Monday, November 29, 2010

The Three Thirds

Title: The Three Thirds
Artist: Minor White
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Year Produced: 1957

Minor White was involved with other photographers, such as Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz and was influenced by both of them. His typical work usually was of things that were usually considered “mundane”, such as windows, sides of buildings, doors, the sky, etc. To make these objects appear much more interesting, he would wait for specific lighting opportunities to photograph them in.

I really like the meaning behind the piece. The “three thirds” caused by the window, the middle boarded section and the broken window implies three stages of life. The whole window is bright, whole and reflecting the sky represents youth, the middle with the boards in the center represents middle age, and the broken window represents old age. It’s just such an interesting way to represent aging, instead of using something like stages of a flower’s life or actual people of varying ages.

Alexander Gardner “Execution of Conspirators” July 7, 1865

Alexander Gardner  “Execution of Conspirators” July 7, 1865
Collodion Glass-Plate

Alexander Gardner was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1821. His interest in photography began in 1851 after he saw Mathew Brady photography at the Great Exhibition in London. He began working for Brady after he moved to the U.S. in 1856. During the Civil War, he was the staff photographer under General George McClellan. His photograph of President Lincoln was the last ever taken of the President, and he was the only photographer at the execution of the assassination conspirators.

Gardner did well in capturing historical events and people during the civil war. The image of the Execution of Conspirators has good composition, as it follows the rule of thirds and appears balanced. Viewing the deaths of four people by hanging is slightly unsettling, but that feeling is surpassed by surprise as I recognized that only a few in the crowd are looking at the execution. This makes the image feel much more interesting than it would if everyone was looking directly at those hanging.

Nadar, The Photographer's Wife, 1853.

Nadar, The Photographer's Wife, 1853.

Nadar is significant to the history of photography for a couple of reasons.  He started out drawing caricatures of well known political and cultural figures which "instantly made him a celebrity".  He was the first in france to photograph under ground and use artificial light, and the first to photograph Paris in the basket of a hot air balloon.  He did several other things to make himself well known, these are just a few to mention along the lines of photography.  

The photograph is amazing I think.  The woman is wearing mostly black and a little white, with a black background.  The contrast in the picture, and where the white is placed in her jacket makes her stand out nicely in a black background.  The angle to the her face is straight on and the rest of her body is angled back, and she is right in the middle of the photo, but I think this all works for the picture because it gives it a since of seriousness, but it's almost like she is talking to you saying "hi, nice to meat you!" The angle of her body and the picture makes it seam like a sweet introduction.      

Magasin, avenue des Gobelins

Artist: Eugene Atget
Photo: Magasin, avenue des Gobelins
Date: 1925
Medium: Gelatin silver print, 8 1/4 x 6 1/2"

Eugene Atget was born in Bordeaux, France in 1856 and died in 1927. As an orphan after his parents died in 1861, Atget was raised by his uncle. As a young boy, he went out to sea as a cabin boy. When older, Atget tried to do theater, but was usually the villain in the plays he was casted to. After some time in shows, Atget turned to photography. He took photographs of throughout the city of Paris.

I like thispicture because, when I first looked at it, the main focus is the manikins (or maybe they are just creepy looking people) and the clothes that are being advertised in the shops windows. But the more I look at it, there is the reflection of others stuff. There is some tree and a building that’s across the street. It is cool how he took a picture of the store, but used the windows as a mirror to get more in the picture.  

Blog #2-Marion Post Wolcott

Colored Maids with Child, Marion Post Wolcott, Black and White photo, 1940

Marion Post was born in New Jersey in 1910 to a “well-to-do” family. Her parents divorced in 1923. She was close with her mom who introduced her to art. When Marion was older she was part of a group called FSA (Farm Security Administration) who sent her out during the Great Depression. It really opened her eyes to what kind of economic and racial fractures there were during that time. She also went to Austria during Hitler’s rein and really experienced what Nazism was like and how harsh it was in Europe.

