To my pleasure and surprise, when I checked in to the Sunset Tower Hotel, I was informed I was being upgraded to a suite with a balcony and city view. But best of all, when I got in from dinner, the view from my room was this spectacular moonrise over L.A.!
More on the excellent but exhaustive Henri Cartier-Bresson show at MoMA to come - but as I sit in the Jet Blue terminal waiting for my flight to L.A., I ask you - "Is this anyway to greet people at the entrance to a photography show?".
This weekend I went to see "Kick-Ass" which turned out to be one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in a long time. Best described as teen comedy meets Quentin Tarantino, it kept me riveted with its film-making brio, story telling, interesting characters, and sheer entertainment value.
I usually find movies derived from comic books predictable and boring, especially in the plot lines of the villain who is trying to take over the world/destroy our hero. But "Kick-Ass" has a much more engrossing conflict, dimensional characters, and two genuinely interesting and talented young leads.
The movie is generating some controversy over the fact that Chloe Moretz, who plays the profanity spewing, villain slicing and dicing, Hit-Girl was 11 when the film was shooting. And I have to respect that many people might be offended by an 11 year old greeting bad guys with the c-word before killing them all. So that should be the litmus test of whether you see the film or not.
(With that warning, if you want to see what I'm talking about - click here.)
For the last couple of months, The Sartorialist has been soliciting contributions from his readers of stylish snapshots from their family albums. The results, as you can see are both sartorially and photographically quite impressive!
I'm being lazy and haven't added the captions that identify and in many cases add charming anecdotes or recollections to the pictures - but if you're curious - just got to The Sartorialist and browse backwards.
Many people have written and posted to tell me that they have tried to link to this blog on Facebook only to be told that "the site contains material that has been reported as inappropriate by some people".
Does anyone know how to fix this? Does anyone know how this might have happened? Would posting something like an Edward Weston nude have triggered this? Any Facebook honchos out there who can help?
I don’t think that there’s any question that the art world event of the moment is the exhibition, “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present” at The Museum of Modern Art. A retrospective of work by one of the pioneers of peformance art, the centerpiece of the show is Ms. Abramovic herself, who sits silently at a table in the museum’s atrium, facing an empty chair. She’s scheduled to sit there all day, every day, for the run of her show. The museum estimates that she will sit for 716 hours and 30 minutes. Visitors to the show are welcome to sit opposite her for as long as they want and while most sit for about 15 minutes I gather some people, mindless of the lines behind them, have sat it out with Ms. Abramovic for the entire day.
Unremarked on is that a photographer working for MoMA has been there to record every interaction, taking a picture of each participant and noting the time they spent in the chair. The photographer, Marco Anelli, has posted all these pictures to flickr and there’s a slide show on MoMA’s own website – both worth looking at. It’s clearly a feat of endurance in it’s own right and it has the fascination of putting a face to the world of art lovers as well as capturing something of what the experience means to them. It’s a nice addition to the school of discrete observation pioneered by Walker Evans and Harry Callahan and once you get going clicking through the different faces, you'll find it quite addictive.
Some projects take their time. Allison Davies’ “Outerland” is a body of work begun in 1998 when Davies was an MFA photo grad at Yale and which she has continued to work on ever since. It sees the world through the eyes of a solo planetary explorer in what appears to be a lonely but still sublime post-apocalyptic future. Part narrative, part landscape, it’s “The Little Prince” for the 21st century – a wordless visual inquiry into the mysteries of life.
Photographed all over the world, from Iceland to Argentina, the genesis of the series came from Davies’ fascination with movie locations and sci-fi films like “Planet of the Apes” and “Logan’s Run”. (An interesting sidebar to the work was that it inspired the title of Gregory Crewdson’s seminal show “Another Girl, Another Planet” – an exhibition that thrust many of the '90s women constructed narrative photographers into the limelight, but somehow omitted Davies.)
