"It’s shocking to think of how much in current Western experience is ruled out by Koudelka, and nullified as if it never existed. One could search practically in vain for the historical Europe or the tourist scene, the life of the middle classes, plastics, the consumer market, signs, cars, modern diversions, blue-collar existence, productive systems of any kind, in short the characteristic jamboree of the late twentieth century. It takes a certain exclusionary genius to have rejected such sights while still asserting one’s ties to people. A great deal has been made of the solitary spirit of Koudelka’s work, but that spirit protests too much. Because of his rhetorical estrangement, his world may be as inhospitable as it is unfamiliar, but it remains a world of minority cultures, whose religious and funerary rituals it intimately discloses. (…) What happens in his pictures seems to have taken place a long time ago, under archaic conditions, hard to remember… so that their actual contemporaneity appears misplaced."

— Max Kozloff “Koudelka’s Theater of Exile” (1988) in Lone Visions, Crowded Frames: Essays on Photography 

@1 week ago with 181 notes
#Art #Photography #Josef Koudelka #Criticism #Max Kozloff 

Two views on Winogrand

image

"Winogrand gets one aspect of the sixties better than any other photographer: the visible divide of contempt of one half of America for another half. Nowadays, visual evidence of one’s political persuasion is blurred, almost gone. Fox News guests sport goatees, and the hosts talk to Ted Nugent. In Winogrand’s world you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the political wind blows. Construction workers bellow at long-haired protesters; everyone peers with hatred at youth. A telling picture from 1969 pictures what looks like a family of out-of-towners dumbstruck at the hippies in Central Park. The world opens in the divide between them—a divide that turns cosmic in the ’70s pictures. Everyone turns into his or her own fun-loving or cloistered cathedral. (…)

Many also claim that these late pictures show a falling-off. I disagree. They, too, follow America in these years: the way places went from being concentrated to being bland, full of burnouts and lost souls riding on packed airplanes. These late pictures complete Winogrand’s atlas of America, his cosmology of the inner life of a country turning inside out, twisting into half-beast, turning back, creating nests of new beings.
Something we’ve been missing also becomes evident here. The whole world is now filled with incredible images—especially on Instagram and other social networks—that owe something to Winogrand’s, documenting life, change, and all the rest. Yet the art world and museums are not.”

— Jerry SaltzPhotographer Garry Winogrand Captured America As It Split Wide Open" in Vulture, (August 2014)

image

"The real problem here is that Winogrand’s praxis — along with the theory that has sprung up around it, drafted by such photographer-critics as Ben Lifson, Leo Rubinfien, Tod Papageorge, and of course Szarkowski himself — is premised on what photographer-theorist Richard Kirstel, in an essay, has called “reverence for the intensity of the glimpse.” And, in the last analysis, the glimpse is simply an insufficient basis for the construction of an epic vision. It will do for lyric poetry — for a Kertész, a Doisneau, a Levitt — but not for those who think on epic scale: Edward Weston, Eugene Smith. Only Robert Frank ever built an epic on glimpses — and he managed that not by glimpsing better than other photographers, but by developing and maintaining a political stance (which Winogrand studiously avoided) and by painstakingly redacting his imagery into a spare, taut, book-length sequence.

Epic scale demands, among other things, the capacity for prolonged attention that Winogrand so clearly lacked. After all, how seriously are we to take the droppings of a gluttonous voyeur who spent the last seven years of his life producing a third of a million negatives without bothering to look at any of them, much less analyze them critically? This was not a photographer; this was a shooter, afflicted with a textbook case of terminal distraction, the quintessence if not the prototype of the dreaded “Hand With Five Fingers” you have surely seen in camera ads on TV.

It’s my guess that, at some time in the future, Winogrand’s main usefulness to the medium will be seen to have been his willingness to go down this dead-end path and explore it to the bitter end — so that no one needs to pass that way again.”

— A.D. ColemanMonkeyCam Redux at the Met" from Nearby Café (originally published in Photo Communiqué (June 1988))

image

@1 month ago with 61 notes
#Art #Photography #Garry Winogrand #Criticism #Jerry Saltz #A.D. Coleman 

"In the realm of photography particularly, abstraction is a fraught term that tends to be tamed by opposing it to figuration. But they are inseparable, one haunting the other, and forcing them apart does not help us understand the medium. Indeed, their separation has led to great confusion about everything from the real and realism to form and formalism. These ideas may be explored through two types of image that seem at first to be the furthest from abstraction: the landscape photograph and the forensic photograph. 

