Archive for September, 2008

Photograph #18

September 30, 2008


Untitled, Port Gibson, MS, 2008

To request the above photograph:

Send an email (subject: photograph #18) to horses [at] horsesthink.com with your name and address.

If you are the first* person to respond after the posting, you will receive the photograph in the mail.

* This photograph is no longer available.

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W. Again

September 29, 2008

Having watched a big chunk of Oliver Stone’s JFK early this morning on television, I was reminded how complex, intriguing, and convoluted the film was and still is but also realized how memorable the whole experience of watching it was. The narrative and mystery really sucks you in.

Now having seen the newest W. trailer, I can’t wait to see what Stone has done with Bush even though there probably won’t be much of a mystery to unravel.

(via Hollywood Elsewhere)

Platon Joins The New Yorker

September 29, 2008


Platon for The New Yorker

SPC Patrick Quinn of the First Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Ft. Wainwright, Alaska

Platon has an entire portfolio of photographs, mostly portraits, titled Service in last week’s edition of The New Yorker. An extended selection of images can be seen online.

Listening to an audio file on The New Yorker’s site, I learned that Platon is now officially signed on as a staff photographer.

I haven’t heard anything about this before and frankly I’m surprised. It’s not that I think Platon is a bad portrait photographer but in my mind I don’t see how Platon can replace Avedon. His portraits shot from below against a stark white background are too indebted to Avedon’s. Maybe the magazine doesn’t see their selection as a replacement for Avedon but I certainly do.

I remember wondering about who The New Yorker might tap to replace Avedon after his passing. No one stood out in my mind as an appropriate choice. I started to think that the magazine should make a big break and choose someone surprising and distinct.

I imagined someone like Richard Burbridge or Mario Sorrenti taking over with their big portrait head photographs. Burbridge has always made beautiful yet surprising portrait heads for years and Sorrenti has recently been making powerful and gritty portraits for W magazine, the one of Richard Serra a couple of years ago still sticks in my head. Philip-Lorca DiCorcia would have been another distinct option with his intensely lit narrative based images. Of course it would have also been great to see The New Yorker widen their search to find someone young and new who could really make a statement.

Basically I was hoping for someone with a bit of an artistic edge and not just a straight up commercial shooter. I was also hoping for someone who could break away from Avedon’s mold and take The New Yorker forward into the future. With Platon I’m not sure what we will get but I guess we will have to wait and see.

Photograph #17

September 27, 2008


Untitled, San Antonio, TX, 2008

To request the above photograph:

Send an email (subject: photograph #17) to horses [at] horsesthink.com with your name and address.

If you are the first* person to respond after the posting, you will receive the photograph in the mail.

* This photograph is no longer available.

Silverman And The Great Schlep

September 26, 2008

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Béla Tarr – The Man From London

September 22, 2008


still from Béla Tarr’s The Man From London, 2007

For those of you out there who still obsess over black & white photography and mourn the passing of the good ol’ days, now is the time to put down that new copy of Robert Frank’s The Americans.

Head over to MoMA this week (starting today) to catch a screening of Hungarian cinematic maestro Béla Tarr’s The Man From London, made in 2007.

While I have not yet seen The Man From London and cannot vouch for it’s greatness just yet (I plan to see it at least once, maybe twice), I can say that you will no doubt have a cinematic experience like no other. Tarr’s films use black & white cinematography like no one else around today. His work is extremely rewarding but requires a bit of patience. The stories unfold slowly and yet before you know it you are completely enveloped by the narrative and what you might call the cinematic dance of the film.


still from Béla Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies, 2000

Béla Tarr is best known for his almost 8 hour long epic Sátántangó which I have seen, but my favorite film of his was the work he made afterwards called Werckmeister Harmonies.

That film shot in dark, velvety tones and almost lurid black & white was the story of a small town, a traveling circus and a giant whale. It’s not worth describing what happens in the film as the film itself is so much a part of the experience. The entire film is composed of 39 beautifully choreographed long shots that are accompanied by (as you can probably tell by the title) some equally incredible music composed by Mihály Vig.

