vrijdag 30 mei 2008
By ROBERT LEVINE
Some of Sony’s music executives believe there is a gold mine under the company’s New York headquarters on Madison Avenue. It doesn’t look like much: just a small room, three floors below ground level, with a wall full of the sliding shelves you’d find in a law firm or university library.
But the shelves hold decades of music history as captured by Columbia Records staff photographers: Miles Davis recording “Kind of Blue” in 1959 at the company’s old 30th Street Studio; Bob Dylan standing with then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo on a slushy Greenwich Village street in 1963; Bruce Springsteen proudly holding a copy of his first record in 1973.
Sony acquired Columbia in 1988, but for decades the images in the archives have been used mostly for box sets and other historical projects. But in another sign that the major labels are looking for new sources of revenue wherever they can find them, Sony BMG Music Entertainment is trying to tap into the treasures that its labels have locked away.
Last year the company started Icon Collectibles, a boutique business that sells art-quality reproductions of these photos online, for prices from $300 to $1,700, and through various partners (including the News Services Division of The New York Times). Now it is expected to announce Thursday that it has made a deal to sell its photos through the Morrison Hotel Gallery, which specializes in rock imagery. In mid-July the gallery will open an exhibition of photos from Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in its gallery on 124 Prince Street in SoHo, with plans for an exhibition of Miles Davis images in November.
“We’re looking to take advantage of all the assets of the company, not just the audio recordings,” said John Ingrassia, president of Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s commercial music group, which manages the company’s catalog. “We have the content, and we found a way to tap into it.”
Some images in the archive may be familiar to music fans: Johnny Cash deep in thought with a guitar on his lap in 1959, Mr. Dylan sitting at a piano wearing his Ray-Ban sunglasses in 1965. Others have rarely been seen, including an image of Sly Stone in front of a reel-to-reel tape player in 1973 and dramatic photos of Muhammad Ali, then still known as Cassius Clay, recording the 1963 spoken-word album “I Am the Greatest!”
The Morrison Hotel Gallery mostly sells images owned by prominent music photographers like Jim Marshall, who shot groups like the Rolling Stones and the Who in the ’60s, and Mick Rock, whose images of David Bowie helped define the glam-rock aesthetic.
“A good record company exploits its catalog,” said Peter Blachley, who founded the Morrison Hotel Gallery in 2002 with Rich Horowitz and the photographer Henry Diltz. The gallery now has branches in SoHo and the Bowery, as well as Los Angeles and San Diego.
To sell photos from the archive, Sony BMG gets the permission of the artists or their estates and gives them a cut of sales. Since photos do not interfere with the mainstream merchandising business, most musicians have given the company their blessing.
“When Sony came to us, we figured if fans wanted to buy something different, as long as it’s respectful, why not?” said Lou Robin, Johnny Cash’s longtime manager, who handles some of the Cash estate’s business affairs.
Besides the high-priced photographs Icon also plans to sell mass-market products with imagery from the archive, Mr. Ingrassia said. (BMG labels like RCA and Arista also have archives with potentially valuable imagery.) He added that he hoped Icon could eventually grow into “a seven-figure business.” That’s far less than a hit album earns, but in this economic climate, perhaps every million counts.
Essentially Icon enables Sony BMG to make money from the popularity of music without actually selling songs. As revenue from album sales has slipped, labels are looking for new ways to capitalize on the music experience.
donderdag 29 mei 2008
Bill Brandt: Shadows and Substance to Open at The Akron Art Museum
AKRON.- Bill Brandt, England’s greatest twentieth-century photographer, began as a photojournalist and became a poet of light and shadow. Decade by decade, Brandt (1904 – 1983) moved toward evermore radical dualities of black and white, not just in his new photographs but also in his printing of older images. This resulted in his own reinterpretation of his earlier work. Bill Brandt: Shadows and Substance presents 67 photographs from throughout the artist’s career. All are vintage prints, providing a rare opportunity to see the work as the artist originally conceived it.
“I had the good fortune to start my career in Paris in 1929,” he recalled. “Already two modes [of photography] were emerging: the poetic school, of which Man Ray and Edward Weston were the leaders, and the documentary moment-of-truth school. I was attracted by both.” After two years as a studio assistant for American surrealist (and portrait and fashion photographer) Man Ray, Brandt spent the next decade as a freelance photojournalist in England.
For Brandt, emotional truth took precedence over factual information. His “documentary” images of nightlife in London turn out to have been staged, including one where a prostitute (actually his sister-in-law) solicits a customer (her husband) just out of sight of a policeman (a real one who serendipitously walked into the picture).
Brandt found the “extreme social contrast” of the British class system visually inspiring and made it the focus of his work during the Great Depression. His images of upstairs and downstairs life provide an intimate glimpse: the upstairs people are his relatives, the downstairs ones their servants.Toward the decade’s end, Brandt made factual, powerful images of workers and their families in England’s industrial north that are examples of social documentary photography at its finest.
When World War II started, Brandt returned to London to photograph the blacked-out city. “The darkened town, lit only by moonlight, looked more beautiful than before or since,” wrote the photographer. The best known of those images, St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Moonlight, shows the cathedral dome rising above the rubble of bombed-out buildings. It became an important national emblem juxtaposing the damage inflicted by the war and the reason it needed to be endured.
“Toward the end of the war,” wrote Brandt, “my style changed completely.” Moving from documentary to poetic photography, he switched his emphasis from reportage to nudes and landscapes. To photograph nudes, he used a seventy-year old wooden Kodak. It had a wide-angle lens, no shutter, a pinhole sized aperture and a focus set at infinity, “and it saw differently. It created a great illusion of space, an unrealistically steep perspective, and it distorted….Instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing…the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed.” Brandt’s interest in distortion could also have been inspired by the contorted figures in the paintings of his close friend Francis Bacon.
For landscapes, Brandt found “atmosphere to be the spell that charged the commonplace with beauty…It is a combination of elements, perhaps most simply and yet most inadequately described in technical terms of lighting and viewpoint, which reveals the subject as familiar and yet strange.” The world as seen through Brandt’s lens became an increasingly surreal place.
This effect was enhanced by changes in his printing style. Brandt was always a master printer. “I find the darkroom work most important, as I can finish the composition of a picture only under the enlarger….And there are certainly no rules about the printing of a picture. Now I prefer the very contrasting black-and-white effect. It looks crisper, more dramatic and very different from color photographs,” he explained toward the end of his career.
“Photography is still a very new medium and everything is allowed and everything should be tried,” wrote Bill Brandt. And that is precisely what England’s preeminent photographer did throughout his five-decade career. See for more ...
woensdag 28 mei 2008
by John Elder May 25, 2008
Bill Henson's photo of a nude 13-year-old girl, which has drawn a reaction from police and the Prime Minister.
But it was only the art world that cared. Occasionally it voiced some discomfort, but mostly there was admiration for an artist whose moody use of light and dark subject matter was in the spirit of bad-boy painter Caravaggio and hard-drinking poet Baudelaire.
Excerpt from this 26 min documentary on controversial Melbourne photographer Bill HENSON, set against the Venice Arts' Biennial where he was the Australian Artist representative with a major exhibition.
But this time the police have stepped in, a prime minister has called his pictures "revolting", and "that Bill Henson" has come close to being a notorious household name.
In 1983, he photographed a group of young nude junkies lying about in European museums. The toughest criticism he received was being called "obvious".
About 15 years he ago he produced a series of teenage nudes sprawled across car bonnets. Not titillating; more akin to a nightmarish car wreck. Some of this series of nudes are on show at the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, where they have barely raised an eyebrow, let alone a scandal.
Director of the gallery Ron Ramsey said yesterday: "When that series first went on show, internationally, there was more concern with the way they were presented … with rough edges and some of them actually torn. We have a couple in the collection and there has never been, as far as I know, any concern or complaints from the public.
