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Book Review Making a Photographer Text by Rebecca A. Senf Reviewed by Scott B. Davis In this first monograph dedicated to the beginnings of Adams’s career, Rebecca A. Senf argues that these early photographs are crucial to understanding Adams’s artistic development and offer new insights into many aspects of the artist’s mature oeuvre.

Making a Photographer. By Rebecca A. Senf.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=YU217
Making a Photographer:
The Early Work of Ansel Adams
Text by Rebecca A. Senf


Yale University Press, New Haven, 2020. 
288 pp., 175 color + b/w illustrations, 8x10".

As the calendar flipped to 2020, a new book on Ansel Adams was probably not what most of us saw coming. I naively assumed that the most compelling stories about Ansel Adams had already been published, filmed, and passed down in the oral tradition that keeps his reputation, reproductions, and workshops alive. As the pandemic set in and our lives turned upside down, Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams has felt increasingly relevant. The book primarily focuses on the photographer’s life leading up to and during two global crises, the Great Depression and WWII, exploring his influences and what led Adams to go on to make some of his most celebrated works. Rebecca Senf’s interpretation of the ubiquitous photographer’s career and life is not one filled with familiar stories or a retelling of biographical facts — in fact, it is anything but.

The book connects two stories: Adams’ work as a documentary, outdoor, and lifestyle photographer, and the man who created symphonic masterworks that would come to be identified with the symbolic ideals of our nation. Having previously read many books written by or about Ansel Adams, I found that Making a Photographer offered a fresh understanding of the pathways that shaped his career, facilitated his travels, and fueled the development of his unique photographic vision.

Making a PhotographerBy Rebecca A. Senf.

The book itself is a page-turner, humanizing Adams’ life and presenting a thorough understanding of his work in the 1920s and 30s — a critical period in his creative development, and, perhaps, the most overlooked period of his career. Illustrated by a mix of commercial and creative photographs, the book sheds light on specific assignments, considering how they helped shape his better-known work.

For me, the most illuminating understanding of Adams’ development as an artist comes from Senf’s thorough investigation of his work with Yosemite Park and Curry Company (YPCCO), the concessionaire that marketed the park’s early tourism efforts. As is common in most professional relationships, Adams’ work with YPCCO had unexpected effects on his career. These assignments helped shape his understanding of photography’s persuasive capacity, and instill a sense of the medium’s ability to communicate nuanced messages to the general public.

While enriching, Adams’ relationship with YPCCO was complex. As part of his contract, Adams’ photographs had to meet the varied needs of park guests and prospective visitors, most of whom had the means to enjoy a recreational wilderness experience. Numerous assignments are thoughtfully presented, describing the work in vivid detail; at times they feel like private dinner table conversations about the complexities brought by commercial work. These stories make clear Adams’ uneasy association with tourism and commerce. At one point he is quoted, “The old Yosemite spirit has long past [sic] and the atmosphere of several years ago is no more. The crowds are of the cheapest and commonest cast [sic] and social doings supercede [sic] the Natural Attractions.”

It was such assignments, however, that afforded Adams an understanding of audience. They provided a steady income, allowing him to pursue the independent projects that fostered a love for the natural world, while simultaneously developing an understanding of the vast landscapes spread across the American West. Nearly 40 years after Adams’ rich and storied lifetime ended, we have something remarkable: a fresh perspective on one of America’s most talked-about and well-known photographers. If you have any interest in Ansel Adams, or, more generally, the development of a creative career in photography, you owe it to yourself to make this book a treasured part of your personal library.

Making a PhotographerBy Rebecca A. Senf.

scott b. davis is a photographer and the founder of Medium Photo, a non-profit organization based in San Diego. His photographs are made with experimental platinum/palladium formulas and are held in prominent museum collections. Additional information about his work is available online at scottbdavis.com.
photo-eye Gallery photo-eye Conversations | Patty Carroll and Anne Kelly photo-eye Gallery
As part of our video series photo-eye Conversations, photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly interviewed Carroll about her photographic practice and her book Domestic Demise. This fabulous book comprises the fourth part of Carroll's ongoing photographic series “Anonymous Women.”

