History of Photography
History of Photography
A World History of Photography
The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991
PHOTOGRAPHY SINCE 1950:
THE STRAIGHT IMAGE
There is one thing the photograph must
contain, the humanity of the moment. This kind of photography is
realism. But realism is not enough— there has to be vision and the
two together can make a good photograph. It is difficult to
describe this thin line where matter ends and mind begins.
Robert Frank, 1962
IN 1850 IT WOULD HAVE BEEN unusual to meet someone who had handled a
camera or looked at a photograph; 100 years later the reverse would have
been true. The camera had become a ubiquitous device, its basic techniques
easily mastered by even the clumsiest and least sophisticated person. By
1950, photographic images in silver, in colored dyes, and in printer's ink
had penetrated all parts of the globe, through all layers of society, and
had become the daily visual diet of everyone living in the urban centers
of the West. In the second half of the 20th century, the photograph has
been perceived as the paramount means of visual communication, attracting
gifted and imaginative artists as well as commercial practitioners and
amateurs, and infiltrating the art marketplace as a commodity while
continuing to fulfill established roles in communications and advertising.
Traditional photographic methods and materials continued to be refined
throughout this period until the 1980s. Then, the discovery of ways to
produce images electronically and alter them by computer relegated many
aspects of conventional photography to the dustbin at the same time that
it raised still-unresolved issues about authorship, copyright, and
truthfulness (see A Short Technical History, Part III).
After the second World War, photographs became more pervasive than ever
before, in large part due to the weekly picture magazines, which continued
to be popular through the 1970s despite increasing competition from
television. With their accomplished reportage, seductive advertising, and
striking scientific pictures made possible by new techniques in aerial
photography (pi. no. 661) and microphotography, picture journals helped
prepare the way for public acceptance of a wide range of imagery—
abstractions, series, color, and visual manipulations of various kinds. In
the late 1960s and '70s, photographs earned greater respect as individual
objects; they began to be reproduced more frequendy in book format,
exhibited more often in galleries and museums, and collected with more
enthusiasm by private individuals and business enterprises. As a result,
their history and provenance became subjects of scholarly study;
concurrendy, the widespread effect of photography on perceptions of
reality and on the nature of perception itself became the stuff of
intellectual speculation. During the 1980s, the photograph was seen not
only as an object capable of affording information or pleasure but also as
a tract on which might be inscribed (sometimes in actual words) an
unmistakable social or political message.
In the years since its invention, photography had become an
international medium. That photographic processes and concepts had
traversed national boundaries with ease owed much to competition among
industrial nations in the nineteenth century. England and France,
especially, carefully monitored each other's discoveries in all scientific
and industrial fields, while the similarity of life in industrial
societies increasingly elicited similar kinds of pictorial documentation.
However, despite the vitality of international photographic activity up
through the 1930s, after World War II the wellspring of visual culture
shifted temporarily to the United States as European and Far Eastern
countries struggled to rebuild their shattered economies. Physically
undamaged by the war and entering a period of relative economic
well-being, the United States provided the conditions that
photography—and, indeed, all the visual arts—needed to flourish.
Eventually, publications, traveling exhibitions, and peripatetic
photographers on assignment acquainted Europeans with the diverse styles
of American postwar camera expression, which they enriched with ideas
originating from their own cultures.
As stability returned, camera activity' in Europe, Latin America, and
the Far East prospered. By the 1990s, photographs made in places as far
apart as China and Eastern Europe featured ideas and modes similar to
those generally prevailing in the United States and Western Europe. In
Russia, for example, the medium has been transformed from
government-sanctioned straight reportage to a diversity of manipulative
practices that embrace postmodern themes, while Chinese photographers,
long in thrall to an idealized view of their own society, have recendy
adopted a more discerning, journalistic approach. In view of this
historical sequence, it seems logical to discuss developments in the
United States first, and in somewhat greater detail, before turning to
661. UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Mount Vesuvius, Italy,
after the Eruption of
Gelatin silver print. Imperial War Museum, London.
Postwar Trends in the United States
Using wars as demarcations of cultural eras may seem simplistic, but
there is little question that a new sensibility made its appearance in the
United States after World War II. As the nation began a period that was
characterized (until the mid-1960s) by domestic peace, political
conformism, and expansive consumerism, many in the arts began to grapple
with problems of pure form, with the expression of inner visions, and with
representing new perceptions of social realities. Reflecting this trend,
one significant group of photographers concentrated on what have been
called "private realities," drawing ideas and inspiration from a variety
of sources—among them, Abstract Expressionist painting, psychoanalytic
thought, Zen, and other systems of Eastern philosophy. Others were
inspired by the photographic experimentalism implanted on American soil by
refugees who organized the American Bauhaus as well as by the tendency of
many painters to obscure the traditional line between photographic and
graphic expression by mixing their media (see Chapter 12). The work of
young photographers who continued to espouse straight photography also
exhibited subtle changes, becoming tinged by more subjective or ironic
attitudes. Alongside these new sensibilities, traditional approaches to
image-making still attracted adherents, giving the medium extraordinary
range and vitality.
The explosion of photographic activity in the United States stemmed in
part from the scholarships given to former members of the armed forces,
which enabled them to attend art schools and colleges at government
expense. This education introduced many young people to photography as a
way to make a living and as a means of personal expression. One such
educational fountainhead was the Institute of Design in Chicago—the
American incarnation of the Bauhaus—which proposed that photographers be
first and foremost concerned with the expressive manipulation of light,
"free from cultural indoctrination." Setting aside the social intent and
Utopian ideals explicit in the original Bauhaus programs in Weimar and
Dessau, the Institute advocated a "new vision" that was primarily
dedicated to finding fresh, personal ways of looking at the commonplace.
Of the photographers associated with the Institute in its early days,
Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind were the most influential in terms of
their own work. Reflecting the school's emphasis on experimentation,
Callahan used both 35mm and 8 x 10 inch formats, worked in black and white
and in color, and made multiple exposures, montages, and collages. His
straight images exemplify attempts to find a visual means of "revealing
the subject in a new way to intensify it," as in the early Weed Against
Sky, Detroit (pi. no. 662; sec also pi. no. 663). Siskind's attraction to
abstract forms in nature and in the built world, already made visible in
the architectural details he had photographed on Martha's Vineyard during
the mid-1930s, became stronger over the next few decades as the
photographer committed himself to "relaxing beliefs ... to seeing the
world clean, fresh and alive." Acknowledging the influence of the
accidental and spontaneous gestures favored by Abstract Expressionist
painters, Siskind found in the canvases of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline,
and Jackson Pollock suggestions for the motifs he extracted from street
environments (pi. no. 664). Much of the experimentaiism fostered by the
Institute took the form of manipulative interventions, but a number of
graduates— including Linda Connor, Art Sinsabaugh, and Geoffrey Winningham—applied
the precepts to straight photography, at times using unusual formats or
special lenses to express a fresh vision of reality.
Another dimension was given to postwar photography by Minor White,
whose search for allusive or metaphorical meanings in the appearances of
reality attracted a cult following during the 1960s. Through extensive
teaching and publishing activities, White persuasively urged that
photographs be made to embody a mystic essence, that the camera reveal "tilings
for what they are" and "for what else they are." Unsympathetic to the idea
that the medium should emulate painting and drawing, White sought instead
to continue the directions in straight photography mapped out by Srieglitz
and Weston—to approach nature with a large-format camera, a sharp lens,
and an eye for equivalences between form and feeling. Like Weston. White
obliterated clues to size and geographic locale, giving his images the
enigmatic quality seen in Moencopi Strata, Capitol Reef, Utah (pi. no.
665), a work that is a depiction of actual rock formations, an arresting
visual design, and an invitation to sec within it whatever the viewer
Younger photographers inspired by the intensity of White's credo and
the force of Weston's images sought in natural phenomena of all kinds
forms that might express their feelings of being at one with nature.
