The Complete Works was £24.99 / €30, however this new 544 page edition is available at a mere £12.99, about €16.00. Its author, Hans Christian Adam is a specialist in historical images, and has published numerous articles and books, including titles on travel and war photography, is the author of Taschen’s Edward Sheriff Curtis: The North American Indian, Eugène Atget: Paris and Berlin, Portrait of a City.

In 2002, my time in Germany drawing to an end, I was justly repaid for my earlier insensitivity and social clumsiness when, having bought another Taschen book Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts / Art of the 20th Century as an auf wiedersehen – and thank you for your patience – present for my German teacher, an art history student, she promptly handed it back to me with a smile and a Dankeschoen, but telling she already had a copy.

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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Photography | Phi(Leap!) Halsman

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Like Two Erect Sentries,
My Mustache Defends the Entrance to My Real Self

From Dalí’s Mustache, 1954
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos
Exclusive rights for images of Salvador Dalí:
Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me!
Musee de l’Elysee
Lausanne, Switzerland
29th January – 11th May, 2014

Murderer! The anti-semitic Austrian locals shouted at Philippe Halsman falsely accusing the 22-year-old of murdering his father who had accidentally perished while the Jewish pair were on a hiking holiday, far away from their Latvian home, in 1928. He was subsequently sentenced to ten years solitary confinement with hard labour.

Destined to become one of the leading experimental and portrait photographers of the 20th century, born Filips Halsman, aged fifteen he had found his dentist father’s old camera and spoke of ‘a miracle’ happening as he developed his first pictures of family and friends in the bathroom sink. A miracle certainly occurred when, due to the efforts of his sister Liouba, who launched a campaign for his release from prison, gathering support from leading European intellectuals like Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, and Sigmund Freud, he was pardoned in 1930. French minister Paul Painlevé intervened, spiriting Halsman away to asylum in Paris. There the minister’s son, Jean, a scientific filmmaker, immediately gave his new photographer friend the best camera then available, a version of the Kodak 9×12, and began introducing him to the thriving Paris scene. Two years later, Halsman opened his first portrait studio in Montparnasse, where he photographed Marc Chagall, Le Corbusier and other writers and artists, using an innovative twin-lens reflex camera he had designed himself. Staying in the city for ten years, where he worked in fashion for Vogue, he also produced images for the early reportage magazines,Vu and Voilà, in 1940 as Paris was about to fall he fled the Nazis and moved to New York having obtained an emergency visa through the intervention of Albert Einstein.

Cover of the magazine Life with a
portrait of Marilyn Monroe jumping

November 9, 1959
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos

Another image from the Life session
Marilyn Monroe, 1959

©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos

Working for Life – for which he shot 101 covers, before the magazine ceased publication in 1972 – and most major magazines in America and elsewhere, including Look, Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post and Paris Match, Halsman came into contact with famous celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Duke Ellington, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank Sinatra, and Richard Nixon, to name but a few. His work also appeared in advertisements and publicity for clients like Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, NBC, Simon & Schuster, and Ford. Having been elected as first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, he led the fight for photographers’ creative and professional rights, his photographic work winning him international recognition, in 1951 he was invited to join Magnum Photos to join as a ‘contributing member’, allowing the agency to syndicate his work outside the United States. A poll conducted by Popular Photography, in 1958, named Halsman one of the ‘World’s Ten Greatest Photographers’ alongside Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Ernst Haas, Yousuf Karsh, Gjon Mili, Irving Penn, and Eugene Smith.

In Paris, Halsman had studied the work of other artists and photographers, especially the surrealists, from whom he learned to make images that surprised his viewers. On meeting Salvador Dali In New York, in 1941, he embarked on what would become a thirty-seven-year collaboration with the artist that resulted in a continuos flow of highly creative, experimental, and often bizarre images up until the year before his death in 1979. These included some of Halsman’s most celebrated pictures: Dalí Atomicus and the Dalí’s Mustache series – technical masterpieces that not only challenged him, but pushed the boundary of photography to its limits. But often his simplest inventions such as ‘jumpology’ – in the early 1950s, he began asking his subjects to leap in the air for his camera at the conclusion of each sitting – would generate unique and equally surprising pictures. Witty and energetic images, offering a natural, spontaneous portrait of his subjects are an important part of his photographic legacy.

Dalí Atomicus, 1948
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos
Exclusive rights for images of Salvador Dalí:
Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

The Versatile Jean Cocteau, 1949
©2013 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos

Artists, Dali, Dance, Entertainers / Men, Entertainers / Women, The Frenchman, Jumps, Marilyn Monroe, Musicians, New Year’s Cards, Nudes / Experimental, Paris 1930s, Politicians, Writers… the categories listed on the Halsman website bear witness to the vast range of the photographer’s work. Each image featured is testimony to the thought, the humour, and the hard work he invested in everything he produced. His picture books, among them, Unknown Halsman, Dali’s Moustache, Halsman at work, Portraits, Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas and Jump Book serve to illustrate the photographer’s prodigious output.

The exhibition Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me! retrospective showcases the photographer’s entire career for the first time, from his beginnings in Paris in the 1930s to the tremendous success of his New York studio between 1940 and 1970. It includes 300 images and original documents, and is intended to shed new light on the work of the photographer. Produced by the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, in collaboration with the Philippe Halsman Archive, it will afterwards be installed at Paris’s Jeu de Paume (13th October 13, 2015 – 14th February, 2016), and presented at the Kunsthal Rotterdam (24th February – 5th June , 2016), before being shown in venues in Barcelona and Madrid.

Two versions of the exhibition catalogue are being published: Philippe Halsman, Etonnez-moi!, in French from Editions Photosynthèses, and Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me!, in English version from Prestel Publishing.

All photographs by Philippe Halsman
Courtesy Musée de l’Elysée

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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Photography | Steichen & Chevallier

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Marlene Dietrich, Edward Steichen, 1931
Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234
Steichen/Vanity Fair ©Condé Nast

Marlène Dietrich
, Anthony Armstrong Jones, London, c 1955
Signed with the dedication ‘J’ai toujours su que tu es le plus grand mais
depuis que j’ai envahi ton métier je suis à genoux, Marlènou’
Auction estimate €200-300

Collection Maurice Chevalier
Hôtel Drouot Richelieu – Salle 5
Paris, France
Exhibition: 7th & 8th December, 2013
Sale: 9th December, 2013

Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s:
A Recent Acquisition

Witney Museum of American Art
New York City, USA
Exhibition: 6th December, 2013
– 23rd February, 2014

Two very different portraits (above) of the same woman, Marlène Dietrich – the first taken in 1931 by pioneering American photographer Edward Steichen (1879-1973) – the second about twenty-four years later, c 1955, by Anthony Armstrong Jones (later, Lord Snowdon) – feature in two very different events, the first starting at the end of this week, the other taking place at the beginning of next.

Paul Robeson as the Emperor Jones, Edward Steichen, 1933
Courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234
Steichen/Vanity Fair ©Condé Nast

Steichen shot the beguiling and beautiful, young German-born actress/singer Dietrich, ten years into her career, exclusively for Vanity Fair magazine. It is one of approximately forty-five works, including celebrity portraits, of among others, Winston Churchill, Paul Robeson, Eugene O’Neill, and fashion photographs he created during his 1923 to 1937 stint as chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. Together with photographs he shot for advertising campaigns, and a selection of images that illustrate Steichen’s obsession with flowers, they comprise The Witney’s exhibition Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition.

