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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

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“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”

Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

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Days are strange now as once hidden secrets come out into clearer sight. They will become even stranger.

With a sense of strangeness in the air, it’s a good day to just look at a few photos from the late photographer Diane Arbus to try to draw out the secrets hidden in them. How we look at her photos of the marginalized folks among us probably speaks more to our own secrets than it does about those of her subjects.

For what it’s worth, I think the photo of the kid, at the bottom of the page here, speaks volumes in representing how many of us are feeling.

I am that kid.

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Floyd and Lucille Burroughs; Walker Evans (American, 1903 – 1975); 1936

 

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Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.

Walker Evans

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I am a big fan of the photos of Walker Evans. Some of my early Exiles paintings were inspired by his Depression era work, many of which were captured in a landmark book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,. Written by James Agee, the book is a document of the two men’s journey through the American south during that trying time.

I came across this quote from Evans and it made me appreciate his work even more. The idea that the eye traffics in feelings and not in thoughts is a simple one but it cuts right to the truth as any artist knows it to be. Art, whatever medium in which it takes place in, comes far before thought. It is that reaction, that feeling that hits you before your brain even begins to fully process what you are seeing that is the engine of art.

It is the feeling that bring on real thought afterwards. Allan artist can hope for their work.

I like seeing it put that way. And Mr. Evans certainly trafficked in feelings as the artist and joyous sensualist he was.

Here are just a tiny bit of his works.

 

Digital Photo File Name:DP264548.TIF
Online Publications Edited By Michelle Ma for TOAH 11_23_15

 

 

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I never made a person look bad. They do that themselves.

-August Sander

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I came across a video this morning that I want to share. It is a PBS produced film called What This Photo Doesn’t Show and delves into the backstory and meaning of the photo shown here, Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, taken by the German photographer August Sander in 1914.

It’s an a provocative photo, one that provides plenty of material for one to create narratives in their imagination. So, to learn more about the young men and the story behind the photo adds an additional layer of interest.

August Sander (1876-1964) was considered the most important German photographer of the of the early 20th century. Sander was widely recognized for a collection of portfolios of his portraits taken over a couple of decades. Titled People of the 20th Century, it contained hundreds of his photos that documented a wide spectrum of the German people of that era, from the working classes to the more privileged classes to the homeless and forsaken.

He also produced a book in 1929, Face of Our Time, that contained a group of 60 of these portraits. Under the Nazi regime a few years later, this book was banned and the printing plates for it destroyed. He was allowed to continue working as a photographer but kept under the radar. His son, as a Socialist, was sentenced to ten years in a German prison, where he died in 1944, near the end of his sentence.

That same year, 1944, a bombing raid destroyed Sander’s studio, destroying many of his negatives. Two years later, an accidental fire destroyed the remaining archived negatives of his work. It was said there were around 40,000 negatives at that time. Sander basically stopped working as a photographer at that time until his death in 1964.

The August Sander Archive, even with the great loss of the fires, contains about 5000 photos and 11,000 negatives.

If you have about 9 minutes, take a look at this video. I think you’ll find it interesting and informative.

 

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I don’t have much time but I wanted to share these images taken by the probe Voyager I way back in 1979. Hard to believe these are forty years old but I guess that’s a mere eyeblink in astronomical time. These are of the Great Red Spot on the planet Jupiter  with the one at the top having Europa, a moon of Jupiter, in front of it.

The bottom is a little more detailed view of the Great Red Spot. I wish I had the ability to paint in the way this image comes off. Whenever I stumble across these images, I am astounded at their abstract beauty.

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Want to keep it short this morning as I want to get right to work on a piece that is on the easel. And that desire to go right to the brushes is a good thing, an indicator that a groove is coming.

So, for this Sunday morning here are a couple of noir-ish photos to accompany one of  my favorite songs, Stolen Car, from the 1980 album ,The River, from Bruce Springsteen. The mood of this song, especially within its organ and piano lines, always moves me.

Good painting music.

