Tag Archives: Man Ray

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.

New York, Cocteau and a Parabolic Mirror: ‘Berenice Abbott: Photographs’

Though she went to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture, Berenice Abbott would transition to photography when she became Man Ray’s assistant in 1923. Three years later, she set up her own studio, photographing the French capital’s bohemians, artists and intellectuals—and famous friends such as writers James Joyce and Jean Cocteau—before moving back to the States in 1929.

For the next two decades, Abbott focused her lens on Depression-Era New York, producing a number of moving, black-and-white images that would become part of her book Changing New York. This series, along with nearly 120 other images, is being featured in a new exhibition at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Center called Berenice Abbott: Photographs.

“She was an underestimated photographer during her life and even today,” says Gaelle Morel, the exhibition’s curator and author of the accompanying book, Berenice Abbott. “But Berenice has this capacity of mixing different aesthetics, depending on the subject, which was really extraordinary. She can do a more modern, New Vision style when it came to photographing New York buildings, or take a more documentary approach for her portraits.”

Keystone-France / Getty Images

Berenice Abbot standing for a portrait, behind a view-camera, circa early 1900s

Abbott gained acclaim for her own comprehensive career, which would later involve photographic work on physics, commissioned by Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But she also became famous for her staunch support of French photographer Eugène Atget, whom she met in 1925 while living in Paris. Atget died two years later, and it was Abbott who would photo-edit a book of his work and help stage an exhibition of his work in New York. She sold her Atget collection to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968.

“Berenice always said she had two careers—one of her own, and one championing Atget,” Morel says. “She wanted to be recognized as the Atget of New York, not necessarily his aesthetic, but his intellect.”

Berenice Abbott: Photographs, co-organized by The Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto and the Jeu de Paume in Paris, is on view through Aug. 19 at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The accompanying book is published by Editions Hazan and Yale University Press.

Eugène Atget’s ‘Documents Pour Artistes’

Outside his studio in 19th-century Paris hung a sign that declared “documents pour artistes”—documents for artists—a statement that captured the modest intent of Eugène Atget. His legacy, the result of a career that spanned more than 30 years and nearly 8,500 photographs, is one of relentless curiosity, devout investigation and masterful craftsmanship. Drawing from its expansive collection of Atget’s work, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will present a selection of more than 100 images from Feb. 3 through April 9, as an exhibition titled with inspiration from the artist himself: Documents Pour Artistes.

The exhibition, which is divided into six sections, examines the various subjects the artist approached during his life. Atget is primarily known for his images of the streets of Paris, romantic landscapes and images of storefronts (which inspired Surrealists such as Man Ray and Tristan Tsara, although Atget denied any ties to the movement)—but, in this show, MoMA includes a refreshing display of his rare photographs of people, which are equal in their formal rigor and topographical, objective approach.

Atget’s approach is paradoxically both intimate and anonymous; despite having photographed seemingly every inch of the streets of Paris, from whole buildings to window displays, Atget never photographed the Eiffel Tower. His sense of dedication to detail, found in his street photographs, extends into his images from the abandoned Parc de Sceaux, from March and June of 1925. During this time, Atget took vast images of the serene landscapes, all while taking dutiful notes of times of day of the photographs, revealing his highly proximate relationship with documentation.

Drawing inspiration from Atget’s vision of objectivity for his photographs, it is perhaps best for viewers to develop a more personal relationship with his work, undistracted by the perceptions of the outside world. The scenes captured in Atget’s images cannot be adequately illustrated with words—luckily for us, he took pictures instead.

Documents Pour Artistes is on display from Feb. 3 through April 9 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The Annenberg Space for Photography: Beauty CULTure

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of attending a press preview of the new Annenberg Space for Photography’s exhibition, Beauty CULTure. It’s an expansive show with hundreds of images and on first impression, all about beauty we’ve seen reflected in fashion magazines over the years, but fortunately the exhibition goes deeper and explores the ideas of beauty and aging, gender, and race. It features works from iconic photographers such as Albert Watson, Bert Stern, Herb Ritts, Man Ray, Jean-Paul Goude, Guy Bordin, Horst, Melvin Sololsky, Matthew Rolston, Lauren Greenfield, Susan Anderdon Tyen, Patricia Lay Dorsey, and many more.

The Annenberg describes the exhibition as “a seminal examination of photography’s role in capturing and defining notions of modern female beauty and how these images profoundly influence our lives in both celebratory and disturbing ways. Through different lenses focused on the body beautiful, the exhibition examines both traditional and unconventional definitions of beauty, challenging stereotypes of gender, race and age. It explores the links between beauty and violence, glamour and sexuality and the cost (in its multiple meanings) of beauty.

The highlight was a 30 minute documentary presentation created for the exhibition and directed by Lauren Greenfield, who manages to reflect on the good, bad, and ugly business of beauty. Beauty CULTure opens to the public in Los Angeles on May 21, 2011 and runs through November 27, 2011.

Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection

An interesting article from the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin.

Harry Ransom Center
Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim CollectioDavid Coleman, the Ransom Center’s Curator of Photography, leads a free gallery tour of Discovering the Language of Photography: The Gernsheim Collection, on Tuesday, December 7, at 7 p.m. at the

Ransom Center.
Drawn from the peerless collection of Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, the exhibition features masterpieces from photography’s first 150 years, alongside other images that, while lesser known, are integral to the medium’s history. Highlights include the first photograph (on permanent display at the Ransom Center); works by nineteenth-century masters such as Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Henry Peach Robinson; and iconic images by modern photographers such as Man Ray, Robert Capa, Edward Weston, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
If you are unable to attend the curator’s tour, free docent-led tours of this exhibition are offered Tuesdays at noon and Saturdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. The exhibition runs through January 2.