Patty Carroll, Victorian Birds, archival pigment ink print, 15 x 15 inches, edition of 20, $900
 
A quick glance at Victorian Birds reveals a figure sitting with her head buried in a desk. Weighted down by a heavy deep red velvet robe, in a somber green draped room, she is surrounded by birds of all kinds. Red parakeets pose on her, one on her left hand. A birdcage and an arrangement of regal peacock feathers are placed in the foreground. This photograph is simultaneously compelling, intimate, serious, humorous and sad. The sense of contradiction and frustration expressed in the image is exacerbated by the double-meaning of the Victorian bird figurines — by the confused symbols of freedom and enslavement they represent. During the Victorian era, women did not have the right to vote, sue or own property.
 
Patty Carroll is well-known for her heavily saturated, intense color images of domestic landscapes. Both, growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and her background in graphic design have informed much of her work. Throughout her career, she has also found inspiration in colorful vintage movies, decorating magazines and Victorian writing. 

In her studio, Carroll creates ornamented and imagined domestic scenes using mannequins as her models. Inundated by over-decorated rooms and engulfed by a multitude of objects, she photographs them with her digital medium-format camera. 
 
Carroll's work brilliantly addresses the complex relationship women have with domestic life — her captivating images portray everyday women who juggle home, family and careers. 
 
As part of our video series photo-eye Conversations, photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly interviewed Carroll about her photographic practice and her book Domestic Demise. This fabulous book comprises the fourth part of Carroll's ongoing photographic series “Anonymous Women.” Watch this amazing conversation below or on Vimeo.
 

 
 

Don't miss the limited edition of Domestic Demise, exclusively found at photo-eye Bookstore! Limited to an edition of 5, this set includes a signed and numbered print of Shadow of Her Former Self with a signed copy of the book. 

Image size: 7x7 inches; paper size: 8½ x 8½ inches. 
Signed Copies $45.00 Limited Edition $130.00 
 


» Order the Book


Patty Carroll, Shadow of Her Former Self, archival pigment ink, 15 x 15 inches, edition of 20, $900
 

 » View More Work by Patty Carroll

 

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For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com


Book Review Anne Brigman The Photographer of Enchantment Reviewed by Chelsea Weathers In the first book devoted to Anne Brigman (1869–1950), Kathleen Pyne traces the groundbreaking photographer’s life from Hawai‘i to the Sierra and elsewhere in California, revealing how her photographs emerged from her experience of local place and cultural politics.

https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=YU224
Anne Brigman:
The Photographer of Enchantment
Text by Kathleen Pyne


Yale University Press, New Haven, 2020. 
248 pp., 60 color + 96 b/w illustrations, 8½x11".

In 1906, in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake and following fires that left the city in smoldering ruins, photographer Anne Brigman escaped to a camp in the Sierra Nevada, accompanied by her sister and a group of female friends. 
High above the treeline and the post-apocalyptic scene below, Brigman composed a series of “mountain photographs” — nudes set against twisted cedars, nymph-like figures gathered on the shores of foaming brooks. As Kathleen Pyne, in her new monograph about Brigmans’s life and work points out, Brigman had begun her mountain photographs a year earlier, but with the jarring trauma of the earthquake and fires, “the awful moment of catastrophe had also given her the ‘power with the camera’ to project her vision onto the world.”

Brigman’s soft-focus photography, with its hazy contrasts and sepia tones, has a romantic, pictorial quality akin to experiments by women photographers generally more well-known, such as Julia Margaret Cameron or Gertrude Käsebier. Pyne’s exhaustive research of the history of San Francisco and Berkeley — the latter of which was Brigman’s home for much of her life, where she lived in a guest house that doubled as her witchy, bohemian studio, replete with curios, elaborate flower arrangements and orientalist accoutrements — paints a portrait of the artist as insulated and privileged, and never attaining the critical reception for her work that she deserved. Indeed, Brigman’s contributions to American photography of the early twentieth century are significant for her adventurous forays into the harsh western terrain.

