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Christopher Williams (1956)

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Last month i sold one of the two available copies of the Boijmans Christopher Williams catalogue and I started to study it more closely when I started packing it. I liked these photographs and started to read about Christopher Williams.

Christopher Williams grew up surrounded by the film and television industries, which would inform his future artistic production. His father worked in Hollywood as a special effects artist. As a child, Williams met filmmaker Oskar Fischinger in the German émigré’s home studio, where he first saw flip books and abstract animated films. In the late 1970s, he studied at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) under the first wave of West Coast Conceptual artists, including John Baldessari, Michael Asher, and Douglas Huebler. He went on to become one of his generation’s leading Conceptualists, exploring ideas and their political implications through the structures of contemporary photographic practice. He is currently professor of photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, one of Germany’s oldest art schools, which educated such artists as Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, and Sigmar Polke.

 

Deeply invested in the histories of photography and film, Williams has produced a concise body of work that furthers a critique of late capitalist society and the ways that it is supported and ruled by marketing and media images. The works in MoMA’s collection belong to his major photographic project For Example: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle (For Example: Eighteen Lectures on Industrial Society) (2003-ongoing). The project takes its title from French sociologist Raymond Aron’s 1962 book which compares modes of production in Fordist capitalism (a model based on industrialized mass production and consumption) and the Soviet planned economy (a model based on a centralized system of state ownership). Williams puts photography itself at the core of the project, featuring numerous images of precision optics—including sectioned cameras, lenses, analogue darkrooms, and light meters—isolated against pristine backgrounds, like fetish objects. Taken together, these pictures of cameras and photographic accoutrements suggest a series of lessons covering the conditions of the spread of advertising and the modernizing impulses of industrial society in the aftermath of the Cold War.

For Example: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle also includes pictures of tires, chocolate bars, apples, and female models—emblems of the consumer culture of mass-media society—reflecting Williams’s fascination with Pop art and German painting of the early 1960s, which often pictured these items with ironic and critical overtones. This ambivalence is also reflected in his pictures, which emulate regular advertisements but include tiny yet deliberate imperfections, such as the moles and laughing lines on a model’s face, which are not retouched or airbrushed as in a regular ad. Employing a film director’s approach, Williams has spent the past 35 years pursuing an artistic practice that examines the theoretical and political history of photographic technology in the larger political terrain.

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Man Ray and Lee Miller (5)

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Although Man Ray insisted that he didn’t take student apprentices, the successful model Lee Miller relocated to Paris for a chance at working with the iconic artist. She became his photographic assistant, his muse and, later, his lover. The romance was short and sweet, but the two-year relationship was a productive one. Before finding herself as a photographer and becoming an active member of the Surrealist movement, Miller discovered the solarisation technique Man Ray would later trademark. She is also credited for many of the artist’s photographs taken between 1929 and 1932, as she stepped in while he worked on his paintings.

The following titles are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Dr. Erich Salomon ( 1886-1944)

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Erich Salomon (28 April 1886 – 7 July 1944) was a German-born news photographer known for his pictures in the diplomatic and legal professions and the innovative methods he used to acquire them.

Erich Salomon memorial Born in Berlin, Salomon studied law, engineering, and zoology up to World War I. After the war, he worked in the promotion department of the Ullstein publishing empire designing their billboard advertisements. He first picked up a camera in 1927, when he was 41, to document some legal disputes and soon after hid an Ermanox camera usable in dim light in his bowler hat. By cutting a hole in the hat for the lens, Salomon snapped a photo of a police killer on trial in a Berlin criminal court.

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Beginning in 1928, Salomon worked for Ullstein’s Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung as a photographer. With his multilingual ability and clever concealment, his reputation soared among the people of Europe. When the Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in 1928, Salomon walked into the signing room and took the vacant seat of the Polish delegate, and took several photos. He is one of only two known persons to have photographed a session of the U.S. Supreme Court.[1]

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Salomon fled to the Netherlands with his wife and continued his photographic career in The Hague. Salomon declined an invitation from Life Magazine to move to the United States. He and his family were trapped in the Low Countries after Germany invaded in 1940. Salomon and his family were held in the Westerbork transit camp, then for almost five months in Theresienstadt concentration camp and were deported from there to the Theresienstadt Family Camp in May 1944. He died in Auschwitz on 7 July 1944.

