Index: Photography

Sondheim Baby!

Hot damn. Everything works here, everything – the framing, the tint, the grain… From a recent New York Magazine piece on Bernadette buy.synthetic.vicodin Peters. The shot is by Pari Dukovic, a young-ish, RIT trained Turkish photographer. More of his excellent work, here.

Summer Hours


Reader! Visitor! Information collecting robotic code spider! And, dare I say, friend!?: An announcement: We’re keeping summer hours ’round here ’till Labor Day. Or, more accurately, adopting a intermittent, drinks on the porch, as the mood strikes publishing schedule. Do continue to stop by, new work and occasional enthusiasms will pop up here and there. If you’re here for the first time, help yourselves to anything. Daily-ish posts resume in earnest September 1st.

Room 125, Westbank Motel, Idaho Falls, Idaho, July 18, 1973, Stephen Shore

Bright Young Things, Part I

They did not intend to distinguish between the essence
Of wit and wallpaper trellis.
What they cared
Was how the appointments of the age appeared
Under the citron gaslight incandescence.

Virtue was vulgar, sin a floral passion
And death a hansom at the door, while they
Kept faith with a pomaded sense of history In their fashion.

Behind the domino, those fringed and fanned
Exclusive girls, prinked with the peacock’s eye
Noted, they believed, the trickle of a century
Like a thin umbrella in a black-gloved hand.

Yellow Book, Muriel Spark, c. 1951 (photograph, One More, by Mariczka, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine)

Tomas van Houtryve

Viewing these shots by documentary photographer Tomas Van Houtryve is a complicated experience. They pull powerfully at two distinct psychological strands – on the one hand they are thoroughly, almost voluptuously, gorgeous. On the other, they are deeply unsettling. In each shot, intermingled with the beauty, you can palpably feel communism’s total soul-crushing weight. They are all drawn from Van Houtryve’s ongoing project to document the last tattered communist holdouts – among them North Korea, Moldova, Laos, and China. The project is but a part of a deeply impressive body of work, all motivated by a deep, philosophical and humanitarian approach, under-girded by a superb sense of aesthetics. His work can seen here. He is also a gifted writer, and the stories behind the photographs, told on his blog, are fascinating. Start with his account of infiltrating North Korea, part one of which is here. (Hat tip Ashley Gilbertson, whose new project, Bedrooms of the Fallen, documenting the bedrooms of soldiers killed in Iraq & Afghanistan, is also well worth your attention.)

Seasons, Merry, Best, Etc…

Happy, etc…, to you and yours over the holidays. I’ll leave you with some remarkable photographs by Matthias Heiderich, a young photographer and musician based in Berlin. I stumbled across his Flickr stream the other night and was floored – warmth and emotion paired with abstract geometries and chilly ambiance. Take a moment and treat yourselves to more of his work, here. Sometime next week, I’ll post 2010’s For Your Pleasure… a download-able mix of my year in music. Then onto 2011. ‘Til then, then…

Harry Callahan

When I saw these photographs by Harry Callahan reproduced in a magazine, I took them to be photo-realist paintings. It’s the compositions – they’re so deliberate and graphic. What I love about the photo-realist painters that I love is the degree of framing and editing they employ. They hold reality in abstraction, and the intersection of the two is the source of a great deal of the aesthetic impact they deliver. It’s why I was so gobsmacked to find that these images were caught in camera.

Callahan was an engineer with Chrysler Motors in the 40’s, where he joined a camera club. A visit by Ansel can you buy real vicodin online Adams to the club transformed his passion for photography from a hobby into an artistic calling – a search for the intensified image. As he put it – “The difference between the casual impression and the intensified image is about as great as that separating the average business letter from a poem” – which gets at the essence of his images perfectly. Half a decade later he was hired by Bauhaus legend Liszl Moholy-Nagy to teach photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago. He went on to create the photography program at the RISD. More on Callahan here.

Thou Shalt Not…

Thou shalt not show the law defeated, or the inside of a thigh, or lace lingerie, or a dead man, or narcotics, or drinking, or an exposed bosom, gambling, a pointing vicodin to buy gun, or a tommy gun. — This 1940’s photo stacks all ten cardinal sins forbidden at the time by movie studio self-censorship regulations into a ziggurat of sin. Aces.

