Archive for April, 2009

I Am Still Alive

April 30, 2009

At least that’s what On Kawara posts to his twitter account each and every morning at 9:56am.

He took a week long break at the beginning of April and during the month of March the time of his update was 8:57am. I’m not sure what caused the change.

I suppose it’s really him making these updates (Rhizome has it listed as such) but I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Yesterday though, the twitter page was updated with “i might die soon…” and now I’m beginning to think that it’s really not him.


Variations on a Theme

April 26, 2009

nixon_obamaIllustration by Abbott Miller (via)

The above collage, part of a larger group of them, featured in this weekend’s NY Times Op-Ed page immediately reminded me of John Stezager.

I like how they all use the same slice of Obama’s face and how dramatically the whole thing changes with each presidential combination, especially the ones with Nixon (above), Reagan and JFK (great hairdo).

Photographic: 08-09

April 25, 2009


To request the above photograph:

Send an email (subject: Photographic: 08-09) to horses [at] with your name and mailing 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.


April 24, 2009


I’ve never been to Zoe Strauss’s I-95 exhibition but I hope to make it this year, as I believe there will be only one more after this.

The Godfather

April 24, 2009


“Before I worked with Steven, I just showed up in the clothes I was wearing, stood in front of the lights, and got my picture taken. With Steven, a team of people descended on me, started to undress me. Someone grabbed my hair, another grabbed my face, another started helping me try on various bits of clothes, and they all seemed to be speaking a language I didn’t understand—the language of Steven Meisel.”

-Madonna, speaking about Steven Meisel in Vogue Magazine’s feature story about the famed and reclusive photographer.

I will assume that most non-fashion photography people out there don’t really look at Steven Meisel and think, wow, amazing photographer, but in all honestly I do. Like Charlotte Cotten who is quoted in the article, I would put Meisel in the same group of commercial artists like Avedon, Penn and Newton. I would add Guy Bourdin to that list.

My slightly heated morning conversation with the lady of the house confirmed my assumption, that Meisel simply doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Part of her argument is that those other photographers were artists first and worked on personal projects while Meisel is all fashion so to speak and quite a bit over the top in that respect which makes it hard to take him seriously.

Who knows what kind of personal projects Meisel has stored away in the closet but I don’t need much more than his 30 year dominance and career in the fleeting world of fashion to elevate his status to artist with a capital A.

There is no doubt that Meisel is surrounded by an aura of mystery and strangeness but look at the long history of his work and you can see a great mind and vision at work. This guy has shot every Italian Vogue cover since 1988 and is still going strong. Can you imagine what his archive looks like?

While not every shoot is completely successful, looking at his work over the years one can really see a consistency and obsession with the fashion image and its prominent place in our culture.

Yes I know that fashion photography is essentially selling a product and has grossly distorted our sense of reality, but Meisel’s version is also like a giant filter of our collective history and a glaring reflector of the art, music and cinema we digest each and every day.

Most people probably just see insane and out of control fashion when they look at Meisel’s photographs and they would definitely be right, but there is also a subversive critique and irony in the work that gives it extra dimension.

Of course I’m thinking about the photographs he made for various Versace ad campaigns inspired by The Stepford Wives and Valley of the Dolls. Meisel describes those photographs as having “a glamour to it, too — a sick glamour, but a glamour.”

Or the recent controversial spreads in Italian Vogue called State of Emergency and Supermodels Enter Rehab.

I’m also thinking about a great series of spreads he did for Italian Vogue all shot in Los Angeles in 2000 that really captured the spirit and multifaceted dimension of the city and set the themes for the Versace ads.

No matter what you think about Meisel’s place in the history of photography, the article (and interview) is worth the read. I’m not sure if the version posted online is the full printed story but it’s an entertaining and insightful read nonetheless.

Jack Cardiff, 1914-2009

April 24, 2009

jack_cardiff_1960 Jack Cardiff in 1960. (The Kobal Collection)

Sad to hear the news of Jack Cardiff’s passing on Wednesday, he was truly one of the great cinematographers and a brilliant visual storyteller.

Cardiff was probably best known for his early experiments and masterful use of the Technicolor process. It would be no understatement to say that Cardiff really painted with light. Have a look at any of his collaborations with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to see what I mean.

black_narcissusstill from Black Narcissus, photographed by Jack Cardiff

Start with Black Narcissus from 1947, it’s an absolutely gorgeous gem with lighting and color design inspired by Vermeer.

Nerd Boyfriend

April 24, 2009

laurent550Yves Saint Laurent with Entourage (via Nerdboyfriend)

I’m quite taken with this funny website called Nerd Boyfriend.

At first I didn’t quite get it as the site seemed just too basic, then I realized that the simplicity and once a day posting was what made it so unexpectedly charming.

Supposedly the site is kept by a young woman who posts a daily archival photograph of someone famous and/or iconic and then a link or two to some of the things they might be wearing in the image. It’s really that simple, sometimes she just finds the closest matching tie or just the right pair of eye glasses that resembles the one in the photograph and then provides a link.

The overall aesthetic is completely dorky yet very nerdy cool. If you are looking for that special something for your nerdy boyfriend, this could be the place to find inspiration.

As you would imagine, there is a healthy smattering of artists, actors and musicians, here are some of highlights: Ansel Adams, Woody Allen, Buster Keaton, Jacques Henri Lartigue & Richard Avedon and of course Peter Sellers.

Nothing to do with anything really but the above photograph of Yves Saint Laurent quickly reminded me of this crazy photograph of Kanye West and his crew:



April 21, 2009

early_collage_1893Early Photomontage from 1893

“This website seeks to be preliminary critical survey that traces a possible alternate history of photomontage and fantastic photography, and the possible influences upon it. It is not about the classic propagandist photomontage that juxtaposed elements in the manner of modernist graphic design. It only briefly touches on the surrealist photographers of the same period.

This website is about a constructed tableaux photography that seeks a relatively coherent and blended co-presence of elements, usually presenting these as an enigma in a stage-like space. This 150-year old approach to visualising the fantastic is now flourishing in contemporary art photography, but it still has no name; and so I have provisionally termed it the “nu-real”.”

-from Nu-Real : fantastic photomontage and its possible influences, 1857 – 2007


Starfucker: Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second

April 20, 2009

Cecil Beaton

April 19, 2009


If you are in London, this Cecil Beaton retrospective exhibition looks like it’s worth checking out.

There is an informative and detailed essay about Beaton as The Randy Dandy of Photography & Fashion over at The Selvedge Yard.