A generation earlier, male photographers such as Carleton Watkins and William Henry Jackson worked to represent westward expansion into pristine, supposedly uninhabited land, their photos often adopted by the US government to champion both the conservation and exploitation of these dramatic landscapes. Brigman’s photographs depart from this tradition by activating the landscape as a space for human interaction and self-discovery. Her images are mythic, even as her women appear liberated from the trappings of social constraints through their earthly communion with the natural world. Pyne’s readings of Brigman’s photographs in the context of Brigman’s childhood in Hawaii, her coming-of-age in progressive San Francisco, and Alfred Stieglitz’s New York milieu are meticulous and work to restore Brigman’s rightful place in the canon of American modernist photography.

There is also an underlying element of play and intimacy in Brigman’s photographs, which, for me, are their most contemporary qualities. Many of her mountain photographs look as if they could have been shot much more recently than over a century ago. Brigman’s portrayals of her nude f
riends, who entrusted her to both photograph them respectfully and guard their identities in the prudish, pseudo-Victorian context of white, upper-class San Francisco and Berkeley, are tender and frank.

One disappointing aspect of Pyne’s book is that she honored such retrospective prudishness in her interpretation of Brigman’s work, although her audience is now much less inhibited. The stark modernity of Brigman’s photographs, in Pyne’s telling, seem almost preserved in amber, and the relationships among the women of that camping trip, as they all sought to escape a collective trauma and make a world for themselves in the mountains, remain a mystery. Readers who are looking for a deeper understanding of the female intimacy, and perhaps even queerness, to which Brigman’s photos seem to attest will have to await another, perhaps less academic, study of Brigman’s work.

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Anne Brigman: The Photographer of Enchantment.

Chelsea Weathers is the managing editor of Radius Books in Santa Fe, NM. Her art writing has appeared in Artforum, Art Papers, Criticism, Gulf Coast, Hyperallergic, Photograph, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.

photo-eye Gallery From the Flat-Files: Michael Levin photo-eye Gallery
The flat files at photo-eye Gallery house a vast collection of photographs from over thirty extraordinary artists. Recently, while organizing our files in the new gallery location, we had a chance to re-visit some of their amazing works. One of the artists was Michael Levin.

Michael Levin, Star Trails (Ise Bay), 2014, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches (image), edition of 9, $1800

 
The flat-files at photo-eye Gallery house a vast collection of photographs from over thirty extraordinary artists. Recently, while organizing our files in the new gallery location, we had a chance to re-visit some of their amazing works. One of the artists was Michael Levin.
 
Michael Levin’s work is enigmatic, graceful and hauntingly beautiful, much like a 19th century Romantic landscape painting. His talent thrives in open environments and captures the world around us in a way that reduces it to its true essence — light or the absence of it. The simplicity of Levin’s photography suggests rather than describes his subject, allowing the viewer to have a wholesome and unique experience. With an ethereal feel, his images are stripped from all distracting elements and reveal what the human eye is not capable of seeing. To evoke this effect, Levin exposes his subjects to long exposures. Furthermore, like all great landscape photographs, Levin’s images are not fortuitous. They are the result of careful planning and passionate persistence, as well as a collusion of atmospheric conditions and a contemplative state of mind. 

A symbolistic aesthetic underlies Levin’s work. One could say that the abstract forms, lines and colors in his images correspond to inner states, emotions and ideas. In Star Trails (Ise Bay), a light Prussian blue sky reveals stars whose ever-motions forever tabulate the great passage of time. Several rocky stacks float on a hypnotic sea mist — two of them, known as the Meoto Iwa or Married Couple Rocks, are joined by a heavy rope, and, just like in Mendocino, California, these protruding land formations keep a compositional balance between the marriage of ocean and sky.

photo-eye Gallery has an extensive inventory of Levin’s work, a large amount of which can be browsed on our website or can be seen in person by appointment.

 Learn more about Michael Levin's work in the below photo-eye interview. 

 
Michael Levin, Mendocino, California, 2014, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 image inches (image), edition of 9, $1800

 

»View More Work by Michael Levin


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For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Assistant Patricia Martin, or you may also call us at 505-988-5152 x202
 
 

 


photo-eye Gallery photo-eye Conversations | Mitch Dobrowner and Anne Kelly photo-eye Gallery
Recently, as part of our new video series, photo-eye Conversations, photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly asked Dobrowner about his practice and most recent work.
Mitch Dobrowner has been photographing dramatic landscapes since his late teens. Moreover, working with professional storm chasers since 2009, he has traveled throughout America to capture extreme natural events, making stunning images of supercell storms and tornados. By waiting for the light and atmosphere to paint the landscape to his liking accented by his custom-modified camera and long hours in the digital darkroom Dobrowner has developed an unmistakable poetic style in the tradition of photography masters such as Ansel Adams and Minor White. With his high contrast expansive photographs of severe weather systems and towering majestic mountain ranges — with swirling clouds and sublime light — Mitch Dobrowner has perfected the craft of landscape photography. 
 
Recently, as part of our new video series, photo-eye Conversations, photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly asked Dobrowner about his practice and most recent work. Ironically, a thunderstorm rolled through the Santa Fe area as the interview was taking place — it could not have been planned better! Watch this stimulating conversation below or on Vimeo
 
 

The Eastern Sierra Nevada has always been a major inspiration for me - and a reason why I started photographing the landscapes of the Desert Southwest. Owens Valley, the Alabama Hills and specifically the town of Lone Pine was one of the first areas I spent time exploring when I first arrived in California (30+ years ago). The sight and majesty of Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney is a spiritual experience. The Ansel Adams Wilderness and the history of the Paiute (Native American Tribes) resonate with me..... just as the Navajo people resonate with me during my journeys into Southern Utah and New Mexico. The image represents to me how I see and feel about this area. Because of all these feelings, the kindness of the local people and the rough, rustic lifestyle are some of the reasons I've also decided to take up residence in this amazing area. — Mitch Dobrowner on Sunrise Over Lone Pine

Mitch Dobrowner's work has recently been featured in the New York Times Magazine. His stunning photographs illustrate the extreme weather in the Córdoba Province of Argentina. Read the full story and view Dobrowner's extraordinary work here.
 

 
 
Artist Bio:
Mitch Dobrowner was born in 1956 in Long Island, Bethpage, New York. Worried about Mitch's future and the direction his life will take, his father decided to give him an old Argus rangefinder to fool around with. Little did he realize what an important gesture that would turn out to be for Mitch. After doing some research and seeing the images of Minor White and Ansel Adams, he quickly became addicted to photography. Years later, in early 2005, inspired by his wife, children and friends
he again picked up his camera. Working with professional storm chaser Roger Hill, Dobrowner has traveled throughout Western and Midwestern America to capture nature in its full fury, making extraordinary images of monsoons, tornados, and massive thunderstorms with the highest standard of craftsmanship. Dobrowner’s storm series has attracted considerable media interest (National Geographic, Time, New York Times Magazine, among others). He lives with his family in Studio City, California.
 
 
Mitch Dowbroner at photo-eye Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2017

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For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com

 


Book Review Handbook of the Spontaneous Other Artists book by Aikaterini Gegisian Reviewed by Blake Andrews In Handbook of the Spontaneous Other, Aikaterini Gegisian brings together a diverse range of found photographic material produced in Western Europe and the USA during the 1960s and 1970s.

Handbook of the Spontaneous Other
By Aikaterini Gegisian.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZJ157
Handbook of the Spontaneous Other  
Artists book by Aikaterini Gegisian

Mack, London, 2020. 
144 pp., color illustrations, 6¾x9½".