Eroded surfaces, tangled branches, translucent petals, watery
environments, and rock structures photographed close-up and with
large-format cameras were favored by Walter Chapell and Paul Caponigro
(pi. no. 666) as a means of going beyond perception to evoke the mystic
divinity in all nature. The power of light to unlock "the greatest secrets
of the unknown"" is central also to the imagery of Wynn Bullock (pi. no.
667), a Californian who was close to Weston personally and ideologically.
A similar attitude about the transcendent meaning of nature has inspired
Linda Connor's images of sacred trees, rocks, and waterfalls, taken in
many parts of the world. Another means used to invest the landscape with
fresh regard has been to view it from an unusual angle. William A. Garnett
(pi. no. 668) and Bradford Washington both photograph from the air,
transforming the shirting patterns of desert, eroded soil, and farmland
into elegantly structured abstractions through framing and the quality and
direction of the light. During the 1960s, this concept of the camera image
as a lofty emblem of some universal truth was challenged by several
groups—by those who believed that "the interior truth ultimately is the
only truth," by those grappling with aesthetic or conceptual issues, and
by those who responded to social realities but in a subjective fashion.
The first two groups turned to manipulative and directorial photography;
chroniclers of the social scene continued, for the most part, to favor
straight photography. The changing character of American life, coupled
with the popularity of the 35mm camera and fresh ideas about photographic
aesthetics, also yielded a distinctive new style in straight street
photography, with the prevailing tone becoming distanced and ironic. This
approach had surfaced first in street images made in the early 1940s by
Callahan, Walker Evans, and Louis Faurer, but impetus from Europeans
working in the United States from the 1930s on also must be recognized.
One of the earliest, John Gutmann (a German artist who arrived in 1933),
focused on the urban scene in his travels across the country. His use of
the medium to record the signs and symbols of American popular culture
resembled Evans's approach in some respects, but Gutmann's earlier
exposure to German Expressionism gave rise to a more caustic wit (pi. no.
662. HARRY CALLAHAN. Weed Against Sky, Detroit, 1948.
print. Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.
(b Detroit, 22 Oct 1912; d Atlanta, GA, 15 March 1999).
American photographer. He took up photography in 1938, at the relatively
late age of 26. Ansel Adams visited the Detroit Photo Guild in 1941 and
Callahan was inspired by his emphasis on craftsmanship and his majestic
images. Callahan’s earliest works focused on the calligraphic details of
landscape, such as the patterns of grass against snow or telephone wires
against the sky, or explored the effects of multiple exposures. Later
subjects included studies of his wife Eleanor, a series of portraits made on
Chicago’s State Street in 1950, a series of houses at Providence, RI, and
Cape Cod beachscapes begun in the 1960s. Whether working in black and white
or, later, in colour, as in Harry Callahan: Color (New York, 1980),
Callahan was committed in all his work to what he called ‘the moment that
people can’t always see’.
663. HARRY CALLAHAN. Eleanor, Port Huron, 1954.
Gelatin silver print.
Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York.
664. AARON SISKIND. NEW YORK. No. 6, 1951.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy
Robert Mann Gallery.
665. MINOR WHITE. Moencopi Strata, Capitol Reef, Utah, 1962.
silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; Purchase.
(b Minneapolis, MN, 9 July 1908; d Boston, MA, 24 June 1976).
American photographer and writer. He took his first photographs as a child
with a Kodak Box Brownie camera and later learnt darkroom procedures as a
student at the University of Minnesota. After graduating in 1933 with a
degree in botany and English, he wrote poetry for five years while
supporting himself with odd jobs. He moved to Portland, OR, in 1938 and
became increasingly interested in photography. During 1938–9 he worked for
the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project as a creative
photographer documenting the early architecture and waterfront of Portland.
In 1941 MOMA in New York exhibited several of his images. His first one-man
show, photographs of the Grande Ronde-Wallowa Mountain area of north-eastern
Oregon, opened at the Portland Art Museum in 1942.
Barn and Clouds, in the
Vicinity of Naples and Dansville, New York, 1955
666. PAUL CAPONIGRO. Schoodic Point, Maine, 1960.
Gelatin silver print.
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester,
667. WYNN BULLOCK. Point Lobos Wave, 1958.
Gelatin silver print.
Collection Robert E. Abrams, New York.
(From Wikipedia, the
Wynn Bullock (April 18,
1902, Chicago - November 16, 1975, Monterey, California) was an American
photographer that is notable for his photographs of nudes and of
landscapes on the West Coast.
He started in the 1920s with a career as a concert tenor. While studying
in Paris, he was inspired by visual artists, in particular Cézanne, Moholy-Nagy
and Man Ray. Upon his return to the US, he focused on a career as a
He left law school to attend the Art Center School in Los Angeles. In
1948, he met and began a lifelong friendship with Edward Weston, a
relationship that continually influenced his life as a photographer.
Bullock also explored the commercial side of photography, founding Arrow
Camera in Santa_Maria, California in 1943. Bullock ran the business until
1952, when he sold it to Hank Datter.
Bullock's photographs are in over 90 museum collections including The
Hallmark Collection of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, The Center
for Creative Photography, and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Some
of his photographs were used by Edward Steichen in 1955 in his The Family
of Man, a vast exhibition consisting of over 500 photos that depicted
life, love and death in 68 countries.
Navigation Without Numbers,
668. WILLIAM A. GARNETT. Two Trees on a Hill with Shadows, Paso Rabies, Califomia, 1947.
Daniel Wolf, Inc., New York.
669. JOHN GUTMANN. The Jump, 1939.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Castelli Graphics.
(From Wikipedia, the free
John Gutmann (1905-1998) was a
German-born American photographer and painter.
After fleeing Nazi Germany for the United States, Gutmann acquired a job
as a photographer for various German magazines. Gutmann quickly took an
interest in the American way of life and sought to capture it through the
lense of his camera. He especially took an interest in the Jazz music
scene. Gutmann is recognized for his unique "worm's-eye view" camera
angle. He enjoyed taking photos of ordinary things and making them seem
The Artist Lives Dangerously
San Francisco, 1938
The mordant views of bench sitters in Monte Carlo (pi. no. 670) by
Lisette Model (who had been born in Vienna, then worked in France before
settling in the United States in 1938) were followed by sardonic images
she made in the streets of New York. An influential teacher in New York,
Model found a receptive audience among young photographers, including
Diane Arbus. Robert Frank, a Swiss-born emigre, was even more dominant in
establishing a tone and style for the next generation. Awarded a
Guggenheim grant in 1955, Frank used the money to take a photographic
odyssey through the United States, working with a 35mm Leica. As an
outsider, he regarded cherished national institutions and pastimes with
detached skepticism, while his sensitive eye transformed situations into
metaphors for the factiousness and consumerism of American postwar
society. For example, in Trolley, New Orleans (pi. no. 671), the contrasts
in the facial expressions and gestures of the riders, as well as the
structural organization of the image itself, convey without rhetoric the
psychological and emotional complexities as well as the physical divisions
that characterized racial relationships in the South. (See also pi. no.
672.) Frank's images, which were meant to be seen as a group rather than
individually, were published in book format as The Americans— first in
France and later, in 1959, in the United States. Their irreverent, unposed,
erratically framed, and sometimes blurred forms (reflective also of their
maker's anti-aesthetic attitude toward print quality) were dismissed by
American critics as too harsh but were hailed by young Americans who had
had their fill of heroes and icons.
William Klein's raw, grating views of New York in the 1950s were even
less acceptable as a vision of American society. Klein—an American
resident of France who is a painter, graphic designer, and filmmaker in
addition to being a fashion and street photographer—also ignored
traditional precepts about sharpness, tonal range, and print quality. His
Garment Center (pi. no. 673) resonates with the anxieties of modern urban
existence. Images by Frank and Klein were considered critical of the
American middle-class; another response to that group can be seen in the
derisive treatment by Diane Arbus of so-called normal individuals and her
compassion for those dismissed as bizarre by conventional
society—transvestites, homosexuals, and prostitutes, for example. Prompted
by what she termed the "ceremonies of our present," Arbus, whose mentor
was Model and whose model was Weegee (pi. no. 624), approached such
outcasts without moral pre-judgment, but when she photographed ordinary
people in ordinary situations her reaction was invariably ungenerous.
Whatever her subject, she usually favored direct, head-on poses that often
mimicked the style of the family snapshot, as in Mother Holding Her Child,
N.J. (pi. mi 674)—one of the most alienated images of motherhood in the
history of visual art.
Indeed, one of the signal influences on straight camera images during
the 1960s was the "snapshot aesthetic." The appetite for naive camera
imagery accorded with the era's taste for vernacular and "pop" culture—a
taste also reflected in the themes and techniques of graphic art. Like
their colleagues painting soup cans, road signs, and comic-book
characters, photographers were attracted by the omnipresent emblems of
contemporary culture— automobiles, billboards, graffiti, and storefronts.
They recorded these artifacts, as well as people and situations, in a
casual style that seemed to paraphrase the lack of artifice and the
neutral emotional tone of most snapshots. In 1966, the
photographer-educator Nathan Lyons coined the phrase "social landscape" to
characterize this type of documentation, which he and others felt avoided
the sentimentality they perceived in the older documentary style. The
"social landscape" approach appealed especially to photographers whose
view of reality tended to be disjunctive and who no longer canonized the
pre-visualized, beautifully printed, large-format camera image.
The desire to make pictures that affirmed the camera's potential for
neutral observation evolved from interest in the snapshot and emerged as a
significant impulse, nurtured from the late 1960s through 1991 by John
Szarkowski, director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of
Modern Art in New York. In theory, the avoidance of overt psychological or
ideological interpretation in a photograph allows the viewer to read the
work without the interference of the photographer's political or social
biases. This mode of working is exemplified by Garry Winogrand, whose
images, according to Szarkowski, are statements about "the uniquely
prejudicial (intrinsic) qualities of photographic description" and not
about their ostensible subjects. Winogrand's photo-graph of a young woman
(pi. no. 675) is arresting in the way it integrates and structures the
reflections and geometric elements, relating the principal figure to the
manikin and to the city background, but it is an ambiguous statement that
allows the viewer to interpret its meaning freely.
Using comparable subject matter—people and things— Lee Friedlander
makes views of city streets that are simiarly equivocal (pi. no. 676) but
nevertheless suggestive of an uneasy urban tension. Along with the
uninflected portrayals of ordinary people by Todd Papageorge and Larry
Fink and the street views by Mark Cohen and Joel Meyerowitz—to cite but
four more of the numerous photographers who were initially attracted to
this style of uninflected street photography—such works permit viewers to
decide for themselves whether a particular image is derisive or amusing,
whether it is interesting as social or political comment, as an example of
the formal problems of picture-making, or, like the vast majority of
photographs, just momentarily eye-catching.
This vernacular mode had an unexpected side-effect: it prepared the way
for the acceptance of humor in seriously conceived images. In the United
States, Pictorialists and modernists alike had been fairly earnest about
photography; witty or humorous images were relegated to advertising or
popular entertainment or family snapshots. Within the diversity of
photographic expression that emerged in the 1960s, humor came to be seen
as a legitimate element. Elliott Erwitt and Burk Uzzle, for example, are
both successful photojournalists who regard people, animals, and artifacts
with disarming wit (pi. no. 677). Although this vein still has not been
extensively mined in the United States, other photographers, among them
Geoffrey Winningham and Bill Owens, gently satirize obviously comical
anomalies in contemporary culture. The selling strategies of advertising,
the pomposities of high art, and the excesses of performance art inspire
William Wegman's antic dog images (pi. no. 678). Although humorous in
appearance, Sandy Skoglund's interiors full of animal and human forms that
she sculpts and poses and paints in unnatural colors are intended to show
"what it's like to live in America at this time." Still other approaches
to humor can be seen in the whimsical confusions between reality and
camera image explored by the conceptualist photographer Kenneth Josephson
(pi. no. 742).
670. LISETTE MODEL. French Riviera, 1937.
Gelatin silver print. Private
(b Vienna, 10 Nov 1906; d New York, 30 March 1983).
American photographer of Austrian birth. A school-friend of Gertrude
Schoenberg, she studied music first with her father Arnold Schoenberg,
before continuing her studies in Paris. She was a self-taught photographer
and tried to find ways of working in photography, training as a technician
in a photographic laboratory. In 1938 she settled in New York. Two years
later the photographer Ralph Steiner (1899–1986) published her series of
photographs, Promenade des Anglais, which she had taken in Nice in
1937. The series was characteristic of her work in revealing her obvious
love of people, seen for example in Promenade des Anglais (1937),
which depicts a rotund woman in a large sunhat, sitting precariously on a
bench. The photographers Alexey Brodovitch (1898–1971) and Beaumont Newhall
(b 1908) were impressed by her work.
Fashion Show, Hotel Pierre, New York,
671. ROBERT FRANK. Trolley, N. Orleans, c. 1955.
Gelatin silver print.
ROBERT FRANK (see collection)
(From Wikipedia, the free
Robert Frank (born November
9, 1924), born in Zürich, Switzerland, is an important figure in American
photography and film. His most notable work, the 1958 photographic book
titled simply The Americans, was heavily influential in the post-war
period, and earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for
his fresh and skeptical outsider's view of American society. Frank later
expanded into film and video and experimented with compositing and
Frank was born to a wealthy Jewish family in Switzerland. Frank's mother,
Rosa, was Swiss, but his father, Hermann, had become stateless after World
War I and had to apply for the Swiss citizenship of Frank and his older
brother, Manfred. Though Frank and his family remained safe in Switzerland
during World War II, the threat of Nazism nonetheless affected his
understanding of oppression. He turned to photography in part as a means
to escape the confines of his business-oriented family and home, and
trained under a few photographers and graphic designers before he created
his first hand-made book of photographs, 40 Fotos, in 1946. Frank
emigrated to the United States in 1947, and secured a job in New York City
as a fashion photographer for Harper's Bazaar. He soon left to travel in
South America and Europe. He created another hand-made book of photographs
that he shot in Peru, and returned to the U.S. in 1950. That year was
momentous for Frank, who after meeting Edward Steichen participated in the
group show 51 American Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA);
he also married fellow artist, Mary Lockspeiser, with whom he had two
children, Andrea and Pablo.
Though he was initially optimistic about the United States, Frank's
perspective quickly changed as he confronted the fast pace of American
life and what he saw as an overemphasis on money. He now saw America as an
often bleak and lonely place, a perspective that became evident in his
later photography. Frank's own dissatisfaction with the control editors
exercised over his work also undoubtedly colored his experience. He
continued to travel, moving his family briefly to Paris. In 1953, he
returned to New York and continued to work as a freelance photojournalist
for magazines including McCall's, Vogue, and Fortune.
With the aid of his major artistic influence, the photographer Walker
Evans, Frank secured a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial
Foundation in 1955 to travel across the United States and photograph its
society at all strata. He took his family along with him for part of his
series of road trips over the next two years, during which time he took
28,000 shots. Only 83 of those were finally selected by him for
publication in The Americans. Frank's journey was not without incident.
While driving through Arkansas, Frank was arbitrarily thrown in jail after
being stopped by the police; elsewhere in the South, he was told by a
sheriff that he had "an hour to leave town."
