I was having a super late post-party supper with a group from Tank while in London and the fash ed started talking about this really far out stuff and, as you’d guess, my interest piqued. It was a film. I won’t belabor the specifics here, but will only repeat what she said, it is amaaaaazing, then said again after a dramatic pause to assure my full attention, amaaaaazing. So I watched it. It’s called The Holy Mountain, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, and, I agree, it is most certainly incredible, but…wow.
video: trailer to The Holy Mountain
Nearly makes Barney’s Creamaster Cycle seem par for, er, normal.
video: Trailer for Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle.
On a completely different note, standing applause for Visionaires #56 solar-powered book. Putting up a good fight for why the printed magazine/book will always have it’s place.
photo: from Visionaire 56, ©Richard Burbridge
photo: from Visionaire 56, ©David Sims
More a regurgitation of a conversation, but after all, it’s a blog: so: while having lunch in Tompkins Sq. yesterday with photo-friend, Aaron Binaco he gave me some, how should I put it, neat shit. My first sun-drunk-enthusiasm was for that by now well known moment when Avedon went to take Freidlander‘s portrait at his home, and how Freidlander, being a really real photographer (see note), also took Avedon’s portrait. I said I could find the Avedon picture, but have yet to be able to find the Friedlander. Well, Aaron found it and sent it to me. I imagine a sort of stand-off of great personalities, great wills face to face, and even if they were cordial and kind on some level it must have been profound-intense. Either as a matter of attrition of neither ever giving in, or maybe rather of two old masters being able to wink and nod, knowingly.
photo: from Aperture #188, Lee Friedlander by Richard Avedon (left) and Richard Avedon by Lee Friedlander (right)
Both Aaron and I grew up racing bicycles, so then he started on about this Scottish trials rider, saying, “he’d ride up that tree over there and just chill out,” while pointing at this giant bloody elm that a cat could maybe climb. I called, hyperbole!, but then he emailed me this link and jesusmurphy…if you’ve ever ridden a bike you should be able to appreciate this video:
And, yes, I am in fact posting on extreme sports youtube video…sigh, probably a slippery slope, so I’ll post this to balance it out:
photo: Corvette I saw in soho which I voted best possible prop of the day and sent it to a fashion editor with a synopsis of a story involving Death Valley, Bottega heels, and a Camio by Dennis Hopper (as eminence grise, naturally). Fashion editor responded, I weep.
Note: “real photograher”: I was shooting on 5th ave by Tiffany’s on Saturday morning, and I saw this old timer shooting people fast with an old Nikon. I guessed maybe he was part of the old-Magnum-guard. I said, hello, asked his name, he said, Bill Cunningham, didn’t ring a bell. I asked him if shot there much, if he’d seen Bruce Gilden out, he’s always shooting on this corner. He said, I have seen him in the afternoon; how is Bruce? I said, I’ve no idea, I just see him, can’t catch him. He said, now that’s a real photographer. I liked that. Since there was truth in it. We chatted a bit more, then he took off after this super chic blonde to photograph. I thought, huh, mildly-licentious, but, yeah! It wasn’t until I mentioned it later in the day in passing that someone explained to me who Bill is. Love it. Before he ran of he waved and said, keep snapping kid. I offer the same good-bye, keep snapping, Bill!
photo: (on tv, late night, Tropicana, Las Vegas, NV). ©Graeme Mitchell
I know I’ve been mentioning films a lot here, but movies are very influential to my work, as I think they can be for many photographers. So bear with me…but, I watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s, Stalker last night and my jaw was like hanging to my lap for the entire 2hrs. Geeked! Remarkable…no, a brilliant film. I’d never seen any of Tarkovsky’s work and had no idea what to expect, so it totally side-swiped me. Yeah, it’s sorta an old-arty film, so it takes some gear shifting, but it’s not French New Wave, so don’t drug yourself just yet.
photo: still from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film, Stalker.
Now I need to see Tarkovsky’s, Mirror and Solyaris.
photo: still from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film, Mirror.