Photographs above from top
Portrait of Maurice Chevalier, New York, Irving Penn, 1948
Auction estimate €3,000-5,000

Audrey Hepburn in religious costume
Dedicated ‘To Maurice and ‘Papa’ with love and great admiration, Audrey’
Auction estimate €150-200

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1946, Dorothy Welding
Signed ‘Wallis Windsor et Edward Duke of Windsor’
Auction estimate €100-150

The Snowdon picture is one of eight portraits of Dietrich, each signed with a variety of sometimes cryptic dedications, for example: ‘Pour Maurice, de sa viel(le) ami(e) Marlène’ – scrawled over a picture of her in rather masculine attire – that over the course of both their careers, she presented to French entertainer Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972). And these are just a small sample of the 547 items, including many more signed and dedicated celebrity photographs – from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to Brigitte Bardot, and Elvis Presley – as well as signed and collectible books, keepsakes, his signature hats and canes, furniture, wines, rugs, pianos, and even Chevalier’s 1967 Mercedes Benz 250 S, that will go under the hammer at one of Paris’s premier auction houses, in the Collection Maurice Chevalier sale at Hôtel Drouot, on Monday.

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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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mouth2mouth | Philip Treacy on Photography

Friday, February 1st, 2013

mouth2mouth | interview
philip treacy | milliner

Over 30 of his hats were worn at HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. Probably the world’s best-known hat designer, Philip Treacy began his career in 1990, in London, having been taken under the wing of the late Isabella Blow. Milliner of choice for many top fashion designers, he created hats for Alexander McQueen’s white haute couture collection at Givenchy, for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, as well as for Valentino, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karen. In 2000 Treacy was invited to present the first ever Paris couture show dedicated to millinery. Named British Accessory Designer of the Year five times at the British Fashion Awards, he created hats for film – Harry Potter – for Grace Jones, Daphne Guinness, Naomi Campbell, Lady Gaga and Madonna. A new book, Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies, the result of a 20-year collaboration between the milliner and his long-time friend, photographer Kevin Davies, is published in February by Phaidon. Former creative director at Tatler turned photographer, Pedro Silmon asked Treacy about his passion for photography and photographers.

In the introduction to your and photographer Kevin Davies’ book you say that every hat you ever made began, in your mind, as a photograph. Who is the photographer?
Always Irving Penn. He was the quintessential hat photographer.

A hat is an idea. A suggestion. A hat isn’t an inanimate object you put on your head – it’s supposed to do something – you’re drawing with material to create an illusion. I identify with photographers because they’re doing the same thing as I am.

Is there a particular genre of photographer you like best?
Iconic Hollywood. Greta Garbo’s photographer, Clarence Sinclair-Bull, George Hurrell. Those I discovered in the books I saw for the first time when I went to art college in Dublin. The photographers who invented glamour and made people look beautiful: Hoynigen-Huhne, Edward Steichen, Horst, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean.

Which other photographers’ work do you like?
Helmut Newton. He was very persuasive and impressed me so much with his charm that I felt I couldn’t seriously say no when he asked to photograph me, who hates having his photograph taken – topless!
Bruce Weber is amazing. His black and white is really colour. So many tones… He put my hats on male models. Such a simple idea but it worked and just looked fantastic. Avedon asked me to make a hat specifically for an Egoïste cover he was shooting with Stephanie Seymour as the model. He was like a teenager – full of energy – really excitable.

Photographers are engaging and obsessive and I understand that. I like photographers that have a point of view and who put their stamp on a picture as if they’ve painted it. You can always tell a Sarah Moon, a Deborah Turbeville, a Paolo Roversi – they have a signature look and extraordinary personality. People like Nick Knight continue experimenting but his pictures are always identifiably his. I like David LaChapelle, who’s charming and has amazing vision. Although I haven’t worked with him a lot, I find Steven Meisel’s work exceptional and unusual – unlike anyone else’s.
One of the biggest influences on me and someone who has been a great inspiration, is Jean-Paul Goude. He’s so talented he doesn’t need to be an arse-hole. He’s a intriguing and charismatic. A designer’s dream. He has incredible ideas that are so simple they show he’s a genius.

