Archives for category: Photo/Art Resources

It was funny for me to read Joerg Colberg’s recent post on blogs,  I myself have had a half-hearted post about the state of blogs lingering as an unfinished draft for some time. But not surprisingly with my current life, I never got around to posting it. My general feeling about photo blogs has been a bit negative lately–that is not against other people’s blogs, but towards the overly insular and self-contained universe that it created. While I think some incredible things came out of it, and I have made some real friendships, ultimately it was not satisfying the true need I had to be more engaged in the photo process with my peers. In fact, it started to feel like an impediment to my own creative process. The amount of energy and time that was going into Ground Glass, was sucking me a little dry–leaving very little time or energy to make pictures.

However after my recent experience of having a meaningful, engaged dialog with my peers in person, I left re-energized and brimming with ideas. In a way, not blogging has helped me finally really edit of my Singular Beauty work, it gave me time to finish my book and actually start sending out my mock-up, and it gave me time to make room for a new project. So as much as I loved blogging, I realized for me right now, I had to choose. And paying my bills and my own photo work has to come first. Followed by Women in Photography. There is not a whole lot left over after that. I wish I could be super woman, but sadly I am not.

But at the Young Curators New Ideas, II opening, I got into a conversation with two woman who are still actively blogging. I will admit I was a bit negative about the entire “blogoshpere,” but the next day I got a google alert and went to PalmAire, (WIPNYC artist) Tema Stauffer’s blog and realized that is it me that is currently experiencing blog exhaustion. Both Tema, and Tethered’s, Elizabeth Fleming, have really engaging, personal and intelligent posts. And other blog’s, like Horses Think, and Nina Corvallo’s blog, and others, have continued to be really great reads. I think at the heart of the blog, is the personal voice. For me, blogs that stay like personal online diaries, and have an certain intimacy and that focus on sharing information about a subject they truly love, work best. When blogs move into the professional media territory, they start to lose a bit of soul.

Once blogs become “professionalized,” to me they are less interesting. The internet is the great equalizer, it is a place where major news organizations compete with small individuals for market share and audience. Something that was impossible when you had to pay to publishing costs.  So I understand the temptation to step up your game, but there are so many blogs now from the mainstream press, why not keep the individual blog more personal and less concerned with blog stats.  Unless you want to become a mainstream media outlet, with advertising etc. Which, by the way, I am not against.

Yet blogs like PalmAire and Horses Think, remind of what a valuable part of the photo community a blog can be–and perhaps now that my first solo show is close to being completely framed and delivered to the gallery, I will again be drawn back to share some of the amazing things that have happened in the last few months. But until then, there are a lot of wonderful voices out there, you just need to find the ones you care enough to listen to.

Advertisements

While I know I have been not blogging very much the last 3 or 4 months, I have been immersed in my own work, in Women in Photography and in my day job. While I miss you all very much and the blog community, I have had so many great things happening I have decided to be ok with letting the blog go a bit until I can redefine its next incarnation.

But just so you know how I am spending my time here are two of the things I am happily immersed in.  More soon on my own work….

The loss of Polaroid has been pretty devastating to many photographers, it has had a big effect on my UV work, and I am still trying to figure out how to do it without type 54 or 55.  So when they said they were doing a piece on the loss of Polaroid at work, I was immediately excited to do something.

We put together an online gallery of the incredibly varied work made by photographer’s who use the instant film. And we asked them to tell us why they chose to work with Polaroid or what made it special. This meant that I got to speak to Chuck Close and David Levinthal about working with the 20×24 camera and email with Philp Lorca di Corcia.  Suffice to say, it was a fantastic experience.  You can see the gallery and read the quotes now on newsweek.com.

Picture 1

And today a new WIPNYC show went up with Lynne Cohen.  She has a new book out of all her color work, which is fantastic. This show is personally very exciting for me because Lynne is one of my favorite photographers.  I will never forget a few months into what would become Singular Beauty, my photo teacher Joel Sternfled, looked at my empty spa room and said, “I think you should look at Lynne Cohen.”  Of course after seeing her extraordinary work, I almost abandoned my entire project.  But after some time and thought, her work made me realize how important conceptual framework is to a body of work, and I also began to see how despite the similar subject matter, how very different our approach and ultimate goals were.

If you have a chance check out her show here.

untitled-submarines

Lynne Cohen | Untitled (Submarines)


Panel Discussion at the New York Photo Festival

Brooklyn, New York

Artist-Publisher:
Mass Produced for Mass Dissemination
Panel Discussion

Thursday, May 14, 2009
5:00 pm

FREE with Festival Admission

New York Photo Festival
St. Ann’s Warehouse
38 Water Street
Brooklyn, New York
(718) 254-8779

The panel discussion series, Aperture Presents, premiers with acclaimed NYPH08 curator and Aperture publisher, Lesley A. Martin, moderating the discussion Artist-Publisher: Mass Produced for Mass Dissemination. Participants will include Jason Fulford and Leanne Shapton (J&L Books); Richard Renaldi (Charles Lane Press); and others to be announced.

Photographer Jacob Holdt Friday, May 15, at 3PM.

St Ann’s Warehouse.

We are pleased to announce the participation of the following artists in the ”New Documentations” Special Screening scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 16th at 8pm, in St. Ann’s Warehouse during the upcoming New York Photo Festival 2009.  Many of the artists will be in attendance and will participate in a Q&A immediately following the screening.  There will also be a panel discussion on Sunday, May 17th at 2pm, entitled ”New Documentations”, featuring many of the same artists.  Tickets required.

Participating Artists in the “New Documentations” Special Screening are:

Dawoud Bey

Jodie Bieber

Edward Burtynsky

Elinor Carucci

Lauren Greenfield

Robert Hornstra

Pieter Hugo

Ed Kashi

Gerd Ludwig

Joshua Lutz

Jehad Nga

Eugene Richards

Paul Shambroom

Alessandra Sanguinetti

Mikhael Subotsky

Donald Weber

A Special MediaStorm Presentation of “Driftless: Stories from Iowa” by Danny Wilcox-Frazier

and…

A Special Presentation by the W. Eugene Smith Fund

Brian Ulrich had an excellent post recently on why photographers are not recording the the current economic crisis.  His post has generated 47 comments so far and it seems to have struck a nerve.  I find it interesting that on one hand there is a debate raging over whether we should incorporate unfolding current events into our work, and on the other, the Andrew Kreps Gallery current exhibition To Be Determined–focuses on work that deals directly with the medium of photography. While several of these artists I individually admire, collectively, at this moment, having a show about photography, does seem out of step.  Time Out New York said this:

The cerebral queries posed here spring from pioneering 20th-century photographers (Moholy-Nagy, James Welling, Richard Prince), but fail to break any new ground themselves. One has to hope that this current generation of photographers will ultimately choose to define itself by means other than a few tired lines of inquiry. What form those fresh ideas might take is clearly still, as the title of the exhibition suggests, to be determined.

