Discuss a Mark Citret Photograph

Discussion in 'Discussing a ****** Photograph' started by Shawn Dougherty, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    This particular photograph, Bathroom, Kings Inn (1994 in Lee Vining) is simultaniously simple and complex. It is simple in it's straightforward (though well organized) angle and presentation yet complex in it's lighting and ability to arouse feelings of comfort, warmth, quiet ...peace. I've found it hard to verbalize what makes this image so provacative... maybe it's best that way, left to feeling instead of intelect.

    If you are not familiar with Mark's work I suggest checking it out at www.mcitret.com I have a copy of his monograph, Along the Way, and highly recomend it. Shawn
     

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  2. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day Shawn
    yes it is a simple though emotive image, beautifully composed, the discarded towel on the floor hints at a human presence and makes the whole scene more real and imperfect
     
  3. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    Marks describes his photographs as "vellum Prints". He uses a long discontinued Kodak paper that he stocked up on years ago. His paper, developer and toning combination produces a very beautiful print. Mark is able create beautiful compositions and prints from everyday subjects that most people overlook. If you want to see more of his work his book "Along The Way" is fanstastic. Well worth the money.

    Regards,
    John
     
  4. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I've taken a workshop with him, viewed scores of his photographs firsthand, purchased and enjoyed "Along the Way", and visited his website often. He is masterful at making gold from lead, which is to say that he makes the quotidian exceptional by framing it and making it appear significant using what is there in a way that is revealing. Read his essay on "where to put the edges" which offers a frontal address to the challenge of modernist art photography. In my own synthesis of his ideas, the subject is subordinate to the arrangement.

    Painters and photoshoppers get to reconstruct reality to suit their tastes. Modernist photographers need to sort out what's actually there until it suits theirs.
     
  5. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Mark's a pretty great guy too for what that is worth. :smile:

    Bill
     
  6. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    (This is the second time today that I have posted at the exact same moment that another poster has...weird?)
     
  7. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    His essays are rather insightful, and they are available for free on his site. The above mentioned "Where to stand and where to put the edges" is truly an excellent read. I also enjoyed his take on the use of a 35mm camera, it helped to play a part in my own explorations with a small camera from time to time.

    It really is amazing, the simple things we take for granted. If I'm most gratefull for any one thing photography has given me it's the ability to view the world with fresh eyes and to appreciate the visual spledor we're constantly surroded by... I think Mark's photographs exemplify that as much as anyones.
     
  8. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Shawn, I agree with your assessment of the photo. Simple yet complex which is a quality I enjoy.

    I have not seen any of Citret's work in person, nor any of his books. However, reading his essays and website a few years ago was an inspiration for me. As John Voss said, making gold out of lead, closely noticing the things that are taken for granted. This caused me to strive for the same qualities.
     
  9. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    In review of this photograph, and the web portfolio, I don't really enjoy his work except for some of the natural landscape images. It mostly seems excessively cerebral and at the same time visually boring -- like the Peggy Lee song, "Is That All There Is?" But thanks for posting it, and exposing me to his work.
     
  10. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Wow, I'm not about to argue with you about your opinion, thats the one thing none of us can be wrong about. Though initially, I was almost shocked to read this. It seems we have almost exactly opposite views of Mark's work. I find I enjoy it most when I let go and try not to overthink it, but allow my visual excitement and emotional response to guide me through the work.

    It's really refreshing in a way for me to hear this opinion about someone's work I hold in such high esteam. It makes me realize more acutely how subjective art really is. I think it hearing differing opinions about the work of photographers like Mark can make it easier to take AND reject criticism of your own work. Thanks Bill.
     
  11. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    Looking more closely at our surrondings is something I'm from which I'm sure would could all benefit. I'm learning that lesson the hardway, by trying to photograph, literaly, in my own back yard. My continuing Campbell's Farm series opens me up a little more with each image.

    Nice looking website by the way Alex. I didn't realize you'd put it up. I guess the link in your signature wasn't obvious enough for me. I will say you need a photograph on the home page! Best. Shawn
     
  12. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Shawn when I looked at the shot you posted I honestly didn't see anything complex or warm or comforting in it! However, reviewing Mark Citret's galleries, I am thankful that you gave the link. There are many interesting ideas in there. I see mostly sweeping geometry and open space, with very gentle tonality - relatively low contrast.

    Overall I definitely would not say that I feel any sense of warmth/comfort from the photographs I viewed; on the contrary, many galleries (e.g. Cafes, Motels, On the Road) seem desperately lonely to me, perhaps because they are scenes that one expects to be full of people/life and instead one finds rather muted light. A common theme in many of the scenes is some 'evidence' (e.g. used cutlery, a towel, ruffled sheets) indicating that the scene was recently inhabited, but somehow I find the emptiness rather discomforting, to be honest.
     
  13. catem

    catem Member

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    Thanks for this link - I enjoyed looking at Citret's work and think he has an excellent eye for seeing abstract simplicity and beauty in the everyday. His overhead lines reminded me of Tina Modotti (I couldn't ultimately dissociate-is that a word?-that, and find hers, I don't know why, more powerful). My first reaction is that I don't in ALL of the pictures see complex layers of meaning beneath the surface, or a strong sense of human engagement - I do in the bathroom series and I think for that reason I like these best. Quite a number of the photographs seem to be about surfaces (which is not in itself a criticism). I imagine his prints are very beautiful and it is perhaps difficult to fully appreciate his pictures in this on-line format.
     
  14. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Indeed it is. If you get a chance to see his book, though, you can get a much stronger sense of the actual 'graphs. I held one of his prints next to its reproduction in "Along the Way". They were surpisingly similar.
     
  15. mark

    mark Member

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    This is great. I have yet to get a successful bathroom pic, this just makes me want to try harder, which for me is a really good thing.

    I especially like the arch and towel. As said it evokes a human presence, The arch lends to the calm atmosphere. As the dominant graphic feature of the image It does not over take the image. Thanks for the heads up on his site. I will check it out.
     
  16. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Well, I'll certainly go back and have a long second look -- maybe yesterday was a "bad day." Generally I enjoy uncluttered work, such as Lilo Raymond.
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    The uniquely subtle beauty of Citret's printing style (and it is truly unique - nobody else in the world does quite what he does) demands that you see his photographs in person. Any critique of his work is unfair if it's based upon a reproduction of any kind.

    I've yawned at many of his photographs online only to be entranced when seeing an original print of the same image.
     
  18. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have seen his work on a couple of occasions and agree that the prints are beautiful to see in person. Mark has the ability to take very banal subject matter and extract certain nuggets that capture your attention. A couple of folks have mentioned the evidence of people now gone from the scene. One of the aspects of his work is his ability to edit the scene down to a few key elements. His best images strike a wonderful balance between the subject matter and tonality of the print. Niether over powers the other.
     
  19. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks for the link to his work, Shawn. It certainly is very intriguing, and makes me want to buy the book. As others have said, probably hard to really judge his work online. This is the type of work that is probably best understood or appreciated after a good long look and that his prints must have an extraordinary presence... even the online versions have embraced my eyes, and kept me looking!

    One thing I think I can say for sure is... that bathroom towel is one of the most beautifully photographed objects I've ever seen.
     
  20. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    If you enjoyed the images online you'll love the book. It really is well worth the money. I think it's $55 or so and beautifully printed and presented. One of my favorites. I agree whole heartedly about the towel. Best. Shawn
     
  21. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    I, too have "Along the Way". Citret remains one of my favorite photographers.