“A photograph is not created by a photographer. What he does is just to open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world.”
Ferdinando Scianna started taking photographs in the 1960s while studying literature, philosophy and art history at the University of Palermo. It was then that he began to photograph the Sicilian people systematically. Feste Religiose in Sicilia (1965) included an essay by the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, and it was the first of many collaborations with famous writers.
Scianna moved to Milan in 1966. The following year he started working for the weekly magazine L’Europeo, first as a photographer, then from 1973 as a journalist. He also wrote on politics for Le Monde Diplomatique and on literature and photography for La Quinzaine Littéraire.
In 1977 he published Les Siciliens in France and La Villa Dei Mostri in Italy. During this period Scianna met Henri Cartier-Bresson, and in 1982 he joined Magnum Photos. He entered the field of fashion photography in the late 1980s. At the end of the decade he published a retrospective, Le Forme del Caos (1989).
Scianna returned to exploring the meaning of religious rituals with Viaggio a Lourdes (1995), then two years later he published a collection of images of sleepers – Dormire Forse Sognare (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream). His portraits of the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges were published in 1999, and in the same year the exhibition Niños del Mundo displayed Scianna’s images of children from around the world.
In 2002 Scianna completed Quelli di Bagheria, a book on his home town in Sicily, in which he tries to reconstruct the atmosphere of his youth through writings and photographs of Bagheria and the people who live there.
Willy Ronis, who died on September 12 2009 aged 99, was the last of the great photographers whose images came to define postwar France; like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, he was an aesthete of photo-reportage and street life, capturing politics and poetry in the humdrum and the everyday.
He was, however, more artistic than Doisneau and less patrician than Cartier-Bresson. Ronis had a tender eye, photographing working-class neighbourhoods where men drank rough wine and children played on the streets.
In Le Petit Parisien (1952), a young boy wearing shorts runs down the pavement, laughing, carrying a baguette that is as long as he is tall. In Rue Rambuteau (1946), two waitresses stand behind the counter in a busy café, wearing aprons that are crumpled and dirty, leaving us in no doubt that their working days are long and hard. But with smoke rising from the grill and light falling across the scene, illuminating their hair, the documentary image is also a composition full of beauty.
To a contemporary eye, such themes – lovers kissing, smoky cafés and Parisian rooftops – can seem nostalgic and clichéd; but the lives Ronis documented during the reconstruction of France after the war were anything but cosy. The country was wracked by poverty and social unrest, and Ronis’ vision was radical: for those who wanted France to be seen as modern, he showed a humble world that was entrenched in the past.
Samaras was born in Greece in 1936 and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 11. He won a scholarship to study art at Rutgers University, enrolling in 1955, at a time when the Rutgers art department was a hotbed of innovation, with a faculty that included Alan Kaprow, who organized the first Happenings, and Geoffrey Hendricks, who, along with Kaprow, George Segal, Roy Lichtenstein, and students like Robert Whitman, was instrumental in the Fluxus movement. Upon graduation, Samaras received a fellowship to attend Columbia University’s graduate department of art history, which afforded him the chance to get involved with New York City’s burgeoning Happenings scene, where he met artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, and Red Grooms. His interest in performance also led him to study acting with Stella Adler.
Samaras’s first art exhibition, in 1959, earned raves, and, two years later, one of his pieces was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. He was a significant figure in the New York art world early on, and Andy Warhol once recalled Samaras as being part of a fledgling rock band he tried to join in the ’60s that included Claes and Patti Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, La Monte Young, and Walter De Maria. Over the years, Samaras has made drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, furniture, and jewelry. He has been extraordinarily innovative in media, learning to manipulate Polaroids before the dyes set, or employing materials such as razor blades, chicken wire, beads, and gold.
Samaras is known for a series of “Auto-Interviews,” in which he interrogates himself, but for Interview this notorious loner spoke to his longtime friend and dealer Arne Glimcher, who may be the person who knows him best. The occasion is yet another remarkable body of work—this one composed of computer drawings of chimerical creatures all made on his Mac in the magical aerie where he lives, alone, high above midtown Manhattan, in one of those apartments wherein you might start to think you were an eagle or a god.
