Lucien Herve (Lazlo Elkan)

I came across the photographer Lucien Herve while reading about the Swiss/French Architect Le Corbusier. Herve, a Hungarian by birth, born in 1910, changed his name several times, but settled on Lucien Herve while working with the French resistance. Herve had moved to France at the age of 19, the country became his home for the rest of his life. During the war he had been arrested by the Nazi’s and escaped from a prion camp continuing to work in the resistance up until the end of the war.

Herve 1

Copyright Lucien Herve

Herve did a number of jobs before becoming a photographer including working in the fashion industry and as a scenery painter in theatres. He worked as a photographer for a number of magazines, but it was a series of images he made of the ‘Unite d’Habitation’, a large housing complex in Marseilles, that caught the attention of the Architect, Le Corbusier. Seeing Herve’s images Le Corbusier employed him as his photographer.The pair worked together for 16 years up until Le Corbusier death in 1965.

In addition to his architectural photography Herve also made portraits of a number of well known figures including; Jean Cocteau and Henri Matisse.

Looking at Herve’s images of buildings and structures he creates a sense of the modern, he emphasises shape, form, modernity and whilst creating some quite abstract images does not loose the sense that these are space for people to live.

Viewing the work with a 21st century eye there is something stark and austere, but the 21st century viewer carries information about the social challenge and indeed catastrophe of some types of tower block living, but in the context of the time they were made there was probably something very hopeful and optimistic in the futuristic lines and curves he isolated and accentuated.

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Copyright Lucien Herve

Herge 2

Copyright Lucien Herve

Herve’s work is almost all made under natural light and he use of contrast to create a sense of shape. Having spent time looking at his work I intend to create some new images in my ongoing project to document Brutalist architecture under threat. I’m also going to try and use some of this influence in my rework of assignment 4.

References

Koetzle, H-M. (2011) Photographers A-Z , Taschen, Gmbh

Herve Family Website: http://lucienherve.com/LH.html (accesed Febr 2016)

 

 

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Robert Huasser

Hausser was a German photographer, born in 1924, the winner of more than 50 awards including being the recipient of the 1995 Hasselblad Award.

I came across the work of Hausser while researching my reworking of assignment 4. I was investigating shape and form and although Hausser seems to have worked in a wide variety of genres, spanning both commercial art photography, there are some striking images that record and fantastic sense of shape and form from the world around him.

Working predominantly in black and white, Hauser seems to have captured something quite beautiful in the mundane. The images below resonated with my intent in assignment 4 , all be it that I was  concentrating on shape and form under artificial light.

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Copyright Robert Hausser

There is a wonderful symmetry and sense of line and surface, as well as a sense of the abstract whilst also being simply a picture of a very repetitive hoarding. There is also some human interest in the distance, something I lacked in my assignment images.  I genuinely had not seen this image before I made mine above though!

The image above again is beautifully simple and yet really engaging, it has an almost science fiction quality, I had to do a double take as to what it was. It’s reality is far more mundane,and is part of a tube line construction.

Koetzle  (2011) suggests he had a:

‘remarkable eye for the absurd in the trivial’

I am inclined to agree with this statement but also feel there is a really thoughtful geometry to his work, which in turn creates a very interesting compositional approach.

I am unsure how well known his work is beyond the art world, and I will explore the work of Hausser further, there is I think much to learn from his work and much to be  inspired by from his images.

References

Koetzle, H-M. (2011) Photographers A-Z , Taschen, Gmbh

Bill Brandt: a brief overview

Bill Brandt born in 1904 was the son of a English father and German mother. He was brought up in Germany but made Britain his home. Conflicting in formation suggest he might have been born in England, but this more likely to have been something he said to distance himself from Germany.

As a young person Brandt contracted Tuberculosis as was sent to sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland in the 1920’s. He later went on to live in Vienna where a family friend introduced him to the America Poet Ezra Pound, through Pound he had an introduction to Man Ray. He subsequently spent time working for Man Ray in his Paris studio.This proved to be central to his development as a photographer. I would argue that a surrealist influence can be seen in his images, particular his nudes

In 1930 Brandt moved to Britain and remained here for the rest of his life. Brandt rejected his German background and as mentioned some biographies suggest that he was born in London and not Hamburg. In the 1983 BBC documentary Master photographers, the introduction suggests he was born in Britain.

Brandt worked as a photojournalist as well as an art photographer

Brandt’s work is almost exclusively Black and White and to my perhaps naïve eye falls into four broad categories.

