Friday, October 31, 2008

Sharon Core

Sharon Core, a 1998 Yale MFA grad, sprang into the art world’s consciousness with her 2004 show at Bellwether Gallery, “Thiebauds”. A photographic re-creation of the artist Wayne Thiebaud’s famous food paintings, Core reversed the conventional practice of paintings copying photographs by painstakingly baking, coloring, arranging, and lighting her re-creations and then printing them the same size as the Thiebaud originals.

Four years on and now showing at Yancey Richardson, Core has found new inspiration in the 19th century still life paintings of Raphaelle Peale. Unlike the Thiebauds, however, this time Core has not copied specific paintings. Instead she has analyzed Peale’s work in terms of subject matter, composition, coloration, lighting, and scale in order to understand exactly how they are made and then proceeded to create her own new works in an act of art historical homage.

It’s a difficult feat to pull off, but Core has succeeded where many others have failed, primarily by the softness of her lighting and her mastery of 19th century composition and perspective. As Core fully understands, if you’re going to go for it, you’ve got to go all the way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amelia's World

I first met Robin Schwartz in the mid-1990s after she had just published her first book– a collection of black and white photographs of monkeys living in domesticated surroundings. As well as being unusual and good photographs, the underlying theme of the work addressed the question of what degree of separation there was between man and animal and by extension the whole question of animal rights. I kept a box of her prints at my gallery and showed them whenever I had the chance, but in general they were not what people were looking for. You can see some examples here in the Primate Portraits section.

Now just over a decade later, Robin has had her third book published (by Aperture), a series of edenic color photographs of her daughter Amelia interacting with a range of animals. If Robin is the animal photographer, Amelia is the animal whisperer – a child who clearly has an unusual gift and connection with other species. As Robin told me, “Amelia is fearless. When she first met a kangaroo, she stuck her hands down her pouch to feel the joey! Nothing spooks her.”

The multi-level collaboration, between photographer, daughter, and animals have inspired Schwartz to broaden her style from a journalistic genre to a more contemporary art aesthetic. The photographs play with art and photo-historical references and I can easily see these pictures gracing the walls of collectors and museums. It’s an extraordinary pleasure to see someone whose work has always been good move on so effectively.

After posting the above, Robin Schwartz sent me this picture taken just last week.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Science

Joe Raedle. Getty Images

A scientific study of recent news pictures comes to the unavoidable conclusion that we are faced with a significant photogenic-ness gap between candidates.

Jim Bourg. Reuters

Alex Brandon. AP

Joe Raedle. Getty Images

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekend Video - Sia

Here's an original photo driven video. "Breathe Me" by the Australian singer Sia from her album "Colour The Small One".

... and a bonus track - "Little Black Sandals".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big Shot

For much of his life, Andy Warhol was obsessed with photography. He bought it, borrowed it, and banged it out with regularity. Along with his many obsessions, he collected cameras, but there is no doubt that his favorite was the Polaroid Big Shot Camera which he used to photograph his commissioned portraits. (The photographs were then transferred to canvas where Warhol and/or his assistants would paint over and under the image.) While now out of production the camera is still readily available for about $20 - $30, in fact there are currently 8 for sale on Ebay. Warhol called the camera “his pencil and paper”.

While Warhol’s Big Shots portraits are justly famous, less known are the everyday photographs of objects he took between 1977 and 1983. Starting next week, however, the Paul Kasmin Gallery in Chelsea will be exhibiting 70 of these Polaroids for the first time. Still lives of bananas, knives, and crosses, and assemblages of shoes and other commercial products, the photographs are interesting not only for the objects Warhol chose to picture and the deadpan style with which he photographed them, but for the underlying themes of desire and mortality that run through the work and the prescient symbolism. Most significantly, though, the pictures show that it’s not the equipment that counts, but – as always - the ideas behind the work.

All works 1977 - 1983 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And the Winner Is ...

A note about the process. Having promised a random selection, this is how the winner was chosen. At the end of the day, I printed out all the comments, weeded out duplicate entries, cut them up and put them in a large envelope, and asked the first person I ran into to pick one at random.

And the winner is …

Monday, October 20, 2008


Ixiana Hernandez is a New York based photographer with a sideline taking portraits of dogs. This is not a field rife with originality or substance, but I think Ixiana is the exception. On her website she says: “It is my goal to create portraits that do not rely on cuteness. I want to create portraits that reflect the dog’s character, and to show the viewer what I see when I look at them.” More than that, though, I think her use of color, lighting, and sharp detail, combined with what is clearly a strong and distinctive eye make them quite impressive as photographs in their own right. Cute but not too cute.

Equally (but differently) cute is Sadie Bay Weller, the daughter of private dealer Ariel Meyerowitz and David Weller, and the granddaughter of the great photographer Joel Meyerowitz. Soon to be two weeks old, young Sadie is set to be a much photographed child, but as these pictures by her grandfather (top picture) and mother (bottom) show, she's already a beauty and a ham!

