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Erwin Olaf exhibition….

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The Erwin Olaf exhibitions at the Gemeentemuseum/ Fotomuseum are now closed for some months and what remains i sthe memory of a highly successful exhibitions with evn for me had some new elements in it which i did not have seen before. I had seen the cabinet with the peeping holes, but the Video wall with some 20 nude people who  crouched and erecetd themselves was impressing. The catalogue however did not do justice to the exhibition. Too large, too expensive and the lesser known moving images from the video walls were missing. Still a great exhibition to remember and for those collectors interested i secured some of the materials that were published to promote the exhibition .

olaf set x

These are available at www.ftn-books.com together with some other nice Erwin Olaf publications

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Paul de Nooijer (1946)

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Paul de Nooijer , filmaker and photograph announced his retirement in 2012. He did not want to repeat himself. So he focussed on his cooperation with his son Menno de Nooijer who is an artist too. De Nooijer is/was a pioneer in dutch staged photography and he even made some video clips for MTV. You can consider his photography and films like short stories in images in which he often uses stop-motion techniques.

This medium is hard to translate into a printed publication, but some efforts have been made and these are available at www.ftn-books.com

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David Levinthal (1949) and Henk Tas ( 1948)

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For me David Levinthal is the US equivalent of Henk Tas in the Netherlands. Age difference is only 1 year and both have developed their photography into a form of staged photography where both use little ( plastic) figurines to populate their photographs. Where Levinthal uses baseball , barbie and military figures, Tas uses animals and female figures in a setting strongly influenced by music. http://www.henktas.nl/home.php?kid=1

If you read the text on Wikipedia on Levinthal you realize that these photographs are not made in an easy way. Setting, staging and lightning all need to be perfect for a good photograph.Here is part of what Wikipedia says about Levinthal

His work is included in the permanent public collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art,[2] and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He has had solo exhibitions in New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon.

Levinthal has produced a diverse oeuvre, utilizing primarily large-format Polaroid photography. His works touch upon many aspects of American culture, from Barbie to baseball to X-rated dolls. He uses small toys and props with dramatic lighting to construct mini environments of subject matters varying from war scenes to voyeurism to racial and political references to American pop culture.

He creates miniature scenarios using shoeboxes, cardboard, and foam core to make miniature offices, hotel rooms, pool halls, foyers and narrow corridors. These shadowy and dark scenes expose the secrecy and intimacy of small spaces. Levinthal is particularly interested in exploring the different emotions that each scene produces, such as reactions to an office corridor in contrast to those to a hospital or a private bedroom. Indeed, there is an inherently voyeuristic aspect to these early works.

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I love both artists and can offer a nice original by Henk Tas in a private sale. For the books on these artists visit www.ftn-books.com where there is the best book on Tas available and the highly collectable Smithsonian catalogue on Levinthal’s photographs.

 

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Jeff Wall (1946)…coincidence or staged?

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The scenes that Jeff Wall photographs look random and by chance, but reality is …..they are completely staged.

Since the 1980s, Wall  ( Born in Vancouver/Canada) has produced critically acclaimed work in the form of color transparencies backlit by fluorescent light strips and presented in lightboxes. He was one of the first artists to make photographs on a large scale. The standard lightbox was created for the primary purpose of outdoor advertising. In Wall’s work, this medium became a platform for his figurative tableaux, street scenes and interiors, landscapes and cityscapes. Wall explores themes such as the relationships between men and women and the boundary between metropolis and nature. He offers social commentary on violence and cultural miscommunication, and conjures seductive nightmarish fantasies and personal memories. These scenes provide the basis for photographic reconstructions of Wall’s experience. They derive their inherent suspense from a combination of extreme realism and sometimes elaborate artifice.

www.ftn-books.com has some important publications by Jeff Wall available.

 

 

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Joel Peter Witkin (1939) and Erwin Olaf (1959)

 

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1983, well before the fame and celebrity status of Erwin Olaf, there was this photographer who was presented in an exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum…Joel Peter Witkin was his name and his photographs balanced between absurd realism and surrealism. The same kind of photographs Erwin Olaf made in one of his first series CHESSMAN (1988). This series must have been strongly inspired by Witkin, since it depicts the same kind of absurd subjects, props and even the tone/color and atmosphere in the photographs are the same.

This series by Olaf was the first to make his work known among collectors and since, he has developed a style of his own, with completely staged photographs with a typical sixties/seventies atmosphere, but if you think his first series CHESS MEN was original and typically Erwin Olaf, than first have a look at Joel Peter Witkin and than judge again. Both mentioned publications and others on Witkin and Olaf are available at www.ftn-books.com.

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Jan Groover (1943-2012) and the Tabletop still life

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Jan Groover, one of those photographers that have a cult following but are hardly known with the large public. The post of some months ago on Henk Tas and his staged photography reminded me of Jan Groover and her still life photography. The Smithsonian made a wonderful catalogue on the subject of her Tabletop photo’s and it deserves to be better known. That is the reason for this blog, because Groover is a great photographer.

Pictures tell a far better story than i can, but there is a great short biography over here:

www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/arts/design/jan-groover-postmodern-photographer-dies-at-68.html

Groover publications that are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Henk Tas and his staged photography

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A dutch master in the art of staged photography is Henk Tas. Inspired by many great classic ( Pop & Rock) songs, he places objects from (his) childhood around him in a special setting and instantly it is recognizable as “HENK TAS”. Definitely a personal signature.

The photograph is taken and then , compared with the original setting, enlarged to enormous proportions. It makes you feel like an intruder in the staged scene, participating in it and encountering the figurines which populate it.

In 2001 the Henk Tas publication “Why me Lord” is chosen for the competition ” BEST VERZORGDE BOEKEN 2001″ and is one of the contenders for Best.

The book called ” WHY me LORD ” is still available at www.ftn-books.com.

This is what the jury said about the book and his staged photography:

Best Dutch Book Design 2001

Henk Tas, photographer and grabber at life’s banquet, belongs to that select band of cultural indefatigables. His work has never been completely in vogue, for reasons difficult to fathom, but never completely out of it either. It was relevant during the days of both staged photography and postmodernism, and went down well in New Age circles too.
The theme of Henk Tas’s work is pop music, with the occasional foray into rock’n’roll and blues. Henk Tas is the Rotterdam cowboy. He is second to none in taking plastic figures, artificial flowers and other generally unsightly accessories and infusing them with life. He is, besides, a great colourist. The staged photographs are exuberant in their hues, their synthetic extras embodying the passion of the professional artiste along with the fame and the impermanence immutably bound up with that passion. A great many photographs by Henk Tas and a text apiece by Els Barents, Roel Bentz van den Berg, Ute Eskildsen and Greil Marcus have been brought together by the book’s designer, Rick Vermeulen.

www address: www.henktas.nl