At first I didn’t understand why this photograph was so significant besides the lighting and contrast are really good but after I researched Marion Post I think I started to understand why this is such an important photo. The conclusion I was getting was because she was a somewhat sheltered girl when she was younger and then experiencing all of these things during the Depression and Holocaust it made her truly dislike all forms of racial intolerance. This photo helps point out the racial intolerance Americans had during those times.

Martha Graham in "Letter to the World"

By: Barbara Morgan
Date: 1941

Barbara Morgan is an American photographer who was originally a painter and hadn’t realized the extent of photography until she met Edward Weston, when she began experimenting with and other types of photography. She has a reputation as being an expressionist and a modernist. At the beginning of other photographer career, she met dancer Martha Graham and was inspired by her, driving her to compile her work “Letter to the World”.

This image captures the dancer’s movement and emotion to create a beautiful photo. The lack of texture in the background makes the dancer’s dress stand out with the wrinkles highlight the movement that is taking place, making it obvious that the subject is in deed moving when the photo is taken rather than just posing in one spot for the photographer.  

“Ezra Pound, Poet, Rutherford, New Jersey”

All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
–Richard Avedon

This is a portrait by Richard Avedon titled “Ezra Pound, Poet, Rutherford, New Jersey”, taken on June 30, 1958. Avedon was a brilliant American photographer, famous for his ability to use minimalism in his portraits while appearing very intimate with his subjects and their flaws to capture their “essence”. Avedon worked with Vogue, but combined commercial/fashion photography with fine arts, creating stunning photos that could sell while still being artistically appealing.

I find this photo interesting because the subject, Ezra, is so striking, even without any detail of the surroundings. Ezra seems to just have his eyes closed, but with his wrinkles, it is hard to determine whether he is experiencing pain, disgust, shame, or any other intense emotion. I find myself wanting to know more about the subject and am not sure why such a simple photo engages me so deeply.  

Arbus, Diane: Boy With a Toy Hand Grenade, 1962

Diane Arbus started out as a photographer for publicity in her father’s department store, and moved into the world of photography after World War II. She moved away from commercial photography and delved into more artistic methods. She specialized in the realm of severe emotions; she wished to convey severe mood shifts in her works, which could be related to her mental stability.

I have seen this piece numerous times in the past and it has always been one of my favorites. This piece is menacing and bold. A boy holding a grenade, with the expression as if he is about to murder all that pass through the park, resides in the middle of the picture plane. This confronts the viewer and imposes on them. I feel like this boy is looking at me, and might channel his violence my way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Alexander Rodchenko: Stairs
                Alexander Rodchenko is a Russian artist who did photography starting in 1924. He loved to shoot his photos from angles not common which tended to be way above or below the subject. The photo “Stairs” was taken in the early thirties. It is an awesome picture since it is mainly very light or very dark there middle gray isn’t there.
                Personally I like that he takes his photos from a different perspective. It creates the feeling that some items are smaller than others when realistically they aren’t. I also like that a lot of his photos have very dark areas and light areas, not much middle making everything look much focused.

Jacob Riis Italian Rag pickers

Jacob Riis
Italian Rag pickers
New Jersey, 1888

This photo's subjects include a older woman holding her child. During this time, many lower-class American citizens along the east coast had taking up rag picking. Rag picking is basically taking litter and abandoned goods off the streets to sell and pawn after cleaning. It developed the name through originally finding rags in the streets or garbage and washing them to sell to others. These subjects were some of the many Riis would take pictures of at night. Being one of the first flash photographers, Riis liked to capture the New York slums at it's most feared hours.

Riis's photography was loved my the working and lower class. It showed the poverty endured by homeless and lower class Americans. It helped show the upper and middle class the masses of unemployed and how impoverished they were. Some argue that Riis's work shows how the immigrant populations would live together in large numbers just to save and not spoil themselves, but most believe his work was intended to inform the world of what they chose to ignore.

