Posts

Moving abroad

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve kept busy in the last few months, because we’ve sure been at it! Over the winter months, we’ve been selling off / packing up the house in Cambridge, UK to go into storage as we prepared to go live in Frankfurt am Main, Germany for a little while, in anticipation for another house move to Toronto, Canada to take place early July.

Why Germany for a few months? It’s a long story……feel free to ask me when you see me. And why Canada!? It’s work related, as ever!

We took a few trips within Europe, to soak up as much history as we could – these are only my mobile phone photos as my scanner is still underway. I have shots numerous rolls of 120 film and cannot wait to see them up on my screen. I would recommend going to all of these places by the way – especially Berlin and Carcasonne were amazing, Pompeii is not to be missed before it crumbles back to dust! Wroclaw is a beautiful historic city, but not amazingly big so a weekend will be enough to see its highlights.

So now we are settling into Toronto. We landed, as planned, on the 1st of July. The weather has been good and the people are super friendly. We seem to have already bagged ourselves a house (A house! OMG! With a garage and garden! Can you feel my joy!?!?) There is still plenty to do before we are fully up and running again, but I’m looking forward to it!

 

France; Carcasonne and the Cathar Trail

 

Germany; Visit with our friend Martijn in Berlin

 

Italy: Ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum

 

Poland; Historical city of Wroclaw

 

Pages

Philippe Halsman

 

Philppe Halsman was born on the 2nd of May, 1906 in Riga to a Jewish family of Morduch (Max) Halsman, a dentist, and Ita Grintuch, a grammar school principal. Halsman studied electrical engineering in Dresden. In September 1928, Halsman went on a hiking tour in the Austrian Alps with his father, Morduch. During this tour, Morduch died from severe head injuries. The circumstances were never completely clarified and Halsman was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for patricide. The case provoked anti-Jewish propaganda and thus gained international publicity, and Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann wrote in support of Halsman. Halsman was released in 1931, under the condition that he left Austria for good, never to return.

Halsman left for France. He began contributing to fashion magazines such as Vogue and soon gained a reputation as one of the best portrait photographers in France, renowned for his sharp, and closely cropped images that shunned the old soft focus look. When France was invaded, Halsman fled to Marseille and he eventually managed to obtain a U.S. visa, aided by his family friend Albert Einstein.

In America, he had his first success when the cosmetics firm Elizabeth Arden used his image of model Constance Ford against the American flag in an advertising campaign for “Victory Red” lipstick. A year later, in 1942, he found work with Life, photographing hat designs, one of which, a portrait of a model in a Lilly Daché hat, was his first of the many covers he would do for Life.

Halsman had met  the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in 1941, and they began to collaborate in the late 1940s. The 1948 work Dali Atomicus explores the idea of suspension, depicting three cats flying, a bucket of thrown water, and Salvador Dalí in mid air. The title of the photograph is a reference to Dalí’s work Leda Atomica which can be seen in the right of the photograph behind the two cats. Halsman reported that it took 28 attempts to be satisfied with the result. Halsman and Dali eventually released a compendium of their collaborations in the 1954 book Dali’s Mustache, which features 36 different views of the artist’s distinctive mustache. Another famous collaboration between the two was In Voluptas Mors, a surrealistic portrait of Dali beside a large skull, in fact a tableau vivant composed of seven nudes. Halsman took three hours to arrange the models according to a sketch by Dali.

In 1947, he made what was to become one of his most famous photos of a mournful Albert Einstein, who during the photography session recounted his regrets about his role in the United States pursuing the atomic bomb. The photo would later be used in 1966 on a U.S. postage stamp and in 1999, on the cover of Time, when Time dubbed Einstein as “Person of the Century.”

In 1951, Halsman was commissioned by NBC to photograph various popular comedians of the time including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, and Bob Hope. While photographing the comedians doing their acts, he captured many of the comedians in mid air, which went on to inspire many later jump pictures of celebrities including the Ford family, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Marilyn Monroe, María Félix and Richard Nixon. Halsman commented, “When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears.” 

Other celebrities photographed by Halsman include Alfred Hitchcock, Martin and Lewis, Judy Garland, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Dandridge, and Pablo Picasso. Many of those photographs appeared on the cover of Life. In 1952, John F. Kennedy had two photograph sittings by Halsman. The result was that one photograph from the first sitting appeared on the jacket of the original edition of Profiles in Courage. In the second sitting a photograph was used in the senatorial campaign.

In 1958 Halsman was listed in Popular Photography’s “World’s Ten Greatest Photographers”, and in 1975 he received the Life Achievement in Photography Award from the American Society of Magazine Photographers. He also held numerous large exhibitions worldwide.

He passed away in New York, on the 25th of June, 1979.

 

no images were found

 

 

 

Erwin Blumenfeld

Erwin Blumenfeld, today’s Classic Photographer, was a near unknown to me – but lucky me, it’s a fashion photographer mostly known for his work in the 40’s and 50’s. Apart from that, he’s also known for being an experimenter and I do love those!

