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Entries in Photography History (6)


Field Trip - The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

If you will be in the New York area between now and June 30th, plan to take a trip over to the prestigious Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie to view the wonderful exhibition, The Polaroid Years: Instant Photography and Experimentation. I have posted the exhibition's summary, taken from the website, below:

This survey exhibition brings together ground breaking Polaroid pictures by forty artists spanning the period from the initial release of the SX-70 camera in 1972 until the present. The exhibition centers on experimentation and examines how the invention of instant photography—in particular Polaroid, a brand known for its innovation and responsiveness to artistic endeavors—has influenced and inspired amateurs and professionals for nearly forty years. By juxtaposing early experimental work with more recent forays into the possibilities of the medium, the exhibition tells a more complete story of instant photography than has yet been chronicled. The photographs included represent a wide range of approaches and sensibilities and upend established parameters of photography in various ways. Artists represented include such pioneers of instant photography as Ansel Adams, Ellen Carey, Chuck Close, Walker Evans, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Joyce Neimanas, Andy Warhol, and William Wegman as well as a new generation of artists including Anne Collier, Bryan Graf, Catherine Opie, Lisa Oppenheim, Dash Snow, Mungo Thomson, and Grant Worth.

Curatorial research for the exhibition was sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The exhibition is made possible in part by the Smart Family Fund for Art Exhibition Support.

• What: The Polaroid Years: Instant Photography and Experimentation

• When: April 12 - June 30, 2013

• Where: 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604 Get directions

• Admission: Admission is free and open to the public. All galleries are wheelchair accessible.

• Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to New Year's Day. 

• Info: (845) 437-5632



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Illuminating photography: From camera obscura to camera phone

Want to brush up on your photography history without having to read an article or open a textbook? Check out the fun animated TEDEducation video titled "Illuminating photography: From camera obscura to camera phone," narrated by photographer and educator Eva Timothy and created by London Squared Productions. Here is the video's summary, posted on the About tab of its Youtube page, followed by the video itself:

The origins of the cameras we use today were invented in the 19th century. Or were they? A millenia before, Arab scientist Alhazen was using the camera obscura to duplicate images, with Leonardo da Vinci following suit 500 years later and major innovations beginning in the 19th century. Eva Timothy tracks the trajectory from the most rudimentary cameras to the ubiquity of them today.

To view the full lesson, click here



We're the New York Institute of Photographya distance education school teaching photography since 1910 - over 100 years of knowledge and experience.

Click here to watch the New York Institute of Photography video.

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Collection of Photographs Taken in 1914 Depicts Paris in Color

I recently came across these early color images on the website Retronaut and was blown away by how beautiful and vibrant they are. I can only imagine how moving they are to view in person, evoking the splendor and storied heritage of Paris in the early 1900's. The collection of photograph, some of which I have attached below, are currently on display in the Albert Kahn Museum in the suburbs of Paris. For those of you lucky enough to get over to Paris in the coming weeks, I highly recommend checking this exhibition out. For the rest of you, accept these as a small consolation:  


To learn more go to the Imaging Resource article: Rare, early color photographs capture life in Paris circa 1914

We're the New York Institute of Photographya distance education school teaching photography since 1910 - over 100 years of knowledge and experience. Listen to the following podcast to learn more about who we are and what we do.





When Photography Was Powered by Candlelight

In the days before cameras and sophisticated photographic technology, we relied on different processes to capture the human image. I was really drawn to this video from Mark Osterman, a photo process historian (yes, there are such people!) at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY.  


Mark Osterman: f295 Symposium on 21st Century Photography


First, if you haven’t been to this world-class institution—the world’s oldest photography museum, housed in a glorious Colonial Revival mansion—you’re missing out; this is a must-see destination for any photographer. You’ll see some amazing early photographic equipment and unforgettable images from all over the world.

Osterman actually built his own physionotrace, which he used in the video. A 1783 French invention, with modifications made continually throughout the early 1800s, the device allows an operator to use candlelight to trace a person’s physiognomy, specifically the profile. The result is a silhouette (here’s mine), which got its name from French finance minister Etienne de Silhouette; he enforced severe wartime economic policies in 1759, and his name started to become associated with anything cheap—and cutting a profile from black card was the least expensive way to record what a person looked like.  


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The Mexican Suitcase

Rediscovered Spanish Civil War negatives by Capa, Chim and Taro.  On view at the International Center of Photography from September 24, 2010 through May 8, 2011



PHOTO: Robert Capa, Exiled Republicans being marched on the beach from one internment camp, Le Barcarés, France, March 1939.


Yes, it’s a great title for a show---something mysterious has come to us from Mexico. When I first saw the title, I thought of the paintings of Santiago Corral, a contemporary Mexican artist who has a hyper-realist suitcase series that I’ve coveted for years.

And the show is just as great as its title, even though, ironically, there is nothing of Mexico in the show, and nor are there any suitcases. But one doesn’t mind, because the show is packed with the recently-discovered work of three early photojournalists who may have forever changed the field: Robert Capa, Chim (David Seymour) and Gerda Taro.

The exhibit is made up of some 4,500 negatives documenting the Spanish Civil War, along with portraits of Capa and Taro by Fred Stein, and previously unknown portraits of Ernest Hemingway, Frederica Garcia Lorca, and Dolores Ibarrui, who was known as “La Pasionaria” for her tireless struggle against the Facist takeover of Spain.

The work of the three photographers, who met while Europe was seizing with the first convulsions of World War Two, shows with searing intimacy the unfolding of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. These photographers don’t shy away from the most painful moments of war, but they also illustrate the daily lives of ordinary people, the people who go on working in factories or harvesting on farms even as the fabric of their world is being ripped to shreds.

The “suitcase” of the show’s title is actually three small, unassuming cardboard boxes (on display in the exhibit) which were found in Mexico City in 2006, filled with rolls of negatives from the three photographers. For the exhibit, contact sheets were created from the negatives. In looking at these, one can see more than in the individual photographs printed from those negatives. In a series by Capa, one can see the motion of the refugees fleeing the conflict, the panic in their steps that changing from frame to frame.

While Capa concentrated on photographing battles and refugees, Chim turned his lens to the individuals outside battle, from formal portraits to shots of peasants and laborers: the continuing daily life. And yet, in his shots, even the rows of glass wine jugs, nestled into straw, seem endangered, ready to explode with the tension of the time.

For one of the photographers, Taro, the exhibit stands also as a memorial. Long before the “embedded” journalists of our own time, Taro, fearless, got as close as she could to the battles, getting shots that make the combat terrifyingly real, of soldiers scrambling over the stone walls of Spanish farmlands, ducking fire behind hay bales, and falling in the line of Fascist fire.

Perhaps the most disturbing images of Taro’s are those taken in the Valencia morgue in May 1937, where she turned her unflinching eye on the newly-dead, the mortally wounded, and the relatives gathered at the gates awaiting word.

But even more disturbing in their own way are the portraits of Taro taken by Stein: they show a young woman, glowing with her own intelligence and talent and courage, laughing with her friends, waiting to see what adventure will come to her next. She was killed in the battle of Brunete in 1937.

The Spanish Civil War is an important moment in history not only in terms of global politics---the rise and defeat of Fascism, in this case, against the backdrop of Nazism as it marched across Europe, but also in terms of art. The Mexican Suitcase is a exhaustive study of both war as a concept and of a particular war---one which captured the commitment and imagination of a generation of writers and artists from around the world, including Hemingway and Lorca, who both are shown in a few of the photographs.

The bombing of the town of Guernica, in April 26, 1937, by the German-backed Spanish Nationalists, was seen as particularly heinous as there was no military target in the small town, and the town at that time was populated mostly with women and children. This attack was one of the battles of the Spanish Civil War which moved the hearts of the international community, and moved Picasso to paint Guernica, his huge-scale visual protest of the senselessness of war.

Of Guernica, Picasso said at the time: “In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.”

It’s that “ocean of pain and death,” which is captured in film---still a relatively new medium at the time---by Capa, Chim, and Taro.

In The Mexican Suitcase, it’s startling to see the photographs by Chim taken in Guernica before its destruction; Chim had no way of knowing that Picasso’s painting would become a pre-eminent artisitic anti-fascist symbol, and this makes his portraits of the intact town all the more chilling.

While the exhibit will be of interest to anyone, it’s created with the visiting photographer in mind. The notebooks of Capa, Chim, and Taro are on display, as are contact prints and negatives, so that the organizational methods of the three photographers become apparent. And just as a writer is fascinated by seeing a fellow writer’s process laid bare in a hand-edited manuscript, so too will a photographer be fascinated by the traces of the editing process as evidenced, for example, by a piece of thread tied to the sprockets on a roll of film to indicate which shot would be printed.

Of note, ICP was founded by Cornell Capa, Robert Capa’s brother, in 1974, in “defense and conservation of the arts,” according to the museum.

If you’re in New York, you may want to pair a visit to The Mexican Suitcase with a stop at the Guggenheim Museum’s Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918-1936, which can contribute to the context of these photographers and their work.



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