"They had to go through the (Newcastle) council and the acquisition committee, and there were no objections raised. That's what's shocking everybody — that works similar to what we've put on display are now the subject of a police investigation and all this controversy. We're gobsmacked."
Forty years ago, artist Martin Sharp was famously tried for obscenity because of a piece he wrote for Oz magazine. Last week he received an invitation to Henson's exhibition, which features a topless 13-year-old.
"It was a powerful image. I would call it very beautiful in its vulnerability rather than 'revolting' as the Prime Minister has done," Sharp said. The photograph suggested the girl "gave her trust to Henson … and this trust has been violated by the police and Kevin Rudd's comments."
by Mike Johnston 8 Recommended Reissues Mike's pick of the current crop of classics.
1. Robert Frank, The Americans (Steidl, 2008). For some reason, despite a lot of hoopla about re-releasing this book on the 50th anniversary of the original's publication in France—May 15th—the book is still not shipping. But don't let that stop you—it'll be along. Get yours piping hot off the press. Here's my original post about it.
2. John Szarkowski, William Eggleston's Guide (Museum of Modern Art, 2002). Like it or not, this book is an important part of how color photography came of age in America. Also, a very enjoyable little book. I've returned to mine many times over the years for pleasure. Before this reprint came out, the book had become a rare collectible in the $300–$400 range. When this reprint expires and current supplies dwindle, that will happen again. I notice that Amazon is currently "Out of Stock," which sometimes evolves into "Unavailable," so now could be—I say could be—your last chance. Please don't blame me if you can no longer get it.
While I'm on the subject, I have to add that I'm tired of people claiming ostentatiously that they don't "get" Eggleston. It's not that hard, folks. It's snapshot-aesthetic Americana, circa 1976, the apotheosis of the old 3R (3 1/2 x 5") Kodacolor drugstore print which was the form of demotic photography in America for a couple of decades. Read the essay, look at the pictures. They're just pictures; it's not some sort of secret society with a little peephole on the door with a secret password no one's told you about.
3. John Szarkowski, The Photographer's Eye (Museum of Modern Art, 2007). I laughed (out loud, as they say on the internets) at one "review" of this book that said, essentially, "it's just a bunch of pictures." ...Which, if you habitually scan pictures like you're leafing through a fashion magazine, might indeed not be enough. What with the demotic and democratic rag-and-bone shop of the online world heralding detritus from every forgotten corner of everywhere nowadays, it might be not be recoverable that academic photography once needed this sort of...broadening. There are pictures from historical societies in here. There are snapshots. The works of "photographers unknown." Art mavens once found it shocking. I still find it bracing, although that might be the honoring of old memories. In any case, this was the book that did the trick at the time.
However, you have to bring it to this book. Do not browse; peruse. Look carefully, look long. Think of it like the great curator handing you pictures to look at from out of an endless pile, and attend.
4. Bill Owens, Suburbia (Fotofolio, 1999). The original 1972 book had a hint of the subversive about it, some iconoclasm, typical of inscrutable critiques of America in those old hippie days. But Owens' take on suburban living is really essentially neutral and accepting, equal parts fond and sardonic. The pictures are rich with detail and truly document a style of American life both specifically and generally.
The new book is not a reprint, strictly speaking. It's a new edition, a rethinking. Weak pictures have been deleted, new pictures (many color ones, most obviously, but also some black and whites) have been added, the ordering's been changed, and a new introduction's been added. Overall it's the same book, though, just better in every way—better reproductions, better sequencing, better picture selection—"new and improved" indeed, as the starburst on the cover brightly proclaims.
Sadly, I can't recommend Bill Owens' recently published retrospective from Damiani, the one with the beautiful weed-whacker cover. The B&W reproductions just do not meet my minimum standards.
5. Lisette Model (Aperture, 2007). (The name, by the way, is pronounced "moe-DELL," not as if it's the word for pretty women who pose for fashion photographers.) A reprint of the 1979 original, which was the first book ever published of Model's work—pretty amazing when you consider that the one-woman show at the Photo League that made her famous took place in 1941. The Aperture monograph, a surprise best-seller, came out a mere four years before her death.
