There is an iconography of Robert Frank’s work, that is undeniable.
His book, The Americans, was shot in the 1950’s by way of a Guggenheim grant, and showed us a side of America that existed, but was not the mainstream imagery. The book changed the look of photography, forever.
He then put his Leica in the cupboard in 1959, after the enormous success of the book, and turned his eye to film making, working with the poet laureates of the beat generation, and made the movie Pull My Daisy, and began a large list of film projects.
He didn’t pick up his still camera again till the 70’s, and the combined body of work he has created is enormous.
OK, that is a bit of background.
At the Tisch Arts Building at NYU in NYC, there is currently an exhibit spanning his entire career, and laid out in such a unique manner, that you fall in love with this artist after your first viewing.
For years, the original prints have been tough to exhibit, because they are fragile, and the cost to insure is prohibitive.
The images in this show, selections taken from all of his books, are printed on newsprint, and therefor have little resale value, and will be destroyed after the show. As a matter of fact, they are just attached to the walls with stickpins.
Laid out over 2 floors, you are taken a journey through his life, and the people who have passed through.
Like Jack Kerouac:
It does weave between personal contexts of people he knows and interacts with, and projects that have caught his attention, and eye.
In the beginning of the show, they have included letters to his parents, which while sharing a side of his passion, also have a feel of what any child might write his parents: thanks for the money!
His descriptions of a NYC from a strangers point of view, he’s from Zurich, Switzerland, haven’t changed much. His photographs of that time are so much more complex that the words in his letters.
Perhaps because it is photography, you can look at it simply and feel the message, or dig deeper to know the message.
The wall are covered with these newsprint photographs, and in a study area (this is NYU after all) sit some of the most iconic images from The Americans.
One of my favorite parts, the contact sheets blown up, still with the grease pencil outlines on selected frames. A great look into the editing mind.
Along with all of these large, unframed photos covering the walls, is a very cool, unique way to display all of his books. They are hung by wire and are “floating” in the space, yet available to visitors to pick up and peruse.
And there are continuos screenings of all his films , so check here for more into on times
With quotes from Robert Frank painted on the walls, the letters, books, films, contact sheets, and classic photography, this is the strongest show in town right now, and has a short run.Only runs till Feb 11.
And a small note: the Photo and Imaging department sent me back to my college days with this:
and the chemical smells created a flood of memories that remind me of my late nights, printing away in the darkroom.
This student knows exactly what I’m talking about:
(secret tip: there is a newsprint catalog produced by Steidl, pre-eminent photo book publisher, that sells for $5. Ask to buy one on the 8th floor. Cash only. Best $5 you’ve ever spent)
We live in a 72 dpi world.
It’s all on the screen in our hands, or on the desk.
How do you enhance your living environment, once you raise your eyes?
William Wegman with a hanging Doodles Man
Your walls not only reflect your tastes, but should evoke a response from you on an almost daily basis.
The height you hang your images from: eye level? higher?
Where are you sitting when you are looking at them?
Someone taught me long ago a way to hang the art in your home.
When you walk in the door, what do you see? It’s a statement of you. Pleasant, provocative, nebulous, whatever, it’s the first greeting for you, and your guests.
The where does the eye go?
Scan your home and see what catches you first. Hallway? A peek into another room? Does an image in another room grab you to enter that room and see what else may be there?
Then of course, what happens when you are settled in a main living area. What does your eye get to scan and enjoy? Hopefully your choice of images, either let you continually see new things, or delivers a gentle emotion to put you in a certain frame of mind.
Too deep? It is way more subtle than I’m bringing out here. Of course, I’ve found that the special images must remain out of any direct light so fading is not an issue. Some of those gems stay in the hallway, only to be glimpsed going in or out of a room. You have to make a point to stop and enjoy, but it almost ensures you never tire of it.
There is one image that now hangs in my bathroom, directly opposite my shower. the door is awesome open so there is never any steam or fog.