Collage might be considered the unintentional language of the Internet era. Anyone who has jumped from one site to another, or thumbed through an Instagram feed that melds thousands of authors into one stream, or shuffled around a computer screen with six windows open at once, has experienced a chance form of digital bricolage. Authorship takes a back seat to interaction, boundaries assume a primary role, and raw material converges in unexpected ways to create new entities, which are in turn recollaged.

That reality will be quite comfortable to the younger generations. But for Gen-Xers, such as Greek-Armenian artist Aikaterini Gegisian (and, full disclosure, yours truly), caught between the new digital world and earlier models, the collaging instinct convolutes, with traces of physicality lingering in the digital margins. Gegisian is a creator of many stripes — sculptor, filmmaker, videographer, and sound artist, to name just a few. Regardless of medium, collage is a recurring element. In her approach to photography it assumes an old-school cloak of the tangible. Her recent monograph Handbook Of The Spontaneous Other (Mack, 2020) collects fifty-nine such collages into a tidy yellow book.

Handbook of the Spontaneous OtherBy Aikaterini Gegisian.

Gegisian’s source material is taken from the mass culture of the 1960s and 1970s Western world: snapshots, magazines, postcards, advertisements, and brochures — interstitial fabric of consumer society. Her combinations tend to be minimalist, incorporating just a handful of images into each piece, sometimes as few as two. She is also reserved in her mediation. You won’t find crazy scissor cuts or precision outlines here. Instead, the collages tend toward blocky and static, the emphasis on the basic interaction of forms. What does this photo look like near this one? Or this one?

The Handbook of Spontaneous Other is color-coded (reminiscent of another recent Mack publication Omaha Sketchbook). There are nine broad sections, each roughly grouped by hue The whole rainbow is bookended by a light section in the beginning and black at the end. Within each part, the colors shift slightly from one page to the next to accommodate the collages, which are loosely sequenced to complement the colors. But the correspondence is loose and inexact, as collage tends to be.

Handbook of the Spontaneous OtherBy Aikaterini Gegisian.
What does it look like in reality? Well, for one, there’s a whole lot of porn involved. X-rated photos appear in perhaps a third of the book’s images. As anyone who has browsed an adult magazine knows, the human body is capable of surprisingly expansive twists and gyrations. Collage them next to, say, a cactus or a sea anemone, and you generate intriguing possibilities. But prudes needn’t worry; any original lascivious edge is stripped away by Gegisian’s reappropriation. These images are about as titillating as a granite boulder.

Handbook of the Spontaneous OtherBy Aikaterini Gegisian.
Some of Gegisian’s combinations are perhaps too facile to generate energy. They are merely X near Y and not much more. And when these diptychs are run through the book gutter they fall even flatter. But that is a small gripe within the greater context of the book, which contains enough strong imagery to overcome its minor faults.

Gegisian is a deft colorist with a sharp eye for chance composition. Aesthetically her photos are pleasing enough, although perhaps not in the league of John Stezaker or Joseph Mills. But in the end that’s just fine, because Gegisian’s creations are meant more as political commentary than graphic statements. For Gegisian, photographs represent elements of national identity, both in production and consumption. They signify the unconscious visual codes that inform pop culture — a layer of media that is especially dominant in the Western world, but seeps into the rest of the world. By collaging these images in new and surprising ways, Gegisian emasculates their original intent, regenerating their motifs as “The Spontaneous Other,” which is, according to Mack’s description, “a notion of the self and of pleasure that exists beyond the confines of popular culture and its dominant modes of representation.”

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Handbook of the Spontaneous OtherBy Aikaterini Gegisian.
Handbook of the Spontaneous OtherBy Aikaterini Gegisian.


Blake Andrews is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at blakeandrews.blogspot.com.

photo-eye Gallery photo-eye Conversations | Edward Bateman and Anne Kelly photo-eye Gallery
Photographer Edward Batman's most recent work is concerned with the idea that the essence of life is fleeting, and indeed the images from his series Reversing Photosynthesis — new this week to the Photographers Showcase — are imbued with a sense of impermanence.

