Tag Archives: Art History

Oliver Dignal, Azure Clouds #1

Oliver Dignal, Azure Clouds #1

Oliver Dignal

Azure Clouds #1,
Las Vegas, 2011
From the Azure Clouds series
Website – OliverDignal.de

Oliver Dignal was born in Frankfurt a.M., Germany in 1985. Studying art history at J.W.Goethe Universität, Frankfurt a.M., (2005-2006) he has been part of Klasse Martin Liebscher at Hochschule für Gestaltung, Offenbach am Main since 2008. Currently finishing his studies, he is also one of the founders of Album, Magazin für Fotografie (since 2010), which has released its third issue this year and held appearance at Paris Photo and further events in Hamburg, Vevey, Budapest etc. In 2010 also he won the Deutsche Börse Fotoförderpreis. His latest work is shown in the recent issue of waterfall magazine London/Taiwan. He lives and works in Berlin. 

Carrie Mae Weems: A Look Back on Three Decades

The cover image of Carrie Mae Weems’s engaging book finds the artist and photographer wearing a long black dress as she stands at the shoreline with her back to the camera, looking at the ocean. It looks as if she is contemplating the morning. We, the “reader” or “viewer,” wait in anticipation to open the book and look into her world. The cover image is our invitation! The photograph is from Weems’s Roaming series from 2006. She becomes our narrator to history. She states: “This woman can stand in for me and for you; she leads you into history. She’s a witness and a guide.”

Weems is an art-photographer, performance artist, activist and videographer—well known for her photographic series and multi-screen projections relating to themes focusing on family, beauty and memory. For the last 25 years, she has relied on stories from the ‘kitchen table’ and of life in the low country of South Carolina, antebellum New Orleans, cities in Senegal, Cuba, Ghana and Italy to create a body of work that engages in history. An artist concerned with iconography, she has constructed a series of works questioning black women’s presence in popular and material culture as well as art history. Throughout her 30-odd year career, Weems has re-staged historical moments and created images that re-imagined everyday life from family stories to political history. Weems focused her camera on her own body to create multiple conversations. She interrogates and assembles old stereotypes and disassembles them.

In 1992, she refused to accept the scientific racism that prevailed in the 19th century circulating about black Americans. In re-imagining the photographed experiences of some of the blacks enslaved on a South Carolina plantation photographed by J. T. Zealy, a daguerreotypist commissioned by zoologist Louis Agassiz, Weems used the narrative of slavery and re-purposed the images. The title of her series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried is a text and image installation of large scale framed images printed with a red tint, possibly to signify the life’s blood still flowing through the memory of their enslaved experience.

Born in Portland, Oregon, and now living in Syracuse, N.Y., photo-artist Weems interweaves a narrative of black female subjectivity, black beauty and the gaze in her work on beauty. Weems’s photographs are ‘performing beauty’ through lighting, posing, acting and fashion. Weems confronts historical depictions and restages them with ‘what if…’ questions. In her series, Not Manet’s Type, Weems critiques the white male art “masters,” and how beauty is defined through their paintings. The ironic series of five self-reflexive photographs with text, questions not only Manet but also Picasso, DeKooning and Duchamp.

Weems is the ideal model and she is well informed about the history of art, using her own partially dressed and nude body. The posing reveals her formal training as a photographer, and her choice of props is influenced by her sharp observation as a builder of ideas. The series’ power lies in her narrative voice and her ability to create a scene. At first glance, it looks as if the photographs are all the same because of the square format and the centered art deco-style vanity dresser. The setting is the bedroom, a private but inviting space. We, the viewer, peer through the square mat into the round mirror that frames her body, which lends an effect of peeping at a private moment. Her sensitivity to the historical gaze is quite evident, the time of day, the lace on the brass bed, the large white vase holding dried flowers, and the art work framed on the wall offer a sense of reality, as the bright sun bleaches the lower half of her body and the bed. Weems stands with her back to the viewer; the bold red text reads:

“It was clear, I was not Manet’s type… Picasso—who had a way with women only used me & Duchamp never even considered me.”

The series’ text clearly shows her vulnerability as she attempts to empower her image. The next images states: “Standing on shakey [sic] ground I posed myself for critical study but was no longer certain of the questions to ask.”

Women artists like Weems, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Renee Cox and Carla Williams challenge ideas of beauty and desire, which are both critical components in Weems’s work. All of these artists dare her viewer to rethink their understanding and the positioning of contemporary art practices. Mirrors are often found in Weems’s self-portraits; she’s gazes at her statuesque frame which is reflected in the mirrored image. Gates states, “An artist does not make a work called Not Manet’s Type (1997) without a keen sense of her own authority, a respect—not reverence—for those artists who came before her, and an ability to laugh in the midst of serious thinking.”

Deborah Willis is a photographer, photo historian and professor at New York University. Her recent work includes a book and exhibition of the same title Posing Beauty in African American Culture on exhibit at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa.

Willis’s writing is featured in Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, which will be released by Yale University Press in October.
A retrospective exhibition of the same name is also on view at the Frist Center in Nashville from Sept. 21, 2012 to Jan. 13, 2013.

It will then travel to the following locations:
Portland Art Museum:  Feb. 2–May 19, 2013
Cleveland Museum of Art:  June 30–Sept. 29, 2013
Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University: Oct. 16, 2013–Jan. 5, 2014
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: Jan. 24–April 23, 2014

Cindy Sherman Retrospective

Untitled Film Still #14, 1978 © Cindy Sherman

Exhibition on view:
Present–June 11, 2012

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St
New York City, NY
(212) 708-9400

Cindy Sherman, a traveling exhibition of one of the most important contemporary artists, is being presented in New York City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Dallas.