“Thomas Carlyle”

“Thomas Carlyle”
Julia Margaret Cameron
Albumen print

Julia Margaret Cameron photographed many of her family and friends. She had her chance to photograph Thomas Carlyle, but she had to wait patiently for him, he was busy writing On Heros, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History. He only sat once for her, and she was only able to shoot two photographs, a frontal view and a side view. Attached is the frontal view. She also photographed many other famous people such as Charles Darwin, Sir John Frederick William Herschel, and George Frederick Watts.

I thought Julia Margaret Cameron did a fantastic job getting the photograph of Thomas Carlyle, especially since she was only allowed a brief time with him plus only getting two shots of him. The part that intrigued me even more was that both photographs turned out! They may be a little grainy and have some fingerprints on them, but for the most part they developed perfect! Reminds me of the pinhole prints, they all had a unique appearance about them, but for the most part turned out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dorothea Lange "Migrant Cotton Picker" Black & White, 1940

Dorothea Lange "Migrant Cotton Picker" Black & White, 1940

This photograph was taken during the Great Dust Bowl. "The impact of the picture was based on the image showing the strength and need of migrant workers." She photographed the poor and the starved and the hardworking American. She was the one who brought these issues to the country's attention. She photographed most of the migrant workers in the Midwest during this time period, trying to shed light on their true 

This photograph made me feel empathy toward this man. His hands are extremely worn, and it reminds me of my father's hands. He was born two years after this photograph was taken, so it makes me wonder if that's how his father's hands looked and if this was the kind of life they lived. I liked that his hand is halfway blocking the view of his face. It makes me wonder if he was trying to hide from the camera when this photo was taken. I also like the way it's composed. It really only shows his hand and face. The rest is sort of cut off, and it makes me wonder what else could have been going on there. 

New York State Farm Interior

Title: New York State Farm Interior
Artist: Walker Evans
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Year produced: 1931 

Evans was one of many photographers who worked for the FDA documenting life 
during the Great Depression. His work focused on the time he spent living 
with and capturing the lives of three different farming families in the 
Midwest. This was significant, as it showed a much more true face to the 
reality of the United States at that time. 

I like how Evans captures a glimpse into the lives of farmers during the 
Great Depression, without involving people in the photo in the photo. It’s a 
rather disjointed and messy photo, with the pile of what looks like clothes 
in the right and the mess of objects on the cabinet, though I suppose this 
goes well with how chaotic and disjointed things were during the Great 
Depression for most people. I also really like the repetition of squares and 
rectangles in this photo, such as the chair, the hallway, and the small 
image that is hanging on the wall. I don’t think this photo would work as 
well if it didn’t have that consistent repetition of shape. 

Walker Evans *Steel Mill Workers' Houses*

Walker Evans
*Steel Mill Workers' Houses*
Gelatin Silver Print 

Walker Evans, school dropout, photographed much of the great depression in his prime. He was hired by Time and Fortune magazines to supply photographic images for articles. He didn't develop most of his prints; however, he would review them. He is well known for mass producing images from the Great Depression, allowing a supply to the mass populace. He is an 
important figure because he contributed to the mass production of art. Many of his works reside in museums today, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

When I see this image, I get the sense that the industrial complex is beginning to overwhelm residential. I know this photo was taken near the end of the Great Depression, but the absence of human beings and vehicles make this image ominous. Is everyone at work? Is the economic crisis still being felt here? I think it is an interesting perspective, because the photograph is taken on a very high point, but the industrial buildings still appear higher. I feel like industry is taking over, and maybe it is the savior for this community. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brooklyn Family, Diane Arbus, 1966

Brooklyn Family, Diane Arbus, Black and White, 1966

Diane Arbus married when she was eighteen. She worked as a fashion photographer with her husband for a while. Then, when they split in 1959 she traveled around taking photographs of “freaks” because she thought they were exciting and interesting. One main reason she was drawn to them was because she lived “typically and sheltered from adversity” when she was younger so her photographs were something to help keep her life away from that.

