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Posts by: Miss Rosen

Celebrating the Beauty and Brilliance of Gender Beyond the Binary

Kay, ex Green Beret, 1983.

Carrie being made up for a drag ball in Harlem, 1984. .

Harlem Drag Ball, 1984.

The many expressions of identity that exist on the gender spectrum is a subject of tremendous depth and breadth, though it has largely existed underground in realms secreted away from the masses. It has given birth to a culture so innovative and rich that, 50 years after Stonewall, the underground has emerged and center itself with impeccable aplomb.

Over the past half-century, artists like Mariette Pathy Allen have been deep in the trenches, using their work to fight for dignity, respect, and rights — taking on the tyranny of ignorance, bigotry, and oppression.

In celebration, The Museum of Sex presents Mariette Pathy Allen: Rites of Passage, 1978–2006, a stunning survey of the artist’s archive that includes photographs, interview transcripts, personal correspondence, and materials from her career working with trans, genderfluid, and intersex communities over the past four decades.

Harlem Through the Eyes of James Van Der Zee

James Van Der Zee, Eve’s Daughter, c.1920
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1920, 6 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches

James Van Der Zee, Marcus Garvey with George O. Marke
and Prince Kojo Tovalou-Houénou, 1924
Gelatin silver print; printed c.1924, 5 x 7 inches

Picture it: Harlem, 1918. James Van Der Zee, 32, opens Guarantee Photo Studio on 135 Street just as the Harlem Renaissance was coming into bloom during the first wave of the Great Migration.

As northern Manhattan became the Mecca for Black America, Van Der Zee was there to record it all inside his studio and on the streets. James Van Der Zee: Studio, recently on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery, is a portal into the past, into a time when Black society thrived and set the pace for music, art, poetry, literature, dance — well, you name it.

Van Der Zee was no exception. He set himself apart by using painted backdrops and luxurious props in the studio to create elaborate tableaux for his subjects, and bathed them in sumptuous lighting to evoke a painterly touch, imbuing each photograph with the hand of the artist.

A Timeless Portrait of the Many-Splendored Faces of New York

Man with the Black Hat, 2016
Archival print mounted between dibond aluminum and anti-reflective acrylic glass
59 x 59 inches (150 x 150 cm)

Etienne Rougery-Herbaut Harlem Twins, 2018
Archival print mounted between dibond aluminum and anti-reflective acrylic glass
31.5 x 31.5 inches (80 x 80 cm)

French photographer Etienne Rougery-Herbaut marks his U.S. debut with Cornerstone, a selection of photographs made on the streets of New York that present a timeless portrait of the people who embody the spirit and soul of the city.

As the country’s most epic point of immigration with no less than the Statue of Liberty to welcome new arrivals to these shores, New York has long been the point of entry for people from all around the globe. As ethnic enclaves generations deep have nestled throughout the five boroughs for centuries, a new scourge presents itself in the form of gentrification.

The systemic whitewashing of New York has had a devastating effect but as Rougery-Herbaut’s portraits attest, they preserve perhaps simply because they are New York. In Cornerstone, the inaugural exhibition at Brannan Mason Gallery in Los Angeles, Rougery-Herbaut paid tribute to the people who represent the heart and soul of the city, despite all efforts to eradicate their presence.

Here, Rougery-Herbaut shares his journey with us.

The Outsider Artist Whose Dedication Saved His Life

The call to make art isn’t so much a choice as a force compelling creation, no matter the price. Few can resist the possibility that lays beyond the sheer will it takes to render something out of nothing at all. For all that is given, the possibility of return is a draw: fame, wealth, and legacy.

But for the outsider artist, the reward is the act itself, creating a cycle of momentum nothing short of phenomenal. For Gustav Mesmer, the “Icarus of Lautertal”, as he came to be called, art was a way the medium through which he could express and resolve the conflict of being on earth and off at the same time. And that was enough.

A Powerful Portrait of Living Off the Grid in Northern Canada

A view of Yellowknife Bay from Jolliffe Island.

Ryan and Cheyanna on Jolliffe Island.

Deep in the Northern Territories of Canada, on the edge of Great Slave Lake lies a community living off the grid, on the fringes of Yellowknife, the capital city — home to photographer Pat Kane, a member of the Timiskaming First Nation.

The city of Yellowknife, named for a local Dene tribe, first colonized in the 1930s after gold was discovered. Early prospectors headed north, erecting shacks and shanties on the waterfront, which remained intact as the city was built around these settlements.

By the 1980s, the first houseboats appeared on the lake, and together, with the shacks, became home to a flourishing community who have chosen the solitude of nature over the conveniences of modernity. In his on-going series, Offgrid, Kane documents a colorful collection of characters from all walks of life — from musicians and artists to bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, and curmudgeons — whose back-to-basics way of life has become a vibrant part of the city’s cultural landscape.

Here, Kane shares his experiences photographing the people who live in this magical corner of the world.

Exploring Andy Warhol’s Lifelong Fascination with Women

Andy Warhol. Ladies and Gentlemen, Circa 1974-1975
Synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, 120 x 80 inches (304.8 x 203.2 cm)
© 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Tim Nighswander

Andy Warhol. Red Jackie, 1964
Acrylic and silkscreen ink, 40 x 40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
© 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart Courtesy Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart

Andy Warhol turned appropriation into fine art, perhaps the most profoundly American aspect of his practice. Where Dada subverted the known, Warhol exalted it, creating a pantheon of iconography that charmed, rather than challenged, the status quo – while simultaneously being edgy enough to avoid becoming camp, corn, or schmaltz.

