Tag Archives: Bauhaus

Shooting (Color) Blind: Matthew Gamber’s Still Lifes

A bunch of green bananas, a solitary flourescent bulb and the pie-shaped pieces of a Trivial Pursuit Game. These are the subjects of photographer Matthew Gamber’s latest collection of still lifes, titled “Any Color You Like.” The objects Gamber photographed were chosenfor their distinct and recognizable colorsa decision that appears to be in conflict with the presentation of the series as stark black-and-white prints.

The decision to print in black and white was meant, Gamber said, to challenge how people understand what they see. By using these different processes, and to try to look at certain subjects, it’s just to call attention to things that we take for granted in terms of seeing.

The inspiration for the project came while Gamber was teaching at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He discovered that a student in his color photography class was colorblind. He didn’t look at color as colorhe looked at it as value, Gamber said. He looked at it as a lack of contrast or a lack of clarity.”

The realization that his student was manipulating color, while only being able to see in tones of gray, led Gamber to create photographs that mimicked this experience. He began by shooting objects from pop-culture that were easily recognizable: a pair of 3D glasses and a Lite-Brite toy, for instance. He wanted to play with ideas of perception by removing the most recognizable feature from his subjects, their color.

I wanted it to be something that felt just out of reach, he says. I think the success of this relies on what the viewers expectations are.

As the project progressed, Gamber moved on to more subtle imagery. seo marketing . A shot of ornately patterned wallpaper in a Boston brownstone references Bauhaus-era color theory that influenced the industrial production of wallpaper in the 1930s, Gamber explained. An image of a display of North American birds took on more meaning when Gamber learned that the birds feathers do not have their own color, but rather, are able to reflect certain light spectrums.

In addition to thinking about color, Gamber wanted his photographs to play with ideas of timelessness. I wanted to shoot in a way that it looks like it could have been shot yesterday, but it also looks like it was shot in the 1940s or the 1950s, said Gamber. There is something about how when you photograph something in black and white, it gets locked in that timeframe where it just becomes obsolete as an everyday seeing experience.

Gamber spent two years on Any Color You Like, which recently won The Curator award from Photo District News and will be featured in Brooklyns Photoville show this month. All of the photographs were shot on color film or as color digital captures. The negatives and color files were then converted to black and white negatives and printed as traditional silver gelatin black-and-white prints in a darkroom.

Working on this project has influenced the way Gamber thinks about color in both his photography and his life. He has started bringing color blindness tests into the classes he teaches at various colleges in Boston. He has also, Gamber said with a chuckle, become a more color-coordinated dresser.

I can see that much more now, said Gamber I’m more aware of how we are more emotionally charged by certain colors.

Matthew Gamber is a Boston-based photographer. His photos will be featured in Brooklyn’s Photoville festival from June 22-July 1.

Walter Plotnick

I always think we can trace our influences and what we are drawn to as artists to the visual stew that makes up our childhood.  Walter Plotnick is no exception.  He had a father who shared his love for photography and the darkroom with Walter at an early age and an artistic mother who painted mannequin faces for a living. Today these influences, combined his interest in photographic collage and surrealism, result in very unique imagery.

Walter is a photo-based artist who lives and works in the Philadelphia area. He received his MFA from University of the Arts and BFA from Tyler School of Art. Currently, he is an instructor in the Fine Arts Department at Penn State Abington, as well as Montgomery County Community College. He recently completed a film, featuring a Fine Art Department colleague and a classroom of art students engaged in an end-of-year assignment that Walter wanted to document in a creative way. It’s a testament to the power of collaborative artistic expression and how art inspires.

Walter’s interest in photogram collages permeates much of his work. I am sharing photographs from two of his projects, Circus Work, and1939 Worlds Fair.

Images from Circus Work

My current work is a hybrid of wet photography and digital process. I am influenced by the work of Bauhaus, Constructivist and Surrealist Photographers from the 1920s through the 1930s.


I make photographs and photograms by constructing temporary still lifes, using vintage found objects and images on top of photographic paper in the darkroom. By manipulating a variety of light sources, then digitally combining, repeating or adding images, I am able to visually explore an abstract environment with objects and light, creating movement, form and tension.


Photography is a form of communication with the power to move, inspire, and motivate people. Two areas of inquiry have fascinated me with their graphic possibilities – the “World of Tomorrow” themed 1939 New York World’s Fair, and vintage images depicting feats of daring as performed by 1930s circus performers.


On the surface, these are two disparate themes. But for me, the  commonality is humanity striving to reach its potential. The 1939 New York World’s Fair presented this on a grand stage, showing what was possible in technology with the right vision and will, engaging science, commerce, and government in an inspiring display of imagination. The circus performers, with little or no technology, took us to the outer limits of skill and performance using only the human body. Together, they offer us a thrilling picture of what we can do when we have the faith to leap forward to the next level.