Steichen said of Model's pictures that they "...are often camera equivalents of bitter tongue lashings. She strikes swift, hard and sharp, then comes to a dead stop, for her work is devoid of all extraneous devices or exaggerations."
6. Robert Adams, The New West: Landscapes Along the Colorado Front Range (Aperture, 2008). You've probably noticed that Szarkowski (his name is pronounced "shar-COUGH-ski," not "zar-COW-ski" as it is often mispronounced) is all over this little list—but that's only because he was all over American photography in the second half of the 20th century. He wrote the introduction for this book, a landmark of the "New Topographics."
Some "movements" in photography are essentially back-formations—"The New York School," which John Gossage and Jane Livingston pretty much made up out of whole cloth for a 1992 book about a bunch of disparate photographers who all happened to have worked in New York, is a case in point. (Good book, though.) The New Topographics was a more coherent movement. It took its name from a seminal 1975 exhibition curated by William Jenkins at the George Eastman House in Rochester (I used to have the catalogue, and I gave it away, if you can believe that, which I still regret). Again, the work needs to be seen in its historical context: the heroic, unpeopled landscape photography of Adams and Weston et al still prevailed in those days, at least among the public, but was becoming increasingly alien to the actual condition of the American West. Robert Adams reputedly promised himself early in his career that he would not take a picture that didn't contain some trace of human presence. I personally think Adams's From the Missouri West is a better book, but this one was more closely tied to the movement and was more influential. And you can get this one. The New Topographics as a whole had an enormous influence on photography in both the U.S. and Europe.
This is a straight facsimile reissue, a solidly well-made book, as clean as sunlight. Some of Adams's most memorable work.
Two I haven't seen
Rather than straight recommendations, these last two are books I recommend you look at yourself before buying, because I haven't seen either of them. Recently, I drove all around my city, surveying the available bookstores. I'll post about that experience separately, but nowhere in my peregrinations did I see either of these titles. Of course I know the originals very well, but you should look at these for yourself and only take a flier on them if you accept the risk for yourself. Sorry about that, but I can't buy everything—this writing-about-books project is already costing me a bloody fortune.
7. Stephen Shore, Uncommon Places: The Complete Works (Aperture, 2005). I have to say Stephen Shore is too goddam lucky to like. No disrespect intended, but he's no better than any of a hundred or even a thousand other photographers who never got any attention at all, but he seems to have been given infinite and infinitely tender credit and attention for everything he's done literally since he was a kid. Still, there's no denying the influence of Uncommon Places (the hortatory title of a book of pictures of eminently, one might even say quintessentially, common places). I think you almost have to be a photographer to appreciate these pictures; Shore really does have an exquisite eye for framing. There a fine mini-video flogging around YouTube of Shore working, and the most revelatory comment he makes in the program is when he says, "I've discovered that this camera [the 8x10] was the technical means in photography of communicating what the world looks like in a state of heightened awareness." Amen, and bravo. The current book is not a reprint—it's more like an anthology, containing the work from the original book and a lot more like it.
8. Lee Friedlander, Self Portrait (Museum of Modern Art, 2005). As a young art-dawg in photo school in D.C. I grew up puzzling over Friedlander, but he had nearly limitless cred. I and my friends attempted photographing ourselves with bare lightbulbs in the frame and with the camera on self-timer on the hood of the car, of course with results nothing at all like these. Friedlander's startling iconoclasm and unflinching self-regard set the tone of introspective art photography in America for half a generation.
Any I missed?
So that's Part I of my list—I also plan to add sections about great current books and great didactic titles. What do you think—did I miss any worthy reissues you would have named?
Next in this series: Martin Parr's list.
dinsdag 27 mei 2008
How do famous photographers, amateur and studio photographers in Western culture look at babies? In this exhibition special attention goes out to idealisation of babies from the beginning of photography until now. On show is work by Amy Arbus, Koos Breukel, Julia Margaret Cameron, Rineke Dijkstra, Ed van der Elsken, Henri Lartigue, Oscar Rejlander, August Sander, Mario Testino and Weegee. See for the Photo galery ... & See for more ...
