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Posts by: Miss Rosen

A Rock Star Finds Himself on the Other Side of the Camera

Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, December 1982

Copenhagen, Denmark, January 1982

Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, December 1982

Back in 1979, while watching television in his New York hotel room, British rock star Andy Summers had a revelation: “I should get a real camera,” he writes in an essay that appears in the new monograph, A Certain Strangeness (University of Texas Press).

“Our band, the Police, was moving fast in the US. With pockets suddenly stuffed with dollars and what they called ‘media attention,’ we were a hot new band. You could feel it in this city, where already our names were being called out in the streets. It was fun, but sitting around and staring at the walls of hotel rooms was boring, and we need diversions.”

Summers goes on to recount the experience of being in front of he camera, posing for snaps, and realizing he was intrigued by the way photographers went about their business. He decided to buy a camera and immediately took to the streets, like a duck to water, equally at home with a guitar as he was with a Nikon FE.

Memories of Terence Donovan’s Swinging Sixties

Georgia Gold Fashion shoot for Queen magazine 26 May 1964 

Sophia Loren May 1963. In costume on the Spanish set of Anthony Mann’s ‘The Fall
of the Roman Empire’ Queen magazine

British fashion photographer Terence Donovan embodies the quintessential rags-to-riches tale but a modern twist: for all of his commercial success, a darkness cast a pall, and leading the legendary lensman to commit suicide at the age of 60, in 1996.

Although he made his name in the Swinging Sixties as part of the “Black Trinity” that included fellow fashion photographers David Bailey and Brian Duffy, Donovan rarely exhibited his work. ‘Terence didn’t want to look back,’ Robin Muir, former photo editor of British Vogue told The Guardian in 1999. ‘I think it is very much part of his generation’s way of approaching photography not to see themselves as artists, but as people who pick up the camera and then move on.”

Now, a new exhibition shines a light on his iconic work. Terence Donovan: The 1960s – Vintage Prints from the Archive on view Huxley-Parlour in London through July 27, 2019, presents sections of his most famous images alongside rarely-seen works. The exhibition begins in 1959, when Donovan, then 22, opened his first London studio, and charts his career as he came to define the look of post-war Britain’s first youthquake — a time of sex, frocks, and rock & roll that still reverberates today.

Werner Bischof’s Breathtaking Portrait of Mid-Century America

Advertising signage, southern states, USA 1954

The Golden Gate Bridge from above, San Francisco, USA 1953

Magnum photographer Werner Bischof (1916-1954) arrived in the United States a year before his death and spent 1953 traveling across the continent. His series USA, currently on view at David Hill Gallery in London through July 26, 2019, is a vivid portrait of the nation as it rose to become a global superpower.

While most of his contemporaries were firmly entrenched in the tradition of black and white, Bischof broke free, using color to capture both the mood of a place and the quality of life, creating lyrical poems of extraordinary nuance and depth. The exhibition features a selection of 25 photographs that reveal his experiments in color and motion to capture the sensations of being in a rapidly modernizing country possessed with entirely too much faith in itself.

Stunning Portraits of LGBTQ Writers at the Height of the AIDS Crisis

Robert Giard. Storme Webber, New York City, 1990. 15 x 15”, gelatin silver print.
Webber is a poet, playwright, educator and artist. Her collections of poetry include “Diaspora”, “Blues Divine” and “Noirish Lesbiana”.

Robert Giard. John Giorno, New York City, 1993. 15 x 15”, gelatin silver print.

On July 16, 2002, American photographer Robert Giard died doing what he loved best — traveling across the country to make portraits of LGBTQ+ writers. In total, Giard photographed some 600 writers from all walks of life, creating a visual record during the height of the AIDS crisis.

Giard’s inclusive spirit lead him to create a veritable catalogue that encompasses not only a broad swath of enthographic communities, but a diverse array of literary practitioners, be it novelists, playwrights, and poets or journalists, historians, and activists including Stonewall rebels Sylvia Rivera and Storme De Laverie.