“The night, the sex, the wandering… and the need to photograph it all, not so much the perceived act but more like a simple exposure to common and even extreme experiences… It is an inseparable part of photographic practice, in a certain sense, to grasp at existence or risk, desire, the unconsciousness and chance, all of which continue to be essential elements. No moral posturing, no judgement, simply the principle of affirmation, necessary to explore certain universes, to go deep inside, without any care. A ride into photography to the vanishing point of orgasm and death.
I try to establish a state of nomadic worlds, partial and personal, systematic and instinctual, of physical spaces and emotions where I am fully an actor. I avoid defining beforehand, what I am about to photograph. The shots are taken randomly, according to chance meetings and circumstances. The choices made, considering all the possibilities, are subconscious. But the obsessions remain constant: the streets, fear, obscurity, and the sexual act…. Not to mention perhaps, in the end, the simple desire to exist.
Beyond the subject, the lost souls and the nocturnal drifting, the scenes of fellatio and of bodies in utter abandon, I seek to reveal some kind of break up through the mixture of bodies and feelings, to reveal fragments of society that escape from any analysis and instant visualization of the event, but nonetheless, are its principal elements.
The brutality of the form, the intensity of the vision obligates us, still more than images that pretend to document, to involve ourselves with the reality of what we are seeing. The spectator can exist then, no longer finding himself in the position of voyeur or consumer but as sharing an extreme experience, wondering about the state of the world and of himself.
The sense of losing sight of the subject may seem like a paradox in a documentary genre where I try to impose my subjective point of view, in an autobiography born from travels and from wandering. But the emotional strip tease, which lets me enter into the pages of this intimate, photographic diary seems to carry me inevitably towards this vanishing point.
A photograph is nothing but a lie. The space is cut off, the time, manipulated. They are two uncontrollably false appearances of an image condemned to choose between hypocrisy and good conscience and being fake. The language used is often one of class: dominator but alienated, unaware of the actual matter at hand: appearance, ambiguity, the imaginary. In my photographs, in my every day practice of the lie, I cannot pretend to describe anything but my situation itself my normal states of being, my kinky intimacies… I can only comment on the mere insignificance of the photographic moment.
Assigned to the anthology of a reduced knowledge, of castrated experiences, the photographer appropriates himself the gestures, diverts the acts and regurgitates signals that ” indicate ” our relationship with the images and determine our perception of a reality that has become hypothetical. And so, the world limits itself to icons, an altar in direct opposition to the rituals the photographer practices. But if the liturgy, the prayer and the sermon are still instruments of a vigorous cult, then for photographers, truth and freedom are found only in the realm of confession.
I try to distance myself from a certain type of documentary photography that often avails itself of symbols that are too easy to read and assimilate in order to present a complex reality in a balance that is endlessly discussed over and over between photography as an instrument of documentation and photography as being completely subjective. It isn’t the eye that photography poses on the world that interests me but its most intimate rapport with that world.
The only photographs that truly exist are the ” innocent ” images. We find them in the family photo albums or in the police archives. Beyond serving as a simple documentation of reality or of a certain aesthetic sense, they attest to the role of the photographer, of his implication, of the authenticity of his position in that moment. The compositions of light, narrative, are no longer, for me, fundamental problems but superfluous lies. What interests me today in an image? The perspective that has justified the act of photography, the interference of the experience, of the ongoing scene, the texture, the material, the meaning of the self-portrait, of the individual, the incoherence of the unfolding sequence, the maniacal reconstruction of the random experience the photographs, like words, are meaningless when isolated…
To criticize in a coherent manner, the dominant image actually demands from a photo that it is lucid in the midst of its messy situation, from the experience between a glance and a good, hard look, the camera and the unconscious, in its fundamentally tainted rapport with reality and fiction. This approach cannot conceive that within multiplicity, associating technique and practice, sometimes opposite each other in their use of the photographic language, I seek to reveal the inherent contradictions to the ” use ” of documentary photography, that should supposedly transcribe tangible reality while at the same time, do nothing more than report a myriad of experiences.
