Tag Archives: Color Palette

Laurent Chéhère’s Flying Houses

Inspired by the 1956 short French childrens film Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon, Laurent Chhres part analog, part digital images of floating houses are at once a charming, imaginative take on Paris, and also a wistful vision of dreams deferred. carrera de fotografia . The work will be shown from Oct. 25 to Dec. 8 at Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris.

Before transitioning to photography, Chhre was an art director at a French advertising agency. He first saw Le Ballon Rouge when he was young, and upon revisiting it recently, described it as a merveille [wonder] of poetry. In 1960, TIME Magazine named its director, Albert Lamorisse, probably the most original moviemaker in France.

The film stars the directors 6-year-old son Pascal as an inquisitive, adventurous Parisian tot who discovers a bright red balloon in the street one day. Lamorisses Paris is a city drained of color, still suffering from the fallout of the war, populated by stern grownups and bullying children. It is against this surprisingly grim backdrop that our story takes place. The boy discovers that the balloon is not simply a shiny, bouncy thing to be led about on a string but rather a living, expressive, mischievous character unto itself. Without the use of CGI, the director is able to coax an amazing performance out of latex and helium, and the boy and the balloon become fast friends. Ultimately, the adventure story that ensues is an ode to possibility, dreams and escape.

Mary Evans/Ronald GrantEverett Collection

A scene from “The Red Balloon.”

Chhres world has a similar color palette of greys, blues and browns. And it too shares a dose of the fantastical: the main charactersin this case buildings he digitally constructed from architectural details photographed around Parisappear to float in the sky. But something is different. Unlike the playful balloon with its dancing string, these floating objects appear settled, as if stasis has overtaken them and age has crept in.

Notes from workaday life appear throughout the photo seriestelevision antennae, For Sale signs, McDonalds and graffiti. Laundry appears in two of the nine images. Chhre, who turned 40 this year, has replaced the balloons dancing string with electrical wires, which both sustain the houses and also tie them in place. The one exception is a grim, grey-blue brick house with prison-like windows. Here, the wires have snapped, a fire rages in the second story, the inhabitants escape ladder has broken and tumbles out of the frame. Resting by the window, silhouetted by the blaze, is a birdcage, about to be engulfed in flames.

Albert Lamorisse’s film has a happy ending; the ending of Chhres meditation on middle-age life remains uncertain.

Laurent Chhre is a photographer based in Paris. More of his work is available on his website.

Laurent Chéhère’s Flying Houses

Inspired by the 1956 short French childrens film Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon, Laurent Chhres part analog, part digital images of floating houses are at once a charming, imaginative take on Paris, and also a wistful vision of dreams deferred. The work will be shown from Oct. 25 to Dec. 8 at Galerie Paris-Beijing in Paris.

Before transitioning to photography, Chhre was an art director at a French advertising agency. He first saw Le Ballon Rouge when he was young, and upon revisiting it recently, described it as a merveille [wonder] of poetry. In 1960, TIME Magazine named its director, Albert Lamorisse, probably the most original moviemaker in France.

The film stars the directors 6-year-old son Pascal as an inquisitive, adventurous Parisian tot who discovers a bright red balloon in the street one day. Lamorisses Paris is a city drained of color, still suffering from the fallout of the war, populated by stern grownups and bullying children. It is against this surprisingly grim backdrop that our story takes place. The boy discovers that the balloon is not simply a shiny, bouncy thing to be led about on a string but rather a living, expressive, mischievous character unto itself. Without the use of CGI, the director is able to coax an amazing performance out of latex and helium, and the boy and the balloon become fast friends. Ultimately, the adventure story that ensues is an ode to possibility, dreams and escape.

Mary Evans/Ronald GrantEverett Collection

A scene from “The Red Balloon.”

Chhres world has a similar color palette of greys, blues and browns. And it too shares a dose of the fantastical: the main charactersin this case buildings he digitally constructed from architectural details photographed around Parisappear to float in the sky. But something is different. carrera de fotografia . Unlike the playful balloon with its dancing string, these floating objects appear settled, as if stasis has overtaken them and age has crept in.