 

Erwin Blumenfeld was born in Berlin on the 26th of January 1897 to a Jewish family. He had a younger brother, Heinz (who was killed in action in the First World War), and an older sister, Annie. In school he befriended Paul Citroen, who was later to become a Dutch artist, art educator and co-founder of the New Art Academy in Amsterdam. In 1908 he was given a camera (a ‘nine by 12 with an ultra-rapid anastigmatic lens, ground-glass screen, red rubber bulb, metal plate holders and a tripod,’ he recalled in his autobiography) and started taking and developing photographs. 

He began his working career as an apprentice dressmaker to Moses and Schlochauer in 1913 but was drafted into the German army during WWI. In 1918 her moved to Amsterdam where he worked in the ladies lingerie departments of department stores. On 26 January 1921, he married Lena Citroen, the cousin of his best friend Paul Citroen after meeting her in Berlin in 1916 and corresponding for several years. They had three children: Lisette (Blumenfeld Georges), Heinz (Henry) and Franck (Yorick).

In 1923, he opened a shop in Amsterdam, the ‘Fox Leather Company’, a leather goods store specializing in ladies handbags. He photographed many of his customers – often nude. After moving to new premises in 1932, Blumenfeld discovered a fully equipped dark room and participated in his first exhibitions at Carl van Lier’s gallery nearby. He experimented with solarisation, multiple images and combining positive and negative images. In 1935 his first photograph was published in the French magazine Photographie. Unfortunately, this was also the year that his company went bankrupt.

Following a move to Paris on the 26th of January 1936, Blumenfeld was commissioned to take portraits of artists including George Rouault and Henri Matisse and secured his first advertising work. Blumenfeld quickly captured the attention of photographer Cecil Beaton who helped him get a contract with French Vogue.

During World War II, Blumenfeld and his family spent time in Vezelay with le Corbusier & Romain Rolland. He was incarecerated at le Viernet, a French concentration camp whilst his daughter Lisette was incarcerated at Gurs. They managed to reunite and in 1941, the Blumenfeld family of five sailed for New York with one suitcase containing a few rags. Upon arrival Blumenfeld was immediately put under contract by Harper’s Bazaar and after three years, he began freelance work for American Vogue. During the years 1936 through 1949 Lisette spent her time in the studio and in the darkroom with her father. His first double page spread in Vogue Magazine May 15, 1944 was a photograph shot earlier of his daughter Lisette’s legs. Over the next fifteen years, Blumenfeld’s work was featured on numerous Vogue covers and in a variety of publications including Flair, Life, and Look. During this period, he also worked as photographer for the Oval Room of the Dayton Department Store in Minneapolis and produced advertising campaigns for cosmetics clients such as Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden and L’Oreal.

In the late 50s, he began to create motion pictures, hoping to use them commercially and began work on his biography and his book ‘My One Hundred Best Photos’ which, despite being a renowned fashion photographer, only included four of his fashion images.

In the 1960s, he worked on his autobiography which found no publisher; it was published posthumously as “Ein Bildungsroman” in German by Eichborn Verlag 1975, and as “Eye to Eye” in English by Thames and Hudson 1999.

Erwin Blumenfeld died of a heart attack 4 July 1969 in Rome, Italy.

 

no images were found

 

 

 

 

Hippolyte Bayard

Today’s photographer has been a pioneer in the history of photography, but sadly, he is also often overlooked. In my personal quest for the creation of wet-plates (www.yvettebessels.com), it is only natural that this man’s work should come to light.

 

Hippolyte Bayard was born in France on the 20th of January 1801.

While working as a civil servant, Bayard experimented with photography. He developed his own method of producing photos called the Direct positive process which involved exposing silver chloride paper to light, which turned the paper completely black. It was then soaked in potassium iodide before being exposed in a camera. After the exposure, it was washed in a bath of hyposulfite of soda and dried.

The resulting image was a unique photograph that could not be reproduced. Due to the paper’s poor light sensitivity, an exposure of approximately twelve minutes was required. Using this method of photography, still subject matter, such as buildings, were favoured. When used for photographing people, sitters were told to close their eyes so as to eliminate the eerie, “dead” quality produced due to blinking and moving one’s eyes during such a long exposure.

In the summer of 1851, along with photographers Édouard Baldus, Henri Le Secq, Gustave Le Gray, and O. Mestral, Bayard travelled throughout France to photograph architectural monuments at the request of the Commission des Monuments Historiques.

Bayard was persuaded to postpone announcing his process to the French Academy of Sciences by François Arago, a friend of Louis Daguerre, who invented the rival daguerreotype process. Arago’s conflict of interest cost Bayard the recognition as one of the principal inventors of photography. He eventually gave details of the process to the French Academy of Sciences on 24 February 1840 in return for money to buy better equipment.