I can then make use of the world for my own ends and in a basically solitary experience, remodel it, and transform it at will, almost as if without images, the world no longer exists.”
- Antoine D’Agata, Until the World No Longer Exists
I transgress the boundary as if going back and forth between life and death. Sometimes I was taking photos from the window of a car. Up until now, the inside of the car was this world and the outside of the car was the other world, but lately it has become the opposite. Inside the car is the outer world. Outside the car is this world. I feel as if I am taking photographs from a hearse. Sometimes I am looking at the outer world from inside, or I am looking at the inner world from outside. This position can be very fluid and will change again in the future, for sure.
The face of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti was one of the most photographed of the post-war era. Together with Samuel Beckett he represented experience, just as Picasso stood for creativity as inventiveness. Artists had featured in Europe’s pantheon before, but never to this degree. They stepped into the place recently vacated by the political leaders of the 1930s, and promised a new kind of society open to personal values. Yet there is a paradox in this close-up of the sculptor’s face, for was associated – especially in the 1940s – with spindly figures which appeared only to exist at a distance. Giacometti had, it seems, no wish to violate his subjects’ privacy. If this is the case, Hubmann’s portrait looks very much like a violation, for the photographer is close enough to pick out every line and wrinkle. Both Giacometti and Beckett, however, were masters of impassivity, whose faces could be understood merely as external facades to be worked on by time, weather or natural forces.
taken from The Photography Book, Phaidon
Past Auction Results for Franz Hubmann Art – Franz Hubmann on artnet
Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Set in and around the hinterland between Odéon and St Germain-des-Prés, shot in black and white, the book is an impressionistic narrative that centres on a fictional character, Ann, a beautiful and enigmatic bohemian, and her circle of vagabond friends, who haunt the bars, cafes and clubs of the area. Van der Elsken’s camera trails Ann as she works as an exotic dancer, drinks, flirts, fights, sleeps, falls in and out of love.
Ann is actually the legendary bohemian figure Vali Myers, a self-exiled Australian artist, who was friends with Cocteau and Genet, and, by way of van der Elsken’s evocative portraits of her, later became a muse for the teenage Patti Smith. When the two eventually met in New York in the early 1970s, Myers tattooed a lightning bolt on Smith’s knee, while Smith described her as “the supreme beatnik chick – thick red hair and big black eyes, black boatneck sweaters and trench coats”.
Love on the Left Bank is actually narrated by a relatively minor character called Manuel, a young Mexican on the run from his own demons, who falls for Ann and whose thoughts form the text that accompanies the pictures. The text, van der Elsken makes clear from the start, “is entirely fictional and is not related to any living person”. The story of Manuel’s unrequited love for Ann creates another layer of mystery, adding to the sense that this is a snapshot not just of a time and place, but of a mood, maybe even a collective state of mind. That mood could be described as the beatnik sublime, and van der Elsken captures the first stirrings of a kind of youthful non-conformity that would become much more familiar – and ritualised – in the coming decades.
The intimate portraits of Ann – daydreaming, dozing, stirring a coffee – are the still moments in an otherwise impressionistic, often frenetic, narrative. The characters in the book are constantly on the move, from cafe to bar, nightclub to jazz club, the streets of St Germain-des-Prés alive with young people in search of the next nocturnal high. The supporting cast of real-life characters includes Jean-Michel, Benny and Pierre, who look like stylish proto-punks and drift in and out of trouble without much thought for the consequences, getting drunk, getting high and, at one point, getting arrested for brawling on the street. Like Brassaï before him, van der Elsken is drawn to the symbolic as well as the impressionistic: in one portrait of Ann, she leans against a wall on which the word Rêve (Dream) has been painted: shades of the Situationist slogans that would transform Paris during the student uprising of 1968.
In one series of fly-on-the-wall photographs, van der Elsken captures Jean Michel teaching a girl to “smoke hashish in the right way … the cigarette not held in the mouth, the smoke inhaled together with air from the cupped hands”. Jean Michel Mension would later become one of the main protagonists of the 1968 student uprising, a member of the Letterist International, to which the legendary Situationist activist and thinker, Guy Debord, also belonged. Legend has it that the back of Debord’s head can be seen in one of the many bar scenes in the book.
Ed van der Elsken’s Love on the Left Bank is important for many reasons, then: as an early reflection of youth cultural ennui, disaffection and rebellion; as a glimpse of a particular place and time when Parisian culture, specifically its youth culture, was on the cusp of a great sea change; as one of the first visual narratives that walks the line between fly-on-the-wall reportage and created narrative.
Vali Myers went on to become an opium addict, then an artist of some repute. She lived for a time in her own personal “Garden of Eden”, a small house with a rambling garden in Positano. She is the subject of four films, one, Death in the Port Jackson Hotel, made in 1971 by van der Elsken. She died of cancer, aged 72, in 2003 in her native Melbourne. In a newspaper interview, given from her hospital bed, she said, “I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It [the illness] doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all.”
Van der Elsken went on to produce several brilliant books and to embrace colour photography in order to capture the vitality of his native Holland, but he was never at ease with the world of commercial photography.
Love on the Left Bank, his first and most groundbreaking book, remains his most beautifully realised body of work. He died of cancer, aged 65, in 1990. He once said, “I report on young, rebellious scum with pleasure … I rejoice in everything. Love. Courage. Beauty. Also blood, sweat and tears. Keep your eyes open.”
Eadweard Muybridge was born Edward Muggeridge to a merchant family in Kingston upon Thames, England on April 9th 1830. Before his death in 1903, Muybridge would emigrate to America, change his name three times, come close to death and suffer brain damage in a carriage accident. Perhaps most sensationally, he would also be acquitted for the murder of Major Harry Larkyns, his wife’s lover, and the true father of his presumed son Floredo Helios Muybridge.
In fact, Muybridge enjoyed a professional life which may even have surpassed his sensational personal biography. He gained fame through adventurous and progressive landscape photography before working as a war and official government photographer; something which took him from the Lava beds of California during the Modoc War to Alaska and Central America.
Furthermore, Muybridge was instrumental in the development of instantaneous photography. To accomplish his famous motion sequence photography, Muybridge even designed his own high speed electronic shutter and electro-timer, to be used alongside a battery of up to twenty-four cameras!
While Muybridge’s motion sequences helped revolutionise still photography, the resultant photographs also punctuated the history of the motion picture. Muybridge actually came tantalisingly close to producing cinema himself with his projection device the ‘Zoöpraxiscope’. With this device, Muybridge lectured across Europe and America, using the Zoöpraxiscope to animate sequences from his motion studies.
One of the most fascinating things about Muybridge however, and something we hope to highlight here, is the relation of his body of work and working attitude to the equally astounding times in which he lived.
The 19th century, undoubtedly one of the most formative of the modern Western world, was as bent on progress, invention and innovation as Muybridge. Muybridge’s capacity for entrepreneurialism and progressive practice meant he invented photographic and moving image projection techniques which have helped build the motion picture industry we enjoy today. However, it also meant he documented some of the major events, and more subtly, the cultural and social landscape of the 19th century.
A DARK, burdensome day. I stormed up from sleep this morning, not knowing what to do first – whether to reach for my slippers or begin immediately to dress, turn on the radio for the news, comb my hair, prepare to shave.
I fell back into bed and spent an hour or so collecting myself, watching the dark beams from the slats of the blind wheeling on the upper wall. Then I rose. There were low clouds; the windows streamed. The surrounding roofs – green, raw red blackened brass – shone like potlids in a darkened kitchen.
