Tag Archives: Retrospective

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.

William Klein + Daido Moriyama: Double Feature

William Klein’s urgent, radical, gritty, blurred and out of focus photographs are as dynamic and visceral as any the medium has produced. His revolutionary magnus opus ‘Life is Good & Good For You in New York’ is an uncompromising, groundbreaking portrait of urban life, which at the time of its publication in 1956 not only shocked the established order, but reinvented the photographic document and is now widely regarded as one of photography’s greatest and most influential works.

Daido Moriyama is the most celebrated photographer to emerge from the Japanese ‘Provoke’ movement. His grainy high contrast black-and-white photographs, focused on the urban environment of post-war Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, echo those of Klein’s New York. Like Klein, Moriyama has consistently revisited, reinvented and reworked his photographs within a process of constant flux.

The Tate Modern’s latest exhibition ‘William Klein + Daido Moriyama‘ brings together the work of the two photographers as a double feature—side by side retrospectives of photographers whose work is inextricably linked but independently minded. 

Following Matisse, Picasso; Albers, Maholy-Nagy; Rodchenko and Popova, the show is the latest in a program of double headers at the Tate Modern that explore two artists and how their work relates to one another. 

Simon Baker, the Tate Modern’s Curator of  Photography and International Art, spoke with TIME about the exhibition—the first full show he has curated since joining Tate Modern.

“It’s a matter of historical record that Klein’s book on New York and then his book on Tokyo were massively influential in Japan, and so the idea of the show exploring both influence and affinity, things that [Klein and Moriyama] have in common beyond the idea of influence, is very important. We are not saying that William was the beginning of all of Moriyama’s ideas, Moriyama was really influenced by Andy Warhol. He was massively influenced by Jack Kerouac and the Beat writers. So he had this series of really interesting dissident American influences of which one of them was William Klein—and we thought this was a good starting point.

Both photographers were really involved in the show’s installations. There are certain places in the show where they had free reign to do what they wanted. William’s response was to make huge blow-ups of his pictures—which realize his constant striving for impact and to make his images as confusing and overwhelming as the cities that they are of.

William Klein

Dakar, school’s out, 1985. Painted contact 1998

Moriyama’s response was to make a huge work called Memory, which is a grid of 1.5 meter wide photographs taken from different points in his career. There are images in there from Provoke, from Farewell Photography, from Japan: a Photo Theater, but there are also things from last year or maybe two years ago. He’s similarly free with his past.

We’ve also tried on the wall to show quite large grids of work so you have the sense of looking at images on the page. We have 70 framed prints from New York—There’s a whole group of children playing like you get in the book. There’s a whole group of shots at night in ballrooms like you get in the book—and also unpublished images from the same series. You get this sense of multiplicity.

We did the same thing with Moriyama. An incredible series of prints of Japan: A Photo Theater—which was his first really important book—are actually cut, mounted as exactly the same pairs that are on the pages of the book. So you’re standing in front of 75 small prints, many of which are like the small pages of the book.

We are not suggesting that the framed works are better than the book, but just that they give you a way into the material in the book, whilst remembering that the book is the really important thing. We’ve tried to keep that balance throughout the show. They think of their work in terms of layouts and sequences and series so we’ve tried to make that a feature of the installation.

Daido Moriyama

Memory of Dog 2, 1982

The show also focuses on what it means to photograph a great city like New York or a great city like Tokyo. And it’s interesting that Klein and Moriyama both photographed each other’s cities. Klein was a New Yorker who photographed New York and then went to Tokyo. Daido initially photographed entirely in Tokyo and then went to New York and did great work there.

Restless is the way to describe Klein’s attitude to his own work. [With Life is Good & Good For You in New York] He knows that he made a great book. And when he talks about it, he talks about wanting to change everything and he talks about blowing things up too big, making everything too grainy. Making the contrast too high. And he talks about that as a very deliberate thing. That he was trying to make a different aesthetic for photography.