21st and Guadalupe, Austin, Texas 78713-7219; Phone 512-471-8944
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Paris Photo 2010 Post Show Press Release

Fresh back from our trip to Paris for the splendid 24th addition of Paris Photo, we´ve just picked up the following press announcement about various sales and other success stories:

The 14th edition of Paris Photo turned the spotlight on central Europe †Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia †and included 106 exhibitors from 25 countries. Some 38,000 visitors came to the fair, compared to 40,150 in 2009, a slight decrease in number owing to the fact that there was no late night opening this year.

Sales took off

Transactions went at a sustained pace and most exhibitors reported a better volume of sales compared to 2009. Some achieved results that were described as “exceptional,” “astonishing,” “miraculous,” by the gallery owners themselves whose expectations were modest owing to the prevailing economic climate.

Vintage sales:

Sales were good, and even excellent, especially for those galleries whose shows coincided with some of the exhibitions currently on in Paris (Heinrich Kühn at the Musée de l’Orangerie, André Kertesz at the Jeu de Paume, Les Primitifs de la photographie at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) as well as the big photography auctions and the Central European theme. The photograph by Joseph Sudek put up for auction by Johannes Faber gallery went for a record €300,750 at the Sotheby’s sale. This brought numerous buyers to the Viennese gallery’s booth at Paris Photo. Another image by the Czech artist went for €190,000. Meanwhile, the New York gallery Edwynn Houk, sold the picture entitled Arles (1929) by Hungary’s Moholy-Nagy for US$ 265,000. Budapest’s Vintage Gallery was showing largely Hungarian modernists and achieved better sales than last year with a total of €58,000 for 22 vintage pieces sold. France’s Françoise Paviot sold her self portrait of Man Ray for €75,000 and the entire set of small contacts by Brassaï made in 1958 for between €2,500 and €4,000 each. Obsis gallery of Paris sold its entire collection of images of the 1931 colonial exhibition held in Paris to a Paris museum for more than €100,000. A specialist in anonymous photography, the gallery Lumière des Roses (Montreuil) sold two thirds of the works on its booth, and in particular 8 autochromes (1925/1930) by Léon Gimpel at €7,000 each. Surfing on the current wave of enthusiasm for photographers who worked in fashion (Avedon, Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton…), Hamiltons Gallery of London sold the famous Mainbocher Corset (1939) by Horst P.Horst for US$ 150,000.

Contemporary sales:

Filles du Calvaire (Paris) gallery recorded its best sales ever at this year´s Paris Photo. alabama foundation repair . The gallery let go of three editions of a portrait by Paul Graham from his End of an Age Series, 1996-1998 at €24,000 a piece to buyers who included some Turkish newcomers to the fair. SAGE Paris sold his entire collection of the light-boxes made in 1999 by Japan’s Naoya Hatakeyama, ie. some 30 works costing €6,000 each which went to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and to a Brazilian foundation. Berlin’s DNA gallery sold 80% of its wares including two large format staged images by Japan’s Tatsumi Orimoto at €38,000 each and two videos by Bulgarian artist Mariana Vassileva costing € 8,000 each. New York’s Yossi Milo recorded better sales than at his last participation in Paris Photo in 2006 with some 40 works priced at between €6,000 and €10,000 acquired by new collectors from England, the USA and France. With its artist Gábor Åsz as the winner of the 2010 BMW-Paris Photo Prize, Loevenbruck (Paris) found buyers for four of the Hungarian’s unique pieces at €20,000 each.

Photography book sales:

Book sellers also reported very good sales this year: Toluca sold 20 of its 28 copies of « What Man is really like » by Rachel Whiteread, Ingo Shulze and Naoto Fukusawa for €7,000 each. Librairie 213 let go of some 20 rare books with the most expensive costing €12,000. Man Ray’s book entitled Electricity (1932) offered by Denis Ozanne at €35,000 also found a buyer.

Beautiful presentations and plenty of discoveries:

Visitors, collectors, institution directors were unanimous in their praise for the high quality of the exhibits, the beauty of the works and their excellent presentation as well as the good number exciting discoveries that arose from the exploration of the Central European scene. Firmly anchored in a rich historical ground, the Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian and Slovakian scenes are today undergoing a renaissance. In addition, the exhibitions of the finalists of the BMW-Paris Photo Prize, Leica Camera’s show A Juste Titre as well as the SFR Young talents show won many accolades from the public.

Paris, world capital of photography:

This year Paris Photo coincided with a number of key auctions, including the Avedon sale at Christies’ and a big auction at Sotherby’s. It also took place in the context of the 30th anniversary of Photography Month which offered a plethora of exhibitions throughout the city, in addition to a number of “Off” fairs and happenings. More than ever, Paris Photo is the world’s leading event for photography and Paris is its global capital in November.

Paris Photo 2011: from Bamako to Cape Town, African photography

From 17th to 20th November 2011,Paris Photo will be back on the road to discovery, heading to the African continent to highlight talents from Bamako to Cape Town. Six platforms will be created to spotlight the diversity of both historical and contemporary creativity in sub-Saharan Africa. Paris Photo will select the content of these platforms with the help of artistic advisor Simon Njami.*

* A writer, art critic and independent curator, Simon Njami conceived the exhibition Africa Remix, the first Africa pavilion at the Venice biennale in 2007 with Fernando Alvim. He was also behind A Collective Diary (Tel Aviv 2010) and A Useful Dream, fifty years of photography in Africa (Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 2010). Njami was co-founder of La Revue Noire and served as its Chief Editor. He was director of the Bamako biennale for 10 years and his latest book is a biography of Léopold Sédar Senghor (Fayard, 2007).