Switch to English Language Passer en langue française Omschakelen naar Nederlandse Taal Wechseln Sie zu deutschen Sprache Passa alla lingua italiana
Members: 70,963   Posts: 1,558,339   Online: 835
      
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1
    Domenico Foschi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Shooter
    4x5 Format
    Posts
    440
    Images
    46
    Hi all, this is what i posted a few days ago in a Large format photography forum, but unfortunately the feedback was very limited ...
    I would like to know , if any of you has any opinion on the latest Arbus show ....
    This is the original post :


    Perfect day to go to a museum in Los Angeles yesterday: beautiful sunny day with that spring temperature that you wish lasts forever, not too hot not too cold....
    The first surprise waits for me at the ticket office , where they tell me that to view the Arbus work i have to pay $ 12 which is the double of all the other shows at the LACMA presently . Oh well, i think , it's fine , for Arbus i will do this.
    As soon as i get inside the building i start seeing in the distance all the pieces that i have come to know and love so much ( yes , i think you can really love a print ) . My heart fills with anticipacion . The room is crowded but not filled with people , and i hear lot's of people giggling at some of Arbus work ; some say -<oh , that's creepy !-> , some -<oh, my, my !>-etc.etc. The rooms are hardly quiet for a good "listening " of the prints , but that is also something i can cope with .
    I start noticing something that i never noticed in Arbus work . The images lacked power.
    The choices of images was excellent : all the famous Arbus images we have come to know , plus many potentially beautiful photographs of unpublished work .
    A big percentage of images displayed i had noticed had been printed not by Arbus , but by Neil Selkirk . Now , i don't know if you agree with me , i have always considered the carachteristic murkiness of Arbus prints of vital importance to stimulate deep emotions in the viewer : the way she printed the images was the final and complementing stage to the effectivness of the image itself .
    Here i was looking at LACMA's show yesterday , the ingenious work of Arbus printed by someone who had put some of his style .
    Do not misunderstand me , the images where printed technically very well, they actually showed a mastery of B/W superior , i am sure, to Diane Arbus skills in the darkroom , but they had lost their magic.
    Some of the images where outstanding ( i remember a jewel-like small print of a boy in a windy field ) , but almost all of them had more tonal separation , more contrast , and had lost that warm tone characteristic of Arbus work ( O.K., now i am repeating myself ).
    To add that in this exhibit they have really tried to elevate D.A. to a cult . In a Room there was her enlarger , with many reject prints pinned to two walls yellowed by fixer, pictures of her ..... She was a Star . I don't think she would have agreed to all of this . I heard the Arbus family has been hardly criticized for their greed , but i won't get into that ... Forgive my ranting , but for me it is hard to imagine Diane Arbus work if not printed by the artist , i think that with this show they have deserved one applause and one critique . The applause is for showing work that has never been shown before , and the critique....well, they have done a disservice to all those young artists students and photographers who have never seen an original Arbus print of "Patriotic young man" or others , with its original raw energy....

  2. #2
    blansky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Wine country in Northern California
    Posts
    5,029
    Domenico

    You pose some interesting questions;

    I've never been a big fan of her work but when you describe her prints you say that her current printer was a superior printer. That must imply that she was an inferior printer and it was because of that, that you like the impact of her work more.

    So the question is, did she print the way she printed for impact or was she just a bad printer. If she was a bad printer, but you liked her printing better, then that "style" is what drew you to her. You infer that if she were a better printer you may not have like her work as well.

    So is lack of expertise, an asset in her case. If so what does that say about you and the rest of us, trying to attain the expertise to be a great printer.


    Just a question,

    Michael McBlane

  3. #3
    bjorke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    SF & Surrounding Planet
    Shooter
    Medium Format
    Posts
    2,032
    Images
    20
    (Michael, you didn't go to this show when it opened at SFMOMA? tsk!)

    It's hard to respond to this "criticism" given that Domenico writes about how maybe the images aren't as powerful, for some possibly technical reason, than what he remembers. I'd posit that comparing a print on the wall with your memory of something else (a photo in a book, etc) is at best a difficult proposition.

    I visited the show twice -- personally, I liked it a lot(click here for a previous post). Too bad it's so pricey at LACMA, that wasn't the case here. Perhaps SF is inherently different from LA, in that here the photos were greeted by the museum audience with great admiration (and when the show first opened, many of the patrons looked like possible Arbus subjects, had they been in Washington Square Park fourty years earlier -- my later visit was full of the usual slick art-show-visitor crowd). Personally I'm a huge fan. Sometimes she hits, sometimes she misses, but the best of her photos make me cry in recognition of their beauty.