Many people regard Robert Frank’s The Americans as the pinnacle of photo book-making, but Frank’s Americans doesn’t have the kind of impact, especially globally as [Life is Good & Good For You in New York]. What Klein’s book did for the way people think about photography in Latin America, in Europe and in Japan is probably unparalleled. And in that sense its greatness is hard to argue with.

But what I also think is really important and what the exhibition really claims is we’re used to thinking of the post-war 60s and 70s in a particular way, often skewed toward America. And for a long time, black-and-white photography, but particularly Japanese black-and-white photography, just wasn’t known here and wasn’t that understood. Provoke was this amazing work being made by a genuine avant-garde with theorists and thinkers and poets and writers. It was a proper thinking, functioning, avant-garde that was happening in Japan. The importance of that is beginning to be understood.

I think in another 10 years or so Moriyama, Takanashi and Nakahira will be as well known and in that moment, as well understood, as Eggleston and Friedlander.

Klein explored photography. He did some of the best photo books ever and moved on [to make films]. He moves in a very restless way, which I think is very interesting. Moriyama has been more consistent. He’s stuck very closely with photography.

The great pleasure for us and the great opportunity for Tate was to work with both of them directly. They’re both really active. Daido is doing amazing work. William’s still making photographs. He’s still interested in working. And for us; in a photography way, it is like getting to work with Matisse and Picasso while they’re still around. They are these great figures and we’re very fortunate to be able to work with them both.”

Simon Baker is the Tate Modern’s Curator of Photography and International Art

The Exhibition William Klein + Daido Moriyama is showing at Tate Modern, London from Oct. 10, 2012 – Jan. 20, 2013

Klein and Moriyama films Directed by Martin Hampton/Produced by Tate Media © TATE 2012


Dan Winters in a Thousand Words: An Ode to a Friend by Nick Offerman

Ironically, I have been asked to describe this photographer with 1,000 words. Given the profound affection I feel towards him and his work, it will be a challenge to wrap it up so briefly. Humor, beauty, erudition, skill, generosity, fun. There’s six.

Travis Smith

Dan Winters

Dan Winters and I had exchanged a few sincerely firm handshakes in 1999, but it was at the bachelor party of a mutual friend in July of 2000 that I feel we first truly took each other’s
measure. Dan and I were to appear as fellow groomsmen in the impending nuptials, and I clearly recall a gratifying sense of relief when I was told that, instead of the traditionally misogynistic stripper fete complete with uncomfortably soused fraternity brothers, Dan would be leading we grooms-buddies on a hike to a swimming hole in his native Ventura County. “God damn”, I thought, “this Dan guy might be all right.” I didn’t know any of the guys except the groom, but having been brought up properly in a fine, rural Illinois family, I was reasonably certain I knew just how to comport myself in this situation. I arrived at the location with a canvas army backpack filled with ice and a case of Coronas. To my relief, my new compatriots quickly confirmed that I had acted appropriately in the arena of refreshments, then Dan took one look at my vintage World War 2 backpack and told me the exact Allied campaign in which it had been utilized, as well as the year the Swiss switched over from canvas to leather shoulder straps. A crush began to blossom in the springtime of my heart. He said, “C’mon. You guys are gonna love this place.”

We hiked, rather arduously, albeit enjoyably, up a rocky, switchback trail for about an hour, to arrive, astonished, at an altitudinous landscape, the likes of which I had only previously seen in an Ansel Adams calendar. The “swimming hole” was but one perfect basin in a series of boulder-strewn pools that had been created over the millennia by a small creek burbling ever deeper into the granite hill. One deep, round hole, complete with cascading waterfall, allowed for a 20-foot cliff-dive into its emerald water. Having spent most of my life in the relatively flatter environs of the Midwest, this magical setting Dan had gifted upon us fairly beggared my imagination. It seemed much more suited to a scene in which Bilbo Baggins might be found engaged in a chin-wag about finger-jewelry with a thin, lisping, somewhat amphibious chap, than one in which seven men in their 30’s lay about sipping cold cervezas. However other-worldly it might have seemed, we were not in a fantasy. We were simply in the place where Dan had taken us.

Dan Winters

Brooklyn, 1987

Soon thereafter, Dan visited my woodshop, pointing out all the right materials and jigs, and we giggled like cub scouts over a myriad of jack planes, spokeshaves, bandsaws, and especially my 1943 Delta drill press, the clear “hottie” amongst my arsenal of machines. Curves for days. We had a drawn-out discussion about floor sweeping techniques. No shit. Once again, he knew more about my tools and their inner workings than I could ever hope to learn, for you see, this man is lovingly obsessed with all of the implements mankind has created, using nothing but ingenuity and elbow-grease. He is fully enraptured, and luckily for us, he has a penchant to make us see what he sees as well. Dan Winters is in love with a telephone pole! It sounds silly until you see the picture he has taken of it. Then you say, “Oh…Jesus. Wow.” A suspension bridge, a firearm, a salad fork or an engine will possess him until he has taken it into the embrace of his lens and spun it about the dance floor for all of us to countenance, until we have perceived the message and realized the poignant beauty that caused him to pick up his camera in the first place.

The many-colored layers of his talent and his fascination do not stop at leather saddles, hand tools and carburetors. Dan’s portraits of human beings, from anonymous citizens to luminaries, are deceptively simple renderings of personality and nuance. They are pregnant with pathos. I’ve never seen photos of celebrities that made them seem like such, well, human beings. He suggests that the viewer really think about the person depicted, in a different way than we’ve been taught by modern fashion. His haunting plates of honey bees are shot with the efficient scrutiny of the entomologist combined with a surrealist’s elan. The works on paper are laced with specific meaning and emotional truth, in turns beautiful, humorous, and chilling. He takes on sumi-e black ink painting and writes an entire poem with three strokes of his brush. The longer I’ve known Dan Winters, the more I am astonished at the breadth of his ability to convey relevant and powerful emotions with his images.

I’ve seen Dan break into a sweat simply from the enthusiasm he feels for a conversational topic. Our world, and the people living in it, excite him. He will not be contained. When he’s shooting, Dan begins to behave like a hound who has caught wind of a coon. His pulse quickens and his eyes are never still, evaluating the light, the composition, the subject, until he locks in through the lens and then his eye never wavers. He makes photographs in the same spirit with which he’ll drive you to Lockhart, Texas in his cherry 1964 Chevy pickup, give you a tour of the three greatest barbecue joints in the world, then actually show you how to eat the barbecue. “Take a bite of brisket. Amazing, right? Now take a little bite of the jalapeno. Right?” Right, indeed. Dan Winters is a genius at tasting life who loves to share his gifts with the people, and that makes you and I a couple of lucky bastards. 1,000 words. Insufficient.

Nick Offerman is an actor, writer and carpenter currently starring in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. Click here to see more of his carpentry work.

A retrospective exhibit of Dan Winters’ work will be on view at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Ga. from Sept. 14 to Nov.11. Winters’ book, Last Launch, was recently featured on LightBox.

Cornel Lucas’ Celebrity Portraits: Studio Stars of the Silver Screen

Legendary British photographer Cornel Lucas has photographed some of the most powerful and captivating film stars of the 20th century. With a career spanning 70 years, one can safely assume Lucas has ‘seen it all’ when it comes to stars—his glamorous portraits immortalize the iconic actors of the golden age of film. But it wasn’t always a piece of cake. The photographer—who celebrates his 92nd birthday on Sept. 12—fondly recounted some the highlights of his career for LightBox, including his shoots with names like Hepburn, Peck and Bardot.

Fi McGhee

Cornel Lucas with his Plate Camera, 1986

When movie star Marlene Dietrich arrived at Denham Studios for her portrait shoot with Lucas in 1948, she found a nervous photographer awaiting her arrival. Lucas had the idea to turn on a radio to break the ice for the star when she arrived—an idea quickly shot down by Dietrich’s publicist. “I was now more nervous than ever,” Lucas said. And it didn’t help his nerves that the publicity director announced to the photographer that her client was wearing a $40,000 coat.

But the Dietrich shoot went on without a hitch, save for the star’s creative direction. “She explained that she knew exactly where to sit, how to be lit and that her best pose was looking straight at the camera,” he said. “She was directing me!”

