Tag Archives: Duane Michals

Julia Dean: Forty Years Behind the Camera

A dozen years ago, photographer Julia Dean changed my life by asking me to teach at her photography school, The Julia Dean Photo Workshops in Los Angeles. Over the past thirteen years, Julia has taught hundreds of classes, thousands of students, and exposed the Los Angeles community to photographic luminaries and educators such as Keith Carter, Duane Michals, Mary Ellen Mark and many others too numerous to count.  Her school has created a photographic community in Los Angeles, a place to share portolios over a glass of wine, a place to hear lectures, experience wonderful exhibitions, and take a broad array of classes (160 offered each year). Julia’s desire to open our eyes, to see one world, and to bring attention to those who have no voice has been remarkable.  Her generous and enthusiastic spirit is infectious and I feel so lucky to be her friend.  So today I celebrate a woman who has spent a lifetime engaged, enthused, and involved in photography.

Julia has spent the last year revisiting negatives and spending month upon month in the darkroom creating beautiful silver prints in preparation for a 40 year retrospective of her work that opens at the Julia Dean Gallery in Los Angeles tomorrow night, December 15th.  I am featuring work from her General Stores project today — she recently rediscovered the negatives and printed the images for the first time for the exhibition.  Julia is also offering photographs from the exhibition for sale online at a special anniversary price on her site.

Forty Years Behind the Camera: A Retrospective

When I worked as an apprentice to Berenice Abbott’s in 1978, I was 23 years old. Berenice was 80. 

She taught me how to print, among many other photographic skills. She taught me about life in Paris in the 20s, about working with Man Ray, about meeting and photographing people like Eugene Atget, James Joyce, and Jean Cocteau. She even taught me how to do the Charleston. 

I remember using an 8×10 camera with 8×10 film and an 8×10 enlarger. The film had to be processed in complete darkness, one sheet at a time, in 8×10 trays that you lined up just right so you knew what to do in the dark. 

images from General Stores

I learned how to bend light with my hands under an enlarger, how to add light, how to subtract light, how to make a print look just like our eyes saw the subject when the picture was taken. I learned that photography renders 10 tones compared to the hundreds of tones that our eyes can differentiate. I learned that it can take hours to get one good print.

I also learned how to flatten the prints, how to retouch the dust spots, and the patience it takes to produce one beautiful black & white fiber base print.

 I was asked recently what the difference is between the traditional role of film and the digital era. It is very simple. It is much easier to be a photographer today than it was in the past. (Photographers before me would say the same thing!) Though today’s cameras are much heavier than my Leica M6 and have more buttons, once you learn your tools, digital photography makes life quicker and easier.

I don’t look down on those who didn’t learn the hard way. I wouldn’t have minded an easier path myself. But I am grateful for knowing what I know about photography that digital shooters will never know: the craft of the black & white print. 

To me, there is no more beautiful craft in photography than the black & white print from a black & white negative. I learned from a master and for that I am eternally grateful. Printing is a dying art that I hope I never give up, even if I, too, have embraced digital. This retrospective exhibit is in honor of the beautiful black & white print.

Delpire’s Children’s Books at The French Embassy







Photos Courtesy Cultural Services / The French Embassy in the U.S.

Over the course of the last month, upwards of 300 children from elementary schools across New York City were invited to visit the special exhibition of Robert Delpire’s children’s books at Cultural Services of the French Embassy, part of the city-wide celebration of Delpire’s six decades of visionary publishing work, in conjunction with Aperture’s own 60th anniversary celebration.

These free morning workshops offered interactive, bilingual activities including monster mask-making inspired by Actibum’s The Masks, readings from André François’ Crocodile Tears and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, book cover design and more.

The exhibition closed Friday, June 8, 2012, but if you missed out make sure to view this video from the French Embassy, Where The Wild Things Are : an Homage to Maurice Sendak and Les editions Delpire, and check out the remaining Delpire & Co. exhibitions on view.

