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Art Photo Collector

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"Why is Form beautiful? Because, I think, it helps us confront our worst fear: the suspicion that life may be chaos and that therefore our suffering is without meaning."—Robert Adams

Robert Adams, who is widely recognized and who has published more than forty monographs, is one our great, American photographers. His vision of the American West has forever shaped how artists (and indeed many of us) look at these vast spaces. His contemplative, quiet images from the past fifty years have become a new Americana. We can keep returning to his work and still find ourselves asking questions and seeking answers. 

Currently on view in Paris at the historic, Jeu de Paume, Adams’ classic series, “The Place We Live”, will be exhibited until 18 May. (PBS has also released a new video interviewing Adams.) Seeing his handmade prints, with their gracious attention to light and form, is an opportunity not to be missed, and perhaps, a chance to come in from the chaos.—Lane Nevares

"Ultimately, photography is subversive not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks.”—Roland Barthes

Great institutions, like New York’s Museum of Modern Art, have the resources and talent to offer meaningful contributions to our cultural conversation. The recently opened, A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio, draws from the museum’s formidable archives, as well as new acquisitions, to ask us to consider photography’s history of experimentation and development within the confines of the studio.

With the “studio” as theme, there is elasticity to include a diverse and significant selection of artists who have helped us to muse on what photography is and what images can do. Persons interested in the academic/intellectual history of photography will find the show most compelling; those looking for entertainment will not. I suspect that for anyone who takes photography seriously, MoMA’s latest photographic exploration will leave you thinking. —Lane Nevares

"My goal is to make images that are familiar and dreamlike, evocative of an almost unreachable memory."—Vanessa Marsh 

In photography, as in all forms of art, one must travel their own path. Seeing the work of Vanessa Marsh for the first time, I immediately sensed that this young, Oakland-based artist was following a particular vision. It’s refreshing to see images that ask us to slow down, look and ponder what we see.

Her work, which combines a variety of techniques including drawing, sculpture and photography, is layered and resonant with the subconscious. These landscapes, with their familiar elements and generic titles, maintain a silhouette quality to them, asking us to project our own thoughts and experiences onto what we see, and in effect, transforming them into our stories. 

Marsh discusses her process in this interview, revealing how the series came about and the specific techniques used in creating it. While her work lacks the confrontation and psychological prowess of a Kara Walker, Marsh is, nevertheless, graciously inviting us to enter her world to dream the dream. —Lane Nevares 

"Being a father is by far the hardest thing I ever did. I used to think it was hard being an artist. Forget it. It’s duck soup." —Danny Lyon 

If you live in the NYC area and want to meet one of the greats in American photography, Danny Lyon will be on hand at Edwynn Houk gallery this Saturday the 11th for a reception with the artist honoring his latest show: Murals and Montages.

The exhibition opens earlier on the 9th and will feature for the first time thirteen large-scale, 30 x 40 inch gelatin silver prints produced from the original negatives and in conjunction with his master printer and fellow teacher, Chuck Kelton. The photographs will span Lyon’s 50+ year career and be an opportunity for collectors to purchase iconic images in a new size and edition.

My admiration for Danny Lyon’s work is infused with his mission for social justice and equity in society. His writings and personal history reveal this passion clearly. The man behind the viewfinder is more than just a bad-ass photographer, he’s “reaching out to others in the darkness.” —Lane Nevares 

"It only takes a second for an impression to become a vision."—Bill Viola

Like you, I am fascinated by artists who help us see things differently. Beautiful, engaging work is always easy on the eyes, but sometimes a bit of guile and deception can take you somewhere new. 

Danish artist, Asger Carlsen’s, manipulated images contort and distort bodies, while Roger Ballen’s drawings and cut-outs touch the psyche in a disarmingly simple and unsettling way. Last July, as part of their annual photography issue, Vice magazine commissioned these artists. The result, Place of the Inside Out, is a potent collaboration—albeit separated by continents—of one artist riffing on the work of another. This video tells the tale. For my part, I like not knowing if I like it. —Lane Nevares

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life." —Federico Fellini 

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Marjorie Salvaterra and her work at the wonderful Palm Springs Photo Festival. There is an exuberance and fearlessness in her images that I find appealing. Ms. Salvaterra isn’t afraid to take chances. In her series, “Her”, she turns the mirror on herself and her own tangled feelings of what it means, in a universal sense, to be a woman and a mother.

