joi, 21 aprilie 2011
Text by Arnold Newman, "A Life in Photography", from Arnold Newman
As a "portrait" photographer I know there is no final definition of a portrait, nor can there ever be one. Yet one thing is certain - a good portrait must be a good photograph, or image, whatever the medium might be. One must be a good artist before becoming a good photojournalist, or a good still life, fashion, sports, landscape, portrait photographer. The only difference is one's own interests, passions and the ability to communicate. We do not take pictures with our cameras, but with our hearts and minds. Good art cannot be defined. There is only great art that creates new ideas and then there are imitations of varying degrees. There is no best way or only way. We learn from the past, in order to understand the present. The past is our foundation, the springboard into the future. Tradition and past ideas are important bases to begin with, but can be traps if misunderstood.
Ideas, conceptual and visual, are what all forms of art are about. Everything else is nothing more than subject matter and technique, which is easily learned. It is not what we photograph or assemble physically or digitally that counts, but how we create our images. Cezanne used only traditional materials and subject matter, still lifes, people, landscapes, but it was his ideas that revolutionized the 20th century art world and laid the groundwork for modern art, including photography. It was not what he painted but how he painted. It is the same for photographers. It is how we photograph that matters not what we photograph. Too often exotic or unusual subject matter is confused with good photography and extolled by the public as well as by artists and critics, regardless of the quality of the interpretation.
As for myself, I work the way I do because of the kind of person that I am - my work is an expression of myself. It reflects me, my fascination with people, the physical world around us, and the exciting medium in which I work. I do not claim that my way is the best or the only way, it is simply my way. It is an expression of myself, of the way I think and feel.
Generally, I build my images carefully, even if they are created in just a moment. They are based on my experience, intuition, and my background as a painter, both by natural inclination and by training. When I switched from painting to photography in 1938, it was first from financial necessity in the middle of the Great Depression, and then from love. Immediately I realized the creative differences - conceptual, visual, as well as technical and proceeded from there.
Mostly I seek ideas, visual concepts, and the vague and preconceived images that have begun to form in my mind, and then (hopefully) find them. One should be flexible and open to discover the unexpected, which is an integral part of this medium. The unexpected often reveals new ideas and unexplored paths. Therefore, one must learn to "look." Nothing should restrict one's manner of expression as long as "it works." No amount of words can describe a photograph or create one. Frequently, we "find" without seeking, acting upon Pasteur's expression "Chance favors the prepared mind." That is why so many great "accidents" seem to happen to the better photographers.
I prefer the risk of failure in experimentation to the alternative of safe repetition and boredom. I do not change for the sake of change, but for experimentation that may lead to new visual ideas. Inevitably, there must be a great deal of the photographer in his finished work. In other words, the photographer must be a part of the photographic process. However, continuous exploration of a single theme in the development of a visual concept should not be confused with repetition. Ideas do not always reveal themselves immediately, and their pursuit often takes a longtime. But it's fun to try!
Rigid rules, regulations, official schools and current trendy "with it" styles needed by the unimaginative are deadly to creativity. History is full of "Golden Rules," laws of composition and other indispensable guidelines. Yet not one great image has ever been created through their application. Style is a natural result, not an aim.
Equally destructive are the schools of "anything goes," of shock, technical flamboyance, self-indulgent, grandiose ideas, or of size for the sake of size. These are all too often labeled the "cutting edge," devoid of lasting meaning or information, and championed by some for their own personal acclaim or interests. Yet new and original voices always emerge to once again open up new paths not thought of by the theorists. Original voices will always emerge.
Unaltered, or traditional, photographs are not real at all. They are flat in a three dimensional world. Color is distorted by a real lack of control. Black and white photography is further distorted or abstracted in a world of reality. Straight photography is not real at all - it is an illusion of reality, sometimes forming into fantasy, abstraction, or any other form the photographer wishes to create. Altered images, such as collages or digital images, are newer forms for the creative mind. It is these illusions and fantasies that we create our own private worlds with. What are they? The truly innovative artists create ideas and images unrelated to anything we have experienced or seen before, new ways of seeing and thinking about our own familiar worlds. This is the real creative artist we all aspire to be. I have been fortunate to photograph the great, the fascinating, the famous and sometimes infamous all over the world and in all walks of life. But most of my subjects are not famous. And just what is fame? One can be famous on one side of an ocean and totally unknown on the other side - or in one country or city, but not in another. And just how long does fame last? And what is fame when it is used to describe a person of true accomplishment? How is it different from the "celebrity" syndrome created by public relations as grist for the media and an obsessed public?