Documentary

His images of pre war Britain and wartime Britain and particularly , London and it residents form a unique record o this time. He also took many night-time images to me very much in the style of Brassai images of Paris. In the 1980’s TV documentary: masters of Photography he is compared to Brassai and Atget , with London being his subject in the same way Paris was theirs. Through his work for magazines such as the Picture Post and Lilliput he traveled around Britain documenting people and places. To me a hallmark of his work is very striking composition and the use of quite high contrast black and white.

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Copyright Bill Brandt

Portrait

Brandt photographed many famous people, some on assignment for magazines and some through personal persistence. In some of his portraits I think there is a real sense of his surrealist apprenticeship with Man Ray and his own development as an artist. The portrait below of actor Nichol Williams is a somewhat different approach to a portrait of an actor. By this I mean the use of a wide angle lens has produced quite an unflattering image, somewhat different to the agency images sometimes seen of actors, where the external and internal context are rooted in positive promotional presentation.

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Copyright Bill Brandt

Landscape

Through his travels Brandt photographed many parts of the united Kingdom. In his very personal style he manages to record much about place. The example below taken on the Isle of Skye really captures the essence of the bleakness of the place. 

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Copyright Bill Brandt

Nudes

Brandt took a wide range of black and white nude images. Many of these again have what I believe to be a surrealist style and some, taken with very wide angle lens cameras make for very abstract nude images. Some of his nudes were taken outdoors on beaches, contrast between the subject and setting being a feature of the final images.

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A further feature of Brandt’s work is his darkroom printing which he did himself, the to the 1983 documentary Master Photographers, he talks about this being central to the image making process. Like Ansel Adams, Brandt saw the printing process as vital in making a final image.

Brandt appears to me to be less known to the general public than figures like Cartier Bresson, Brassai and Atget. I know he is well known to photographers and people with an interest in photography, I am not sure how much he is known to the general public? This leads to some interesting questions about his German immigrant status in the Britain, how he was seen by the establishment and the coverage his work got in his lifetime.

Brandt used some focus free wide able cameras to create unusual perspectives and viewpoints and these cameras contributed to his unique viewpoint and vision.

References

Jay, W. (1999) Brandt-The Photography of Bill Brandt, Thames and Hudson, London

BBC Documentary (1983) Master Photographers- Bill Brandt found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3KuY0quBsk ( Accessed 26th November 2015)

Victoria and Albert Museum Biographical Note- Bill Brandt found at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/bill-brandt-biography ( Accessed 26th November 2015)

Brassai -Paris de Nuit

Although I had heard of this photographer I was not familiar with his work. Having read the interview between him and Tony Ray Jones reference in the course materials I set out to explore his work and find out more about the man.

Born Gyula Halasz in 1899 in Transylvania, although a Hungarian citizen, he went on to be better known by his pseudonym Brassai, literately meaning ‘from Brasso, his home town. Leaving Hungary for Berlin he eventually settled in Paris

In some respects he came later to photography having started out studying paining and sculpture inBudapest before becoming journalist and subsequently. When he did pick up a camera it was to add to his article. Tutored by fellow countryman Andre Kertesz he went on to produce some beautiful images that captured the spirit of Paris by night. His friend the american author Henry Miller called him the ‘eye of Paris’

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Copyright unknown

His nocturnal scenes capture the topography and built environment of the city and some of the work falls into the urban landscape genre. Many images also capture the citizens and visitors to the city by night and his monochrome image present a view of the city that is instantly recognisable.

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Copyright unknown

He wandered the city streets at night capturing what he saw and seems to have had a clear skill in using the available light to make images that say something fundamental about the city at night.

As I plan my night time shooting I am inspired by this work to try and use the night time light and monochrome to try and recreate some of the engaging emotional mood that Brassai’s work radiates.Although as I write this statement I realise just how challenging that might be!

Whilst it is true that he photographed many other subjects , his images of paris are perhaps paragons of the photographers art in this city.

It is worth noting that in Paris he moved in some very elite circles being friends with Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, Dali and Genet.

References

Short Biography found at http://www.britannica.com/biography/Brassai

Short Biography found at: http://www.biography.com/people/brassaï-39060

Sato Shintaro -Tokyo and Osaka by night

If Sally Mann’s work depicts the rich light of the American South in her work then  Sat Shintaro present and altogether different view of Japan. Born in 1969 this Japanese photographer appears to base much of his image making scenes lit by artificial light. Reading the blurb of his picture book Night Lights his ambition in the work is described as:

‘His goal was not to show the popular locations and more recognised scenes, but rather the everyday disorder of the brightly lit urban landscape after dark.’

