one goes to museum, as one can do here in Paris where there is so much access to photography exhibit. I had not heard of Albert Renger-Patzsch before, though it is clear now that in 1920s he was having some thoughts/approaches on what we would later see from the New Topographics: from the Bechers, all the way to Stephen Shore, but perhaps more to do with the approach of Luigi Ghirri. (I have an uneasy interest in New Topographics, though I will appreciate all the words from Robert Adams, and the words/pictures from Lewis Baltz.) while Albert Renger-Patzsch‘s thought were focused and insightful, his photography did a bit more migration on subject. in the 1920s he was treating subject just as the Czechs’ photographers of the time were doing, and then under a commission, he did a great service to architectural photography. in the photo below, less like what Becher would pursue and more like what Lewis Baltz would do later, there is the strong geometry within the frame— and the shadows brought up to an equal level of importance.
links: to Albert Renger-Patzsch on Wikipedia. New Topographics on Artsy
this is a striking photo, in the sense that it recalls many things at once: and I really like that. first, there is the Paul Strand feel to the composition and light, as well as the facial expression on the lady (at right). second, the tonality and balance between light and shadows are effective.
the great reveal in photography styles, for me, is that of what is classified as fashion photography. it is rather surprising, even after all this time, that I discover a photographer of great appeal, and it turns out that there was much work done in Fashion photography. some of them, like in the 50s with William Klein and Saul Leiter, were just a few commissions likely to bring some income— yet, we can see their daring (at the time) work as superb. this work by Annelie Vandendael may not be classified as such, but it could be. perhaps Annelie Vandendael‘s work is a more of a work of post-Fashion Photography that may have been begun by the likes of Deborah Turbeville. any way that one would like to map this progression, the results here are wonderful.
lucky to visit Lisbon for the first time, and it was fantastic in many ways. photographically, the supernice thing is to have a reset: each city makes a different connection, and obviously impresses on how to photograph it. the hills, the tiles, the shades… and on this visit, it was mainly the search for texture and shadowplay that piqued my interest. cities have become a tricky balance for me: in some ways, I like to abstract them, while retaining some hints that would keep them from being anonymous. (this photo also marks the link to my Instagram account, where this blog becomes the place where I post photos such as these.)
sometimes, luck strikes. for Saul Leiter himself, I am not sure, as he was dismissive of praise, but lucky for us, because it is the rare instances in art when a talent makes it through despite how they approached a road to fame. since Early Color was released in 2006, and now on its 6th printing, the embracing of Saul Leiter has been one of those rare moments of happiness in art that a deserved talent has a reach. we can realize this rise by noting how people have come to identify the indelible Leiter style: misty windows, big negative spaces, and more importantly, a big room for the imagination by cropping. (mind you, this is cropping by elements in the scene, and not some André Kertész style cropping of the negative.) aside from the obvious taste in composition and elements that have made Leiter such a favorite among many, it is the cropping that makes the biggest impression on me. below is, perhaps, my most favorite photo from him.
link: Gallery 51 (Antwerp), an early proponent of his work.
unlike the previous post, in that I am very familiar with Michael Kenna’s work, I am not familiar with Nancy Rexroth. thus, I cannot say what her style, if she has one, is like. however, I can glance at her work in the magnificent re-print of her book IOWA, and know that it is a plastic “toy” camera: in this case, a Diana. this is exemplified by the photo below, which I think it is exemplary of the use of a plastic camera. for example, the increased contrast in the center is nicely utilized to accentuate geometry/form, along with the lower contrast, vignetting, and blurring on the edges to include the subject of the photo.
fundamentally, photography is about freedom— there should not be any rules, as it is already difficult to work with the few decision-points in the journey. the recent book from Michael Kenna reminds me of such a decision-point: is one’s style (if we have one) to be ever dominant, and all cameras are just a tool? or, is the transition from one camera to another a chance to exploit the new medium as how one’s style (if we have one!) is affected? André Kertész notoriously would learn how a camera worked, and exploit it— most notoriously with The Polaroids series— and I am on this camp. the differences between a Hasselblad and a Holga could not be farther in terms of common cameras. yet, Kenna‘s Holga could have been much more interesting to me, rather than a continuation of his previous work with the acceptance of increased vignetting and some edge blurring.