For me, I am interested in what motivates individuals, what they do with their lives, their personalities, and how I perceive and interpret them. But of equal importance, or of perhaps even greater importance is that, even if the person is not known or already forgotten, the photograph itself should still be of interest or even excite the viewer. That is what my life and work is all about.
Text from The Photography Encyclopedia
Newman, Arnold (1918-): American portrait photographer
A master of portraiture, Newman has produced indelible images of people from all walks of life. He is best known for his portraits of celebrities, particularly artists, whom he depicts in the contexts of their profession, identifying the sitter with his or her accomplishments. Among his subjects have been such figures as John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Marilyn Monroe, Alexander Calder, Carl Sandburg, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Born in New York City, Newman grew up in Atlantic City and Miami Beach. As a teenager he displayed a marked aptitude for art and pursued art studies at the University of Miami, where he met David Douglas Duncan, who would go on to become a renowned photojournalist. Financial problems led to Newman's leaving school and taking a job offered by a family friend in a Philadelphia photo studio.
As he learned the craft of photography, his interest in the medium replaced his ambition to become a painter. He was able to support himself as a portrait photographer while pursuing his personal vision, experimenting with cut out images, assemblage, and other modernist design possibilities. On trips to New York he met Alfred Stieglitz, Beaumont Newhall, and Dr. Robert Leslie of the A D Gallery, who offered him his first exhibit.
Newman moved to New York at the opening of the exhibit in 1942 and at this time conceptualized the basic philosophy of his future work, "to take pictures of people in their natural surroundings with a little stronger feeling about not just setting it up." In 1946 he worked on assignments for Alexey Brodovitch, and Harper's Bazaar and Life were his major clients. He took some of his most famous portraits at this time, including one of Igor Stravinksy sitting at his piano, which ironically Brodovitch, in one of the most noted gaffes in photo history, rejected.
Newman's assignments from magazines have taken him around the world. He was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in London to photograph major British figures in the arts and politics. A film about him, The Image Makers - The Environment of Arnold Newman, was produced in 1977, and he has won numerous awards, including the American Society of Media Photographers Lifetime Achievement in Photography.
Newman's work has been exhibited in one man and group shows worldwide, in museums that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. Selections of his work have been published in One Mind's Eye (1974) and Arnold Newman, Five Decades (1986).
Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.
Arnold Newman describes his private world as one born of instinct, in which a lifetime of learning, knowledge, and intuition are brought together harmoniously through a single moment of inspiration. This instinct for visual expression is a way of seeing life as an artful interlude between waste and fulfillment, and a means of harnessing the output of human emotions that drive interior engines of poetry, song, and visual pleasure. Newman's own visual instinct was honed and tempered by his friendships with many of the world's leading artists, writers, poets, politicians, and other personages of great accomplishment.
From the 1940s to the present he photographed leaders of world culture and society in what has been called "environmental portraiture"; his subjects are photographed in the physical milieu of their particular profession or personal creations. But it is Newman's selection and imaginative portrayal of his subjects' environments in conjunction with the subjects themselves that sets his work at the pinnacle of the long tradition of portrait photography. From the haunting portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron in the 19th century to Newman's prolific achievement today, the aesthetic aim of portraiture has been to evoke a sense of the inner being of individuals.
Arnold Newman has lived and worked in New York City for most of his career as a freelance photographer for magazines like Fortune, Life, Newsweek, and Esquire, among others. His professional work began, however, in Miami and West Palm Beach in 1938, where he also developed a mature vision for making socially conscious photographs of urban poor. By the mid-1940s, after a short tenure in Philadelphia, he had found his own vision in the strong empathy he had for artists and their world. Both Alfred Stieglitz and Beaumont Newhall encouraged and supported his work in this direction, and by 1945 Newman moved to New York to stay.
Today Newman continues to photograph leading international figures for the publishing world and for himself. The distinction between works commissioned and self-generated by Newman has little meaning. His professional work and his aesthetic ideas spring from the same well and remain irrevocably driven by a desire to release symbolic visions of the human spirit.
Through a special grant, Eastman Kodak Company has made it possible for Newman to present a gift of 176 prints to George Eastman House. This exhibition is drawn from that collection, and is organized by James L. Enyeart and Marianne Fulton of George Eastman House. Special to this gift is Newman's inclusion of rare, vintage prints, making the exhibition a unique opportunity for viewers to study and enjoy the finest prints that exist from throughout his sixty years of image making. In addition, ICP has supplemented the George Eastman House exhibition with examples of recent work, specially selected by Newman.
Arnold Newman is the recipient of ICP's 1999 Infinity Award for Master of Photography.
Text by Philip Brookman, from Arnold Newman
Throughout history, portraits have documented our legacy, creating a gallery of faces, a representation of ourselves that connects who we are today with who we were in years past. This legacy - the tie that binds, as we say - allows us to construct and remember an image of the past that becomes, in all its forms, visual history. On one level, this implies an ancestral shrine, history entombed, or a simple catalogue of memories: the family album. Each face stands for a life lived, for who we were at any given moment. However, history and memory are fluid concepts. Like the reflection of headlights on a stormy highway, they are always changing, never still. There is poetry in this dance of light. Therefore, we can glean many layers of information from the faces of our times. Behind these masks - we don them to cloak the psychological mysteries that delineate history - there are unseen clues to who we were, who we are, and who we will become.
So what is a portrait, really? This question has many different answers when applied to Arnold Newman's photographs. He has earned a reputation as one of the most influential portraitists of our time, a photographer who has changed the way we look at ourselves. Crafted with a deep understanding of the creative process, Newman's art is widely seen and reproduced in print media. He has, over time, influenced our vision of the world by projecting on a global screen the defining images of political leaders, cultural icons, and everyday people. Often, when we think of Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Jackson Pollock, or Lyndon B. Johnson, to name but a few, we conjure up one of his images.
According to Newman, "The portrait is a form of biography. Its purpose is to inform now and to record for history." He reminds us in this straightforward statement that a portrait is a record of a moment in time, of history writ large and made for the ages - a moment that is frozen as if in a glacier, to be unearthed by anthropologists in the future. However, when we start to dig deeper, to scan all the complex information in one of Newman's photographs, his words "to record for history" become symbolic of far more. His pictures often hold within them some of the clues to understanding the personalities he depicts: a colorful mask, an aesthetic presence, an interior silence, a creative psychology, or a relationship to the surrounding space or other people. He understands that photography always reveals some truth in its gaze and creates a fictional paradigm from this veracity.
Newman's portraits record specific histories and interpret the personalities he photographs. He connects these to the pictorial environment that best represents his intuitive understanding of a person. He creates a visual tension between a moment and a psychological presence. It is this tension - between the instant we see and the eternity that makes up our interior lives - that brings these pictures to life. They are not documents of events but photographs created with broad strokes. They elucidate something as intangible as a personality, using all available tools to uncover a relationship between his subjects and their changing world.
If the people in Newman's images are always changing, as is the photographer's vision, whose viewpoint is depicted in this work? Do we see through Newman's eyes or those of the sitter? His photographs are created through a process of give and take, in which he carefully studies the people he depicts and prepares them with an understanding of his work. Through observation, communication, and collaboration - a conversation, really - he finds a set of symbols and ideas, creating a point of view with which to perceive that person. In this way he constructs his images...
ext from John Szarkowski, Looking at Photographs
In 1857 the photographer Robert Howlett made a portrait of the ship designer I. K. Brunel standing in front of the monstrous anchor chains of one of his ships. This interesting photographic precedent for what later came to be called environmental portraiture bore few progeny, partly because the photographer could make more sittings if the subjects came to the studio, and perhaps partly because most people really didn't want to be identified with what they did.