Shortly after returning to New York in 1957, Frank met Beat writer Jack
Kerouac on the sidewalk outside a party and showed him the photographs
from his travels. Kerouac immediately told Frank "Sure I can write
something about these pictures," and he contributed the introduction to
the U.S. edition of The Americans. Frank also became lifelong friends with
Allen Ginsberg, and was one of the main visual artists to document the
Beat subculture, which felt an affinity with Frank's interest in
documenting the tensions between the optimism of the 1950s and the
realities of class and racial differences. The irony that Frank found in
the gloss of American culture and wealth over this tension gave Frank's
photographs a clear contrast to those of most contemporary American
photojournalists, as did his use of unusual focus, low lighting and
cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques.
This divergence from contemporary photographic standards gave Frank
difficulty at first in securing an American publisher. Les Américains was
first published in 1958 by Robert Delpire in Paris, and finally in 1959 in
the United States by Grove Press, where it initially received substantial
criticism. Popular Photography, for one, derided his images as
"meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general
sloppiness." Though sales were also poor at first, Kerouac's introduction
helped it reach a larger audience because of the popularity of the Beat
phenomenon. Over time and through its inspiration of later artists, The
Americans became a seminal work in American photography and art history,
and is considered the work with which Frank is most clearly identified. In
1961, Frank received his first individual show, entitled Robert Frank:
Photographer, at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also showed at MoMA in
New York in 1962.
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of The
Americans, a new edition will be released worldwide on May 15, 2008.
Robert Frank discussed with his publisher, Gerhard Steidl, the idea of
producing a new edition using modern scanning and the finest tritone
printing. The starting point was to bring original prints from New York to
Göttingen, Germany, where Steidl is based. In July 2007, Frank visited
Göttingen. A new format for the book was worked out and new typography
selected. A new cover was designed and Frank chose the book cloth, foil
embossing and the endpaper. Most significantly, as he has done for every
edition of The Americans, Frank changed the cropping of many of the
photographs, usually including more information. Two images were changed
completely from the original 1958 and 1959 editions. A celebratory exhibit
of The Americans will be displayed in 2009 at the National Gallery of Art
in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and at The
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The new edition is published by
Steidl and National Gallery of Art, Washington, and will be available in
North America through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers .
By that time, however, Frank had moved
away from photography to concentrate on making films. Among them was the
1959 Pull My Daisy, which was written and narrated by Kerouac and starred
Ginsberg and others from the Beat circle. The Beat philosophy emphasized
spontaneity, and the film conveyed the quality of having been thrown
together or even improvised. Pull My Daisy was accordingly praised for
years as an improvisational masterpiece, until Frank's co-director, Alfred
Leslie, revealed in a November 28, 1968 article in the Village Voice that
the film was actually carefully planned, rehearsed, and directed by him
and Frank, who shot the film with professional lighting.
In 1960, Frank was staying in Fluxus artist George Segal's basement while
filming Sin of Jesus with a grant from Walter K. Gutman. Isaac Babel's
story was transformed to center on a woman working on a chicken farm in
New Jersey. It was originally supposed to be filmed in six weeks in and
around New Brunswick, but Frank ended up shooting for six months.
His 1972 documentary of the Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues, is arguably
his best known film. The film shows the Stones while on their '72 tour,
engaging in heavy drug use and group sex. Perhaps more disturbing to the
Stones when they saw the finished product, however, was the degree to
which Frank faithfully captured the loneliness and despair of life on the
road. Mick Jagger reportedly told Frank, "It's a fucking good film,
Robert, but if it shows in America we'll never be allowed in the country
again." The Stones sued to prevent the film's release, and it was disputed
whether Frank as the artist or the Stones as those who hired the artist
actually owned the copyright. A court order resolved this with Solomonic
wisdom by restricting the film to being shown no more than five times per
year and only in the presence of Frank. Franks' photography also appeared
on the cover of the Rolling Stones' album Exile on Main St..
Other films by Robert Frank include "Keep Busy" and "Candy Mountain" which
he co-directed with Rudy Wurlitzer.
Though Frank continued to be interested in film and video, he returned to
still images in the 1970s, publishing his second photographic book, The
Lines of My Hand, in 1972. This work has been described as a "visual
autobiography", and consists largely of personal photographs. However, he
largely gave up "straight" photography to instead create narratives out of
constructed images and collages, incorporating words and multiple frames
of images that were directly scratched and distorted on the negatives.
None of this later work has achieved an impact or notoriety comparable to
that which The Americans achieved. As some critics have pointed out, this
is perhaps because Frank began playing with constructed images more than a
decade after Robert Rauschenberg introduced his silkscreen composites—in
contrast to The Americans, Frank's later images simply were not beyond the
pale of accepted technique and practice by that time.
Frank and Mary separated in 1969. He remarried to sculptor June Leaf, and
in 1971, moved to the community of Mabou, Nova Scotia in Cape Breton
Island, Nova Scotia in Canada. In 1974, tragedy struck when his daughter,
Andrea, was killed in a plane crash in Tikal, Guatemala. Also around this
time, his son, Pablo, was first hospitalized and diagnosed with
schizophrenia. Much of Frank's subsequent work has dealt with the impact
of the loss of both his daughter and subsequently his son, who died in an
Allentown, PA hospital in 1994. In 1995, he founded the Andrea Frank
Foundation, which provides grants to artists.
Since his move to Nova Scotia, Canada, Frank has divided his time between
his home there in a former fisherman's shack on the coast, and his
Bleecker Street loft in New York. He has acquired a reputation for being a
recluse (particularly since the death of Andrea), declining most
interviews and public appearances. He has continued to accept eclectic
assignments, however, such as photographing the 1984 Democratic National
Convention, and directing music videos for artists such as New Order
("Run"), and Patti Smith ("Summer Cannibals"). Frank continues to produce
both films and still images, and has helped organize several
retrospectives of his art. In 1994, the National Gallery of Art in
Washington, DC presented the most comprehensive retrospective of Frank's
work to date, entitled Moving Out. Frank was awarded the prestigious
Hasselblad Award for photography in 1996. His 1997 award exhibition at the
Hasselblad Center in Goteborg, Sweden was entitled Flamingo, as was the
accompanying published catalog.
He is currently represented by the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York.
672. ROBERT FRANK. Political Rally, Chicago, c. 1955.
673. WILLIAM KLEIN. Garment Center, 1954.
Gelatin silver print.
WILLIAM KLEIN (see collection)
(From Wikipedia, the free
William Klein (born April 19, 1928)
is a photographer and filmmaker. Though born in New York City and educated
at City College of New York, Klein is predominantly active in France. He
has directed a number of feature films, including the 1966 film Who Are
You, Polly Magoo? and the anti-American satire Mr. Freedom. Klein's
photography won the Prix Nadar in 1956.
WILLIAM KLEIN. Hat & 5 Roses
674. DIANE ARBUS. Mother Holding Her Child, N.J., 1967.
DIANE ARBUS (see collection)
(From Wikipedia, the free
Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923
– July 26, 1971) was an American photographer, noted for her portraits of
people on the fringes of society, such as transvestites, dwarfs, giants,
prostitutes, and ordinary citizens in unconventional poses and settings.
Diane Arbus (née Nemerov) was born in New York City into a wealthy Jewish
family, the younger sister of Howard Nemerov, who served as United States
Poet Laureate on two separate occasions. She attended the Fieldston School
for Ethical Culture.
She fell in love with future actor Allan Arbus at age 14, and married him
in 1941, soon after turning 18, despite her parents' objections. When her
husband began training as a photographer for the US Army, he shared his
lessons with Diane. As a husband-wife team, the Arbuses became successful
in the fashion world. As Diane began to take her own photographs, she took
formal lessons with Lisette Model at The New School in New York. Edward
Steichen's noted photo exhibit, The Family of Man, included a photograph
credited to the couple. Together the Arbuses had two daughters,
photographer Amy Arbus and writer and art director Doon Arbus. Allan and
Diane Arbus had separated by 1959.