Edward Bateman, Leaf No. 38c2, 2017, archival pigment print, edition of 7, $700


Photographer Edward Batman's most recent work is concerned with the idea that the essence of life is fleeting. And indeed, the images from his series Reversing Photosynthesis — new this week to the Photographer's Showcase — are imbued with a sense of impermanence. 

For nearly two decades, Bateman has used digital photographic processes to construe three-dimensional modeled objects that have never had a physical existence outside the computer to begin with. In a new artistic direction for him — inspired by his own aging process and a sense of mortality — Bateman has now sought to tame light, photography's basic ingredient, without the use of technology or camera equipment. 

Bateman places leaves directly on unexposed photographic paper, then keeps them in total darkness for days or even months to document their decay. By releasing their captured sunlight, as if undoing photosynthesis photographically, they leave exposed their beautiful fragility on rag paper. Inherently, Reversing Photosynthesis places a focus in the transience of life — perhaps a subtle reminder that the nature of everything is bound to change, pass, or come to an end. photo-eye is excited to welcome Edward Bateman to the Photographer's Showcase!

 

» View Work by Edward Bateman

 

Recently, as part of our new video series, photo-eye Conversations, photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly asked Bateman about his photographic practice and the process of creating Reversing Photosynthesis among other recent bodies of work. Watch this inspiring conversation below or on Vimeo




Artist Bio:
Edward Bateman is an artist and professor at the University of Utah. Through constructed and often anachronistic imagery, he creates alleged historical artifacts that examine our belief in the photograph as a reliable witness. In 2009, Nazraeli Press released a signed and numbered book of his work titled Mechanical Brides of the Uncanny, that explores 19th-century automatons as a metaphor for the camera, stating: "For the first time in human existence, objects of our own creation were looking back at us.” Bateman and his work have been included in the third edition of "Seizing the Light: A Social and Aesthetic History of Photography" by Robert Hirsch. His work has been shown internationally in over twenty-eight countries and is included in the collections of The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Getty Research among others.
 


Anne Kelly, Gallery Director at photo-eye (photo credit: Dave Hyams) & portrait of Edward Bateman (photo credit: Michael Marcinek)















Preview of forthcoming series mentioned in conversation


» Order Edward Bateman's One Picture Book #58 

Limited quantities available
 
 

Books mentioned in the interview and available for purchase at photo-eye Bookstore:

  
Expired Paper
Alison Rossiter
Cat# DS978    ISBN-13: 978-1942185338 

Versus 
David Jiménez

Joan Fontcuberta
Cat# DS599S  (978-8416248353) 

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For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com



Book Review Rabbit / Hare Photographs by David Billet & Ian Kline Reviewed by Owen Kobasz In this book, butterflies and back hair are equally magical and mundane, as they should be. Qualities of light are equally qualities of sensibility. The human beings in the pictures gently revel in the pleasures of riding horses, or smoking cigarettes, or exposing skin to sun and air.

Rabbit / Hare. By David Billet & Ian Kline.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZJ306
Rabbit / Hare  
Photographs by David Billet & Ian Kline

Deadbeat Club, Los Angeles, CA, 2020. 
72 pp., black-and-white illustrations, 9x11".

In 2017, Pennsylvania natives David Billet and Ian Kline set out on a two-month road trip to and through Texas. Neither photographer had visited the Lone Star State before, but in this trip they sought to avoid some of the more obvious clichés that come with the region— big trucks, cowboy boots, and megachurches to name a few.

“The two of us wanted to see, as singular people and as partners, where we fit into this landscape that held so much influence to our understanding and our elders’ understanding of masculinity, America, and life.”

Although Billet and Kline are not Swiss, with the cultural differences between different regions of America, they are outsiders in a strange new land. Although potentially isolating, this status also brings the beauty of straightforward observation — pure seeing.

Rabbit / HareBy David Billet & Ian Kline.