The Dr. Erich Salomon Award is a lifetime achievement award for photojournalists given by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Fotografie (other languages) (German society for photography). http://www.ftn-books.com has the Stedelijk Museum catalogue from 1981 available.

salomon stedelijk

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Helena van der Kraan (1940-2020, continued)

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A few months ago i wrote a short ” IN MEMORIAM” on the occasion of Helena van der Kraan’s passing away on her birthday at the age of 80 years,Bbut what i did not mention was that there was a very nice retropective on her ” Bears ” series at the Fotomuseum Den Haag, only one problem……Covid 19 made it for us almost possible to visit, but now that the museums can be visited again, we went to the Fotomuseum, Gem and Kunstmuseum to get an artistic “update” including the Bear series retrospective by Helena van der Kraan.

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Personally i love her  almost classic  way of photography, Linda was less charmed, but both we agreed that the combination of GEM and Fotomuseum ( also a Wegman exhibition) was time very well spend. Another reason to write this short blog is that i found a signed copy of the 1986 book published by van Beveren/Haags Gemeentemuseum and perhaps this shows best why i think that Helena will be remembered as one of our great photographers. Every photo is “classic” and timeless and where the photographs of her compatriot Saudek are getting more and more dated, the photographs of Helena grow on you and ripen and gain in quality by the year.

The exhibition shoudl have been closed on the 21tgh of UAgust , but because programs are continued at many of the museums the Helena van der Kraan Bear series is still to be viewed at the Fotomuseum. I do not know how long it still will be there, but i urge you to go when you have a chance.

Helena van der Kraan publications are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Jock Sturges (1947)

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For some Sturges work is controversial and is considered erotic photography for me Sturges is the American counterpart of Lucien Clergue who places his nudes in a landscape and blends them with nature . the result spectacular photography. His series of sea and sand photographs reminds me of the series Sturges has made of youth along the shore of the sea. But as an example a less controversial photo below. This is a classic beauty.

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Jock Sturges is an American photographer known for his large-format portraits of nude adolescents. His black-and-white prints capture subjects on naturist beaches in the United States and France. The controversial nature of his imagery has raised concerns throughout his career, but Sturges has remained steadfast, photographing his subjects—often alongside their families—over several years. “My hope is that my work is in some way counter-pinup,” the artist said of his work. “A pinup asks you to suspend interest in who the person is and occupy yourself entirely with looking at the body, fantasizing about what you could do with that body, completely ignoring how the person might feel about it.” Born in 1947 in New York, NY, he served in the US Navy before studying perceptual psychology at Marlboro College in Vermont. While studying for his MFA in photography from San Francisco Art Institute Sturges began taking nude photographs of communes in Northern California. In 1990, the artist’s studio was raided by the FBI and attempts were made to charge him with child pornography, all attempts have been unsuccessful. Sturges has published several books of his photographs, including Life~Time (2008), and his works are held in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The artist currently lives and works in Seattle, WA. The below publication is available at www.ftn-books.com

sturges camera

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Kim Zwarts (1955)

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His works remind me of Oliver Boberg his photographs, but with one difference. where Boberg shines with his colour photographs, Kim Zwarts excels in composition and lightning . Soem 20 years ago i had never srealized i was looking at a photogrpah by Zwarts but the last 15 years or so i can recognize his photographs from a distance. The way the composition is made and the way he uses light, dark , shadows and contours make these photographs one of a kind and recognizable.

He studied at the Academy of Applied Arts in Maastricht. He has worked as a photographer on many architecture books, including monographs of  Gerrit Th. Rietveld, Luis Barragán, Thom Mayne/Morphosis, Wim Quist, Alvar Aalto, Charles Vandenhove and Dom H. van der Laan.

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Study grants from the Netherlands Foundation for Fine Arts, Design and Architecture in 1990 and in 1999 enabled him to conduct photographic research. On both occasions, he spent a long period in the United States.

Zwarts has realized art commissions for Koninklijke Sphinx bv, Mercedes Benz, WML, and Maastricht University. In 2001, real estate company Vesteda acquired the entire research project California 99-00.

Zwarts’ work also appeared in Pale Pink (1994), Beyond (1997) and Maastricht 148 (2000).