    The biggest problem of the show, IMO, was the continued over-usage of her very late work with mentally disabled patients in New Jersey. A small number of these photos are truly sensational, but not all by any means. I'd rather have filled that gallery space with, say, more magazine work. I know, these prints are highly influential and much-copied -- but really only a couple of them have value beyond provocative oddity, while so much of Arbus's work -- in fact, just about all of the rest of it -- is far more penetrating and interesting (to me).


    Fantastic! And far better as a print than a JPG.


    Holding onto the identity of the subjects, a collision of warmth and discomfort.


    Should not be in show (IMO): Image that's provocative, but empty. It could be an ad for a bank, these days.

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KBPhotoRantPhotoPermitAPUG flickr Robot

  4. #4
    juan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    St. Simons Island, Georgia
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,646
    Images
    4
    I've never been much of a fan of Arbus, but domenico's two posts have had me give another look.

    Does anyone know what camera she used for 2 1/4 square? Or how tall she was? Online sources say she used a camera with a waist-level finder, but the point of view of her photos certainly seems high for that. As in the top two photos above. The third photo looks more like a waist-level finder to me.

    Could be that I'm seeing things, but I'm curious.
    juan

  5. #5
    noblebeast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Southern California
    Shooter
    Medium Format
    Posts
    555
    Images
    42
    Quote Originally Posted by juan
    Does anyone know what camera she used for 2 1/4 square? Or how tall she was? Online sources say she used a camera with a waist-level finder, but the point of view of her photos certainly seems high for that. As in the top two photos above. The third photo looks more like a waist-level finder to me.
    From what I understand, up until about 1962 she used a Nikon 35mm, then switched to a Rolleiflex wide angle. Switched again to a Mamiya 33c in the latter part of the '60's, and the very last work was done on a Pentax 6X7 she borrowed from Hiro. She was saving up to buy her own Pentax when she offed herself. As far as height, I believe she was in the 5'4" to 5'6" range.

    My opinion of the show is quite different from Domenico, and I left a post in another thread to that effect. Selkirk's prints were only of images that were either not available in original prints, or were of negatives Arbus had never printed herself. There were actual Diane Arbus prints represented in the show as well, and I honestly saw no appreciable difference between them and the Selkirk prints (And as a matter of fact the print of "Patriotic Young Man" that Domenico refers to as an example of what is wrong with the Selkirk prints is actually an Arbus print). But then I was looking at the images themselves rather than concerning myself with technical considerations. I guess each individual sees something different when they look at an item, be it a photograph or a rock. In the "Revelations" book there is an article by Selkirk concerning the great pains he went to to match her darkroom techniques. If the labels under the prints hadn't told me, I would have had to look very critically to determine who printed what.

    As far as the LAMAC experience, I was not shocked by the extra twelve dollars as that was what they charged for the Ansel Adams At 100 exhibit. I thought this was the norm until I read above that SF didn't tack on an extra charge. I was disgusted by several "gigglers", especially since they seemed past the ravages of puberty. I guess Arbus' work still makes people uncomfortable. And of course, no gallery experience would be complete without the obligatory "Expert with the VERY LOUD VOICE" who knows everything about everything and is only too happy to generously share his profound knowledge to all within the rather considerable earshot of his voice. This is why I prefer books.

    But to get back to the images themselves, I did experience the power that Domenico found wanting. Oddly, it was exactly that feeling I was expecting to get at the Adams exhibit, but didn't, which made me go back and reconsider my feelings and assumptions about the great St. Ansel. I dunno - I guess everyone has to experience stuff for themselves and take what they like and leave the rest. That's why there is still room in the world for yet more photographic visions.
    Latent Images Plastic Toy Cameras

    "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman

  6. #6
    Aggie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    So. Utah
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    4,925
    Images
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by noblebeast
    But to get back to the images themselves, I did experience the power that Domenico found wanting. Oddly, it was exactly that feeling I was expecting to get at the Adams exhibit, but didn't, which made me go back and reconsider my feelings and assumptions about the great St. Ansel. I dunno - I guess everyone has to experience stuff for themselves and take what they like and leave the rest. That's why there is still room in the world for yet more photographic visions.
    I too very much liked the Arbus exhibit in SF. Again I made a comment last year about how I was underwhelmed by the Adams exhibt in SF. That (Adams) was a compilation that the family did not agree with. It was one curators idea for the exhibit, and thus reflected more his view of the man's work.

    When it all comes down to your reaction to an exhibit, it is a personal matter. I viewed art galleries and museums vastly different after taking a few years of art history classes. If I worked in the same medium as the artist, I again viewed works in that medium differently. My opions are mine, whether good bad or indifferent. If we were all the same, this would be one very boring world.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Gotham City
    Posts
    1
    That's why they make chocolate and vanilla.
    *POW* -boom- @CRACK@

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    69
    Anyone notice the way the 4 bladed easel was set in her "darkroom" at the show?
    Do not question what you have not done, question what you will not try.

  9. #9
    Domenico Foschi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Shooter
    4x5 Format
    Posts
    440
    Images
    46
    Hi Michael ,
    in answer to your question , i don't believe Diane Arbus really cared about the "fine print" , the way we do now. In a sense Arbus work lives by the same principles of Cartier-Bresson work .
    He didn't care about printing , he hated the darkroom work , his genius was in the picture taking stage , his compositions were what drew me to photography , he opened up a door in a different reality .
    Arbus work wasn't that immediate, the only fact that she was taking portrait of people aware of the picture taking stays to testify it .
    I don't think she ever said she was a fine art photographer as so many of us do nowadays , she was a photographer who had developed ,if you will, her own style , and she had made it work at her own advantage.
    I believe the few things she cared in her prints about was the "muddy" quality characteristic of her images.
    I will also dare to say that she would use a flash to avoid dodging and burning in printing .
    You see Michael, in these 20 or so years of photography , i have learned that there is no right approach in the creative field , if you develop your own tools to give voice fully to your creativity , you have done your job , and you can consider yourself an honest artist , and i believe Arbus did that fully .


    "So is lack of expertise, an asset in her case. If so what does that say about you and the rest of us, trying to attain the expertise to be a great printer."

    What does it say? I am not really concerned with that , in the sense that each individual makes his or her own choices in their lives.
    If you make a " fine print " of an Arbus image , with zonal evaluations , contrast control , double bath development , and all that beautiful legacy that Weston, White and Adams have left us , you are inevitably bound to kill the raw power of that picture.
    There is no fixed rule , i don't see anything lacking in Arbus work , her images stand by themselves, and if she didn't have great skills in the darkroom , i will not put her in the basement , just because she has chosen an unpopular way .

  10. #10
    noblebeast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Southern California
    Shooter
    Medium Format
    Posts
    555
    Images
    42
    Quote Originally Posted by Domenico
    If you make a " fine print " of an Arbus image , with zonal evaluations , contrast control , double bath development , and all that beautiful legacy that Weston, White and Adams have left us , you are inevitably bound to kill the raw power of that picture.
    There is no fixed rule , i don't see anything lacking in Arbus work , her images stand by themselves, and if she didn't have great skills in the darkroom , i will not put her in the basement , just because she has chosen an unpopular way .
    For whatever it's worth to the discussion, according to the essay by Neil Selkirk, who had as intimate a knowledge of Diane Arbus' darkroom habits as any person who walks the earth, save for her ex-hubby Allan who built the darkroom and typed out the chemical recipes for her, Diane's regular film was ASA50 Agfa IF, developed in the two-solution Beutler formula. She printed on AGFA Portriga Rapid paper developed in the two-solution Beers formula, although before that she probably used different dilutions of Dektol and Selectol Soft depending on her contrast needs. She did indeed stay away from dodging and burning as a general rule, prefering to control the prints solely through contrast (in this case different developement times in baths A & B) to achieve the look she was after. And she didn't seem to keep any notes in regards to her print-making, and as a result no two Arbus-made prints are exactly the same. Some of the differences are reported to be subtle, and others profound.

    And on the subject of her use of the flash unit, she is quoted as saying she chose to use it for the increase in detail and clarity it provided.

    Offered up for the interest and edification of the APUG members.
    Latent Images Plastic Toy Cameras

    "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast


 

APUG PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Contact Us  |  Support Us!  |  Advertise  |  Site Terms  |  Archive  —   Search  |  Mobile Device Access  |  RSS  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin