Tag Archives: San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

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.

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.

Art in the 1970s: Through the Lens of Francesca Woodman

On the occasion of the first comprehensive survey of work from the extremely brief but prolific career of American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), the Guggenheim Museum presents Art in the 1970s: Through the Lens of Francesca Woodman. The program examines the relationship between the still and moving image in Woodman’s and other artists’ production during the 1970s, particularly as associated with Post-Minimalism, performance, and video.

The program is organized by Jennifer Blessing, Senior Curator, Photography, and includes conversations led by an esteemed roster of acclaimed contemporary artists and scholars: George Baker, Associate Professor of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles, Jane Blocker, Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, William Kaizen, Assistant Professor of Art History and Media Studies, Northeastern University, Moyra Davey, an artist and photographer, based in New York, and Joan Jonas, acclaimed multi-media performance artist.

Francesca Woodman is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where the exhibition was on view earlier this year. You can find a video walkthrough of that show shot on January 2, 2012 on YouTube.

Art in the 1970s: Through the Lens of Francesca Woodman

Friday, May 184:00 pm
$10, $7 members, FREE for students with a valid ID
To reserve a student ticket, please [email protected]


›› Read more about Woodman’s “deeply personal photographic revelations” in critic David Levi Strauss’ Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics (Aperture 2003).

›› View a slideshow of images from the exhibition at Guggenheim on The New York Times website, after which you can read Ken Johnson’s review of the show.


Ron Jude, Untitled

Ron Jude, Untitled

Ron Jude

Untitled,
, 1998/2012
From the Lick Creek Line series

Ron Jude was born in Los Angeles in 1965, grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and currently lives in upstate New York. His photographs have been exhibited at venues such as Gallery Luisotti (Santa Monica), the Photographers’ Gallery (London), the High Museum of Art (Atlanta), Proekt_Fabrika (Moscow) and Roth/Horowitz Gallery (New York), among others. His work is in numerous collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, George Eastman House, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Georgia Museum of Contemporary Art in Atlanta. Jude is the co-founder of A-Jump Books and the author of Alpine Star, Postcards, Other Nature and Emmett. His new book, Lick Creek Line, was recently published by MACK. He is represented by Gallery Luisotti in Santa Monica.

Cindy Sherman Retrospective

Untitled Film Still #14, 1978 © Cindy Sherman

Exhibition on view:
Present–June 11, 2012

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St
New York City, NY
(212) 708-9400

Cindy Sherman, a traveling exhibition of one of the most important contemporary artists, is being presented in New York City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Dallas.

Cindy Sherman has built an international reputation, photographing herself in a variety of semblances and personas. Her subject matter is topical, humorous, and confrontational. She holds a mirror up to contemporary society, referencing visual culture: movies, magazines, television, the internet, and art history.

The exhibition features 150 photographs from public and private collections, some over-sized and site-specific and others never-before-seen. One of the highlights is her black-and-white body of work, Untitled Film Stills, where the artist became the stereotypical female featured in 1950s and 1960s Hollywood and film noir. An illustrated catalog accompanies the show along with a series of films that were of great artistic influence to Sherman.

The next stops for Cindy Sherman will be The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (July 14–October 7, 2012), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (November 10, 2012–February 17, 2013), and The Dallas Museum of Art (March 17, 2013–June 9, 2013).

Sherman is featured in Aperture issues 200 and 169. Her photographs can also be seen in The New York Times Magazine Photographs.

Robin Schwartz, Elijah’s Tail

Robin Schwartz, Elijah’s Tail

Robin Schwartz

Elijah’s Tail,
, 2010
From the Amelia’s World: Animal Affinity series
Website – RobinSchwartz.net

Robin Schwartz earned a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Pratt Institute and her photographs are held in several museum collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Aperture Foundation published Schwartz’s third monograph, Amelia’s World, edited by Tim Barber. Images from this series were exhibited in Various Photographs, an installation curated by Barber for the New York Photo Festival and 100 Portraits—100 Photographers, a digital exhibition of current portraiture. Schwartz was a finalist at the Hyeres 2010 Photography Festival in France. She recently presented the Amelia Series at The National Geographic Magazine’s Annual Photography Seminar in Washington D.C.

Rineke Dijkstra Makes the Awkward Sublime

Even before everybody had a digital camera, it was a universal modern skill to take photographs. But more than that, for a long time it’s been a universal skill to be photographed. For several decades now, everybody has known how to put on his or her game face and wait for the click. Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra has become famous by taking that as her point of departure, then wondering what happens when we can’t hold the pose. The answer: a moment of truth. One thing you learn at the new Dijkstra retrospective, currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and moving in June to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, is that no matter how much you try to put on the social mask, it keeps slipping.

After graduating from an Amsterdam art school in 1986, Dijkstra, who is 52, made a living for a while shooting portraits for a Dutch business magazine. It was frustrating work, taking pictures of executives who knew all too well how to keep up their guard. Eventually, she returned to more personal picture-taking. Very quickly, Dijkstra found an international audience. For her breakthrough project in the early ’90s, she persuaded teenagers at beaches in the U.S. and Europe to pose against a bare backdrop of sky, sea and shore. The fascination of those pictures comes partly from the mind’s attempt to reconcile the “timeless” setting with the sometimes awkward, and often futile, attempts by the teens to assume the attitudes of glamor and cool they think the camera requires.

Hoping to catch people with their defenses down, Dijkstra started to photograph them in the aftermath of some exhausting event. She got women to pose soon after giving birth, usually standing naked while they cradled their newborns. By 1994 she was also making portraits of Portuguese forcados—amateur bullfighters who enter the ring in unarmed groups to subdue the bulls bare-handed. She photographed them right after they returned from the fight, bloody, scuffed and dented.

To watch someone evolve from youth into adult awareness, Dijkstra has sometimes followed a single subject for years—a French boy who joins the foreign legion, a Bosnian refugee girl as she grows up in the Netherlands—as his or her life goes through changes. Or, as she did with the kids on beaches, she will go to parks and photograph very contemporary people in a setting that pulls them out of time—but only so far. And to make sure her pictures don’t take on a false timelessness, Dijkstra makes sure each one carries in its title the very real location in which it was taken and the date.

Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective is on display from Feb. 18 through May 28 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City on June 29.

Photographer #425: Bohnchang Koo

Bohnchang Koo, 1953, South-Korea, is a fine-art and conceptual photographer based in Seoul. He first studied Business Administration at Yonsei University before studying photography in Hamburg. His work is often about impermanence, the passing of time, the disappearance and heritage. For his series Vessel he photographed rare porcelain ceramics of the Korean Joseon dynasty. He traveled to museums around the world to find and document the white objects against a white backdrop in soft light. As an “old family album” he tries to bring the objects together and retrieve the lost Korean heritage. Koo has been called “one of Korea’s most influential photographers.” Not only due to his photographic art, but also as an educator and exhibition planner he helped shape and promote Korean photography to a wider audience. He released a large number of monographs and his work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world and is found in public collections as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. The following images come from the series Interiors, Vessel and In the Beginning.

Website: www.bckoo.com