Through July 19, 2012:

  • Classic publications by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, William Klein, Josef Koudelka, Sarah Moon and more at Aperture (547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor).
  • Contemporary photography from Michael Ackerman, Jehsong Baak, Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt, Harry Gruyaert and more at The Gallery at Hermès/Fondation d’entreprise Hermès (691 Madison Aveune).
  • Illustraitions from the Poche Illustrateur series, celebrating Roman Cieślewicz, Honoré Daumier, Etienne Delessert and more at La Maison Française of New York University (16 Washington Mews, at University Place).

Through July 16, 2012:

  • Sarah Moon: Now and Then at Howard Greenberg Gallery (41 E. 57th St.).
  • A Tribute to Robert Delpire: Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Josef Koudelka, Duane Michals, and Paolo Roversi at Pace/MacGill Gallery (32 E. 57th St., 9th Floor).

Master of the Photobook: Robert Delpire’s Long and Legendary Influence

Few publishers in the history of photography have had as lengthy a track record of producing books that are now considered the medium’s landmarks as Robert Delpire. As most post-war publishers often have had brief existences in the world of photobook publishing (which is stunningly disadvantageous financially), over the past 60 years, this former medical student and hobbyist photographer created and managed one of the most iconic photography and graphic arts publishing houses in Paris: Éditions Delpire. A Tribute to Robert Delpire through the work of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Josef Koudelka, Duane Michals and Paolo Roversi runs from May 10 – June 16 at the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York City.

Sarah Moon

Robert Delpire

Delpire’s transition from 23-year-old medical student to publisher came when he was asked to become editor-in-chief of the Maison de la Medicine’s cultural bulletin for its doctors. Delpire imagined the bulletin as a subscriber-based art review that would be richly illustrated, with a focus on photography. The first issue of Neuf (meaning both ‘new’ and ‘nine’) appeared in June 1950, and over the course of its run, would devote much of its content to photographic works by Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Izis (Israëlis Bidermanas), Willy Ronis and a young unknown artist, Robert Frank. Two of the issues were essentially monographs of Brassaï (Neuf #5) and Robert Frank (Neuf #7), which pointed toward Delpire’s interest in publishing books of photography.

Editions Delpire

Robert Frank’s Les Américains, 1958

One link between many of Delpire’s publications would be his interest in anthropology, as could be seen when he switched to publishing monographs of photographers under the short-lived imprint Huit (Eight). Robert Doisneau’s Les Parisiens Tels Qu’ils Sont (Parisians As They Are, 1954), Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Les Danses à Bali (Dances in Bali, 1954) and George Rodger’s Le Village des Noubas (The Village of the Nubas, 1955) are studies in the documentary vein encapsulated in three small-format hardcover books that feel like case studies of mankind. In 1957, he created a small collection of books on culture called the Encyclopédie Essentielle, which included the first appearance of Robert Frank’s Les Américains (The Americans, 1958). That legendary magnum opus came across less as the beatnik road-trip as which it was later perceived, but instead with a particular anthropological flavor through texts—by literary luminaries such as Faulkner, de Beauvoir, Steinbeck and others—that Delpire positioned opposite Frank’s photographs.

Delpire’s career path has been as varied as the books he has published. Aside from the realm of photobooks, he has run a publicity agency with clients that included Citroën and L’Oréal, opened a gallery in Paris, produced a number of films including two by the photographer and filmmaker William Klein, created a creative studio and publishing house called Idéodis and became the first French publisher of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are.

Photo Poche

A Photo Poche about the photographer Nadar.

In 1982 he was appointed by the French arts minister Jack Lang to be director of the Centre National de la Photographie, where he would organize exhibitions and create a collection of small pocket-sized books called the Photo Poche—the most successful series of photography monographs ever published. To date there are over 150 books in the collection, covering a wide range of photographic practices from the documentary-style traditions of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans and Lee Friedlander to the fine arts of Duane Michals, Paolo Roversi, Sarah Moon and Joel-Peter Witkin. Hardly any photographer’s bookcase is without a selection of these black-spine bound books.