As a reaction to the injustice he felt he had been subjected to, Bayard created the first staged photograph entitled, Self Portrait as a Drowned Man. In the image, he pretends to have committed suicide, sitting and leaning to the right. Bayard wrote on the back of his most notable photograph:

 

“The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life….! … He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognized or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you’d better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay.”

 

Despite his initial hardships in photography, Bayard continued to be a productive member of the photographic society. He was a founding member of the French Society of Photography. Bayard was also one of the first photographers to be commissioned to document and preserve architecture and historical sites in France in 1851. He used a paper photographic process similar to the one he developed to take pictures for the Commission. Additionally, he suggested combining two negatives to properly expose the sky and then the landscape or building, an idea known as combination printing which began being used in the 1850s.

 

Hippolyte Bayard passed away in 1887.

 

no images were found

 

Man Ray

To my shock and amazement I only discovered last week when writing my blog that I had not yet written anything about Man Ray! Quite a few years ago, before I went to Art College, I received a book with his images for my birthday. It was a great hefty tome but the pictures could not lure me in. I thought they were nice, don’t get me wrong – but to me they lacked that kind of spark that you feel when looking upon something that captures your own imagination and leaves you staggering and wanting more. After seeing some of his photogravures in both the V&A in London and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I am slowly turning toward liking his work – yet will remain somewhat unconvinced.

 

Man Ray was born as Emmanuel Radnitzky on the 27th of August, 1890 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. as the eldest child of Russian Jewish immigrants. He had a brother and two sisters and they settled in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York in 1897. Emmanuel displayed artistic and mechanical abilities during childhood. His education at Brooklyn’s Boys’ High School from 1904 to 1909 provided him with solid grounding in drafting and other basic art techniques. While he attended school, he educated himself with frequent visits to the local art museums, where he studied the works of the Old Masters. After his graduation, Ray was offered a scholarship to study architecture but chose to pursue a career as an artist. Ray’s parents were disappointed by their son’s decision to pursue art, but they agreed to rearrange the family’s modest living quarters so that Ray’s room could be his studio. Ray remained in the family home over the next four years. During this time, he worked steadily towards becoming a professional painter. Ray earned money as a commercial artist and was a technical illustrator at several Manhattan companies.

 

The surviving examples of his work from this period indicate that he attempted mostly paintings and drawings in 19th-century styles. He was already an avid admirer of contemporary avant-garde art, such as the European modernists he saw at Alfred Stieglitz’s “291” gallery and works by the Ashcan School. However, with a few exceptions, he was not yet able to integrate these trends into his own work. The art classes he sporadically attended—including stints at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League—were of little apparent benefit to him. When he enrolled in the Ferrer School in the autumn of 1912, he began a period of intense and rapid artistic development.

 

Man Ray’s father worked in a garment factory and ran a small tailoring business out of the family home. He enlisted his children to assist him from an early age. Man Ray’s mother enjoyed designing the family’s clothes and inventing patchwork items from scraps of fabric.Man Ray wished to disassociate himself from his family background, but their tailoring left an enduring mark on his art. Mannequins, flat irons, sewing machines, needles, pins, threads, swatches of fabric, and other items related to tailoring appear in almost every medium of his work. Art historians have noted similarities between Ray’s collage and painting techniques and styles used for tailoring.

 

In early 1912, the Radnitzky family had changed their surname to Ray. Man Ray’s brother chose the surname in reaction to the ethnic discrimination and anti-Semitism prevalent at the time. Emmanuel, who was called “Manny” as a nickname, changed his first name to Man and gradually began to use Man Ray as his combined single name.

 

While living in New York City, Man Ray was visually influenced by the 1913 Armory Show and galleries of European contemporary works. His early paintings display facets of cubism. After befriending Marcel Duchamp, who was interested in showing movement in static paintings, his works began to depict movement of the figures. An example is the repetitive positions of the dancer’s skirts in The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Shadows (1916). In 1915, Man Ray had his first solo show of paintings and drawings. His first proto-Dada object, an assemblage titled Self-Portrait, was exhibited the following year. He produced his first significant photographs in 1918.

 

Man Ray abandoned conventional painting to involve himself with Dada, a radical anti-art movement. He started making objects and developed unique mechanical and photographic methods of making images. For the 1918 version of Rope Dancer, he combined a spray-gun technique with a pen drawing. Like Duchamp, he did readymades—ordinary objects that are selected and modified. His Gift readymade (1921) is a flatiron with metal tacks attached to the bottom, and Enigma of Isidore Ducasse is an unseen object (a sewing machine) wrapped in cloth and tied with cord. Aerograph (1919), another work from this period, was done with airbrush on glass.

 

In 1920, Ray helped Duchamp make the Rotary Glass Plates, hisfirst machine and one of the earliest examples of kinetic art. It was composed of glass plates turned by a motor. That same year, Man Ray, Katherine Dreier, and Duchamp founded the Société Anonyme, an itinerant collection that was the first museum of modern art in the U.S. Ray teamed up with Duchamp to publish one issue of New York Dada in 1920. For Man Ray, Dada’s experimentation was no match for the wild and chaotic streets of New York.He wrote that “Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada, and will not tolerate a rival.”