Warhol is America looking back at itself, with a nod and a wink, taking art in the age of mass reproduction to the next level when he began making silkscreens in August 1962. Marilyn Monroe’s tragic death sparked it off. She was his first, perhaps his greatest, and far from his last, as he transformed The Factory into an art world machine.

Andy’s Marilyn is a Mona Lisa of sorts — her many incarnations and moods a psychic x-ray into the person none of us ever knew. Using a publicity photography by Gene Korman for the 1953 film Niagara, Warhol took the manufactured image and remade it into something beautiful and grotesque.

Pioneer Artist & Model Ming Smith Reflects on a Life in Photography

Ming Smith. Grace Jones at Studio 54, 1978
archival pigment print, 30 x 40 inches

Ming Smith. Sun Ra Space II, New York City, NY, 1978
archival pigment print, 40 x 60 inches

In 1974, at the age of 23, Linda Goode Bryant opened Just Above Midtown (JAM), a non-profit New York arts organization dedicated to showing the work of artists of color in the heart of 57th Street, then the capital of the art world. Rent was a astonishing $300 per month, the 70% discount a testament to Goode Bryant’s negotiating prowess.

Like Goode Bryant, JAM was a revolution unto itself, with the intention to burn the art world down to the ground. JAM pioneered the works of now-renowned Black artists including Dawoud Bey, Norman Lewis, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Lorna Simposon, and Ming Smith — all of whom are being show at Frieze New York (May 2-5) as part of a special tribute to Linda Goode Bryant’s JAM Gallery from the 1970s.

The 2019 Frieze Stand Prize was awarded to Jenkins Johnson Gallery for their presentation of the work of photographer Ming Smith, whose contributions to the medium have recently come into clear focus. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio and educated at Howard University, Smith moved to New York in 1973 to live as an artist. To support herself, Smith joined the ranks of Grace Jones, Bethann Hardison, B. Smith, Sherry Bronfman, and Toukie Smith as the first generation of Black women to break the color barrier in the fashion and beauty industries,

The Majesty and Tragedy of a Trans Radical Gone Too Soon

The truth about destiny is that is larger than life or death. It is a taste of the eternal realm that drives us to pursue it, whatever the cost. For Éve-Claudine Lorétan, alias Coco, the final act of her life began when she met photographer Olivier Fatton on a Sunday in November 1989 in Bern, Switzerland.

A fashion model, performance artist, and media sensation, Coco was just 20 years old when she told Fatton she wanted him to document her transformation. Fatton immediately demurred to Coco’s every wish, taking pleasure in serving her needs and desires. His love was a solace and a balm for the angelic beauty whose powerful story lay inside her ethereal visage — a story that he honors in the extraordinary new book, Coco (Editions Patrick Frey).

Here we see a story of fate unfold, of triumph and tragedy crystallized in a single soul. Coco began transitioning at the age of 13 when she started taking hormones purchased illegally. As her partner in life, love, and art, Fatton watches as Coco fluctuated between two diametrically opposing realms.

Celebrating the Women Who Photographed Hip Hop

Salt N’ Pepa © Janette Beckman / Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

Salt N’ Pepa © Janette Beckman / Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

Hip Hop embodies hypermasculinity in its best and worst forms – offering archetypes for emulation that have evolved over the years as the art form grew from a local phenomenon to a billion-dollar global market. In its earliest years on the streets of the Bronx, it was exclusively the realm of high school kids who wanted to throw parties in the park, the rec center, or at the gym.

When Sha-Rock joined the Funky Four Plus One, she became the first female MC, making it all the way to Saturday Night Live on Valentine’s Day 1981 when they became the first Hip Hop group on national TV. Over the next four decades, women would continue to find themselves as Miss Plus One, an integral yet peripheral figure to the history and evolution of the culture.

Photography, much like Hip Hop, has long been an all-boy’s club on both the talent and industry sides of the game. With male photographers making 90% of commercial work, the female gaze has long been underrepresented and undervalued in the iconography created and consumed – a telling reminder of the underlying biases that wordlessly reinforce a gendered point of view.

Fashioning the Feminine Ideal in the Photos of Martine Gutierrez

Martine Gutierrez, Girl Friends (Rosella & Palma 4), 2014. 

Martine Gutierrez, Line Up 5, 2014. 

Martine Gutierrez, Girl Friends (Anita & Marie 3), 2014. 

Martine Gutierrez is a star, restoring performance art to its rightful place in the pantheon. As artist and muse, Gutierrez uses film and photography as a medium uses a crystal ball, gazing into the vast unknowable realm until an image occurs — a lyrical poem, a visual ode to the mellifluous construction of the feminine as a look, a lifestyle, and the glorious manifestation of luminous artifice.

In Life / Like: Photographs by Martine Gutierrez, now on view at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum through June 16, 2019, Gutierrez takes us deep insider her magical world, where hair and make up, costume and set, lighting and casting combine the pleasures of cinema, fashion, and design.

Featuring works from the series Girl Friends and Line Ups, Gutierrez surrounds herself with mannequins, taking playing with dolls to exquisite new heights. “Mannequins very succinctly represent the artificial, especially in materiality, when compared to the imperfect reality of the human body,” Gutierrez has said. “But in coaxing the viewer’s misinterpretation, misleading with light and guise, I am looking for the place where those two worlds meet.”

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