Cindy Sherman has built an international reputation, photographing herself in a variety of semblances and personas. Her subject matter is topical, humorous, and confrontational. She holds a mirror up to contemporary society, referencing visual culture: movies, magazines, television, the internet, and art history.

The exhibition features 150 photographs from public and private collections, some over-sized and site-specific and others never-before-seen. One of the highlights is her black-and-white body of work, Untitled Film Stills, where the artist became the stereotypical female featured in 1950s and 1960s Hollywood and film noir. An illustrated catalog accompanies the show along with a series of films that were of great artistic influence to Sherman.

The next stops for Cindy Sherman will be The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (July 14–October 7, 2012), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (November 10, 2012–February 17, 2013), and The Dallas Museum of Art (March 17, 2013–June 9, 2013).

Sherman is featured in Aperture issues 200 and 169. Her photographs can also be seen in The New York Times Magazine Photographs.

Kirsten Hoving

I recently reviewed portfolios of photographic educators at the SPE National Conference in San Francisco. This week I am featuring some of the terrific work I got a chance to see….

I first got to know Kirsten Hoving as the owner/director of the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont. I have been a big supporter of her gallery and their exhibition opportunities for emerging photographers, and several times had the great pleasure of serving as a juror for their exhibitions. It took me awhile to realize that Kirsten is also a photographer, and a good one at that. In addition, she’s a Professor of Art History at Middlebury College. It was great to finally meet her in San Francisco and spend time with her work and person. Her new series, Night Wanderers, was a powerful collection frozen assemblages, that have an ethereal beauty.

Night Wanderers is a series of photographs envisioning the cosmos. I photograph objects and nineteenth-century photographs frozen in or placed under disks of ice to create the feeling of galactic swirls of stars, galaxies and spiral nebulae.

For this series, I have been influenced not by the work of other photographers, but by the collage and assemblage art of the American artist Joseph Cornell. In the course of writing an art historical book on the artist, Joseph Cornell and Astronomy: A Case for the Stars (Princeton University Press, 2009), I became aware of the artist’s deep and abiding interest in astronomy. I also came to understand his creative process, which involved juxtaposing objects in often unexpected ways. His working method encouraged me to take risks, to experiment, and to be willing to destroy one object to create another. He also taught me to appreciate the stars.

Using ice as a still life object is always a challenging process. I partially thaw the ice to create transparent and translucent areas, then work quickly to photograph it. While I choose objects and photographs that recall earlier times, such as an outdated globe or old cartes-de-visite, to help remind us that star light is old light, the ice that encases them underscores the elegance and fragility of our place in the universe.

Julia Kozerski, Lovers Embrace

Julia Kozerski, Lovers Embrace

Julia Kozerski

Lovers Embrace,
Milwaukee, 2011
From the Half series
Website – JuliaKozerski.com

Julia Kozerski is a Photographer based out of her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is currently attending the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) working towards her BFA in Photography with a minor in Art History. Images from her series Half have been exhibited nationally in venues such as The Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO,) the Midwest Center for Photography (Wichita, KS,) and the RayKo Gallery (San Francisco, CA.) Kozerski's work has also received significant exposure online, having been highlighted in Fraction Magazine, on Feature Shoot, as well as on the CNN Photos Blog.

Venue Change for Tomorrow’s W.J.T. Mitchell Lecture

3.19.12_WJT%20Mitchell_blog.jpgThose of you coming to tomorrows W.J.T. Mitchell lecture will have to walk a little father to get here… about 20 steps farther.The lecture by distinguished University of Chicago Iconology scholar will be moved down the hall of 600 S. Michigan Ave., from the Ferguson Lecture Hall to the Museum of Contemporary Photographys main gallery. set up basic cable service . The lecture, which begins at 6:30 p.m., discusses the capability of digital photography to expand the potential scope of photographic truth-claims along with the potential for lying. Admission is free and open to the public. proveedor factura electrnica . For more information, visit the Events page on our website. About W.J.T. MitchellW.J.T. Mitchell is a scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). A Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, Mitchell is editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, and the author of numerous publications including What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images (2005).

Venue Change for Tomorrow’s W.J.T. Mitchell Lecture

3.19.12_WJT%20Mitchell_blog.jpgThose of you coming to tomorrows W.J.T. Mitchell lecture will have to walk a little father to get here… about 20 steps farther.The lecture by distinguished University of Chicago Iconology scholar will be moved down the hall of 600 S. Michigan Ave., from the Ferguson Lecture Hall to the Museum of Contemporary Photographys main gallery. The lecture, which begins at 6:30 p.m., discusses the capability of digital photography to expand the potential scope of photographic truth-claims along with the potential for lying. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Events page on our website. About W.J.T. MitchellW.J.T. Mitchell is a scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). carrera de fotografia . squido lense . A Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, Mitchell is editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, and the author of numerous publications including What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images (2005).

Samantha Contis, Shed With Tree (Silo)

Samantha Contis, Shed With Tree (Silo)

Samantha Contis

Shed With Tree (Silo),
Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania, 2007
Website – SamanthaContis.com

Samantha Contis received her MFA from Yale University in 2008 and BFA in Photography and Art History from New York University in 2004. Her work has been included in recent exhibitions at Smack Mellon (NYC), Newspace Center for Photography (Portland) and Workspace (Los Angeles). Her photographs have been published in numerous publications including The New York Times Magazine, Capricious, Nomenus Quarterly and T. She is a recipient of the Tierney Fellowship and is currently at work on her first book. Contis lives and works in New York City.