Exhibitions of his work have been held in, among others, the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, the AA in London, the Netherlands Photomuseum in Rotterdam, the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam, the Centre Céramique in Maastricht and the Liège Photo Biennale. In 2001 Zwarts designed a facade motif for the glass and concrete walls of the Utrecht University Library. Currently Zwarts is working on the ongoing project US 2009-2016.

Kim Zwarts’ work has received national and international recognition in the form of the Kodak Award (1989) and the Werner Mantz Prize (1997).

http://www.ftn-books.com has several Kim Zwarts titles available.

 

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Atze Haytsma (1929)

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Born in Amersfoort this little known photographer is still working.

Haytsma has become known for his nude photography in which he shapes the body into almost abstract forms. Inspired by the greats of all nude photographers like Bill Brandt and Lucien Clergue, his nudes are almost always made in a studio setting.

The difference is therefore the way light in the photograph is used . He can set up his studio lights in a way that is never possible when photographing outside. Personally i prefer the natural light of the outside photography, but that does not mean that i am not attracted to the photographs of Haytsma. His photographs still have a quality of their own, making these highly collectable items at a reasonable price. This is an artist to watch whenever an item appears on an online auction site. The ATZE book is available at www.ftn-books.com

Atze Haytsma (1929) was educated to be a sculptor. At fourteen years old he started his professional career as an assistant of Geert Marree, just before the Dutch famine of 1944. After that he studied at the Applied Art School and the State Academy of Expressive Arts. He also learned how to glaze and work with modelling clay in a pottery to finally produce the designs of sculptors such as Bill Couzijn, Carel Kneulman, Marie Andriesse and many others. Basically everything in his life revolves around shape. Where he used to work with stone, he now, because of his age, works only with wax. But it has always been about the shape of a woman’s body.

atze

Photographing women became an essential part of his life. It all began when he started to teach portrait and model moulding. At first he used nude models in the classes, but when the school could no longer afford to pay for the models, Atze started to photograph women and used the pictures as reference material for his students. They posed for him at his home, in the -presence of Atze’s wife, Mieke, who was a painter. First, they were students of the art academy he was teaching at, but by word of mouth the list grew longer through the years.

Around the age of sixty, Atze quit teaching. He then started to create small sculptures. He did this without a model; the female body was imprinted in his head in such a way, that he did not need a model. However, the longing to photograph women remained. Since then, Atze has been working in a pocket-sized attic, with construction lamps as lighting. He started out with two cameras, but soon needed others, because of the use of different lenses. By now he has eight of them, all Mamiya and Rolleiflex cameras, purchased for a small price at the end of the analogue era, when everyone switched to using digital cameras. Twin-lens reflex cameras for a 6 x 6 cm picture size on a 120 mm roll-film. Cameras that should be handled with caution, perfectly suitable for portrait and model photography because of their precision and handy size. Ideal for Atze, who has a soft, modest, almost shy personality. Using a Rolleiflex camera, you look down, into the waist-level finder, indirect, much more pleasant for the model. Instead of piercing, probing eyes she sees a head humbly bowed. The camera, placed on a tripod, is deliberately at about the same height as the top of the sofa bed. Atze does not for a moment want to give the models the feeling he is looking down on them.

The models are amateurs. Just women he met or who were referred to him. He will never ask someone himself, he does not have the courage. Maybe after a second posing session he could ask: ‘Will you come again?’. Sometimes he only speaks to them over the telephone and sees them for the first time when they walk through the door. The first time, they are a bit uneasy and nervous. Atze himself is relaxed, because he has been working with nude models his whole life. Atze always asks new models to come and see his photographs first so they can decide after that. If you feel that you are too fat or not pretty enough, he reassures them. A roll of fat or a skin crease can heavenly divide the body.

Posing for the first time the woman sits uncertainly on the corner of the sofa bed. ‘Just let yourself fall on the sofa,’ is Atze’s friendly advice. Followed by: ‘Beautiful, keep it like that’. That is how it starts and it doesn’t get more complicated then: ‘Can you turn around’, ‘Stretch a little more’ or ‘Can you crouch’. Photographs improve when a woman is aware of her body. He wants to give as few directions as possible, because it is all about interaction. A few words suffice.

He always photographs his women naked. Atze sees clothing as a kind of mask, so he wants his models to take it off. The absence of jewellery and other modern body embellishments make the images look like they could have been taken in the 1930ties.

