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Posts Tagged ‘black and white photography’

How is this even possible

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 7, 2014

San Francisco, Paris, New York; three cities I can never get enough of. That’s why I’ve periodically visited them (or lived in them) over the past thirty years, always marveling at the sights and sounds of these world-class, world famous cities. Photographer Duane Michals has an exhibit currently making the rounds (at DC Moore Gallery through May 31, 2014) titled “Empty New York.” It features black and white pictures of subway cars, barber shops, bodegas, laundromats, even Coney Island, without a single person present, something quite unimaginable to New York City residents. Shooting photographs since the late 1950’s, Michals is inspired by Eugene Atget, who did his own series of photos using the streets of Paris as subject. Here’s the museum page, and below, some of the pictures. Haunting, and gorgeous.
Empty New York, c. 1964

Comprised of thirty rare gelatin silver prints dating from the 1960s, the exhibition focuses exclusively on Michals’ early exploration of transitional early morning moments in New York City shops, parks, subway cars, and train stations. This is the first time these photographs have been exhibited as a group.

The images in this exhibition, taken over a half a century ago, include New York landmarks such as Penn Station, the Metropolitan Opera House, and Washington Square Hotel as well as ordinary locales, such as a laundromat, a shoeshine station, or an empty booth in a neighborhood diner. The series reflects Duane Michals’ admiration for the work of French photographer Eugene Atget who memorably photographed the streets of Paris. As Michals has said,

“It was a fortuitous event for me [to discover the work of Eugene Atget in a book]. I became so enchanted by the intimacy of the rooms and streets and people he photographed that I found myself looking at twentieth –century New York in the early morning through his nineteenth-century eyes. Everywhere seemed a stage set. I would awaken early on Sunday mornings and wander through New York with my camera, peering into shop windows and down cul-de-sacs with a bemused Atget looking over my shoulder.”

Of this intellectual revelation and point of departure, Michals recollects that how for him suddenly, “Everything was theatre; even the most ordinary event was an act in the drama of my little life.” The universality of narrative, space, and their limitless capacities would set the stage for Michals proliferous and imaginative career.

Since 1958 Duane Michals has been making photographs which investigate themes of memory, mortality, love, and loss. Constantly interpreting and re-interpreting the world around him, Michals never stagnates and always finds new ways to understand the human experience through his idiosyncratic combination of philosophy, humor, history, and stark emotion.

Michal’s first solo museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970, and he will be honored with a career retrospective opening October, 2014 at The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Duane Michals lives and works in New York City.

Posted in life, New York, New York City, photography, photography opening | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 30, 2013

There’s a word for loving everything French: Francophile. My wife and I are Parisophiles, if I can be permitted to coin the term. Here’s a Life Magazine series called “Paris Unadorned: Black and White Portraits of the City of Light, 1946.” The nostalgia of the time, the sumptuousness of the black and white photography, the breathtaking beauty of the scenery make these pictures gorgeous and stunning. Enjoy!

Ed Clark—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
1) View along Quai du Louvre (today Quai François Mitterrand) down the Seine toward Ponte Des Arts with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, 1946.
2) View of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, 1946.

3) A barge churns up the Seine past Notre Dame on a gloomy winter day in 1946.
4) A man exits a Paris Metro station, 1946.

5) The Arc de Triomphe, 1946.
6) A young artist paints Sacré-Coeur from the ancient Rue Norvins in Montmartre, Paris, 1946.

7) Moulin de la Galette, Paris, 1946.
8) Paris’ famed stalls along the Seine, 1946.

9) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.
10) View across the Pont Alexandre III bridge toward the Grand Palace, Paris, 1946.

11) Paris street scene, 1946.
12) Near the Pont Neuf steps, Paris, 1946.

13) Scene on the Seine, 1946.
14) Parisian flower vendor on the banks of the Seine, 1946.

15) Pont Alexandre III bridge, Paris, 1946.
16) Conciergerie, Paris, 1946.

17) Rowboats on the banks of the Seine, Paris, 1946.
18) View of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Coeur, 1946.

19) Montmartre cemetery, Paris, winter 1946.
20) Passerelle Debilly bridge on a foggy winter day with the Eiffel Tower in the background, 1946.

This is a post-war Paris where, according to Ed Clark, the Parisians were “cold, hungry, confused and tired — above all, tired — too busy keeping themselves alive to bother much about entertaining. . . . [The typical American GI in Paris at the time] felt cheated. Where was the Paris he had heard about? Where were the naked women?” According to Life Magazine: “The Paris [of Clark’s photos] is the Paris of the Parisians — and of anyone else who will take her. She is unadorned, somber and beautiful. Most of the pictures were taken in mist or rain, when the sharp, clean lines of the city’s spires and the bridges pierce through a curtain of gray. This is the Paris that neither Germans nor GIs could change. Even in the age of the atom bomb, she is as indestructible as the river.”

Posted in 1946, black and white photography, City of Light, Francophile, life, Life Magazine, Paris, Parisophile | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »