Tag Archives: Photographic Works

The Americans List: A Salute to Robert Frank

Photographers the world over need no introduction to Robert Frank’s seminal 1950s work The Americans, an exploration of the American ideal from his outsider’s perspective as a Swiss émigré. Taken on a series of road trips around the country, the resulting intuitively-sequenced images —produced with funding from a Guggenheim fellowship—reflect both the dark undercurrents and poetic beauty of American culture.

Originally published in Paris in 1958 and the U.S. a year later, the book’s hallowed pages—containing a mere 83 images—have become one of the most referenced and revered photographic works. Many of the individual frames reside firmly in the collective memory of contemporary photographers who consciously and subconsciously reference the images on a daily basis.

Three years ago, an extensive retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art provided a fascinating and exhaustive insight to The Americans. The show, entitled Looking In, also inspired and facilitated photographer Jason Eskenazi’s recently published appreciation, The Americans List.

In 2009, Eskenazi—himself the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship—was working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Every day for two months, even on Mondays when the exhibition was closed to the public, he stood in close proximity with the work, studying it compulsively, attending special events and asking questions of MET curator Jeff Rosenheim.

While guarding the show, Eskenazi started to ask photographers he knew—famous or not—about their favorite images from the show. Over the next two years, Eskenazi compiled their answers, along with their explanations and thoughts about the work. His compilations eventually evolved into his own book, published this month by Red Hook Editions. In the foreward, Eskenazi writes:

The Americans is probably the one book that connects more photographers than any other, so while guarding the show, I saw many photography colleagues enter. I began asking them what was their knock-out favorite image. Though many said it was too hard to choose and many images were important to them I insisted. I discovered that many of the answers revealed much more about the photographers themselves.”

The Americans List assembles selections by 276 photographers from Joel Meyerowitz (Canal Street – New Orleans. plate #19) and Joseph Koudelka (Covered car – Long Beach, Califonia. plate #34) to Eskenazi’s own personal favorite (Men’s room, railway station – Memphis, Tenn. Plate 52). Eskenazi considers the book a present to the photographic community and a homage to a great living photographer.

Guarding the exhibition also afforded Eskenazi the opportunity to meet the legendary photographer, first at the exhibition opening and then at Frank’s house in New York City, where he asked Frank to confirm the long standing rumor of his own favorite photograph from The Americans (San Francisco. Plate 72).

Eskenazi quit his day job at the end of the Looking In exhibition and has since returned full time to his life as a photographer. “I became very intimate with the work,” Eskenazi says. “It brought me back to life. And Frank was very moved by the book when he was recently given a copy in Nova Scotia.”

Clark Winter

Nova Scotia
September, 2012

Jason Eskenazi is a Istanbul based photographer. See more of his work at JasonEskenazi.com.

The Americans List is published by Red Hook Editions and available through the photo-eye bookstore.

Video: Artist Talk with Photographer Jeff Cowen

Jeff Cowen Photographic Works, Artist Talk, Köln 2012 from Jim Casper on Vimeo.

Photographer-Artist Jeff Cowen spoke about his work and approach to art in a conversation recorded at Michael Werner Kunsthandel in Köln Germany. Art Historian Jennifer Crowley and Lens Culture Director Jim Casper participated in the conversation with Cowen.

Cowen makes original mural-size, sculptural, painterly photographic works that are visually stunning and beautiful but defy easy categorization. His comments offer insight into his working methods and goals.

This video is a 13-minute edit that contains excerpts from the public conversation that ranged over a wide range of topics.

Jeff Cowen and Jim Casper will conduct a 5-day Masterclass for Photographers, in Paris, October 18-22, 2012. For more details, and to register, see bildernordic.no/en/archive/register-for-the-5-day-photography-masterclass-in-paris-with-jeff-cowen-and-jim-casper-october-18-22/

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.

Jeff Cowen: Photographic Works exhibition in Cologne

Jeff Cowen, Nature Mort 1, 2010, Silver Print, 60 x 80 cm, Edition of 6.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Nature Mort 1, 2010, Silver Print, 60 x 80 cm, Edition of 6.

For the first time, the highly-regarded Michael Werner art gallery in Cologne (with other galleries in Germany and New York), will be presenting photography-based artworks.

From the gallery statement:

Michael Werner Kunsthandel, Cologne presents an exhibition by Jeff Cowen titled “Photographic Works beginning on January 28th. The artist tests the boundaries between photography, painting, drawing and sculpture. Comcast Cable California . Cowen works on a thick silver based paper, which he cuts, collages and attacks with various chemicals and specialized darkroom techniques. The evolution from the photographic image to the unique and painterly final print may take the artist months or even years. This process is consciously controlled only to some extent, but not entirely predetermined. Cowen is on a quest for something he rationally does not understand, but senses and knows exists. His photographic images transcend time and space. He writes: “Making a photograph for me is a paradox, a sacred and violent act. You kill a moment and eternalize it. seo hosting . There is a mysterious metamorphosis that transpires of which I am continuously surprised and in awe of. Its a transformative process for the observer and the observed.

Jeff Cowen was born in 1966 in New York City. In 1988 he graduated in Oriental Studies as a University Honors Scholar from New York University and Waseda University in Tokyo. Upon graduation, he continued photographing intensively on the streets of New York and worked as an assistant to Larry Clark. In the course of the 1990s his artistic approach was influenced and altered by his study of drawing and painting. This further informed the artists search for the relation between the photographic picture and abstraction. Cowen has been based in Paris and now Berlin since 2001. The Cologne exhibition reveals works of these past ten years including still life, landscape, figure, and abstraction. In many of the works, one senses Cowens interest with what he calls the non-moment, i.e. the point in time just before or after something has happened. Cable Internet Packages . Like silence, my images can best be described by what they are not.

Jeff Cowen, Nature Morte 9, 2010, Silver Print, 81 x 61 cm, Edition of 1.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Nature Morte 9, 2010, Silver Print, 81 x 61 cm, Edition of 1.

Jeff Cowen, Sienna, 2002, Silver Print, 127 x 170 cm, Edition of 6.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Sienna, 2002, Silver Print, 127 x 170 cm, Edition of 6.

Jeff Cowen, Alice, 2001, Silver Print, 188 x 127 cm, Edition of 8.jpg

Jeff Cowen, Alice, 2001, Silver Print, 188 x 127 cm, Edition of 8.

Jeff Cowen: Photographic Works
January 28 – March 24, 2012
Michael Werner Kunsthandel Gallery
Gertrudenstrae 24-28
50667 Cologne

Photographer #408: Stephen Gill

Stephen Gill, 1971, UK, is an experimental, conceptual and documentary photographer. In 2005 he founded his publishing company in order to gain maximum control over the publication process of his books. He has released an impressive amount of books. For him a book is not merely a vessel or a shell in which to house and show his photographs, it should be the finished expression of the images. Various techniques are used as cut printing, spray paint or rubber stamps are used to what he considers “the key final stage in the production of his photographic works.” The images for the series Outside In were made in Brighton where he featured objects found in the local surroundings that he literally put inside of his camera and started making images of street sceneries. To finish the images he used a magnifying glass to concentrate the sunlight onto some of the negatives in order to create markings. Other negatives were dipped into the sea hoping that the finished series would become something like the regurgitated contents of a giant vacuum cleaner. For his series Billboards he photographed the backsides of these large objects taking us to strange places that are normally hidden from our point of view. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world. The following images come from the series Outside InBillboards and Hackney Flowers.

Website: www.stephengill.co.uk

Photographer #351: Christopher Colville

Christopher Colville, 1974, USA, is a conceptual and experimental photographer. He received a BFA in Anthropology and Photography at the Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico.  He uses many different techniques to obtain his photographic works. For his series Dark Emanations he placed dead squid in containers where they emit gaseous clouds of phosphorescent light as they decay. This light or chemical decomposition imprints itself as colors on paper. The beauty for Christopher is not the death of the squid, but the possibility of new life due to the decaying process. In 2006 he spend 27 days in a tent in Iceland where he created a body of work consisting of four suites of images that are unique yet intertwined. He photographed the entire night on one single image, documented the cairns (man-made piles of stones) and the landscapes. While working on this project he would collect a small plant in the morning, place it on an impregnated paper attached to his backpack. While hiking it was exposed to the sun thus creating an image. The following images come from the series The Iceland Trilogy & Movements, Dark Emanations and Instar.

Lucie Foundation First Annual Benefit

Please join the Lucie Foundation for our first-annual benefit event to support and develop SNAPSHOP! our hands-on photography workshop program for at-risk Los Angeles high school children.

The benefit a one night only event this Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 7:00-10:00pm.

Advance tickets: $50.00 for purchase on Eventbrite; Tickets at door: $75.00

The night will include a selection of photographic works by David Lynch, Amy Arbus and Tasya Van Ree. Musical performance by Quartetto Fantastico. Dj set by Peanut Butter Wolf.  Hosted bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, and The Macallan Scotch Lounge.

This event is in association with Art Weekend LA and made possible with the generous support of Factory Arts Complex and the Los Angeles River and Business Association.

For more information, please visit:



Also, please check out photos from this year’s workshops here.

Exposure. Michael Light’s photographs give human endeavour a new perspective


Given that Michael Light’s most famous photographic works deal with atomic bombs and rockets to the moon, it seems appropriate to ask why he is drawn to themes so epic in scale and dramatic in their implications, writes David Thompson in Eye 51. ‘Certainly I love high drama,’ he replies, ‘but I think it’s more accurate to say that I’m drawn to the aesthetic of largeness, of all that is beyond ourselves, precisely because we’d be better off if we didn’t go around feeling like we were the biggest and most important things. Artistically, I’m concerned with power and landscape, and how we as humans relate to vastness – to that point at which our ego and sense of efficaciousness crumbles …’




‘In my opinion, serious contemporary artistic production dealing with landscape must deal with politics and violence in some way, whether explicit or implied. Otherwise it’s just fluff, decoration for those wanting false comfort and a delusionally ahistorical and apolitical world.’



This is an extract from Exposure by David Thompson in Eye 51 (Spring 2004). For more posts from our archive, click here.

See also ‘Above the clouds’ on the Eye blog about the current exhibition at Daniel Blau.

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