Notes from workaday life appear throughout the photo seriestelevision antennae, For Sale signs, McDonalds and graffiti. Laundry appears in two of the nine images. Chhre, who turned 40 this year, has replaced the balloons dancing string with electrical wires, which both sustain the houses and also tie them in place. The one exception is a grim, grey-blue brick house with prison-like windows. Here, the wires have snapped, a fire rages in the second story, the inhabitants escape ladder has broken and tumbles out of the frame. Resting by the window, silhouetted by the blaze, is a birdcage, about to be engulfed in flames.

Albert Lamorisse’s film has a happy ending; the ending of Chhres meditation on middle-age life remains uncertain.

Laurent Chhre is a photographer based in Paris. More of his work is available on his website.

Pelle Cass

I am a long time fan of Pelle Cass’ work.  His photographs are inventive, conceptual, and manage to reinterpret what is right in front of us by using multiple images to create new realities.  Pelle just opened a show at Gallery Kayafas of his new project, Strangers.  These portraits are made up of numerous close-up photographs, when combined, reveal minutely observed facts add up to something new and strange. The exhibition runs through November 24th, 2012.

Pelle has had solo shows in the Boston area at Gallery Kayafas, Stux Gallery, the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, and Harvard’s Fogg Museum print room. He has also had solo shows at the Frank Marino Gallery, NYC and the Houston Center for Photography in Texas. His work is owned by the Fogg Art Museum, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Polaroid Collection, the DeCordova Museum, Lehigh University Art Galleries, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He was Winner: Top 50, Critical Mass, Photolucida, Portland, OR, in 2008 and 2009, and was awarded Yaddo Fellowships (Saratoga Springs, NY) in 2010 and 2012. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, and lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Two of my favorite series are Selected People and Pins.  In Selected People, Pelle “orders the world and exaggerates its chaos.” Taking dozens of photographs of the same location, he selects what color palette or point of view he wishes to present. With Pins, Pelle rephotographs images from Architectural Digest and covers them with pins to create a new way of looking at space.


image from Selected People 

image from Pins

Strangers:
I think of these pictures as non-portraits. They say nothing of the personality or psychology of the people who sat for them, even though they are very detailed and closely observed. So why bother? At first, I was simply curious about what a portrait is. I thought it might be revealing to remove the variables of personality and identity from the portrait. 

 The sitter is basically unrecognizable, even though each picture is nothing but a set of photographic facts about that person. This emptying of identity happens when, after taking dozens of extreme close-ups of a particular person’s face, I blend the fragments into a new face. The shiny noses, wrinkled foreheads, and swirls of hair, take on a strange intensity when reassembled. 

 My aim is to use extreme photographic precision in a spontaneous, almost messily expressionistic way, to discover, perhaps, a whole new set of human emotions housed in a new anatomy, but also to discover something about the nature of the photographic portrait.


Retouching a Classic: ‘Less Américains’

In the digital age, touching the work of established photographic masters can be sensitive business. Recently a Swedish artist named Sanna Dullaway applied her colorizing skills to several historical photographs that included Dorthea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” and Eddie Adams’ harrowing image of an on-the-spot execution of a Vietcong on the streets of Saigon. The debate surrounding these modified versions was whether the interpretation was an improvement that could somehow be more powerful emotionally—due to addition of a color palette and the ability to reach newer generations who disconnect when they see black and white images—or simple vandalism.

The artist Pavel Maria Smejkal in his Fatescapes series took his appropriation of historical images one step further by digitally removing the people from images such as Nick Ut’s photograph of a young Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack and the aforementioned Adams image. By leaving only the landscapes or streetscapes to play on our subconscious memory of historical places and events, he questions the limitations of a photograph’s accuracy at the representation of history.