There are certain images that play both roles, or seem to. In 1922 the Parisian journal Littérature published an image attributed to Man Ray with a caption suggesting it was a landscape viewed from an airplane. The new perspectives of aerial-intelligence photography had entered the popular imagination in the years following World War I. But Man Ray’s photograph was not a landscape at all. It was a close-range study of dust accumulating on a sheet of glass for what was to become Marcel Duchamp’s subculture La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même/The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, also known as Large Glass (1915-23). Man Ray cropped the image to leave no marginal evidence that this was Duchamp’s Manhattan studio. Only later was the photograph given its familiar title: Élevage de poussière, or Dust Breeding.”

David Campany “What’s On Earth? Photography’s Alien Landscapes” in Aperture 211 (Summer 2013)

@1 month ago with 33 notes
#Art #Photography #Abstraction #Evidence #David Campany #Marcel Duchamp #Man Ray #Sophie Ristelhueber #Criticism #Aperture magazine 

"Unlike Vodou worshippers in Haiti, we in contemporary America acknowledge no deities; we deny a pantheon of supernatural beings who determine our destinies, who have the power to “possess” our bodies or intervene in our lives. In our denial, we give more power to the archetypes that we indeed have created: those images of beauty, of sexuality, of wealth and power that are emblazoned in neon across our skies, projected into our movie palaces, beamed into our homes and offices — that possess us, in short, not simply in the course of a religious ceremony but throughout every waking minute of our lives."

"Inverted Odysseys" by Shelley Rice in Inverted Odysseys (1999)

@1 month ago with 44 notes
#Art #Culture #Theory #Criticism #Shelley Rice #The Image #Consumerism #Identity 

"She turns her back on you; this, it would seem, is her appeal. She’s been painted like this for centuries, and, more recently, photographed. Often she is naked, in a bathroom or bedroom, solitary, sleeping or day-dreaming, or at a picnic, momentarily stilled, enveloped in a vague, dark space. The one constant is that her face is obscured. Her identity is fluid, nuanced; it can be elegiac, erotic or sullen, an homage to something lost or never quite gained, a study in both negation and yearning. It’s impossible to know whether she – who appears in so many guises – was ever, in the act of being represented, aware that someone was looking at her (the observed is often innocent of the observer). Whether we read the artist’s rejection of her face as a reflection of her inner life, or read the focus on her body as an indication of sensual preoccupations, she is ultimately irreducible and as such can be whoever we want to her to be."

Jennifer HiggieAlone Again, Or" - Frieze magazine, Issue 124 (Jun/Aug 2009).

Images (in order) by Joanna Piotrowska, Jo Ann Callis, Gerhard Richter, Richard Learoyd, Viviane Sassen and Eva Vermandel

@3 weeks ago with 157 notes
#Art #Photography #Painting #Criticism #Jennifer Higgie #Frieze magazine #Joanna Piotrowska #Jo Ann Callis #Gerhard Richter #Richard Learoyd #Viviane Sassen 

"Looking at art, we learn about ourselves. Comparing views on art, we learn about one another. Disputing it, we shape culture. Where there is no argument there can be no consequentially meaningful art. Today, what passes for debate has occluded the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual stakes of aesthetic experience, which assumes the odor of a minor private vice. How we cope with the implications will affect what, as parties to history, we become."

@1 month ago with 63 notes
#Art #Public Space #Criticism #Peter Schjeldahl #The New Yorker 

"Williams’s photographs can seem almost like nugatory remnants of a process pursued with devotion that is its own reward. The worst that might be said of them is that they enforce a sort of supply-side aesthetic: profiting an élite and trickling down, maybe, to less privileged folks. But they enable a vicarious appeal: imagining what it’s like to care so much about something, no matter what. And one immediately compelling aspect of Williams’s process is his mastery of the forms and protocols of display. The exactingly considered, quite beautiful arrangements of walls and works in the show sparkle with wit, however elusive the content of the jokes may be. (…)

Both artists glory in cultivating shocks—or, anyway, mild bemusements—of recognition, with pointed evocations of culture either low (Koons) or far out (Williams). The major gap—a chasm—between them is worldly. It has to do with disparate visions of, yes, happiness. Koons exalts a society that is defined and dominated by financial wealth, as flaunted by those who have it and presumably admired by those who don’t. Williams assumes and addresses people who would rather be rich in leisure time and energy to visit museums, read specialized books, and savor wayward discourses. Let a fifty-eight-million-dollar stainless-steel balloon dog that astounds the eye while benumbing the mind stand for the values of the first constituency. Have Williams’s murky photograph of a Renault sedan tipped on its side—referring to a factory site and evoking a barricade, from the political upheavals of 1968 in France—represent the knowingness of the second. One party buys and sells. The other talks and talks. The emptied middle that they bracket buzzes with possibilities for a truly satisfactory art, contingent on whether our time proves itself worthy of it.