After separating from her husband, Arbus studied with Alexey Brodovitch
and Richard Avedon. Beginning in 1960, Arbus worked extensively as a
photojournalist, her photos appearing in Esquire, The New York Times
Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and Sunday Times magazines, among others. Her
first public work was an assignment by Esquire editor and art director
Robert Benton. Published under the title, "The Vertical Journey: Six
Movements of a Moment Within the Heart of the City", consisting of six
portraits of an assortment of New Yorkers. Arbus would go on to
collaborate with Hayes and Benton (and Benton's successors) for 31
photographs in 18 articles.
Arbus' early work was created using 35mm cameras, but by the 1960s Arbus
adopted the Rolleiflex medium format twin-lens reflex. This format
provided a square aspect ratio, higher image resolution, and a waist-level
viewfinder that allowed Arbus to connect with her subjects in ways that a
standard eye-level viewfinder did not. Arbus also experimented with the
use of flashes in daylight, allowing her to highlight and separate her
subjects from the background.
In 1963, Arbus received a Guggenheim Fellowship grant. Arbus received a
second Guggenheim grant in 1966. The Museum of Modern Art, in 1967, staged
Arbus' first museum show as the New Documents show which included the work
of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. She also taught photography at The
Parsons School for Design in NYC and Hampshire College in Amherst,
In July 1971, Arbus committed suicide in Greenwich Village at the age of
48 by ingesting a large quantity of barbiturates and then slashing her
675. GARRY WINOGRAND. Untitted, c. 1964.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and the Garry Winogrand Estate.
(From Wikipedia, the free
Garry WinograndGarry Winogrand (14
January 1928, New York City – 19 March 1984, Tijuana, Mexico) was a street
photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid 20th century.
Winogrand studied painting at City College of New York and painting and
photography at Columbia University in New York City in 1948. He also
attended a photojournalism class taught by Alexey Brodovich at The New
School for Social Research in New York City in 1951. Winogrand made his
first notable appearance in 1963 at an exhibition at the Museum of Modern
Art (MoMA) in New York City. This show included Minor White, George
Krause, Jerome Liebling and Ken Heyman.
In 1966 Winogrand exhibited at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New
York with Lee Friedlander, Duane Michals, Bruce Davidson, and Danny Lyon
in an exhibition entitled Toward a Social Landscape. In 1967 he
participated in the New Documents show at MoMA with Diane Arbus and Lee
Friedlander. During his career, he received three Guggenheim Fellowship
Awards (1964, 1969, and 1979) and a National Endowment of the Arts Award
in 1979. Winogrand also taught photography courses at the University of
Texas at Austin and at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Winogrand was influenced by Walker Evans and Robert Frank and their
respective publications American Photographs and The Americans. Henri
Cartier-Bresson was another influence although stylistically different.
Winogrand was known for his portrayal of American life in the early 1960s,
Many of his photographs depict the social issues of his time day and in
the role of media in shaping attitudes. He roamed the streets of New York
with his 35mm Leica camera rapidly taking photographs using a prefocused
wide angle lens. His pictures frequently appeared as if they were driven
by the energy of the events he was witnessing. While the style has been
much imitated, Winogrand's eye, his visual style, and his wit, are unique.
Winogrand's photographs of the Bronx Zoo and the Coney Island Aquarium
made up his first book The Animals. (1969) a collection of pictures that
observe the connections between humans and animals. His book Public
Relations (1977) shows press conferences with deer-in-the-headlight
writers and politicians, protesters beaten by cops, and wild museum
parties frequented by the self-satisfied cultural glitterati. These
photographs capture the evolution of a uniquely 20th and 21st century
phenomenon, the event created to be documented, in Winogrand's style -- a
unique conversation between the photographer and his subject. The tilted
camera, the frame filled with twitchy, restless motion and agitated faces,
come together to represent an authentic and original response to the
evolving culture of public relations. In Stock Photographs 1980, Winogrand
published his views of the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo.
Winogrand died of gall bladder cancer, in 1984 at age 56.
ARRY WINOGRAND. Untitled,
676. LEE FRIEDLANDER. Cincinnati, Ohio, 1963.
Gelatin silver print.
(From Wikipedia, the free
Lee Friedlander (born July 14, 1934) is
an American photographer and artist.
Friedlander studied photography at the Art Center College of Design
located in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he moved to New York City where
he photographed jazz musicians for record covers. His early work was
influenced by Eugčne Atget, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans. In 1960, the
Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Friedlander a grant to focus on his
art and made subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977. Some of his most famous
photographs appeared in the September 1985 Playboy, black and white nude
photographs of Madonna from the late 1970's.
Working primarily with Leica 35mm cameras and black and white film,
Friedlander's style focused on the "social landscape". His art used
detached images of urban life, store-front reflections, structures framed
by fences, and posters and signs all combining to capture the look of
In 1963, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House
mounted Friedlander's first solo museum show. Friedlander was then a key
figure in the 1967 "New Documents" exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art
in New York City along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. In 1990, the
MacArthur Foundation awarded Friedlander a MacArthur Fellowship.
Friedlander now works primarily with medium format cameras (e.g.
Hasselblad Superwide). While suffering from arthritis and housebound, he
focused on photographing his surroundings. His book, Stems, reflects his
life during the time of his knee replacement surgery. He has said that his
"limbs" reminded him of plant stems. These images display textures which
were not a feature of his earlier work. In this sense, the images are
similar to those of Josef Sudek who also photographed the confines of his
home and studio.
In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art displayed a major retrospective of
Friedlander works. In the same year he received a 2005 Hasselblad
International Award. His work was displayed again by the San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art as a retrospective in 2008. Concurrent to this
retrospective, a more contemporary body of his work, America By Car, was
displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery not far from the museum.
De De and Billie Pierce, New Orleans, 1962
677. ELLIOTT ERWITT. Alabama, U.S.A., I974.
Gelatin silver print.
678. WILLIAM WEGMAN. Man Ray with Sculpture, 1978.
Gelatin silver print
with ink applied. Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany.
Courtesy Holly Solomon
Gallery. New York.
(From Wikipedia, the free
William Wegman (b. 1943 in Holyoke,
Massachusetts) is an artist best known as a photographer who has created a
series of compositions involving dogs, primarily his own Weimaraners in
various costumes and poses.
Wegman reportedly originally intended to pursue a career as a painter. He
received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Massachusetts College of
Art in 1965 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967.
While teaching at California State University, Long Beach, he acquired the
first and most famous of the dogs he photographed, a Weimaraner he named
Man Ray (after the artist and photographer). Man Ray later became so
popular that the Village Voice named him "Man of the Year" in 1982. He
named a subsequent dog Fay Ray (a play on the name of actress Fay Wray).
On January 29, 1992, Wegman appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny
Carson and showed a video clip of "Dog Duet," his 1975 short of Man Ray &
another dog slowly and mysteriously peering around. Wegman explained that
he had created the video by moving a tennis ball around, off-camera, thus
capturing the dogs' attention.
Wegman's photos are well-respected in the art world, are are held in
permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Smithsonian American
Art Museum. His photos and videos have also been a popular success, and
have appeared in books, advertisements, films, as well as on television
programs like Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live. In 2006, Wegman's
work was featured in a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, the
Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Norton Museum of Art, and the Addison
Gallery. The Brooklyn Museum explored 40 years of Wegman’s work in all
media in the 2006 retrospective William Wegman: Funney/Strange.