Head over to MoMA to see Tarr’s The Man From London, it’s screening several times over the next several days:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 8:30 pm

Thursday, September 25, 2008 8:00 pm

Friday, September 26, 2008 6:00 pm

Saturday, September 27, 2008 8:00 pm

Sunday, September 28, 2008 6:00 pm

Read The New York Times review by Nathan Lee as well to get a better idea of what you might be getting into.

Alphaville

September 19, 2008

Speaking of Film Forum, I’ve been meaning to write about one of my favorite places which is right nearby. The place is called Alphaville and it’s located on W. Houston Street diagonally across from the theater. Since I see a lot of films at Film Forum, I tend to visit the store pretty often.

Alphaville is owned by two guys, Steve and Gary. They sell vintage and out of production toys from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even some unique things from the 90’s. They’re collection is just amazing and worth a visit any time you are in the neighborhood. Alphaville is essentially like a museum for cool toys, books and ephemera from the past.

This is the kind of store that is quickly disappearing from New York City and if you ask me it’s the kind of store that made our city great in the first place. We certainly don’t have enough places like this around anymore and if we stop supporting them they won’t be around for long. I’ve bought all kinds of things there, mostly gifts for little kids and a few unique items for myself like vintage iron-ons from the 40’s and 50’s.

Alphaville has very affordable items which range in price but start at just a couple of dollars or so.

Alphaville
226 W. Houston Street
New York City, New York 10014
212.675.6850

David Lean

September 19, 2008


Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter by David Lean

In celebration of David Lean’s centennial year, Film Forum is screening ten of his earliest films which have been beautifully restored.

As usual I’ve been obsessively trying to see as many of the films as possible and they are definitely worth seeking out if you aren’t already familiar with Lean’s work.

I’ve seen a bunch already, the highlights being Brief Encounter (1945) and The Passionate Friends (1949).

These films show a completely different side of David Lean as he has always been best remembered for the epics and spectacles he made including Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).


Ann Todd & Trevor Howard in The Passionate Friends by David Lean

Both Brief Encounter and The Passionate Friends are earlier small scale and intimate films about love affairs between people who just can’t be together.

Wonderfully acted, beautifully photographed and meticulously structured, both films end with touching moments that could easily bring tears to your eyes (and do). Lean has a way of wrapping things up with that just so perfect ending: touching but not overly sentimental, reassuring but not too emotionally controlling (in that annoying Spielbergian sort of way).

The final scene in Brief Encounter gives me the chills and reminds me of a different film from around the same time period called Late Spring (1949) by the great Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu.


Setsuko Hara in Late Spring by Yasujirō Ozu

Late Spring is definitely on my top ten list of all time favorite films and it could be one of the last scenes in the film that I cherish most. The scene shows the respect and tenderness that exists between a widowed father and his daughter who is about to be married. Again, it is done with such subtle beauty and just enough emotional tenor to be absolutely touching.

Make your way over to see the rest of the David Lean series if you have some free time and definitely put Late Spring on your Netflix queue.

Sander & Bernini at The Getty

September 18, 2008


Portrait of Costanza Bonarelli, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1636–38

I went to The Getty Center while I was in Los Angeles as well, mostly because I wanted to see the August Sander exhibition before it closed.

On display were 130 photographs from Sander’s People of the Twentieth Century project and it was great because I had never seen so many in one place at one time. Strange thing but the exhibition had me wondering what camera format Sander was using. The images all seemed to have different ratios and crops making it very difficult to discern what kind of camera Sander was using. I always thought he was an 8 x 10 photographer but now after looking at all those prints I’m really not sure.

One interesting thing I noticed on almost all the prints was a thin black edge that was placed around the images, it looked like it was painted on with black ink or something. This too added to the confusion although there was something I really liked about that black edge and the way it said here is my frame and composition. It’s something I’ve never noticed before in his work when I’ve seen it in person. If anyone has any insight into any of this please feel free to share in the comments.

After the Sander show I wandered over to another building to see Bernini and The Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture.