12 years in the gestating, Davies' photographs have finally been published by Charles Lane Press in a book that’s as spare and luminous as its subject. With a first edition of only 700, “Outerland” is not only likely to be an instant collector’s item, but as volcanic ash filters its way through the atmosphere - a prescient look at the fragility of the planet.
Showing what you can do with stop-motion film-making, this short by PENStory was made after shooting 60.000 pictures, making 9.600 prints and re-shooting over 1.800 pictures.
Photo by Debra Slifkin.
Longtime followers of this blog with good memories might remember two year ago when my wife and I went to Miami for the first Nautica South Beach Triathlon. Just as the race was about to begin a water spout appeared on the horizon - a remarkable sight. (Click here to see that post.)
This year, another great shot of the start was caught by Debra Slifkin. The weather was race perfect, the event was immaculately organized, and I finished 10th in my age group!
The rest of the weekend looked more like this:
From my friend Tom Adler - a brief note: "Your Paul Octavious post last week reminded me of this video clip" and a link to the above video.
The film-maker, Dunny, described it like this :"I photographed and videoed this random soccer game in the fog as I was walking through the park. The soccer team I later learned was the Ghana World Cup Soccer Team.. who would have thought?"
You’re all invited to the opening of our next show – an exhibition by the renowned German photographer Matthias Schaller. What these pictures are all about, and how the show came to be is an interesting story. (I hope.)
This past December I was having dinner in Miami with two curators from the Victoria and Albert Museum who were in town to work on their forthcoming Horst show. One of the curators, Susannah Brown, mentioned that Gert Elfering – the owner of the Horst archive – had an interesting group of pictures hanging in his house. The pictures, she explained, were photographs of some of the masterpieces of fashion and editorial photography shot in the viewing rooms of Christies in 2005 prior to being sold in what was to become the first of three enormously successful sales of works from The Elfering Collection. These installation shots (so to speak) were commissioned by Elfering to have as both a high-class souvenir and as works of art in their own right, as Schaller's work is all to do with creating a person-less portrait.
This description immediately intrigued me and I was dying to see the pictures, but getting to Elfering is not easy. He doesn’t take phone calls or respond to e-mails! However, with the help of Philippe Garner of Christie’s and Andy Cowan, the former owner of London’s Hamilton’s Gallery who now lives in Bogota but flies in and out of Miami to help Elfering with various projects, a meeting was finally set up.
Patronage and commissions can be a tricky thing, but these pictures were a home run, and the minute I saw them on Elfering’s wall I knew I wanted to show them. Elfering liked the idea and passed it on to Andy Cowan. Cowan said Elfering had to work it out with Schaller. Elfering said Cowan would arrange it. And so it went for several months. With about three weeks left to the proposed opening date on what was literally the last day before I would have had to go with a different show, I finally got the go-ahead! Fortunately there was a complete extra set of the pictures in Miami so all I had to do was fly down to select the works I needed for the show and work out the shipping.
This is all a long way of saying that if all goes according to plan you can see these photographs in person at our opening on April 15. 6 to 8 p.m. And bring friends. There’s nothing we love more than a crowded opening.
If not here are a small selection of the pictures - and below those, a more formal press release. But trust me - it was all worth it.
“Elfering – 1642”
April 16 – May 22
Matthias Schaller was born in Dillingen, Germany, in 1965. Over the last decade he has been widely exhibited and published in Europe but “Elfering -1642” will be his first U.S. gallery show.
Beginning in 2000 with his photographic study of Andreas Gursky’s studio, Schaller has focused almost exclusively on people-less interiors. Whether photographing photographers’ and architects’ studios (series Werkbildnis I and II), Cardinals’ desks of the Roman Curia in the Vatican (Purple Desk), Venetian interiors on the Grand Canal (Controfacciata), 150 Italian opera houses (Fratelli d’Italia), artists’ palettes (Das Meisterstück), original astronaut suits (Disportraits), or the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer (As Curvas), Schaller’s series or sequences engage with the spirit of objects and place and convey the notion that the marks we leave, the objects used, or the environment inhabited says as much about the selected individual as their physical presence. All his different works follow this strategy of indirect portraiture.
