History of photography

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History of photography
Abbe James
Allen Albert
Bailey David

Beaton Cecil
Cunningham Imogen
Carroll Lewis
Drtikol Frantisek
Duhrkoop Rudolf
Eisenstaedt Alfred
Feininger  Andreas
Halsman Philippe
Heartfield John
Horst P. Horst
Kasebier Gertrude
Kirkland Douglas
Lartigue Jacques Henri
Laughlin Clarence John


Maar Dora
Man Ray

Miller Lee
Munkacsi Martin


Outerbridge Paul


Rodchenko Alexander
Skoglund Sandy
Smith William Eugene
Smith Rodney
Tabard Maurice
  Watson Albert
Developments from the 1970s to the present

Continuing the example set by Arbus, a gritty sort of social documentation emerged beginning in the 1970s and ’80s, when photographers such as Larry Clark and Nan Goldin documented alternative lifestyles involving drug addiction, transvestism, and casual sex. In particular, Goldin created an elaborate series titled The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, through which she compiled an evolving record of the people she and her camera encountered. Such direct, unflinching photographs established intimate documentary work as an important genre in the late 20th century. Photographers such as Sally Mann and Tina Barney extended this genre to portray intimate, sometimes unsettling images of their own families.

Goldin usually photographed in colour, which added to the harsh sense of reality in their work; this represented a general move toward colour among photographers of their generation. William Eggleston pushed the artistic boundaries of colour by using it to explore the banality of small-town existence; along these same lines, Candida Höfer used colour to emphasize the tedium of institutional life. Richard Misrach created a massive project, known as the Desert Cantos, in which he photographed desert scenes in colour, sometimes juxtaposed against sinister elements such as nuclear sites. Barbara Norfleet, Joel Meyerowitz, Stephen Shore, Barbara Kasten, and Franco Fontana were among the other prominent photographers of the period who used colour expressively in landscapes, interiors, still lifes, and street scenes.

From the 1970s on, as the advent of television news began to affect the popularity of picture magazines, many photojournalists whose work had been published in magazines began to take advantage of a burgeoning interest in photographic picture books. These, often produced in conjunction with exhibits, comprised photographs of newsworthy events or topics of social interest along with informative texts. Working in black and white, Swiss-born photographer Claudia Andujar (working in Brazil) and Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide portrayed indigenous peoples—groups they believed were becoming marginalized by society—and their customs. Other important figures included English photographer Don McCullin, who portrayed the devastation brought about by wars in Vietnam and in Africa; French photojournalist Raymond Depardon, who worked in Asia, Africa, and Europe; American Mary Ellen Mark, who photographed street performers and prostitutes in India, depicted street children in Seattle, Washington, and spent time documenting the inmates of a mental hospital; and Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, who examined work and workers throughout the world, exhibiting and publishing a number of books on that topic. For his ability to make world events come pictorially alive, American James Nachtwey was three times the winner of the International Center of Photography’s photojournalism awards. By the end of the century, the technology used by these photojournalists had changed. Digital cameras sent images directly to computers, and programs allowed images to be altered seamlessly, making newspaper and magazine darkrooms obsolete.

The documentation of artifacts, begun in the 19th century, continued to interest late 20th-century photographers. Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico and American photographer Lewis Baltz concentrated on architecture and the built environment. The German duo Bernd and Hilla Becher produced an extensive portrayal of industrial buildings such as mine tipples and factories, which they usually displayed in carefully planned arrangements of multiple prints. This sort of project combined traditional documentary conventions with postmodern concepts about typologies.

Fashion photographers found their role redefined at the end of the century. As giants of fashion photography from earlier in the century such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon became the subjects of major museum retrospectives, fashion and celebrity photography, initially meant to illustrate fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, became fully recognized as an art form. Photographers David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, and Bruce Weber were among those whose work was esteemed enough to be exhibited in both gallery and museum shows and published in popular monographs.

Throughout most of the 20th century, the art world was dominated by painting and sculpture, with photography seen as a separate but not necessarily equal art form. In the 1980s and ’90s, however, as new media such as video, performance, and installation blurred definitions of “art,” photography became one of the art world’s most prominent media. During this period a generation of prominent photographers, many of them American, helped break down these barriers between photography and “art.” American Robert Mapplethorpe received a maelstrom of attention for his masterfully executed photographs, which ranged from still lifes to portraits to, most controversially, sadomasochistic and homoerotic themes. American photographer Cindy Sherman became an international art star for her elaborately staged self-portraits in which she posed in a variety of stereotypical feminine roles and, in so doing, critiqued these clichés. Barbara Kruger, also American, gained prominence for her modern-day montages, in which she juxtaposed photographic images with text containing social critique—perhaps most famously, the phrases “I Shop, Therefore I Am” and “Your Body Is a Battleground.” A similar use of photography in mixed-media was pursued by American Carrie Mae Weems, who reproduced 19th-century photographs of slaves on a series of banners and scrims, presenting them in a three-dimensional arrangement that commented on the visual representation of African Americans throughout history.

Naomi Rosenblum

Larry Clark
Larry Clark, (born Jan. 19, 1943, Tulsa, Okla., U.S.), American photographer known for his images that graphically depict unconventional teenage activities.

Larry Clark’s roots in Tulsa provided the foundation for the images that eventually made him famous. Employed at first in the family portrait business, he left in 1961 to study photography at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, Wis. He returned to Tulsa after serving from 1964 to 1966 in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and he began to freelance there and in New York City.

Clark also worked on an independent documentary project in Tulsa, recording himself and his teenage friends, who were involved in a culture of drug addiction, uncontrolled sexuality, and violence. As an active participant, Clark was able to invest his images with a powerful immediacy. The photographs were published in 1971 as Tulsa, a book that established Clark’s national reputation.

Although Clark claimed the work of documentarian Dorothea Lange and photojournalist W. Eugene Smith as influences, his images are not easily categorized as either social documentation or journalism. They differ in sensibility, exhibiting neither the compassion nor the sense of mission that characterized the work of the older photographers. Indeed, Clark’s work was applauded expressly because it lacked what was then seen as old-fashioned sentiment. He continued to document teenage alienation in Teenage Lust (1983), The Perfect Childhood (1991), and 1992 (1992).

In the 1990s Clark extended his work to filmmaking by directing the film Kids (1995). A fictionalized account of teenagers involved in a skateboarding and nightclub culture in New York City, the film’s powerful and candid portrayal of teenage sexuality and drug abuse made it controversial, though it was critically acclaimed. Clark went on to make other noteworthy films, including Another Day in Paradise (1998) and Bully (2001).

Larry Clark.

Nan Goldin
Nan Goldin, (born September 12, 1953, Washington, D.C., U.S.), American photographer noted for visual narratives detailing her own world of addictive and sexual activities.

After leaving home at age 13, Goldin lived in foster homes and attended an alternative school in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Suspicious of middle-class myths of romantic love between the sexes and mourning a sister who took her own life in 1964, Goldin sought a substitute family for her own blood relations. In doing so, she became part of a group of alienated young men and women involved with drugs, sex, and violence.

Much influenced by cinéma verité and no doubt aware of the work of American photographer Larry Clark, Goldin took up photography about 1971. Her first published works (1973) were black-and-white images of transvestites and transsexuals. In 1974 she began to study art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she embarked on an enormous portrait of her life, making hundreds of colour transparencies of herself and her friends lying or sitting in bed, engaged in sexual play, recovering from physical violence against them, or injecting themselves with drugs. Her involvement in this hermetic world was revealed in a diaristic narrative sequence of often unfocused but strongly coloured transparencies arranged as a slide show entitled The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981). Accompanied by a musical score that mixed rock, blues, opera, and reggae, the presentation was initially shown in nightclubs and eventually in galleries. Goldin continued to work on this project throughout the 1980s, and it was reproduced in 1986 in book form.

She said of her work:

My work originally came from the snapshot aesthetic…. Snapshots are taken out of love and to remember people, places, and shared times. They’re about creating a history by recording a history.

Continuing to photograph drag queens in the 1990s, she also created a series of images called—in reference to Edward Steichen’s humanistic and influential “Family of Man” exhibition of 1955—The Family of Nan, 1990–92, in which she documented her friends’ AIDS-related deaths. She photographed Japanese youths while traveling in Asia, and in 1995 she published those images in the book Tokyo Love: Spring Fever 1994. In 1995 she also made a biographical film for the BBC titled I’ll Be Your Mirror (with filmmaker Edmund Coulthard). In the late 20th and early 21st centuries she was the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City (1996–97) and at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2001). Goldin has been the recipient of numerous awards including the 2007 Hasselblad Award, an annual award granted by the Hasselblad Foundation to “a photographer recognized for major achievements.”

Nan Goldin. Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a Taxi

Sally Mann
Sally Mann, neé Sally Munger (born May 1, 1951, Lexington, Virginia, U.S.), American photographer whose powerful images of childhood, sexuality, and death were often deemed controversial.

Mann was introduced to photography by her father, Robert Munger, a physician who photographed her nude as a girl. In 1969, as a teenager, she took up photography in Vermont at the Putney School and then spent two years at Bennington College, where she studied with photographer Norman Sieff and met and proposed to the man who became her husband, Larry Mann. After spending a year in Europe, she graduated (1974) summa cum laude from Hollins College (now Hollins University) in Roanoke, Virginia, and a year later she earned a master’s degree in writing.

In 1983, using her century-old 8 × 10-inch view camera, Mann started photographing 12-year-old girls. That series was showcased in her 1988 book, At Twelve. Another series, “Dream Sequence,” explored the psychology of relationships.

Mann first found herself mired in controversy after her series of black-and-white portraits, entitled “Immediate Family,” was unveiled in the spring of 1992 at Houk Friedman, a gallery in New York City. Those photographs created a stir because they focused on her three children, who often appeared nude and in postures, situations, and settings that some viewers found disturbing. Some questioned whether Mann had exploited her children, while others debated whether the images constituted a variety of child pornography. Still others lavishly praised the collection as an honest exploration of the complexities of childhood. In Damaged Child, one of Mann’s earliest portraits in the series (begun in 1984), her eldest daughter, Jessie, appears with a swollen eye and an expression seething with recrimination, a look some interpreted as belonging to a victim of child abuse. In truth, Jessie had been bitten by a gnat. Another Mann portrait shows her oldest child, Emmett, with melted Popsicle smearing his genitals. Yet another shot depicts her youngest daughter, Virginia, sleeping nude on a urine-stained mattress with her legs flung apart.

In the introduction to her book Immediate Family (1992), Mann wrote that “many of these pictures are intimate…but most are of ordinary things every mother has seen. I take pictures when they are bloodied or sick or naked or angry.” With these staged visual explorations, Mann captured some of the darker images of childhood and raised some thought-provoking issues. She was hailed for her painstaking technique, which involved mentally sketching each photograph and discarding dozens of shots before extensively labouring in the darkroom to achieve the desired effect. In the fall of 1993, “Sally Mann: Still Time,” a 60-print photographic retrospective covering 20 years of Mann’s work, opened at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

In the late 1990s, Mann turned her attention to landscape photography, and her work featured photographs from Georgia and Virginia. She also began photographing the progression of her husband’s muscular dystrophy, with which he was diagnosed in 1997. At the Houk Gallery in 2003 she exhibited “Last Measure,” a series of photographs of American Civil War battlefields. Four years later her “What Remains,” exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., focused on death and the decomposition of the human body. In 2015 Mann published Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs.

Filmmaker Steven Cantor directed two films about Mann’s life: Blood Ties: The Life and Work of Sally Mann (1994) was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary short, and What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann premiered on television in 2007.

Sally Mann

William Eggleston
William Eggleston, in full William Joseph Eggleston, Jr. (born July 27, 1939, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.), American photographer whose straightforward depictions of everyday objects and scenes, many of them in the southern United States, were noted for their vivid colours, precise composition, and evocative allure. His work was credited with helping establish colour photography in the late 20th century as a legitimate artistic medium.

Born into wealth, Eggleston grew up on his family’s former cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta and, as a teenager, attended a boarding school in Tennessee. As a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, he began to take photographs after a friend, recognizing his artistic inclinations as well as his fascination with mechanics, encouraged him to buy a camera. Eggleston maintained the pursuit as he transferred to Delta State College (now Delta State University) in Cleveland, Mississippi, and then to the University of Mississippi, where he spent several years before leaving without a degree. Exposure to the vernacular style of Walker Evans and, especially, the compositions of Henri Cartier-Bresson influenced his earliest work, which he produced in black and white.

After settling in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1964, Eggleston began to experiment with colour photography, which, in part because of its association with both amateur snapshots and commercial work, had rarely been appreciated as fine art. Sensing an opportunity to forge new ground, he set to capture images he encountered in his surroundings with a neutral eye—devoid of either sentiment or irony—and, radically, in full colour. Over the next decade, he produced thousands of photographs, focusing on ordinary Americans and the landscapes, structures, and other materials of their environs; a representative example, from 1970, depicts a weathered blue tricycle parked on a sidewalk. In the early 1970s Eggleston discovered that printing with a dye-transfer process, a practice common in high-end advertising, would allow him to control the colours of his photographs and thereby heighten their effect. Among his first photographs to employ the technique were a stark image of a bare lightbulb fixed to a blood-red ceiling (1973) and those compiled in 14 Pictures (1974), his first published portfolio.

Having been granted a Guggenheim fellowship in 1974, Eggleston received an additional career boost two years later with a solo exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. (Its curator, John Szarkowski, had taken an interest in Eggleston’s work upon meeting him nearly a decade earlier.) The show provoked hostility from some critics, notably Hilton Kramer, who judged the snapshotlike pictures banal and lacking in artistry. Other viewers, however, found that Eggleston’s intensely saturated hues and striking perspectives imbued an ominous or dreamlike quality to their seemingly mundane subjects. He soon took on various commissioned projects, which resulted in series set in, among other locations, U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter’s hometown of Plains, Georgia (1976), and Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis (1983–84).

Because of the geographic milieu in which Eggleston often worked, his photographs were sometimes characterized as reflections on the South, though he pointedly resisted such interpretations, claiming an interest in his subjects chiefly for their physical and formal qualities rather than for any broader significance. In the 1980s he traveled extensively, and the photos in the monograph The Democratic Forest (1989), set throughout the United States and Europe, proceeded from his desire to document a multitude of places without consideration for traditional hierarchies of meaning or beauty. Eggleston’s other publications include Los Alamos (2003), a collection of pictures taken in 1966–74, many of them on road trips.

By the turn of the 21st century, the skepticism that had initially greeted Eggleston’s work had largely dissipated, and the retrospective William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Videos, 1961–2008, which originated in 2008 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, solidified his reputation as a skilled innovator. For his contributions to photography, Eggleston received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 1998 and a Sony World Photography Award in 2013.

John M. Cunningham

William Eggleston

Mary Ellen Mark
Mary Ellen Mark, (born March 20, 1940, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died May 25, 2015, New York City, New York), American photojournalist whose compelling, empathetic images document the lives of marginalized people in the United States and other countries.