At eleven I had a haircut. I went as far as Sixty-third Street for lunch and ate at a white counter amid smells of frying fish, looking out on the iron piers in the street and the huge paving bricks like the plates of the boiler- room floor in a huge liner. Above the restaurant, on the other corner, a hamburger with arms and legs balanced on a fiery wire, leaned toward a jar of mustard. I wiped up the sweet sediment in my cup with a piece of bread and went out to walk through large melting flakes. I wandered through a ten- cent store, examining the comic valentines, thought of buying envelopes, and bought instead a bag of chocolate creams. I ate them hungrily. Next, I was drawn into a shooting gallery. I paid for twenty shots and fired less than half, hitting none of the targets. Back in the street, I warmed myself at a salamander flaming in an oil drum near a newsstand with its wall of magazines erected under the shelter of the El. Scenes of love and horror. Afterward, I went into a Christian Science reading room and picked up the Monitor. I did not read it. I sat holding it, trying to think of the name of the company whose gas stoves used to be advertised on the front page of the Manchester Guardian. A little later I was in the street again, in front of Coulon’s gymnasium, looking at photographs of boxers. ‘Young Salemi, now with the Rangers in the South Pacific.’ What beautiful shoulders!
I started back, choosing unfamiliar streets. They turned out to be no different from the ones I knew. Two men were sawing a tree. A dog sprang from behind a fence without warning, yapping. I hate such dogs. A man in a mackinaw and red boots stood in the center of a lot, throwing boxes into a fire. At the high window of a stone house, a child, a blond boy, was playing king in a paper crown. He wore a blanket over his shoulders and, for a scepter, he held a thin green stick in his thin fingers. Catching sight of me, he suddenly converted his scepter into a rifle. He drew a bead on me and fired, his lips moving as he said, ‘Bang!’. He smiled when I took off my hat and pointed in dismay to an imaginary hole.
The book arrived in the noon mail. I will find it tonight. I hope that will be the last deception imposed to me.
Text entirely taken from Dangling Man, by Saul Bellow, 1944
Ingeborg Morath (May 27, 1923 – January 30, 2002) was an Austrian-born photographer. In 1953 she joined the Magnum Photos Agency, founded by top photographers in Paris, and became a full photographer with them in 1955. In 1955 she published her first collection of photographs, of a total of 30 monographs during her lifetime.
Ingeborg Morath was born in Graz, Austria.
Ori Gersht opened his first UK museum solo show recently, not at an art gallery but at London’s Imperial War Museum. The display presents two dual-channel film pieces and a new body of stills.
Often drawing on wider themes of history, conflict, time and landscape, Ori Gersht explained the nature of his process in saying, “Scars created by wars on our collective and personal memories are at the essence of my practice. In my work I often explore the dialectics of destruction and creation, and the relationships between violence and esthetics.”
On Show: Ori Gersht’s This Storm Is What We Call Progress – British Journal of Photography.
One of the co-founders of the legendary photo agency VIVO ( Shomei Tomatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Kikuji Kawada, and others ), which was to be the epicenter for a new generation of Japanese photographers.
'Tokyo the '50s' series
'Tokyo the '50s' series
'Tokyo the '50s' series…
Fernand Fonssagrives (1910-2003) met his wife Lisa Bernstone at dance school in Paris. By 1936 Lisa’s career as a model escalated and she became the first recognizable ‘model’ working for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Their unique partnership produced a memorable series of pictures, including Fernand's nude work of Lisa for which he is best known and most respected.
Eileen Ford said of Fonssagrives: "I wish for Xmas I could give one of Fernand's prints to every photographer who works with our models.
In every artist there is poetry. In every human being there is the poetic element. We know, we feel, we believe. As knowers we are like the scientist relating through logical determination. As feelers, we are like poets relating the unrelated through intuition. As believers, we are only accepting our human limitations. The artist must express the summation of his feeling, knowing, believing through the unit of his life and work. One cannot photograph art. One can only live in the unity of his vision, as well as in the breadth of his humanity, vitality and understanding.
There is no formula – only man with his conscience speaking, writing and singing in the new hieroglyphic language of light and time.
via E r n s t H a a s | philosophy
All images by John H Hutchinson
Soho, London, 1973 | Retronaut.
‘Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights’
Muhammad Ali’s birthday, photos through the years – Framework – Photos and Video – Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times.
Muhammad Ali, complicated as ever, is turning 70 – latimes.com.