What about newer photographers?
I think Mert & Marcus are great. They asked me to make a lace mask for them for the 90th Anniversary cover of French Vogue (2010). I’ve also been working with the German photographer, Cathleen Naundorf, who produces massive, very stylised polaroids.

Which photographers you haven’t enjoyed working with, and why?
I don’t think I’ve come across any… Photographers are like a race of people. I like working with them all.

Sometimes my hats are sent out by publicists to be photographed and I hate it when the photographer tries to do something edgy that just doesn’t work. The best photographers just photograph the hats – no tricks.

Do you like to go on shoots?
Shoot culture has become very irritating and makes going to a shoot daunting experience. So many people. And every time an image pops up on the computer screen, everyone has something to say. I remember when it was the photographer’s point of view that was important. That’s why I was such a fan of Irving Penn, who once took a portrait of me for American Vogue in his little glass-roofed Paris studio, where there was no lighting, no assistant, just a simple chair and a small table, his little camera, him and his charm. Fascinating!…

Do you collect photographs?
I have two wonderful Penn prints – one black and white, one colour – and five of Garbo by Clarence Sinclair Bull, plus a few others by Bruce Weber, Arthur Elgort and Ellen von Unwerth.

Do you have a preference for black and white or colour photographs?
I prefer black and white – it’s more dramatic. But it depends… Colour is a different language. Black and white is more romantic… But, I don’t see it in black and white. I love all the colours in it. What I also love are the really dark pictures that people like Clarence Sinclair Bull did in the 1920s and 30s. The pictures were about darkness, not about light – a lot of photography now is too bright.

You mention in the book that there were always photographers around the studio at 69 Elizabeth Street in the 1990s. Who were they?
Isabella (Blow) was always bringing people in: Michael Roberts, Alastair Thain – all absolutely obsessed – it was wonderful, manic!

Do other photographers still come in or does Kevin now have exclusive access?
They do, Yes. Kevin doesn’t have exclusive access but with him it’s not in your face. He’s a one man band. Quiet. Not loud. Easy. Often, I don’t notice he’s around. I didn’t really understand the pictures when he first starting doing them. They seemed to be the opposite of what people would imagine – not really about the hats, more about the environment. Now I have some of them framed and up on the wall.

Which photographers’ work is on your mood board right now?
… Everybody’s! Because I’m developing another book, with Rizzoli, that won’t be out for another couple of years.

Images from top
In the Studio, 10th February, 1999

The Royal Wedding, Battersea Studio, 27th April, 2011

In the Studio, 69, Elizabeth Street, 11th November

Images by Kevin Davies from the book
Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies
192 pages, hardback, £39.95/€49.95, February 2013

All photographs © Philip Treacy

Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, gardens, books, design and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Photography | Photographs, Photographs

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Sotheby’s, New York, USA
3rd April, 2012

Christie’s, New York, USA
5th April, 2012

So, these days you have no money problems.

That’s great to hear.

Sorry, I couldn’t really hear what you said… You want to do what?

To buy some photographs?

To buy a lot of photographs.

You want to create a collection.

But you know nothing about photography.

Oh, I see, that’s why you’re calling.

Uh huh. Yeah.

It’s kind of you to say so but really, I’m no expert.

OK. Perhaps I can help you, there.

Yes, you see, rather conveniently, there are a couple of auctions next week, both in New York, at Christie’s and at Sotheby’s, respectively – somewhat confusingly, each called ‘Photographs’ – in which a large quantity of work from those photographers regarded by the real experts as photography’s all time greats, is on sale.

You like the sound of that? Good.

You’ll be completely spoiled for choice. There are 350 items in the Christie’s sale, 204 at Sotheby’s.

No, no. I know you can. I understand that you can afford it. That’s not the problem. You can’t just buy everything, that’s all. It would just be crazy! Besides, I’m sure you’d prefer to be seen as a discerning sort of person – someone with a bit of taste – who doesn’t just throw their money around but on the contrary, has a keen eye for investment value.

That doesn’t bother you?

