Montag, 30. März 2009

Masterpiece of the week

Night in front of the café at the Place du Forum in Arles, 1888 Arles.
Van Gogh: "I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day."

The café in Arles nowadays is of course named after Van Gogh.

Today would be Van Gogh's birthday. He was born on the 30th of March in 1853 and died on the 27 of July 1890 after a suicide attempt. Recently I finished reading Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. I can recommend the book to anyone interested in Van Gogh's work. Throughout his life his brother Theo who as an art dealer in Paris supported Van Gogh and exhibited his paintings. He also was his closest confidant. Van Gogh shared his thoughts on his work, painting and on every aspect of life with him in his letters.Y ou also learn more about the circumstances that led to Van Gogh's mental illness and early death. Just before he died Van Gogh was on the verge of success. His brother organized a big exhibition after his death that was favourably reviewed in the press and highly appreciated by his fellow impressionist painters. Theo died only one year after Vincent in 1891 from a severe illness.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam shows the exhibition "Van Gogh and the Colours of Night" from the 13th of February to the 7th of June.

Helen Levitt dies at the age of 94


Helen Levitt was one of the most important street photographers in New York. She already began her work with a Leica camera in the 1930ies after she met Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1938 she became the assistant of Walker Evans. She is mainly known for her images of children in the streets of Manhatten.

Sonntag, 29. März 2009

New Acquisitions

Joanne Berry: Pompeji

It has always been fascinating for me how antique culture is preserved in the ruins of Pompeij.
I have just run over the pages. It seems to be a very accurate description of the life and art in antique Pompeji. It is abundantly illustrated with photos, charts and drawings.
It made me dream of a trip to the gulf of Naples to visit the place as soon as possible.

Lucian Freud: Paintings
with an essay by Robert Hughes

The book is described on the website where I ordered it as a comprehensive overview of Lucian Freud's body of work. In view of that I expected more images. Some of his main works are missing and many are only show in detail or in black and white. The book still is worth its moderate price.


New Aperture Issue

I am always thrilled to get my new issue of Aperture Magazine in the post. Yesterday it arrived.

For me it is the best photography magazine, concerning content, printing and layout.

I particularly enjoyed Sally Mann's new photography series with close up portraits of her husband. She is mainly known for the romantic black and white photos she took of her kids.

The article about Jiang Jian's photos he took during and after the Cultural Revolution in rural China is also very interesting. The photos are compared to the classic Walker's Evans photos from the depression era in rural America.

For more information take a look at the aperture website.

Mittwoch, 25. März 2009

Was Caravaggio the first photographer?


The famous Renaissance painter was probably the first to use photographic techniques for his paintings. Many painters as Vermeer and Dürer used the Camera Obscura, but scientists have found out that he also fixed the projected image on his canvases chemically.

More in this article:

Arno Schmidt as a photographer


At the Museum Ostdeutsche Galerie in Regensburg the almost unknown photographic work ofArno Schmidt is displayed. Arno Schmidt is mainly known as an author of German experimental literature, but he also produced about 2500 colour photographs and 1000 black and white photos in his lifetime. 70 colour prints and 100 black and white prints were chosen for the exhibition.

Arno Schmidt mainly took photos of his environment, his wife, his house, his garden, the landscape close to Bargfeld near the flat landscape of the "Lüneburger Heide", where he lived the last years of his life. His also seemed to have taken pleasure in photographing small cats and cacti.

The curator of the show Dr. Roman Zieglgänsberger describes him as a “highly gifted amateur”. “This wide landscape is transformed magically by the insisting gaze of the photographer. As a dia on the wall this dull and beautiful landscape becomes stunningly meaningful.”

In this point I cannot follow the curator. The pictures didn’t seem more meaningful to me than the photos of less famous amateurs, they were not better composed nor technically more brilliant. Also the quite pretty pictures of playing cats and the somewhat blurred photo of a blooming cactus didn’ t convey a deeper meaning to me.

The photos I liked best were portraits of the author, that were taken by his wife. I got the impression that the curator concluded from Arno Schmidt’s important literary work that his photography also has to be very meaningful.

The exhibition perhaps would have been more interesting, if more connections to Arno Schmidt as an author had been made.