A day later, Dietrich arrived at the studio to examine Lucas’s contact sheets. Examining them with “an enormous magnifying glass”, she began marking the shots she liked most. Lucas then re-touched the images Dietrich chose and, the next day, showed her the final product.

“Pleased, she turned to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Join the club, Mr. Lucas!’,” he recalled. Perplexed, he asked the star’s publicist what she meant. His reply?

(c) Cornel Lucas

Diana Dors, 1955

“Mr. Lucas, it means you’re on the road to success.”

And indeed he was. The photographer’s career eventually took him to the grandest film sets and studios across Europe and the United States. The style and glamour of his work ensured that his portraits became the iconic image of the stars he photographed.

This makes it surprising that Lucas’ work has never been exhibited in New York until this month. A retrospective exhibition of his work is showing now at Fiorentini + Baker, the flagship store of the Italian shoemaker. Lucas’ work is also part of the permananet collections at the National Portrait Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Media Museum and London’s Photographers’ Gallery.

A retrospective exhibition of Cornel Lucas’s work will be held at the Fiorentini + Baker store and show room in New York from Sept. 5 to Oct. 28. View more of Lucas’ work here.

Living Legend: Polish Photographer Jerzy Lewczynski


© Jerzy Lewczynski. Portrait of Zdzislaw Beksinski, 1959.
Photograph from the collection of the Museum in Gliwice.

One of the many delights of attending smartly curated photo festivals, such as the yearly Krakow Photomonth in Poland, is discovering a previously unknown (to me) genius. This year, I was knocked out by a wonderful retrospective of the wildly creative and experimental work of Jerzy Lewczynski, who was born in 1924, and was present and pleasantly talkative at the opening of his exhibition in 2012.


© Jerzy Lewczynski. From the Negatives cycle, 1975.
Photograph from the collection of the Museum in Gliwice.

The retrospective is accompanied by a limited edition book, as well as a catalog that includes a great interview with the photographer. Lens Culture is honored to be able to share many of the images, as well as the full text of the interview (in Polish, as well as in an English translation).


© Jerzy Lewczynski. Doors, 1970.
Photograph from the collection of the Museum in Gliwice.

Discovering this lifelong body of work all at once was really stunning. And I walked away with great appreciation for Lewczynski’s visionary sense of humor, respect for history and humanity, and love of the photographic image.

Landscapes on the Verge of Change

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has a strong collection of Japanese photography and a history of showing important photographic work from that country to American audiences, dating back to a 1999 retrospective of the work of Daido Moriyama. free basic cable . Last year, curator Lisa Sutcliffe began work on putting together an exhibition of the work of Naoya Hatakeyama, a photographer whom she describes as one of the most interesting Japanese artists working right now but someone who has not yet become well known in the United States. She traveled to Japan to meet with himin March of 2011, when the tsunami struck, destroying Hatakeyamas hometown of Rikuzentakata and killing his mother.

The show that Sutcliffe and Hatakeyama were meant to discuss was transformed by those events. The result is Natural Stories, organized in cooperation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and opening at SFMOMA on July 28. The exhibition is a retrospective, featuring more than 100 photographs along with videos, all with a focus on the artists landscape work.

All of his work is looking at landscapes in transition. It draws on the tradition of the sublime, so even when the work is peaceful theres always this quality of on-the-verge-of-change, Sutcliffe says. Even if the photographs are sort of peaceful and idyllic there is this sense of this other, more interesting system at work.”

The earliest work in the show comes from Hatakeyamas Lime Hills series, which the artist began in 1986. Those photographs of a landscape shaped by a desire for the natural resources within are, says Sutcliffe, a sort of jumping-off point for the career that followed, throughout which Hatakeyama has explored the relationship between the land and the people who live and work in it. And, ever since the tsunami, the balance of power in that relationship is exceedingly clearand seeing Hatakeyamas photographs from 25 years ago next to his work from this past year just underscores that point.

You look at these landscapes where humans have interacted with the landscape, and you see the pictures after the tsunami, Sutcliffe says, and just how much nature really does still have power over us.

Naoya Hatakeyama is an award-winning Japanese photographer. The exhibitionNaoya Hatakeyama: Natural Storiesis on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from July 28 Nov. 4, 2012.

Defining identity & memory with "deep fried" photo portraits, and more


Deep Fried. 1997, C-print, 50.8cm x 61cm. carrera de fotografia . Chino Otsuka. Image courtesy of Huis Marseille.

At age 10, Japanese-born Chino Otsuka was sent away to a progressive private boarding school in Suffolk, England. For her first two years at the school, she was allowed to do nothing. Directory Submission . Then, following her own interests, she started to pursue education with an unrelenting intensity. A book she wrote, at age 15, about her culture-shock and quest for personal identity, made her an instant hero and celebrity back home in Japan. (Twenty years later, the book is still a “must read” for many young Japanese students.) She went on to pursue photography at the Royal Academy of Art, and began a life-long career exploring ideas of identity, memory, and mental time travel, through photography and video and writing.

A brilliant retrospective of her work fills the entire photography museum at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. And an equally inspiring photobook has just been published: Photo Album by Chino Otsuka.

See and read more in Lens Culture.

Alex Webb, Magnum Contact Sheets @ FORMA

©Alex Webb / Magnum Photos

April 26 through June 17, the Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia hosts two compelling exhibitions: The Suffering of Light, Photographs by Alex Webb, as well as Magnum Contact Sheets.

Alex Webb’s latest monograph The Suffering of Light, published by Aperture in spring of 2011, is a retrospective of his 30-year “photographic dialogue with the streets.” This Spring’s exhibition of his body of work at Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia in Milan brings together this same thirty years of photography and journalism, further celebrating Webb’s use of dense, vivid colors to tell stories about places and situations in some of the most unusual corners of the world.

The self-termed “street photographer” describes the practice of assembling three decades of his works in color as an exercise in exploring “the dominant obsession of [his] photographic life… a particular way of seeing in color.” A trip to Haiti in 1975 incited change in his way of seeing, since driving the photographer toward localities where “light and color are essential to understanding and describing the territory.” Color emerged as a language closer to his own sensibilities, since becoming an essential choice in his visual storytelling.

“Three years after my first trip to Haiti, I realized there was another emotional note that had to be reckoned with: the intense, vibrant color of these worlds. Searing light and intense color seemed somehow embedded in the cultures that I had begun working in, so utterly different from the gray-brown reticence of my New England background. Since then, I have worked predominantly in color.” – Alex Webb

Curated by Alessandra Mauro, The Suffering of Light: Photographs by Alex Webb is on view April 26 through June 17 at Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia in Milan, accompanied by a weekend workshop on May 5th and 6th, entitled “Milan: Finding Your Vision.”


©Peter Marlow / Magnum Photos

In simultaneity, Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia will host Magnum Contact Sheets, an exhibition that presents forty of the most important, and most valuable, contact sheets by great artists of Magnum Photos, alongside their respective final images. The selected contact sheets, shown with notes by the artists themselves, construct a revealing narrative, retracing the artist’s creative process of shooting and choosing. In a The Telegraph UK review of the 2011 publication, it is noted that Henri Cartier-Bresson, cooperative founder of Magnum, speaks of the contact sheet as “a little like a psychoanalyst’s casebook.” Also on the subject of the contact sheet as an intimate document of the artist, Belgian photographer Martine Franck, Cartier-Bresson’s widow, confesses:

“I feel that by allowing myself to be violated [sic], and by publishing that which is most intimate, I am taking the very real risk of breaking the spell, of destroying a certain mystery.”

At a time when digital photography has dramatically changed the way photographers work, the exhibition recalls an entirely different way of approaching photography; contact sheets allowed photographers to look back through the lens of time across visual memories of an event, a time, and a particular state of being.

The Suffering of the Light: Photographs by Alex Webb and
Magnum Contact Sheets
April 26 through June 17

Milan: Finding Your Vision
A Weekend Workshop with Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb
Friday, May 4th, 6:30PM
Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th, 10AM – 6PM

Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia
Milan, Italy