Perhaps the most provocative example in terms of potential copyright infringement is when the artist Sherrie Levine re-photographed some of Walker Evans’ famous images from the 1930s Farm Security Administration project and presented them unaltered and with her name (the series was called After Walker Evans). Many viewers were outraged. Her act called into question many issues regarding a photograph’s author, copyright (Legally the FSA photographs are owned by the American public, which financed the project so there is no copyright infringement case that could be brought against Levine) and the portrayal of the poor. To some it was Art, but to others, it amounted to Blasphemy.

After Evans, Robert Frank may well be the most influential photographer the medium has seen. Frank’s book The Americans, published in the United States by Grove Press in 1959, was equally celebrated and reviled for its view of the U.S. and its citizenry. Today there is hardly a contemporary photographer who does not acknowledge that Frank accomplished greatness while photographing America for two years on a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The Americans hasn’t escaped its own touches with appropriation. In his newest bookwork Less Américains, London-based artist Mishka Henner takes his humorous title from the French Edition of Frank’s book Les Américains, published in 1958 by Robert Delpire in Paris. By scanning and applying Photoshop to Frank’s images, Henner has proceeded to remove most of the vital subject matter from all 83 photographs—leaving only small details hovering around the frame like background props on an empty theater stage.

Of course, as the title suggests, Less Américains does away with the “Americans” in Frank’s photographs so all that remains, for example, of the Hoboken City Fathers are a line of hats and some political bunting hanging on a two-by-four. And what has been spared in the most famous of all New Orleans street car picture which so perfectly expressed the implied race hierarchy of Jim Crow in the United States? A few vague, unidentifiable shapes that sit within the frame like mismatched puzzle pieces. To quote Jack Kerouac, who wrote an introduction to the American edition of Frank’s book, “The humour, the sadness, the EVERYTHING-ness and American-ness of these pictures (!)” linger like a ghost in these secondary elements.

Less Américains includes an introduction by the artist Elisabeth Tonnard that takes the form of a concrete poetry version of Kerouac’s prose. Tonnard’s approach was to systematically white-out the individual letters A.M.E.R.I.C.A.I.N.S. from Kerouac’s text, leaving an incomprehensible soup of vowels and consonants. His “…basketa pittykats…” becomes the even more cryptic “…B k t p tty-k t …”

Well, what can we make of Henner’s reworking of this masterpiece? I think Kerouac said it best: “What poem this is, what poems can be written about this book of pictures some day by some young new writer high by candlelight bending over them describing every grey mysterious detail.”

Less Américains was published earlier this year.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions. Visit his blog here.

Rinko Kawauchi: My Favorite Color is Blue

Rinko Kawauchi in Conversation with Martin Parr, Courtesy of Photoworks

Rinko Kawauchi‘s photographs are set apart by their remarkable consistency. Nuanced but never repetitive, each 6×6 frame seems to capture the same frail, effervescent color palette, each, in her typical manner, flooded with light. It’s her attitude toward the photograph and the subject, however, not necessarily the technique that stays the same.

In the clip above, Kawauchi in conversation with Magnum photojournalist Martin Parr, who wrote on the work of Rimaldas Vikšraitis in Aperture issue 204, discusses the first transition she made from her usual Rolleiflex film camera to digital during the Brighton Photo Biennial 2010 when a certain subject called for it. The results were stunning, though not unexpected. She says she hopes in the future to use both formats together using a consistency of approach–not necessarily a conscious one, though as she suggested in an interview for Kopenhagen. “Whenever I’m taking pictures,” she says in the video, “I need to discover something. I want an impression from the object.”

Untitled, 2011; from Illuminance (c) Rinko Kawauchi/Aperture Foundation

Kawauichi, who was just nominated for the 2012 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, first came to prominence in 2001 when she published three photobooks–UtataneHanabi, and Hanako–simultaneously during a time when she was still pursuing commercial work. Her acclaim rose rapidly as she went on to put together over a dozen monographs, most recently Illuminance, published by Aperture in Spring, 2011, of which several signed copies are still available for purchase in our bookstore. Also available is the Illuminance Limited-Edition Box Set featuring two untitled 8×10 prints from the series and a signed copy of the text presented in a beautiful clothbound clamshell box. A larger, dizzying 20×20 untitled C-print (pictured left) is also now available for purchase at Aperture.

 

 

Success Stories: Ferit Kuyas

Two years ago, I featured the work of Ferit Kuyas on Lenscratch. His project, Chongqing – City of Ambition, was being launched at Review Santa Fe and I became a big fan of the work. I am happy to share the news of that this project in now a monograph (his third), published by Schilt Publishing. The book is also accompanied by essays by Diana Edkins and Bill Kouwenhoven. This project reflects the old and new China, with images taken in the fog/smog of Chongqing that add a color palette not dissimilar to the old hand painted photographs from the turn of the century. The muted colors and striking photographs combine to make a powerful statement about a city in transition. For more on the series, Ferit has written an essay for Visura Magazine.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Ferit studied architecture and law in Zurich, Switzerland, graduating in jurisprudence from the University of Zurich. He now works mainly on personal projects, several focused on China. Ferit’s photographs have been shown in museums, galleries and festivals in Europe, America and Asia. His work is represented in private, corporate and public collections in the United States, England, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Turkey. He has received a number of awards, among them the Kodak Photobook-Award, the Guatephoto Award and the Hasselblad Masters. He is, indeed, a success story.

Images from Chonqing, City of Ambition

Congratulations on your new monograph, Chongqing – City of Ambition. Can you tell us how the book came about?

Thanks. When doing a large project I always have a book in mind. It is a really good way to finish a project. Like the score of something. A way to be respectful with my work and also a very good opportunity to share the work with a larger audience. Of course we have the web to share. A book looks just much better and we can touch it. I like that sensation.

I started looking for a publisher in 2007 when the project was almost finsihed. Difficult. There was already quite a bit of work from china having flooded the market and publishers where reluctant because they wheren’t sure if they could sell. I was quite persistent though and at one point Dewi Lewis started to get interested. I had submitted the book project to European Book Publishers Award and obviously Maarten Schilt from then Mets & Schilt (now Schilt Publishing) remembered the project from the jurying. We sat down at Rhubarb Rhubarb in August 2008 and we had a shake-hands after 5 minutes. February next year we met in Amsterdam and put the book together in the book designer’s studio. It was a very nice experience working with Maarten Schilt and with Victor Levie who did the bookdesign. They’re both wonderful people.

What brought you to this little known city? ” The Chinese city of Chongqing is little known in the West. Yet with its 32 million inhabitants, the city is twice as big as the Netherlands. Located on the Yangtze river in the province of Sichuan in southwestern China, it is one of China’s most rapidly growing cities.”

I went to China for the first time in 1997 for a photoshoot in Shanghai. Later I did a book project in Shanghai tohether with two photograher friends from Switzerland, Edy Brunner and Marco Paoluzzo. “Shanghai” got published in 2000. While doing the book I met my future wife. Her hometown is Chongqing. I got acquinted with the city when we went there to visit her family. I had heard many interesting things about the city before, but reality was even more exciting.

How did you get started on the project?

I knew right away that I wanted to do project there. I started thinking about it in 2002, went to scouting and photographing in 2003 and started the serious part of the project in 2005.

Usually I have some pictures in front of my inner eye before I start a project. And I like doing long term projects. During the initial campaign I prefer to work in a very open way, which means I like to photograph whatever I think is interesting. Later I define what’s important for the project and deepen those aspects.

What is causing the pollution in Chongqing and did you personally feel affected by it?

The mist and fog in Chongqing is real. It is athmospherical. The city’s nickname in China is City of Fog. It’s been like this since a long time. Of course there is also pollution from several kinds of industry in the athmospere. Surprisingly I never felt affected by the air quality.

Have you shown this work in China? And if so, what was the reaction?

I’d love to show the work in China as I’d like to give something back. The only time it was shown in China was in Pingyao when The Stephen Cohen Gallery presented City of Ambition in their booth.

What do you take away from your time in China, and from producing this body of work?

Many good memories. Family and friendship. Having been a witness of constant fast changes. Knowing that will be the same when I go back. I live near Zurich. The city looks almost the it used to 40 years ago. Some buildings changed. In China you wouldn’t recognize the same place anymore after 40 years. My time in China took away the fear many people have of that country.