— Peter Schjeldahl “Sharp Focus” in The New Yorker, August 4th 2014, on the MoMA retrospective of the work of Christopher Williams, The Production Line of Happiness.

@1 month ago with 70 notes
#Art #Photography #Conceptual Art #Christopher Williams #Criticism #Peter Schjeldahl #The New Yorker 

"

Modern street photographers are fluttering, intrusive, yet vaguely stealthy creatures who live on edge in quizzical search of imagery they cannot foresee. They have reason to be nervous, for they work in a chaotic zone of ephemeral “targets” that may be reluctant to appear in an unannounced view, or else are endowed with a speedy, unsettling talent for vanishing from it. But this visual quarry teases not simply because it is disobedient and elusive. The conditions of the field are more bothersome than that, for the motifs presented by the photographer cannot be said to have existed before, and they do not endure after they have been wrought from light in the precise configurations we later come to know. (…)


Underlying street photography is a naturalist argument that goes something like this: The value of the picture resides in its truthful observation. This value is jeopardized to the extent the photographer intervenes in the social circumstances, causing a rupture from what would naturally have happened. The natural is defined as a mélange of urban events contingent upon each other, and therefore inherently effervescent and unpredictable. There can be no record of such action unless the photographer is committed to techniques of furtive and opportune surveillance whose goals cannot easily be rationalized. No wonder street photographers are often solitary, and always professional strangers with little to say about their indefinite motives. Still, their overall approach is conceptually articulate, because in practice it integrates the moral goal of credibility, the philosophical notion of contingency and the professional requirement of freedom and spontaneity, each impossible to realize without engaging with the others.

"

 Max Kozloff “A Way of Seeing and the Act of Touching: Helen Levitt’s Photographs of The Forties” in Observations: Essays on Documentary Photography (1984)
@2 months ago with 104 notes
#Art #Photography #Street Photography #Max Kozloff #Criticism #Helen Levitt 
1 week ago
#Art #Photography #Josef Koudelka #Criticism #Max Kozloff 
3 weeks ago
#Art #Photography #Painting #Criticism #Jennifer Higgie #Frieze magazine #Joanna Piotrowska #Jo Ann Callis #Gerhard Richter #Richard Learoyd #Viviane Sassen 
Two views on Winogrand

image

"Winogrand gets one aspect of the sixties better than any other photographer: the visible divide of contempt of one half of America for another half. Nowadays, visual evidence of one’s political persuasion is blurred, almost gone. Fox News guests sport goatees, and the hosts talk to Ted Nugent. In Winogrand’s world you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the political wind blows. Construction workers bellow at long-haired protesters; everyone peers with hatred at youth. A telling picture from 1969 pictures what looks like a family of out-of-towners dumbstruck at the hippies in Central Park. The world opens in the divide between them—a divide that turns cosmic in the ’70s pictures. Everyone turns into his or her own fun-loving or cloistered cathedral. (…)

Many also claim that these late pictures show a falling-off. I disagree. They, too, follow America in these years: the way places went from being concentrated to being bland, full of burnouts and lost souls riding on packed airplanes. These late pictures complete Winogrand’s atlas of America, his cosmology of the inner life of a country turning inside out, twisting into half-beast, turning back, creating nests of new beings.
Something we’ve been missing also becomes evident here. The whole world is now filled with incredible images—especially on Instagram and other social networks—that owe something to Winogrand’s, documenting life, change, and all the rest. Yet the art world and museums are not.”