See for Family & Snapshot photography ... & Sally Mann ...
maandag 26 mei 2008
Korda was born in 1928, the same year as Che Guevara. He died in May 2001 while attending one of his many exhibitions round the world, in Paris. The life of the photographer reflected the transformation that the revolution effected in Cuban society.
zaterdag 24 mei 2008
The forms in which the books appear are as diverse and distinctive as the work of the photographers themselves, from personal visual narratives, documentary projects and conceptual investigations to publications that invite interaction. Some books are initiatives and often published by the photographers themselves; others are issued by a publisher.
The thirty-some publications that are shown in „Pages“ are by Melanie Bonajo, Kim Bouvy, Sema Bekirovic, Nickel van Duijvenboden, Ringel Goslinga, Vesselina Nikolaeva, Paulien Oltheten and others. Video works that accompany several of the publications are also being screened. Several photo magazines which provide an important podium for young Dutch photographers are being shown too, including Sec, Fw:, Capricious and Archivo. The latest issue of Fw: magazine has been published to accompany the exhibition.
„Pages“ has been shown earlier this year at the Nederlands Fotomuseum and at the Dorrotya Gallery (a unit of the Budapest Kunsthal) and Lumen Gallery in Budapest as part of the LOW Festival, the Dutch-Flemish Cultural Programme 2008 in Hungary.
This exhibition was the outcome of an initiative by László Gergely (Lumen Photography Foundation, Budapest), Claudia Küssel (Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam) and Fw:, the podium for Dutch photography. Fw: is comprised of Karin Krijgsman, Dieuwertje Komen, Petra Stavast and Hans Gremmen.
16,5 x 23,5 cm / 80 pagina's / Engelstalig / 7 euro (excl. verzendkosten)
Ontwerp en redactie: Hans Gremmen. Tekst 'A New Generation of Photo Books from The Netherlands', door Claudia Kussel / Tekst 'Books? Books!' door Hans Gremmen
Andrea Stultiens / Annelies Goedhart / Anouk Kruithof / Jaap Scheeren / Nickel van Duijvenboden / Rob van Hoesel / Bob van der Vlist / Bregje van den Berg / Chantal Spieard / Paulien Oltheten / WassinkLundgren (see for the Review by 5B4 ) / Sema Bekirovic / Petra Stavast / Judith van IJken / Vesselina Nikolaeva / Kim Bouvy / Wytske van Keulen / Reineke Otten / Mieke Woestenburg / Ringel Goslinga / Rob Hornstra / Martine Stig & Vanessa van Dam / Anais G. Lopez / Karine Versluis / Judith Jockel / Niels Stomps (see the Review by 5B4) / Linda Maria Birbeck / Elian Somers / Antje Peters / Rob Philip / Rob van der Nol / Don Sars / Erik van der Weijde / Melanie Bonajo & Kinga Kielczynska / Raymond Taudin Chabot en Jasper Groen.
De afgelopen jaren werden verschillende internationale tentoonstellingen en standaardwerken aan het fotoboek gewijd. Daar waar deze grip probeerden te krijgen op de historie van deze presentatievorm en de canon hiervan in kaart trachten te brengen, onderzoekt de tentoonstelling 'Pages' hoe jonge fotografen in Nederland zich op dit moment tot dit medium verhouden. Zo divers en eigenzinnig als het werk van de fotografen, zo rijk zijn de vormen waarin de boeken verschijnen. Van persoonlijke beeldverhalen, documentaire projecten en conceptuele onderzoeken tot publicities die uitnodigen tot interactie. Ze hebben een bijzondere fotografische kwaliteit en attitude gemeen die soms wordt versterkt door een uitgesproken vormgeving en lay-out. Naast publicaties worden tevens een aantal fotomagazines gepresenteerd die als belangrijk platform fungeren voor hedendaagse fotografie.
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