And last, but not least, my blog-colleague Maegan recently posted these pictures of herself as Tinkerbelle. (Halloween, c. 1980.) I doubt it's possible to come up with a cuter picture from Halloween past but I'll challenge all readers nonetheless.

E-mail your entry to And a surprise Halloween gift to Maegan or whoever trumps these pictures.

Print Giveaway #1 winner to be announced tomorrow!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend Video - Les Miserables

Recommended for the weekend video by the legendary art director and graphic designer Ruth Ansel, this spoof of Les Miserables comes from the Ultimate Improv troupe of Los Angeles. (For new readers, click on Ruth Ansel's name for an inside look at her home/office.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Random Shots

Perhaps the most newsworthy photographic announcement of the week was the acquisition of the Harry Shunk Archive by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Shunk, who died in 2006 at 81, was known for photographing art by scores of modern and contemporary artists, including Rene Magritte, Yves Klein, Arman, Jean Tinguely, Christo, and Lichtenstein himself. But his most famous image, the photomontage "Le Saut Dans La Vide", a composite recreation of a purported event by Yves Klein, still stands as the defining moment of performance art. The archive, comprising thousands of prints and negatives, was purchased at a public estate auction conducted by the public administrator of New York. I believe this means it was picked up for a song.

I've always been a big fan as well as a student of NASA pictures, but I just happened to stumble across the above which I'd never seen before. Left on the moon by Charlie Duke of Apollo 16, according to NASA the picture was taken by Loudy Benjamin and contains a message on the back which reads "This is the family of Astronaut Duke from Planet Earth. Landed on the Moon, April 1972." Underneath the message are the signatures of his wife and kids. I believe history will record this as the first lunar print giveaway, the intended recipient being one photo loving extra-terrestrial!

From the site Ffffound, a poolside photograph which looks strangely like a photorealist painting.

From A Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans, a rare Elliott Erwitt taken in Brasilia in 1961.

This year's Nobel Prize in chemistry went to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Tsien for discovering and developing green fluorescent protein, or GFP, that has helped researchers watch the tiniest details of life within cells and living creatures. This image of fluoresced mouse brain cells illustrates their research but seems as much art as science.

And finally, for all those with cool camera envy, Olympus have just unveiled their forthcoming Micro Four Thirds concept camera. Little technical information is available as of now, but with its retro styling and small size the camera was the hit of last month's Photokina.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Print Giveaway #1

The photograph above is an 8x10 inch print of Audrey Hepburn c. 1960 taken by Cecil Beaton. It is the first in what will become a regular series of print giveaways! Some will be photographs from my collection, some will be prints donated by famous photographers, etc.. My only criteria for now is that the print will have to fit into a Fed Ex envelope.

The rules are simple. Just post a comment that includes a way to contact you. The winner will be chosen after one week by randomly picking one of the comments posted.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Camera Notes

Earlier this year, an Italian photographer and camera buff named Michele Ferrario found a double pack of Kodak instant film with an expiry date of 1991. Not many people are aware of this, but Kodak once made an instant camera, the EK100, in an attempt to compete with Polaroid. They quickly faced numerous legal challenges and after nine years in court Kodak lost and was left with millions of unsellable cameras and packs of film – some of which apparently are still floating around. After an extensive search Ferrario found a working camera and tried it out. The pictures (above and below) are like a cross between spirit pictures and an experiment in time travel moving backwards and forward between past and present. And for anyone interested, there’s a camera for sale on Ebay. At the time of this writing, it’s at $10 Australian dollars!

The camera.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Random Shots from All Over

Over the long weekend, I took the opportunity to surf the web in search of interesting images. Here are some of my finds:

From Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the master of aerial photography, a road in Egypt's Nile Valley covered by sand dunes.

From Fahey-Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, this Patrick Demachelier photograph of Gisele Bundchen. Fahey-Klein's show opens in conjunction with the photographer's retrospective at the Petit Palais in Paris.

From the forthcoming show of political photographs by Diana Walker at Howard Greenberg, this shot of Republicans enjoying themselves.

Answering the question of whatever happened to the three little piggies, this image taken during the summer floods in Iowa.

Scientists have created a beautification algorithm through which you can run a picture to make any face conform to idealized notions of beauty. Brigitte Bardot and James Franco came out unchanged.

Meanwhile, Esquire Magazine reprise their famous Platon "crotch shot" of Bill Clinton with a more graceful Cliff Watts portrait of their "sexiest woman alive", Halle Berry.

From the blog I Heart Photograh an introduction to the work of Manuel Vazquez.

And an echo from TIME's "Pictures of the Week" in this photograph of visiting parents of new students at a Chinese university allowed to sleep overnight in the gym.

Not surprisingly there's now a website devoted to pictures of sad looking traders. Click here.

Brad Pitt publishes his home pictures of wife Angelina Jolie in W Magazine. A mini-controversy erupts over the apparent breast-feeding pictured on the cover, but there's a much better and more striking picture of those famous lips inside.

And last but not least, when it come to super-cute, this picture was hard to beat!