Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brian Duffy

"Self Portrait,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

"Reggie Kray and Grandson,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

photo duffy © duffy archive

"Jane Birkin,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

photo duffy © duffy archive

"Jean Shrimpton,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

"Joanna Lumley and Son,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

"David Bowie,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

"Sammy Davis, Jr. and May Britt,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

"Keith Waterhouse,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

"John Lennon,"
photo duffy © duffy archive

I want to thank Chris Duffy and The Duffy Archive for their kind cooperation and permission to reporduce Brian Duffy's work on my Masters of Photography blog.

Brian Duffy biography and obituary from The Telegraph:

Brian Duffy, the photographer who has died aged 76, was a central figure in the visual revolution that echoed the wider changes in British society during the 1960s.

With David Bailey and Terence Donovan, he formed what was dubbed the "Black Trinity" by Norman Parkinson, the photographer whose pastoral style seemed to embody all that the young trio wanted to challenge. If Bailey was the most creative of them, and Donovan the most amusing, the art school-trained Duffy was the most provocative and intellectual. "Before 1960 the fashion photographer was tall, thin and camp," he reflected. "But we three were different: short, fat and heterosexual."

Their outlook helped to replace a fashion Establishment built on deference with one that worshipped youth and celebrity: the people who wore the clothes became as important as the garments themselves. Influenced by Duffy's street-based locations, magazine images also started to reflect a more real, more urban way of living than the idealised fantasies of Irving Penn or Cecil Beaton. Above all, they were more sexualised. Famously, Duffy shot an article for Nova entitled "How to undress for your husband", using a model – Amanda Lear – whose true gender was then the subject of much gossip.

Many of those whom he photographed – Terence Stamp, Christine Keeler, Harold Wilson, the models Paulene Stone and Jean Shrimpton – have since come to be seen as defining personalities of the decade. Duffy's pictures of them, however, have not.

Characteristically, this was the result largely of Duffy's refusal to treat with the world on any terms but his own. In 1979, having solved most of the technical problems that had originally interested him in the medium, and tired by its increasing commercialisation by advertising firms, he burned the greater part of his archive in the garden of his studio in Primrose Hill. He did not take another photograph for three decades.

He had never showed at a gallery or collected his images in a book, and the growing nostalgia for (and boom in value of) his contemporaries' work during the last 20 years passed him by. Duffy instead devoted that time to restoring Georgian furniture, and it was only last year that he allowed his son to organise an exhibition in London of what had survived the bonfire.

Brian Duffy was born on June 15 1933 in North London but grew up, as the eldest of four children, in East Ham. His parents were Irish Catholics, his father being a cabinet-maker who had been imprisoned for his involvement with the IRA. During the war years, following a brief period as an evacuee taken in by the actor Roger Livesey, Duffy roamed the bomb sites of London.

Then, at 12, he was sent to a progressive school in South Kensington which aimed to draw latent creativity out of troublesome children by exposing them to the arts. Frequent trips to the National Gallery fostered a love of painting in Duffy, and in 1950 he won a place at Central Saint Martin's. He was quickly intimidated by the talent of his fellow pupils – though not before grasping the need for artists to portray themselves as intellectuals – and switched to fashion design. This would later help him when photographing clothes, as he knew how they were constructed.

In 1955 he was offered an apprenticeship with Balenciaga in Paris, but the news of the imminent arrival of his first child necessitated his seeking steadier employment. He began working as a fashion illustrator for Harper's Bazaar, but, after seeing a contact sheet of photographs on a desk, thought them an easier way to make money and "to make women look good".

By 1957 he had found a post at British Vogue. The first job he was given was to take a portrait of Otto Klemperer, the conductor. As he was leaving, Klemperer asked Duffy if he usually left the lens cap on while shooting. But the darkroom covered for his error by pretending to spoil the film and Duffy was given a second chance.