Paging through the book, a range of emotions arise. Solitude — a man air-boxes with himself through a full wall of mirrors that look out of place among the surrounding office supplies. Warmth is an embrace between two men under stadium lights, or maybe a dance floor — metaphorical stars. Anxiety can be seen in a single eye poking out between heavy curtains, made especially poignant by the opposing photograph of an auditorium with a ‘Stainless Banner’ confederate flag in the corner. Humor inserts itself as a shop named “Heaven’s Depot”, or the unusual pixilated cut out of a butt found on a library shelf. Between these, a woman is reborn through baptism.

Rabbit / HareBy David Billet & Ian Kline.
Through these movements, an overwhelming feeling is that of intimacy. Even in the dark scenes (or maybe, especially the dark moments) vulnerability shines through, and with that understanding.

Now, Rabbit / Hare is at its core a road trip photobook. The cover makes this clear with a horizontal highway landscape. Car-adjacent images appear later — a kitten napping in the shade of the car’s underbelly, a songbird perfectly posed on an unwashed side mirror. Spread throughout the book, these reminders bind the series to the road.

What elevates these images, however, isn’t so much the road trip itself. Rather, it’s the ability of two photographers to provide a varied, humanist vision of a complicated region; images “where butterflies and back hair are equally magical and mundane, as they should be. Qualities of light are equally qualities of sensibility.”



Rabbit / HareBy David Billet & Ian Kline.
Rabbit / HareBy David Billet & Ian Kline.

http://blog.photoeye.com/search/label/Owen%20Kobasz
Owen Kobasz edits the blog & newsletter at photo-eye. He holds a BA in the liberal arts from St. John's College and takes photos in his free time.

photo-eye Gallery New Work: Tom Chambers photo-eye Gallery
photo-eye Gallery is pleased to present new work by Tom Chambers. For over twenty years now, Chambers has been constructing narratives that merge reality and dreams seeking to go beyond the expected. His images illustrate fleeting moments that seem believable, but likely implausibl

Tom Chambers, Coy Koi, 2020, archival inkjet ink, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 20, $1200

 
photo-eye Gallery is pleased to present new work by Tom Chambers. For over twenty years now, Chambers has been constructing narratives that merge reality and dreams seeking to go beyond the expected. His images illustrate fleeting moments that seem believable, but likely implausible. Influenced by magical realism—the literary and artistic style popularized in Latin America in the early 20th century—Chambers new work certainly lends a ring of truth to our times, as it was all created during the Coronavirus pandemic. As usual, his images are inhabited by children and animals, but in this new work Chambers takes us a bit deeper into the magical realism of the moment, to illustrate how the breakdown of the every-day forces us to confront expectations that lie at the basis of our understanding of the world. He writes about it: 
 

Inspiration for my photography usually comes to me through travel to somewhere unfamiliar. During the Spring 2020, I had planned a trip to London only to have Covid hit. I floundered for a while as I worked to come up with a new series or direction. Rather than crawling the walls, I tried searching through my older photo material. I discovered some interesting images that slipped my attention years ago.  The search was similar to taking a journey to faraway places in the comfort of my studio.

 

 
Prints are available in the following sizes:
14x14” -  $750
20x20” -  $1,200
30x30”  - $2,300


*All prints are available in three sizes and in limited editions of twenty. All prints are currently available in the first price tier. Prices are based on how many prints have sold from the editions and are subject to increase. 
 
Tom Chambers, Suspended Animation, 2020, archival inkjet ink, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 20, $1200
 
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All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com
 
 

Book Review Weegee's Naked City Photographs by Weegee Reviewed by Blake Andrews With Naked City, his first publication, Weegee gave his images the photobook treatment. Weegee’s eye for surprising juxtapositions and the minutiae of city life is in full force in the images chosen and their inventive, playful sequencing, all narrated in the photographer’s own distinctive voice.

Weegee's Naked City. By Weegee.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=DT850
Weegee's Naked City  
Photographs by Weegee

Damiani/International Center of Photography, 2020. 
292 pp., 6½x9¼".