— Jerry SaltzPhotographer Garry Winogrand Captured America As It Split Wide Open" in Vulture, (August 2014)

image

"The real problem here is that Winogrand’s praxis — along with the theory that has sprung up around it, drafted by such photographer-critics as Ben Lifson, Leo Rubinfien, Tod Papageorge, and of course Szarkowski himself — is premised on what photographer-theorist Richard Kirstel, in an essay, has called “reverence for the intensity of the glimpse.” And, in the last analysis, the glimpse is simply an insufficient basis for the construction of an epic vision. It will do for lyric poetry — for a Kertész, a Doisneau, a Levitt — but not for those who think on epic scale: Edward Weston, Eugene Smith. Only Robert Frank ever built an epic on glimpses — and he managed that not by glimpsing better than other photographers, but by developing and maintaining a political stance (which Winogrand studiously avoided) and by painstakingly redacting his imagery into a spare, taut, book-length sequence.

Epic scale demands, among other things, the capacity for prolonged attention that Winogrand so clearly lacked. After all, how seriously are we to take the droppings of a gluttonous voyeur who spent the last seven years of his life producing a third of a million negatives without bothering to look at any of them, much less analyze them critically? This was not a photographer; this was a shooter, afflicted with a textbook case of terminal distraction, the quintessence if not the prototype of the dreaded “Hand With Five Fingers” you have surely seen in camera ads on TV.

It’s my guess that, at some time in the future, Winogrand’s main usefulness to the medium will be seen to have been his willingness to go down this dead-end path and explore it to the bitter end — so that no one needs to pass that way again.”

— A.D. ColemanMonkeyCam Redux at the Met" from Nearby Café (originally published in Photo Communiqué (June 1988))

image

1 month ago
#Art #Photography #Garry Winogrand #Criticism #Jerry Saltz #A.D. Coleman 
"Looking at art, we learn about ourselves. Comparing views on art, we learn about one another. Disputing it, we shape culture. Where there is no argument there can be no consequentially meaningful art. Today, what passes for debate has occluded the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual stakes of aesthetic experience, which assumes the odor of a minor private vice. How we cope with the implications will affect what, as parties to history, we become."
1 month ago
#Art #Public Space #Criticism #Peter Schjeldahl #The New Yorker 
1 month ago
#Art #Photography #Abstraction #Evidence #David Campany #Marcel Duchamp #Man Ray #Sophie Ristelhueber #Criticism #Aperture magazine 
1 month ago
#Art #Photography #Conceptual Art #Christopher Williams #Criticism #Peter Schjeldahl #The New Yorker 
"Unlike Vodou worshippers in Haiti, we in contemporary America acknowledge no deities; we deny a pantheon of supernatural beings who determine our destinies, who have the power to “possess” our bodies or intervene in our lives. In our denial, we give more power to the archetypes that we indeed have created: those images of beauty, of sexuality, of wealth and power that are emblazoned in neon across our skies, projected into our movie palaces, beamed into our homes and offices — that possess us, in short, not simply in the course of a religious ceremony but throughout every waking minute of our lives."

"Inverted Odysseys" by Shelley Rice in Inverted Odysseys (1999)

1 month ago
#Art #Culture #Theory #Criticism #Shelley Rice #The Image #Consumerism #Identity 
"

Modern street photographers are fluttering, intrusive, yet vaguely stealthy creatures who live on edge in quizzical search of imagery they cannot foresee. They have reason to be nervous, for they work in a chaotic zone of ephemeral “targets” that may be reluctant to appear in an unannounced view, or else are endowed with a speedy, unsettling talent for vanishing from it. But this visual quarry teases not simply because it is disobedient and elusive. The conditions of the field are more bothersome than that, for the motifs presented by the photographer cannot be said to have existed before, and they do not endure after they have been wrought from light in the precise configurations we later come to know. (…)


Underlying street photography is a naturalist argument that goes something like this: The value of the picture resides in its truthful observation. This value is jeopardized to the extent the photographer intervenes in the social circumstances, causing a rupture from what would naturally have happened. The natural is defined as a mélange of urban events contingent upon each other, and therefore inherently effervescent and unpredictable. There can be no record of such action unless the photographer is committed to techniques of furtive and opportune surveillance whose goals cannot easily be rationalized. No wonder street photographers are often solitary, and always professional strangers with little to say about their indefinite motives. Still, their overall approach is conceptually articulate, because in practice it integrates the moral goal of credibility, the philosophical notion of contingency and the professional requirement of freedom and spontaneity, each impossible to realize without engaging with the others.

"
 Max Kozloff “A Way of Seeing and the Act of Touching: Helen Levitt’s Photographs of The Forties” in Observations: Essays on Documentary Photography (1984)
2 months ago
#Art #Photography #Street Photography #Max Kozloff #Criticism #Helen Levitt