With the support of Audrey Withers, the magazine's politically radical editor, and of Clare Rendlesham, its aristocratic but forward-thinking fashion editor, Duffy quickly prospered. His simpler style and youthful aesthetic became that of the magazine, whilst paradoxically infusing photography with something of the glamour hitherto reserved for the cinema.

Yet, though keenly aware of his market value, Duffy was not contented simply by success. In 1963 he left Vogue so that he could work from his own studio, and two years later began a long association with French Elle, whose artistic leanings corresponded more closely to his own. Meanwhile, with David Puttnam as his agent, he took on more advertising work.

One memorable campaign was for Benson & Hedges cigarettes. Influenced by Magritte, and playing on the brand's gold colour, the packet was seen instead of a canary in a cage, or as a lump of cheese outside a mouse hole. In the days before computer-aided editing techniques, the pictures presented considerable problems of scale and lighting. If the playful imagery exemplified Duffy's visual style, then perfectionism, to the point of intimidating assistants and models, characterised his approach to work.

Other significant commissions included two calendars for Pirelli, in 1965 and 1973, the latter a collaboration with the artist Allen Jones, although the two fell out over the degree of latitude Duffy gave himself in realising Jones's preliminary sketches. Duffy also shot the covers for three of David Bowie's albums, most notably Aladdin Sane (1973), which amply reflected the singer's theatricality.

Duffy's growing disillusion with photography was signalled as early as the late Sixties, when he set up a film production company with the novelist Len Deighton, a friend from art school. It made both Only When I Larf (1968) and the musical Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), but Duffy found that he had little time for the self-indulgences of actors.

Brian Duffy, who died on May 31, is survived by his wife June and their two sons and two daughters.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eva Watson-Schütze

Eva Watson-Schütze

"Woman with Lily," ca. 1903

"Mother and Children Look at an Album," 1904

"Children Reading," ca. 1900

""Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead with Ralph Radcliff-Whitehead, Jr."

"Frederico Stallforth"

Eva Watson-Schütze biography from The National Museum of Women in the Arts:

Like many late-19th-century photographers, Eva Watson-Schütze originally intended to become a painter. Born Eva Lawrence Watson, the native of Jersey City, New Jersey, spent six years studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, primarily with Thomas Eakins. By her late twenties, however, Watson had developed a passion for photography. Between 1894 and 1896 she shared a studio space with another Academy alumna, and the following year she opened her own Philadelphia portrait studio. Within four years Watson had established a significant reputation as a professional photographer -- exhibiting her works in the prestigious Philadelphia Salon and in group shows that traveled to London and Paris; writing articles on photography for several periodicals; and being labeled one of the "Foremost Women Photographers of America."

Watson married the German-born lawyer Martin Schütze in 1901 and moved to Chicago. There, Watson-Schütze's career continued to prosper: in 1902 she was elected to membership in the Linked Ring, an important London-based organization that promoted pictorialism (emphasizing the artistic as opposed to the purely documentary aspects of photography); the next year she was a founding member of the Photo-Secession; and in 1905 she had her work exhibited at Alfred Stieglitz's influential New York gallery, 291.

Watson-Schütze established a new studio in Chicago and soon attracted a large and appreciative clientele for her romantic, yet powerfully composed portraits and figure studies. Beginning in 1902, she and her husband spent their summers in Woodstock, New York. Eventually, Watson-Schütze lived there six months out of the year, working on photography and painting.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Izis -- Israëlis Bidermanas

Izis -- Israëlis Bidermanas  (1911–1980)

Jacques Prevert

Edith Piaf

Jacques Prevert

Israëlis Bidermanas biography from Breitbart:

Chagall painting the ceiling of the Paris opera, young lovers kissing by the Seine, grimy-faced children at play in the streets: French photographer Izis captured the poetry of Paris in the 1950s. Izis (Israëlis Bidermanas) was born in Lithuania.

Izis was part of the French humanist movement that focused on scenes of everyday Parisian life, but he never achieved the fame of his contemporaries Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Willy Ronis and Brassai.

Born Izraelis Bidermanas in Lithuania under Tsarist Russia, Izis fled his country at the age of 19, arriving in Paris penniless and enormously grateful for the refuge afforded to him.

"He wrapped his arms around Paris," said Izis' son, Manuel Bidermanas, a former director of the Sygma photo agency.

A melancolic, at times brooding artist, Izis injected some of that sadness into his work. His photographs of working-class Paris -- children in the street, men eating in cafes, laundry hanging from clotheslines -- show hardship but also dignity.

"I would say his work had a form of poetic sadness," said Bidermanas. "He believed that we were all, deep down, quite fragile."

"Izis' "poetic sadness" was rooted in personal tragedy.

During the war, Izis, his wife and Manuel, then only three years old, were forced to flee Paris when it came under German occupation. The family was taken in by farmers in a village near Limoges.

Izis' parents and brother who had stayed behind in Lithuania were killed during the mass extermination of Jews.

In 1944, he joined the French Resistance and put his talent at the service of the cause, snapping shots of Resistance fighters. Those portraits of young men established him as a name in photography.

Returning to Paris, Izis opened a small studio and in 1949 went to work for Paris Match magazine, where he stayed for 20 years.

Some of his famous works include a 1952 photo of Albert Camus, looking out from a Paris apartment balcony, with knitted brow, and choreographer Roland Petit, his fingers outstretched to show a dance movement.

He published several books of photographs and in 1951 was invited to display his work alongside Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson, Ronis and Brassai at New York's MoMA.

Izis scored a major scoop in 1963 when he was allowed to photograph Marc Chagall painting the ceiling of the Paris Garnier Opera house, at a time when the choice of the artist stirred controversy.

Paris Match ran a 20-page spread on the Chagall photos showing the Belarus-born artist, then 76, staring up at his masterpiece, paint brush in hand.

A series of photographs he did at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth gave him international exposure and he also made an emotional journey to Israel in 1952.

"This is 'my Paris' that I have always photographed," he wrote in the 1970s. "It is not modern Paris, neither is it old Paris."
Izis died at his Paris home in May 1980 at the age of 79.

Friday, September 9, 2011

James Ravilious

James Ravilious

Archie Parkhouse with Ivy for Sheep, Millhams, Dolton, Devon, England, 1975

Jean Pickard Leading Her Flock, Woolridge, Dolton, Devon, England, 1975

Farrier Shoing a Horse, Bradstone, Devon, England, 1999

Dr Paul Bangay Visiting a Patient, Langtree, Devon, England, 1981

Gatehouse and Garden, Lanhydrock House, Cornwall, England, 1990

Dovecote, Abbaye de Mortemer, Normandy, France, 1985

View towards Iddesleigh and Dartmoor, Iddesleigh, Devon, England, c1985

Many thanks for Robin Ravilious for her cooperation and kind permission to reproduce James' work here on Masters of Photography.

A Biography from James Ravilious: A Photographer of Rural Life:

James Ravilious was born at Eastbourne, England, the second son of Eric Ravilious, the war artist, wood-engraver and designer. James studied art at St Martin's School of Art, London, and then taught painting and drawing in London for some years. He married Robin Ravilious (daughter of the glass-engraver Laurence Whistler) in 1970, and in 1972 they moved to Devon to live in a cottage near her family home in Dolton. They had two children: Ben and Ella.

In the early 1970's James took up photography (self-taught), having seen its potential in the work of the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Now John Lane, director of the arts centre in the neighbouring village of Beaford, invited James to contribute some work to the newly set up Beaford Archive, intended as a photographic record of life in a largely unspoilt, but vulnerable, country area. What started as a short-term project grew into a seventeen year obsession. In that time James took over 80,000 black and white images of all aspects of local life: landscape, farming, everyday life in the local towns and villages, and their special occasions. He also borrowed and copied over 5,000 early photographs of the same area.

The resulting historical span, and detail, he gave to the Archive makes it probably the most intensive record of any rural area in England. But it is more than that. Though never posed, James's pictures are composed with the eye of an artist, and they capture subtle qualities of light - the result of years of experiment with pre-war Leica cameras and uncoated lenses. Above all, they are warmed by his affection and admiration for the people whose lives he recorded. His pictures reveal real life as it was being lived in late 20th century rural England when the country traditions that have been handed down for hundreds, if not thousands, of years were still part of everyday existence.

In addition to his work for the Beaford Archive, James undertook many private commissions, such as the arts and environment body Common Ground's influential Save Our Orchards campaign, Somerset County Council's Mendip Project, and recording work for Devon County Council. He also photographed in France (especially in Normandy and the Cevennes), as well as in Italy, Greece and Ireland, and other parts of the British Isles. Privately, he took a number of colour images in Devon that parallel his work for the Beaford Archive.

James's work has been exhibited in England, France and America; and can be seen in several collections. He published a number of books of his photographs, and contributed to many others. In 1997 he was given Honorary Membership of the Royal Photographic Society in recognition of his contribution to photography. He died of lymphoma in 1999.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ben Shahn

"I became interested in photography when I found my own sketching was inadequate."

"I was primarily interested in people, and people in action, so that I did nothing photographically in the sense of doing buildings for their own sake or a still life or anything like that."

"When you talk about war on poverty it doesn't mean very much; but if you can show to some degree this sort of thing then you can show a great deal more of how people are living and a very great percentage of our people today."

"Whatever I get involved in, I'm totally involved, you see."

"An amateur is someone who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to paint. A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint."

"Say Cheesburger," Columbus, Ohil, 1938

"Amity City," Louisiana, 1935

"American Gothic," 1935

"Players," Scotts Run, West Virginia, 1935

"Red House Kids," Red House, West Virginia, 1935

"The Pantitorium," 1938

"The Signpost Up Ahead," Crossville, Tennessee, 1935

"Blind Street Musician," 1935

"Dr. Davidage," Amity City, Louisiana, 1935

"Boone County," Arkansas, 1935

Ben Shahn was born in Kaunus, Lithuania in 1898. He emigrated to New York with his family in 1906. He became a lithographer's apprentice after completing his schooling. He later attended both New York University and the National Academy of Design from 1917 to 1921.

In the 1920s Shahn became part of the social realism movement. Social Realism is a term used to describe the works of American artists during the Depression era who were devoted to depicting the social troubles of the suffering urban lower class: urban decay, labor strikes, and poverty. His early work was concerned with political issues of the time, while his later work portrayed the loneliness of the city dweller. Text and lettering formed an integral part of his designs and his work was often inspired by news reports.

After working in lithography until 1930, his style crystallized in a series of 23 paintings concerning the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. Shahn came to prominence in the 1930s as with "The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti". Shahn dealt consistently with social and political themes. He developed a strong and brilliant sense of graphic design revealed in numerous posters. His painting Vacant Lot (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Conn.) exhibits a poetic realism, whereas his more abstract works are characterized by terse, incisive lines and a lyric ic intensity of color. The Blind Botanist (Wichita Art Mus.) is characteristic of his abstractions. Shahn's murals include series for the Bronx Central Annex Post Office, New York City.

From 1933 to 1938 he worked as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration, producing masterful images of impoverished rural areas and their inhabitants. Shahn used photographs throughout his career for both composition and content. The photographer position at the FSA was a dream job for Shahn because it provided him the opportunity to travel though Depression-era America taking pictures. He later used those photographs for his paintings years later. Critics in his time felt that using photographs for paintings diminished the value of a painting. However, Shahn's work became the most popular artist of his age. His work was on the cover of Time and well as the Museum of Modern Art.

Shahn has been described as a man of uncompromising beliefs and an artist who spoke to the world. Shahn continuously adopted new themes and mediums to define the human condition of his time. Active until the end of his career, Shahn was also a distinguished lecturer, teacher, and writer.