I’ve always been a amazed by Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St. Teresa ever since I studied it in Art History but I had never seen much of his other work. The exhibition is quite large and charts Bernini’s evolution and the creation of the Baroque style. The show is overwhelming with many sculptures, paintings and drawings. I was quite impressed with Bernini’s self-portrait paintings but most of all I was blown away by his marble Portrait of Costanza Bonarelli made in 1636–38.

The press release to the exhibition describes this bust as being “the culmination of Bernini’s experimentation in presenting immediate, informal, and lifelike portraits” and it totally is. This sculpture is absolutely captivating from the first moment. There is something very real about her expression and the naturalness of it. Not to mention the way her blouse wraps and drapes around her figure in a sort of revealing way. There is something actually quite erotic about her which isn’t surprising as she was supposedly Bernini’s mistress.

Although the Sander exhibition is now gone, don’t miss your opportunity to see Portrait of Constanza Bonarelli and the rest of Bernini’s sculptural masterpieces.

Philip-Lorca DiCorcia at LACMA

September 16, 2008


Mike Mincetti, 24 years old, New York, NY, $30 by Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

I was really happy to catch the Philip-Lorca DiCorcia exhibition at LACMA before I left Los Angeles.

Unfortunately the exhibition closed on the 14th but for those who did see the show, I think most came away feeling pretty damn inspired by DiCorcia’s work. He’s been given plenty of press and has stirred up plenty of controversy throughout his career but there is no denying how good his work can be.

The main thing I took away from the exhibition is how cohesive all the work seems to be. The LACMA show excludes all of the early work that DiCorcia did photographing family and friends and begins with the Hustlers.

Everything is all mixed up and out of order on the walls but for me that was the strength of the show. The mixing up of all the work allowed a viewer to see the consistency of it all. Even the Lucky 13 images, my least favorite of his work, made sense in this context, giving them a broader context with which to evaluate them.

One of the main things I noticed about all the work in general is how stark and dark everything is. Maybe that’s why they left out the earlier work as it’s much brighter in tone and even a bit humorous. DiCorcia’s world is definitely strange but it’s also mysterious and haunting. The lighting seemed more aggressive and almost sloppier than I remembered but it just does what it’s supposed to do and really creates the pictures.

I don’t ever remember seeing the photograph shown above from the Hustlers series but it was one of the standouts in the show for me due to it’s intensity and strangeness. It’s also very gothic in many ways and seems to channel a lot of what’s been happening with photography the past few years. The lighting is also exactly what I mean by aggressive. That’s just one light (probably with a grid) blasting onto this amazing face. In theory this just shouldn’t work as it’s too intense but somehow it’s feels perfect and almost natural.

A Thousand Polaroids was also on display, supposedly all 1000 of them. They had their own nook and it seemed almost too easy to just grab one and go. I wouldn’t be surprised if some were taken off the wall throughout the duration of the show as there were plenty of empty spaces. I wouldn’t know how to choose as there are just too many.

On the LACMA site you can watch a video of all the Polaroids with a bit of DiCorcia talking about them. It was also on display in the gallery.

You can also read a nice interview of DiCorcia talking with Charlotte Cotton, the curator of the show.

In relation to yesterday’s post about Taryn Simon, it’s worth mentioning that I’m pretty sure she worked or assisted for DiCorcia at some point and I think it’s interesting to think about that in relation to both of their work. Simon’s earlier commercial work was probably more indebted to DiCorcia’s work than her artwork is and she has definitely found her own voice.

Trying to dig up some of Simon’s old advertising work is pretty damn impossible and I couldn’t find much online. That history has definitely been erased for good. Even Art + Commerce only has her art projects and a few editorial assignments on display.

I really wonder what the fear is all about. Great artists have been doing some kind of commercial work for ages and it’s not like selling artwork in a gallery is uncommercial. Two of our greatest photographers, Edward Steichen and Walker Evans did lots of commercial work. Evans, like Simon (with her Innocents project), was even assigned his greatest project of all, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

I was able to find this one image in my own archive of fashion images from a campaign Simon shot for Chloé (I’m pretty sure she shot it). If I remember correctly she did a ton of cool work for them.