The Art of Dennis Hopper

A lot will be written, understandably, about Dennis Hopper’s indelible wild-eyed performances as an actor and his stature as a cultural iconoclast. More will be written, deservedly, about his gifts as a director (his 1980’s neo-noir the Hot Spot, with Jennifer Connelly and Don Johnson is a personal favorite…) Too little, unfortunately, will be written about him as an artist – as a photographer, painter, and patron.

Hopper, for all of his hippie-savage persona (and dissolute habits), was a man of considerable aesthetic gifts and a genuine passion for art (instilled in him, in that only-in-Hollywood-sorta-way, by non other than Vincent Price)

He found his home amidst the Pop Art scene, beginning in the early 60’s. He became a friend, collector and patron to Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist , Robert Rauschenberg , and especially, Ed Ruscha. In turn, they inspired Hopper in his own photography and painting – and over the years he built up a respectable oeuvre of solid, earnest work in the genre.

His paintings are the work, in the best sense, of a gifted amateur – accomplished, passionate, but with visible effort and little transcendence. His photographs, on the other hand, are far more distinguished – characterized by striking graphic compositions, technical adeptness, and a young Jane Fonda. That is, Hopper had an eye & chops, yes, but he was also, um… Dennis Hopper. As a result the photography is goosed by the presence of his fellow famous young and restless – It’s like Ruscha or William Eggleston doing Hollywood candids.

Here’s the thing though – To view Hopper as derivative is to miss what makes him matter as an artist. Genres and styles are defined by a handful of brilliant outliers, driven by a primordial vision that guides their craft. They do the heavy work of clearing spaces in the cultural landscape. The vast majority of us who want a passionate relationship with art inhabit these spaces, either as viewers, artists, critics, or patrons. Hopper’s work, for me, is a testament to that dynamic – not to defining art, as much as living within it.

Petula Clark





Found these while sourcing images for a painting of Petula Clark. As a photoshoot concept for a star, I’m a little confused – Let’s shoot Petula in, oh, I don’t know… Flagstaff, Arizona shopping for nick nacks, ticky tacks and postcards? As shots though, I’m besotted. Clarks’ a mod little pixie, and the photos have this great Stephen Shore, auto tourister snapshot vibe. (from the Life Magazine photo archive)



What a dandy little art book/scene document/memento thingy. Maripolarama is a collection of Polaroids taken in the late 70’s and early 80’s by Maripol. Her (single – natch) name contains a multitude of très fabuloso personas: Model; art director for quintessential 80’s designer Fiorucci; Madonna’s friend and her stylist during the original, classic, “Like a Virgin” period (we have her to thank for the rubber bracelets); producer of the legendary new wave art scene flick Downtown 81; and on, and on… she’s less a person that the essence of the New York post punk new wave fashion scene in human form.

Maripolorama is her raw candid, exuberant diary. It’s not really who’s in it that makes it so compelling, though. It’s how young and unguarded everyone is, how genuine and sincere they are in thier goofy exhibitionism. The group shots are especially revelatory – before they went on to become stars, icons, flameouts, poseurs, and tragedies they were all weirdo pals dressing up and running around the glittering big city.

Terraforming, painting, or aquariums of the gods?



Holy cow… these landscape photographs by Kim Keever seem to indicate she is in possession of a pen sized version of the Genesis Device, the terraforming rocket fired off in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. The best ones evoke the the grandeur of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church’s work… Actually, these are staged in an aquarium, which for me, as an amateur aquarist, makes them even more impressive. (hat tip andrew sullivan.)

Matt Bednarik at Bus Stop


Matt Bednarik, photographer and erstwhile agency associate, has a new show up focusing on his recent trip to Japan. Matt’s work is, as I’ve mentioned before, cerebral and rigorous with a wonderful warm undertow… and it’s at Bus Stop boutique, so art can be happily enjoyed in the context of stylish women’s shoes. Huzzah!

UPDATE: Due to heavy advertising, I regrettably missed the opening. Word is awesome on all fronts. Can’t wait.