This image greets me every day, as I step out of the shower.
By Jacob Aue Sobol, this image was purchased in the last Magnum yearly square image sale. not expensive, but signed original. $100.
Still has layers I am trying to decipher. And enjoy it every day.
Price isn’t the point.
Enjoying the beauty and complexity of photography, is.
There are a few black easels in my place, from Aaron Bros, that have clean lines, and allow me to change out images at will, without the wholesale revise of the wall arrangements.
I encourage you to curate your walls. And then change them every year.
Screens are cool, books are nice, but a print on the wall is pure enjoyment.
This is not an ad for any gallery, but an encouragement to get your images off of a screen, and into the light where it belongs.
Sure, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot in Film.
So was Hateful 8. And people are buying turntables again. And vinyl has been on the rise for awhile.
What is going on?
A return to analog is creeping back into our digital lives.
Has there been enough pixels and cloud stored images? Is there a desire to experience the warmth and imperfections of the analog mediums? Everyday I read about photographers retiring to, or supplementing their shooting with film cameras.
On the flip side of 360º video and VR markets, comes the old yellow stalwart Kodak, with a return to the past glory of a Super 8 Film Camera:
“You Press the Button, and We Do the Rest” was the selling point of Kodak Brownie in 1889.
And the came the home movies, with the same promise of ease.
The new Super 8 model has an LCD screen, and will take an SD to record your audio.
You pay for a cartridge, send it to Kodak and get back the processed film and a digital scan of the footage.
What you donut get, for everyone used to video cameras, is the audio tied to the visual.
That’s right, you have to sync the audio in post.
I you are a hobbyist, that is part o the charm.
If you are a student, that is part of your learning process.
If you are a general user, you will have to sync your audio files, which may be more than a lot of folks want to do.
The whole idea here has a throwback feel, and a kitsch factor that will appeal to many. The wait time to see your results?
Hmmmm… we’ll see if buyers are truly ready for that.
Does shooting analog make you a better image maker, slow you down to be more thoughtful, or have a look that no algorithm can reproduce?
(photo album of CES 2016 here)
I like to think of CES as a film festival.
The majors come out with a lot of glitz & glamour, plus loud fanfare and pretty packaging dressing it all up. The press releases will tout only the best parts, just like what surrounds any large scale movie release.
If the movie or product doesn’t make it, the company/studio, stays in business, and move on to more R&D, and market research.
On the flip side, are the folks/small manufacturers that mainly populate the Eureka Park venue, a little more out of the way in the Sands Hotel.
Like an indépendant filmmaker, these small manufacturers or designers that get a booth here, put it all on the line. Could be a fun, leisure item, or a life improvement product. The Indie filmmakers have a story to tell, whether it’s a doc, or comedy, that they needed to self or crowd fund.
The press isn’t massive and pervasive, the booths/theaters aren’t the big and glitzy mainstream affairs. The scrappy, start-ups have a dream, an idea, work their tails off, use life savings, and bring a product to market in the hope that it will take off.
They can’t afford to bring in the big stars to promote, but the idea/concept may be revolutionary. Or maybe just hit upon a common need or chord that has an audience.
If the innovation product/independent film doesn’t find it’s audience, all could be lost: the money borrowed, the man hours invested, and the lifeblood of attention will have a major effect on the creator.
With almost 90% of the start-ups not making it, the risk is huge, and everything on the line.
Like an independent film, exposure is what you need at a trade show or film festival, so you attract users/investors/distributors.
And the hope that once you go to market, there is success and yo find that audience..
The major brands can sustain a loss, the smaller inventors could face ruin. Pretty risky business.
On the more positive side, that risk can turn into huge rewards for the small innovator.
I’ll never forget being at a press preview for masses of new products, and 2 action cams were making their first public debut: The Contour Camera and the GoPro.
The Contour was sleek, cylindrical, sexy, beautiful packaged and innovation.