Faith, inspiration, and achievement are the hallmarks of human accomplishment. I feel that through creating images that celebrate these themes, my images will resonate with viewers, and hopefully awaken in them an appreciation for their potential and expand a sense of what is possible in their own lives.


Blending darkroom practices with digital technology adds a layer of complexity to the photographic process of making images. These works are limited edition archival pigment prints on smooth photo rag paper.

Images from 1939 World’s Fair

25 Years 25 Artists: An Interview with Julie Saul

Julie Saul © Elliot Black Photography

Art dealer Julie Saul was honored for her contributions to photography at last year’s Aperture’s 2010 Benefit. This year she commemorates her gallery’s 25th anniversary with the exhibition 25 Years/25 Artists and an accompanying catalogue. The show features a single photograph from each year of her gallery’s history and will be on view through Friday, August 26th. Among the artists include Luigi Ghirri, Maira Kalman, Sally Gall, Penelope Umbrico and James Welling.

What are some of your favorite photobooks?

Some of the earliest books when I first became interested in photography. There were very few books published on photography so you could virtually own all of the photography books back in the 70s. There was Diane Arbus, there was George Platt Lynes there was Danny Lyon…but there were very few books so you ended up spending a lot of more time really scrutinizing the individual images than you do today because now there are so many you can barely flip through the books that you own. Perhaps my favorite photobook was one given to me when I left the Met’s department of 20th century photography where I interned in 1982. They gave me this gorgeous huge George Platt Lynes book that I think was one of the first books published by Jack Woody with Twin Palms, and I loved that book. Then I did a show of his work later at my gallery and somebody stole it! It had been signed by everybody in that department and that was truly one of the worst losses that I have had.

What has been your favorite show you’ve seen this summer?

La Carte D’Après Nature at Matthew Marks, curated by Thomas Demand. I love the fact that it was curated by an artist. I think shows curated by artists are very interesting and it gives me a whole new insight into Thomas Demand’s work. It also includes 50 prints by one of my favorite photographers who I have shown a couple of times over the years- Luigi Ghirri.

You were the first American dealer to show Ghirri’s work, correct?

I was. And I still think that he is a completely brilliant and under-recognized (although probably not for long) European artist. He’s sort of the William Eggleston of Europe in the 70s, and from what I’ve seen from European work of that time, particularly of Italian work, it was very romantic, it was black and white. Ghirri had this very conceptual point of view and worked in color and really understood media so I think that it’s great that he’s finally getting the attention he deserves. Seeing his work in the context of the Matthew Marks exhibition will really be an important step for him.

What are some of your most meaningful relationships that you have had with artists over the years?

Often a long relationship is a good relationship and you can get used to each other and you get closer to each other just like a long term [romantic] relationship. If you look at my 25th Anniversary show, the first artist I ever showed, Andy Bush, is still with the gallery and we’ve certainly had our ups and downs over the years but I’ve been able to gain an understanding of the way he works and thinks by having such a long term relationship. I would say that what makes a good relationship is the artist’s ability and willingness to really collaborate with you. Not to see the gallery as a battlefield, but see it as a matrimonial bed, a place of collaboration, sharing resources and ideas. One of the more fun things I’ve done is working with Maira Kalman who had never really had gallery representation before because she normally does books, theater design, textile design and applied arts. So for her it has been a great adventure, and for me to figure out how to promote some of these works, because she has never thought about trying to fit within the traditional gallery system, its been really fun.

Although you represent artists working in a variety of media, what made you want to specialize in photography?

I started with a specialization in photography because I felt like it was important to have a distinct identity within the larger New York art world. Within my larger academic studies in art history I did my thesis on a Bauhaus photographer, but as you know the Bauhaus is about work in many different media. Maholy Nagy believed that every medium has its proper application so he thought for representational art, photography was the medium and for abstract art, painting was the medium. I identify with, and show a great deal of, photography but my interests and enthusiasms are by no means limited to strictly photography. And furthermore a lot of the artists I represent, actually enjoy working in the way that I described, different media for different projects. I’m very interested in artists who take a very freewheeling approach to the medium.

What are some of things you are most proud of exhibiting over the past 25 years?

Well I think the 25th Anniversary show itself is a good example of that. We do eight or nine shows a year and I’ve had the difficult task of choosing one work from one show during a year where literally hundreds of works have been exhibited.

More information about Julie Saul Gallery.

Click here to buy tickets to Aperture’s 2011 Benefit and Auction, honoring Bruce Davidson, Gerhard Steidl and Robert Anthione.

Drawings on a Bus, 1954 by Ellsworth Kelly



After the Kassel festival I suffered from a bit of photobook burnout. bed bugs extermination . The festival is growing to a decent size but 4 twelve hour days looking and talking about books can send even the most dedicated to seek a break. So, I wanted to intersperse a few non-photo related books over the next weeks which I found irresistible on this trip.