City of Ambition is my third book and my first large project in color. It looks like i’ll stick with color for a while.

I love your series, Chinese Smokers. You were able to capture wonderful portraits of contemporary Chinese smokers and the beautiful packaging of their cigarette boxes. I realize that with both series, Chongqing – City of Ambition and Chinese Smokers, no matter how beautiful or powerful the images, there is a layer of sadness and doom about the future of China present in the photographs. Did you feel this?

Thanks. Probably it has something to do with my state of mind. I was quite sad myself often in my deepest inside. It was the time when my marriage started breaking apart. We got divorced shortly after I had I had finished the project. Looking back I can see that I produced most of my best work when I wasn’t happy.

Can you talk a bit about your new project, Aurora?

Aurora is a visit to Guatemala City. I named it after the local airport because it has such an optimistic meaning reflecting the attitude of the locals. I went to Guatemala for the first time in 2010 when i won the Guatephoto Award. That brought me back again for a solo show and a workshop on landscape photography for La Fototeca, the local center for photography. I took this opportunity to start the new project. again it is about the urban landscape. There will also be a part emphasizing the people of Guatemala City in their environment. It will take a while to finish. More to come soon.

What equipment do you use?

I like working with large formats. Most of my work from the nineties is done with 8 x 10. Somehow I felt that my imagery started being too static and I also started working with 4 x5 and again with medium format. That brought back some dynamic into my compositions with the 8 x 10. However I decided to do City of Ambition with 4 x 5. The larger format would have created too many logistic problems.

I work very quick. Carrying a 4 x 5 monorail (an Arca Swiss f-line) on a tripod on my shoulder and a little bag with two additional lenses and some film holders is the ideal way to get around. For the last part of the project I worked with an Alpa xy, two Rodenstock HR lenses and a P45+ back. I’m quite pleased to see that nobody can tell the difference between the two processes when the photographs are on display.

For Aurora I’m back again to the good old 4 x 5.

What advice can you give emerging photographers, especially on presentation, on networking, on consistently producing excellent work?

Find out what you really want to do and then work on it constantly. Be patient and be critical with your own work. Believe in yourself – that’s very important.

Presentation should really be first class – good prints that is. Editing is always ahuge challenge, outside help should be considered here. I often get help from curators and peers.

For networking portfolio reviews were of tremendous help for me. Once you got a strong project together go for it and find out if portfolio reviews work for you. In worst case you’ll meet a bunch of really good photographers at the same stage of their career. Networking with your peers is very rewarding. I made some really fine friends.

What would you say was the one thing that helped get your foot in the door, and took your exposure to the next level?

I started doing decent work in the late eighties. I had studied architecture and law and while I was doing my doctorate in law I decided to pursue photography in a much more serious way. I never finsihed that doctorate and I have been a photographer since. Photography is a long term process, it never ends. not having studied art or photography I was an outsider for a long time. I still managed to show my work regularly and publish two books. 2007 I was at Review Santa Fe. I found out that the format of the review works well for me. Everything went from there.

Do you ever have periods of self-doubt and feel creatively unmotivated?

Yes, of course. Especially when I start something new there is a lot self-doubt involced. Also when I compare my work to the work of artists I respect very much.

Creativity is a strange animal. Its here then its gone. But I always know its going to be back again.

And finally, what would be your perfect day?

Falling in love.

Image from Chinese Smokers

Critical Mass: Susan Worsham

Looking at portfolios from Critical Mass 2011…

I am a long time fan of Susan Worsham’s photographs. Her color palette, her ability to combine still life and portraiture, and her quiet realism of things past and present always feel genuine and true. Of the many artist’s statements (200) that I read for the Critical Mass jury process, hers was the one that stood out to me. A statement is a critical component to a photographer’s project, and Susan’s sets a tone, tells a story, draws us in, and makes us realize we are all here, but for the Grace of God.

