Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jackie (8) O

Jackie and Aristotle Onassis leave an Athens club at 7 a.m. after celebrating her 40th birthday, 1969. Photo: Nicholas Tsikourias/Getty Images

On what would have been her 80th birthday, I'm going to suggest a revisionist theory - that Jacqueline Kennedy's years as Mrs. Onassis (from 1968 - 1975) were not the emotional wasteland and loveless rebound of popular opinion but an interesting and refreshing period of her life. My evidence is the pictures from this period selected by Life Magazine for their website. Judge for yourselves.

To me, in these pictures she looks happy and svelte and stylish, while Aristotle looks surprisingly hip in a proto-90s/Tom Ford jet-set way. I may be obsessing on consumerist values these days, but I feel like the current economic situation and society's economic and cultural values are so tied up with celebrity consciousness that there's much to explore and analyze.

So here's a view of Jackie - not as the demure First Lady, not the grieving widow, but a harbinger of the social x-ray, shopper celebrity, paparazzi target that we see so much of today.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis shops with her niece and nephew in Capri, 1970. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

Jackie on Madison Avenue, October 1971. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

New York, April 1974. Photo: Tom Wargacki/WireImage

Jackie and Aristotle Onassis dress for a night out, 1970. Photo: Tom Wargacki/WireImage

Friday, July 24, 2009

(500) Pairs of Summer

I said I would post occasionally, and a recent visit to a shoe store in Southampton with my wife offered up this picture sent in by one of their loyal customers. You can read it as a celebration of summer or as evidence of excessive consumption, but either way it has the charm and vitality of much of vernacular photography - and gives quite a taste of summer in this rain-sodden time. (Taken on my iPhone, you'll need to click on the picture to get the full effect.)

One of the funniest photo albums I ever saw was a collection of snapshots put together by the staff of Sotheby's in London where people had sent in snaps of the object they wanted to sell. But like "Antiques Roadshow - Home Edition" these real-life snaps were things like a drunken family gathering and in the background was the intended consignment - a vase on the mantelpiece above Aunt Edna's head. This was years ago, but if I can ever track it down I'll be sure to post the highlights.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Hiatus

I need a vacation! Or at least a break from blogging. So for the rest of the summer I'll be blogging occasionally rather than regularly and recharging the old batteries.

I'll leave you for now with this Leon Levinstein (above) from the Howard Greenberg Gallery's upcoming show, "Staff Picks". It didn't say who picked it on their e-mail announcement, an omission I hope they rectify in the show. But it's a fun pic and almost identical to the Yasuhiro Ishimoto (below) that I featured in a Summer Album last summer. I have no idea which came first but I'm pretty sure whoever came second was intentionally referencing the first. If anyone knows, do comment.

In the meantime, if you're missing this blog, can I suggest going back to some of the early posts? I'm always surprised by how quickly I've forgotten them, and if I can indulge myself, how well they hold up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I ♥ Marilyn Minter

I get a big kick out of Marilyn Minter’s work, which I was mostly introduced to by Nadine McCarthy, the daring and creative Picture Editor of ALLURE. I say mostly because while I was vaguely aware of it before, it hadn’t snapped into focus until she commissioned Minter to do a beauty story for the magazine, and then we put one of Minter’s pieces in a benefit auction we both worked on. As often happens, I then saw how behind the curve I was!

Minter could perhaps best be described as a post-pop artist. Both a photographer and a painter, Minter goes back and forth between the two mediums with each informing and enriching the other. The work she’s making today, however, comes out of a long and winding career. Starting off as a photographer in the 1970s, Minter switched to painting in the 80s and 90s with a series of much noticed but also much criticized works referencing hard core pornography. Out of these images came the thought that the real glamour and the real porn was the glitter of luxury consumer culture.

Using both photography and painting Minter’s new millennial work consisted of hyperrealistic close-ups of makeup-laden lips, eyes, and toes, whose luscious colors and glossy surfaces were appealing and disturbing at the same time. Minter’s exaggerated images copied and subverted the visual seductiveness of advertising while providing a visceral pleasure-laden punch.

A 2005 solo show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a star turn in the 2006 Whitney Biennial quickly put Minter on the contemporary art map. And the rest, as they say, is history.

And as an added bonus, a clip from Minter's newest video project - "Green Pink Caviar". As Minter explains,"I was shooting stills of models with long tongues swirling and sucking bakery products from under a pane of glass. I wanted to make enamel paintings along the idea of 'painting with my tongue'. My makeup artist shot some short videos during the shoot just to see how it would look. The low definition videos looked so good that we made a professional high definition video."

(If you want to buy the full 8 minute video from Minter's gallery, Salon 94, click here.) It's a bargain at $35 and an impressive way to start your video art collection!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Debate

Muhammed Ali. Miami, 1970. Photograph by Danny Lyon. Copyright Magnum Photos.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles. 1988. Jeff Koons.

I was walking back to the gallery last night when I ran into Roy Lebenthal (the owner of the Pop Burger restaurants and a savvy collector) and Adam Cohen (a director at the Gagosian Gallery) having a drink outdoors at Cookshop. Being one of those beautiful summer evenings that makes you want to dilly dally, I stood around schmoozing with them for a while and eventually our talk came round to the question of whether Michael Jackson or Muhammed Ali was more important in the grand scheme of things. Adam was convinced it was indisputably Jackson. I felt equally strongly it was Ali. Roy seemed to be somewhat on the fence.

I know that photographically speaking, there's no question that from a visual art point of view, the wealth of great images of Ali blows Michael Jackson away.

Your feelings please.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Weekend Video

As it's the 4th July weekend, I'm taking a break and posting the weekend video early, but not too early to predict that this will be the song of the summer. It's Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" with guest singers Kanye West and Ne-Yo - a triple threat if there ever was one!

(If you disagree let me know.)