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This is an iPhone/Hipstamatic image that I love. Something from nothing? Maybe there is more here than meets the eye.
I love to take photos in art museums (almost as much as I love to eat lunch in them!). The atmosphere, architecture, people, and of course the art provide a splendid background for photography.
Sometimes I find the art lovers augment to works of art in a thrilling way. They posture, gesture and stare in ways that is often subconsciously consistent and/or complimentary with the art. They extend it or comment silently on it or create a new piece simply by being there.
Here are some examples of my art museum photos (I’ll post more after a while):
The image above is simply a shot of the lobby in the Brooklyn Museum. It makes a great architectural image because it is a beautiful space.
This is one of my favorites from museums. I call it Phoning Motherwell — that’s Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to The Spanish Republic # 108 the art lovers are studying. In their intensity and body language they have created another work for my camera to collect.
The one above is less striking but the person has almost become another sculpture, a taller, more slender person in black would have worked as well or better. (If anyone knows the identity of the sculpture please let me know)
This has architectural elements but also attempts to capture some of the atmosphere — the spirit of the New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Did I succeed?
Lee Lozano was discovered by me at the MOMA last week. I was there with my daughter Maria and we wanted to see the huge de Kooning exhibit — which we did and enjoyed muchly.
And I was intrigued by this Lee Lozano piece — musings about form and content. Mathematical and Escher/Godel like it causes the brain to light up a bit. In case you can’t read it, here is what it says:
“I can’t be interested in form for form’s sake. Form is like mathematics: a model which might be applied to various sets of data. Form is seductive: form can be perfect.
But there’s no justification for form (in the experiments and investigations) unless its used to expose content which has meaning. The result of an experiment is the meaningful content.
Information is content. Content is fictional. Content is messy, like the universe its unfinished and furthermore it becomes obsolete so quickly when multiplied by time.
Form is reduplicable, content is not reduplicable.
Fiction has meaning but only in a given instant of time.”
Is form then the structure that we live in? We create messy, impermanent content information and it is fiction. Perhaps because it is impermanent? Fiction/content has meaning but briefly. Form is perhaps eternal.
Powerful, useful thoughts distilled into an 8 by 10 inch sheet of paper and hung in MOMA — I’m glad I saw it there on my visit with Maria.
I’ve been going through old magazines — Aperture, Doubletake, Leica Fotografie, and Provincetown Arts. I need to get rid of all but a few in a collection that spans over 20 years. Some of these magazines I hadn’t read until now others are more dog eared. But almost all are in great shape because I tend not to read but to skim them.
This morning I came across a time capsule of a gem of a magazine — Provincetown Arts 1990. This is an annual magazine founded and edited by Christopher Busa — he is still at it today according to the new web site. http://provincetownarts.org/beta/
One of my photographic heros is on the cover, Joel Meyerowitz. Joel is still very active and his career and work just seem to continue to grow. The interview and photos in the magazine are magic. The issue is not as slick as the more recent ones. The paper is more pulpy and I must admit I like it. It has more heft. More weight. Mostly in black and white, making the color page pop & surprise.
Joel looks so happy on the cover. Now he seems more intense — might just be the moment, pose or photographer, of course. Then again it might be that he has matured — see his advice at the end of this post — maybe he took it. I met Joel a little later than 1990 at the DNA gallery in Provncetown. He was showing some work there and we bought a very large piece that he had scanned from street work he did in the 1970’s then processed it in Photoshop — this was around 1995 — and tiled it printing the tiles to create and print something like 3 feet by 4 feet. He told me he had taken the time to master Photoshop — ahead of 90% of the photography world I believe.
The entire issue of Provincetown Arts is like a time capsule. Its great to read articles by John Grillo and Tony Vevers and to see ads for shows of their work back then. They are still active and John is in his later 80’s now I believe. We always go to see his work at the Cove Gallery in Wellfleet when we are on the Cape. Once we move there (we are planning to do that this year now that we are both retired) we will be able to go to openings at times when we are not on ‘vacation.’
See what I mean. Its nice and pulpy.
The back cover is an ad for the Cherry Stone Gallery. It closed except by appointment a few years ago. Sall Nerber was the owner and what a great person she is. Her gallery had local artists showing for the first time as well as – well – Robert Motherwell. In the 2006 issue of the magazine there is a tribute to Sally and the Cherry Stone and I think it was the next year that it closed.
Finally here is a quote from the interview with Joel. His advice is good:
After he says that taking a photo is easy —
‘you press a button’ — Joel is asked if that’s what he teaches his students. His answer:
“I tell them that if they learn to pay attention carefully enough and to be mindful of their own instincts, they might reveal something necessary to their own growth, and to their understanding if what the world’s signals are, for the world is full of signs. Photography is a demanding and difficult form, yet worthy and profound. It takes the endurance of a tough personality to stick with it. It takes time to see the evolution of one’s work. That is done through the discipline of doing it over long periods of time and believing that the work will teach you something about the medium., about yourself, and about life.”
Joel has lived up to his own words for the last 20 years and for at least 20 before that. He is a modern master and we are lucky to have still working hard and paying attention. And I am very glad to not have thrown this magazine out. Its a keeper!
Woke up this morning to read that Jeanne-Claude, the partner of Christo has died of complications of a brain aneurysm after taking a fall. In the words of Manuela Hoelterhoff in Bloomberg this morning: “Like the projects she created over the decades with her husband, Christo, Jeanne-Claude is no longer here, but the memory of her will linger.” They seemed to me to be a product of a former age — and now with this passing they are.
I came to think of the international public art creating duo as Jeanne-Claude Christo as if they were one person. They created art for public spaces such as the Gates, a 23 mile long installation of saffron-colored banners or gates in New York’s Central Park, putting Rauschenberg’s 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece to shame — at least in length.
Naturally they were far from one person because each is so distinct, so individual. She with flaming carrot colored hair, lipstick to match and a constant cigarette, he professorial, spectacles in place looking a bit like a mad pharmacist, must have had many heated, vibrant discussions regarding their projects as they called their creations.
Citizens of the world the couple lived in — of course — New York. But it took many years for then to find a Mayor willing to allow them to install the Gates in Central Park. Many of their projects were like that — taking many years and infinite patience before becoming realities. I often wondered how they supported themselves assuming at one point that they had inherited wealth. In reality they sold the artwork that were byproducts of the designs of their installations. This summer Aurora and I visited Easton Pennsylvania and checked into a fine establishment — the Grand Eastonian Suites Hotel. In the lobby we saw several beautiful design drawings of the Gates. The manager explained that the owners of the hotel were former MNew Yorkers who admired the Gates and therefore had purchased the drawings. They were large, colorful fantasies. But of course these were fantasies made real.
That is the accomplishment of Jeanne-Claude Christo — they made their fantasies real. In that regard and because of the public nature of what they do I am reminded of Philippe Petit, the Man on Wire who walked between New York’s Twin Towers on a tight rope in 1974. And of course she too was French making Christo an honorary Frenchman I suppose (he was born in Bulgaria but had emigrated to France by 1958, the year that the two met)
The Gates was the only Jeanne-Claude Christo installation that I ever saw. Many of the works of Christo in the early days were wrapped objects, later he wrapped huge buildings and statues creating a new work on top of what was, perhaps, something quite ordinary. In 1993 the couple recognized Jeanne-Claude’s contribution to Christo’s efforts giving her equal billing from that time on. One of the couples most impressive and difficult projects was wrapping the Pont Neuf in 444,000 square feet of champagne-colored drapes.
You might ask — to what purpose is all this wrapping and draping. But to ask is to miss the point. As Gary Winograd famously said: “Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. – Garry Winogrand Or — I take photographs to see how the thing would look in a photograph. Jeanne-Claude and Christo wrapped and draped things to show the world how they would look that way. For me the Gates provided and wonderful reason to stroll through Central Park on a chilly February day meeting people from around the world who were all with me in our amazed , puzzled and ultimately delighted frame of mind. We were drawn out of ourselves by the work of the artists who seemed to extend the New York of Rauschenberg, Dali and Stieglitz into the present time. Dada is not dead as long as people are interested in turning our world, for a moment, on its head. I hope Christo is able to continue the work he did for so many years with Jeanne-Claude at his side. I look forward to his next project.
Did we lose our innocence on 9/11/2001? What did we learn? Did we learn anything?
I was dazed by the event not reacting until much later. Did the bastards who did it even know what the impact would be? Did they care about anything but their anger, their own needs? Did they understand the death and horror they inflicted on strangers?
What should we care about now? Anger? Defiance? Revenge? Or should it have driven us to our core? Should we have learned what to care about? Yes but did we?
Should it have taught us that we are one with the terrorists? Reminded us that our nation has used terrorist methods against our enemies?
Why are we enemies with Muslim extremists? Must we hate them? Should we? Or is love the answer, all we need?
Our leaders tell us we were attacked because of jealousy and hate, because our enemies hate us for our freedom and are jealous of our life style. Is that it?
Are we too quick to defend “our interests abroad (oil)?” Too ignorant of the needs and lives of brothers and sisters around the world? Yes? But if so does it justify what was done?
Baha’ullah wrote that there must be a spiritual solution to the economic problem or words to that effect. But that leaves it up to us. What does it mean anyway? What are we to do, live for the benefit of others? Maybe that’s the key.