 

In 1913, Man Ray met his first wife, the Belgian poet Adon Lacroix (Donna Lecoeur) (1887-1975), in New York. They married in 1914, separated in 1919, and formally divorced in 1937.

 

In July 1921, Man Ray went to live and work in Paris, France. He soon settled in the Montparnasse quarter favored by many artists. Shortly after arriving in Paris, he met and fell in love with Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), an artists’ model and celebrated character in Paris bohemian circles. Kiki was Man Ray’s companion for most of the 1920s. She became the subject of some of his most famous photographic images and starred in his experimental films. In 1929, he began a love affair with the Surrealist photographer Lee Miller.

 

For the next 20 years in Montparnasse, Man Ray was a distinguished photographer. Significant members of the art world, such as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Bridget Bate Tichenor,and Antonin Artaud, posed for his camera.Man Ray was represented in the first Surrealist exhibition with Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso at the Galerie Pierre in Paris in 1925. Important works from this time were a metronome with an eye, originally titled Object to Be Destroyed, and the Violon d’Ingres, a stunning photograph of Kiki de Montparnasse, styled after the painter/musician Ingres. Violon d’Ingres is a popular example of how Man Ray could juxtapose disparate elements in his photography to generate meaning. In 1934, surrealist artist Méret Oppenheim, known for her fur-covered teacup, posed nude for Man Ray in a well-known series of photographs depicting her standing next to a printing press.

 

With Lee Miller, his photography assistant and lover, Man Ray reinvented the photographic technique of solarization. He also created a type of photogram he called “rayographs”, which he described as “pure dadaism”.

 

Man Ray directed a number of influential avant-garde short films, known as Cinéma Pur such as Le Retour à la Raison (2 mins, 1923); Emak-Bakia (16 mins, 1926); L’Étoile de Mer (15 mins, 1928); and Les Mystères du Château de Dé (27 mins, 1929).

 

When the second world war started, Man Ray was forced to return from Paris to the United States. He lived in Los Angeles, California from 1940 to 1951. A few days after arriving in Los Angeles, Man Ray met Juliet Browner, a first-generation American of Romanian-Jewish lineage. She was a trained dancer and an experienced artists’ model. They began living together almost immediately. The two married in 1946 in a double wedding with their friends Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning. Nonetheless, he called Montparnasse home and returned there. He died in Paris on November 18, 1976 from a lung infection. He was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. Ray’s epitaph reads “unconcerned, but not indifferent”. When Juliet Browner died in 1991, she was interred in the same tomb. Her epitaph reads “together again”. Juliet organized a trust for his work and donated much of his work to museums.

 

 

no images were found

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Doisneau

Today one of the famous French names from a more recent era – the 50’s and onwards. After seeing a few more of his images it is obvious that this man’s skill and humor shone through in his chosen profession.

 

Robert Doisneau was born on the 14th of April 1912. His father was a plumber and died in WWI when Robert was only about four years old, his mother died when he was seven. An unloving aunt raised him until the age thirteen when he enrolled at the École Estienne, a craft school from which he graduated in 1929 with diplomas in engraving and lithography. There he had his first contact with the arts, taking classes in figure drawing and still life. When he was 16 he took up amateur photography, but was reportedly so shy that he started by photographing cobble-stones before progressing to children and then adults.

At the end of the 1920s Doisneau found work as a draughtsman (lettering artist) in the advertising industry at Atelier Ullmann (Ullmann Studio), a creative graphics studio that specialised in the pharmaceutical industry. Here he took an opportunity to change career by also acting as camera assistant in the studio and then becoming a staff photographer. In 1931 he left both the studio and advertising, taking a job as an assistant with the modernist photographer André Vigneau and would sell his first photographic story to Excelsior magazine in 1932. In 1934 he began working as an industrial advertising photographer for the Renault car factory at Boulogne-Billancourt. Working at Renault increased Doisneau’s interest in working with photography and people. In 1991 he admitted that the years at the Renault car factory marked “the beginning of his career as a photographer and the end of his youth.”

In 1936 Doisneau married Pierrette Chaumaison whom he had met in 1934 when she was cycling through a village where he was on holiday. They had two daughters, Annette (b.1942) and Francine (b.1947)

In 1939, he was fired from Renault because he constantly was late. He was forced to try freelance advertising, engraving, and postcard photography to earn his living. At that time the French postcard industry was the largest in Europe, postcards served as greetings cards as well as vacation souvenirs. In the same year he was hired by Charles Rado of the Rapho photographic agency and traveled throughout France in search of picture stories. This is where he took his first professional street photographs. Doisneau worked at Rapho until the outbreak of World War II, whereupon he was drafted into the French army as both a soldier and photographer. He was in the army until 1940 and from then until the end of the war in 1945 used his draughtsmanship, lettering artistry, and engraving skills to forge passports and identification papers for the French Resistance.