Mark graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in painting and art history, and in 1964 she earned a master’s degree in photojournalism from the same institution. In 1974 she published her first book, Passport, a selection of her photographs taken from 1963 to 1973.

Mark began one of her best-known projects in 1976. For two months she lived in a high-security women’s ward at the Oregon State Hospital in order to capture on film the moods and ongoing anxieties of mentally ill women confined to a locked ward. The resulting black-and-white images, published in Ward 81 (1979), illustrate Mark’s attempts to record the human condition with both compassion and objectivity.

Mark traveled repeatedly to India. On her first trip, in 1968, and then again in 1980 and 1981, she photographed the prostitutes of Bombay (now Mumbai) and the work of Mother Teresa and her associates. Two books resulted, Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay (1981) and Photographs of Mother Teresa’s Missions of Charity in Calcutta, India (1985). In 1982 Mark completed an award-winning photo-essay for Life magazine documenting the lives of runaway children on the streets of Seattle, Washington. She later returned to Seattle to work on Streetwise (1984), a powerful documentary film about Seattle’s homeless children. She presented portraits of New York City’s homeless people in the book A Cry for Help: Stories of Homelessness and Hope (1996).

Her work has appeared in magazines such as Time, Ms., Paris Match, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Stern. Mark received numerous honours, including a Guggenheim fellowship (1994) and three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1977, 1980, 1990). She also earned many awards throughout her long career, among them the Infinity Award for photojournalism (1997) and the Cornell Capa Award (2001), both from the International Center of Photography, the Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House (2014), and the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award from the World Photography Organization (2014).

Mary Ellen Mark

Sebastiao Salgado
Sebastião Salgado, in full Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado (born February 8, 1944, Aimorés, Brazil), Brazilian photojournalist whose work powerfully expresses the suffering of the homeless and downtrodden.

Salgado was the only son of a cattle rancher who wanted him to become a lawyer. Instead, he studied economics at São Paulo University, earning a master’s degree in 1968. While working as an economist for the Ministry of Finance (1968–69), he joined the popular movement against Brazil’s military government. Seen as a political radical, Salgado was exiled in August 1969. He and his wife fled to France, where he continued his studies at the University of Paris. In 1971, while on an assignment in Rwanda as an economist for the International Coffee Organization, he took his first photographs and soon decided to teach himself the craft. He became a freelance photojournalist in 1973.

Over the next decade Salgado photographed a wide variety of subjects, including the famine in Niger and the civil war in Mozambique. In 1979 he joined the prestigious Magnum Photos cooperative for photojournalists, and two years later he gained prominence in the United States with a riveting photograph that captured John Hinckley’s attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. By the mid-1980s Salgado had begun to devote himself almost entirely to long-term projects that told a story through a series of images. By this time he also established his style: impassioned photographs grounded in great formal beauty and strong compositions, which lend a sense of nobility to his often downtrodden subjects. He won the City of Paris/Kodak Award for his first photographic book, Other Americas (1986), which recorded the everyday lives of Latin American peasants. This was followed by Sahel: Man in Distress (1986), a book on the 1984–85 famine in the Sahel region of Africa, and An Uncertain Grace (1990), which included a remarkable group of photographs of mud-covered workers at the Serra Pelada gold mine in Brazil.

In 1993 Salgado’s international reputation was confirmed when his retrospective exhibition “In Human Effort” was shown at the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art; it was the first time in the history of Japan’s national museums that the works of an individual photographer were displayed. That same year he published Workers, an epic portrait of the working class. Four years later Terra: Struggle of the Landless received tremendous critical acclaim. The collection of black-and-white photographs taken between 1980 and 1996 documents the plight of impoverished workers in Brazil; the work includes a preface by Portuguese novelist José Saramago as well as poems by Brazilian singer-songwriter Chico Buarque. In the 1990s Salgado recorded the displacement of people in more than 35 countries, and his photographs from this period were collected in Migrations: Humanity in Transition (2000). Many of his African photographs were gathered in Africa (2007). Genesis (2013) assembled the results of an eight-year global survey of wildlife, landscape, and human cultures uncorrupted by the onslaught of modernity and industrialization.

In 1998 Salgado and his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, helped to found the Instituto Terra, a project that endeavoured to restore a degraded portion of rainforest in Minas Gerais, Brazil. He was the subject of Wim Wenders’s documentary The Salt of the Earth (2015).

Sebastiao Salgado

James Nachtwey
James Nachtwey, (born March 14, 1948, Syracuse, N.Y., U.S.), photojournalist noted for his unflinching and moving images of wars, conflicts, and social upheaval.

Nachtwey graduated from Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., where he studied art history and political science, and then served in the merchant marine. Influenced by the work of still photographers during the Vietnam War and impressed by the power of photos to communicate the immediacy of events, he became a self-taught student of photography. From 1976 to 1980 he was a newspaper photographer in New Mexico, and in 1980 he moved to New York City to work as a freelance photographer. There he joined Black Star agency. After his first foreign assignment, in Northern Ireland, he worked in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. The images he recorded in those places appeared in a number of international publications, including National Geographic, Life, Time, El País, and L’Express. In 1984 he became a contract photographer with Time magazine. He was a member of Magnum photography cooperative from 1986 to 2001, when he became one of the founding members of the photo agency VII, named for the number of its founding members.

He has received many of the most respected photography awards, many of them multiple times, notably the Robert Capa Gold Medal, Magazine Photographer of the Year, and World Press Photo of the Year. Compared to Robert Capa for his sense of compassion and commitment and to Henri Cartier-Bresson, who inspired him, for his composition, Nachtwey said of his own work:

I use what I know about the formal elements of photography at the service of the people I’m photographing—not the other way around. I’m not trying to make statements about photography. I’m trying to use photography to make statements about what’s happening in the world. I don’t want my compositions to be self-conscious.

This compassion—which is particularly compelling in view of the death, destruction, and inhumanity he has witnessed for more than two decades—has enabled him both to be present at and to record the heart-wrenching moments in personal lives throughout the world.

His books include Deeds of War (1989) and Inferno (1999). War Photographer (2001) is a documentary film about Nachtwey and his work.

James Nachtwey

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher
Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher, Bernd Becher in full Bernhard Becher, Hilla Becher née Wobeser (respectively, born August 20, 1931, Siegen, Germany—died June 22, 2007, Rostock, Germany; born September 2, 1934, Potsdam, Germany), German photographers known for their straightforward black-and-white images of types of industrial buildings. For nearly five decades, the couple systematically photographed individual industrial structures—water towers, blast furnaces, grain elevators, framework (half-timber) houses—most of which dated to the 19th century and have since been demolished.

Bernd studied painting and lithography at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Stuttgart, Germany, from 1953 to 1956 and went on to study typography in Düsseldorf, Germany, at the Staatliche Kunstakademie from 1957 to 1961. His first experiments in photography were in 1957, at which point he was already interested in functional buildings of industry and started documenting those that he had seen around his hometown of Siegen. Hilla studied photography in Potsdam, Germany, worked as an aerial photographer briefly in Hamburg, and moved to Düsseldorf in 1959. The couple met there that year, began collaborating, and married in 1961.

The Bechers’ photographs are instantly recognizable. They established a signature style from their earliest work and continued in that mode for nearly 50 years. By choosing a fixed vantage point from which to capture the elements of the industrial landscape, the Bechers strove to eliminate any trace of subjectivity in their compositions. In order to avoid shadows, they photographed on cloudy days, lending their images an airless and expressionless quality. The cumulative effect of their method was a straightforward reductive image of the geometry of their subject. The viewer’s eye has no choice but to examine the intricacies of the otherwise mundane structures and machines. To further encourage close examination and active comparison of structural features, they exhibited their photographs of similar types of structures in grids, creating “families of objects.” They called those ordered sets of photographs “typologies.” The Bechers were interested not only in form but also in function. They juxtaposed images to examine differences in form (size, materials, shapes) when the basic function of the machine or site was the same.

Though the Bechers’ oeuvre may appear obsessive and encyclopaedic, their goal was not just systematic documentation. The couple had strong views regarding preservation and hoped that their documentation would serve as the memory of the quickly forgotten and the obsolete. They photographed industrial structures in Germany, especially in the Ruhr region, and throughout Europe, as well as in many regions of North America.

Despite the couple’s resistance to categorization, their work was integrated into the Minimalist and Conceptual art discourse of the 1960s and ’70s. And, within the photography field, the Bechers became associated with a new flock of artists working in reaction to the romantic landscape aesthetic. The Bechers and eight other photographers, including Lewis Baltz, Frank Gohlke, Stephen Shore, and Robert Adams, participated in a pivotal exhibition titled “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” in 1975–76 at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. “New Topographics” put a name to the photographers who were capturing the built environment in a dispassionate and impersonal way. Their new version of the American landscape—a radical departure from the traditional photographic landscape by artists such as Ansel Adams—drew attention to a new, somewhat troubling, understanding of the relationship between the individual and nature. Those photographers also had returned to shooting with large- and medium-format cameras in contrast to the lightweight Leicas, which had been the camera of choice for the previous generation of street photographers. The New Topographic photographers adhered to conventional printing methods when the aesthetic trends of the 1970s were moving decidedly toward colour, abstraction, and alternative printing methods and materials.

The Bechers’ sharply focused “objective” style of documentation found its source in the Neue Sachlichkeit (“New Objectivity”) movement, which had emerged in Germany in the 1920s. The group, which included photographers such as August Sander, Karl Blossfeldt, and Albert Renger-Patzsch, rejected the sentimentality of Pictorialism, a school of photography then losing momentum, which emphasized the beautiful, painterly, and well-composed image.

Together the Bechers established a photography department in 1976 at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, and Bernd became its first professor, a position he held until 1996. He and his wife influenced many contemporary photographers, and Bernd taught four of the best-known photographers to emerge from Germany in the late 20th century: Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Candida Höfer, and Andreas Gursky. Their styles were so distinctive and their careers so successful that they came to be known as the Düsseldorf School of Photography. The Bechers were awarded the Golden Lion for sculpture at the 1990 Venice Biennale, and in 2004 they won the Hasselblad Foundation International Award “for their outstanding achievements in the field of photography.”

Naomi Blumberg

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher

Irving Penn
Irving Penn, (born June 16, 1917, Plainfield, N.J., U.S.—died Oct. 7, 2009, New York, N.Y.), American photographer noted for his sophisticated fashion images and incisive portraits.

Penn, the brother of the motion-picture director Arthur Penn, initially intended to become a painter, but at age 26 he took a job designing photographic covers for the fashion magazine Vogue. He began photographing his own ideas for covers and soon established himself as a fashion photographer. In 1950 he married model Lisa Fonssagrives, whom he photographed for much of his best work. His austere fashion images communicated elegance and luxury through compositional refinement and clarity of line rather than through the use of elaborate props and backdrops.

Penn also became an influential portraitist. He photographed a large number of celebrities, engaging each subject to sit for hours and to reveal his or her personality to the camera. In his portraits the subject is usually posed before a bare backdrop and photographed in natural northern light. The resulting images combine simplicity and directness with great formal sophistication. A memorable series of portraits he created in 1950–51, collectively called Small Trades, was of labourers in New York, Paris, and London formally posed in their work clothes and holding the tools of their trade. This project eventually extended to places such as Nepal, New Guinea, Dahomey (now Benin), and Morocco. Penn’s later platinum prints of female nudes and of cigarette butts are characterized by the same tonal subtlety, compositional virtuosity, and serenity that mark his fashion photography and portraiture.

Three hundred of Penn’s pictures were published in Moments Preserved (1960). His other books include Worlds in a Small Room (1974), a collection of portraits of people he encountered in remote foreign locales, and Passage (1991), a retrospective survey of more than 400 examples of his work in portraiture, fashion, ethnic studies, and still life. In 1996 he donated his archives to the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum organized a traveling retrospective of his work the following year.

Irving Penn

Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon, (born May 15, 1923, New York, New York, U.S.—died October 1, 2004, San Antonio, Texas), one of the leading mid-20th-century photographers, noted for his portraits and fashion photographs.

Avedon began to explore photography on his own at age 10 and was immediately drawn to portraiture. His first sitter was the Russian pianist-composer Sergey Rachmaninoff, who then lived in the same New York City apartment building as Avedon’s grandparents. Avedon studied photography in the U.S. merchant marine (1942–44), where he took identification card pictures, and at the New School for Social Research. He turned professional in 1945 and became a regular contributor to Harper’s Bazaar (1946–65) and Vogue (1966–90), in addition to working on many advertising campaigns. In 1992 he became the first staff photographer at The New Yorker.

Avedon’s fashion photographs are characterized by a strong black-and-white contrast that creates an effect of austere sophistication. In his portraits of celebrities and other sitters, he created a sense of drama by often using a stark, white background and eliciting a frontal, confrontational pose. Many of his photographs are collected in Observations (1959), with a text by Truman Capote; Nothing Personal (1976), with a text by James Baldwin; Portraits (1976); Avedon: Photographs, 1947–1977 (1978); In the American West, 1979–1984 (1985), An Autobiography (1993); Evidence: 1944–94 (1994); and The Sixties (1999).

Avedon also served as visual consultant for the motion picture Funny Face (1957), which was based on his own experiences. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City mounted a retrospective exhibition of Avedon’s photographs in 1994.

Richard Avedon. Elizabeth Taylor

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz, original name Anna-Lou Leibovitz (born October 2, 1949, Westbury, Connecticut, U.S.), American photographer renowned for her dramatic, quirky, and iconic portraits of a great variety of celebrities. Her signature style is crisp and well lighted.

Leibovitz’s father had a military career, and her mother was a dancer. The family was living in the Philippines in 1967 when Leibovitz enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute (B.F.A., 1971), intending to become a painter. After taking a night class in photography, she quickly became engrossed in that medium. In 1970, while still a student, she was given her first commercial assignment for Rolling Stone magazine: to photograph John Lennon. Three years later Leibovitz became the publication’s chief photographer, directing her energies toward a unique presentation of the major personalities of contemporary rock music. In 1975 she documented the Rolling Stones’ six-month North American concert tour, during which she shot several widely reproduced photographs of guitarist Keith Richards and lead singer Mick Jagger. (She also became addicted to cocaine, a habit she kicked some years later when she joined the staff of Vanity Fair magazine.) Perhaps her most famous work from this period is a portrait of Lennon and Yoko Ono that was published on the cover of Rolling Stone in January 1981. In the picture, shot mere hours before Lennon’s assassination, the singer-songwriter is nude and wrapped fetuslike around his fully clothed wife.

In 1983 Leibovitz produced a 60-print show that toured Europe and the United States. The accompanying book, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, was a best seller. That same year she joined the staff of Vanity Fair, which broadened her pool of subjects to include film stars, athletes, and political figures. For her portraits, Leibovitz—who viewed her photographic sessions as collaborations—typically spent days observing her subjects’ daily lives and worked to make her portraits of them unique and witty, each a technically exquisite distillation. Her commercial images were dramatic and staged rather than casual.