The photographs were first published in the landmark book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers (MIT Press, 1997), and in 2004, the renowned Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University acquired Robert Giard’s complete archive as part of the Yale Collection of American Literature.

Now a selection of 53 portraits are on view in Particular Voices: Photographs of LGBTQ Writers, Artists and Activists, 1980’s – 90’s at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, New York, now through July 26, 2019. Here, we get first-person accounts of Giard through the eyes of those who sat for him as well as Jonathan Sillin, Giard’s life partner, co-president of the Robert Giard Foundation, and executor of the Robert Giard Estate.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Legend in Their Own Time

Georgia O’Keefe, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, 1968. Silver Gelatin Photograph, 12 15/16 x 8 3/4 inches. Stamped verso. Print Made Later

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1947. Silver Gelatin Photograph. 9 3/16 x 12 1/2 inches. Stamped verso. Print Made Later

Diana Vreeland, 1974 . Vintage Silver Gelatin Photograph Mounted to Board, 13 5/8 x 10 5/8 inches. Signed, titled and dated in pencil on mount recto. Titled in pencil on mount verso. Print made c. 1974

Known as the “father of the environmental portrait,” American photographer Arnold Newman (1918–2006) transformed the way in which we consider the person we are gazing upon. By taking them out of the studio and restoring them to their rightful place, we see the subject as a product of their environment — and their environment as an extension of the inner self.

“You don’t take pictures with your camera. You take pictures with your mind and your heart,” Newman said, recognizing the underlying connection between the artist, their subject, and the work itself.

Hailing from New York, Newman had his first solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1945, garnering national attention for his revealing portraits collected for Artists Look Like This. It’s a subject that Newman revisited throughout his long, illustrious life, and the basis for the recent exhibition Arnold Newman, Artist Portraits at Fahey/Klein in Los Angeles.

The Artist Hijacking Photographic Clichés to Explore Gender Stereotypes

Sara Cwynar. Red Rose, 2017.
Pigment print mounted on Dibond 30 x 24 in. Artist’s proof 1/2 Collection of David Madee

Sara Cwynar. Tracy (Pantyhose), 2017.
Dye sublimation print on aluminum 30 x 38 in. Edition #1 of 3, Edition of 3 with 2AP

Like any language, photography has given birth to a series of clichés that are reductive at best. At their worst, they become a vehicle for disinformation and stereotype, fueling pathologies by reinforcing the most dangerous aspects of confirmation bias. As Jenny Holzer noted, “Clichés endure” — and may very well exist until we root them out and expose them for the perilous, short-sighted, and sloppy thinking that they are.

Canadian artist Sara Cwynar takes aim at popular photographic clichés in her new exhibition, Gilded Age, on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, through November 10, 2019. Featuring a selection of the artist’s color photographs made over the past five years, the exhibition also includes Kitsch Encyclopedia (2014) her first artist book; Cover Girl (2018), a 16mm film on video with sound; and 72 Pictures of Modern Paintings (2016), a site-specific wallpaper.

Looking back at LGBTQ life, 50 years after Stonewall

KARLA JAY, born in Brooklyn in 1947, is a distinguished professor emerita at Pace University, where she taught English and directed the women’s and gender studies program between 1974 and 2009. A pioneer in the field of lesbian and gay studies, she is widely published.

CHELLA MAN is a 20-year-old, deaf, genderqueer, queer artist currently transitioning on testosterone. “Every day left me exhausted as I performed traditional femininity.” Born in Pennsylvania, he moved to New York to study virtual reality programming at The New School, while creating art on the side. His main focus is to educate others on issues regarding being queer and disabled within a safe space.

Fifty years after the Stonewall Rebellion gave birth to the global LGBTQ Movement, generations have continued the fight for freedom and equality — knowing full well the moment we stop fighting is the moment that all hell breaks loose.

Consider the June 28 report of a Black trans woman who disrupted a drag show at the Stonewall Inn during the 50th anniversary celebration to call out how Pride has been co-opted by corporations even through Black trans women are being murdered — and was threatened with police action in an effort to silence her.

It was a cruel but telling episode of history repeating itself, half a century later at the very place where Gay Liberation began. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, by homeless LGBTQ teens, trans women of color, lesbians, drag queens, and gay men stood up against a police raid, sparking off a multi-night uprising on the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village.

In the aftermath of Stonewall, hundreds of new LGBTQ civil rights organizations took root across the country and around the world, forcing the U.S. government to change their laws. Though the war has not been won, the battles rage on.

Collier Schorr: Stonewall at 50, currently on view at the Alice Austen House in Staten Island, New York, through September 30, honors those doing the work in a series 15 black and white portraits of intergenerational activists including native New Yorker Karla Jay, an early member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Radicalesbians who famously incited the “Lavender Menace Zap” at the Second Congress to Unite Women in 1970.

Here Jay shares her memories and lessons gleaned on the front lines, which we can use to continue to fight in the name of those who did not make it out alive.

The Photograph That Rocked the Pop Culture Landscape

Peggy Moffitt modeling the topless swimsuit designed by Rudi Gernreich, 1964. Photograph © William Claxton, LLC, courtesy of Demont Photo Management & Fahey/Klein Gallery Los Angeles, with permission of the Rudi Gernreich trademark.

Rudi Gernreich (seated in center wearing black zippered jacket) among fellow artists on the steps of LACMA, 1968. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

On June 16, 1964, Rudi Gernreich’s infamous monokini went on sale in New York’s most prestigious department stores. Buyers at B. Altman & Co., Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel, Abraham & Strauss, Splendiferous and Parisette placed orders after William Claxton’s photograph of Peggy Moffit rocked the pop culture landscape.

Moffit was Gernreich’s muse and Claxton’s wife, and together this ménage a trios was pure fire. The idea for the monokini first came to Gernreich in December 1962 and first appeared in futuristic fashion feature in a late 1963 issue of Look magazine — after LIFE refused to publish them. In The Rudy Gernreich Book, Moffit recalls the editor at LIFE shamelessly told Claxton, “This is a family magazine, and naked breasts are allowed only if the woman is an aborigine.”

LIFE’s racist policy about women’s bodies cost them one of the biggest news stories of the year. They “goofed” Moffitt politely says. The magazine ordered a reshoot, demanding Moffitt cover her breasts with her arms. Moffitt described their art direction as “dirty.”

Celebrating “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” in Roy DeCarava’s Centennial Year

Roy DeCarava, Boy in park, reading, 1950

Roy DeCarava, Swimmers, 1950

“We’ve had so many books about how bad life is, maybe it’s time to have one showing how good it is,” Langston Hughes said of The Sweet Flypaper of Life, his landmark art book collaboration with Roy DeCarava recently republished by David Zwirner Books.

In 1952, DeCarava became the first African-American photographer to win a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. He used the one-year grant of $3,200 to make the photographs that would appear in the book, a tribute to Harlem glowing in the final years of its legendary Renaissance.

DeCarava gave Hughes a selection of prints from which the poet wrote the story of Mecca through the eyes of Sister Mary Bradley, a fictional grandmother who knows everybody’s business and will put you on if you listen.

Using the Female Gaze to Look Inside the Self

Arielle Bobb-Willis. San Francisco, 2017.

Vortex.

Arielle Bobb-Willis. NYC, 2016.

What we see is informed by how we look at it. What gets framed, by who and to what end are some of the questions that occur whenever an image is introduced. In the realms of Western art and history, access has been limited to a select few who hold the power to use iconography to influence and shape ideas about “truth.”

It is only in recent times that the question of intent and exclusion have been put to the pantheon, calling out misinformation and marginalization, over and over again. At a certain point, one ceases to argue and decenter the narratives foisted upon us. Rather than shadowbox with a lie, we can choose to change the paradigm writ large.

Curators Jon Feinstein and Roula Seikaly did just this with An Inward Gaze, recently on view at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland. Here, they brought together the work of Arielle Bobb-Willis and Brittney Cathey-Adams, two women who make sculptural, performative images that liberates representations of gender, race, and body size from the strictures of the white male gaze.

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