Thursday, October 27, 2011

William Coupon

"William Coupon, Self Portrait"

"Wheel Twirl, Carnival, Maryland"

"The Bellagio, Las Vegas"

"Holiday Inn, Las Vegas"

I want to thank William Coupon for his kind permission, allowing me to share his work here on my Masters of Photography blog.

Willaim Coupon biography from his web site:

My first photographs were photographs that talked – called "audiographs" – which were photographs that had looped cassettes behind a framed image, and photographs that moved – called "kinetographs" – which were photographs that were attached to moving motors. The "kinetographs" were commissioned for window displays at Bloomingdale’s in the late l970’s. I photographed a documentary on Studio 54, the legendary New York disco, in late summer l978, and they immediately were included in the International Center of Photography exhibition: "Fleeting Gestures: Treasures of Dance Photography."

I became interested in formal studio portraits in 1979 while observing it’s lower Manhattan youth (my peers) and it’s present counter-culture, and decided early on to use a single-light source and simple mottled backdrop, and when I needed to, I would set this up as a portable studio, one highly mobile. This was then used to document global sub-cultures. Many of the projects – referred to as "Social Studies" – became documents of indigenous people. These include projects on Haiti, Australian Aboriginals, Native Americans, Scandinavian Laplanders, Israeli Druzim, Moroccan BerbersSpanish Gypsies, Turkish Kurds, Central African Pygmy, and Panamanian Cuna and Chocoe. These projects also included Death Row Inmates, Drag Queens, and Cowboys. Stylistically, they were always photographed formally on the backdrop, and contextually, or environmentally , with 2 1/4 Rolleiflex black and white images, which were meant to be companions to the studio portraits.

Willaim Coupon biography from Wikipedia:

William Coupon (born December 3, 1952) is an American photographer, born in New York City, known principally for his formal painterly backdrop portraits of tribal people, politicians and celebrities.

William Coupon was born in New York City, but moved to Washington, D.C. and later to San Francisco. He attended Syracuse University and ultimately moved to New York City to begin his photographic career. He began in 1979 to photograph backdrop portraits of New York’s youth culture, to document its “New Wave/Punk” scene at the then popular Mudd Club in lower Manhattan. Commercial work soon followed for a variety of international magazines, record companies and advertising agencies.

The portrait style is up-close and painterly, with very warm earth tones against a mottled canvas. The style is usually medium-shot and classically lit using medium format cameras, referencing the Dutch painting masters such as Rembrandt and Holbein. The portraits have a quality about them that is less about fashion than about personality and as groups there is attempt to show their disparity as well what is relatable amongst the earth’s faces in a manner that is real, non-compromising, or over-glamorized. They were often accompanied by environmental images, which have a noticeably journalistic feel.

Some of his most notable images are of the Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (which were “Person of the Year” covers for Time Magazine), Yasser Arafat, George Harrison, Willy DeVille, Mick Jagger, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Miles Davis.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hannah Höch

"Hannah Höch with Dada Dolls," 1920

"I wish to blur the firm boundaries which we self-certain people tend to delineate around all we can achieve."

"Da Dandy," 1919

"And Why Do You Think the Moon Is Setting," 1921

"Love in the Bush," 1925

"Indian Female Cancer," 1930

"Grotesque," 1963

Hannah Höch biography from the review of "The Photomontages of Hannah Höch" by Missy Finger, Co-Director, Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, Dallas, Taxas.  Featured are essays by Peter Boswell, Maria Makela, Carolyn Lanchner.

Hannah Höch, an artist mostly known as the sole female member of the Berlin DADA movement, was a pioneer of photomontage. The complex imagery of her montage work explores her fragmented life as a woman within a male dominated art movement and pre-war and post-war society in Germany. The book was published in conjunction with an exhibition which specifically chronicles her artistic career in photomontage, even though she was working with other media such as painting, water-color, and drawing throughout her life. The exhibition was organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and traveled to The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Los Angeles County Museum afterwards last year.

The extraordinary book includes three essays that analyze Höch's career from pre-World War II Germany to post-war Germany, with over 100 color reproductions of the montages, a great asset to this book. It also includes a fully illustrated chronology of Höch's life.

The term photomontage is a term coined by the Berlin Dadaists that translates as a piecing together of photographic and typographic sources. The exhibition included the most memorable and largest photomontage (44 7/8 x 35 7/16 inches) from her DADA years, Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser Dada durch die Letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands (Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany) from 1919-1920. This belongs to the National Gallery, Berlin, and was seen only in the MOMA venue in New York.

Berlin DADA members included Raoul Hausmann, Hannah's lover for seven years, John Heartfield, George Grosz, Johannes Baader, and Richard Huelsenbeck. The group dealt with social and political issues in their art with a zest for breaking conventions. Painting was bourgeois and their anti-art generated new media including found objects. It is interesting to note that Hannah Höch and Raoul Hausmann developed the montage idea while on vacation in 1918 in a town on the Baltic Sea, Heidebrink. There they found a technique of engraving which placed photographic portraits of heads of local men away at war atop a generic, uniformed torso.

Tracing Höch's career as a DADA member, the book asserts the fact that her male counterparts marginalized her participation. This was during the time in Europe that women were given suffrage, magazines were being published for women, and Höch was using this epochal time as material for her art.The rigid gender roles are toyed with in a destructive manner, often placing a woman's head or legs on a male body, and vice versa.

In the post-war era, she infuses African art in her Ethnographic Museum series we note that women are justaposed with primitive imagery, relating women's slow progress in contemporary German culture. An interesting example of this period of work can be seen at the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth, Liebe im Busch 1925 (Love in the Bush).

Höch was born in the small town of Gotha in 1889. She later pursued the applied arts, rather than fine arts, as a more practical career choice for a woman at that time.She was employed by Ullstein Press designing dress and embroidery patterns for Die Dame (The Lady) and Die praktische Berlinerin (The Practical Berlin Woman). Working for the company that publishes BIZ, Der Querschnitt and Uhu, gave Höch the source material for her montage work. The exhibition book sometimes illustrates the original photograph that Höch used for a particular montage, giving us the advantage of seeing her clever, but complex manipulation of form and images.

Her art throughout her life reflects many influences of style, from constructivism to surrealism to futurism. We can see the roots of Robert Rauschenberg's massive scale collages of the sixties, and we can also appreciate that Pop Art has its roots in DADA.

Later montages by Höch become less cutting, more humorous. She inscribes at the bottom of a drawing from 1969, Dank für die Zeitschriften (Thanks for the magazines)--the source for these photomontages that are published in this scholarly book and exhibition.

For people associated with the Goethe Center, it might be interesting to note that in 1985, the West German government showcased Hannah Höch in a program of traveling exhibitions to introduce 20th Century German art to non-German audiences, the New York Goethe House being one venue in 1992. Now there are several books written about Höch in the English language. Many of the collages illustrated in this book were selected from the collections of the following German museums: Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum Für Moderne Kunst, Photographie und Architektur, Berlin; Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett; Institut Für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart; and the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.

More information about Hannah Höch can be found in the following publications: Hannah Höch, 1889-1978: Collages (Foreign Cultural Relations, Stuttgart, 1985); Cut with the Kitchen Knife: Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch (Yale University, 1993); and Three Berlin Artists of the Weimar Era: Hannah Höch, Käthe Kollwitz, Jeanne Mammen (Des Moines Art Center, 1994). All these books are reviewed by Jean Owens Schaefer in the Fall/Winter 1997 issue of Woman's Art Journal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anne W. Brigman

Self Portrait

"The Watcher," 1908

"Figure in the Landscape," 1923

"Tranquility," 1929

"Sancturay," 1921

"The Breeze," 1910

"Spirit of Photography," 1908

"Souls of the Weeping Rock," 1910

Anne W. Brigman biography from Wikipedia:

Anne Wardrope (Nott) Brigman (1869–1950) was an American photographer and one of the original members of the Photo-Secession movement in America. Her most famous images were taken between 1900 and 1920, and depict nude women in primordial, naturalistic contexts.

Brigman was born in the Nuuanu Valley above Honolulu, Hawaii on 3 December 1869. She was the oldest of eight children born to Mary Ellen Andrews Nott, whose parents has moved to Hawaii as missionaries in 1828. Her father, Samuel Nott, was from Gloucester, England. When she was sixteen her family moved to Los Gatos, California, and nothing is known about why they moved or what they did after arriving in California. In 1894 she married a sea captain, Martin Brigman. She accompanied her husband on several voyages to the South Seas, returning to Hawaii at least once.

After 1900 she stopped traveling with her husband and became active in the growing bohemian community of the San Francisco Bay area. She was close friends with the writer Jack London and the poet and naturalist Charles Keeler. Perhaps seeking her own artistic outlet, she began photographing in 1901. Soon she was exhibiting in local photographic salons, and within two years she had developed a reputation as a master of pictorial photography. In late 1902 she came across a copy of Camera Work and was captivated by the images and the writings of Alfred Stieglitz. She wrote Stieglitz praising him for the journal, and Stieglitz in turn soon became captivated with Brigman's photography. In 1902 he listed her as an official member of the Photo-Secession, which, because of Stieglitz's notoriously high standards and because of her distance from the other members in New York, is a significant indicator of her artistic status. In 1906 she was listed as a Fellow of the Photo-Secession, the only photographer west of the Mississippi to be so honored.

From 1903 to 1908 Stieglitz exhibited Brigman's photos many times, and her photos were printed in three issues of Stieglitz's journal Camera Work. During this same period he often exhibited and corresponded under the name "Annie Brigman", but in 1911 she dropped the "i" and was known from then on as "Anne". Although she was well known for her artistic work, she did not do any commercial or portrait work like some of her comptemporaries. In 1910 she and her husband separated, and she moved into a house with her mother. By 1913 she was living alone "in a tiny cabin...with a red dog...and 12 tame birds". She continued to exhibit for many years and was included in the landmark International Exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York in 1911 and the Internation Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in San Francisco in 1922.

In California, she became revered by West Coast photographers and her photography influenced many of her contemporaries. Here, she was also known as an actress in local plays, and as a poet performing both her own work and more popular pieces such as Enoch Arden. An admirer of the work of George Wharton James, she photographed him on at least one occasion.

She continued photography through the 1940s, and her work evolved from a pure pictorial style to more of a straight photography approach, although she never really abandoned her original vision. Her later close-up photos of sandy beaches and vegetation are fascinating abstractions in black-and-white. In the mid-1930s she also began taking creative writing classes, and soon she was writing poetry. Encouraged by her writing instructor, she put together a book of her poems and photographs call Songs of a Pagan. She found a publisher for the book in 1941, but because of World War II the book was not printed until 1949, one year before she died. Brigman died on 8 February 1950 at her sister's home in El Monte, California.

Brigman's photographs frequently focused on the female nude, dramatically situated in natural landscapes or trees. Many of her photos were taken in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in carefully selected locations and featuring elaborately staged poses. Brigman often featured herself as the subject of her images. After shooting the photographs, she would extensively touch up the negatives with paints, pencil, or superimposition.

Brigman's deliberately counter-cultural images suggested bohemianism and female liberation. Her work challenged the establishment's cultural norms and defied convention, instead embracing pagan antiquity. The raw emotional intensity and barbaric strength of her photos contrasted with the carefully calculated and composed images of Stieglitz and other modern photographers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jimmy Williams

"Before I lift my camera, I always open myself up to the moment and trust my emotions to dictate and inspire a compelling story. Whether I’m shooting a portrait or a landscape, my purpose always remains the same: to establish a connection with the subject and to produce utterly 'real' moments. The emotions are raw. Sometimes private. Always Honest."

"James," 2004

"Cool John Ferguson II," 2007

"Pat "Mother Blues" Cohen II," 2010

"Church Steeple, France," 2008

"Camper, South Core Banks, North Carolina," 2009

"Woman in Lobby," 2003

"Michela, Poggibonsi, Italy," 2007

"Sam and Charlie," 2005

"Captain Underpants, In Action," 2005

I want to thank Jimmy Williams for his kind cooperation and permission to reporduce his work on my Masters of Photography blog.

Jimmy Williams biography:

Jimmy Williams is a fine art and assignment photographer based in Raleigh, NC. He studied visual design at North Carolina State University, and shortly thereafter, opened an independent studio where he established himself as a successful and award-winning assignment photographer. Now, more than thirty years later, Williams devotes much of his time to personal photography endeavors, nurturing and maturing his photography into significant bodies of work. Two of Williams’ series, “Music Makers” and “Our Waters”, are presently on solo exhibit at the Block Gallery in Raleigh, NC and The Contemporary Art Center of Virginia respectively. Williams’ work is also permanently represented at John Cleary Gallery in Houston, TX, and Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, CO.

Williams has been honored with an Excellence Award by Color Magazine, Merit of Excellence for Nature Photography at the Masters Cup Awards; Outstanding Achievement in Photography at the International Spider Awards and 2nd place Deeper Perspective Photographer of the year at the Lucie Awards Gala at the Lincoln Center, NYC. Other recent accolades include: 1st place at Center’s Singular Image Awards, Fine Art Photographer of the Year at The International Spider Awards 2004, and editorial features in Lenswork, Rangefinder, Photo District News, B&W, Color, Communication Arts, and Graphis.