Shooting in the period when the sun has set but astronomical darkness has not yet ocured (the sun being 18 degrees or more below the horizon) referred to as the ‘blue period’ this strange light that is neither dusk nor night time offers a very evocative backdrop to his work.

There is something very engaging but also oppressive in the brightly coloured images of signage in the streets of Tokyo and Osaka that play the western stereotypical view of these busy cities. The bright primary and secondary colours of both printed and illuminated signs say something about how in a confined space the inhabited are offered very high levels of advertising. They raise questions about what it must be like to live in a Japanese city where the inhabitants must be constantly bombarded by neon bright advertising on an epic scale.

The image below illustrates this idea but also presents a paradox in the contrast between the business of the advertising and the emptiness of the street. I suspect this might be as a result of slow shutter long exposures that record the detail of the scen but the moving citizens are rendered invisible in the long explore. Given my developing interest in the use of slow shutter image making I will research this further.

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Copyright Sato Shintaro

His work which would appear to fit into the urban landscape tradition also paints a view of the wider Tokyo landscape. The image below taken after a fall of snow create an almost sureeal view of a complex human constructed landscape that again seems devoid of inhabitants

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Copyright Sato Shintaro

In terms of the beauty of artificial light this work really show the possibilities of the beauty of night-time photography and present a very different set of constructs when as photographers we consider the nature of light. This work has without doubt influenced me in much the same way the Rut Blees Luxemburg’s work in London has influenced my thinking about the exercises in this section of the course.

References:

Shintaro, S. (2014) – Night Lights, Seigensha, Tokyo

Shintaro, S, at: http://www.sato-shintaro.com/work/tokyo_twilight_zone/index.html

Rut Blees Luxemburg- light in the darkness

As part of my wider reading and research in part four of Expressing our Vision I have really been struck by the work of Rut Blees Luxemburg the German born photographer and art educator From what I have gleaned from internet searches much of her work is located around urban scenes taken at night. My interest was certainly piqued by her use of large format approaches to image making, given my deep interest and personal practice in using mainly tim for image making. In thinking about the artificial light element of the module I found her images of London illuminated by tungsten and sodium quite haunting and memorable. Indeed They create a storage sense of the beautiful and the brutal in the the same moment.

I need to explain the above statement. When buildings are lit by the tungsten domestic light of occupant from within and are simultaneously bathed in the light of sodium street lights they take on an altogether different form than they do under daylight. Her work not only captures the rugged and at times random within the built environment but it also says something about human presence. I have purposefully not read in detail any critique of her work and I am just describing how the work makes me feel and what i see in it.

I am at an interesting point in the course where I am keener to share what I think of a photographers images rather  than annotating the views of others. For tutors reading this I need to acknowledge that it is important to get the views of others and assimilate, accommodate and critique those views but at this stage I am hunting for my own voice as a reviewer of other images.

The image below perhaps typifies what I am saying about Luxemburg’s work. The tower block dominating the images overtly demonstrates the presence of its occupants in a built environment in a way that is not seen in daylight. The random nature of the rooms that are illuminated create a sense of the human in what might other wise could been seen as an inhuman edifice . The glow of the lights from the streets  below says something about the urban inner city nature of the location and the way the tower block is framed, almost obscuring everything else in the scene creates an oppressive sense of the scale of the block of that could be a metaphor for the modern inner city. This is of course a highly personal view. It is interesting that the Band ‘The Streets’ used this image as the cover for their gritty album ‘Original Pirate Material’

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Copyright Rut Blees Luxemburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luxembourg work explores the urban and what appears to be signs of human presence creating a something beautiful, but also melancholic perhaps. The image below is to my eye composed beautifully and captures much about London on a rainy night with a minimal number of image elements.

Copyright Rutt Blees Luxemburg

Copyright Rutt Blees Luxemburg

As I plan my night time excursion to capture my own images of the beauty of artificial light I am carrying thoughts of Luxemburg’s view on the word in my head!

Tony Ray Jones

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Copyright The Estate of Tony Ray Jones

“Photography for me is an exciting and personal way of reacting to and commenting on one’s environment and I feel that it is perhaps a great pity that more people don’t consider it as a medium of self-expression instead of selling themselves to the commercial world of journalism and advertising.”

Creative Camera October 1968, p. 349

 

An inspirational British Photographer, an early influence for Martin Parr whose influence is easily identified in Parr’s work.

