Veronika Pap © 2015
Veronika Pap © 2015
There are three photos I would like to share here, that have specific things in them, that drew my attention. As an other name: Studiums and Punctums.
The very first one is one of Garry Winogrand’s photograph, of a person with an umbrella.
My thoughts are: The umbrella with the raindrops have the similarity with the top the person is wearing, the drops and the texture create a soft look for the image, which I really like. It became very similar to each although it’s different textures. The top is a soft cuddly sweater/coat, you want to touch and the raindrops are wet and cold. They still appear to be so similar, in the look and in the feeling.
My punctum is what we can’t see on the image. The fact that we only see the umbrella’s back with a bit of the street view, but still makes the viewer curious, although we don’t see it, everyone knows what is under the umbrella. I can see the person standing there looking ahead with some grey view front of her.
My explanation is short but spent minutes watching the image, for some reason I was taking steps to the right and the left again back to the image, in order to understand what was catching my eye,and it was what I didn’t, but I did see. The umbrella covers the photo, the view,and that was that got my attention, first I wanted to see what’s behind, and did’t see the picture very interesting other than the soft look created by two completely opposite textures, that gave the same feeling in the way it is presented, together. Then I realised what really is catching my eyes, is the fact we can’t see what’s front of the umbrella. Someone is hiding and when there is hidden parts of pieces can be seen on the photographs it makes us curious. This is what happened to me here. I was looking at it as long as I got a picture, it opened to be a hole other view that I imagined behind (front) of the umbrella. The other simple thing is the curves and lines of the umbrella, while the drops are pouring down on these curves. The shirt the person is wearing is also a bit dotty and the umbrella has lines. I think it’s a beautiful composition. : )
The second photo I would like to write about, I found this in Paris in Photographie De La Maison.
What I found lovely about this picture is the first things to point out when you look at it, very simple. This is a group photo of local people. Unfortunately I haven’t got the background information about it, sorry. They are in the set place to be photographed and can tell about them, they are not exactly ready,. well not all of them. In the background there is an other group of people looking at photographs on the wall, so this was probably a place for photography, maybe an early studio or the house of a photographer. It can be a show as well, because of the hanged photographs. So they all look nice altogether and there is one little detail in the picture..
….That one guy. He doesn’t belong to neither groups of people, more like half looking at the photos and half way peeking out of under his hat. I love it! It’s like he is catching the photographer taking a picture of him and the artist took a picture of that just as the second he realises he was being photographed. The motion is back to back, perfectly catched.
Last but not least, an Andre Kertesz’s Photograph, with a bit longer in explanation on what I see. I took these pictures at Paris Photo.
The Horse sequence
Set of six
This sequence was one of the most beautiful to see at Paris Photo. When I first realised it was there I was extremely happy, each time I walked away from it I found myself having to come back.
I was familiar with the work and it is always a joy to see the actual prints that were made at the time they were originally captured, which was one of the reasons I felt the desire to view it again and again.
What came to my mind thinking about the action behind the scene, is that the horse being on the ground is quiet unusual. The horses were used a lot for some transport.
The first time I viewed the image I was reminded of how different we see the use of horses today; once it was typical to see a horse in the street in this state – it was normal life.
Another reason for my fascination was what was Kertesz’s involvement – was this near his house, or from his window?
What also held my attention in the pictures is that it shows an action scene. First comes the drama. The trouble is already happening on the street, the horse is on the ground. We don’t know from looking at the photo what was the reason behind it – why did he fall? The men around the horse are already taking care of it and are trying to free him from his reins. On the second photo he is freed and in the third his companions are trying to help him up. It is unusual for a horse to be on the ground, they are typically either sick or about to die when they are in this position- horses even give birth while standing. So until seeing the last photo the viewer may think the horse is actually dead.
On the second and third photo we can see more people standing on the street, taking a look at the action, children as well. From the second and the third photo someone from the pedestrians jumped into the scene to help the horse stand up. I think he was an outsider, but stopped to help. On the fourth picture he is back on track and the horse is standing again, the man is back on the sidewalk. The fifth is going with putting the reins back on the animal, then the sixth picture comes along. The top solution of the drama. Everyone is again happy, hopefully the horse as well and a few questions appear. This is where for me, the story as the viewer and as well as the photographer get’s very interesting. Did all the people start to cheer or was it a grey day and everyone on the sidewalk from watching continued their life and walked off? Kertesz probably didn’t. I think he could not leave it without words and cheered to the men, and got their attention. A young boy and a man who were travelling on the horse carriage are looking straight up to him, while he took the set’s last shot. I believe this was done purposely.
Looking at it, I feel like I am experiencing what the lens is seeing, and what the men are going through, and strangely I even feel an affinity with the horse.
The whole time I felt like a narrative spoke to me.
Thank you for reading!
I am writing about Andre Kertesz as a chosen photographer to write about. Why I like him as a person and as a photographer is because his style is something I can relate to. His graphic lines and geometric shapes is something my eyes really see when I am taking pictures.
Andre Kertesz was born in 1894 in Budapest, Hungary; later in life he was an active photographer in Paris and New York.
Andre started photography in 1912, from 1914 – 1915 he was recruited by the Austro-Hungarian Army in the Balkans and Central Europe, during this time he took amateur photographs of war companions but many negatives were lost in the 1918 revolution.
In 1925 Andre Kertesz tried his luck in Paris and upon discovering the art world he took portraits of people like Mondrian or Chagall.
In the 1930’s he met Brassai and Cartier-Bresson, then in1932 he exhibited in New York and 5 years later he was invited by the director of the Keystone Agency to work in New York. The contract was broken the next year and the Second World War prevented him from returning to Europe.
Washington Square, NY, 1956
“If black and white photography doesn’t have the same sense today it is not only because of the appearance and development of colour. It is because the links of the visible and readable are attached in a totally different way; we are no longer as sure that meaning is what can be read and that reading is the great game through which the world can be deciphered.”
Tokyo 1968, New York, 1937
The blind musician, Abony, Hungary, 1921
He has a recognisable style in photography; his black and white pictures were mostly taken in France, Hungary and America. The feature ‘high-angle view’ can be recognised on a lot of his photographs and give a strong mark to his style and composition, this was also one of the things he was most famous for.
One of the things he is most famous for is the way he shoots from a high vantage point, which is apparent in a lot of his pictures.
At first people thought he was eccentric for taking pictures on the streets, but once people had seen the finished work they understood and appreciated his originality.
In 1925 Kertesz took various pictures of chairs he may have recognised as original, but he had no idea that his photographs were to define a contemporary style.
After Kertesz emigrated to New York leaving his success behind in Paris, he struggled for 30 years with a lack of recognition. Which he only got very later in his life, but more after his death.
His style was very natural compared to American contemporaries, who critiqued his pictures for being overly sentimental, their own styles being excessively neat and “super perfect” from Kertesz’s point of view, i.e. they expressed nothing.
Nothing was too ordinary for Kertesz to photograph – he did so in a way that showed the beauty of the subject even though it may have just been a fork.
He would look out for geometrical shapes in the everyday life, he turned the streets into abstraction and gave aperspective the viewer would not normally see.
Broken Bench, NY, 1962
New York, 1937
New York, 1951
New York, 1977
These pictures are some of my favourites of his.
I hope you enjoyed it and found some useful information.
I have visited this exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery in September, on which I am writing a review for my blog. Welcome my thougths, and feel happy to share your’s. ( :
The Primerose exhibition presents the blossoming Russian photography from 1860 to the 1970’s. Both, the history of Russia through photographs and the start then development of colour photography is presented at this show.
All the photos were arranged in historical order, which made it appear as a journal through time. From the 1860’s prints were painted by hand with watercolour and oil paints. First used on portraits and landscapes then used in architecture. Later on colour photography was used as propaganda in the soviet days and artists weren’t allowed to spend their time doing photography as art.
What interested me in this exhibition was, the start of colour photography when artists painted on their photos, the very start of colour photography in Russia and the way artists had to live with the daily soviet politician rules. These two subjects got my attention and although many other important information came across me at this exhibition these draw my attention.
At the beginning of the first showroom, I was taken back to the mid 1800’s Soviet flowery family portraits and Russian landscapes.
To me, what they wanted to show back in the 1800’s so realistically, feels surreal today. What made it more interesting is the reason of what parts of the pictures were coloured. At first, there was only little colouring, few bits that had to stand out and made it look more real, the lips, clothes and maybe some background. The artist coloured the parts which had to stand out, maybe the beauty of the women or her beautiful cultural clothes. What I had in mind is, why did they colour only parts of the image first? Once they started to paint it why did they only do few bits? They left the part of it grey and some colours. A good example is the picture shown below which is one of a set, by 1910’s V. Yankovsky, PT. Ivanov, and Anonymous.
He coloured the parts of the clothes that were red, important in military. In this photograph, the soldier’s rank could be it’s significance. The people are photographed in military clothes so that is the main reason of their pictures being taken and the artists uplifted the meanings by outlining the red.
Then came the architectural reasons and the landscapes. Everything was repainted. The coloured landscapes are as perfect paintings.
This image below on the left, was made by Dmitry Yezuchevsky – The Bridge Construction 1880 – 1980’s.
By the late 19th century an active process of Europeanization was influencing in Russia, the architecture the clothing and the way of life reflected this at the time.
The second section of the exhibition shows the 20th century’s photographic documentation, it became a priority of the Soviet Empire.
Soviet art had to reflect happy people. Following the WWI the Soviet government supported photography as an important tool for propaganda. In 1932 the USSR adopted socialist realism, as the single acceptable method in art, including photography, there was no place for modernism or pictorialism. Along with the pictorialist trends, Russian photographers received international awards for their art. Pastoralist themes were dangerous references as socialists realism was concerned, for this a number of photographers were banned from creating art and were moved in to labour camps. Vasily Ulitin was one of the photographers who was freed, found it hard to adapt the reality and tried to portrait revolutionary subjects having been given the right to work by the Bolsheviks.
The way to create art to present in Russia was through the soviets but what they wanted wasn’t really art.
Vasily Ulitin – Red Army Man 1932 Three colored bromoil print (on the right)
Although the exhibition was not war centred it had a few pictures that was very strong in appearance. The political life made photography to be a prior documentation. The other example on history I would like to put into this context is the photo collage of Lenin’s funeral, made by Alexander Rodchenko, (Molodaya Gvardia Magazine, 1924 Photo montage with cardboard paper, typographic print and gouache).(on the left) What a powerful montage!
Growing up around family, specifically grandparents but parents as well, who have been through communism I heard a lot about it around the house. Thinking about the fact, back in the time all the people who saw this very same picture of the huge political dictators, what more and strong release and feelings went to all the people who have suffered from their ideas.
Very interesting to see and also a great experience.
T h a n k Y o u !