The GoPro was a simple little box. A guy was walking around with one on his chest, and one on a helmet. It was not the most elegant display.
jan 11. 2010
But it was an obviously a better designed product and the shape helped.
As we all know now.
And then there was the FitBit. These folks were in a press preview room, with the promise of the scale coming (took a few years) and their data tracker was more of a smooth small stone that was easy to use, easy to lose, and killed the Jawbone Up bracelet. And the success of this company is renown.
You never know what you may see.
Other categories to watch: As people have realized that shooting video on a small camera like a phone, results in crappy, shaky, video. So the rush is on for stabilization.
This small company, Vimble, had a simple booth, one person, and a demo unit pulled out of a shoulder bag. But the guy knew his product, it worked as promised, and I look forward to seeing it come to market.
The was a company called Icaros, mentioned in an earlier post, playing on the VR craze, built a rig to hold a person, and let them experience the sensation of flying like Superman through the use of VR goggles and software.
And then there are the items you want to use right now. Simple perhaps, but incredible useful.
Like Blink, an IOT (internet of things) battery operated security camera, that you can control and view video from your smartphone.
I want to use this in my hotel room right now!
Or ThinOptics reading glasses. Yep, I need readers and these have an awesome. tiny, lightweight, design. Yes, this is not their 1st time at CES, but perhaps looking for more exposure or distribution.
And yes, they slip into a protective case on my iPhone. Genius!
Next year, I would recommend spending a good day in this start-up area to see what could be coming down the road. Get a close up look at some hard work and perseverance.
I have to applaud these companies, as I am aware of what it took to get to where they were: the trade show floor of CES!
Now they just have to see if the marketplace wants what they are selling.
Always a gamble.
Coming up this month is the Sundance Film Festival as well. I’m sure that a lot of the technology we have been seeing the past couple of years has enabled many small film makers to tell their stories and get it on the screen in Park City.
- Tisch Photography and Imaging
- “Robert Frank, Books and Films, 1947-2016”
- Jan. 28 – Feb. 11, 2016
- 721 Broadway: LOBBY & 8TH FLOOR GALLERIES
- NY, NY
- Tel: 212.998.1930
- Annenberg Space For Photography
- Oct 24, 2015 – Mar 20, 2016
- 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
- Century City, CA. 90067
- Tel: 213.403.3000
- Pace Gallery
- Irving Penn
- Jan 29, 2016 – Mar 05, 2016
- 534 West 25th Street
- New York NY 10001
- Tel: 212.929.7000
- Getty Center
- The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography
- October 6, 2015–February 21, 2016
- 1200 Getty Center Drive
- Los Angeles, CA. 90049
- Tel: 310-440-7300
- Yossi Milo Gallery
- CHRIS KILLIP, IN FLAGRANTE TWO
- Jan.28–Feb. 27,2016
- 245 Tenth Avenue
- New York,NY 10001
- Tel: 212-414-0370
- Howard Greenberg Gallery
- MARVIN E. NEWMAN: SEQUENTIALLY SOUGHT
- Through Jan. 30th, 2016
- 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
- New York,NY 10022
- Tel: 212-334-0100
- Staley-Wise Gallery
- PATRICK DEMARCHELIER: PHOTOGRAPHS 1975 – 2015
Jan. 30th, 2016
- 560 Broadway
- New York,NY
- Phone: 1-212-966-6223
- Museum of Modern Art
- Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015
- November 7, 2015–March 20, 2016
- 11 West 53rd Street
- (212) 708-9400
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Aftermath of Conflict
- Through March 6th, 2016
- 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
- New York, NY 10028
- Phone: 212-535-7710
- Morrison Hotel Gallery: Fine Art Music Photography
- Always something cool. Seriously
- Short Term, Changing Shows
- 116 Prince Street, 2nd Floor
- New York, NY 10012
- Phone: 212.941.8770
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