By the Grace of God: Growing up in Virginia, my childhood field trips were to cigarette factories and civil war battlegrounds, with a brown bag lunch in tow. As a young girl I could often be found holding a dixie cup full of Kool-Aid powder, with a few drops of water, making a sweet sugary paste for finger dipping. My childhood travels were spent wandering different neighborhoods on my Schwinn, and knocking on strangers’ doors with those same sticky fingers. I can remember one such house, where I knocked on the door to ask if I could jump on the trampoline in the front yard. It was the Gibson Girls’ trampoline, the descendants of Charles Dana Gibson, the famous illustrator. He drew the ideal woman of the early 1900’s, coined the Gibson Girl. I became a constant bouncing fixture on their lawn.

Untitled

This series takes me beyond the backyards and trails of my youth. It deals with the hospitality of strangers, and hits on a feeling that I have sometimes when taking portraits. The feeling that I was supposed to meet a particular person, or turn down a certain road. The title is taken from the old saying “American By Birth, Southern By The Grace Of God”. The images are made up of the places, and characters, that I believe, I have found through a sort of divine intervention. They are strangers, that invite me into their homes, to sit awhile and hear their stories. Characters that are real, and not imagined by the literary greats of the south.

Family, Fourth Of July, Syracuse, NY

Golden Silver

Casket Storage, Va

Man With Snake, Syracuse, NY

Wild Plums

Used Car Lot Holy Bible

Church Storage, Va

Woman In Shed, Syracuse, NY

Destiny, Grandmother’s Roses, Va.

Joel Sternfeld: A Modern Master’s First Pictures

Among a group who legitimized color as a serious medium for art photographers in the 1970s and 1980s, Joel Sternfeld first came to prominence in 1987 with the publication of American Prospects. The book, which featured pictures taken on a series of road trips across the country, subtly documented underlying socioeconomic issues in America with irony and humor. Both poignant and formally beautiful, the images are now considered one of the most important works from the period, and the tome a landmark contribution to the history of American photography. American Prospects was the first of a number of highly regarded and influential books by Sternfeld, which also includes On This Site and Stranger Passing. And though First Pictures, published this month by Steidl, is the newest by the photographer, the book actually pays tribute to Sternfeld’s beginnings.

The book is comprised of Sternfeld’s formative work—mostly unseen until now—and brings further understanding and context to his oeuvre. Featuring Sternfeld’s images from 1971—when he first started taking color pictures — to 1980, First Pictures is broken down into four series: Nags Head, a North Carolina beach community; Rush Hour, street photography taken outside the Macy’s in New York City, At the Mall, taken in New Jersey and most interestingly, Happy Anniversary Sweetie Face, a disparate series of images taken during road trips across America, which serves as a direct precedent to American Prospects. At the time, Sternfeld was working with kodachrome and a 35mm camera rather than the 10×8 format that he would later use to fine tune his aesthetic. The book showcases work that would secure Sternfeld the first of two Guggenheim photography awards and lay the foundation for American Prospects as well as the work that followed. While some images are indicative of Sternfeld’s trademark style —a pastel color palette, compositions that place seemingly insignificant objects in the landscape to reflect a sometimes ironic, cynical or tragic situation, and a socially conscious eye—other photographs seem to relate more formally to the work of other color photographers such as William Eggleston or Helen Levitt.

First Pictures will be a fitting companion to writer and curator Sally Eauclaire’s three book series on color photography: New Color PhotographyAmerican Independents and  New Color New Work, published in the early 1980s, each of which placed Sternfeld’s images directly alongside that of other pioneers in color, including Steven Shore, Joel Meyerowitz and Eggleston. First Pictures goes back a little further and reveals how Sternfeld consciously reacted against the influence of some of his contemporaries—particularly Egglestone and his “poetic snapshots”—in order to create his own voice in color photography through narrative photographs that, individual and in sequence, speak not words or even phrases, but sentences, paragraphs and stories.

First Pictures, published by Steidl, is available now. An accompanying exhibition will be on display at Luhring Augustine gallery in New York from Jan. 7-Feb. 4 2012.