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Art Photo Collector

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“I’ve been asked if I think there will ever come a time when all people will come together. I would like to think there will. All we can do is hope and dream and work toward that end. And that’s what I’ve tried to do all my life.” Gordon Parks (1912-2006).

Gordon Parks was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life. Few individuals will ever match his range of interests and caliber of work. This humble tumblr post certainly cannot give the man his due.  All I would say to you, dear reader, is that Gordon Parks lived a life that proves anything is possible.

The esteemed Howard Greenberg gallery along with the Gordon Parks Foundation are currently hosting two exhibits celebrating his work in this centennial year of his birth. The shows end soon on October 27th. 

Since it is frankly impossible to represent, here, the breadth of Gordon Parks oeuvre in a couple of his photographs, I’ve chosen these two images of Ingrid Bergman on Stromboli (filming Stromboli) as one tiny example of Parks’ genius. Given the scandalous nature of the circumstances surrounding Bergman and Rossellini at the time, Parks cooly captures the psychological intensity—something he would do again and again throughout a breathtaking and audacious career. He was a Master photographer and polymath, a shining beacon of possibility, and one of my heroes.   —Lane Nevares  

"I wanted to change history and preserve humanity. But in the process I changed myself and preserved my own." —Danny Lyon 

Danny Lyon is one of the greats of American Photography.  He has been walking-the-walk, documenting the people and the struggles in the world since the mid 1960’s. His work is old-school Leica, and he is still in top form hanging with local folk and communicating their lives through his lens.

Lyon’s upcoming exhibit at Churner and Churner gallery, opening October 18th, features work from China’s Shanxi Province, where he traveled between 2005-2009. The show, with over 40 gelatin silver prints on display, reveals Lyon’s reflections and insights on this northeastern Chinese coal country and its people. Lyon, unlike most photographers who shoot and observe passively, has always believed in the photographer as an active participant with his subjects. His new work is true to form. —Lane Nevares

"The way I have always looked at it is, the world is in color. And there’s nothing we can do about that." —William Eggleston 

Tomorrow and Friday, Christie’s New York Photographs sale will take place. I visited the preview today and took note that, out of a plethora of amazing work for sale, this famed Eggleston photograph, Memphis (Tricycle) c.1970, would reign with the highest estimate of $250K-$350K.  Considering that this print is but 13/20, I marveled at the magic of the market.

For those with no interest in the art market, auction house previews offer an excellent opportunity to see a great variety of high-caliber work in one setting. Yes, the rarified atmosphere can sometimes be a bit much, but I find it’s easy enough to focus on the breadth of work available. To see iconic historic and contemporary photographs from the masters of the medium is a worthwhile way to while away an afternoon.  —Lane Nevares

"…To be a human being may be a very messy thing, but to be an artist is something else entirely, because art is religion, art is sex, art is society. Art is everything."  Lucas Samaras 

Lucas Samaras’s art has always mystified me. Although I am a late convert to his work, I recognize the passion and energy when I see it. The constant striving. The ongoing pursuit of beauty. The relentless creation.

Along with his drive, there’s a psychological depth to his work and an intense self-awareness that I find irresistibly disturbing, and often scary. Lucas Samaras is playing for keeps. 

His latest (and thirty-third) exhibitXYZ, opened today at Pace gallery. For the uninitiated, here’s a fascinating trailer from a forthcoming documentary about his life, along with an excellent interview by his longtime friend and dealer, Arne Glimcher. —Lane Nevares

"And why is it good? For its own sake. For magnifying the artist’s process. For exalting the principles of nature, the acquired wisdom of man and that to which he aspires—illuminations."—Patti Smith

The aforementioned quote is from the preface to Lynn Davis’s monograph, Monument. It elegantly opens up the conversation of why one creates art. Whether it’s poetry, philosophy, prose, painting, sculpture, science, music or photography, the true believers seek the good. Patti Smith and Lynn Davis have been friends a long time. I suppose in their own ways they’ve been fellow travelers.

Lynn Davis’s work, which is widely known and collected, spans continents and invites contemplation. Through her old Rolleiflex camera she captures an austere graciousness in the remnants of civilizations past and present. The unique tone of her prints, seen first hand, is remarkable. But what captivates me most in her work is the spirit of travel, the connection to that inherent part of ourselves that wants to see the world.

Davis’s latest exhibit, “Modern Views of Ancient Treasures,” opens this Friday in Venice, Italy at the National Museum of Archaeology. —Lane Nevares

"My work is ultimately about emotion. It is about capturing a moment or a memory."—Deborah Parkin 

The photographer and mother, Deborah Parkin, tell us that "September is the Cruellest Month."  This is also the title of her latest series, forthcoming monograph, and new show opening next week in England at the beautiful “Theatre by the Lake” in Keswick, Cumbria. 

I discovered Parkin’s portfolio recently through Aline Smithson’s excellent photo blog Lenscratch. I immediately sensed the power of the work. Parkin’s portraits are deep, poetic and emotional—and all the more so when you understand that these historically processed, large format images are of her own children.  

Parenting itself is an unbelievable emotional journey.  Along the way, Parkin is documenting her own experience and trying to capture those fleeting moments that always pass too quickly. As the kids go back to school, and the summer slows to an end, maybe Parkin is right: September is the cruelest month.  —Lane Nevares

"I have been very single minded with how I want to live my life. Make pictures and create an environment that brings me a sense of happiness."—Cig Harvey 

I first came across Cig Harvey’s work earlier this year while touring The AIPAD Photography Show here in New York.  I found the work to be refreshing, striking and imbued with feeling.  In May, her monograph, You Look At Me Like An Emergency, was published, and I was once again reminded of her talent.

Cig Harvey is originally from Devon, a heartbreakingly beautiful place in the southwest of England, and now lives in the States.  She’s someone in love with photography, but perhaps it’s her ex-pat British sensibility that gives her photographs their unique point-of-view.  If photographs reflect ourselves and the photographers who take them, then Cig Harvey is one artist well-qualified to teach others how to find the magic.  —Lane Nevares

"The camera is in itself a frontier, a barrier of sorts that one is constantly breaking down so as to get closer to the subject…" — Martine Franck

Martine Franck has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1983, and before that a member of two other photo agencies. In a world dominated by men, she has long distinguished herself as a photographer of grace and elegance. I have always admired her work for its sophisticated compositions and defining moments of beauty. Many of her images are iconic and familiar, even to those who are unsure of the photographer.

The Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York is currently exhibiting her work, “Martine Franck: Peregrinations,” until early August. This is an excellent opportunity to see some of these amazing prints first-hand and to reconsider Franck’s pioneering role in Photography’s history. Her work has influenced many. For those who would like to know her better, this Magnum-produced video of Franck discussing her life and her work is not to be missed. —Lane Nevares 

"Am I looking at a mask or am I the mask being looked at?" —Ralph Eugene Meatyard

On this Fourth of July holiday I’m reminded of the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. I’ve always admired him as a great American photographer, one whose time came too soon.

Born in Normal, Illinois in 1925, Meatyard lived a happy Family-man-life: wife, kids, Navy veteran, steady job as an optician, and a suburban home in Kentucky. Before his passing in 1972 (just shy of his 47th birthday) Meatyard had enjoyed great success, having exhibited in important museums and alongside other major-league photographers. He proved then that, despite his “conventional” lifestyle, creating meaningful and resonant work comes from deep within.

The photos of family and friends donning strange masks and his uneasy landscapes have always made me feel a restless tension—one that I must say I enjoy.  Not fully grasping how Meatyard is able to capture this disquiet is part of the magic.

Two concurrent exhibitions, one on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art  and another at Peter Freeman, Inc. in New York attest to the staying power of Meatyard’s work. Often considered ahead of his time, Meatyard’s photographs, while being highly regarded by collectors, have never enjoyed popular posthumous acclaim. But who cares? See the shows and appreciate, first-hand, the work of a unique American photographer who continues to inspire, and to unsettle.  —Lane Nevares

“…in truth, my work is really part of my everyday life, it’s all in the same package.” Zoe Strauss 

Tomorrow night, Philadelphia-based artist, Zoe Strauss’s show, “10 Years, A Slideshow” opens at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery here in New York.  The show, recently on view as mid-career retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was a great success.  Indeed, in the past decade, Zoe Strauss has become one of Philly’s most well-known artists. When one considers that she’s an avowed anarchist and lesbian, it is significant that the “City of Brotherly Love” has chosen to embrace her and her work.

Strauss is a photographer of the people.  An artist concerned with “the beauty and struggle of everyday life,” her photographs are successful because there is no separation/disconnect between her and the subjects she photographs.  There is no judgement, no arrogance, and no other agenda but to reveal truth and beauty.  Given her political leanings and her hard work making art accessible for everyone (see her I-95 Project), I don’t doubt her commitment. 

Other accomplished photographers like Milton Rogovin and Richard Billingham have documented folks at the margins of society with equally compelling portraits.  I ask: What separates these photographers from others documenting society’s marginalized people?  One word: Love.  —Lane Nevares

"Pop-culture has a lot of influence on my work. I like to re-contextualize art historical pieces with a twist of pop." Awol Erizku 

The young, Bronx-raised photographer Awol Erizku’s work is gaining considerable attention.  A 2010 graduate of Cooper Union, he has managed, early in his career, the elusive feat of a solo show that opens tomorrow night at Hasted Kraeutler here in New York. 

At a time when I see many young artists struggling to keep it going, someone like Awol Erizku demonstrates what is still possible.  Of course, going to a prestigious school and having a mentor like David LaChapelle wouldn’t hurt anyone’s career, but Awol Erizku didn’t grow up advantaged. His portrait work reflects his community while inserting this community—through photography—into a greater art historic context, one where African American (and other people of color) are never well represented.

These photographs merit attention.  They are beautiful and they captivate. In this short video Erizku’s passion and commitment to producing great work (and paying respect to his roots) look to be the real deal.  I look forward to seeing the portraits first-hand and to pondering what’s next for this young artist. —Lane Nevares

"When I think about it, and when I look closely at my pictures, they are all, in their own way, nothing but self-portraits—a part of my life."  Christer Strömholm (1918-2002)

The great Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm is finally getting his due here in the United States.  The first American museum show of his work is now on view at the ICP in New York featuring his seminal series, Les Amies de la Place Blanche, documenting the intimate world of Paris’s red-light district (and transsexual community) at Place Blanche, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Strömholm’s influence on European photographers, particularly Scandinavian, is well known.  He was an educator and a mentor to many artists, some of whom like Anders Petersen would go on to influence another generation.  I would argue that Strömholm’s impact on photography, though under-appreciated outside of Europe, is much wider felt than we realize.  Though these images were taken 50+ years ago, they are as fresh and engaging as any photographer’s work on view today.  —Lane Nevares

"The truth is that anyone can make a photo. The trouble is not that photos are hard to make. The trouble is that photos are hard to make intelligent and interesting." —John Szarkowski 

I recalled this quote recently while visiting the NY Photo Festival last week in Brooklyn. I enjoyed many of the exhibits, but I came away feeling that the Tokyo-Ga show was the stand-out.  The founder and curator, Ms. Naoko Ohta, has assembled quite a fantastic selection of contemporary Japanese photographers, many of whom were unknown to me.  I am happy to discover the work of two young photographers in particular, Masami Yamamoto and Junpei Kato .  

Yamamoto’s images offer mystery and chiaroscuro, while Kato’s clean lines and colors transcend banal, urban surfaces.  Both photographers are distinctly different, but are alike in how they capture Beauty by taking simplicity and giving it meaning—not an easy thing to do, but the results are intelligent and interesting. —Lane Nevares 

"I don’t mess around with Photoshop so what you see is what you get.  Enhanced images can portray a false sense of reality, whereas my work celebrates the people and places as they appear every day."  Jooney Woodward

Photographs from rural Wales don’t often generate much interest, but the English photographer, Jooney Woodward, creates engaging portraits of individuals we might not otherwise see.  Out of 6,000+ entrants, Woodward won last year’s noted Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at London’s National Portrait Gallery for her portrait of a young, red-headed Harriet Power and her guinea pig, “Gentleman Jack.” 

What I appreciate about Woodward’s work is her attention to natural light, and her straightforward, unpretentious approach to her subjects.  Too often photographers allow their egos to get in the way.  Woodward, instead, gives us frank, penetrating portraits that may seem matter-of-fact, but offer subtle rewards.  —Lane Nevares

"She had few boundaries and made art out of nothing: empty rooms with peeling wallpaper and just her figure. No elaborate stage set-up or lights.  Her process struck me more the way a painter works, making do with what’s right in front of her, rather than photographers like myself who need time to plan out what they’re going to do."  —Cindy Sherman on Francesca Woodman

After a successful run at the SFMOMA, the Francesca Woodman show opens today at The Guggenheim here in New York.  While a lot of attention is being given these days (and rightly so) to the artist, Cindy Sherman, who has a major retrospective at the MoMA, I am predicting that attendance to see Francesca Woodman at the The Guggenheim will exceed all expectations.  And most importantly, it will introduce and inspire a new generation to her transformative work. 

Also worth noting, the documentary film The Woodmans (2011) provides a fascinating insight into her work, her family and her life. It is essential viewing for anyone interested in discovering more about this young, ambitious, and ultimately tragic artist.  —Lane Nevares

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