Evolving out of the concept of "social landscape," images that present
the artifacts and landscapes of contemporary industrial culture without
emotional shading were given the name "new topographies." Robert Adams,
Lewis Baltz, Frank Gohlke, Roger Mcrtin, and Stephen Shore, among others,
photographed tract housing, factory buildings, western land developments,
and urban streets, recording this despoiled landscape seemingly without
personal comment. Adams, for example, may have shared with Ansel Adams (no
relation) a concern for the beauty of the land from the Missouri River
westward, but for his photographs he selected vantage points and effects
of light that show its grandeur diminished by roads, lumber camps, and
South Wall, Mazda Motors (pi. no. 679), one of a 1974 series on
industrial parks by Baltz, is meant to provide "sterile information with
no emotional content," according to the photographer, who said that his
vocation was to "describe with a camera how something looks as a
photograph." Nevertheless, all photographers make decisions concerning
the selection of a motif, the management of light, and the organization of
form. The fact that "topographical" images usually are highly structured
suggests that their uneventfulness and lack of emotional expression are in
themselves emblems of a style and are no more factual as records of what
actually exists than images that reflect more socially oriented points of
view. One consequence of the supposedly neutral approach is that such
images may serve multiple purposes—aesthetic, informational,
The deadpan quality of "topographical" views—whether Baltz's factories
or Gohlke's grain elevators—often makes them indistinguishable from images
commissioned to illustrate corporate reports, but photographers with
strong feelings about the desecration of the landscape have sought to make
more pointed statements. One solution was "re-photography" projects:
groups of photographers working in California and Colorado during the
1980s selected the same vantage points recorded by Timothy O'Sullivan and
William Henry Jackson during the exploratory expeditions of the 19th
century; the purpose was to produce . comparison of the terrain's
appearance then and now. (Similarly, a French group, taking inspiration
from the 19th-century project by the Missions heliographiques photographed
the pernicious effects of industrialization on their country's landscape.)
Individual photographers also explored a variety of formats in their work
dealing with industrial pollution. Robert Glenn Ketcham, Richard Misrach,
Barbara Norfleet, and others used color film to contrast the subtle
beauties of nature with the despoliation caused by ill-conceived
engineering projects (pi. no. 784) or with garish consumer refuse (pi. no.
785). At a further remove from the traditional documentary mode, John
Pfahl added some object—a ribbon, a stake—to make the point that the human
presence always alters the natural landscape.
Other landscape photographers argued for a less damning view of the
relationship between land and people. Work by Linda Connor and Marilyn
Bridges reveals ancient markings on rocks and earth made by people who
seem to have lived in greater harmony with nature. With her portrayals of
the domesticated New England landscape of field, garden, and woods,
Gretchen Garner suggests that opposing forces in nature—storm and calm,
fire and water—not only are necessary to the cycles of life but also
create beauty. Lois Conner's photographs of nature and culture in Asia
(pi. no. 680) treat the built and the natural worlds as forming a unity
rather than as antagonistic to each other.
Photographers have also revitalized themes that were prominent in
19th-century documentation, emphasizing, as in images of ancient Egyptian
tomb sculpture by Lynn Davis (pi. no. 681), the aesthetic qualities of
structures and monuments that have essentially become an integral part of
the landscape. Respect for the artful historical documentation of
artifacts—revealing the object in its most attractive light—can be seen in
Linda Butler's photographs of Shaker buildings and interiors and of
Japanese hand-crafts and in Richard Fare's images of classical statuary
(pi. no. 682). Like their antecedents, these works explore stillness and
movement, languor and vigor, and the play of light on forms.
.Following World War II, photographers with a broadly humanist oudook—among
them, Roy DeCarava, Louis Faurer, Jerome Liebling, Leon Levenstein, Helen
Levitt, Walter Roseublum (pi. no. 465), and Max Yavno—continued to work on
a variety of self-motivated projects whose central subject was people,
despite the fact that museums and galleries tended for a time to give
greater support to other kinds of images. Levitt's lyrical views of
youngsters (pi. no. 683), begun in the 1940s in black and white and
continued intermittently up through the 1970s in color, illuminate the
toughness, grace, and humor of those growing up) New York's inner-city
neighborhoods. De Carava's Pepsi, New York (pi. no. 684) may incorporate
some components of the vernacular style—consumer products, billboard
ads—but the highly structured handling of light and architectonic elements
focuses attention on the physical and psychological exhaustion of die
central figure, leaning no doubt as to where the photographer's sympathies
Liebling's grasp of abstract form is apparent in the repeated arclike
shapes formed by head, shoulders, and plate in Blind Home, St. Paul,
Minnesota (pi. no. 685), but these elements also generate a sense of the
circumscribed world of the sightless. A somewhat cooler romantic
sensibility can be seen in the work of George A. Tice, whose careful
control of tonality and pictorial structure imbues with a sense of
wistfulness the customs and physical surroundings of the Amish in
Pennsylvania and of ordinary folk in the small towns of New Jersey (pi.
In the 1960s, despite the inroads of film and television documentaries,
the still image again came to be seen as a significant element in socially
useful programs. Many factors were responsible for the revival of interest
in the traditional forms of social documentation. One was the emergence of
funding sources both in and out of government. Support from the national
and state arts endowments; from private granting bodies such as the
venerable John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (which from 1946 on
had funded a range of photographic projects); and from banks, economic
assistance programs, and labor unions made possible individual and group
camera documentation of decaying and regenerated neighborhoods, rural
communities, nuclear and other power installations, and the working
conditions of industrial and farm laborers. A multiplicity of projects
made use of images in conjunction with words in slide talks, exhibitions,
Another factor in the upsurge of social documentation was the
involvement of photojournalists in increasingly volatile sociopolitical
situations in America, Africa, ; Europe. For instance, Bob Adelman, Bruce
Davidson, Leonard Freed, Danny Lyon, and Mary Ellen Mark were among the
photojournalists who covered the civil rights struggles of the 1960s for
the press , continued after-ward to confront social issues on their own,
developing their themes with greater depth than was possible when working
on deadline. When Davidson undertook subsequent photographic projects in
East Harlem (pi. no. 687), on the New York subways, and in Central Park,
he moved from the somewhat equivocal tone of his very early work toward a
more traditional humanism, even though he claims that the evidence of
fear, affection, and hopeless-ness he captured in these images helped him
"to discover who the person was who took the picture."
In the wake of his experiences with the civil rights movement in the
South, Lyon, whose initial work had included an evocative picture essay on
Hell's Angels bikers, depicted life in Texas state prisons. Conversations
with the Dead, the book that resulted from this project, vividly
communicates the photographer's sense of the "unmitigated sorrow"
permeating this form of social estrangement (pi, no. 688). The desire to
illuminate the psychological consequences of inhumane circumstances has
inspired many photographers to depict not only, or even primarily, the
squalor of certain environments but also the moments that sum up the
effect of life's experiences on the individual. In one such example, by
Mary Ellen Mark, the photographer was entranced with the life force of her
subject (pi. no. 689); in another, Eugene Richards, who has photographed
in slums throughout the nation, evokes the dignity and warmth of familial
relationships among those too often regarded as predators or victims (pi.
The documentation of life in African-American communities, the
emergence of a substantial number of black (and especially black women)
professional photographers, and the flowering among African Americans of
photography as personal expression also owes something to the social
climate of the late 1960s. Roland L. Freeman, for example, began to use a
camera while working for the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.G.,
and went on to produce a touching visual document of the Baltimore
neighborhood of his youth (pi. no. 691). In 1973, the first Black
Photographers Annual appeared; in this and subsequent volumes, black
photographers showed them-selves to be fully aware of the range of
contemporary trends even as they focused their lenses on the way African
-American life is lived. In addition to Gordon Parks (pi. no. 692), those
who entered the ranks of black photojournalists at this time included
Anthony Barboza, Chester Higgins, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Marilyn Nance
(pi. no. 693), Beuford Smith, and Dixie Vereen, all of whom have evolved
distinctive styles. More recently, several black women photographers have
turned to directorial modes for dealing with issues related to family life
and history (see pi. nos. 738, 739).
