A personalised invitation card to my group exhibition, Momentary. It opens this Wednesday, December 3 at 6.30pm.
Annie Liebovitz, portrait of Jessica Chastain, 2013
This lovely image is a portrait of the actress Jessica Chastain by Annie Liebovitz, made in the style of 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
It’s as good a photograph as the Camerons that inspired it. And why not – Liebovitz has had forty years to absorb the lessons of Cameron; she had a hair, makeup and costume team, the best equipment, and a first class actress for a model. In the 1860s Cameron did it alone, using amateurs for models, and the most difficult technique in the history of the medium. All this just twenty years after photography was invented. Hats off to both of them.
This Cameron is one of eight photographs that Vogue magazine commissioned from Liebovitz, published in last year’s December issue and available here on Vogue’s website. Jessica Chastain poses in each of them. They’re all based on historical artworks, by Van Gogh, Magritte, Matisse, Anders Zorn, Felix Vallotton plus Cameron, Leighton and Klimt shown here.
Frederick Leighton, Flaming June, 1895 / Annie Liebovitz, Vogue cover 2013
Gustav Klimt, portrait of Ria Munk III, 1910 / Annie Liebovitz 2013
My last exhibition for 2014 is a group show called Momentary, opening next week at Tacit. This is the third annual exhibition with this group of friends who are former students of mine. The theme is the word momentary, chosen for its allusion to the photographic process but open to wide interpretation.
My work is a series of prints taken from the engraved portraits of the 19th century poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Each of his six-volume complete works published in 1888 contains a portrait made at a different stage of his life, from young to old. The discolouring and fading makes a beautiful and melancholy image.
Momentary opens at Tacit Contemporary Art, 312 Johnston Street, Abbotsford at 6.30pm on Wednesday December 3.
Greg Neville, Whittier 1, 2014
Joseph Michael Lopez, 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, 2014
Lopez divides his time between commissioned editorial work and longer-form photojournalism but there is no mistaking his intense imagery for documentary photography. He shoots on grainy film, ramps up the contrast and looks for contrasty light.
Joseph Michael Lopez’s photography is fundamentally about his New York. He presents street scenes, people and everyday objects without any semblance of objectivity.
To see how his singular imagery works in a published, editorial context, see this link on his website.
Joseph Michael Lopez, Union Square 2013
Elfriede Stegemeyer is a German photographer you’ve probably never heard of. Why? Because her work was destroyed during the allied bombing raids of Berlin.
Stegemeyer was a modernist photographer in 1930s Germany. She studied experimental photography at the Kunstgewerbeschule Köln (School of Applied Arts Cologne), travelled to Paris with the abstract painter Otto Coenen and teamed up with Raoul Hausmann, leading figure of Berlin Dada and former partner of Hannah Höch. She was well connected. Stegemeyer was part of that generation of excellent young women, such as Grete Stern and Ellen Auerbach, who only now populate the histories of photography.
You can see from these examples that her work reflected the key experimental approaches of Neue Sehen (New Vision) photography: unusual camera angles, abstracted compositions of everyday subjects, darkroom experiments, an aesthetic of boldness and simplicity.
It’s our loss that not only was most of her work destroyed by the Allied blitzkrieg, but after the war she abandoned photography and took up painting.
Elfriede Stegemeyer, self-portrait, 1933
Elfriede Stegemeyer, Glass of Water on corrugated cardboard, 1934
Elfriede Stegemeyer, Untitled (Electrical Lines), ca. 1938