Still, I appreciate that it’s not for everyone. Talking movies while on set today I lit up and got really excited about having seen Stalker and I could tell pretty quickly nobody cared to hear me wax on about it, let alone log into netflix for it…
…so if it’s not your bag, here’s a link to some crackin-beats: Pete Tong Essential Mix. (FYI, download button is towards bottom of the song list.) Thanks Mr. Diggles for that link; he’s my defenitive line to all things techno and all things Hi-Tech.
Saw this gorgeous Lanvin look in the windows of Bergdorf’s the other day and immediatly sent it to a stylist on messanger:
“Me: LOOOOVE this Lanvin look!
Her: Love it and love each and all things Lanvin.
(BTW, feel like you’re a photographer that gets the photos but is dumb on the clothes, well the Bergdorf windows are about the best crash course in fashion you’re going to find.)
It took me a a long long time to appreciate Steven Klein‘s work. For that long time I didn’t get it. I didn’t think it looked good, and that requisite was what took me a long time to get over…or not get over, but rather it took me a long time to redefine and learn what “look good” means. Now I think Klein has one of the most compelling visions in the industry for the reason that from a practical standpoint what he manages aesthetically is incredible: he’s one of the few guys that can take, uh, not-pretty pictures that still manage to be completely effective as fashion work. I say not-pretty in the sense that it looks like a lot of his work is shot on an old digital camera at iso 400 under flouro lights and processed by a mini-lab…I’m oversimplifying it, but you get the idea. (One thing not simple in his work though is set/prop design, which is usually pretty bloody amazing.) I think his work, from a photographic standpoint, is of the sort that you have to be a fellow photographer (or creative) to understand how good it is, to understand how hard it is to come to something that definitive.
I’m bringing this up b/c I think Klein’s recent work has shown no sign of backing off:
photo: from “Lara Fiction Noire,” French Vogue, 2009. ©Steven Klein.
photo: from “Wild Couture,” Vogue Italia, 2009. ©Steven Klein.
I found these to be remarkable. Both in what they are standing alone in the Formalist sense, but also in how they function as a side of Bourdin’s work. I believe he would have shot these during his still shoots, which to me reveals a certain visual obsession, or at the very least a singular idea of great depth…
video: by Guy Bourdin
video: by Guy Bourdin
There are a number of more of them online if you look them up.
I had not seen much of Ralph Gibson‘s work, only some of his peripheral projects – I knew his name well as he’s revered in the church of Leica and cult of Rodinal – then this evening I came by a used copy of his book Deus Ex Machina, and after flipping through it I had much more respect for what he’s put together over the years. I was going to write some composition theory mumbo-jumbo that had crossed my mind, but then I saw this thorough interview with Gibson that covers all of that and more quite nicely.
photo: “Mary Ellen and Hand,” ©Ralph Gibson.
This image reminds me of that phenomenal French short La Jetée that I posted a little while back: here…in case you missed that one.
It’s welcome relief, and also I think rare, in the visual arts to see someone do work that is thoughtful and technically interesting but moreover that is inspired with humor.
Nice start to the day.
Met up with a stylist/fashion-ed yesterday for lunch and we were talking work; work work work: what’s new, what’s good, what’s fresh…you get the idea. She told me to look at Miles Aldridge‘s work. Not exactly a new name, but I’m thinking, the guy who shoots shiny for NYTimes mag? She responds, yeah maybe, but look at his stuff, digital wah!, which I know you’re not into, but it’s fucked up, which I know you are into. True and true…for the most part.
Given the post, I obviously did check out his work and obviously liked it. I mean, how to make a watch sing:
photo: Minuit, Paradis, 2007. ©Miles Aldridge.
Now that’s not so much twisted as more digestably erotic, excellent nonetheless. If you shoot sexy in fashion you’re pretty much coming from one of two similar but also disparate schools. Newton, who made for a confluence of the erotic and style. Or Bourdin, who did the same with eroticism and discomfort. Aldridge’s lineage is more of the latter. The difference is that Bourdin’s work tunneled below the image to something more troubling. There was an honesty to what he did, and much of his work then manages to transcend a sexually disquieted idea to a palpably troubling psychological event, to something that approaches the sick, but subtly so. (Not to say Aldridge’s work is superficial or dishonest, not at all, rather maybe I’m just pointing out in a round about way it’s contemporary traits. Suggesting the possibility that our current culture may be more reserved and commercial than, say, the 1920s or 1960s in some manners. We often associate the past with simplicity and a pietist nature and the the present with the opposite…consider that possibly we like to give ourselves undue credit in these regards, while culture and history ebb and flow.) Old news though, as I’ve hashed Bourdin here before, as countless have elsewhere.
photo: for Vogue magazine, ©Guy Bourdin Foundation.
But, if you want to see some actual footage of him, which is as rare as anything, someone emailed me this show (in eight short parts) last week of Rankin recreating some classic work. My first thoughts on the shows was a not getting the, why, but then I guess it’s for TV so that makes overall futilities excusable. Never mind that though, b/c I think it’s worth a watch for the superb old footage alone…or for David Baily.
Nearly as an aside, I was at a friend’s apartment last night and she’d just bought an issue of Harper’s Bazaar from 1946. While looking through it I just kept reiterating how little had changed, I mean, aside from improved films and printing technology, the content really remains the same. Actually the design, font, art direction of this Bazaar was more sophisticated and interesting and in a way more contemporary than much of what’s done today – the use of white space alone seemed far ahead of our time. It made me appreciate why Alexey Brodovitch was and remains so lauded.
photo: Brodovitch lay-out in 1945 Harper’s Bazaar.
Brodovitch, you could say, discovered or groomed Avedon, bringing him in to shoot for Harper’s when he was 22. Those two working together became such a seminal time for the magazine and for fashion that they’re now commonly referred to as, The Avedon Years:
photo: 1952 Harper’s Bazaar cover by Avedon.
Brodovitch incidentally was also Penn‘s teacher while he was studying painting at the Philadelphia Museum School. Later Brodovitch hired Penn at Harper’s for design and layout. Penn later moved to Vogue, I believe again with the function as a designer/creative, but Vogue’s Alexander Liberman had him do a photograph for the magazine, and the rest, of course, is history.
(Huh, interesting, I just noticed both that Brodovitch and Liberman were originally Russian…)
In this particular copy of Harper’s my friend had the fashion story was by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who’ve I’ve mentioned before (here) as a notable influence on the early years or editorial fashion photography.
photo: by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper’s Bazaar, circa 1950s I think.
And that last image goes back to my original point of nothing being new under the sun. Reshoot it on Portra 160VC replace the warmth with a little cyan and it might as well have been Craig McDean that shot it. Okay, not exactly, but you get the idea.
“All intelligent thoughts have already been thought;
what is necessary is only to try to think them again.”
-from Goethe’s Faust
This photograph from Antoine D’Agata’s book Hometown…it, it, as an old timer might say, hits me where I live.
photo: “France-2002″ ©Antoine D’Agata/Magnum.
Concentrating on a few shoots right now.
In the meantime, this is that something swell:
photo: Avedon, Penn, and Newton, from left to right, © unknown, found here.
poem: by E.E. Cummings
photo: E.E. Cummings, 1953, by Walter Albertin for New York World Telegram
Makes me think of smoking poets and then of Richard Prince‘s Untitled (Cowboy):
photo: Untitled (Cowboy) (1989), ©Richard Prince.
And that’s plenty for now.
Like when at the MOMA the other day and I saw for the first time Edvard Munch’s The Storm.
painting: The Storm (1893) by Edvard Munch.
I couldn’t possibly look at anything after that – it was entirely too much already.
Made me think of driving real fast, lit rubber, loud exhaust…or shooting like Steven Klein…
Last week I’d been asked 4, 5 times, have you been to the Eggleston show at the Whitney? So I finally made it, and now I’m asking everyone, so have you been to the Eggleston…?
It’s a beautiful show, the first retrospective of one of the fathers of modern fine art photography; it’s the kind of show that reminds one why; why photography; why take pictures; why get out of bed in the morning.
There were two things that distinctly crossed my mind.
1) How remarkable Eggleston’s early prints are. There were lightjets, inkjets, C-prints, silver-gelatin, but his early dye transfer prints were in a different ball park. They were interpretive and captivating and technically remarkable.
2) There’s no way to speak what it is or why it is or how it is, the only thing that is certain is that work like Eggleston’s is something that can’t be faked. It’d be like faking being human or faking being in love.
“I’m at war with the obvious.” -William Eggleston