Some of Doisneau’s most memorable photographs were taken after the war. He returned to freelance photography and sold photographs to Life and other international magazines. He briefly joined the Alliance Photo Agency but rejoined the Rapho agency in 1946 and remained with them throughout his working life, despite receiving an invitation from Henri Cartier-Bresson to join Magnum Photos. His photographs never ridiculed the subjects; thus he refused to photograph women whose heads had been shaved as punishment for sleeping with Germans. In 1948 he was contracted by Vogue to work as a fashion photographer. The editors believed he would bring a fresh and more casual look the magazine but Doisneau didn’t enjoy photographing beautiful women in elegant surroundings; he preferred street photography. When he could escape from the studio, he photographed ever more in the streets of Paris.

Group XV was established in 1946 in Paris to promote photography as art and drawing attention to the preservation of French photographic heritage. Doisneau joined the Group in 1950 and participated alongside Rene-Jacques, Willy Ronis, and Pierre Jahan.

The 1950s were Doisneau’s peak, but the 1960s were his wilderness years. In the 1970s Europe began to change and editors looked for new reportage that would show the sense of a new social era. All over Europe, the old-style picture magazines were closing as television received the public’s attention. Doisneau continued to work, producing children’s books, advertising photography, and celebrity portraits including Alberto Giacometti, Jean Cocteau, Fernand Léger, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso. He worked with writers and poets such as Blaise Cendrars and Jacques Prévert, and he credited Prevert with giving him the confidence to photograph the everyday street scenes that most people simply ignored.

In 1950 Doisneau created his most recognizable work for Life – Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville), a photograph of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris,which became an internationally recognized symbol of young love in Paris. Jean and Denise Lavergne erroneously believed themselves to be the couple in The Kiss, and when Robert and Annette (his older daughter and also his assistant at the time) met them for lunch in the 1980s he “did not want to shatter their dream” so he said nothing. This resulted in them taking him to court for “taking their picture without their knowledge”, because under French law an individual owns the rights to their own likeness. The court action forced Doisneau to reveal that he posed the shot using Françoise Delbart (20) and Jacques Carteaud (23), both aspiring actors and lovers whom he had just seen kissing, but had not photographed initially because of his natural reserve; he approached them and asked if they would repeat the kiss. He won the court case against the Lavergnes. Doisneau said in 1992, “I would never have dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.”  In 2005 Françoise Bornet (née Delbart) stated that, “He told us we were charming, and asked if we could kiss again for the camera. We didn’t mind. We were used to kissing. We were doing it all the time then, it was delicious. Monsieur Doisneau was adorable, very low key, very relaxed.” They posed at the Place de la Concorde, the Rue de Rivoli and finally the Hôtel de Ville. The photograph was published in the 12 June 1950, issue of Life.The relationship between Delbart and Carteaud only lasted for nine months. Delbart continued her acting career, but Carteaud gave up acting to become a wine producer.

In 1950 Françoise Bornet was given an original print of the photograph, bearing Doisneau’s signature and stamp, as part of the payment for her “work”, and thus her subsequent attempt at litigation in the 1990s was rejected by the court. In April 2005 she sold the print at auction for €155,000 to an unidentified Swiss collector via the Paris auctioneers Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur. Doisneau’s eldest daughter Annette said: “We won in the courts (re: The Kiss), but my father was deeply shocked. He discovered a world of lies, and it hurt him. ‘The Kiss’ ruined the last years of his life. Add that to my mother suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and I think it’s fair to say he died of sadness.” Doisneau died in 1994, only six month after his beloved wife Pierette passed away, having had a triple heart bypass and suffering from acute pancreatitis. They are buried side-by-side in the cemetery at Raizeux.

Doisneau was in many ways a shy and humble man, similar to his photography, still delivering his own work at the height of his fame. He chastised his youngest daughter Francine for charging an “indecent” daily fee of £2,000 for his work on a beer advertising campaign – he wanted only the rate of an “artisan photographer”.

 

no images were found

 

 

 

Eugène Atget

Atget is a name I know a little better than some of the other I talk about each week – I went to see an exhibition of his prints that were brought together in the Sydney Art Gallery. There were quite a few of them, all original prints and I have to say I was quite impressed. The subject matter is fairly consistent and some of the images will always be more appealing than others – but you can tell by the detail caught in each one that they have been contact printed instead of enlarged. The ragpicker / small trade images I found most impressive as he managed not only to create a technically sound image with then already outdated resources, but also the convey a compelling image of a trade that was fast on it’s way out in times of modernization. Should you be able to catch an exhibit of his work near you: make sure to attend!