679. LEWIS BALTZ. South Wall, Mazda Motors, 1974.
Gelatin silver print. Castclli Graphics, New York.
680. Lois CONNER. Halong Bay, 1993.
Platinum print. Laurence Miller
Gallery, New York.
681. LYNN DAVIS. Statue V, 1989.
Selenium-toned gelatin silver. Houk
Friedman G.illerv, New York.
682. RICHARD PARE. Pluto and Proserpine, Ginn Lorenzo Bernini, Runic,
Color-coupler print. Courtesy Richard Pare.
683. HELEN LEVITT. New York, c. 1945.
Gelatin silver print. Collection
Judith Mamiye, Oakhurst, N.J.
(From Wikipedia, the free
Helen Levitt (born 31 August 1913) is an
American documentary photographer.
Levitt grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Dropping out of school, she taught
herself photography while working for a commercial photographer. While
teaching some classes in art to children in 1937, Levitt became intrigued
with the transitory chalk drawings that were part of the New York
children's street culture of the time. She purchased a Leica camera and
began to photograph these works as well as the children who made them. The
resulting photographs appeared, to great acclaim, in 1987 as In The
Street: chalk drawings and messages, New York City 1938–1948. Named as one
of the "100 best photo-books", first-editions are now highly collectable.
She studied with Walker Evans 1938 and 1939. In 1943 Edward Steichen at
the Museum of Modern Art curated her first solo exhibition, after which
she began to find press work as a documentary photographer. In the late
1940s she made two documentary films with Janice Loeb and James Agee: In
the Street (1948) and The Quiet One (1948). Levitt, along with Loeb and
Sidney Meyers, received an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay of
The Quiet One. Levitt was later credited as a cinematographer on The
Savage Eye (1960), which was produced by Ben Maddow, Meyers, Joseph Strick;
she was also credited as an assistant director for Strick and Maddow's
film version of The Balcony (1963).
Levitt worked in film for about ten years. In 1959 and 1960, Levitt
received two Guggenheim Foundation grants to take color photographs on the
streets of New York, and she returned to still photography. Her first
major book was A Way of Seeing (1965). Much of her work in color from the
1960s was stolen in a burglary. The remaining photos, and others taken in
the following years, can be seen in the 2005 book Slide Show: The Color
Photographs of Helen Levitt. In 1976 she was a Photography Fellow of the
National Endowment for the Arts.
She has remained active as a photographer for nearly 70 years and still
lives in New York City. New York's "visual poet laureate" is notoriously
private and publicity shy.
New York, c. 1940
684. ROY DECARAVA. Pepsi, New York, 1964.
Gelatin silver print.
685. JEROME LIEBLING. Blind Home, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1963.
686. GEORGE A. TICE. Joe's Barbershop, Paterson, N.J., 1970.
687. BRUCE DAVIDSON. Untitted, East 100th Street, 1966.
688. DANNY LYON. The Line, 1968.
Gelatin silver print.
689. MARY ELLEN MARK. "Tiny" in Her Halloween Costume, Seattle, 1983.
Gelatin silver print. Marv Ellen Mark Library, New York.
690. EUGENE RICHARDS. Grandmother, Brooklyn, from Americans We. 1993.
Gelatin silver print.
691. ROLAND L. FREEMAN. Amber's Helper, June, 1969.
Gelatin silver print.
692. GORDON PARKS. Housewife, Washington, D.C. 1942.
print. G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Santa Monica, Cal.
GORDON PARKS (see collection)
(From Wikipedia, the free
Gordon Roger Alexander
Buchannan Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was a groundbreaking
American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and
film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life
magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft.
The youngest of 15 children, Parks was born into a poor, black family in
segregated Fort Scott, Kansas. His mother, a staunch Methodist, was the
main influence on his life, refusing to allow her son to justify failure
with the excuse that he had been born black, and instilling in him
self-confidence, ambition and a capacity for hard work.
When Parks was 15 years old, as said in his book "A Hungry Heart", his
mother died. Soon after her death his father sent him to live with his
married sister in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and his brother-in-law did not
get along; he only lived there for a few weeks until he got in a fight
with his brother-in-law, getting him evicted. He was forced to sleep in
trolley cars, loiter in pool halls, and play piano in a brothel. Parks
also worked as a factotum in a whites-only club and as a waiter on a
Parks later commented: “I had a mother who would not allow me to complain
about not accomplishing something because I was black. Her attitude was,
‘If a white boy can do it, then you can do it, too—and do it better, or
don’t come home.’”
In 1938, Parks was struck by photographs of migrant workers in a magazine
and bought his first camera, a Voigtländer Brilliant, for $12.50 at a
pawnshop.The photo clerks who developed Parks' first roll of film,
applauded his work and prompted him to get a fashion assignment at Frank
Murphy's women's clothing store in St. Paul. Parks double exposed every
frame except one, but that shot caught the eye of Marva Louis, heavyweight
boxing champion Joe Louis' elegant wife. She encouraged Parks to move to
Chicago, where he began a portrait business for society women.
Over the next few years, Parks moved from job to job, developing a
freelance portrait and fashion photographer sideline. He began to
chronicle the city's South Side black ghetto and in 1941 an exhibition of
those photographs won Parks a photography fellowship with the Farm
Security Administration. Working as a trainee under Roy Stryker, Parks
created one of his best known photographs, American Gothic, Washington,
D.C. (named after Grant Wood painting American Gothic). The photo shows a
black woman, Ella Watson, who worked on the cleaning crew for the FSA
building, standing stiffly in front of an American flag, a broom in one
hand and a mop in the background. Parks had been inspired to create the
picture after encountering repeated racism in restaurants and shops,
following his arrival in Washington, D.C.. Upon viewing it, Stryker said
that it was an indictment of America, and could get all of his
photographers fired; he urged Parks to keep working with Watson, however,
leading to a series of photos of her daily life. Parks, himself, said
later that the first image was unsubtle and overdone; nonetheless, other
commentators have argued that it drew strength from its polemical nature
and its duality of victim and survivor, and so has affected far more
people than his subsequent pictures of Watson.
After the FSA disbanded, Parks remained in Washington as a correspondent
with the Office of War Information, but became disgusted with the
prejudice he encountered and resigned in 1944. Moving to Harlem, Parks
became a freelance fashion photographer for Vogue. He later followed
Stryker to the Standard Oil (New Jersey) Photography Project, which
assigned photographers to take pictures of small towns and industrial
centers. Parks's most striking of the period included Dinner Time at Mr.
Hercules Brown's Home, Somerville, Maine (1944); Grease Plant Worker,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1946); Car Loaded with Furniture on Highway
(1945); and Ferry Commuters, Staten Island, N.Y. (1946).
Parks renewed his search for photography jobs in the fashion world.
Despite racist attitudes of the day, Vogue editor Alexander Liberman hired
him to shoot a collection of evening gowns. Parks photographed fashion for
Vogue for the next few years. During this time, he published his first two
books, Flash Photography (1947) and Camera Portraits: Techniques and
Principles of Documentary Portraiture (1948).
A 1948 photo essay on a young Harlem gang leader won Parks a staff job as
a photographer and writer with Life magazine. For 20 years, Parks produced
photos on subjects including fashion, sports, Broadway, poverty, racial
segregation, and portraits of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali,
and Barbra Streisand. His 1961 photo essay on a poor Brazilian boy named
Flavio da Silva, who was dying from bronchial pneumonia and malnutrition,
brought donations that saved the boy's life and paid for a new home for
In the 1950s, Parks worked as a consultant on various Hollywood
productions and later directed a series of documentaries commissioned by
National Educational Television on black ghetto life.
Beginning in the 1960s, Parks branched out into literature, writing The
Learning Tree (1963), several books of poetry illustrated with his own
photographs, and three volumes of memoirs.
In 1969, Parks became Hollywood's first major black director with his film
adaptation of his autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree. Parks also
composed the film's musical score and wrote the screenplay.
Shaft, Parks' 1971 detective film starring Richard Roundtree, became a
major hit that spawned a series of blaxploitation films. Parks' feel for
settings was confirmed by Shaft, with its portrayal of the super-cool
leather-clad black private detective hired to find the kidnapped daughter
of a Harlem racketeer.
Parks also directed the 1972 sequel, Shaft's Big Score in which the
protagonist finds himself caught in the middle of rival gangs of
racketeers. Parks's other directorial credits included The Super Cops
(1974), and Leadbelly (1976), a biopic of the blues musician Huddie
In the 1980s, he made several films for television and composed the music
and libretto for Martin, a ballet tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.,
which premiered in Washington, D.C. in 1989 and was screened on national
television on King's birthday in 1990.
In 1981, Parks turned to fiction with Shannon, a novel about Irish
immigrants fighting their way up the social ladder in turbulent early
20th-century New York. Parks' writing accomplishments include novels,
poetry, autobiography, and non-fiction including photographic
instructional manuals and filmmaking books. Parks also wrote a poem called
A self-taught pianist, Parks composed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
(1953) and Tree Symphony (1967). In 1989, he composed and choreographed
Martin, a ballet dedicated to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Parks also performed as a jazz pianist.
Parks was also a campaigner for civil rights; subject of film and print
profiles, notably Half Past Autumn in 2000; and had a gallery exhibit of
his photo-related, abstract oil paintings in 1981.
Parks was married and divorced three times. His wives were Sally Alvis,
Elizabeth Campbell and Genevieve Young, a book editor whom he married in
1973 and divorced in 1979. For many years, Parks was romantically involved
with the railroad heiress and designer Gloria Vanderbilt.
Parks lived at the fashionable New York address of 860 United Nations
Plaza on the east side.
Gordon Parks died of cancer at the age of 93.
GORDON PARKS. Ingrid Bergman at
693. MARILYN NANCE. First Annual Community Baptism for the Afrikan
Family, New York City, 1986.
Gelatin silver print. Marie Brown Associates,
In common with African Americans, who sometimes have felt that white
photographers were unable to under-stand black culture and therefore
depict it with sympathy, Native and Latin Americans and other minorities
have regarded their portrayal by others as often insensitive or distorted.
While postmodern strategies such as the addition of texts to images appeal
to many photographers from these groups, straight documentation offers
Greg Staats (of the Mohawk Nation) and Lee Marmon and Maggie Steber (of
Laguna and Cherokee ancestry, respectively) the means to explore what they
regard as their own personal and social identities. Their images provide a
sympathetic view of ceremonies, rituals, and modes of living with which
few outsiders are familiar.
The photographers commissioned by labor unions and government agencies
during the 1960s and '70s continued the tradition of social documentation,
producing images intended to make visible conditions that needed changing.
In the manner of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, they sought to do more than
just record working and living environments; they wanted to make viewers
aware of the effects of degrading conditions on the individual. Like all
enduring social documentation, Earl Dotter's image of a mine disaster in
Scotia, West Virginia (pi. no. 694), can stand on its own as an evocation
of grief, but its forcefulness is increased by seeing it in concert with
his other images of the aftermath of a fire and explosion in this mining
The gradual decline of labor and arts agency sponsor-ship as well as
the reduction in the number of magazines commissioning picture stories has
forced photographers who remain interested in social issues to seek other
means of supporting their work. Images by Ken Light, which illuminate the
struggle of Mexican immigrants to find jobs in the United States; by
Deborah Fleming Caffery of sugarcane workers in Louisiana; and by Eugene
Richards. Howard Schatz, and Stephen Shames of the effects of poverty
throughout the country now reach the public primarily in books and on
gallery walls. Nevertheless, commissions for images with a social message
have not disappeared. Susan Meisclas, working in Nicaragua (pi. no.
793) and El Salvador in the 1970s and '80s; Donna Ferrato, portraying
domestic violence in the United States (pi. no. 695); and Maggie Steber
and Alex Webb, each photographing the disturbances in Haiti in the early
to mid-1990s, all have had their work commissioned by magazines as well as
exhibited and published in books. However, photographers with social
agendas ordinarily face not only a shrinking number of outlets for their
images but also shorter assignment periods, which makes photographing
complex social and political situations difficult. In addition, they
confront loss of control over their images, brought about by the
digitization of photographing and editing (see A Short Technical History,
Photographers working on their own socially motivated projects during
the 1980s faced other challenges. One was the observation on the part of
some critics that photographing the poor (other than by someone within the
community) was a form of exploitation; another was that street photography
in innercity areas had become more dangerous. A few individuals continued
their forays into difficult neighborhoods—among them, Thomas Frederick
Arndt (pi. no. 696)—but many wishing to address the human condition
essayed other subjects. Their projects might be socially oriented, such as
Nicholas Nixon's work among the visually impaired (pi. no. 697), or
personally directed, as in Sally Mann's ongoing depiction of the
cloistered world of her three children, one of whom is seen here emerging
into girlhood in an edenic setting (pi, no. 698).
A quite different aspect of camera documentation, which emerged in the
1970s as a reflection of the more tolerant attitude toward drugs and sex
among young people in the United States, continues to hold sway. One
example of this new freedom to document explicit behavior is seen in the
photographs that constitute the book Tulsa (pi. no. 699) by Larry Clark
(who went on to direct a motion picture depicting similarly antisocial
behavior). The images convey the unsettling self-destructiveness of young
people who, finding no niche for themselves in bourgeois society, have
become part of the drug culture. Attaining cult status, Tulsa appears to
have persuaded other photographers to investigate areas previously
considered off-limits other than for publication in frankly erotic or
pornographic magazines. For example, in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
and in later works—including one project, entitled Tokyo Love, done with
Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki—the photographer Nan Goldin sought
to reveal the illusions and actualities of relationships by documenting
physical and psychological pairings. Like many other photographic
documentations, these images depend for effect on a multipart format,
either in publication or exhibition, because the images arc usually less
compelling individually than when viewed within a larger sequence.
The relaxation of restrictive notions as to what land of sexual imagery
might constitute serious photographic expression rather than pornography
coincided with the emergence in the 1970s of significant feminist and gay
rights movements, which sought to raise consciousness about gender roles
in .society and specifically about the depiction of women and homosexuals.
Many of the photographers addressing these issues found straight
photography too confining (see Chapter 12), but a number did employ this
mode to picture their own gender more perceptively. Anne Noggle depicted
herself after cosmetic surgery and as she aged, Judy Dater photographed
her own body in the nude as well as making portraits of other women as
they themselves wished to be presented (pi. no. 733), and Robert
Mapplethorpe portrayed aspects of homo-erotic experience. Paradoxically,
the explicit sexuality in some of this imagery, along with the greater
publicity given to all types of sexual behavior in the media, has
triggered a backlash, with legal actions being initiated even against
parents who portray their own children in the nude.
694. EARL DOTTER. Scotia Mine Disaster, [976.
Gelatin silver print.
695. DONNA FERRATO. Jackie in the Hospital, Colorado, 1984.
print. Domestic Abuse Awareness Project, New York.
696. THOMAS FREDERICK ARNDT. Men Riding Bus, Las Vegas, 1981.
silver print. Stuart B. Baum Gallery, Chicago.
697. NICHOLAS NIXON. Joel Geiger— Perkins School for the Blind, 1992.
Gelatin silver print. Zabriskic Gallery, New York.
698. SALLY MANN. Jessie at 9, 1991.
Gelatin silver print. Houk Friedman
Gallery. New York.
699. LARRY CLARK. Untitled, 1971.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesv Larry