Baha’i’s, many of them wait for ‘the calamity’ foretold by Baha’ullah to teach mankind a final lesson and drive us all to God. But we have had calamity after calamity and yet we seem not to learn. And will some may have turned to God, others just turn away. Calamity seems not to be our salvation (for which I am grateful.)
So the West spends billions on space exploration and particle accelerators — we want to know where we came from. And the West spends millions on aid to the needy — we want to feel as if we are helping.
Don’t we have our priorities backwards? Our interests come first, second our science and exploration, a distraction from work to feed and heal the poor — which seems to be our last priority — and build a safe, healthy world for everyone not just for Americans or ourselves.
Sorry this is a ramble. I will try it again if I ever have a moment of clarity. But right now I think the lesson is that we in the West are too selfish and cut off from the world. And that people are capable of anything — the holocaust and WWII should have taught us that.
The Twin Tower destroyers and their leaders were and are unspeakable bastards but we have been behaving like spoiled children.
Do you think we have learned anything from 9/11? If so please tell us what you think it is.
Elbert Hubbard was a prolific writer of the early twentieth century. He was a major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement having establish a hand crafted publishing house called Roycrofters, famous for beautiful, illuminated limited edition volumes, bound in leather.
His book “Hollyhocks and Goldenglow” is a collection of essays on topics from the Titanic to Abdul Baha. (I recently made an entry on the Talisman9 discussion forum about this and what follows was drawn from that post.)He writes movingly about the Titanic recounting the bravery, loyalty and love of Mrs. Straus who refused to leave her husband for a life boat. Ironically Hubbard and his wife, Alice perished three years later aboard the Lusitania. Survivors told stories of their courage, matching the characteristics of Mrs. Straus.
There is also an essay about Abdul Baha entitled “A Modern Prophet.” The first sentence reads “A very great man has recently visited America.” It continues: “So out of Persia comes Abdul Baha, who calls himself “The Servant of God.” His followers are called Bahais. This man has diverted one-third of the population of Persia from Mohammedanism. …. This man is the modern Messiah.”
I find this essay an engrossing report by a non-Baha’i. Particularly interesting is this:
“Christian Science interests Abdul Baha greatly. It is somewhat humiliating thing for us when we think that this new American religion was never heard of by Abdul Baha until recently. Now he has practically embraced it. He says it represents one arc of the great circle of truth, and that if he had learned nothing else from his trip to America but the truths of Christian Science, he would be amply repaid.He says he comes more as a learner than a teacher. Nevertheless, he is obliged to give out the light that has been given to him. He keeps the good by giving it away.He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson freely, delights in Walt Whitman, and loves the memory of Tolstoy, and is on terms of great tenderness toward every good and noble thing that makes for human betterment.No man of recent times has shown such a magnificent affirmative spirit as this Abdul Baha.”
Hubbard was a prolific writer who is not very well known today — not the household word one might think he would be. (The exception might be his “Message to Garcia” that I believe was read in grade or high schools years ago.)His contemporaneous account of Abdul Baha’s visit is precious I think. There may be errors in the essay but it rings true. He doesn’t say that he met Abdul Baha but I think he must have. Does anyone have knowledge of this possible meeting? I find the comments about Christian Science, Emerson and Whitman intriguing and perfectly consistent with my mental and emotional image of Abdul Baha and his approach to life.The book is available as a reprint or as an antique in its original leather bound form if you can find it.I love the idea that Abdul Baha quoted Emerson and loved Whitman but this is the only reference to that I know of. I think many Baha’is would reject the idea. If you are a Baha’i what do you think? And please let me know of other references like this that you are aware of.Many thanks,Frank
This is my best Canon G9 image yet. I’m very pleased with it.Shot in jpeg still it responded well to post processing in PS CS II. I’m working on my Westford Regional Art Event entries and of course next years Westford Conservation Trust calendar.The photo was taken in Westford’s East Boston Camps conservation area. The pond is Burges Pond, a lovely one in the middle of the 300 acre conservation land. Its clear and clean and very natural despite use by boys and girls camps for about 40 years.Please let me know if you like this one. I really do.
(Nature, like politics can be very complex and confusing. Photo above taken in Westford conservation land)
Last night we watched the republican debate on CNN. It was worse than useless, Depressing and a waste of time.
The front runners McCain and Romney had at each other, partly because the questions set them up. The two others sounded a bit better but had trouble getting a word in edge wise.
CNN should be asshamed of itself for asking the wrong questions. McCain and Romney should be ashamed for falling into the trap set by CNN.
We will probably watch again tonight as the Democrats go at each other. But we don’t expect anything better.