It’s a truism that a single photograph can be a time travel machine. Less commonly known, however, is that under proper conditions so can a photobook. Consider the recent reprint of Weegee’s Naked City (ICP/Damian, 2020). With a few exceptions —a new afterword and improved print quality— it’s a facsimile copy of the 1945 original. As before, Weegee’s photographs remain the centerpiece. But the other aspects —the layout, typography, size, and tonality— clinch the deal, delivering the reader into yesteryear. You can almost smell cigar smoke emanating from the film noir lettering on the clothbound cover.

It’s the early 1940s. It’s wartime in America. While other photographers dodge bullets overseas, Arthur Fellig’s singular focus is New York City. He sleeps with a police scanner. Using its Ouija-like (pronounced “Weegee” in some quarters) predictive power, he’s first on the scene to any event day or night, Speed Graphic in hand. An hour of shooting and it’s off to the next accident or movie premiere, and so on.

Weegee's Naked CityBy Weegee.
The trail of pictures Weegee left in his wake reveal a photographer of insatiable curiosity, bluster, and humanism. A girl fired from a cannon, male singers at the opera house, a sleeping elephant. He captured a bewildering array of material, most of it at night — close-up, brightly flashed, and in fleeting moments. The majority were shot for tabloids, but these images went beyond mere photojournalism. They were works of art. “Weegee turns the commonplaces of a great city into extraordinary psychological documents,” chirped the Naked City cover blurb by Nancy Newhall. Hers was the imprimatur not of any newspaper, but of MoMA.

Weegee would push these creative leanings later in his career, playing with lens effects, multiple exposures, soap bubbles, and so on. Naked City has no such overt artiness. But the inklings of genius are still evident. His photographs of tenants on a landing, witnesses at a murder scene, a bloody body in the gutter, and more have become iconic. Today they’re more likely to be found on a gallery wall than in the news. They point the finger of history back to Weegee in a state of creative transition. He was exploding with photographic energy, but still unsure how to channel it beyond newsprint.

Weegee's Naked CityBy Weegee.
Weegee's Naked CityBy Weegee.

In 1945, Naked City became his first monograph, offering a new direction for that energy. Pictures form merely one element of the visual novel. Told in chapters and captioned with the breezy dialect of wartime newsreels, Naked City is built on a solid narrative arc. The material is heavily illustrated, with just a few words interspersed here and there. All its text can be read easily in one sitting.

Weegee's Naked CityBy Weegee.
Nearing the end the book the pace slows while Weegee spends two chapters delightfully ruminating about “Personalities” and “Camera Tips”. Here his personality shines through. The language is gruff and direct and charming. If he weren’t a photographer perhaps he could’ve made it as an essayist. The “Camera Tips” are fairly straightforward, while “Personalities” is more revealing. Weegee describes a recent visit with Alfred Steiglitz, who he found in poor health, forgotten, and nearly destitute in his final years. “The master of the camera and what did fame get him?” asks Weegee rhetorically. Stieglitz’s circumstances are described with tender honesty by Weegee, who perhaps sensed the karmic wheel at work. A few decades later Weegee would find himself in similar straights, poor and unknown, unable to enjoy the posthumous boom in his notoriety.

While in his prime he was determined to ward off such a fate. On the back of every print he stamped WEEGEE THE FAMOUS in all capitals. An act of sheer will. Not that he was widely known at the time. But Naked City would change that. It became an immediate bestseller in 1945, making Weegee’s name.

The book has remained in print since, spanning several editions (some given more thoughtful treatment than others). Over 75 years, publishers have attached to it a variety of design, size, and cover ideas. But nothing fits quite as well as the original. For the 2020 edition, ICP/Damiani have hewn closely to the 1945 standard, and theirs is the most faithful reprint yet. It’s a fitting treatment for an all-time classic. Naked City belongs on every photographer’s bookshelf. If you don’t already own an older edition, or even if you do, this edition deserves consideration.

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Weegee's Naked CityBy Weegee.
Weegee's Naked CityBy Weegee.

Blake Andrews is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at blakeandrews.blogspot.com.