Ouch!  This genre of work has been championed by Blind Spot, which coincidentally is hosting an event for this show this week.   In the last 5 to 7 years, this type of work has dominated–one name says it all–Roe Ethridge (however, the Soth-style {aka Sternfeld/Shore/Myerwitz} of portrait-scape has also been a force, but it has focused more on the set-up Crewdson stylistic version, which is also less content driven.)

In an age of cultural complacency, during which we elected GW twice, and few of us took to the streets to protest, Iraq, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, or the dramatic and rapid disparity which expanded between the rich & the poor, work that doubles back on itself and shied away from engagement with the world made sense. But we are in a new era, and maybe Brian’s battle cry, which is being sounded by many major art critics in slightly different terms, has something to it.  As artists, it is our responsibility to be continuously questioning what makes a photograph art, especially in a world not only filled with copious amounts of commercial and amateur imagery but that is also overflowing with fine-art photography.  It is important I think at this moment to pause and question, what is more important–making a photograph that will be deemed “art” or making a photograph that can be powerful and that affect how people view the world.  Will post-post modernism mean that we can re-unite these concepts?

Many photographers currently worry about getting stuck in the “photo ghetto.”  Meaning once your work is represented by a photo gallery, you are stuck as ‘just a photographer.’  The insinuation being that you will be considered ‘less of an artist.’  Photography still hovers in a strange place in the art world.  If your work is photo-based, it is a good way to differentiate yourself from the rank & file.  However, if this is done merely as a way to get ahead in the art market, most likely the result will be all surface.  The best work centering on the photographic process, often incorporates multiples levels of engagement.  For instance Penelope Umbrico’s appropriation work , not only plays with authorship, it includes complex cultural critique, and an exploration of human desire.

With all this ruminating in my mind, I came across these photos on National Geographic.com of an 1908 National Geographic article on the survey of Alaska.  What I like about them, is that they remind me of the incredible power of the photograph to transcend its original purpose.  These images were taken to record a scientific exhibition, yet 100 years later, they could just as easily be a meditation on the landscape genre.  Grainy, muted and strange, they are quite beautiful.  Sometimes, perhaps we try so hard to imbue meaning and concept into our photographs that we actually close down this process, and in fact make them more empty.  There is a fine line between too much content and too much concept.

untitled1

Radcliffe Hordern

untitled2

untitled3

untitled5

Photographs by E. R. Martin



3c29107upreview

Dorothea Lange | Shorpy photo archive

The art world is a-twitter with stories about the possible resurrection of the depression-era public arts project, the WPA.  The program resulted in some of America’s finest photography. However, according to the blog post below, some Congressman do not think “artist” is a job, and therefore they should not benefit from the stimulus package.

What I find so interesting is the the recent Holland Cotter NYtimes article accused the art world of being overly commercialized and seemed to suggest that “artist” had become too much of a job.  Hmmmm….. where does that actually leave us?  Maybe if there was support for artists, they would stop making over-produced commercialized work, designed to sell and you know, pay their rent.

From the blog: The Artful Manager

Do arts jobs count as jobs? Scott Lilly at the Center for American Progress floats a timely reminder to the good folks in Congress currently bristling about the stimulus package: arts jobs are jobs, regardless of your opinion of what they produce. He quotes Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) remarks when complaining about the NEA funding (now removed) from the bill:

“We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that’s going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous.”

Which suggests, of course, that artists, cultural managers, stagehands, gallery staff, technicians, costume designers, and anybody else involved in artistic pursuits aren’t actually working, or earning a paycheck, or supporting their families, or any of the other productive things road workers might do. Or, to put it more bluntly, arts workers are not ”real people.”

It’s perfectly fair to challenge the ”stimulus potential” of any line item in the massive bill. And there are legitimate arguments to be made that one form of spending or incentive works more quickly, more effectively, more efficiently than another. But this particular line of attack, suggesting that the arts don’t involve people doing jobs, is staggering in its ignorance.

Before we go railing off on conservative politicians, however, we might look for the same bias and blindness among ourselves. I was at a conference panel recently, for example, in which an architect from a well-respected firm with extensive cultural facility projects to their credit made an astounding admission: up until their most recent project, that involved direct discussion with a wide range of practitioners, they hadn’t thought of a cultural facility as a workplace. A performance/display space, an audience chamber, and a public venue, to be sure. Even an administrative office tucked away in the back. But the entire building as a daily workplace for professionals and tradespeople? A novel idea.

Perhaps that explains why so many cultural facilities have spaces that can’t be cleaned, lightbulbs that can’t be changed without massive machinery, and offices and common spaces that cramp and confound the folks who come to work there every day. Somewhere between our lofty rhetoric about the power of the arts, and our mechanical arguments about social and civic benefits, there seems to be a disconnect in our message. The arts are people. They don’t just serve people or help people, they are people. It’s astounding that anyone would understand otherwise.

Today on my morning subway commute, I noticed some EMT workers walking past me with all their gear.  I did not pay too much attention, I was in a hurry to get to work, however as I got to the other end of the platform, I was met with the overpowering smell of bleach.  I looked down and discovered an MTA worker moping up a red substance.  It took my brain a split second to process that for the first time in my entire NYC subway travels, (10 years and counting,) I was seeing blood getting wiped away.

This this might not seem very dramatic to some,  NYC is a big city and certainly stuff does happen here – and in this particular occurrence, with no sign of police on the scene, I assume the blood was not the result of an act of violence. But it spooked me nonetheless, especially considering just last week on the same platform, I watched a man escape from the clutches of a transit cop, and handcuffed, jump down onto the R/W track and disappear.  He was soon  followed by about 10 bewildered looking cops.  The escape managed to shut down the entire N/S subway traffic for a good 20 minutes.  In my 10 years of subway riding I have seen some strange things, but in Giuliani & post-Giuliani NYC, this level of mayhem is rare. But I have noticed a chance since the collapse of Wall Street this fall, things are no longer just frayed around the edges, but starting unravel.

In the past 2 months, I personally have had several rather intense and fraught encounters.   And several people have told me stories, that have really made me question if we are on the verge of a collective breakdown.  One story, involved a person leaving an incredibly hostile, threatening phone call,  fueled by professional jealousy.  The anonymous caller felt the need to tell her, she was ugly and other choice expletives, which no matter how much you may dislike a person, are never appropriate to use.  Another friend had someone take the time to send them an email, basically just to tell them that they thought their photography sucked. This person did not even remove their name from the email.  Another person received an email that was an angry, three  paragraph tirade, and by anger, I mean personal, venomous, attack.  What is going on people!!!!!  When did this type of behavior become acceptable?  I cannot ever remember so many negative, random acts of hostility.  However, considering the current economic horror show, I am not surprised.

To me, one the first priority’s of the Obama administration should be to institute a qualified non-political commission to investigate the incredible malfeasance in Wall Street and in banking which has led to this global recession/depression. Because as much as we should focus on recovery, most people are suffering from feelings of incredible anger, and a sense that they are powerless to do anything about it.  When you read that the wives of  mega hedgefunds managers, CEO’s & investment bankers, are struggling to make do with their housekeepers coming 5 days a week instead of seven, or buying one pair of $700 Manolo’s, instead of three, it is hard to not want to burn down the whole of Greenwich, CT. Perhaps this is why so many people are acting out on strangers.  Someone must take the brunt of our collective anxiety, fear & anger.  Of course, these feelings are destructive and the exact opposite of what will help to lift us out of this economic disaster.  I think most of us, would feel a lot better, if we considered pooling our resources and supporting each other to survive this period of instability.

The art world has been particularly affected by the economic crisis.  One could easily argue, that when a roof over ones head & food on the table become issues, art tends to drop down on list of importance. But abandoning art and artists at this moment, could have a profound effect on how we interpret and think about this moment in culture. So now more than ever, it seems crucial that the art world pull together to make it through the storm.

On great example of this is the the Humble Arts Foundation. They just released their Collectors Guide, which they are in the process of distributing to the art industry and collectors.  (full disclosure my work is featured in the guide.) And while artists did pay a fee, once they were chosen to be included, it was modest, and was paid in two installments.  Humble footed almost the entire production bill themselves.  And by distributing the guide in the art world, they are giving every artist in the book incredible exposure.  Now, they very easily could have used the guide as a way to make money for the foundation, but they are choosing to use it as a tool to showcase artists, just like their group & solo shows do.

What impresses me most about this choice is that we are all in extremely difficult positions.  Gallery owners have incredible overhead to meet, artists have fewer outlets and opportunities, and non-profit’s donations are drying up.  So if there has ever been time to consider how we can work together, this is it.  If not, when this crisis is over, there will be dramatically fewer players left on the field.  Some may argue that this is a good thing, but keep in mind, that fewer galleries, museums and organizations mean fewer opportunities for artists.  And while yes, the art market has been over-hyped, over-saturated and over-indulged for sometime, leaving it to starve to death now, is no panacea.

So if you find yourself feeling like venting, take a few moments and consider what you could bring to the table rather than what you can knock off of it.


I just came across this exhibit, opening tomorrow.  As a car has just come into my life temporarily for the next few weeks, I am going to plan a day trip.  Because, if we go, they will give us more….

4010480

Kiki Smith, Getting the Bird Out , 1992

GREAT WOMEN ARTISTS: FEMINIST ART FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION

In her epochal essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (1971), feminist art historian Linda Nochlin explained that myriad historical circumstances, principally lack of access to training, exhibitions, commissions and critical forums—not genetics—had limited women’s artistic achievement.As these circumstances changed rapidly in the period after World War II, so did the relative prominence of women in the ranks of the most progressive and visible artists in the West.

This permanent collection exhibition, organized as a contemporary complement to Hannah Wilke: Gestures, surveys work by some of the most influential artists of the last four decades who drew on the insights of critical feminisms to advance artistic practice, in part by addressing precisely those social, political and economic factors that have supported and continue to support gender-based discrimination.

Among those represented are Jo Baer, Lynda Benglis, Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Patty Chang, Chryssa, Patricia Cronin, Agnes Denes, Ilse Getz, Nancy Graves, Eva Hesse, Deborah Kass, Loren MacIver, Marisol, Elizabeth Murray, Catherine Opie, Beverly Pepper, Judy Pfaff, Adrian Piper, Niki de Saint Phalle, Howardena Pindell, Anne Ryan, Carolee Schneeman, Collier Schorr,  Beverly Semmes, Judith Shea, Kiki Smith, Joan Snyder, Jessica Stockholder, Kay Walkingstick, Hannah Wilke, and Daisy Youngblood.


Great Women Artists is on view November 23, 2008- February 22, 2009.
Support is provided by Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management Office of Diversity.
The exhibition is curated by Thom Collins, Director with Camilla Cook, Curatorial Fellow, Purchase College.

Neuberger Museum of Art
Purchase College
State University of New York
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577-1400

914-251-6100 Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
914-251-6117 Saturday – Sunday, 12 noon – 5 pm

LOCATED

10 minutes from White Plains, NY
10 minutes from Greenwich, CT
45 minutes from mid-town Manhattan

OPEN

Tuesday – Sunday, 12 – 5 pm

With the start of New York’s first photo festival, I got to thinking about the evolution of the ‘photo blog.’ Last night’s Tim Barber Tiny Vices show, featured several of the blog world’s mainstay’s and during the evening’s events for the first time I met people who knew me because they read Ground Glass. It was a pretty amazing experience. Afterward, a bunch of us went out to eat. Looking around the table, I thought what a diverse and talented group of people. But more interesting is how we had come together. Amy Elkins, Ofer Wolberger, Amy Stein, Amani Olu, Jon Feinstein, Will Steacy, and Corey Arnold are all bloggers, or are involved in the internet photo community. While some of us know each other from other places, many people met last night for the first time, but knew each other from online.

Then there is Andrew Hetherington, I have been telling him for months he is the Walter Winchell (inventor of gossip column and most important man in radio part) of the photo world. Now he is working for Foto 8 magazine covering the festival. Andrew is a great writer and his sarcastic Irish wit makes his blog one of my daily reads. He really has carved out a unique place for himself in the blogoshpere. The festival itself, includes a presentation by i heart photograph’s Laurel Ptak tomorrow at 5pm with Tim Barber. The fact that both Magnum & Aperture have blogs goes to show how important the form has become. Several blogging artist’s have already proven that they can blog and have successful art careers, Alec Soth, Christen Patterson, Brian Ulrich, Shen Wei, Amy Stein and others. Not to mention, blogging gallery star Jen Bekman, also in the curating 2.0 event. Joshua Lutz has work at the Tierney Foundation show, and has his first solo show at Clampart Gallery in September.

What does all of this mean? I have no idea, but I have met some great people and I am enjoying the ride. Perhaps the next great “photo movement” is not about a particular style or conceptual agenda, but about how artists communicate and share their work. All of the big movements in the past happened when loose groups of photographers formed and shared ideas and work. The WPA project, the Dusseldorf School, Szarkowski’s heyday at the Modern, 291, Yale’s MFA program in the 90’s. It is only a thought, but there is an awful lot going on these days online. Blogs are in a way replacing the underground art scene that made New York so vibrant in the past. NYC rents have made that world a memory, but you can take a chance on an emerging artist online. You can also build an audience. Without a support system, you cannot sustain an art career.

Speaking of which, we now have our site up for Women in Photography. The correct submission info is there and the first show goes up June 2nd – so stay tuned!

And if you are in the mood for something that reminds you of how the world functioned before computers, when we actually had to think and take time to do things in a very different way, there is a great show that opened last night at Cohen Amador Gallery. Japanese photographer, Masao Mochizuki’s strange, otherworldly images of television from the 1970’s look both modern and from a time that never existed. What took him hours of precise and methodical shooting, could now be done in ten minutes with photoshop, but I imagine would have none of the charm. If you are looking for a respite from the chaos of NYPF, it is just the spot.

Cohen Amador

41 E 57th St 6th Fl

If I had to pick the two most dominant influences in fine-art photography for the last 20 years, I would have to go with Stephen Shore & The Bechers. The legacy of Uncommon Places continues to have a dominant effect on how photographers view the world. Shore’s images abandoned the traditional understanding of a photograph’s subject matter, instead he focused on the psychological reasons, HE, the photographer selected it. Shore’s work to me has always been associated with the late 70’s early 80’s societal shift to a more the personal, individual centric view of human experience. His eye became the means to reflect the cultural landscape. Uncommon Places is very much of his time, but it continues to be a model of how to make pictures. His visual language, is easy to spot in a huge portion of modern photography,

Stephen Shore

The Becher’s typology is arguably one of the most important developments in the history of photography. The photograph was and is so often used to classify and record information. In medicine, criminology and astronomy, the photographic image is proof that something happened or it is used as a means of comparison. Their grain silos and exploration of the post-industrial revolution world created an entirely new conceptual framework for the fine-art photograph. No longer was is it about recording a moment of beauty, or a emotional human experience, but to document a world, where the cold, ugly and mammoth blight of human technology had taken over the landscape. The typology form became an almost ubiquitous conceptual tool. Certainly the artists of Dusseldorf school have led the way in co-opting, transforming and re-imagining the typology. But if you head to a gallery in Chelsea right now, you will be hard pressed to find a body of work that does not have some sort of typological reference.

Becher Grain Silo\'s

Thomas Ruff

Candida Hofer

Candida Hofer

Candida Hofer

I love the way Nicholas Nixon uses typology in his sisters project. We are all accustomed to seeing images of children as they grow up. There is usually a record of our parent’s love, starting with our baby book and on to our college graduation photos. But it is rare to see that method used to record the love a husband has for his wife, which includes her family. I imagine being married to a women who has three sisters can be perilous, female politics are complicated. But what I love about those images, is the closeness visible in the sisters relationships – they have such a strong presence. Nixon’s photographs seem almost jealous. One of the expectations of a marriage is that husband & wife become closer to each other than anyone else. The ‘us versus them’ phenomenon, but Nixon has to compete with his wife’s three sisters. The yearly photograph becomes a testament not only to Nixon’s love for his wife, but also of the many ways in which families form and interact with each other.

Nicholas Nixon

Nicholas Nixon

Martina Mullaney

Martina Mullaney

While there are many great bodies of work employing this method, there is also a lot of crap. Let’s be honest, for people who have no real conceptual thinking in their work, the typology can become an easy trick. It gives work the illusion of cohesion and intellectual rigor. When I began my Cosmetic Surgery project, I did not set out to make a typology. For a long time my images were much more documentary in style. I was more interested in reacting to each situation and object as I found it. But as I delved deeper into the work, I started to see that there was a frightening similarity in the tone and the nature of these offices. It was as if you go to an office as an individual and come out as an archetype. Or as the specific doctor’s archetype. We as a culture are choosing to use technology to improve our bodies. And at the same time moving toward a rigid standard of beauty. One of our societies primary life goals is to achieve supremacy over our bodies. Whether using exercise, diet, surgery, make-up, clothes or pharmacology, or even full body tattoo’s and body mortification, we want to control our exteriors. Eventually I stated to borrow the Becher’s visual language. Although I do not consider my work a ‘typology’ project, but rather that I am using an existing framework, and building something new on top of it. As a side note, there is a very interesting article in this week’s New Yorker on the man often credited for creating this standard, retoucher Pascal Dangin from Box Studios. The fact that the New Yorker did such a long feature on him which included quotes, by Charlotte Cotton & Philip Lorca di Corcia is testament to his influence in the current visual lexicon.

Cara Phillips

Cara Philips

Cara Phillips

Cara Phillips

Recently, I came across a book at a bookstore in Brooklyn, which is a collaboration between a Rotterdam-based photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek, that is one of the best straight typology projects I have seen in a long time. When it is used correctly it can be a very effective tool for an artist. There is always the danger in using it for portraits, it can be very reductive and dehumanizing. But if your work is about these topics, it works very effectively.

I love the titles of some of these groupings: Grannies, Leathermen, Yupster Boys Preppies, Fans etc. There is something very commercial about these images, which for me only adds to their effectiveness. The ways in which modern commerce shapes our notions of human identity is profound. Somewhere along the way, Madison Ave figured out people like to feel a sense of belonging. Ultimately we are pack animals. The modern world is made up of new forms of communities (facebook, myspace, blogging, online dating, city dwelling…) that have changed the nature of human interaction. But we can affiliate ourselves with brand identities. We are Mac people, or Converse, or Addias, or Ralph Lauren, or LL Bean and on and on. Also, when I look at these groups I find myself automatically assigning lifestyle and personality traits to them. The raincoats of the Grannies, bring to mind an entire set of ideas about elderly ladies, I can almost smell the powdery scent I associate with that world. We obviously make assumptions about people and often make decisions about them based on these cultural cues. It certainly makes you want to reconsider some of your own wardrobe choices. The typology is definitely over-used in fine-art photography, but more importantly it is too pervasive in our culture.

Joerg Colberg sent me a link to the NY Times article on Gallerina’s the other day. He was interested to know if I shared his anger at the rather condescending and sexist attitude of the piece. We had a lively email debate, in which he basically called me out:

It’s one thing to see reality as it is, but then it’s quite another thing to
make an effort to change it. If all women merely shrug off this
article and think “Well, this is just the way it is” things are
obviously not going to change. But if just two or three female
bloggers got together and published an “enough is enough” post on
their blogs about how this is ridiculous and offensive, that would be
quite interesting.
I mean it’s nice to have discussions about women in art (just like
the one you participated in the other day), but it seems they don’t
really translate into much outside of the debating halls. I don’t mean
to argue there should be no such debates, but there also has to be a
debate about stuff like that posted in the NYT.

I wanted to take a few days to think about Joerg’s point, do we as women make it worse by accepting this type of portrayal? The Times article seemed to attempt to defend the behavior of these women. The writer went out of their way to mention how educated these women were, and that they are often harassed by drunk men at openings. But there was definitely a underlying condescension in the tone. “She really is so very busy — e-mailing jpegs of artwork to collectors, writing news releases, updating a gallery’s inventory or simply ordering lunch for the staff.” In reality there is no excuse for their attitudes, but the article presented them as just another decorative object in the galleries. I have had my share of bad experiences with so called Gallerinas. A few years ago I attempted to purchase Peter Hujar’s monograph at his show at Matthew Marks. It was a Saturday and pretty slow, but the girl behind the desk was so dismissive, so clearly annoyed and so downright rude, that I finally had to ask “You do SELL books here, correct?” It was quite traumatizing to hand over money to someone who made me feel like the person who can only afford the book, not a print. From that moment on I have avoided them like the plaque. I see no reason to subject myself to their disdain.

But as an artist who hopes to show work in a gallery in Chelsea, how do I feel about people coming to see my work and being treated like that? It is very dismaying. If my work were shown, I would hope that they would be happy to answer questions and offer information, because they become an extension of you when they sit out there. But let’s be honest, how warm and fuzzy is most of the art world. Do curators, gallery owners or editors treat artists much better, not until you make them a lot of money. And if they are that rude to you, my guess is that they treat the $8 to $10 dollar an hour desk workers pretty badly, male or female. And so we get to the heart of the issue for women. Often, because women are in a position that make them feel devalued, they turn their rage on others. When you are in a position of dependence, you feel powerless to defend yourself. If you need a paycheck or the patronage of your employer how do you tell them to treat you fairly? But, as Joerg pointed out as long as we keep taking it, we will keep getting it. One thing we can do is to band together. If women had the same kind of strong networking skills as men, perhaps we would not always feel so desperate. I have noticed that my boyfriend and his male friends and co-workers often help each other get jobs, pass on information and do gratis design work for each other. I have never known a women to do this. We may offer information, but how often to we pick up the phone for someone and say, “hey, you should check out my friends work.” However, several men have done that for me.

So what’s wrong here? Why do women continue to keep each other down, or allow themselves to be objectified like the Gallerina’s? I think that from a very young age, women learn that their looks are their number one asset. They become so used to focusing on their external as the means to success, that they lose sight of the importance of their other assets. Most of us are unconscious of this, we probably never think of ourselves like that. But I know that I worry more about what I am going to wear to things, then anything else. Because even if I want to fight it, part of me knows that I will be judged first on that. Especially if I am meeting with a women. One of the most disappointing examples of this from my own life, was when a certain female photographer came to guest crit my photo class from one of the top MFA programs. She immediately started ripping my work to shreds, primarily the technique aspects. In my attempt to defend the work, I started to take about the nature of the glossy print, when she interrupted me to say in front of the class, “The glossy prints are not the problem, and besides they match your lip gloss.” That was the single most disheartening moment for me, because in one sentence she pretty much told me I was just a ‘face.’ Meaning that I should use my looks or would succeed because of them. Now as someone who spent most of their life feeling like an object, because of my past, she was trying to take away the first thing I had found that I could do that was not about what I looked like. Being behind the camera is the only place where what I look like does not matter. But in reality, it is very hard to escape these cultural assumptions. To me the worst part of the Times article was hearing Yancy Richardson, say that there was nothing wrong with looking for a pretty face to put out front.

Yancey Richardson, the owner of an eponymous Chelsea art gallery, notes that she employs front desk assistants who can answer questions from the public and clients, and also attack a rigorous list of tasks. “You can’t just hire people who are decorative,” she said, “but you can find someone with all those necessary skills and who is beautiful.”

Ms Richardson is one of the few female gallery owners, and who also prominently showcases female artists. Of all people I would hope that she would know better. What is a young woman who hopes to break into the gallery world supposed to think when she reads that. That no matter how hard she studies or no matter how capable she is, if she’s not attractive she will not have a chance. People wonder why breast implants are now one of the number one high school graduation gifts? Instead of burning our bras, we now fill them with silicone fantasies. Are we not telling young women, that not only do they need Master degrees, top grades, they also need to be sexually and physically attractive if they hope to make it in our society. And the fact that powerful women are re-enforcing these ideas is to me the most appalling.

So yes, Joerg’s call to fight against these ideas is necessary. How to do it, is another matter. We as women have to decide how we can change things. But I think most of us feel so much anxiety about our own talent, looks, bodies, personalities, it is difficult to find the energy to do it. I feel that I can only be different in my own life. I can decide to help my fellow female artist, I can work to be free of the self-hating brought on by our beauty culture, and most importantly I can make art that forces people to confront these issues. I will perhaps leave it to Joerg, to write more on this subject. I think we need more people like him, who are not afraid to get angry, and who are not too jaded to think nothing will ever change.

And I hope that Julie Saul, Yancy Richardson, Marianne Boesky, Bonni Benrubi, Elizabeth Dee, Rivington Arms, Becky Smith, Andrea Meislin, Deborah Bell, Paula Cooper, Margaret Murry, Janice Guy, Roxanna Marcoci, Robin Rice, Jen Bekman, and all the other women who have power and authority in the art world take heed, we need to be on the same team. That does not mean giving special treatment to female artists and employee’s, but being willing to examine your own culpability in this debate. Ask yourself if you are treating women the same sexist attitude of your male counterparts, and if so, why? I am sure it is not easy to be a female gallery owner, I have heard many times, “So in so only has a gallery because her rich daddy gave her the money.” Have you ever heard that said about a male gallery owner?

And as for us female artists and people in general, I will borrow the advice of the Gureilla Girls:

Boston, Mass.: Now that we’ve heard what you have to say, how can we help? What’s the best way to stop our national museums from being so racist and sexist? Write letters? It seems so … banal.

Guerrilla Girl Frida Kahlo: Complain, complain, complain! But do it creatively. Shame and ridicule are powerful weapons in the art world. And don’t forget to have fun in the process. Your laughter disarms the powers-that-be.

And ladies, start buying art? Because once you are a force in the world of collectors, galleries will take note!

One of my favorite biographies of a photographer is Sue Davidson Lowe’s, Stieglitz: A Memoir. It really captures of one the great love stories of modern photography. Not the one between Alfred Steglitz and Gerogia O’Keefe, but the one between Stieglitz and Paul Strand. Strand, after studying with Lewis Hine found his way to Stieglitz as a young photographer. During the review of his work, Stieglitz gave him suggestions on his form and technique, which spurred Strand on to create the style which made him famous. Strand was a 291 favorite, Stieglitz gave him his first solo show there, and regularly published his photographs in Camera Work. But as the years went on, Strand’s success grew and a natural competition developed between the two men. Eventually differences in their ideas about photography, politics, and some wife swapping, destroyed their relationship.

The student teacher relationship no matter how fruitful is always complex. It is natural to go through a period of adolescent rebellion and disavow your mentor. Sometimes it is only subconscious tension, or in the case of Strand and Stieglitz a total break up. Or as I mentioned about Alec Soth in my post yesterday, perhaps only to want to be judged on your own work, not always in relation to your teacher. It is necessary to shift to developing your own thoughts and ideas about your work, if not you never find your individual voice as an artist. But you always have an imaginary creative umbilical cord to your mentor. Joel has only ever had good things to say about Alec, and I know that they have a great relationship (which Alec himself spoke of in a lovely email to me yesterday.). I think that it is rare to find someone who can help you find something within yourself that you perhaps did not know existed. And when you find it, although is may have some pitfalls, what you gain is invaluable. I am glad that so many people enjoyed Joel’s article and my post and I would love to hear stories from other people about their mentor experiences.

I get many art related email’s, announcing shows and art world events, etc. Sometimes there is a wonderful nugget to discover, or in the case of Humble Arts Group shows, usually just nice to see your peers work. But sometimes I actually read the gallery write-ups for shows and just wonder, huh? I often think if I were better at writing art-speak, I would be able to package my project as a super-conceptual take on painting, which seems to be the most popular thing right now. But I am just not that kind of person or artist. My photogrpahy is actually very much influenced by other artist’s and has great deal of conceptual thinking, but frankly I don’t think it is necessary to include all of that in my artist’s statement. I could be wrong, but I don’t think your work becomes complicated if you try to make it complicated with fancy words. If it’s in the images, its there, you should not have to add it after the fact. But of course the art world is very much about this sometimes. But for me, I want to go into a gallery and experience the art by LOOKING at it, not reading the little piece of paper at the door. If I like work, of course I am always interested to read the artist’s statement, but if I need to read it in order to understand what’s I am seeing, than it is a problem. There are shows, where after reading the statement, your experience or understanding is taken to a new level, but the best work often gets it’s conceptual punch from things that happen after it’s made. Every time I see August Sander’s portraits, I am taken in. On their own, you are drawn in to the way he captures the personality of each person, and they are so simple and beautiful. Then I start to think that these are the people, who some 30 years later, either stood by and did nothing, were killed, or participated in the Holocaust. How could any group of portraits ever say as much.

Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency is another example of work which operates like this . Those images are one of the most searing portraits of the dark side of human impulse and emotion ever made. They reflect her courage to reveal what was ugly inside of her and her friends. But the frailty and emotion in the images, which exists in all of us, even if our lives are very different, means that even if we know nothing about those images, we react. Of course most people, myself included, hate them on their first viewing, and gradually grow to see their beauty. And one only needs to turn on VH-1 to see the legacy of her work. Most young people probably have no idea, that exposing your body, sex life, drug, mommy/daddy problems or self hatred used to be a big no-no in American society. I am too young to know, but I imagine Nan’s pictures were incredibly shocking to mainstream America of her time. Now they are more tame than American Apparel ads.

Then there is Sally Mann. Her work is deeply process driven, and has been for a long time. But it’s the personal subject matter that people react to and that has made her famous.

But when I read stuff like this and then look at the images I am left feeling slightly sad about art photography.

Manuela-Marques, Untitled, 2007

Caroline Pagès Gallery
Lisbon
Manuela Marques :
Still Nox
17 Jan – 1 Mar 2008
Still Nox is the first gallery exhibition in Portugal for Paris-based Portuguese artist Manuela Marques. The large-scale photographs on show are part of a study process on contemporary reality and the clear proliferation of states of fragmentation. The captured images are ones of expectation and encourage a questioning from the viewer, an active and reflexive posture, because there is no clear revelation of objectives, but rather the apprehension of yet-to-be disclosed moments, of intervals. These are images that are based on their own ambiguity that suspend them in less perceptible time and space, where the difficulty in finding affinities and relationships beyond that moment in focus becomes evident. At the same time, these photographs possess the recognition of images and the interaction between them within a field of imagination common to the observer, which leaves the discursive possibilities about these images wide open. These are not photographs within the ambit of the instant, although they may reveal, by chance, certain casual condiments; they are, however, something that springs from a pretension and foresight that the artist defines for her work and that the considered overall static nature of the movements consolidates.
There is a distinct perceptive individuality in relation to what is photographed in the works of Manuela Marques. There is a sensation of a voluntary isolation in the choice of images that distinguishes the work and gives it a specific approach, extracting the maximum expression from a simple gesture. As such, the intimate nature of the images enters in full consonance, from capture to reception, while not avoiding the intrinsic tensions demonstrated to be an object of encouragement. What is more important than the material itself is examining how things and bodies of energy thrive on emotions and feelings and how they are dependent on them. The continuous exploitation of conciliatory elements as the permanence of a surrounding silence and the question of the light almost always applied in one register, one moment shadow the next naked brilliance, have also been an important mark that has distinguished her work.

Maybe it’s me, but when I looked at the images, I saw nothing from this statement. I do not mean to diminish her work, she has some very good images, but as a body of work about the above, huh?

I went to a show last night at Roebling Hall, which features a group of photographs by Rebecca Horne, which is a nice meditation on still-life painting but using items associated with the feminine. The show also included some amazing painting by Ray Smith. I can’t remember that last time I went into a gallery and thought wow, if I had some money I would buy one of these. Smith’s large scale painting’s on old door’s and plywood, mix drawing, stains, and house paint to fantastic results. The work had a really smart combination of art history, pop culture and exploration of materials, but all of that was secondary to how really appealing the paintings were. I find that a lot more exciting than looking at something that is trying too hard.

rsm-ballerina.jpg

picture-1.png

picture-2.png

Ray Smith

Well, thanks to another talented person who obviously hates their job or has nothing better to do, but I am always amazed at the stuff that finds it way onto the internet. Really, where do people find the time. I saw a conceptual art video that attempted to say the same thing using models and lots of bells and whistles at a show on beauty a couple years ago, and I actually think this you tube video does a better job of capturing the pervasiveness of the western beauty ideal. Yes a bit cheesy, but good heavens!

Today’s NY Times has a very interesting article on Richard Prince. Jim Kranz, a Midwestern ad photog, discusses his feelings about having his Marlboro ads lifted by the conceptual artist. While I can definitely sympathize with Mr. Krantz, if I walked into the Guggenheim and saw one of my photographs with someone elses name on , I would also freak, for lack of a better word. But I do understand Prince’s use of ad images. He is really lifting concepts from the American Media cannon, Mr. Krantz’s image is secondary. Also, because it was a commercial assignment, the original photographer has already been compensated for his work. What is more interesting to me, is that Mr. Prince’s work is actually outdated. When he was making his appropriated images, artist/photographer’s were not being hired to commerical assignments, and fashion photographer’s were not being heralded as artists. (See Art Basel & fashion article) So by borrowing from the commerical world at that time, Prince was not only saying something about American media culture, but about the nature of photography and what is means to be an art photographer. I think his work was very important, but now that the lines of art & commerce have blurred, and fine-art photographers are making so much money, perhaps his statement seems moot. I do not think that takes away from the accomplishment of his work, I just think it is hard to see it in the same context now. That is perhaps the danger of conceptual and really all art, the world changes, and if your work is very much of its time, how does it age? Prince is having his star moment in the art world, but it is happening when the statement is his work is less powerful. When he began, his ideas seemed radical, but now it is often difficult to distinguish between – art photographers, and commercial photographers. PL di Corcia has a contract with W Magazine. Taryn Simon, Collier Shorr and Elinor Carucci & Katherine Wolkoff are all repped by Art + Commerce agency. Molly Logan has started Fred & associates to rep fine-art photographers and she is very involved with Blind Spot Magazine. It seems that there are no longer any boundaries. Of course Walker Evans worked for Fortune Magazine, Steichen was a fashion photog and Diane Arbus started out shooting fashion. I think that the main difference is intent. Is your work being made to provoke or reflect culture, or is it begin made to sell something. Of course as the years go by, sometimes the commercial work begins to tell more about the culture then the art photo. This seems to be a time of transition for ‘art photography’ and perhaps that is why Prince is so much in the spotlight. His ideas about the blending of the two forms have come to fruition. I think what does remain most relevant in the Prince’s work is his statement on the commodification of art and exclusivity in ownership. Here is use of apropriation is still on target.

From the current Exhibit at the Guggenheim Spiritual America

Prince’s work has been among the most innovative art produced in the United States during the past 30 years. His deceptively simple act in 1977 of rephotographing advertising images and presenting them as his own ushered in an entirely new, critical approach to art-making—one that questioned notions of originality and the privileged status of the unique aesthetic object. Prince’s technique involves appropriation; he pilfers freely from the vast image bank of popular culture to create works that simultaneously embrace and critique a quintessentially American sensibility: the Marlboro Man, muscle cars, biker chicks, off-color jokes, gag cartoons, and pulp fiction. While previous examinations of his art have emphasized its central role as a catalyst for postmodernist criticism, the Guggenheim exhibition and its accompanying catalogue also focus on the work’s iconography and how it registers prevalent themes in our social landscape, including a fascination with rebellion, an obsession with fame, and a preoccupation with the tawdry and the illicit.

If you go to Mr. Krantz’s website, it is pretty clear that his ad work is very much about the iconography of the alpha American male. My guess it that he has profited quite a bit from his ability to create a certain kind of image. I am actually more afraid of what Mr. Krantz’s work say about our cuture, then what Richard Prince’s work reflects. This is of course not Mr. Krantz’s fault, it is a view into the heart of current American values.

Image of Mr. Krantz’s borrowed by Richard Prince

main_cowboy.jpg

Source Images

picture-2.jpg

picture-5.jpg

picture-3.jpg

picture-4.jpg

picture-1.jpg

Wow, Ronald is working off his Super Size meals, a good role model for McDonald’s customers.

 

 

I still find myself being fascinated by how the mediums of painting and photography co-mingle. Portraiture is where things really get interesting. I am drawn to photographic portraits that capture an expression on a person’s face or that seem to represent something about the subject’s personality. I like the idea of portraying the unique sensibilities of human beings. Of course their are many other types of photo portraits, but I like those in which I feel some connection with the subject. Painting ,with the advent of photography, largely abandoned portraits which attempted to realistically capture a person on the canvas. Now there seems to be a return to the painted portrait, but they are largely influenced by the photograph. Which makes for some very compelling work. I found this painter’s work recently, Frank Bauer, and it caught my attention. I quite like the nuance of the moment and the expression he has captured. The male gaze is largely absent from these images, the artist is giving these women a voice in the paintings. The history western painting does not have such a good record in the representation of women. Bauer has women who are not fantasies nor are they repulsive. They are women with unique personalities which are evident despite the similarity of their surrounding. My first body of work, was portraits of women, where I also attempted to subvert the male gaze, by allowing the women to photograph themselves after I set up the camera. Or to attempt to create an image which would not be about what they looked like. It is nice to see an artist confronting this issue. I think it is an important and difficult challenge for art makers.

23_59.jpg

23_64.jpg

23_67.jpg

23_69.jpg

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a photographer in the age of photo-representational painting. With so many of the top artists painting directly from appropriated advertising and editorial imagery, how do we define the fine-art photograph? It seems like the photographer’s response has been to create bodies of work that focus on color, compositional strategies, or conceptual projects – not subject matter. There is also a trend to photograph the ‘other’ – by artists from non-first world countries. The question for photography is – with artists like Elizabeth Peyton and Richard Phillips, how does one make a portrait? I think in some ways it is a very open and interesting time to be making photo-based art, but it is also very difficult to make ‘straight photography.’ Alec Soth’s runaway success has largely been based on his ability to make straight photography, while employing just enough conceptual ‘twist’ to set himself apart from the Joel Sternfeld, Steven Shore tradition.

Richard Phillips painting’s are especially interesting to me – in the context of portraiture. I am still not sure how I feel about using exploitative images of women to represent other forms of political or cultural exploitation. I have to say, reading his artist statement below & interview from his gallery White Cube, he is very intelligent and his work is extremely informed. Lisa Yuskavage has also borrowed from the porn aesthetic, but somehow her images deny the viewer the expected pleasure. I think that photography & painting are always in dialog, either playing off each other and in a slightly aggressive competition. The generation of painters coming up, seem to be moving toward illustration and abstraction.I certainly am not an expert on all of this, but I feel in making work, I have to resolve my own relationship with painting. For me, photography has the ability to capture things that are a part of our current culture, and elevate, explore, critique, evaluate or reflect on it. How I visually represent them in my work, is like painting, in the sense that I can create an image that will be infused with my interpretation of that object, person or place.

Photography does seem to be making a shift, much like painting experienced during the impressionism. With photoshop and digital imaging, artists are free from the high modernist idea of the photographic document. But unlike the work of the 1980’s it does not have to be a collage or a complete deconstruction of the image, it can merely be a revised version of reality. Robert Polidori’s “After The Flood’ images, were not changed in the sense that cars were added or houses were digitally destroyed, but they were enhanced enough to create a heightened view of the devastation. I believe this is where photography is now operates. In this sense the technological and mechanical nature of the photograph sets it apart from painting. There are many photographer’s exploring technology to make portraits. Some successful, many of them not. There has still not been anything as genius as Rineke Dijkstra‘s use of time. Her ‘serials,’ which capture how experience changes a person – are still the most moving and effective use of conceptual device in portraiture I have seen. But I am excited to see how the fine-art portrait is reconciled with the digital age.

White Cube

Over the last decade, Phillips has developed a striking signature style that derives its tension from a selective use of lurid popular images from that he subjects to the technical, value-laden refinements of academic painting. As a self-conscious American painter weaned on postmodern appropriation strategies…

R.P. In the late eighties and early nineties, appropriation in art often sought to critique society and culture by turning the images of power directly against their source, in an effort to expose the corrupt agendas of larger political entities. There was a decisive separation of the depicted subject from its form in the service of a directed message that, while devaluing the image, attempted to usher in superior ideals. At this stage painting was generally relegated to entertainment/media status, where representations of once expressive styles were seen as a conceptual social critique. The so-called painting emergency sought nothing other than the perpetuation of itself as a still-born medium trading on sympathies of initiated well-wishers. Painting as a medium was seen as an illustrative form, which sacrificed its physical and visual power to an idealistic end. Yet it is precisely the texture of these commingled relationships between times, efforts, irreconcilable differences, and hypocrisies which painting now has the power to meditate on and possess, unleashing new gestures from a position where these delusions can be seen as a control in our present social experiment, where power infused into the visual and physical reality of painting can reflect this, our alienated and fallible state of humanity. (from 2002 interview)

Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips

Lisa Yuskavage

yuskavage1.jpg

Lisa Yuskavage

John Currin

John Currin

Elizabeth Peyton

Elizabeth Peyton

Vik Muniz

vikdietrichbig68.jpg

Valerie Belin

Valerie Belin

Tracey Moffat

Tracey Moffat
Trish Morrissey

Trish Morrissey

Kelli Connell

Kelli Connell

Loretta Lux

Loretta Lux

Anne Collier

6bbdd785.jpg

Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura

Rineke Dijkstra

dijkstra-8512005.jpg

dijkstra-8522005.jpg

dijkstra-8532005.jpg

dijkstra-8542005.jpg



“I have been to hell and back,” it reads, “and let me tell you it was wonderful.”

Louise Bourgeois (embroidery, on fabric)

I will admit to being ignorant of Bourgeois’s work far longer than I should have. But the day I came across a beautifully rendered art book of her unique body of work, put out by the Hermitage, I was immediately in love. A major retrospective of the artist’s work just opened at one of my favorite venue’s, The Tate Modern, and I am now trying to figure out how to get over there to finally see her work in person. Bourgeois has an uncanny ability to create objects that externalize our deepest inner conflicts. Her work dealing with the female body is so relevant, with our modern obsessions over the remaking of ourselves externally based on our internal images. But seeing the internal, and all it’s horror play out in her work, makes us questions these drives. To me this is her genius.

I cannot imagine the amount of courage & determination she has, to have come up in the art world, when women artists were at best an occasional novelty in whatever movement was currently in vogue. What it took to have stayed committed to her work, when success did not come until her 70’s with a show at the MOMA in 1982. I wonder how many of today’s generation of artists have that much faith & determination. Perhaps that is why she was able to explore so many types of materials. She moves between using feminine & masculine materials, small & mammoth pieces. She has never allowed herself to be pigeonholed. Her work in bronze, and fabric are so different, yet have the same emotional power.

Her work is so fascinating because of her spirit, so much of her personality goes into it. Intelligence, moxie, commitment, willingness to take chances, emotional & political content, she has everything I respond to in an artist. And she obviously is unafraid to poke fun at herself and art, another admirable quality.

There is a great article by the very talented author, Siri Hustvedt – she ends the article with quotes by other artists on Bourgeois, Greer’s is my favorite.

Germaine Greer
Louise Bourgeois is a truly extraordinary artist. From her emergence in the 1960s, no one has known quite what to say about her. She is as obsessed by the condition of women as any feminist; she is also fascinated by the paradoxes of gender. Her obsession with women begins as men’s obsession. She is the bad girl, the runaway girl, who has stolen a penis and run away with it under her arm, but it is not a glorious, towering phallus. It is a flaccid penis, incarnation of the grotesque, bulging, drooping and sagging, like a breast. If her work reminds us of anyone, besides the indigenous artists all over the world who rework her body-painting motifs and totemic objects, it is, oddly enough, the masculine magniloquence of Rodin. Bourgeois makes the anxiety that quivers in Rodin’s reassembled body casts appalling and explicit. The result is a kind of power that has never been seen in any woman’s work before.

g342-3643_4.jpg

From her spider series, look at the poor intimidated man below…

gd4868670london-03102007-1440.jpg

Don’t all women secretly feel this way about the bathroom mirror…

bourgeois.jpg

arched.jpg

11509w_070.jpg

Today I visited my friends at Lens & Repro photo rental house in NYC. Steven and his brother Jeffery, along with their amazing staff are always there when I need them to help me. While it would be nice to wander the streets experiencing “defining moments,” and taking world class photos a la Bresson, I have worked very hard to bring my technical skills to a level that can help me achieve my conceptual goals. Without the help of my many tech savvy friends and the staff of L&R, I would be much further behind. Without mastery of form, you cannot go very far in any art.

Recently went to see the Richard Serra show at the Moma. When I experience his sculptures in person, I am always struck at how they must require an enormous undertaking of technique, yet I experience them as natural objects. People react to to his structures like they they do massive rock formations, or waterfalls. By the time I got to the Moma, they were already taking the some of the show down, so all of 6th Ave was lined with giant wide-load flat beds on which lay huge semi circle slabs of iron. Deconstructed, they seemed more like man-made structures, once their process was visible their magic dissipated. So much of artistic endeavor is process. Some of the best advice my photo mentor every gave me was, if I ever wanted to be happy as an artist, I had to love the process as much as the product. Serra’s art is about the beauty of intelligence and awareness and our ability to create. I rarely go to a show at the Moma and see kids running around joyfully playing and enjoying the exhibit. Luckily, I do love the process of photography, even when it is incredibly frustrating and goes all wrong. Serra’s sculptures remind me though that the tension between the technical and the sublime must always be in balance.

The Moma has an interesting interview & making of video here: Richard Serra

514007649_f2783d226c_b.jpg

One of my fav photogs recently did an entire book photographing Serra’s work. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s strange and mysterious images capture how your sense of balance and reality are thrown off inside Serra’s creations.

17blumslide5.jpg

17blumslide7.jpg