But surely, you don’t want to end up with a load of crap that you can’t offload on some other sucker, later.

Well, for one thing, in practical terms, you’ll have a fair number of duplicate prints, albeit each with different attributes: signed/unsigned, number within edition, etc. Then there’s condition to consider: excellent/very good/good/poor.

Yeah, you know some of the stuff is pretty old.

Old, you know, O-L-D. Early stuff…

Well, from my recollection, for instance: there’s a picture in the Sotheby’s sale taken by a guy by the name of Edward S Curtis. It’s called An Oasis in the Badlands. American. It’s of a Native American chief on horseback – very iconic but, in my opinion, his style often verges on the kitsch. It was photographed in 1905.

You didn’t know photography was that old? Well, here’s a surprise: it’s a hell of a lot older! The first permanent photograph was an image produced in France in 1826.

Kodak! Nooohhh! Much earlier than Kodak.

Anyway. Can I suggest you stick to one genre?

You don’t know what a genre is?

Well. Look. Let’s keep it simple. What about just buying landscape pictures? There’s tons of great stuff by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston you might like.

Yes, it’s all black and white.

You think black and white landscapes are boring. OK, there are some in colour by William Eggleston, who’s not really my cup of tea, but perhaps we should forget about landscapes.

Nudes? Yes, there are quite a few nudes. But, wouldn’t portraits be good? There’s a remakable Chuck Close, self-portrait called 5C – made from five unique, large-format, overlapping Polaroid prints – several Richard Avedon’s and some by Irving Penn, and loads of others at both venues.

Yeah, Avedon and Penn do nudes, too. Penn’s still life is amazing! A print of his Still Life with Grape and Moth, being sold by Christie’s is one of my all-time favourites. Then there’s…

Of course! Of course, nudes are certainly worth thinking about. However, how about starting to collect early modernist photography; Lásló Moholy-Nagy’s Alpenveilchen (Photogramm) will be in the Sotheby’s sale and his Scandinavia, shot in 1931 is at Christie’s. Christie’s are also selling Fire Escape, an amazing Alexander Rodchenko, photographed in 1927.

You don’t like ‘funny’ names.

No, no, nudes are certainly a possibility.

Flower pictures might be good, too, though. There’s the the Moholy-Nagy Alpenveilchen, I just mentioned – to you and me that’s a cyclamen – and Alma Levenson’s voluptuous Auratum Lily is at Sotheby’s. But there are a whole group of Robert Mapplethorpe’s flower pictures up for grabs in that sale, too.

Yes, he does do nudes.

So, if I understand you correctly, it’s just nudes, then, that you want to go for?

Er… interesting idea… and I must say, there are some very tastefully shot images of that variety by among others: Ruth Bernhard and Bill Brandt, included in both sales.

OK, yeah, I think I get it. You’d prefer more erotic stuff.

Female, I suppose?

I see. No preference. In their infinite variety, right? Big names as well as less well-known photographers – even a few with ‘funny’ names?

Well, it’s great that you’ve made a decision.

Yes, of course. It’s your money; I wouldn’t dream of telling you how to spend it. Glad I was able to help. Let me know how you get on but… er… could I ask a little favour in return?

I’m sure you’ll understand that… I shouldn’t really be seen… you know, to be associated with that sort of material. So I’d be grateful for your discretion… as a man of the cloth… I…

Photographs, from top
Sotheby’s Lot 192
Daido Moriyama How to Create a Beautiful Picture 6: Tights in Shimotakaido, 1986
Oversized, signed in pencil on the reverse, framed, printed later
Estimate $15/25,000

Christies Lot 105
Robert Mapplethorpe Back, 1986
Gelatin silver print
Signed, title, date, number 2/10 in ink and copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp (on the reverse of the flush-mount)
Image: 23 x 19 1/8in. (58.5 x 48.5cm.)
Sheet/flush-mount: 24 x 20in. (61 x 50.8cm.)
Estimate $10,000 – 15,000

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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

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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