Using the absurd and the surreal as her muses, she stages photographs that poke at us, prodding us to project our own emotions and interpretations onto what is happening. Salvaterra styles the models, directs the scenes, and takes us into this personal world. She’s in control of the images, but lets us interpret what it all means. This openness and uncertainty, I embrace. —Lane Nevares

"Everything shifts as you move, and different things come into focus at different points of your life, and you try to articulate that."—Chris Steele-Perkins 

Few photographers understand their compatriots as well as British photographer, Chris Steele-Perkins. Born in Burma in 1947 to an English father and Burmese mother, two years later he moved with his family to England where he would grow up and later embark upon a career as a photojournalist. In 1979, at the age of 32, he joined Magnum Photos and his first book, The Teds, was published.

Teddy Boy culture developed in the London of the 1950’s. This new alchemy of teen culture fused Edwardian fashion, rock ‘n’ roll, drinking, dancing and, at times, collective violence into an original youth subculture. And like everything in Britain, social stratification and class played their customary roles. The Teds, for their part, were decidedly working class.

While Chris Steele-Perkins has enjoyed a long, storied career as a social documentary photographer covering a wide variety of issues, “The Teds” is something special. I pulled the book off my shelf yesterday, and as I smiled poring over the stories and images, I was reminded again why, thirty-four years later, “The Teds” remains a classic. —Lane Nevares

“The nature of creation is that you have to go inside and dig out. The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it’s a painful, difficult search within.” —Louise Nevelson

There is power in abstraction. The latest exhibit, Remnants, at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York combines the considerable talents of Louise Nevelson and Aaron Siskind into a show that is both contemplative and refreshing. These two major 20th Century artists, while contemporaries, have never been shown together. Yet, we see clearly in “Remnants,” that these two artists spoke a common visual language borne out of Modernism, Abstract Expressionism and the tumultuous events of their time.

Primarily using found objects and paying keen attention to form in space, Nevelson’s sculptures and Siskind’s photographs create an atmosphere that is ripe with metaphor and aesthetically potent. This unique pairing of sculpture and photography works beautifully to take us somewhere deeper and new. This feeling is, perhaps, what truly remains.—Lane Nevares

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.”—Ansel Adams

The photogravure process, when done well, can yield magnificent results. The photographer Fritz Liedtke’s series and book “Astra Velum” (Veil of Stars) embraces this vintage technique. These penetrating portraits of freckled and scarred faces are wonderful to behold online, however, to actually hold them, is to truly appreciate the craftsmanship, the tonalities, and the tactile luxury of the Japanese paper.

Liedtke’s work is currently on view in Miami as part of the group show, “Historical Process/Contemporary Vision,” at the Dina Mitrani Gallery. While his explorations of skin and freckled faces represent a straightforward portraiture, these portraits also offer emotional resonance and beauty. If the eyes are our “windows to the soul,” then these images ask us to look inside beyond the “veil of stars.” —Lane Nevares

"The desire to discover, the desire to move, to capture the flavor—three concepts that describe the art of photography."—Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton’s work is familiar to us because he’s had such an indelible impact on photography. His images have stretched our cultural psyche to accept, even embrace, the possibilities for fashion photography and portraiture. He has influenced many photographers and has shaped our ideas of how far an artist can push the boundaries and still get paid.

Paying tribute to his legacy, The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles is now exhibiting, until early September, work from Newton’s first three books: White Women, Sleepless Nights and Big Nudes. It is not often we get to see Newton’s work on such a grand scale. With over 125 prints (some as large as 6 feet) on display, it is a perfect opportunity to discover for yourself why Newton still matters. —Lane Nevares

"Photography is one of the channels through which the present penetrates into the future, just as the art of the past got inside us. For me photography is a means to express systems of opinions and values, the author’s ideology."—Nikolay Bakharev 

The Siberian-born photographer, Nikolay Bakharev, isn’t particularly well-known in the States, but the Julie Saul Gallery and Dashwood Books in New York want to change that. Reared in an orphanage and largely self-taught, Bakharev began taking photographs in the early 1970’s and through the final days of the former Soviet Union. At at time when the State controlled everything, it was actually illegal to photograph the nude, much less engage in private commercial enterprise creating and selling one’s photographs. These photographs, therefore, were never meant for public consumption. They were intimate (even illicit) private photographic sessions between sitter and artist.

Bakharev’s single-minded approach to his work differed greatly from his clients’ expectations of their portrait session. While the sitters hoped for photographs that made them look beautiful or special, Bakharev states, "From my point of view, I expose the nature which people do not want to admit to, if it does not fit their notions of themselves." This tension between Bakharev and his clients is what makes these images simmer.

Dashwood Books has recently published a soft cover monograph of his work, Amateurs & Lovers, (here’s a video preview), and on the 10th, the Julie Saul Gallery will open Bakharev’s first US solo show also titled, “Amateurs & Lovers.” It will be interesting to see how an American 21st Century audience, with disparate recollections of the Soviet Union and its legacy, responds to this work—Lane Nevares

“Art is the splendor of reality before everything has become meaning.” —Frederick Sommer

As part of the 2013 PhotoEspaña Festival commencing next week, the Mapfre Foundation is hosting the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the distinguished American photographer, Emmet Gowin. The exhibit, opening today, spans Gowin’s career from the 1960’s to today, includes some 180 works, and will be his first museum show in Spain. It’s good to see Gowin’s work being internationally recognized. A teacher and mentor to many, Gowin’s influence and importance in Photography should be noted.

For the past 15 years PhotoEspaña has been one of the most important art festivals in Europe. More than 700,000 individuals attend each year, and judging from the caliber of this year’s official selection, attendance will be high. Get your calendars ready, whether in Madrid, Belfast, Copenhagen, Krakow, or Sydney, the international summer Photo Festival season is underway and shaping up nicely. —Lane Nevares

"We tremble at the feelings we experience as our sense of wholeness is reorganized by what we see."—Emmet Gowin

The Finnish-born photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen is once again garnering the attention she merits. Experiencing something of a notoriety renaissance for her “Byker” series beginning in the late 60’s (currently on view at L. Parker Stephenson Photographs until May 11th), it’s exciting to see Ms. Konttinen reaching new audiences. 

Konttinen’s images, taken within the communities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, sought to capture the humor and dignity of working-class Geordie culture as they, like other poor neighborhoods in the north of England, saw their homes devastated by developers keen to tear down the “slums” and replace them with architectural and planning fantasies that bore no connection to the people actually living there. Konttinen and friends, as part of the the still extant Amber Collective, lived in Byker from 1969-76 and documented the impact over a ten year period until 1980. These photographs should, therefore, be understood for their political and social undertones.

Aside from their didactic message, Konttinen’s images possess the power of intimacy and connection. The wonderful compositions and tonal ranges add to their beauty; however, it is the emotive energy in the images that sets them apart. I, for one, feel the love. —Lane Nevares

“I believe the power of seeing the world as fresh and strange lies hidden in every human being.”—Bill Brandt (b.1904-d.1983)

Bill Brandt is rightly regarded as one of the most important photographers of the 20th Century. On the 6th, the Museum of Modern Art in New York opened a major exhibit, ”Bill Brandt: Shadow & Light,” as an opportunity for us to reevaluate Brandt’s legacy and to retrace his artistic journey.

More than 150 works are divided into six distinct sections, offering a tight and cohesive survey of Brandt’s artistic development: including his work in WWII London, Northern England, landscapes, portraits and of course his famed nudes. Many of the prints in the exhibition are stunning to behold, the best of their kind, and reveal the work of a superb craftsman. The opportunity to see these prints, first-hand, is a must for anyone who appreciates Brandt’s work.

Along with MoMA’s adjacent (and excellent) exhibit “The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook,” there’s no finer way to spend an afternoon in the city enveloped in a “sense of wonder.” —Lane Nevares

"They were … pure and unadulterated photographs, and sometimes they hinted at the existence of visual truths that had escaped all other systems of detection."—John Szarkowski

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has recently opened, for the first time in 25 years, a major retrospective of the singular American photographer, Garry Winogrand. This is a big deal. The exhibit, organized and curated in conjunction with the National Gallery of Art, will later travel to DC and then on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this summer. Given Winogrand's importance in the history of 20th Century photography, this will be one of the major shows of 2013.

Professional photographers, long before the days of digital, have always burned through rolls of film, snapping thousands and thousands of images. Winogrand was no exception. When he passed in 1984, he left behind dozens of marked-up proof sheets and more than 6,500 rolls of undeveloped film containing more than 250,000 images. What makes this retrospective particularly important is that nearly a third of the images in the show have never been printed or exhibited, creating a renewed and exciting opportunity to take a greater in-depth look at Winogrand's legacy. 

The forthcoming monograph to accompany the exhibit will also provide scholars and enthusiasts with a comprehensive resource for examining his importance and lasting influence on photography. Winogrand forever changed how photographers see, but it’s also worth noting that he expanded the possibilities of what happens in the frame. —Lane Nevares


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