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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Chicago Eyebrows

Here’s an informative article in the New York Times about the Smithsonian Photography Initiative.

Of particular interest within the Smithsonian’s project is the series of articles called Click! Photography Changes Everything written by “one hundred experts in their fields to explore the ways photography has changed a broad spectrum of disciplines—from anthropology to astrophysics, from media to medicine, from philosophy to sports.”

Check it out! 

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Graduation

Jasper Johns is one of my favorite artists – quintessentially American, absolutely provocative and yet unusually quiet about his work.  He has a reputation for saying very little about what he does, which leaves interpretation to the viewer.  As much as I love his work, I love his persona.

Jasper Johns has a new show at the Met (called “Gray”, through May 4th) and a new exhibition of drawings at Matthew Marks Gallery (“Drawings 1997-2007” through April 12th) in Chelsea. There’s a lovely piece about him by Carol Vogel in yesterday’s New York Times. Some highlights (that tickled my tummy!) from Carol Vogel’s article:

♦  “Mr. Johns seems to have perfected the art of talking about his work without ever revealing too much. Always courtly, he answers questions in a measured, seemingly straightforward manner that leaves a listener wanting to know far more. It’s as if he is aware that a myth surrounds him that he must be careful not to dispel.”

♦   “For decades now his interpretation of flags and targets, numbers and letters — things, as he has often said, ‘the mind already knows,’ ‘things that were seen and not looked at, not examined’ — have become as embedded in the contemporary American art psyche.”

♦  “Predecessor Mark Rothko impatiently dismissed Mr. Johns’s targets and flags, saying, ‘We worked for years to get rid of all that.'”

♦  “He often executes drawings after he finishes a canvas, rather than before. ‘To do a drawing for a painting most often means doing something very sketchy and schematic and then later making it polished,’ he said. ‘It’s done out of a different kind of energy. I love drawings, so I’ve always enjoyed making drawings that exist on their own.'”

♦ “Born in 1930 in Augusta, Ga., and raised in Allendale, S.C., he received his early education in a one-room schoolhouse in rural South Carolina.”

♦ “About 60 years after he first arrived in New York, Mr. Johns is still very much the Southern gentleman. He retains his accent and his soft-spokenness. Yet his quiet demeanor and his six-foot frame make him intimidating at first; he chooses his words with such care that a questioner is tempted to do likewise.”

♦ “Each year, as soon as the temperature begins to plummet in Connecticut, he decamps to his house [in Saint Martin], joining his two resident dogs, Pepper and Pumpkin — both were found abandoned on the island — to work, garden, read, cook and do crossword puzzles.”

♦ “Asked what influence he feels he may have had on young artists, Mr. Johns paused. ‘To me,’ he said, ‘self-description is a calamity.'”

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No Hanging Out

There’s a review by Holland Cotter in today’s New York Times about a new show at the International Center of Photography called “Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art.”

Holland’s fascinating and glowing review has prompted me to see the show which runs from January 18 – May 4, 2008.  (I’m fortunate to live in such a beautiful, rural area with a 90-minute trip into Manhattan.) 

Holland writes: “Photography, with its extensions in film, video and the digital realm, is the main vehicle for these images. The time was, we thought of photographs as recorders of reality. Now we know they largely invent reality. At one stage or another, whether in shooting, developing, editing or placement, the pictures are manipulated, which means that we are manipulated. We are so used to this that we don’t see it; it’s just a fact of life.”

Of particular interest to me is this exhibit in the show:

“The thousands of images in a looping 36-hour slide projection by Jef Geys would seem to be linked by a firmer thread. They are a visual archive of Mr. Geys’s photographic output of 40 years. Whether they provide evidence of aesthetic development, though, or insight into the artist’s maturing mind and soul, will be known only to the most devoted of viewers.”

(Let’s see… the longest the museum is open on any single day is ten hours, and the longest anyone could realistically sit through a slide show might be three hours. So it’ll take at least 12 well-coordinated visits to see the whole thing!  With $12 admission, that’s $144, but an individual membership at $75 allows unlimited free visits.  Yay!)

Another exhibit in the show by Hans-Peter Feldmann sounds like a thoroughly intriguing study:  a room full of framed front pages of 100 international newspapers printed on Sept. 12, 2001.  To Feldman’s credit as an artist, and to Holland’s credit as a reviewer, both get past the fact that this event is still fresh to us and are able to raise all sorts of questions about image placement, text placement and the manipulation of content from country to country. 

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Tractor Cat

I find it inspirational to study paintings and films.   I’m informed by the use of style, symbolism, craft, skill, history and light.  Ironically, I’m not often inspired by still photography.  It’s sometimes challenging to find enlightening work outside of the masters of photography, old and new. 

But as I found out this morning, a trip through The New York Times Photo Store is a real feast. You can see (and purchase!) an amazing array of images going back to the 1800s. Of particular interest is the “American Experience” category with riveting photos of American life over the last 150 years. If you’re looking for inspirational still photography, you’ve hit the jackpot.

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Crow on Old Barn Cupola

The first thing I look for in each new edition of the New York Times is an editorial piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg.  

Verlyn’s ongoing editorial column The Rural Life is always the best thing to read in the whole paper (which is saying something because every edition of the NY Times is a work of art). I’ve been reading Verlyn’s editorials for a few years but it was only today I realized that Verlyn is a man!  Well I’ll be jiggered!  I was going to mention her breathtakingly beautiful, deeply moving, thoroughly visual style of writing in my entry today. I’m glad I did a little research first.

Mr. Klinkenborg was born in 1952 and grew up in Iowa and California. He has a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton and he’s been on the editorial board of the New York Times for ten years. His work has appeared in a gazillion great magazines, he’s won many awards and a fellowship, taught literature at Harvard, and is now a visiting professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He’s written a few books, two of which are on my reading list: Making Hay and The Last Fine Time.

Verlyn lives on a small farm in rural upstate New York.  That’s within stalking distance of Durham Township, right?

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Somewhere in Indiana

I read a thought-provoking and lovely quote in the New York Times yesterday by the great photographer Lee Friedlander.  In his new book,  Lee Friedlander Photographs Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes, Friedlander said of landscape photography: 

“The subject itself is simply perfect, and no matter how well you manage as a photographer, you will only ever give a hint as to how good the real thing is. We photographers don’t really make anything: we peck at the world and try to find something curious or wild or beautiful that might fit into what the medium of photography can hold.” 

Curious, wild or beautiful – that’s the mantra I’ll use as I press the shutter.

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