Atze keeps his sculptures anonymous. Because a face has such a different expression than a body, he keeps the face out of the picture. Sometimes if a model lies in such a way that her eyes are prominent, he asks her to look at the lens and takes a portrait as a present for the model.

The pictures are a mirror image of Atze’s softness and admiration. The women show themselves unrestrainedly, bask in his gaze, let his eyes caress them. It is about surrender and relief. From Atze’s side, it is reverence for a woman’s body. And a kind of eagerness. If it is there, he wants to capture it.

For 25 years Atze has been capturing the tangible in moulding clay, the visible in photography and his thoughts in poetry. Three things that are inseparably linked.

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George Hendrik Breitner (1857-1923)…continued

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Over 3 years ago I wrote a short blog on Breitner in which i wrote about his models and his Japanese Kimono painting. This blog is on another aspect of his artist life.

Breitner is known to have been one of the very first artists who used photography as a means for composing his paintings. The photographs he made were for him like sketches he made in the streets. These early days of photography everything was different…ni camera phones but large camera’s with sensitive plates, but the result was not only historically of importance but showed great artistry.

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This quality is now recognized of one of the very important aspects of his artist life and many of his photographs are now in public collections being a part of the heritage of the complete artist George Hendrik Breitner was. He was one of the very first street photographers in the world.

www.ftn-books.com has some Breitner photography books available.

 

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Giorgio Armani (1934)

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I have a soft spot for fashion catalogues. It is not that I am a “fashionado” but the way these seasonal publications by the greatest of fashion designers are published I admire. They search for the best photographers, stylists, designers and really spent serious money on a publication that is in most cases given away for free. Chanel is arguably my personal favourite. They published in the Lagerfeld years really great catalogues and the combination Claudia Schiffer / Karl Lagerfeld is hard to beat by others.

Still, a great effort was done during the last 30 years by “Giorgio Armani” being in the fashion business since 1975 , they currently have over 300 stores spread all over the world ( except Africa). This means their appeal has to be truly international and with the seasonal catalogues, they presented in a universal way their fashion to their public. Besides some very nice Chanel catalogues, FTN books has also some great and classic Giorgio Armani catalogues available.

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Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952)

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I did not realize that Curtis is almost a contemporary photographer. When you look at his photographs you get an impression that these were made in the earliest days of photography, but studying his works you discover that many were made well after 1930.

His most important contribution is however, the series he made around 1915 on the history of the North American Indian people. He photographed the Indian peoples in a way that his works were not only important as a photography document but also they reflected the way the Indian peoples in North America, lived, dressed and were present in US society.

In 1906, J. P. Morgan provided Curtis with $75,000 to produce a series on Native Americans This work was to be in 20 volumes with 1,500 photographs. Morgan’s funds were to be disbursed over five years and were earmarked to support only fieldwork for the books, not for writing, editing, or production of the volumes. Curtis received no salary for the project, which was to last more than 20 years. Under the terms of the arrangement, Morgan was to receive 25 sets and 500 original prints as repayment.

Once Curtis had secured funding for the project, he was able to hire several employees to help him. For writing and for recording Native American languages, he hired a former journalist, William E. Myers. For general assistance with logistics and fieldwork, he hired Bill Phillips, a graduate of the University of Washington. Perhaps the most important hire for the success of the project was Frederick Webb Hodge, an anthropologist employed by the Smithsonian Institution, who had researched Native American peoples of the southwestern United States.[ Hodge was hired to edit the entire series.

Eventually 222 complete sets were published. Curtis’s goal was not just to photograph but also to document as much of Native American traditional life as possible before that way of life disappeared. He wrote in the introduction to his first volume in 1907, “The information that is to be gathered … respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost.” Curtis made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American language and music. He took over 40,000 photographic images of members of over 80 tribes. He recorded tribal lore and history, and he described traditional foods, housing, garments, recreation, ceremonies, and funeral customs. He wrote biographical sketches of tribal leaders. His material, in most cases, is the only written recorded history, although there is still a rich oral tradition that preserves history.[His work was exhibited at the Rencontres d’Arles festival in France in 1973.

The book by Curtis on the North American Indians is available at www.ftn-books.com

curtis legacy