At first when I saw the Brooklyn Family picture I didn’t think it was that exciting of a picture and I couldn’t understand why it was so famous. However, once I researched Arbus and this picture it started to make sense. They are a lower middle class family with a son who is mentally retarded. What makes this picture so interesting is that they try to hide their quirks and pretend that they are in fact what society would consider as “normal.”

Self Portrait as a Drowned Man

Photographer: Hippolyte Bayard
Title: Self Portrait as a Drowned Man
Year: 1840
Medium: Black and White

In France Hippolyte Bayard was born on January 20 1807 and died May 14 1887. He was one of the earliest photographer. He took thirty of his picture and put them on display and is thought to be the first photographer to put miltiple of his pictures on display.

Hoppolyte Bayard’s photograph, “Self-Portrait as a Drowned Ma”, looks a little creepy. At first it looks like he is just leaning up against the wall asleep, but the more you look at it, the more it looks like he isn’t alive. Hoppolyte Bayard looks like that he was placed in that position after he ‘drowned’ instead of floating on the water, which makes it not a creepy as it could be. Personally, I do not want to look at this picture a long time, 

*Octopus, *Coburn, Alvin Langdon, 1912 (Platinum print)

Coburn is a key figure in the development of American pictorialism because he took photos that had elevated viewpoints. He started out very young. He was given a kodak camera from an uncle in his early teens and his talent grew quickly. His cousin was already known for his photography and he had taken a few of Coburn’s prints for an exhibition in London and that’s how his career got started. 

To be one of the first to take a photo from a different prospective is definitely a highlight. It would start a whole new realm of ideas and perspectives for what is right and wrong to do in a photo. It questions people’s expectations for specific interpretations. (like the rule of thirds for example… does it make a photo inadequate to have it centered?) What’s interesting about this piece is that its lines bring your eyes to look at the whole picture. The circle in the middle of the paths is intriguing, but yet the spokes of the wheels/ or paths draw me to look at the outskirts of the photo. The shadow makes me think about what it might be a shadow of, then it is interesting to see the comparison of it vs the small trees in the park. Compositionally there is a lot going on in the photo, yet it is so simple. 

Garage, 1936 Atlanta Georgia

Walker Evans was a North American Photographer living from 1903 to 1975. His goal in photography was to make the ordinary sights interesting or beautiful in a photo. He made common places look significant. His work has been show in the Metropolitan Museum in New York previously. In the 1930s-40’s his work was mainly of farm families, of those his most famous are 8X10 and of a woman named Allie Mae Burroughs. He showed the known lifestyle in his photos.

I find Walker Evens work very interesting. His perspective lets you really know how life was like when the photos were taken. I also like the look of all the rolling tires in this picture the “Garage.” His family photos tend to be sad though, which makes it seems times were bad. His photos give off a feeling which makes me drawn in.  

*Powerhouse Mechanic*

*Powerhouse Mechanic*
*Hine, Lewis*

Lewis Hine often showed the impact of American Industry on it's workforce. He is most commonly known for his photography showing American poverty through children in factories or men and women constructing or working around large machines. Some of his more powerful photos were taken in industrial areas of children lining up for food, or with hardened expressions showing their frustration or damaged lifestyle created by America's thirst for Industry and it's job hungry citizens. This made Lewis Hine unique to photography, although socially controversial photos weren't undiscovered, his approach through industry and children were bold and one of a kind.

Powerhouse mechanic was a powerful photograph. It showed the intense labor the common man must go through to make an honest living, and helps unveil how small we are compared to the things we depend on. It could also be interpreted as a distinction between the lower and upper class. The lower class is often shown in Hine's photography as hard working from assembly line kids to the middle aged man suspended over hundreds of feet hanging on nothing but a cable. I believe he could have been trying to send a message to the upper class or government about proper wage distribution or labor