The title “Elfering – 1642” refers to the famous German collector, Gert Elfering, and the number allocated by Christie’s to Elfering’s single owner sale in October of 2005. The auction comprised 135 works that Elfering had defined as the distillation of his interests, and featured the most famous pictures by the masters of fashion and editorial photography – Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon - as well as works by Man Ray, Thomas Struth, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Robert Mapplethorpe. The sale fetched over $7 million and its success signaled the ascension of the editorial/fashion genre to the highest levels of price and desirability in photography.
A longtime admirer of Schaller’s work, it occurred to Elfering that before parting with the masterpieces in his collection he should commission Schaller to photograph the work in Christie’s New York showrooms. In this way he would have an original new body of work as well as a unique souvenir. The idea resonated with Schaller who observing the work laid out on the floor prior to hanging saw this rather than the actual wall hanging as the singular metaphor for the event.
In this way and as a completed series, Schaller’s photographs encompass the many complexities and ironies of the concept while at the same time incorporating the power of the objects about to be sold into their own luminous interiors. The finished works – beautiful, compelling, and intriguing pictures in their own right - stand as a remarkable example of enlightened patronage while remaining resolutely true to Schaller’s own vision of creating a portrait of both a collection and a collector.
My thanks to Edward Mapplethorpe for introducing me to the work of Clark Little, a surfer from Oahu who started photographing just three years ago and in that short time has pretty much become to waves what Atget was to Paris! That's Little below, showing how he does it. (If you click on the picture you will see a hand holding a camera.)
Little's photographic career began when his wife asked him for a picture of the ocean to decorate a bedroom wall, and with the confidence of an experienced surfer, Clark jumped in the ocean, and started snapping away. (He has since upgraded to more advanced equipment.) His photographs are almost too beautiful, but they record the power of Hawaiian waves from the inside out. It's a view few people could ever get, and yes - it is as dangerous as appears.
Ricky Gervais on David Letterman this past Tuesday. I love his energy, his sense of enjoyment, and what seems to be his totally spontaneous and unscripted delivery. Here he is riffing on fat people. For the full interview click here.
An interesting and culturally timely show coming up - Richard Renaldi will be exhibiting photographs from his new series "Touching Strangers" at The Gallery at Hermès, 691 Madison Avenue, New York, starting April 9.
In Renaldi's words:
Touching Strangers is an ongoing photographic project stemming from my interest in the dynamics of group portraiture. The premise of this work is simple. I meet two or more people on the street who are strangers to each other and to me. I ask them if they will pose for a photograph together with the stipulation that they must touch each other in some manner...
My objective was to introduce an unpredictable variable in a very traditional photographic formula: to create a spontaneous and fleeting relationship between complete strangers in front of my 8 x 10 view camera.
Though these situations involve orchestrated collaborations between subject and photographer, the emotions captured are both genuine and honest. Touching Strangers encourages viewers to think about how we relate physically to one another, and to entertain the possibility that there is unlimited potential for new relationships with almost everybody passing by.
Renaldi has been exhibiting since he was a senior at NYU in 1990 and his website is the most complete website I have ever seen. He is also one of the most consistent and prolific photographers I know of producing, new bodies of work, books, exhibitions, a blog, and various other projects at a pace that would exhaust even the most energetic person.
Clearly a person who loves to share, one of my favorite parts of Renaldi's site is his library of self-published PDF books ranging in subject from "Our Trip to Burning Man. 2007" to "Hot Italian Guys". But make sure you have at least half an hour to spare before delving into Renaldi's website.
Anyway, back to "Touching Strangers" - here's a selection of more images from the project below. I'll leave you to explore the rest of the site on your own.