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-+*This important exhibition of Edward Steichen’s fashion and celebrity photography for Condé Nast, which will close soon in Toronto and continue on to Fort Lauderdale and Kansas City, emerged from an earlier, ambitious survey of his entire career, Edward Steichen: Lives in Photography, also organized by Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography and the Musée de Élysée. While researching that exhibition, the curators, William Ewing and Todd Brandow, discovered two thousand vintage prints from Steichen’s years at Vogue and Vanity Fair in the Condé Nast Archive, where they were catalogued and preserved to museum standards. These had never been exhibited before and presented an opportunity not to be missed.
-+*Leonard Freed, The Italians, Quantuck Lane Press, 2011, exhibition now at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere through May 27, 2012.
The great documentary art photographer’s warm-hearted, but sharply observed takes on Italian life between 1956 and 2005 appear in 190 superb duotone illustrations. With an introductory essay in English and Italian by Berkshire Review/New York Arts editor, Michael Miller.
The selection of images in the book and in the exhibition was made by Freed’s widow, Brigitte and James Mairs, editor at the Quantuck Lane Press. The Italian edition, which is also bilingual and virtually identical, is distributed by the local organizer, Admira.
-+*My direct experience with the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, to give it its full name, began with their latest major restoration project, the recently rediscovered footage Orson Welles shot for the cinematic interludes in his Mercury production of Too Much Johnson. Apart from being a tour de force of conservation, the project underscored one inspiring aspect of the institution. George Eastman House is a museum, but, unlike virtually all art museums, which pride themselves on avoiding acquisitions in compromised condition, it actively seeks out films in need of conservation—that being its primary function, both to fill in the documentation of the history of photography and cinema, and to make lost works of art available to the public. This activity justifies itself of course, but its importance is heightened by the fact that motion pictures in particular were not considered worthy of preservation.
-+*In the spirit of the Twelve Days of Christmas as a time for quiet reflection and a turning inwards, we’d like to offer a gift of a recording of New York Arts‘s second performance event, held on June 1, 2013, at 7 pm, in connection with my own exhibition of photographs of Western Ireland at the Centerpoint Gallery in New York City: a reading/concert in which the acclaimed poet, Lloyd Schwartz, Senior Classical Music Editor of New York Arts, read poems by W. B. Yeats with interludes of traditional Irish music played by Dorien Staljanssens, flute, and James Cleveland, fiddle.
-+*“I certainly feel lucky to have been working during this period,” said Nathan Benn, one of the masters of Kodachrome along with his older contemporaries William Eggleston (b. 1939) and Stephen Shore (b. 1947). Benn shot for National Geographic Magazine from 1972 ti 1991, documenting people and places around the globe. He recently collected 108 of his images from the period, photographs of the Northeast, Midwest and parts of the southern United States, in a stunning coffee-table book, “Kodachrome Memory, American Pictures 1972-1990” published this year by Powerhouse Books in Brooklyn, New York.
-+*Photographer Max Hirshfeld, who came to Washington, DC, in 1969 from a small, Southern town, has always been fascinated with “the other Washington,” as he calls it, the creative community in the city that has nothing to do with the federal government. This spring he began photographing key players in the DC art scene—poets, novelists, actors, directors, critics, dancers, architects and patrons—and the result is a stunning series of 33 portraits, called “Illuminaries,” now on display at Hemphill Fine Arts in downtown Washington through July 27th. It is part of the gallery’s larger exhibit on the Artist-Citizen.
-+*New York dealer Robert Burge, who specializes in 20th century photography, described this year’s three-day AIPAD fair, which concluded April 7 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, as “more buoyant than previous years.”
“Contemporary photography is always a tougher sell than well-known vintage work,” he said, “but people were buying, writing checks. There was less talk about spousal approval…”
Now in its 33rd year, The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) annual exhibition attracted 82 dealers from around the country and a smattering of foreign cities, including London, Paris, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Osaka, and Jerusalem. The show traditionally has strength in fine, museum-quality vintage prints, but the show-stoppers this year were primarily contemporary photographs, many the product of digital manipulation, which seems to have moved into a new phase with gimmickry giving way to photographs that more closely resemble fine art—and are stunningly beautiful. The images are fresh and original and, indeed, visitors responded with their wallets.
-+*When walking into Paris’s first retrospective exhibition of the photographs of Eva Besnyö at the Jeu de Paume, I was met with three mysterious images, visually linked by their askew perspectives. One is a self-portrait of Besnyö, who was born in Budapest in 1910 and broke free of Hungary’s provincial constraints to become a Berlin-based photographer at the young age of 20. The image of the woman in the portrait looks, in a word, contemporary. Unconventionally beautiful, Besnyö looks intensely into her medium format camera, hair tousled as her neck cranes above the view finder to which she is acutely focused, projecting an image of herself as an intense, slightly bohemian artist at work. Besnyö orchestrated this image of 1931 so that the viewer looks up to her from down below, and thus elevated before us is a powerful figure who directs our gaze and controls her own image long before similar strategies were conceived by feminist artists of the 1960s. It is from this point that the viewer commences into an exhibition of 120 prints by a photographer who has been given too little attention.