One would have thought that the miniature camera would make such interpretive portraits common, but it did not work that way. The very ease and availability of the small camera tended to mean that the ship builder was photographed in the Automat, or getting out of an airplane. Howlett's idea depended on a conceptual approach, one thought first and executed afterward.
In the 1940's, at a time when most photographers were discovering the special potentials of the small camera (flexibility, quickness, spontaneity of response), Arnold Newman was learning to use the ancient virtues of the classic stand camera (enforced deliberation, precise framing, exact description) to help him make portraits that might suggest. by their graphics and their symbolic allusions, who the person in the picture might really be, or at the very least, what he might be famous for. One of the best known pictures that Newman made in pursuit of this idea was a portrait of Igor Stravinsky, his head small in a lower corner of the picture, with the great kidney-shaped sounding board of a grand piano silhouetted above him. It was an original and very handsome picture, and doubtless greatly enhanced Stravinsky's popular image as a piano player. Nevertheless, the picture did identify the subject with the world of music and, more important. with a kind of rigorous economy of form. which is saying a great deal.
The portrait reproduced here is more natural and less insistently formalized and symbolized than many of Newman's portraits. If one did not know that Kuniyoshi was a painter, one probably wouldn't guess it from the picture. Although one might. The classical stiff life with compote, the modified Madame Recamier chaise on the uncarpeted floor, and the gentle skylight quality of the modeling are all suggestive. More important, one would almost surely sense a man who did what he did with a relaxed and stylish elegance.
The chaise may be the one on which he painted those ethereal, alabasterskinned women.
marți, 12 aprilie 2011
Fashion/Glamour, Fine Art
"Art is life seen through man's inner craving for perfection and beauty--his escape from the sordid realities of life into a world of his imagining. Art accounts for at least a third of our civilization, and it is one of the artist's principal duties to do more than merely record life or nature. To the artist is given the privilege of pointing the way and inspiring towards a better life."
Biography: Paul Outerbridge, Jr. was born into a wealthy family in New York and went to various private schools before studying at the Art Students League. In 1917 he joined the Canadian Royal Flying Corps, but was soon discharged following an accident; he then joined the US Army and took his first photographs as a part of his service.
In 1921 he went to study at the Clarence H. White School of Photography in New York, photographing nude and still life on large format. His prints were finely made on expensive platinum paper, and one was publihed in Vogue the following year.
His work at this time was very much in the style of Paul Strand's which had been published in Camera Work some years earlier. Featuring everyday objects in still-life abstractions, Outerbridge's work was marked by an attention to every detail in both lighting and composition. Outerbridge often worked from detailed sketches and the sculpture classes he was taking with Alexander Arpichenko doubtless aided his appreciation of form. Soon he was busy with similar commercial work, which appeared in Vanity Fair and other magazines.
Outerbridge went to London in 1925 and lived for several years in Paris, where he joined the avant-garde artistic establishment. It was in Paris where Outerbridge got to know photographers such as Man Ray and Berenice Abbott, as well as artists including Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso and others. Outerbridge also photographed for Paris Vogue with Edward Steichen.
In 1929 he returned to New York, where he experimented with the technically difficult tri-color carbro process; soon he was a successful commercial colour photographer, shooting many covers for House Beautiful. His classic book 'Photography in Color', was released in 1940.
In 1943 Outerbridge moved to Hollywood, but found it impossible to get work in the film business due to the tight grip of the unions. He opened a portrait studio in Laguna Beach, but soon closed this to work away from photography in the fashion industry. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he travelled and produced a number of illustrated stories for magazines and for a short time had a monthly column in US Camera magazine.
Working with colour gave Outerbridge's models a reality that the American public was not ready for during his era. This, together with the surreal and often fetishistic nature of some of his work, made it impossible for his work to be shown in public at the time. Outerbridge's work did, however, sell at high prices to private collectors. His pictures seem very much to be a collaboration with the models, and although unusual and at times erotic, they would hardly be considered pornographic now.