Have a good Sunday…

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There is an exhibit currently hanging at the Rockwell Museum in Corning of photos from photographer Yousuf Karsh, who had an incredible ability to capture the essence of his subjects. Many of his shots of the celebrated figures of the 20th century are the best known images of those folks. I saw an exhibit of his work years ago and was really inspired by it. It played directly into a piece from my Exiles series at the time that I wrote about here back in 2008 that I am sharing again below.

The Karsh exhibit at the Rockwell Museum in Corning hangs until May 5.

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Blue GuitarThis is another of the paintings from the Exiles series, a piece titled Exiles: Blue Guitar. This was larger than the other paintings in the series and was the most intricate in design. It was the only piece to show a full body, more or less. The crimson sheets beneath the figure are certainly not typical of my work. Even the blue guitar was an anomaly. I think these things, in themselves, make this a distinctive painting and one that is perhaps the one piece I most regret letting go.

I remember painting this piece back in ’96 with great clarity. The face was based on a portrait of the Finnish composer Sibelius taken by Karshthe famed photographer. I had seen the photo at a wonderful and powerful exhibit of Karsh portraits at the MFA in Boston that knocked me out. Karsh had a knack for revealing the essence of his subjects in a single image.

I was immediately taken with the image of Sibelius’ face. It expressed bliss, but not joy. A painful bliss, perhaps an ecstasy tempered by the knowledge that the world is an imperfect one and that this moment of grace is a fleeting one, soon to be gone. It was exactly the expression I saw for my guitarist and one that I wanted the whole piece to convey.

This painting was the centerpiece of my first exhibit many years ago and remains vividly in my memory. Eventually, I went back in and darkened the background which made the guitarist pop even more. But the images of that change have been lost over the years which I greatly regret. This piece sold years ago and I now have no idea of where this painting ended up. I hope that whoever possesses this piece appreciates all that it represents and gives this sad, blissful guitarist a bit of attention now and then.

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Note: The opening for the for the 25th Anniversary exhibit at the Principle Gallery is next Friday, February 22. I mistakenly wrote here the other day that it was tonight because, well, I get confused and make mistakes sometimes. My apologies for any confusion. Hope you can make it to the show next week!

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Just a bit chilly this morning. Another -9 or -10° beginning to the day. The only consolation comes in knowing that it could be worse, like it is for some folks out in the Midwest. Everything seems to take longer in the cold so it has me running a little late. Thought it might be a good morning to run a post from a few years  back concerning the photography(painting?) of Teun Hocks. Take a look and if you’re in the colder regions, stay warm

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I came across these photos by Dutch artist Teun Hocks  (b. 1947) which reminded me very much of the work of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, which I have featured here twice before.  Actually, it was on this same day last year that I last featured them– perhaps I am looking for an alternate reality on this date as opposed to trying to relive in some way that morning twelve years ago [this post originally ran on September 11, 2013].  The ParkeHarrisons create elaborate but real backdrops against which they photograph their Everyman in allegorical scenes– there is no digital manipulation.  It is more like the worlds created in the earliest days of cinema when what was seen had to made real in some way, even the most fantastic scenes.

Teun Hooks Untitled- Man on IceTeun Hocks works in very much the same vein except that he creates a painted backdrop against which he photographs himself as the sometimes comical but deadpan Everyman.   Think Buster Keaton here.  He then creates oversize  gelatin silver prints on which he paints in oils, treating his original photo as an underpainting.  The result is a beautiful image with a painterly feel that is  imbued with both humor and pathos.  You can’t but help feel some sort of connection with Hooks’ character as he faces a sometimes puzzling reality.  Don’t we all?

I’m showing just a handful of the work of this prolific artist here as well as a YouTube video showing a larger group.  Hope you’ll enjoy this on this day.

Teun Hocks

Teun Hocks Baggage

Teun Hocks Untitled-Man Sleeping with Weight

Teun Hocks CrossroadsTeun Hocks Prairie

Teun Hocks Music

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