Nevertheless, of all of his accomplishments, the name Delpire most conjures up his hand in the creation of books such as Josef Koudelka’s Gitans La Fin du Voyage (Gypsies – The End of the Voyage, 1975) and Exiles (1988), Cartier-Bresson’s D’une Chine à l’Autre (From One China to the Other, 1954) and Moscou (Moscow, 1955), Inge Morath’s Guerre à la Tristesse (War on Sadness, 1955) and De la Perse à l’Iran (From Persia to Iran, 1958), William Klein’s Tokyo (1964) and Indiens pas Morts (Indians not Dead, 1956) with photographs by Werner Bischof, Robert Frank, Pierre Verger.

Today, at 86, Delpire seems to sum up his accomplishments with a deceptively simple statement: “A publisher’s job is to showcase the work of others,” says Delpire. “It’s not just the work of a team; it requires deep mutual understanding. I’ve never published anyone who was of no interest to me.”

The Pace/MacGill Delpire tribute opens May 10 in New York City. Five simultaneous companion exhibitions across the city will expand on Delpire’s work.

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

All-new issue of Lens Culture online now — global photography & photobook reviews

As we enter our 9th year of Lens Culture, we’re releasing our largest issue to date. And more will be added in the coming days and weeks.

Discover great photography and new photobooks touching on an incredibly diverse variety of themes, styles and cultures. Included in this issue, so far:

• On the foggy fringes of explosive growth in China
• A photo diary of a manic road trip around Iceland
• Re-enactment of a real serial murder by teenage Americans
• Centuries of imperialism and war in Afghanistan
• Modern day street photography in Paris
• Steaming mountains of garbage recycled in Phnom Penh
• Dying traditions in Transylvania
• Academic research about Francesca Woodman in Rome
• Grappling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
• Extended family-based organized crime in London
• Overstepping the boundaries of appropriation
• A (photo) graphic novel with no linear narrative
• Celebration of supersaturated color and personal whimsy
• Duane Michals photographs Magritte
• Photographic philosophical musings on personal identity post 9/11
• An overview of contemporary Iranian photography
• A reprint of a classic book about sexual identity in 1950s’ Paris
• History of Kodak Girl advertising campaigns
• Up-close photographs of criminal interrogations in the Ukraine

We hope you enjoy this new issue. Be sure to tell all of your friends, too, okay?


If you purchase photobooks (or anything, really) via Amazon, Lens Culture will earn a small commission if you start your shopping with this link:


Tara Bogart

I recently discovered Tara Bogart’s wonderful new series, Modern Hair Study, and was delighted to learn that one of the images from this project was the next offering on Collect.Give that launched yesterday. Tara is supporting Meta House, an internationally-recognized drug and alcohol abuse treatment program for women that has been providing long-term, gender-responsive treatment in Milwaukee since 1963.

Image offered on Collect.Give

Tara lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and had an early start on her artistic sensibility. Growing up with artist parents, she was introduced to books by photographers such as Deborah Turbeville, Robert Frank, Duane Michals and Sally Mann. As a teenager she discovered her mother’s darkroom and began a lifelong passion for photography. She is an educator at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and exhibits in the midwest. I am featuring two series, Modern Hair Study and Tattoo Portraits.

a modern hair study
In 2011, I visited the photo archives of the National Library of France. While everything was inspirational, one photograph haunted me for months following my visit. “Hair Study”, by Felix Nadar depicts just a woman’s back and her hair.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what that same image would look like today.

“a modern hair study” consists of portraits of young women photographed from behind. By focusing on the back, the viewer is forced to contend with all of the peripheral things that make each woman unique.

In these intimate portraits I am a voyeur concentrating on a generation that is not mine. While certain ideals are often relevant to different generations, the ways in which women adorn and modify themselves often indicate the struggles of a young adult with their own ideology and individuality.

After photographing these women, I can imagine these struggles are timeless. Existing today as well as when the original Nadar portrait was taken.

Tattoo Portraits

Simply looking around one day, I realized that many (if not most) of my friends are covered in tattoos. Old tattoos that were put there before it was “cool” to have tattoos.

Twenty years ago people would often get tattoos in places that could be hidden. On the occasion that they would be exposed in public there would be judging or fearful glances. Usually followed by comments such as, “What kind of job do you think you can get with those tattoos?”

Tatto Portraits

At first, I wanted to show how successful my friends have become over the years, almost in spite of all the tattoos. What I discovered is far more fascinating. Not only are they still unique people; but they continue to be trailblazers, innovators, creators, entrepreneurs, leaders and friends.

My subjects are older by design. Of course I always ask the subject to allow us to see most of their tattoos, but I also want to show a more intimate side. These environmental portraits have become more about people who think and succeed outside of the box.

The tattoos have become secondary to the details of the people and spaces they chose to be photographed in.

Wanna See Their Portfolios?

Rene Magritte in Bowler Hat (Multiple Exposure), 1965,  © Duane Michals

This summer Pace/MacGill Gallery is exhibiting portfolios by six legendary artists: A Box of Ten Photographs by Diane Arbus, Portfolio by Robert Frank, Fifteen Photographs by Lee Friedlander, A Visit With Magritte by Duane Michals, Portfolio I by Robert Rauschenberg and Fifteen Photographs Garry Winogrand.

Aperture has featured many of these photographers in one form or another, particularly Diane Arbus. Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph is a 25th anniversary edition survey of her work, Diane Arbus: Magazine Work is a remarkable collection of portraits, Diane Arbus: Untitled demonstrates Arbus’s remarkable visual lyricism, and the upcoming Diane Arbus: A Chronology is the closest thing possible to reading a contemporaneous diary by the daring, influential, and controversial artist. She was also featured in issues of Aperture magazine: Aperture 199 and Aperture 168.

You can also see Duane Michal’s work in the recently released publication Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography, a book that traces the rise of the album from the turn of the century to the present day, showcasing some of the most important examples in the history of the medium.

Check out our website for more books and magazines featuring these six prolific photographers, and head over to Pace/MacGill Gallery to see the amazing portfolios.

Pace/MacGill Gallery:
32 East 52nd Street
New York, NY
(212) 759-7999

Exhibition on View:
July 14 – August 24


Photographic Memory: Verna Curtis, Duane Michals, and Denise Wolff

how to file for divorce .

JoinVerna Curtis, curator of photography in the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress; photographerDuane Michals, as well as Aperture EditorDenise Wolff to discuss the illustrated history of a mode of presentation that became an art form in itselfa history that has seen radical shifts in the role of handmade artists’ objects. This panel takes place on the occasion of the release ofPhotographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography which traces the rise of the album from the turn of the century to the present day, showcasing some of the most important examples in the history of the medium, as collected by the Library of Congress.


Aperture Gallery and Bookstore

Tuesday, June 14, 6:30 pm


Click here to purchase the book Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography

Alex Webb and Max Kozloff in Conversation

Join acclaimed Magnum photographer Alex Webb in conversation with writer and artist Max Kozloff on the release of Webb’s latest monograph, The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs. This exquisite book is the first comprehensive monograph charting the career of the acclaimed American photographer. The collection presents his most iconic images, many of which were taken in the far corners of the earth, and brings a fresh perspective to his extensive catalog.

Alex Webb‘s photographs have appeared in a wide range of publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Life, Stern, and National Geographic, and have been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He is a recipient of the Leica Medal of Excellence (2000) and the Premio Internacional de Fotografia Alcobendas (2009). Webb, a member of Magnum Photos since 1976, lives in New York City.

Max Kozloff currently lives in New York City. Kozloff was schooled as an art historian at the University of Chicago and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He wrote the Art Column for The Nation during the 1960s, was a contributing editor at Art International and Artforum from 1963 to 1974, and was Executive Editor of Artforum from 1974 to 1976. He published a monograph on Jasper Johns, and the books Renderings and Cultivated Impasses. In 1976, he switched his attention to writing on photography. Hot Shot Trucking Denver . His work in that medium includes three collections of essays, a monograph on Duane Michals, New York: Capital of Photography (a catalogue for the show he curated at the Jewish Museum in 2002), and the book The Theatre of the Face: Portrait Photography Since 1900. Kozloff began showing his own color photographs at the Holly Solomon Gallery in 1977 and has exhibited at the Marlborough and P.P.O.W galleries in New York, as well as institutions in Buenos Aires, Bombay, Mexico City and London.

Wednesday, June 1, 6:30 pm


Aperture Gallery and Bookstore