Taken before his time, Ray Jones eye for interest and intrigue in the mundane is particularly true of his ‘Only in England’ series. To me his images combine a keen eye for the interesting with a real ability to spot the whimsical, all wrapped up in masterful, even epic composition.

I need to see more work by this no longer with us paragon of the well observed.

Alexey Tikarenko- City of Shadows

As part of my research for assignment 3 I came across the work of Alexey Titarenko. It has had a significant effect on my thinking and heavily influenced my latest assignment.

Titatenko is a Russian photographer, now living in New York. Born in 1962 in the then Soviet city of Leningrad much of his early work captures his home city in the most evocative and haunting manner. Shooting with a 6×6 medium format film camera and using slow shutter speeds, his images paint a haunting and personal picture of the city of his birth during a time of great transition. To me his images have a beautiful ethereal quality, but their power is in the record they offer of a pivotal moment in Soviet history. Although at first glance they are far from classic documentary photography, they tell the story of the fall of the Soviet Union in a unique and inspiring way.

The ghostly phantom like figures in his slow shutter square images record the mass movement of the citizens of Leningrad in their hunt for food and supplies in the cities shops as communist supply chains failed. By placing himself at key train stations, roads and metro station entrances he captured the mass movement of the people in search of food. Queuing had in the past been a feature of the soviet economy and as the state apparatus failed citizens reverted to old habits. To me the images in the you tube video below says as much, if not more, about what was happening in the city as any number of news report. Titarenko’s work for me, challenges the notion of documentary photography and bridges the genre to fine art even abstract image making.

However there is more! In his latest book, The City is a Novel, which I can’t put down,  he also presents an argument that he is capturing both a truth and a fiction simultaneously. I will follow this blog entry with a review of this inspiring book when I have read it for the fifth time!

Manfred Willmann – ‘Das Land’

Signposted to the work of Willmann by my tutor, perhaps in response to the rural theme of this work, I have spent the past week visiting and revisiting images from the work entitled ‘Das Land’.

Described by the artists as a ‘land survey of small social space’ , the work is a collection of people, place and object images that have been made in a rual but clearly occupied rural place.

I discovered from an exhibition commentary that Willmann has been continually revisiting the immediate environs of his home in rural Austria. His own ‘Square Mile ‘ project perhaps?

The images are an eclectic mix of portraits of people, animals (including dead ones) in which I am now starting to see a clear set of themes. When I first looked at the work it did appear somewhat random. Before I describe my nascent understanding of Willmann’s work I do want to spend a moment reflecting on his technique.

Using a 6×6 film camera with a flashgun he shoots both inside and outside. This approach produces large square final prints that are all quite bright, he also uses colour very creatively and the palette of the images reminds me a little of the ‘hyper real’ images of Martin Parr. By his own admission (1), Willman talks about the simplicity of his approach that through the use of flash he only need to think about focus, framing and the subject.

The portraits in the work are to my eye somewhat harsh although he has captured people either going about their business or in moment of work. Mixed in are some landscape scenes some of which have an almost surreal quality, the image below being an example. ManfredWilmann

I don’t get a strong sense of a documentary nature to this work although it is a record of people, place and time. I get a great sense of someone creating images intended to be individual, but connected works of art. There is perhaps a sense of ‘collecting’ and ‘collecting’ over time about the work. It does raise questions with me about the range and purpose of documentary photography, given my sense that this is not a feature of this work. Or is it? I am note sure and will need to return to this theme. Although perhaps a cliched question, my exploration of this and other works is raising far more questions than answers. images

Both of theabove images copyright Manfred Willmann.

As is also becoming a feature of my blog I found this interesting although short talk by Willmann himself:

On an entirely separate but related note, my ipad is proving a very valuable tool in its new incarnation as my permanent portable gallery!

1. Comment from Willmann in the above youtube clip

Physical Notebook

The OCA materials read at the start o this course suggested strongly that I should keep an on line learning log. I have done this through out the course. I have heavier kept some written not, more like personal scribblings really. These are very idiosyncratic and will mean more to me than an external reader. I have used the notes to develop ideas, annotate articles and reading and all to plan for exercise and assignments.

Below are some images of pages from the notebooks.

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N2 (1 of 1)

N3 (1 of 1)

N4 (1 of 1)

N10 (1 of 1)

N11 (1 of 1)

N8 (1 of 1)

N12 (1 of 1)

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N15 (1 of 1)

N9 (1 of 1)

N13 (1 of 1)