The first is a book which was published by Matthew Marks Gallery and Steidl in 2007 and can be found at a very cheap price on some remainder tables in Europe – Ellsworth Kelly: Drawings on a Bus, 1954. My copy set me back a measly 12 euros.

After six years in Paris, Kelly returned to New York in 1954 where a friend gave him a hardcover publisher’s dummy of an old Sigfried Giedion Bauhaus book from the 20s thinking the blank pages would be perfect for sketching.

While riding the bus, this sketchbook (number #23), was filled with the chance drawings of the bus window shadows as they fell across the pages. Quickly marking the pages with the various changing shadows, he later inked in the outlines at his studio. Some of these sketches he later developed into larger paintings.

Abstract and in bold black and white they define the space on the page with graphic impulsive gestures which seem closer to typography than a response to simple light and dark patterns on the paper. The sequence reveals the pages filling with more black giving the sense of zooming in on the subtle nuances of these shadow/letter forms until an oval void spread across facing pages punctuates the ending.

The size of the book, the cardboard slipcase, printing and length feel near perfect. The fact that the blue cover – originally designed by the great Laszlo Moholy-Nagy for Giedion’s book Bauen in Eisenbeton, Bauen in Eisen, Bauen in Frankreich – remains intact with Moholy-Nagy’s typography and design suits the content in resonant ways.

Drawings on a Bus, 1954 by Ellsworth Kelly



After the Kassel festival I suffered from a bit of photobook burnout. houses for sale . The festival is growing to a decent size but 4 twelve hour days looking and talking about books can send even the most dedicated to seek a break. So, I wanted to intersperse a few non-photo related books over the next weeks which I found irresistible on this trip.

The first is a book which was published by Matthew Marks Gallery and Steidl in 2007 and can be found at a very cheap price on some remainder tables in Europe – Ellsworth Kelly: Drawings on a Bus, 1954. My copy set me back a measly 12 euros.

After six years in Paris, Kelly returned to New York in 1954 where a friend gave him a hardcover publisher’s dummy of an old Sigfried Giedion Bauhaus book from the 20s thinking the blank pages would be perfect for sketching.

While riding the bus, this sketchbook (number #23), was filled with the chance drawings of the bus window shadows as they fell across the pages. Quickly marking the pages with the various changing shadows, he later inked in the outlines at his studio. Some of these sketches he later developed into larger paintings.

Abstract and in bold black and white they define the space on the page with graphic impulsive gestures which seem closer to typography than a response to simple light and dark patterns on the paper. The sequence reveals the pages filling with more black giving the sense of zooming in on the subtle nuances of these shadow/letter forms until an oval void spread across facing pages punctuates the ending.

The size of the book, the cardboard slipcase, printing and length feel near perfect. The fact that the blue cover – originally designed by the great Laszlo Moholy-Nagy for Giedion’s book Bauen in Eisenbeton, Bauen in Eisen, Bauen in Frankreich – remains intact with Moholy-Nagy’s typography and design suits the content in resonant ways.

Review: 60 Fotos by László Moholy-Nagy (Errata Edition)

Errata_MoholyNagy_cover.jpg

Here we are, in 2011, and most of the photography in 60 Fotos by László Moholy-Nagy will strike us as incredibly old-fashioned and/or dated. Over the course of the 80 years since the book’s original publication, photography has evolved a lot (our thinking about it a bit less so, of course). But there is something, actually a lot to be gained from going back to the book and from looking at photography with the eyes of and guided by this well-known Bauhaus artist. (more)

Of course, this is where personal bias enters, something which I cannot – and will not try to – escape (Art criticism without personal bias is not criticism, it’s merely a description. Art without opinions is not art, it’s entertainment). Two things have always fascinated me about the way Bauhaus artists approached photography. First, there was an unwavering willingness to explore the medium’s possibilities. Second, photographers worked hand-in-hand with other artists, such as designers. We might have a lot of new photographic opportunities right now, but are photographers as willing to embrace what the medium has to offer as their Bauhaus progenitors? I don’t think they are.

We might smile about many of the very basic photographs, exploring depth of field or whatever else – but the photomontages look dated and fresh at the same time. Experimentation in this day and age often just means to see how large an image can be printed or how to smartly sharpen an image. And ironically, while very old photographic techniques are being celebrated, artists pushing the boundaries have to deal with questions like “Is this photography?” It’s not hard to imagine how Moholy-Nagy would have reacted to that question. Just look at the images in 60 Fotos to see whether or not he was willing to be restricted by criteria what photography might be.

The book is a manifesto, showing what photography can do when you’re willing to take it anywhere it might go. It is fearless. Maybe we need a little bit more fearlessness in contemporary photography.

60 Fotos, photography and photomontages by László Moholy-Nagy, essays by Franz Roh, David Evans, Jeffrey Ladd, 92 pages, Errata Editions, 2011

Spreads from the book kindly provided by Errata Editions – thank you!