 

Jean-Eugène-Auguste Atget was born 12 February 1857 in Libourne, in the South-West of France. His father, carriage builder Jean-Eugène Atget, died in 1862, and his mother, Clara-Adeline Atget née Hourlier died shortly after. He was brought up by his maternal grandparents in Bordeaux. He went to Paris in 1878 where Atget meant to become an actor, but his studies at the National Conversatory of Music and Drama were cut short when he was drafted into the army in November 1878. After the war, they refused to have him back and for most of the 1880s he worked as an actor in the suburbs and in the provinces before taking up photography in 1888. He became a photographer for artists, producing images on the street and small trades of Paris that artists might be able to use for their paintings: ‘Documents pour Artistes’. He would photograph more than 10,000 images of the people and sights of Paris with a large-format Wooden bellow camera with a rapid rectilinear lens. The images were exposed and developed as 18x24cm glass dry plates.

Starting 1898 institutions such as the Musée Carnavalet and the Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris bought his photographs. The latter commissioned him ca. 1906 to systematically photograph old buildings in Paris. His photographs show the city in its various facets: narrow lanes and courtyards in the historic city center with its old buildings, of which some were soon to be demolished, magnificent palaces from the period before the French Revolution, bridges and quays on the banks of the Seine, and shops with their window displays. He photographed stairwells and architectural details on the facades and took pictures of the interiors of apartments. In addition to architecture and the urban environment, he also photographed street-hawkers, small tradesmen, rag collectors and prostitutes, as well as fairs and popular amusements in the various districts. The outlying districts and peripheral areas, in which the poor and homeless sought shelter, also furnished him with pictorial subjects.

Distinguishing characteristics of Atget’s photography include a wispy, drawn-out sense of light due to his long exposures, a fairly wide view that suggested space and ambiance more than surface detail, and an intentionally limited range of scenes avoiding the bustling modern Paris that was often around the corner from the nostalgia-steeped nooks he preferred. The emptiness of most of his streets and the sometimes blurred figures in those with people are partly due to his already antiquated technique, including extended exposure times which required that many of his images be made in the early morning hours before pedestrians and traffic appeared. The mechanical vignetting often seen at some corners of his photographs is due to his having repositioned the lens relative to the plate on the camera—exploiting one of the features of bellows view cameras as a way to correct perspective and control the image. He often said, “I have done little justice to the Great City of Paris”, as a comment on his career.

In 1920-1921 he sold thousands of his negatives to institutions. Financially independent he took up photographing the parks of Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Sceaux and produced a series of photographs of prostitutes.

Berenice Abbott visited Atget in 1925, bought some of his photographs, and tried to interest other artists in his work such as Man Ray, André Derain, Henri Matisse and Picasso. May Ray not only purchased a number of Atget’s photographs but used During the Eclipse, for the cover of his surrealist magazine la Révolution surréaliste. When he asked Atget if he could use his photo he said:′ “Don’t put my name on it. These are simply documents I make.” Man Ray said that Atget’s pictures of staircases, doorways, ragpickers and especially those with window reflections and mannequins had a Dada or Surrealist quality about them. Man Ray not only was a neighbor of Atget, they lived on the same street, but he offered to led him his modern Rolleiflex camera but Atget refused preferring to use the older techniques.

His death went largely unnoticed at the time outside the circle of curators who had bought his albums and kept them interred, mostly unseen. Eugene Atget died on the 4th of August, 1927.

 

no images were found

Brassaï

Brassaï is a name I have heard often, but never really looked into, as is the case with many of the photographers talked about, I admit. Within this week it seems like my personal fascination with old processes and camera has taken the upper hand as I managed to buy a huge (16 x 16 inch) plate camera. Without lens unfortunately, but as I gather the information needed, I will also gather some of it here in the links or equipment section. But back to our photographer:

 

Gyula (Jules/ George) Halász was born on the 9th of September 1899 in Brassó, Transsylvania, Kingdom of Hungary (since 1920 Brașov, Romania), to an Armenian mother and a Hungarian father and he would grow up speaking Hungarian. When he was three, his family lived in Paris for a year, while his father, a professor of French literature, taught at the Sorbonne. As a young man, Gyula Halász studied painting and sculpture at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts (Magyar Képzomuvészeti Egyetem) in Budapest. He joined a cavalry regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army, where he served until the end of the First World War. In 1920, Halász went to Berlin, where he worked as a journalist for the Hungarian papers Keleti and Napkelet. He went to study at the Berlin-Charlottenburg Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Bildende Künste), now the Universität der Künste Berlin, where he became friends with several older Hungarian artists, including the painters Lajos Tihanyi and Bertalan Pór, and the writer György Bölöni. Each of them later moved to Paris and became part of the Hungarian circle.

In 1924, Halasz moved to Paris to live, where he would stay for the rest of his life. To learn the French language, he began teaching himself by reading the works of Marcel Proust. Living among the gathering of young artists in the Montparnasse quarter, he again took a job as a journalist. He soon became friends with the American writer Henry Miller, and the French writers Léon-Paul Fargue and Jacques Prévert. A friend would introduce him to Atget in 1925, as his work fascinated Halasz. He met the Hungarian photographer André Kertész in Montparnasse in 1926 and occasionally accompanied him on his assignments.

Using a simple, borrowed camera at first, he later decided to buy a Voigtlander and started taking his first photographs, starting with everyday objects and while strolling through Paris he took his first night photographs of the deserted city. He set up a darkroom in his hotel and began developing and printing his own photographs. He met Henry Miller and introduced him to the bizarre side of Paris. He first used it to supplement some of his articles for more money, but rapidly explored the city through this medium. He later wrote that he used photography “in order to capture the beauty of streets and gardens in the rain and fog, and to capture Paris by night.” Using the name of his birthplace, Gyula Halász went by the pseudonym “Brassaï,” which means “from Brasso.”

Brassaï captured the essence of the city in his photographs, published as his first collection in 1933 book entitled Paris de nuit (Paris by Night). His book gained great success, resulting in being called “the eye of Paris” in an essay by his friend Henry Miller. In addition to photos of the seedier side of Paris, Brassaï portrayed scenes from the life of the city’s high society, its intellectuals, its ballet, and the grand operas. He had been befriended by a French family who gave him access to the upper classes and Brassaï photographed many of his artist friends and their works, including Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, as well as several of the prominent writers of his time, such as Jean Genet and Henri Michaux.

Young Hungarian artists continued to arrive in Paris through the 1930s and the Hungarian circle absorbed most of them. Brassaï befriended many of the new arrivals, including Ervin Marton, a nephew of Tihanyi, whom he had been friends with since 1920. Marton developed his own reputation in street photography in the 1940s and 1950s. Brassaï continued to earn a living with commercial work, also taking photographs for the United States magazine Harper’s Bazaar. He was a founding member of the Rapho agency, created in Paris by Charles Rado in 1933, and started using a Rolleiflex.

In 1940-1942 the exodus from France began with the outbreak of World War II, but Brassaï decided to catch the last refugee train back to Paris in order to retrieve his negatives. Although he was invited to settle in the United States, he refused to leave France. He was much sought after by the Germans, but refused to apply for a permit to take photographs and was therefore forbidden to publish or practice his profession. In 1948, Brassaï married Gilberte-Mercédés Boyer, a French woman. She worked with him in supporting his photography. In 1949, he became a naturalized French citizen after years of being stateless.

Brassaï had been a photographer, sculptor and filmmaker but it were his photographs that brought him international fame. In 1948, he had a one-man show in the United States at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, which traveled to the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. MOMA exhibited more of Brassai’s works in 1953, 1956, and 1968. In 1957 he was awarded the Gold Medal at the Venice Biennial of Photography. He used a Leica to take color photographs. In 1966 Both Brassaï and Ansel Adams were made honorary members of the American Society of Magazine Photographers. He was presented at the Rencontres d’Arles festival (France) in 1970 (screening at the Théâtre Antique, “Brassaï” by Jean-Marie Drot), in 1972 (screening “Brassaï si, Vominino” by René Burri), and in 1974 (as guest of honor, alongside Ansel Adams).

Brassaï died on July 7th, 1984 in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. He was buried in Montparnasse cemetery in the heart of the Paris he had paid tribute to for more than half a century.

 

no images were found

Paul Strand

Paul Strand was born on the 16th of October 1890, in New York City to Bohemian parents. In his late teens Strand was a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. It was while on a field trip in this class that Strand first visited the 291 art gallery – operated by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen – where exhibitions of work by forward-thinking modernist photographers and painters would move Strand to take his photographic hobby more seriously.

Alfred Stieglitz himself would later promote Strand’s work in the 291 gallery and in his photography publication Camera Works. Some of this early work, like the well-known “Wall Street,” experimented with formal abstractions. Other of Strand’s works reflect his interest in using the camera as a tool for social reform. He was one of the founders of the Photo League, an association of photographers who advocated using their art to promote social and political causes.

Over the next few decades, Strand worked in motion pictures as well as still photography. His first film was Manhatta (1921), also known as New York the Magnificent, a silent film showing the day-to-day life of New York City made with painter/photographer Charles Sheeler. Manhatta includes a shot similar to Strand’s famous Wall Street (1915) photograph. Strand married the painter Rebecca Salsbury in 1922. He photographed Rebecca Salsbury Strand frequently, sometimes with uncommonly close compositions. After divorcing Salsbury, Strand married Virginia Stevens in 1935. In 1932–5, he lived in Mexico and worked on Redes (1936), a film commissioned by the Mexican government, released in the US as The Wave. Other films he was involved with were the documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) and the pro-union, anti-fascist Native Land (1942).

In 1949, Strand divorced Virginia and left the United States to present Native Land at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia. The remaining 27 years of his life were spent in Orgeval, France where, despite never learning the language, he maintained an impressive creative life, assisted by his third wife, fellow photographer Hazel Kingsbury Strand to whom he remained married until his death in 1976. Although Strand is best known for his early abstractions, his return to still photography in this later period produced some of his most significant work in the form of six book ‘portraits’ of place: Time in New England (1950), La France de Profil (1952), Un Paese (featuring photographs of Luzzara and the Po River Valley in Italy, 1955), Tir a’Mhurain / Outer Hebrides (1962), Living Egypt (1969) and Ghana: an African portrait (1976).

 

no images were found

 

 

 

Louis Daguerre

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was born in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, Val-d’Oise, France on the 18th of November 1787. He apprenticed in architecture, theatre design, and panoramic painting with Pierre Prévost, the first French panorama painter. Exceedingly adept at his skill of theatrical illusion, he became a celebrated designer for the theatre and later came to invent the Diorama, which opened in Paris in July 1822.

In 1829, Daguerre partnered with Nicéphore Niépce, an inventor who had produced the world’s first heliograph in 1822 and the first permanent camera photograph four years later. Niépce died suddenly in 1833, but Daguerre continued experimenting and evolved the process which would subsequently be known as the Daguerreotype. It has recently been discovered that Daguerre may have misled Niépce’s son about the value of the invention in order to better claim any profits from it individually. After efforts to interest private investors proved fruitless, Daguerre went public with his invention in 1839. At a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences on 7 January of that year, the invention was announced and described in general terms, but all specific details were withheld. Under assurances of strict confidentiality, Daguerre explained and demonstrated the process only to the Academy’s perpetual secretary François Arago, who proved to be an invaluable advocate. Members of the Academy and other select individuals were allowed to examine specimens at Daguerre’s studio. The images were enthusiastically praised as nearly miraculous and news of the Daguerreotype quickly spread. Arrangements were made for Daguerre’s rights to be acquired by the French Government in exchange for lifetime pensions for himself and Niépce’s son Isidore; then, on 19 August 1839, the French Government presented the invention as a gift from France “free to the world” and complete working instructions were published.

Daguerre’s agent in England applied for a British patent just days before France declared the invention “free to the world”. Great Britain was thereby uniquely denied France’s free gift and became the only country where the payment of license fees was required. This had the effect of inhibiting the spread of the process there, to the eventual advantage of competing processes which were subsequently introduced. Antoine Claudet was one of the few people legally licensed to make Daguerreotypes in Britain.

The Daguerreotype was the Polaroid film of its day: it produced a unique image which could only be duplicated by using a camera to photograph the original. Despite this drawback, millions of Daguerreotypes were produced. The paper-based calotype process, introduced by Henry Fox Talbot in 1841, allowed the production of an unlimited number of copies by simple contact printing, but it had its own shortcomings—the grain of the paper was obtrusively visible in the image and the extremely fine detail of which the Daguerreotype was capable was not possible. The introduction of the wet collodion process in the early 1850s provided the basis for a negative-positive print-making process not subject to these limitations, although it, like the Daguerreotype, was initially used to produce one-of-a-kind images—ambrotypes on glass and tintypes on black-lacquered iron sheets—rather than prints on paper. These new types of images were much less expensive than Daguerreotypes and they were easier to view. By 1860 few photographers were still using Daguerre’s process.

Daguerre died on 10 July 1851 of a heart attack in Bry-sur-Marne, 12 km (7 mi) from Paris. A monument marks his grave there. Daguerre’s name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel tower.

 

no images were found

 

 

 

 

George Rodger

Today part 4/5 on the founders of the Magnum photographic agency: George Rodger.

George Rodger was born on the 19th of March 1908 in Hale, Cheshire, to Scottish parents. He went to school at St.Bees School in Cumberland then joined the British Merchant Navy and sailed around the world. While sailing, Rodger wrote accounts of his travels and taught himself photography to illustrate his travelogues. However, he was unable to get his travel writing published; after a short spell in America, where he failed to find work during the Depression, he returned to Britain in 1936. In London he was fortunate to find work as a photographer for the BBC’s The Listener magazine, which was followed in 1938 by a brief stint working for the Black Star Agency.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Rodger had a strong urge to chronicle the war. His photographs of the Blitz gained him a job as a war correspondent for Life magazine. He covered the war in West Africa extensively and towards the end of the war followed the allied liberation of France, Belgium and Holland. He also covered the retreat of the British forces in Burma and was probably the only British war reporter/photographer to be allowed to drive along and write a story on the Burma Road by traveling on it into China, with special permission from the Chinese commanding generals.

Most notably, Rodger was the first photographer to enter the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. His photographs of the few survivors and piles of corpses were published in Life and Time magazines and were highly influential in showing the reality of the death camps. Rodger later recalled how, after spending several hours at the camp, he was appalled to realize that he had spent most of the time looking for graphically pleasing compositions of the piles of bodies lying among the trees and buildings.

This traumatic experience lead Rodger to conclude that he could not work as a war correspondent again. Leaving Life, he traveled throughout Africa and the Middle East, continuing to document these area’s wildlife and people.

In 1947, Rodger became a founding member of Magnum Photos and over the next thirty years worked as a freelance photographer, taking on many expeditions and assignments to photograph the people, landscape and nature of Africa. Much of Rodger’s photojournalism in Africa was published in National Geographic as well as other magazines and newspapers. He passed away on the 24th of July 1995.

no images were found