She received the American Society of Magazine Photographers award for photographer of the year in 1983. She began to work as an advertising photographer in 1986, gaining such clients as Honda, American Express (the “Portraits” campaign), and the Gap (“Individual of Style” campaign). The American Express ad campaign that used her photos won a Clio Award, recognizing advertising excellence worldwide, in 1987. She later was involved in the California Milk Processor Board (the “Got Milk?” campaign) and shot a series of ads featuring celebrities as Disney characters for Disney theme parks. In 2011 she photographed seven top female athletes for the sportswear company Nike’s “Make Yourself” campaign. Her style throughout these projects was characterized by carefully staged settings, superb lighting, and her trademark use of vivid colour.

In 1991 Leibovitz had her first museum exhibition; she became the first woman and second living photographer to show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. A companion book, Photographs: Annie Leibovitz 1970–1990, was published in 1991. She also earned much praise for her portraits of American Olympians taken for an exhibit at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia, which were later published in the book Olympic Portraits (1996). In 1999 she published a collection of photographs titled Women, with an essay by intellectual and writer Susan Sontag, who was her lover.

In 2000 Leibovitz was among the first group of Americans to be designated a Library of Congress Living Legend. Among the later publications of her work were American Music (2003); A Photographer’s Life: 1990–2005 (2006), which contained many images documenting Leibovitz’s personal life; and Annie Leibovitz at Work (2008). Leibovitz’s perfectionism in her work (budgets were exploded, and no expense was spared) and her celebrity-touched lifestyle had a role in producing a debt of $24 million, for which she was sued in 2009. The suit against her was settled, and the glare of publicity was deflected somewhat when her official portrait of the first family—Pres. Barack Obama, his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Sasha and Malia—was released to the public later that year. The photographer’s achievements were celebrated in Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens (2009), a documentary film made for public television’s American Masters series by her sister Barbara. During her financial difficulties, Leibovitz began working on a personal project, photographing places and objects that were meaningful to her, and the images were collected in the book Pilgrimage (2011).

Annie Leibovitz

Helmut Newton
Helmut Newton (Helmut Neustädter), (born Oct. 31, 1920, Berlin, Ger.—died Jan. 23, 2004, Los Angeles, Calif.), German-born fashion photographer who , revolutionized his field by introducing the element of danger and the transgressive with his sexy, fetishistic photographs. Each shot implied a story behind it, usually ambiguous, sometimes violent, and always sexually charged, while his models—chiefly tall, cool, blonde women—were often clad in little or nothing but stiletto heels. Newton, who was born into a wealthy Jewish family in the often decadent Weimar Republic, fled Nazi Germany with his parents in 1938. The 18-year-old chose to seek his fortune in Singapore, but he was interned as an enemy alien and sent to Australia. He served in the Australian army from 1940 to 1945 and settled in Sydney after the war. In 1948 he married Australian model and actress June Brunell, who became his collaborator and colleague. In 1956 the Newtons moved to London, and a year later they moved to Paris, where he found work with high-fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Marie-Claire. By the 1970s he had gained an international reputation. Although some critics denounced Newton’s work as near pornography, his popularity did not diminish as he aged, and his provocative photographs were in demand up until the time of his death in a car accident.

Helmut Newton
Mario Testino
Mario Testino, (born Oct. 30, 1954, Lima, Peru), Peruvian fashion photographer known for his evocative portraits and vivid advertisements.

Testino, who was of Irish, Spanish, and Italian descent, found his inspiration in the work of British celebrity and fashion photographer Cecil Beaton. Though Testino studied law and economics at the University of Lima and international affairs at the University of California, San Diego, he later made portfolios for up-and-coming models during the day and worked as a waiter at night. He moved to London in 1976 to focus on his career in fashion photography, and his clients soon included such fashion houses as Gucci, Versace, and Yves Saint Laurent and publications including Vogue, Vanity Fair, and W. Testino’s bright, sharp style of photography put an end to the fashion industry’s love affair with “heroin chic” and the accompanying dark, murky images that dominated magazine pages in the early 1990s. His work also helped mute the supermodel trend, as he preferred photographing then-lesser-known models such as Kate Moss, who did not command the same fees as the top models of the fashion industry. With stylist Carine Roitfield, his frequent collaborator, in 1995 Testino helped Gucci creative director Tom Ford relaunch the then-lagging multimillion-dollar-generating Italian luxury line.

Testino, long famous among the fashion crowd, gained universal exposure in 1997 when Diana, princess of Wales, requested that he shoot her image for a Vanity Fair cover story. The iconic shots were among the most famous taken of the princess, and, with her death later that year, Testino’s work became Diana’s last official photo shoot. In the May/June 1998 issue of American Photo, Testino was ranked number 12 among the industry’s 100 most influential people of 1998. Celebrities coveted the chance to work with the photographer; in 1998 his photo of the Spice Girls graced the cover of American Vogue, and Madonna’s 1998 album Ray of Light featured Testino’s images of her. In 2010 Testino took the official engagement photographs of Catherine Middleton and Prince William, Diana’s elder son.

Testino’s first book was the eagerly anticipated Any Objections? (1998). His other books include Front Row/Back Stage (1999) and Alive (2001). Portraits, published in 2002, accompanied the Testino exhibit held that same year at London’s National Portrait Gallery; the highly successful show toured internationally for four years. Testino was the recipient of an Order of Merit from his birth city of Lima.

Mario Testino

Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Mapplethorpe, (born Nov. 4, 1946, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died March 9, 1989, Boston, Mass.), American photographer who was noted for austere photographs of flowers, celebrities, and male nudes; among the latter were some that proved controversial because of their explicitly homoerotic and sadomasochistic themes.

Mapplethorpe attended the Pratt Institute in New York City (1963–70). After experimenting with underground filmmaking in the late 1960s, by 1970 he was creating photographs using a Polaroid camera, often arranging them into collages or showing them as series. By the mid-1970s he received critical attention for his elegant black-and-white photographs. He experimented with different techniques, including using a large-format press camera, combining photographic images printed on linen, and designing his own wooden frames.

During this period he pursued what were to remain his favourite subjects throughout his career: still lifes, flowers, portraits of friends and celebrities (such as poet and singer Patti Smith), and homoerotic explorations of the male body. His compositions were generally stark, his combination of cold studio light and precise focus creating dramatic tonal contrasts. While these effects rendered still lifes with an almost Vermeer-like coolness, these same techniques rendered homosexual imagery in a manner that some found shocking. His muscular male models were generally framed against plain backdrops, sometimes engaged in sexual activity or posed with sadomasochistic props such as leather and chains. His clear, unflinching style challenged viewers to confront this imagery. Moreover, the combination of his choice of subject matter with the photographs’ formal beauty and grounding in art-historical traditions created what many saw as a tension between pornography and art.

Mapplethorpe’s reputation grew in the 1980s, and he began to focus more on flowers and celebrity portraits than on the overtly sexual subject matter of his earlier output. Still, Mapplethorpe managed to impart a sensual energy to the folds of one of his favourite subjects, the calla lily, that many would argue equalled the impact of his nudes. Mapplethorpe extended his interest in form in a series of portraits of female bodybuilder Lisa Lyon. His work was exhibited internationally, with major shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and the National Portrait Gallery in London (both 1988), and his photographs were featured in such books as Robert Mapplethorpe Photographs (1978), Lady: Lisa Lyon (1983), Robert Mapplethorpe: Certain People (1985), The Black Book (1988), and Flowers (1990), with an introduction by Patti Smith. When he contracted the AIDS virus, Mapplethorpe chronicled his illness in a harrowing series of self-portraits.

A posthumous retrospective exhibition, “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment,” was planned for the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., but stirred a political debate in 1990 that caused the museum to cancel the show. Because the exhibition—which featured Mapplethorpe’s still lifes as well as his nudes—was partly funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), the exhibit sparked a debate about government subsidies of “obscene” art and provoked Congress to enact restrictions on future NEA grants. Also in 1990, Dennis Barrie, the director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, was arrested but later acquitted of obscenity charges for displaying the same Mapplethorpe exhibition. The exhibition was shown with little to no controversy in other cities, including Chicago, Berkeley (California), and Boston.

Mapplethorpe’s reptuation as one of his era’s most talented—and most provocative—photographers continued to rise at the turn of the 21st century. Important monographs of his work were published posthumously, including Some Women (1995), with an introduction by Joan Didion, and Robert Mapplethorpe: Pictures (1999), with an introduction by Ingrid Sischy.

Robert Mapplethorpe

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman, in full Cynthia Morris Sherman (born January 19, 1954, Glen Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.), American photographer known for her images—particularly her elaborately “disguised” self-portraits—that comment on social role-playing and sexual stereotypes.

Sherman grew up on Long Island, New York. In 1972 she enrolled at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and majored in painting, later switching her major to photography. She graduated from SUNY in 1976 and in 1977 began work on Untitled Film Stills (1977–80), one of her best-known series. The series of 8 × 10-inch black-and-white photographs featuring Sherman in a variety of roles is reminiscent of film noir and presents viewers with an ambiguous portrayal of women as sex objects. Sherman stated that the series was “about the fakeness of role-playing as well as contempt for the domineering ‘male’ audience who would mistakenly read the images as sexy.” She continued to be the model in her photographs, donning wigs and costumes that evoke images from the realms of advertising, television, film, and fashion and that, in turn, challenge the cultural stereotypes supported by these media.

During the 1980s Sherman began to use colour film, to exhibit very large prints, and to concentrate more on lighting and facial expression. Using prosthetic appendages and liberal amounts of makeup, Sherman moved into the realm of the grotesque and the sinister with photographs that featured mutilated bodies and reflected such concerns as eating disorders, insanity, and death. Her work became less ambiguous, focusing perhaps more on the results of society’s acceptance of stereotyped roles for women than upon the roles themselves.

Sherman returned to ironic commentary upon clichéd female identities in the 1990s, introducing mannequins into some of her photographs, and in 1997 she directed the dark comedic film Office Killer. Two years later she exhibited disturbing images of savaged dolls and doll parts that explored her interest in juxtaposing violence and artificiality. Sherman continued these juxtapositions in a 2000 series of photographs in which she posed as Hollywood women with overblown makeup and silicone breast implants, again achieving a result of enigmatic pathos. That same year a major retrospective of her work was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. A 2012 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City was accompanied by a film series comprising movies that Sherman saw as having influenced her work.

Cindy Sherman

Carrie Mae Weems
Carrie Mae Weems, (born April 20, 1953, Portland, Oregon, U.S.), American artist and photographer known for creating installations that combine photography, audio, and text to examine many facets of contemporary American life.

Weems, who is probably best known as a photographer, initially studied modern dance. She received her first camera at age 21. In 1978 she began her first photographic project, called Environmental Profits, which focused on life in Portland. That same year she started her first major series, Family Pictures and Stories, completed about five years later. In 1981 she graduated with a B.A. from the California Institute of the Arts, and she later obtained an M.F.A. (1984) from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.A. (1987) from the University of California, Berkeley.

Weems was influenced by the work of earlier African American photographers who documented the black experience, notably Roy DeCarava. She began to refer to herself as the “image maker.” Weems’s early images explored personal and familial themes, as reflected in the title she used for several works, The Kitchen Table Series (1990). These images often were accompanied by text and audio recordings. As her work developed, she became more explicitly political, continuing to explore themes of racism and the African American experience while addressing gender issues and the nature of male-female relationships. Weems taught photography at several colleges and exhibited her works frequently. In the late 1990s and the 2000s she also embraced video technology, though the still image remained central in her work.

In 2013 Weems was named a MacArthur Foundation fellow.

Carrie Mae Weems


IN 1850 IT WOULD HAVE BEEN unusual to meet someone who had handled a camera or looked at a photograph; 100 years later the reverse would have been true. The camera had become a ubiquitous device, its basic techniques easily mastered by even the clumsiest and least sophisticated person. By 1950, photographic images in silver, in colored dyes, and in printer's ink had penetrated all parts of the globe, through all layers of society, and had become the daily visual diet of everyone living in the urban centers of the West. In the second half of the 20th century, the photograph has been perceived as the paramount means of visual communication, attracting gifted and imaginative artists as well as commercial practitioners and amateurs, and infiltrating the art marketplace as a commodity while continuing to fulfill established roles in communications and advertising. Traditional photographic methods and materials continued to be refined throughout this period until the 1980s. Then, the discovery of ways to produce images electronically and alter them by computer relegated many aspects of conventional photography to the dustbin at the same time that it raised still-unresolved issues about authorship, copyright, and truthfulness.

After the second World War, photographs became more pervasive than ever before, in large part due to the weekly picture magazines, which continued to be popular through the 1970s despite increasing competition from television. With their accomplished reportage, seductive advertising, and striking scientific pictures made possible by new techniques in aerial photography and microphotography, picture journals helped prepare the way for public acceptance of a wide range of imagery— abstractions, series, color, and visual manipulations of various kinds. In the late 1960s and '70s, photographs earned greater respect as individual objects; they began to be reproduced more frequendy in book format, exhibited more often in galleries and museums, and collected with more enthusiasm by private individuals and business enterprises. As a result, their history and provenance became subjects of scholarly study; concurrendy, the widespread effect of photography on perceptions of reality and on the nature of perception itself became the stuff of intellectual speculation. During the 1980s, the photograph was seen not only as an object capable of affording information or pleasure but also as a tract on which might be inscribed (sometimes in actual words) an unmistakable social or political message.

In the years since its invention, photography had become an international medium. That photographic processes and concepts had traversed national boundaries with ease owed much to competition among industrial nations in the nineteenth century. England and France, especially, carefully monitored each other's discoveries in all scientific and industrial fields, while the similarity of life in industrial societies increasingly elicited similar kinds of pictorial documentation. However, despite the vitality of international photographic activity up through the 1930s, after World War II the wellspring of visual culture shifted temporarily to the United States as European and Far Eastern countries struggled to rebuild their shattered economies. Physically undamaged by the war and entering a period of relative economic well-being, the United States provided the conditions that photography—and, indeed, all the visual arts—needed to flourish. Eventually, publications, traveling exhibitions, and peripatetic photographers on assignment acquainted Europeans with the diverse styles of American postwar camera expression, which they enriched with ideas originating from their own cultures.

As stability returned, camera activity' in Europe, Latin America, and the Far East prospered. By the 1990s, photographs made in places as far apart as China and Eastern Europe featured ideas and modes similar to those generally prevailing in the United States and Western Europe. In Russia, for example, the medium has been transformed from government-sanctioned straight reportage to a diversity of manipulative practices that embrace postmodern themes, while Chinese photographers, long in thrall to an idealized view of their own society, have recendy adopted a more discerning, journalistic approach. In view of this historical sequence, it seems logical to discuss developments in the United States first, and in somewhat greater detail, before turning to tendencies abroad.

UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Mount Vesuvius, Italy,
after the Eruption of 1944, 1944.
Gelatin silver print. Imperial War Museum, London.

Postwar Trends in the United States

Using wars as demarcations of cultural eras may seem simplistic, but there is little question that a new sensibility made its appearance in the United States after World War II. As the nation began a period that was characterized (until the mid-1960s) by domestic peace, political conformism, and expansive consumerism, many in the arts began to grapple with problems of pure form, with the expression of inner visions, and with representing new perceptions of social realities. Reflecting this trend, one significant group of photographers concentrated on what have been called "private realities," drawing ideas and inspiration from a variety of sources—among them, Abstract Expressionist painting, psychoanalytic thought, Zen, and other systems of Eastern philosophy. Others were inspired by the photographic experimentalism implanted on American soil by refugees who organized the American Bauhaus as well as by the tendency of many painters to obscure the traditional line between photographic and graphic expression by mixing their media. The work of young photographers who continued to espouse straight photography also exhibited subtle changes, becoming tinged by more subjective or ironic attitudes. Alongside these new sensibilities, traditional approaches to image-making still attracted adherents, giving the medium extraordinary range and vitality.

The explosion of photographic activity in the United States stemmed in part from the scholarships given to former members of the armed forces, which enabled them to attend art schools and colleges at government expense. This education introduced many young people to photography as a way to make a living and as a means of personal expression. One such educational fountainhead was the Institute of Design in Chicago—the American incarnation of the Bauhaus—which proposed that photographers be first and foremost concerned with the expressive manipulation of light, "free from cultural indoctrination." Setting aside the social intent and Utopian ideals explicit in the original Bauhaus programs in Weimar and Dessau, the Institute advocated a "new vision" that was primarily dedicated to finding fresh, personal ways of looking at the commonplace.

Of the photographers associated with the Institute in its early days, Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind were the most influential in terms of their own work. Reflecting the school's emphasis on experimentation, Callahan used both 35mm and 8 x 10 inch formats, worked in black and white and in color, and made multiple exposures, montages, and collages. His straight images exemplify attempts to find a visual means of "revealing the subject in a new way to intensify it," as in the early Weed Against Sky, Detroit. Siskind's attraction to abstract forms in nature and in the built world, already made visible in the architectural details he had photographed on Martha's Vineyard during the mid-1930s, became stronger over the next few decades as the photographer committed himself to "relaxing beliefs ... to seeing the world clean, fresh and alive." Acknowledging the influence of the accidental and spontaneous gestures favored by Abstract Expressionist painters, Siskind found in the canvases of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock suggestions for the motifs he extracted from street environments. Much of the experimentaiism fostered by the Institute took the form of manipulative interventions, but a number of graduates— including Linda Connor, Art Sinsabaugh, and Geoffrey Winningham—applied the precepts to straight photography, at times using unusual formats or special lenses to express a fresh vision of reality.

Another dimension was given to postwar photography by Minor White, whose search for allusive or metaphorical meanings in the appearances of reality attracted a cult following during the 1960s. Through extensive teaching and publishing activities, White persuasively urged that photographs be made to embody a mystic essence, that the camera reveal "tilings for what they are" and "for what else they are." Unsympathetic to the idea that the medium should emulate painting and drawing, White sought instead to continue the directions in straight photography mapped out by Srieglitz and Weston—to approach nature with a large-format camera, a sharp lens, and an eye for equivalences between form and feeling. Like Weston. White obliterated clues to size and geographic locale, giving his images the enigmatic quality seen in Moencopi Strata, Capitol Reef, Utah, a work that is a depiction of actual rock formations, an arresting visual design, and an invitation to sec within it whatever the viewer desires.

Younger photographers inspired by the intensity of White's credo and the force of Weston's images sought in natural phenomena of all kinds forms that might express their feelings of being at one with nature. Eroded surfaces, tangled branches, translucent petals, watery environments, and rock structures photographed close-up and with large-format cameras were favored by Walter Chapell and Paul Caponigro as a means of going beyond perception to evoke the mystic divinity in all nature. The power of light to unlock "the greatest secrets of the unknown"" is central also to the imagery of Wynn Bullock, a Californian who was close to Weston personally and ideologically. A similar attitude about the transcendent meaning of nature has inspired Linda Connor's images of sacred trees, rocks, and waterfalls, taken in many parts of the world. Another means used to invest the landscape with fresh regard has been to view it from an unusual angle. William A. Garnett (pi. no. 668) and Bradford Washington both photograph from the air, transforming the shirting patterns of desert, eroded soil, and farmland into elegantly structured abstractions through framing and the quality and direction of the light. During the 1960s, this concept of the camera image as a lofty emblem of some universal truth was challenged by several groups—by those who believed that "the interior truth ultimately is the only truth," by those grappling with aesthetic or conceptual issues, and by those who responded to social realities but in a subjective fashion. The first two groups turned to manipulative and directorial photography; chroniclers of the social scene continued, for the most part, to favor straight photography. The changing character of American life, coupled with the popularity of the 35mm camera and fresh ideas about photographic aesthetics, also yielded a distinctive new style in straight street photography, with the prevailing tone becoming distanced and ironic. This approach had surfaced first in street images made in the early 1940s by Callahan, Walker Evans, and Louis Faurer, but impetus from Europeans working in the United States from the 1930s on also must be recognized. One of the earliest, John Gutmann (a German artist who arrived in 1933), focused on the urban scene in his travels across the country. His use of the medium to record the signs and symbols of American popular culture resembled Evans's approach in some respects, but Gutmann's earlier exposure to German Expressionism gave rise to a more caustic wit.

HARRY CALLAHAN. Weed Against Sky, Detroit, 1948.
Gelatin silver print. Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.


(b Detroit, 22 Oct 1912; d Atlanta, GA, 15 March 1999).

American photographer. He took up photography in 1938, at the relatively late age of 26. Ansel Adams visited the Detroit Photo Guild in 1941 and Callahan was inspired by his emphasis on craftsmanship and his majestic images. Callahan’s earliest works focused on the calligraphic details of landscape, such as the patterns of grass against snow or telephone wires against the sky, or explored the effects of multiple exposures. Later subjects included studies of his wife Eleanor, a series of portraits made on Chicago’s State Street in 1950, a series of houses at Providence, RI, and Cape Cod beachscapes begun in the 1960s. Whether working in black and white or, later, in colour, as in Harry Callahan: Color (New York, 1980), Callahan was committed in all his work to what he called ‘the moment that people can’t always see’.

Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Robert Mann Gallery.

 MINOR WHITE. Moencopi Strata, Capitol Reef, Utah, 1962.
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; Purchase.


(b Minneapolis, MN, 9 July 1908; d Boston, MA, 24 June 1976).

American photographer and writer. He took his first photographs as a child with a Kodak Box Brownie camera and later learnt darkroom procedures as a student at the University of Minnesota. After graduating in 1933 with a degree in botany and English, he wrote poetry for five years while supporting himself with odd jobs. He moved to Portland, OR, in 1938 and became increasingly interested in photography. During 1938–9 he worked for the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project as a creative photographer documenting the early architecture and waterfront of Portland. In 1941 MOMA in New York exhibited several of his images. His first one-man show, photographs of the Grande Ronde-Wallowa Mountain area of north-eastern Oregon, opened at the Portland Art Museum in 1942.

PAUL CAPONIGRO. Schoodic Point, Maine, 1960.
Gelatin silver print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

WYNN BULLOCK. Point Lobos Wave, 1958.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Robert E. Abrams, New York.


Wynn Bullock (April 18, 1902, Chicago - November 16, 1975, Monterey, California) was an American photographer that is notable for his photographs of nudes and of landscapes on the West Coast.
He started in the 1920s with a career as a concert tenor. While studying in Paris, he was inspired by visual artists, in particular Cézanne, Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray. Upon his return to the US, he focused on a career as a photographer.
He left law school to attend the Art Center School in Los Angeles. In 1948, he met and began a lifelong friendship with Edward Weston, a relationship that continually influenced his life as a photographer.
Bullock also explored the commercial side of photography, founding Arrow Camera in Santa_Maria, California in 1943. Bullock ran the business until 1952, when he sold it to Hank Datter.
Bullock's photographs are in over 90 museum collections including The Hallmark Collection of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, The Center for Creative Photography, and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Some of his photographs were used by Edward Steichen in 1955 in his The Family of Man, a vast exhibition consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries.

WILLIAM A. GARNETT. Two Trees on a Hill with Shadows, Paso Rabies, Califomia, 1947.
Daniel Wolf, Inc., New York.

JOHN GUTMANN. The Jump, 1939.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Castelli Graphics.


John Gutmann (1905-1998) was a German-born American photographer and painter.

After fleeing Nazi Germany for the United States, Gutmann acquired a job as a photographer for various German magazines. Gutmann quickly took an interest in the American way of life and sought to capture it through the lense of his camera. He especially took an interest in the Jazz music scene. Gutmann is recognized for his unique "worm's-eye view" camera angle. He enjoyed taking photos of ordinary things and making them seem special.

The mordant views of bench sitters in Monte Carlo by Lisette Model (who had been born in Vienna, then worked in France before settling in the United States in 1938) were followed by sardonic images she made in the streets of New York. An influential teacher in New York, Model found a receptive audience among young photographers, including Diane Arbus. Robert Frank, a Swiss-born emigre, was even more dominant in establishing a tone and style for the next generation. Awarded a Guggenheim grant in 1955, Frank used the money to take a photographic odyssey through the United States, working with a 35mm Leica. As an outsider, he regarded cherished national institutions and pastimes with detached skepticism, while his sensitive eye transformed situations into metaphors for the factiousness and consumerism of American postwar society. For example, in Trolley, New Orleans, the contrasts in the facial expressions and gestures of the riders, as well as the structural organization of the image itself, convey without rhetoric the psychological and emotional complexities as well as the physical divisions that characterized racial relationships in the South. Frank's images, which were meant to be seen as a group rather than individually, were published in book format as The Americans— first in France and later, in 1959, in the United States. Their irreverent, unposed, erratically framed, and sometimes blurred forms (reflective also of their maker's anti-aesthetic attitude toward print quality) were dismissed by American critics as too harsh but were hailed by young Americans who had had their fill of heroes and icons.

William Klein's raw, grating views of New York in the 1950s were even less acceptable as a vision of American society. Klein—an American resident of France who is a painter, graphic designer, and filmmaker in addition to being a fashion and street photographer—also ignored traditional precepts about sharpness, tonal range, and print quality. His Garment Center resonates with the anxieties of modern urban existence. Images by Frank and Klein were considered critical of the American middle-class; another response to that group can be seen in the derisive treatment by Diane Arbus of so-called normal individuals and her compassion for those dismissed as bizarre by conventional society—transvestites, homosexuals, and prostitutes, for example. Prompted by what she termed the "ceremonies of our present," Arbus, whose mentor was Model and whose model was Weegee, approached such outcasts without moral pre-judgment, but when she photographed ordinary people in ordinary situations her reaction was invariably ungenerous. Whatever her subject, she usually favored direct, head-on poses that often mimicked the style of the family snapshot, as in Mother Holding Her Child, N.J. —one of the most alienated images of motherhood in the history of visual art.

Indeed, one of the signal influences on straight camera images during the 1960s was the "snapshot aesthetic." The appetite for naive camera imagery accorded with the era's taste for vernacular and "pop" culture—a taste also reflected in the themes and techniques of graphic art. Like their colleagues painting soup cans, road signs, and comic-book characters, photographers were attracted by the omnipresent emblems of contemporary culture— automobiles, billboards, graffiti, and storefronts. They recorded these artifacts, as well as people and situations, in a casual style that seemed to paraphrase the lack of artifice and the neutral emotional tone of most snapshots. In 1966, the photographer-educator Nathan Lyons coined the phrase "social landscape" to characterize this type of documentation, which he and others felt avoided the sentimentality they perceived in the older documentary style. The "social landscape" approach appealed especially to photographers whose view of reality tended to be disjunctive and who no longer canonized the pre-visualized, beautifully printed, large-format camera image.

The desire to make pictures that affirmed the camera's potential for neutral observation evolved from interest in the snapshot and emerged as a significant impulse, nurtured from the late 1960s through 1991 by John Szarkowski, director of the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In theory, the avoidance of overt psychological or ideological interpretation in a photograph allows the viewer to read the work without the interference of the photographer's political or social biases. This mode of working is exemplified by Garry Winogrand, whose images, according to Szarkowski, are statements about "the uniquely prejudicial (intrinsic) qualities of photographic description" and not about their ostensible subjects. Winogrand's photo-graph of a young woman is arresting in the way it integrates and structures the reflections and geometric elements, relating the principal figure to the manikin and to the city background, but it is an ambiguous statement that allows the viewer to interpret its meaning freely.

Using comparable subject matter—people and things— Lee Friedlander makes views of city streets that are simiarly equivocal but nevertheless suggestive of an uneasy urban tension. Along with the uninflected portrayals of ordinary people by Todd Papageorge and Larry Fink and the street views by Mark Cohen and Joel Meyerowitz—to cite but four more of the numerous photographers who were initially attracted to this style of uninflected street photography—such works permit viewers to decide for themselves whether a particular image is derisive or amusing, whether it is interesting as social or political comment, as an example of the formal problems of picture-making, or, like the vast majority of photographs, just momentarily eye-catching.

This vernacular mode had an unexpected side-effect: it prepared the way for the acceptance of humor in seriously conceived images. In the United States, Pictorialists and modernists alike had been fairly earnest about photography; witty or humorous images were relegated to advertising or popular entertainment or family snapshots. Within the diversity of photographic expression that emerged in the 1960s, humor came to be seen as a legitimate element. Elliott Erwitt and Burk Uzzle, for example, are both successful photojournalists who regard people, animals, and artifacts with disarming wit. Although this vein still has not been extensively mined in the United States, other photographers, among them Geoffrey Winningham and Bill Owens, gently satirize obviously comical anomalies in contemporary culture. The selling strategies of advertising, the pomposities of high art, and the excesses of performance art inspire William Wegman's antic dog images. Although humorous in appearance, Sandy Skoglund's interiors full of animal and human forms that she sculpts and poses and paints in unnatural colors are intended to show "what it's like to live in America at this time." Still other approaches to humor can be seen in the whimsical confusions between reality and camera image explored by the conceptualist photographer Kenneth Josephson.

 LISETTE MODEL. French Riviera, 1937.
Gelatin silver print. Private collection.


(b Vienna, 10 Nov 1906; d New York, 30 March 1983).

American photographer of Austrian birth. A school-friend of Gertrude Schoenberg, she studied music first with her father Arnold Schoenberg, before continuing her studies in Paris. She was a self-taught photographer and tried to find ways of working in photography, training as a technician in a photographic laboratory. In 1938 she settled in New York. Two years later the photographer Ralph Steiner (1899–1986) published her series of photographs, Promenade des Anglais, which she had taken in Nice in 1937. The series was characteristic of her work in revealing her obvious love of people, seen for example in Promenade des Anglais (1937), which depicts a rotund woman in a large sunhat, sitting precariously on a bench. The photographers Alexey Brodovitch (1898–1971) and Beaumont Newhall (b 1908) were impressed by her work.

ROBERT FRANK. Trolley, N. Orleans, c. 1955.
Gelatin silver print.


Robert Frank (born November 9, 1924), born in Zürich, Switzerland, is an important figure in American photography and film. His most notable work, the 1958 photographic book titled simply The Americans, was heavily influential in the post-war period, and earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and skeptical outsider's view of American society. Frank later expanded into film and video and experimented with compositing and manipulating photographs.

Frank was born to a wealthy Jewish family in Switzerland. Frank's mother, Rosa, was Swiss, but his father, Hermann, had become stateless after World War I and had to apply for the Swiss citizenship of Frank and his older brother, Manfred. Though Frank and his family remained safe in Switzerland during World War II, the threat of Nazism nonetheless affected his understanding of oppression. He turned to photography in part as a means to escape the confines of his business-oriented family and home, and trained under a few photographers and graphic designers before he created his first hand-made book of photographs, 40 Fotos, in 1946. Frank emigrated to the United States in 1947, and secured a job in New York City as a fashion photographer for Harper's Bazaar. He soon left to travel in South America and Europe. He created another hand-made book of photographs that he shot in Peru, and returned to the U.S. in 1950. That year was momentous for Frank, who after meeting Edward Steichen participated in the group show 51 American Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); he also married fellow artist, Mary Lockspeiser, with whom he had two children, Andrea and Pablo.

Though he was initially optimistic about the United States, Frank's perspective quickly changed as he confronted the fast pace of American life and what he saw as an overemphasis on money. He now saw America as an often bleak and lonely place, a perspective that became evident in his later photography. Frank's own dissatisfaction with the control editors exercised over his work also undoubtedly colored his experience. He continued to travel, moving his family briefly to Paris. In 1953, he returned to New York and continued to work as a freelance photojournalist for magazines including McCall's, Vogue, and Fortune.

With the aid of his major artistic influence, the photographer Walker Evans, Frank secured a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1955 to travel across the United States and photograph its society at all strata. He took his family along with him for part of his series of road trips over the next two years, during which time he took 28,000 shots. Only 83 of those were finally selected by him for publication in The Americans. Frank's journey was not without incident. While driving through Arkansas, Frank was arbitrarily thrown in jail after being stopped by the police; elsewhere in the South, he was told by a sheriff that he had "an hour to leave town."

Shortly after returning to New York in 1957, Frank met Beat writer Jack Kerouac on the sidewalk outside a party and showed him the photographs from his travels. Kerouac immediately told Frank "Sure I can write something about these pictures," and he contributed the introduction to the U.S. edition of The Americans. Frank also became lifelong friends with Allen Ginsberg, and was one of the main visual artists to document the Beat subculture, which felt an affinity with Frank's interest in documenting the tensions between the optimism of the 1950s and the realities of class and racial differences. The irony that Frank found in the gloss of American culture and wealth over this tension gave Frank's photographs a clear contrast to those of most contemporary American photojournalists, as did his use of unusual focus, low lighting and cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques.

This divergence from contemporary photographic standards gave Frank difficulty at first in securing an American publisher. Les Américains was first published in 1958 by Robert Delpire in Paris, and finally in 1959 in the United States by Grove Press, where it initially received substantial criticism. Popular Photography, for one, derided his images as "meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness." Though sales were also poor at first, Kerouac's introduction helped it reach a larger audience because of the popularity of the Beat phenomenon. Over time and through its inspiration of later artists, The Americans became a seminal work in American photography and art history, and is considered the work with which Frank is most clearly identified. In 1961, Frank received his first individual show, entitled Robert Frank: Photographer, at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also showed at MoMA in New York in 1962.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first publication of The Americans, a new edition will be released worldwide on May 15, 2008. Robert Frank discussed with his publisher, Gerhard Steidl, the idea of producing a new edition using modern scanning and the finest tritone printing. The starting point was to bring original prints from New York to Göttingen, Germany, where Steidl is based. In July 2007, Frank visited Göttingen. A new format for the book was worked out and new typography selected. A new cover was designed and Frank chose the book cloth, foil embossing and the endpaper. Most significantly, as he has done for every edition of The Americans, Frank changed the cropping of many of the photographs, usually including more information. Two images were changed completely from the original 1958 and 1959 editions. A celebratory exhibit of The Americans will be displayed in 2009 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The new edition is published by Steidl and National Gallery of Art, Washington, and will be available in North America through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers .

By that time, however, Frank had moved away from photography to concentrate on making films. Among them was the 1959 Pull My Daisy, which was written and narrated by Kerouac and starred Ginsberg and others from the Beat circle. The Beat philosophy emphasized spontaneity, and the film conveyed the quality of having been thrown together or even improvised. Pull My Daisy was accordingly praised for years as an improvisational masterpiece, until Frank's co-director, Alfred Leslie, revealed in a November 28, 1968 article in the Village Voice that the film was actually carefully planned, rehearsed, and directed by him and Frank, who shot the film with professional lighting.
In 1960, Frank was staying in Fluxus artist George Segal's basement while filming Sin of Jesus with a grant from Walter K. Gutman. Isaac Babel's story was transformed to center on a woman working on a chicken farm in New Jersey. It was originally supposed to be filmed in six weeks in and around New Brunswick, but Frank ended up shooting for six months.

His 1972 documentary of the Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues, is arguably his best known film. The film shows the Stones while on their '72 tour, engaging in heavy drug use and group sex. Perhaps more disturbing to the Stones when they saw the finished product, however, was the degree to which Frank faithfully captured the loneliness and despair of life on the road. Mick Jagger reportedly told Frank, "It's a fucking good film, Robert, but if it shows in America we'll never be allowed in the country again." The Stones sued to prevent the film's release, and it was disputed whether Frank as the artist or the Stones as those who hired the artist actually owned the copyright. A court order resolved this with Solomonic wisdom by restricting the film to being shown no more than five times per year and only in the presence of Frank. Franks' photography also appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stones' album Exile on Main St..
Other films by Robert Frank include "Keep Busy" and "Candy Mountain" which he co-directed with Rudy Wurlitzer.

Though Frank continued to be interested in film and video, he returned to still images in the 1970s, publishing his second photographic book, The Lines of My Hand, in 1972. This work has been described as a "visual autobiography", and consists largely of personal photographs. However, he largely gave up "straight" photography to instead create narratives out of constructed images and collages, incorporating words and multiple frames of images that were directly scratched and distorted on the negatives. None of this later work has achieved an impact or notoriety comparable to that which The Americans achieved. As some critics have pointed out, this is perhaps because Frank began playing with constructed images more than a decade after Robert Rauschenberg introduced his silkscreen composites—in contrast to The Americans, Frank's later images simply were not beyond the pale of accepted technique and practice by that time.

Frank and Mary separated in 1969. He remarried to sculptor June Leaf, and in 1971, moved to the community of Mabou, Nova Scotia in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in Canada. In 1974, tragedy struck when his daughter, Andrea, was killed in a plane crash in Tikal, Guatemala. Also around this time, his son, Pablo, was first hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Much of Frank's subsequent work has dealt with the impact of the loss of both his daughter and subsequently his son, who died in an Allentown, PA hospital in 1994. In 1995, he founded the Andrea Frank Foundation, which provides grants to artists.

Since his move to Nova Scotia, Canada, Frank has divided his time between his home there in a former fisherman's shack on the coast, and his Bleecker Street loft in New York. He has acquired a reputation for being a recluse (particularly since the death of Andrea), declining most interviews and public appearances. He has continued to accept eclectic assignments, however, such as photographing the 1984 Democratic National Convention, and directing music videos for artists such as New Order ("Run"), and Patti Smith ("Summer Cannibals"). Frank continues to produce both films and still images, and has helped organize several retrospectives of his art. In 1994, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC presented the most comprehensive retrospective of Frank's work to date, entitled Moving Out. Frank was awarded the prestigious Hasselblad Award for photography in 1996. His 1997 award exhibition at the Hasselblad Center in Goteborg, Sweden was entitled Flamingo, as was the accompanying published catalog.
He is currently represented by the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York.

ROBERT FRANK. Political Rally, Chicago, c. 1955.
Gelatin silver print.

WILLIAM KLEIN. Garment Center, 1954.
Gelatin silver print.


William Klein (born April 19, 1928) is a photographer and filmmaker. Though born in New York City and educated at City College of New York, Klein is predominantly active in France. He has directed a number of feature films, including the 1966 film Who Are You, Polly Magoo? and the anti-American satire Mr. Freedom. Klein's photography won the Prix Nadar in 1956.

DIANE ARBUS. Mother Holding Her Child, N.J., 1967.
Gelatin silver print.


Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer, noted for her portraits of people on the fringes of society, such as transvestites, dwarfs, giants, prostitutes, and ordinary citizens in unconventional poses and settings.
Diane Arbus (née Nemerov) was born in New York City into a wealthy Jewish family, the younger sister of Howard Nemerov, who served as United States Poet Laureate on two separate occasions. She attended the Fieldston School for Ethical Culture.

She fell in love with future actor Allan Arbus at age 14, and married him in 1941, soon after turning 18, despite her parents' objections. When her husband began training as a photographer for the US Army, he shared his lessons with Diane. As a husband-wife team, the Arbuses became successful in the fashion world. As Diane began to take her own photographs, she took formal lessons with Lisette Model at The New School in New York. Edward Steichen's noted photo exhibit, The Family of Man, included a photograph credited to the couple. Together the Arbuses had two daughters, photographer Amy Arbus and writer and art director Doon Arbus. Allan and Diane Arbus had separated by 1959.

After separating from her husband, Arbus studied with Alexey Brodovitch and Richard Avedon. Beginning in 1960, Arbus worked extensively as a photojournalist, her photos appearing in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and Sunday Times magazines, among others. Her first public work was an assignment by Esquire editor and art director Robert Benton. Published under the title, "The Vertical Journey: Six Movements of a Moment Within the Heart of the City", consisting of six portraits of an assortment of New Yorkers. Arbus would go on to collaborate with Hayes and Benton (and Benton's successors) for 31 photographs in 18 articles.
Arbus' early work was created using 35mm cameras, but by the 1960s Arbus adopted the Rolleiflex medium format twin-lens reflex. This format provided a square aspect ratio, higher image resolution, and a waist-level viewfinder that allowed Arbus to connect with her subjects in ways that a standard eye-level viewfinder did not. Arbus also experimented with the use of flashes in daylight, allowing her to highlight and separate her subjects from the background.

In 1963, Arbus received a Guggenheim Fellowship grant. Arbus received a second Guggenheim grant in 1966. The Museum of Modern Art, in 1967, staged Arbus' first museum show as the New Documents show which included the work of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander. She also taught photography at The Parsons School for Design in NYC and Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
In July 1971, Arbus committed suicide in Greenwich Village at the age of 48 by ingesting a large quantity of barbiturates and then slashing her wrists.


GARRY WINOGRAND. Untitted, c. 1964.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and the Garry Winogrand Estate.


Garry WinograndGarry Winogrand (14 January 1928, New York City – 19 March 1984, Tijuana, Mexico) was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid 20th century.
Winogrand studied painting at City College of New York and painting and photography at Columbia University in New York City in 1948. He also attended a photojournalism class taught by Alexey Brodovich at The New School for Social Research in New York City in 1951. Winogrand made his first notable appearance in 1963 at an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. This show included Minor White, George Krause, Jerome Liebling and Ken Heyman.

In 1966 Winogrand exhibited at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York with Lee Friedlander, Duane Michals, Bruce Davidson, and Danny Lyon in an exhibition entitled Toward a Social Landscape. In 1967 he participated in the New Documents show at MoMA with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander. During his career, he received three Guggenheim Fellowship Awards (1964, 1969, and 1979) and a National Endowment of the Arts Award in 1979. Winogrand also taught photography courses at the University of Texas at Austin and at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Winogrand was influenced by Walker Evans and Robert Frank and their respective publications American Photographs and The Americans. Henri Cartier-Bresson was another influence although stylistically different.

Winogrand was known for his portrayal of American life in the early 1960s, Many of his photographs depict the social issues of his time day and in the role of media in shaping attitudes. He roamed the streets of New York with his 35mm Leica camera rapidly taking photographs using a prefocused wide angle lens. His pictures frequently appeared as if they were driven by the energy of the events he was witnessing. While the style has been much imitated, Winogrand's eye, his visual style, and his wit, are unique.

Winogrand's photographs of the Bronx Zoo and the Coney Island Aquarium made up his first book The Animals. (1969) a collection of pictures that observe the connections between humans and animals. His book Public Relations (1977) shows press conferences with deer-in-the-headlight writers and politicians, protesters beaten by cops, and wild museum parties frequented by the self-satisfied cultural glitterati. These photographs capture the evolution of a uniquely 20th and 21st century phenomenon, the event created to be documented, in Winogrand's style -- a unique conversation between the photographer and his subject. The tilted camera, the frame filled with twitchy, restless motion and agitated faces, come together to represent an authentic and original response to the evolving culture of public relations. In Stock Photographs 1980, Winogrand published his views of the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo.
Winogrand died of gall bladder cancer, in 1984 at age 56. 

LEE FRIEDLANDER. Cincinnati, Ohio, 1963.
Gelatin silver print.


Lee Friedlander (born July 14, 1934) is an American photographer and artist.
Friedlander studied photography at the Art Center College of Design located in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he moved to New York City where he photographed jazz musicians for record covers. His early work was influenced by Eugène Atget, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans. In 1960, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Friedlander a grant to focus on his art and made subsequent grants in 1962 and 1977. Some of his most famous photographs appeared in the September 1985 Playboy, black and white nude photographs of Madonna from the late 1970's.
Working primarily with Leica 35mm cameras and black and white film, Friedlander's style focused on the "social landscape". His art used detached images of urban life, store-front reflections, structures framed by fences, and posters and signs all combining to capture the look of modern life.
In 1963, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House mounted Friedlander's first solo museum show. Friedlander was then a key figure in the 1967 "New Documents" exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City along with Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus. In 1990, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Friedlander a MacArthur Fellowship.

Friedlander now works primarily with medium format cameras (e.g. Hasselblad Superwide). While suffering from arthritis and housebound, he focused on photographing his surroundings. His book, Stems, reflects his life during the time of his knee replacement surgery. He has said that his "limbs" reminded him of plant stems. These images display textures which were not a feature of his earlier work. In this sense, the images are similar to those of Josef Sudek who also photographed the confines of his home and studio.
In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art displayed a major retrospective of Friedlander works. In the same year he received a 2005 Hasselblad International Award. His work was displayed again by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as a retrospective in 2008. Concurrent to this retrospective, a more contemporary body of his work, America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery not far from the museum.


ELLIOTT ERWITT. Alabama, U.S.A., I974.
Gelatin silver print.

WILLIAM WEGMAN. Man Ray with Sculpture, 1978.
Gelatin silver print with ink applied. Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany.
Courtesy Holly Solomon Gallery. New York.


William Wegman (b. 1943 in Holyoke, Massachusetts) is an artist best known as a photographer who has created a series of compositions involving dogs, primarily his own Weimaraners in various costumes and poses.
Wegman reportedly originally intended to pursue a career as a painter. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1967.
While teaching at California State University, Long Beach, he acquired the first and most famous of the dogs he photographed, a Weimaraner he named Man Ray (after the artist and photographer). Man Ray later became so popular that the Village Voice named him "Man of the Year" in 1982. He named a subsequent dog Fay Ray (a play on the name of actress Fay Wray).

On January 29, 1992, Wegman appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and showed a video clip of "Dog Duet," his 1975 short of Man Ray & another dog slowly and mysteriously peering around. Wegman explained that he had created the video by moving a tennis ball around, off-camera, thus capturing the dogs' attention.
Wegman's photos are well-respected in the art world, are are held in permanent collections of the Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His photos and videos have also been a popular success, and have appeared in books, advertisements, films, as well as on television programs like Sesame Street and Saturday Night Live. In 2006, Wegman's work was featured in a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Norton Museum of Art, and the Addison Gallery. The Brooklyn Museum explored 40 years of Wegman’s work in all media in the 2006 retrospective William Wegman: Funney/Strange.

Glass Slipper

Evolving out of the concept of "social landscape," images that present the artifacts and landscapes of contemporary industrial culture without emotional shading were given the name "new topographies." Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Frank Gohlke, Roger Mcrtin, and Stephen Shore, among others, photographed tract housing, factory buildings, western land developments, and urban streets, recording this despoiled landscape seemingly without personal comment. Adams, for example, may have shared with Ansel Adams (no relation) a concern for the beauty of the land from the Missouri River westward, but for his photographs he selected vantage points and effects of light that show its grandeur diminished by roads, lumber camps, and housing developments.

South Wall, Mazda Motors, one of a 1974 series on industrial parks by Baltz, is meant to provide "sterile information with no emotional content," according to the photographer, who said that his vocation was to "describe with a camera how something looks as a photograph." Nevertheless, all photographers make decisions concerning the selection of a motif, the management of light, and the organization of form. The fact that "topographical" images usually are highly structured suggests that their uneventfulness and lack of emotional expression are in themselves emblems of a style and are no more factual as records of what actually exists than images that reflect more socially oriented points of view. One consequence of the supposedly neutral approach is that such images may serve multiple purposes—aesthetic, informational, propagandists.

The deadpan quality of "topographical" views—whether Baltz's factories or Gohlke's grain elevators—often makes them indistinguishable from images commissioned to illustrate corporate reports, but photographers with strong feelings about the desecration of the landscape have sought to make more pointed statements. One solution was "re-photography" projects: groups of photographers working in California and Colorado during the 1980s selected the same vantage points recorded by Timothy O'Sullivan and William Henry Jackson during the exploratory expeditions of the 19th century; the purpose was to produce . comparison of the terrain's appearance then and now. (Similarly, a French group, taking inspiration from the 19th-century project by the Missions heliographiques photographed the pernicious effects of industrialization on their country's landscape.) Individual photographers also explored a variety of formats in their work dealing with industrial pollution. Robert Glenn Ketcham, Richard Misrach, Barbara Norfleet, and others used color film to contrast the subtle beauties of nature with the despoliation caused by ill-conceived engineering projects  or with garish consumer refuse. At a further remove from the traditional documentary mode, John Pfahl added some object—a ribbon, a stake—to make the point that the human presence always alters the natural landscape.

Other landscape photographers argued for a less damning view of the relationship between land and people. Work by Linda Connor and Marilyn Bridges reveals ancient markings on rocks and earth made by people who seem to have lived in greater harmony with nature. With her portrayals of the domesticated New England landscape of field, garden, and woods, Gretchen Garner suggests that opposing forces in nature—storm and calm, fire and water—not only are necessary to the cycles of life but also create beauty. Lois Conner's photographs of nature and culture in Asia treat the built and the natural worlds as forming a unity rather than as antagonistic to each other.

Photographers have also revitalized themes that were prominent in 19th-century documentation, emphasizing, as in images of ancient Egyptian tomb sculpture by Lynn Davis, the aesthetic qualities of structures and monuments that have essentially become an integral part of the landscape. Respect for the artful historical documentation of artifacts—revealing the object in its most attractive light—can be seen in Linda Butler's photographs of Shaker buildings and interiors and of Japanese hand-crafts and in Richard Fare's images of classical statuary. Like their antecedents, these works explore stillness and movement, languor and vigor, and the play of light on forms.

.Following World War II, photographers with a broadly humanist oudook—among them, Roy DeCarava, Louis Faurer, Jerome Liebling, Leon Levenstein, Helen Levitt, Walter Roseublum, and Max Yavno—continued to work on a variety of self-motivated projects whose central subject was people, despite the fact that museums and galleries tended for a time to give greater support to other kinds of images. Levitt's lyrical views of youngsters, begun in the 1940s in black and white and continued intermittently up through the 1970s in color, illuminate the toughness, grace, and humor of those growing up) New York's inner-city neighborhoods. De Carava's Pepsi, New York may incorporate some components of the vernacular style—consumer products, billboard ads—but the highly structured handling of light and architectonic elements focuses attention on the physical and psychological exhaustion of die central figure, leaning no doubt as to where the photographer's sympathies lie.

Liebling's grasp of abstract form is apparent in the repeated arclike shapes formed by head, shoulders, and plate in Blind Home, St. Paul, Minnesota, but these elements also generate a sense of the circumscribed world of the sightless. A somewhat cooler romantic sensibility can be seen in the work of George A. Tice, whose careful control of tonality and pictorial structure imbues with a sense of wistfulness the customs and physical surroundings of the Amish in Pennsylvania and of ordinary folk in the small towns of New Jersey.

In the 1960s, despite the inroads of film and television documentaries, the still image again came to be seen as a significant element in socially useful programs. Many factors were responsible for the revival of interest in the traditional forms of social documentation. One was the emergence of funding sources both in and out of government. Support from the national and state arts endowments; from private granting bodies such as the venerable John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (which from 1946 on had funded a range of photographic projects); and from banks, economic assistance programs, and labor unions made possible individual and group camera documentation of decaying and regenerated neighborhoods, rural communities, nuclear and other power installations, and the working conditions of industrial and farm laborers. A multiplicity of projects made use of images in conjunction with words in slide talks, exhibitions, and publications.

Another factor in the upsurge of social documentation was the involvement of photojournalists in increasingly volatile sociopolitical situations in America, Africa, ; Europe. For instance, Bob Adelman, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Danny Lyon, and Mary Ellen Mark were among the photojournalists who covered the civil rights struggles of the 1960s for the press , continued after-ward to confront social issues on their own, developing their themes with greater depth than was possible when working on deadline. When Davidson undertook subsequent photographic projects in East Harlem, on the New York subways, and in Central Park, he moved from the somewhat equivocal tone of his very early work toward a more traditional humanism, even though he claims that the evidence of fear, affection, and hopeless-ness he captured in these images helped him "to discover who the person was who took the picture."

In the wake of his experiences with the civil rights movement in the South, Lyon, whose initial work had included an evocative picture essay on Hell's Angels bikers, depicted life in Texas state prisons. Conversations with the Dead, the book that resulted from this project, vividly communicates the photographer's sense of the "unmitigated sorrow" permeating this form of social estrangement. The desire to illuminate the psychological consequences of inhumane circumstances has inspired many photographers to depict not only, or even primarily, the squalor of certain environments but also the moments that sum up the effect of life's experiences on the individual. In one such example, by Mary Ellen Mark, the photographer was entranced with the life force of her subject ; in another, Eugene Richards, who has photographed in slums throughout the nation, evokes the dignity and warmth of familial relationships among those too often regarded as predators or victims.

The documentation of life in African-American communities, the emergence of a substantial number of black (and especially black women) professional photographers, and the flowering among African Americans of photography as personal expression also owes something to the social climate of the late 1960s. Roland L. Freeman, for example, began to use a camera while working for the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.G., and went on to produce a touching visual document of the Baltimore neighborhood of his youth. In 1973, the first Black Photographers Annual appeared; in this and subsequent volumes, black photographers showed them-selves to be fully aware of the range of contemporary trends even as they focused their lenses on the way African -American life is lived. In addition to Gordon Parks, those who entered the ranks of black photojournalists at this time included Anthony Barboza, Chester Higgins, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Marilyn Nance, Beuford Smith, and Dixie Vereen, all of whom have evolved distinctive styles. More recently, several black women photographers have turned to directorial modes for dealing with issues related to family life and history.

LEWIS BALTZ. South Wall, Mazda Motors, 1974.
Gelatin silver print. Castclli Graphics, New York.

Lois CONNER. Halong Bay, 1993.
Platinum print. Laurence Miller Gallery, New York.

LYNN DAVIS. Statue V, 1989.
Selenium-toned gelatin silver. Houk Friedman G.illerv, New York.

HELEN LEVITT. New York, c. 1945.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Judith Mamiye, Oakhurst, N.J.


Helen Levitt (born 31 August 1913) is an American documentary photographer.
Levitt grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Dropping out of school, she taught herself photography while working for a commercial photographer. While teaching some classes in art to children in 1937, Levitt became intrigued with the transitory chalk drawings that were part of the New York children's street culture of the time. She purchased a Leica camera and began to photograph these works as well as the children who made them. The resulting photographs appeared, to great acclaim, in 1987 as In The Street: chalk drawings and messages, New York City 1938–1948. Named as one of the "100 best photo-books", first-editions are now highly collectable.

She studied with Walker Evans 1938 and 1939. In 1943 Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art curated her first solo exhibition, after which she began to find press work as a documentary photographer. In the late 1940s she made two documentary films with Janice Loeb and James Agee: In the Street (1948) and The Quiet One (1948). Levitt, along with Loeb and Sidney Meyers, received an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay of The Quiet One. Levitt was later credited as a cinematographer on The Savage Eye (1960), which was produced by Ben Maddow, Meyers, Joseph Strick; she was also credited as an assistant director for Strick and Maddow's film version of The Balcony (1963).

Levitt worked in film for about ten years. In 1959 and 1960, Levitt received two Guggenheim Foundation grants to take color photographs on the streets of New York, and she returned to still photography. Her first major book was A Way of Seeing (1965). Much of her work in color from the 1960s was stolen in a burglary. The remaining photos, and others taken in the following years, can be seen in the 2005 book Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt. In 1976 she was a Photography Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts.
She has remained active as a photographer for nearly 70 years and still lives in New York City. New York's "visual poet laureate" is notoriously private and publicity shy.

ROY DECARAVA. Pepsi, New York, 1964.
Gelatin silver print.

JEROME LIEBLING. Blind Home, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1963.
Gelatin silver print.

GEORGE A. TICE. Joe's Barbershop, Paterson, N.J., 1970.
Gelatin silver print.

BRUCE DAVIDSON. Untitted, East 100th Street, 1966.
Gelatin silver print.

DANNY LYON. The Line, 1968.
Gelatin silver print.

MARY ELLEN MARK. "Tiny" in Her Halloween Costume, Seattle, 1983.
Gelatin silver print. Marv Ellen Mark Library, New York.

EUGENE RICHARDS. Grandmother, Brooklyn, from Americans We. 1993.
Gelatin silver print.

ROLAND L. FREEMAN. Amber's Helper, June, 1969.
Gelatin silver print.

GORDON PARKS. Housewife, Washington, D.C. 1942.
Gelatin silver print. G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Santa Monica, Cal.


Gordon Roger Alexander Buchannan Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft.
The youngest of 15 children, Parks was born into a poor, black family in segregated Fort Scott, Kansas. His mother, a staunch Methodist, was the main influence on his life, refusing to allow her son to justify failure with the excuse that he had been born black, and instilling in him self-confidence, ambition and a capacity for hard work.
When Parks was 15 years old, as said in his book "A Hungry Heart", his mother died. Soon after her death his father sent him to live with his married sister in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and his brother-in-law did not get along; he only lived there for a few weeks until he got in a fight with his brother-in-law, getting him evicted. He was forced to sleep in trolley cars, loiter in pool halls, and play piano in a brothel. Parks also worked as a factotum in a whites-only club and as a waiter on a luxury train.

Parks later commented: “I had a mother who would not allow me to complain about not accomplishing something because I was black. Her attitude was, ‘If a white boy can do it, then you can do it, too—and do it better, or don’t come home.’”
In 1938, Parks was struck by photographs of migrant workers in a magazine and bought his first camera, a Voigtländer Brilliant, for $12.50 at a pawnshop.The photo clerks who developed Parks' first roll of film, applauded his work and prompted him to get a fashion assignment at Frank Murphy's women's clothing store in St. Paul. Parks double exposed every frame except one, but that shot caught the eye of Marva Louis, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis' elegant wife. She encouraged Parks to move to Chicago, where he began a portrait business for society women.
Over the next few years, Parks moved from job to job, developing a freelance portrait and fashion photographer sideline. He began to chronicle the city's South Side black ghetto and in 1941 an exhibition of those photographs won Parks a photography fellowship with the Farm Security Administration. Working as a trainee under Roy Stryker, Parks created one of his best known photographs, American Gothic, Washington, D.C. (named after Grant Wood painting American Gothic). The photo shows a black woman, Ella Watson, who worked on the cleaning crew for the FSA building, standing stiffly in front of an American flag, a broom in one hand and a mop in the background. Parks had been inspired to create the picture after encountering repeated racism in restaurants and shops, following his arrival in Washington, D.C.. Upon viewing it, Stryker said that it was an indictment of America, and could get all of his photographers fired; he urged Parks to keep working with Watson, however, leading to a series of photos of her daily life. Parks, himself, said later that the first image was unsubtle and overdone; nonetheless, other commentators have argued that it drew strength from its polemical nature and its duality of victim and survivor, and so has affected far more people than his subsequent pictures of Watson.

After the FSA disbanded, Parks remained in Washington as a correspondent with the Office of War Information, but became disgusted with the prejudice he encountered and resigned in 1944. Moving to Harlem, Parks became a freelance fashion photographer for Vogue. He later followed Stryker to the Standard Oil (New Jersey) Photography Project, which assigned photographers to take pictures of small towns and industrial centers. Parks's most striking of the period included Dinner Time at Mr. Hercules Brown's Home, Somerville, Maine (1944); Grease Plant Worker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1946); Car Loaded with Furniture on Highway (1945); and Ferry Commuters, Staten Island, N.Y. (1946).
Parks renewed his search for photography jobs in the fashion world. Despite racist attitudes of the day, Vogue editor Alexander Liberman hired him to shoot a collection of evening gowns. Parks photographed fashion for Vogue for the next few years. During this time, he published his first two books, Flash Photography (1947) and Camera Portraits: Techniques and Principles of Documentary Portraiture (1948).

A 1948 photo essay on a young Harlem gang leader won Parks a staff job as a photographer and writer with Life magazine. For 20 years, Parks produced photos on subjects including fashion, sports, Broadway, poverty, racial segregation, and portraits of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, and Barbra Streisand. His 1961 photo essay on a poor Brazilian boy named Flavio da Silva, who was dying from bronchial pneumonia and malnutrition, brought donations that saved the boy's life and paid for a new home for his family.
In the 1950s, Parks worked as a consultant on various Hollywood productions and later directed a series of documentaries commissioned by National Educational Television on black ghetto life.
Beginning in the 1960s, Parks branched out into literature, writing The Learning Tree (1963), several books of poetry illustrated with his own photographs, and three volumes of memoirs.
In 1969, Parks became Hollywood's first major black director with his film adaptation of his autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree. Parks also composed the film's musical score and wrote the screenplay.
Shaft, Parks' 1971 detective film starring Richard Roundtree, became a major hit that spawned a series of blaxploitation films. Parks' feel for settings was confirmed by Shaft, with its portrayal of the super-cool leather-clad black private detective hired to find the kidnapped daughter of a Harlem racketeer.
Parks also directed the 1972 sequel, Shaft's Big Score in which the protagonist finds himself caught in the middle of rival gangs of racketeers. Parks's other directorial credits included The Super Cops (1974), and Leadbelly (1976), a biopic of the blues musician Huddie Ledbetter.

In the 1980s, he made several films for television and composed the music and libretto for Martin, a ballet tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., which premiered in Washington, D.C. in 1989 and was screened on national television on King's birthday in 1990.
In 1981, Parks turned to fiction with Shannon, a novel about Irish immigrants fighting their way up the social ladder in turbulent early 20th-century New York. Parks' writing accomplishments include novels, poetry, autobiography, and non-fiction including photographic instructional manuals and filmmaking books. Parks also wrote a poem called "The Funeral".
A self-taught pianist, Parks composed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1953) and Tree Symphony (1967). In 1989, he composed and choreographed Martin, a ballet dedicated to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Parks also performed as a jazz pianist.
Parks was also a campaigner for civil rights; subject of film and print profiles, notably Half Past Autumn in 2000; and had a gallery exhibit of his photo-related, abstract oil paintings in 1981.
Parks was married and divorced three times. His wives were Sally Alvis, Elizabeth Campbell and Genevieve Young, a book editor whom he married in 1973 and divorced in 1979. For many years, Parks was romantically involved with the railroad heiress and designer Gloria Vanderbilt.
Parks lived at the fashionable New York address of 860 United Nations Plaza on the east side.
Gordon Parks died of cancer at the age of 93.


 MARILYN NANCE. First Annual Community Baptism for the Afrikan Family, New York City, 1986.
Gelatin silver print. Marie Brown Associates, New York.

In common with African Americans, who sometimes have felt that white photographers were unable to under-stand black culture and therefore depict it with sympathy, Native and Latin Americans and other minorities have regarded their portrayal by others as often insensitive or distorted. While postmodern strategies such as the addition of texts to images appeal to many photographers from these groups, straight documentation offers Greg Staats (of the Mohawk Nation) and Lee Marmon and Maggie Steber (of Laguna and Cherokee ancestry, respectively) the means to explore what they regard as their own personal and social identities. Their images provide a sympathetic view of ceremonies, rituals, and modes of living with which few outsiders are familiar.

The photographers commissioned by labor unions and government agencies during the 1960s and '70s continued the tradition of social documentation, producing images intended to make visible conditions that needed changing. In the manner of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, they sought to do more than just record working and living environments; they wanted to make viewers aware of the effects of degrading conditions on the individual. Like all enduring social documentation, Earl Dotter's image of a mine disaster in Scotia, West Virginia, can stand on its own as an evocation of grief, but its forcefulness is increased by seeing it in concert with his other images of the aftermath of a fire and explosion in this mining community.

EARL DOTTER. Scotia Mine Disaster, [976.
Gelatin silver print. Private collection.

DONNA FERRATO. Jackie in the Hospital, Colorado, 1984.
Gelatin silver print. Domestic Abuse Awareness Project, New York.

The gradual decline of labor and arts agency sponsor-ship as well as the reduction in the number of magazines commissioning picture stories has forced photographers who remain interested in social issues to seek other means of supporting their work. Images by Ken Light, which illuminate the struggle of Mexican immigrants to find jobs in the United States; by Deborah Fleming Caffery of sugarcane workers in Louisiana; and by Eugene Richards. Howard Schatz, and Stephen Shames of the effects of poverty throughout the country now reach the public primarily in books and on gallery walls. Nevertheless, commissions for images with a social message have not disappeared. Susan Meisclas, working in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1970s and '80s; Donna Ferrato, portraying domestic violence in the United States; and Maggie Steber and Alex Webb, each photographing the disturbances in Haiti in the early to mid-1990s, all have had their work commissioned by magazines as well as exhibited and published in books. However, photographers with social agendas ordinarily face not only a shrinking number of outlets for their images but also shorter assignment periods, which makes photographing complex social and political situations difficult. In addition, they confront loss of control over their images, brought about by the digitization of photographing and editing.

Photographers working on their own socially motivated projects during the 1980s faced other challenges. One was the observation on the part of some critics that photographing the poor (other than by someone within the community) was a form of exploitation; another was that street photography in innercity areas had become more dangerous. A few individuals continued their forays into difficult neighborhoods—among them, Thomas Frederick Arndt—but many wishing to address the human condition essayed other subjects. Their projects might be socially oriented, such as Nicholas Nixon's work among the visually impaired, or personally directed, as in Sally Mann's ongoing depiction of the cloistered world of her three children, one of whom is seen here emerging into girlhood in an edenic setting.


THOMAS FREDERICK ARNDT. Men Riding Bus, Las Vegas, 1981.
Gelatin silver print. Stuart B. Baum Gallery, Chicago.

NICHOLAS NIXON. Joel Geiger— Perkins School for the Blind, 1992.
Gelatin silver print. Zabriskic Gallery, New York.

A quite different aspect of camera documentation, which emerged in the 1970s as a reflection of the more tolerant attitude toward drugs and sex among young people in the United States, continues to hold sway. One example of this new freedom to document explicit behavior is seen in the photographs that constitute the book Tulsa by Larry Clark (who went on to direct a motion picture depicting similarly antisocial behavior). The images convey the unsettling self-destructiveness of young people who, finding no niche for themselves in bourgeois society, have become part of the drug culture. Attaining cult status, Tulsa appears to have persuaded other photographers to investigate areas previously considered off-limits other than for publication in frankly erotic or pornographic magazines. For example, in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency and in later works—including one project, entitled Tokyo Love, done with Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki—the photographer Nan Goldin sought to reveal the illusions and actualities of relationships by documenting physical and psychological pairings. Like many other photographic documentations, these images depend for effect on a multipart format, either in publication or exhibition, because the images arc usually less compelling individually than when viewed within a larger sequence.

The relaxation of restrictive notions as to what land of sexual imagery might constitute serious photographic expression rather than pornography coincided with the emergence in the 1970s of significant feminist and gay rights movements, which sought to raise consciousness about gender roles in .society and specifically about the depiction of women and homosexuals. Many of the photographers addressing these issues found straight photography too confining, but a number did employ this mode to picture their own gender more perceptively. Anne Noggle depicted herself after cosmetic surgery and as she aged, Judy Dater photographed her own body in the nude as well as making portraits of other women as they themselves wished to be presented, and Robert Mapplethorpe portrayed aspects of homo-erotic experience. Paradoxically, the explicit sexuality in some of this imagery, along with the greater publicity given to all types of sexual behavior in the media, has triggered a backlash, with legal actions being initiated even against parents who portray their own children in the nude.

SALLY MANN. Jessie at 9, 1991.
Gelatin silver print. Houk Friedman Gallery. New York.

LARRY CLARK. Untitled, 1971.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesv Larry Clark


Straight Photography in Canada and Latin America

Like their counterparts below the border, many Canadian photographers have turned away from perceiving camera images as basically descriptive or informative. They were engaged by the cooler, more ironic approach initiated by Frank and the social landscapists of the 1960s. Sharing this sensibility, Lynne Cohen, Charles Gagnon, and Gabor Szilasi are among those who have transformed uningratiating urban environments into deliberately structured visual entities, at times infused with biting humor. Street photography that integrates the common elements of the style—automobiles, reflections, perplexing space—is exemplified by the lucidly organized St. Joseph de Beance, Quebec) by Szilasi, a Hungarian-born photographer whose aim is to allow people "to gain awareness of the environments they live in."

In a contrasting approach, Robert Boudreau works with a large-format camera in the tradition (and at times on the actual sites) of the grand masters of 19th-century landscape photography, communicating a fresh appreciation of a theme that too often results in banality. Along with increased activity among Canadian photographers, interest in the history of the medium has spurred James Borcoman of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa to organize a national collection of photography; other museums, notably the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, have acquired specialized collections and still others, archives of local work.

For Latin American photographers, the year 1977 signaled the end of "the utter obstinacy which persisted in denying photography its quality as art," when a hemi-sphere-wide conference held in Mexico City revealed the vigor and diversity as well as the geographic and ethnic differences that characterized camera expression through-out the region. During the 1970s and '80s, photographers in Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela were most interested in exploring the effects of rapid social and economic change on the traditions of their societies. Although they were initially less involved with aesthetic experimentation for its own sake or with the picturing of private realities, recent work suggests that these concepts have now found fertile ground.

A range of attitudes characterizes Latin American portrayals of urban and provincial life, which for the most part are seen by the public in books and periodicals rather than on gallery walls. The strength of the humanist tradition is exemplified by the Panamanian photographer Sandra Eleta's spirited images of ordinary working people. Infused with grace, these images transcend the moment and convey the vibrancy of intimate relationships. A similar intensity transforms studies of the Yanomani and Xingu tribesmen by the Brazilian photographers Claudia Andujar and Maureen Bisilliat from routine anthropological documentation to inspired interpretation. By the late 1980s, as photography in Brazil expanded to include images made for personal expression as well as for documentation and advertising, those involved with the medium reached out beyond the country's borders, initiating international conferences, opening a museum for photography in Sao Paulo, and starting publication programs.

One direction in social documentation that found adherents throughout Latin America can be seen in work by Roberto Fontana of Venezuela and by the Argentine photographers Alicia D'Amico and Crete Stern, all of whom use the small camera to capture the condition of those alienated by sickness or poverty from contemporary society. Although the predominant interest throughout the region is the human condition, notable landscapes, still lifes, and architectural views have also been made by Christian Alckmin Mascaro of Brazil and Jose Gimeno Casals of Peru.


LYNNE COHEN. Corridor.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Motel Fine Arts, New York,

GABOR SZILASI. St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, 1973.
Gelatin silver print.

SANDRA ELETA. Lovers from Portobek, 1977.
Gelatin silver print.

ROBERTO FONTANA. Scene in an Asylum, 1980.
Gelatin silver print.

JOSE GIMENO CASALS. Puruchuco, 1979-80.
Gelatin silver print.

An opposing approach to social documentation, which inspired the work of a small number of photographers— most notably, Paolo Gasparini in Venezuela—was intended to illuminate the social and economic consequences of the intrusion of foreign capital and culture into Latin American life by appending unequivocal texts to images. One might have expected that this didactic view of social documentation would also be espoused by the first generation of photographers working in Cuba after the revolution of 1959. Instead, they were influenced by the diverse directions being pursued in the United States. The buoyant humor in the work of the Cuban photographers Raul Corrales, Maria Eugenia Haya, and Mario Garcia Joya—working mainly in the 1970s and '80s—is unusual in Latin American photography, which is generally more earnest in dealing with reality. With its use of serial imagery, texts, set-ups, colorization, and montages, recent work by young Cubans demonstrates even greater familiarity with current trends in the United States.

Mexican government support of the arts during the 1920s and '30s and the presence in Mexico of Tina Modotti, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and other foreign photographers enabled Mexican photographers to respond to the need for social documentation and at the same time to personalize the medium. The nation's most highly regarded native-born photographer, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, found it possible to embrace the mythic implica-tions of his own culture while acknowledging concepts, such as Surrealism, imported from Europe and the United States. A similar focus on indigenous culture— emphasizing both popular rituals and artistic and intellectual activities—characterizes the work of his former wife, Lola Alvarez Bravo, whose portraits of distinguished individuals have only recently been acknowledged for their artistic and documentary value.

Images by Pedro Meyer, who was born in Spain but was active in Mexico after 1962 and in the United States in the 1990s, suggest the mysterious nature of folk ritual through harsh tonal contrasts, ambiguous gestures, and the intensity of facial expressions, as in The Unmasking in the Square. In his recent work, Meyer has become more concerned with personal autobiography while embracing computerized methods of production. Other contemporary Mexican photographers who are engaged by folk culture and ritual include Flor Garduno, Graciela Iturbide, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Jose Angel Rodriguez, and Jose Luis Neyra.

PEDRO MEYER. The Unmasking in the Square, 1981.
Gelatin silver print.

GRACIELA ITURBIDE. Senor de Pajoros, 1984.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Gracida Iturbide.

JOSE ANGEL RODRIGUEZ. Gampesina (Peasant), 1977.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Jain and George W. Kelly, New York.

Straight Photography in Europe

The second World War, lasting from 1939 to 1945, disrupted cultural life in Europe but did not entirely wipe out photographic activity there. August Sander, for example, was prevented from continuing his documentation of German life but made luminous landscapes of his native region. In Czechoslovakia, Josef Sudek, whose photographic ideas had been nurtured by both Pictorialism and the New Objectivity, continued to produce lyrical tabletop still lifes as well as neo-Romantic garden scenes.

By the mid-1960s, Europeans had recovered sufficiently from the dislocations of the war to welcome a range of fresh ideas about photography. The numerous directions being explored in America soon attracted photographers who were initially tempted to varying degrees by abstraction, conceptualism, and symbolism. Perhaps the most telling influence was Frank's ironical approach to documentation or "subjective realism," as the German photographer Otto Steincrt called "humanized and individualized photography." Even though critical acclaim and financial support for the photograph as an art commodity was still insignificant compared to the response in the United States, and even though photographers could find employment only as photojournalists, a variety of modes began to flourish as new equipment and materials, including Polaroid and color film, became available and less expensive.

Besides embracing photojournalistic ways of depicting actuality, by the late 1970s some younger Europeans looked to the subjective and conceptual approaches popular in the United States. Others became aware of the experimental-ism practiced by a previous generation of European photographers and elected to work with collage, montage, and sequencing. Like their American counterparts, they created narratives using sequenced photographs and took part in performances that they documented and exhibited. These productions sometimes obscured the distinctions between what was found in nature and what was enacted, between straight depiction and hand manipulation of print processes, between what was recorded through the effects of light and what was added by the application of pigments. Combining drama, photography, and graphic art, they sought to infuse photographic expression with greater complexity than they thought was possible in straight images.

As camerawork became more frequently exhibited, collected, and reproduced in Europe, the quickening of interest in contemporary photography prompted the establishment of workshops, conferences, and foundations for the support of the medium. Even though the high-quality photographic print as such remains less esteemed in Europe than in the United States, photography theory has attracted philosophers such as Roland Barthes, giving the medium an intellectual cachet formerly lacking.

These developments were accompanied by increased concern for the rich treasuries of historical images housed in national and private archives and by a consequent attentiveness to historical scholarship and preservation. Among the leading European figures who supervised the creation of archives in their countries have been Ute Eskildsen and Otto Steinert, who created a distinguished collection of German photographs in the Folkwang Museum in Essen; Fritz Kempe, director of the Staatliche Landesbildstelle in Hamburg; Samuel Morozov in the former Soviet Union: Jean-Claude Lemagny in France; Terence Pepper and Mark Haworth-Booth in England; and Petr Tausk and Vladimir Birgus in Czechoslovakia. As collections have grown, they have engendered investigations into the history of the medium, resulting in serious publications in Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, and Spain. To give but one example, the Swedish photographer Rune Hassner encouraged interest in the history of American and European photojournalism and social documentation through his extensive curatorial, research, and publishing activities.

Among British photographers the documentary tendency remained strong, prompted by long experience with photojournalism. Curiously, the focus on informational content in England had been reinforced by Moholy-Nagy; during a brief sojourn in London in 1936 this catalyst of experimentalism in the United States had promoted the camera image as a way to observe "a fragment of present day reality from a social and economic point of view."20 Traditional documentation was carried on and modified after the war by the photojournalists Philip Jones Griffiths, Bert Hardy, Thurman Hopkins, Don McCullin, Grace Robertson, and George Rodger, among others. It was transformed in the 1960s by Roger Mayne, who sought to give documentation a somewhat more consciously aesthetic and equivocal aspect, and by Tony Ray-Jones, whose work displayed an ironic but charitable humor. Glyndeboume is a witty view of upper-class pleasures that suggests Bill Brandt's themes, Robert Doisneau's whimsicality, and Frank's irony.

Brandt, Britain's best-known photographer of the postwar years, was a unique phenomenon. He had been involved with Surrealism through his association with Man Ray in the 1920s and with the documentation of contrasts among the classes in the 1930s, which he collected in his first publication, The English at Home (1936). Brandt's portraits, landscapes, and nude studies made after the war encompass a variety of different approaches. In the search for what he termed "something beyond die real," he found that optic distortions—the result of using an extremely wide-angle lens and a very small aperture—produced a curious yet poetic landscape in which human form and nature merged. This particular approach has attracted relatively few followers in his native country, but Brandt's emphasis on capturing inner realities through the imaginative use of light inspired the work of Paul Hill, whose affinity to the mysticism of Minor White is also apparent in Arrow and Puddle, Ashbourne Car Park. Though more attuned to the sociological changes occurring in Britain during the 1970s and '80s, Chris Killip's documentations of working-class life also reflect his understanding that photographs can be considered as aesthetic objects as well as records of actuality.

By the 1980s, British photographers had begun to explore a multiplicity of directions: installations by Richard Hamilton and others satirizing British life, scenes of gritty working-class squalor by Martin Parr and Nick Wapplington, didactic conceptualizations by Victor Burgin, mixed-media constructions based on popular icons and symbols by Gilbert and George. During the same years, British women photographers became greatly more prominent, and a number organized themselves into cooperatives in an effort to make visible a feminist view of family and society. Like their counterparts elsewhere, they have often found that the directorial mode best serves their particular intentions.

JOSEF SUDEK. Window in the Ram, 1944.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Jaroslav Andel, New York.


Josef Sudek (March 17, 1896, Kolín, Bohemia - September 15, 1976) was a Czech photographer, best known for his haunting night-scapes of Prague.
Originally a bookbinder, During The First World War He was drafted into Austro-Hungarian Army. In 1915 and served on the Italian Front until he was wounded in the right arm in 1916. Although he had no experience with photography and was one-handed due to his amputation, he was given a camera. After the war he studied photography for two years in Prague under Jaromir Funke. His Army disability pension gave him leeway to make art, and he worked during the 1920s in the romantic Pictorialist style. Always pushing at the boundaries, a local camera club expelled him for arguing about the need to move forwards from 'painterly' photography. Sudek then founded the progressive Czech Photographic Society in 1924. Despite only having one arm, he used large, bulky cameras with the aid of assistants.
Sudek's photography is sometimes said to be modernist. But this is only true of a couple of years in the 1930s, during which he undertook commercial photography and thus worked "in the style of the times". Primarily, his personal photography is neo-romantic.

His early work included many series of light falling in the interior of St. Vitus cathederal. During and after World War II Sudek created haunting night-scapes and panoramas of Prague, photographed the wooded landscape of Bohemia, and the window-glass that led to his garden (the famous The Window of My Atelier series). He went on to photograph the crowded interior of his studio (the Labyrinths series).
His first Western show was at George Eastman House in 1974 and he published 16 books during his life.
Known as the "Poet of Prague", Sudek never married, and was a shy, retiring person. He never appeared at his exhibit openings and few people appear in his photographs. Despite the privations of the war and Communism, he kept a renowned record collection of classical music.

TONY RAY-JONES. Glyndebourne, 1967.
Gelatin silver print.

PAUL HILL. Arrow and Puddle, Ashbourne Car Park, 1974.
Gelatin silver print.

The revitalization of photography in France after the war was evident in several developments. One was the establishment of a movement to encourage artistic photography. In the south of France, members of the Expression libre (Free Expression) group, founded in 1964, sought to enhance the status of photography by urging, among other measures, that it be introduced into univer-sity curricula. Acknowledgment of photography's visual significance spurred the opening in 1982 of the Ecole Nationale de Photographic in Aries, the establishment of galleries devoted to the medium in Paris and Toulouse, and the initiation of annual and biennial photographic festivals in Aries, Cahors, and Paris. With the support of the government, the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie opened in Paris in 1996, giving France its first international center devoted to photography.

In their own productions, the photographers initially active in this resurgence—Denis Brihat, Lucien Clergue, and Jean Dieuzade, among them—intervened in the photographic process by directing the model, establishing the settings, or manipulating negative and print. The straight work of Francois Hers and Bernard Plossu (now living in the United States) follows the direction known as "subjective realism"; their themes appear to be social in nature, but they are concerned mainly with expressing what one of their colleagues called "a personal vibration ... an autobiographical sign." An approach to nature that combines lyricism and irony in a disquieting manner can be seen in recent landscapes of former battlefields by Jeanloup Sieff.

In Italy during the 1960s, and in Spain and Portugal somewhat later, photographers emerged from what has been called a "peripheral ghetto"—the result of more than 20 years of cultural isolation and indifference to the camera as an expressive tool. For example, no retrospective of Portuguese photography was held until 1991, with the result that work done in the earlier years of this century was unknown both in that country and to the rest of the world. With increased tourism from the United States and South America facilitating the exchange of examples and ideas, and with greater opportunities in their own countries for exhibition and publication, photographers soon embraced a full array of contemporary modes.

The Italian photographs that seem to achieve the greatest formal resolution in terms of conventional straight photography are landscapes. The beauty of the land, made even more poignant by encroaching industrialization, has prompted Gianni Berengo, Franco Fontana, Mario Giacomelli, and Georgio Lotti—all photojournalists—to produce views of nature that are romantic in tenor and transcendent in effect. Exemplified by an early depiction by Giacomelli of the harvest in the Marches region, these images sustain interest because they mediate between the world as it is and as it is photographed, with-out calling undue attention to the aesthetic or conceptual aspects of the medium. In another approach to documentation, Italian photographer-anthropologist Marialba Russo captures the stages of ritual observances in a style that neither heightens nor dramatizes the visual experience but presents it as though the viewer were a participant in the event who does not necessarily understand its significance. Indigenous rituals have also engaged the Spanish photographer Cristina Garcia Rodero, who believes that her extensive "portrait" of such customs reveals "the mysterious, genuine, and magic soul of Spain".

MARIO GIACOMELLI. Landscape 289, 1958.
Gelatin silver print. Bristol Workshops in Photography, Bristol, R.I.

CRISTINA GARCIA RODERO. Pilgrimage from Lumbier, Spain, 1980.
Gelatin silver print. Gallery of Contemporary Photography, Santa Monica, Cal.

Photojournalism Outside the United States

Photojournalism provided an outlet for the skills of numerous photographers from a variety of countries who contributed to the vitality of both European and American picture journals during the 1960s and '70s; photojournalists tend to be peripatetic internationalists who do not necessarily reside in their countries of origin. Even though by the 1970s photoessays had become more or less predictable in style and superficial in content, individual photographers were at times able to transcend these limitations. One example is the work of Peter Magubane, South Africa's leading photojournalism His strong images of the struggles of black South Africans, among them a photograph of a gesture that seems to symbolize their sorrow and anger, were no doubt intensified by the photographer's own imprisonment under apartheid.

Photojournalists outside the United States could not rely on the foundation support enjoyed by some of their American counterparts, but many nevertheless managed to produce in-depth documentation of social circum-stances no matter where they came from or where they were assigned. Images by Sabine Weiss explore the delights of childhood play in Paris neighborhoods; those by Marie-Paule Negre expose the poverty of life at the outer fringes of French society'; those by Raymond Depardon reveal the look of the terrain and the forms of daily life in Africa.

During the 1970s, a number of European photojournalists joined collectives such as Saftra in Sweden and Viva in France in order to carry out progressive social documentation that the established agencies and journals no longer welcomed. Martine Franck, one of the founders of Viva, used a rigorous formal structure to document the effects of middle-class culture on the individual. The angular shapes, staccato tonal contrasts, and spatially isolated figures seen in Provence suggest the dehumanization and oppressiveness of affluence. Jean-Philippe Charbonnier and Gilles Peress take a similar formal approach to social issues, except that Charbonnier's attitude is more distanced, his structuring less obvious, and his message more ambiguous. Peress, who has documented strife in Ireland, Iran, and Bosnia, has made his photoreportage distinctively personal, whether imbuing it with ironic detachment or using the structure and forms of the picture to create a powerful sense of alienation and chaos.

A number of photojournalists have shaped their own projects, among them Magnum photographers Depardon, Josef Koudelka, and Scbastiao Salgado (the latter two originally from Czechoslovakia and Brazil, respectively). For his documentation of gypsy life, Koudelka worked in Rumania, Spain, France, and the British Isles throughout much of the 1960s, probing the varied aspects of their nomadic existence—familial affection, pride in animals, love of the dramatic gesture, isolation from the larger culture. Like many others of his generation, Koudelka uses lens distortion, blurs, tipped horizons, and unusual formats to evoke emotion. His recent images of the despoliation of land and waterways in Eastern Europe caused by industrial pollution were made in panoramic format, which seems to enhance the sense of desolation. Salgado, whose magazine assignments have brought him face to face with the wretched of the earth in South America and Africa, has undertaken on his own an extensive and poignant documentation of the conditions of poor laborers throughout the world. In other such projects, Raghubir Singh has endeavored to reveal both the inner and outer worlds of life in his Indian homeland.

Photojournalism as exemplified by Yevgeny Khaldey's shot of the victorious Red Army in Berlin continued to be the predominant concern of photographers in the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1989- With few exceptions, photography as a personal means of artistic expression or as a foil for texts with messages other than those required by the press received little official support or exposure. Nevertheless, many of the younger photographers who came of age during the 1960s and '70s embraced the same techniques used in both subjective and photojournalistic photography in the West. Among them was Boris Savelev, whose treatment of light gives his casual-seeming color images made on the streets of Moscow and Leningrad (before it was renamed St. Petersburg) an agreeable romantic dimension. Others employed the distortion of spatial perspective, the blurring of part of the visual field, and the incorporation of lens reflections to convey a grittier view of life. The Lithuanian photographer Aleksandras Macijauskas, for example, used a wide-angle lens to heighten the viewer's sense of the emotional drama in such ordinary activities as a procedure in a veterinary hospital.

RAYMOND DEPARDON. Angola (Luena, Street Scene), February 1994.
Gelatin silver print. Magnum Photos, New York.

MARTINE FRANCK. Provence, 1976.
Gelatin silver print.

GILLES PERESS. N. Ireland: Loyalists vs. Nationalists, 1986.
Gelatin silver print.

JOSEF KOUDELKA. Rumania, 1968.
Gelatin silver print.


(b Boskovice, nr Brno, 10 Jan 1938).

Czech photographer of Moravian birth. He graduated from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Czech Higher Institute of Technology in Prague (1961) and became an engineer of aircraft engines. He began to photograph as an amateur at the age of 14. In 1961, with the encouragement of the photographer and critic Jiri Jenнcek (1895–1963), he held his first exhibition, at the popular Prague theatre Semafor. He was also influenced by the theorist Anna Fбrovб. From 1962 he worked as a photographer for the journal Divadlo and from 1965 for the avant-garde Theatre behind the Gate (Divadlo za Branou), led by the director Otomar Krejca, which enabled him to become professional. In 1965 he was accepted as a member of the Photography Section of the Association of Czech Artists, and in 1967 he left his job as an engineer to dedicate himself to photography.

ALEKSANDRAS MACIJAUSKAS. In the Veterinary Clinic, 1977.
Gelatin silver print. Private collection.

Japan and China

Given the homogenization of contemporary global culture, one would expect to find Japanese photographers responding to the same influences as Americans and Europeans, but while this has indeed been the case, photography in Japan has evolved under unique conditions. After a brief but rich period of modernist creativity during the 1920s, noncommercial photography in Japan parroted painting or soft-focus Pictorialism. Following the war and until about 1960, with the exception of the exquisite documentation of traditional Japanese art objects by Ken Domon, there was little interest in photography as artistic expression. The concepts of large-format camerawork as conceived by Edward Weston and of modernist experimentalism were brought to Japan by Yasuhiro Ishimoto when he returned in 1953 after studying at the Institute of Design in Chicago. But the network for disseminating photographs that emerged, which was very different from that in the States, influenced the kind of photographs being produced. Because the museum and commercial gallery activities that sustained the West's market for artistic camera images did not exist in Japan, most Japanese photographers worked mainly for books and magazines, favoring a realistic style and images arranged in sequences rather than the single print. As a consequence, until recently there was little interest in Japan in producing fine prints or in experimenting with process and techniques in order to create singular artistic objects. Museums and galleries devoted exclusively to photography did not develop there until the 1990s.

The goal of Japancse photographers during the 1960s and '70s, according to the critic Shoji Yamagishi, was to "demonstrate that photography is a kind of consciousness that can be shared by everyone in his daily life, rather than simply an expression of one's own personality or identity."

This concept is central to the work of Shomei Tomatsu, a former photojournalist and the author of eight photo-graphic books (including one on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing done in collaboration with Domon). Sandwich Man, Tokyo (from the book Nippon) is a forceful but enigmatic image of a tradition on the verge of obliteration due to the radical changes in contemporary Japanese life—a theme that has engaged this photographer since the 1960s. The socially oriented images by Daidoh Moriyama—-among them, a series called Nippon Theater— involve ideas related to Tomatsu's and similarly share with the work of many Westerners a preference for close-ups, graininess, blurs, and stark tonal contrasts used to heighten the emotional pitch of the situations they depict.

Polished images of nudes and landscape by the highly regarded Kishin Shinoyama seem to tit stylistically and thematically into the tradition of ukiyo-e woodblock art at the same time that they satisfy the modern demand for unambiguous photographic representation. In contrast, Nobuyoshi Araki deals with less conventional behavior in a range of styles influenced by photographers as varied as Frank and Mapplethorpe. Araki's interests encompass urban street scenes, still lifes, ambiguous-looking sexual forms, and overtly masochistic stagings of women in bondage.

Ikko (born Ikko Narahara) may be, along with Araki and Eikoh Hosoe, the Japanese photographer best known internationally. Though a straight image in terms of technique, his Two Garbage Cans, Indian Village, New Mexico, U.S.A., part of a series entitled Where Time Has Vanished, is surreal in effect. Its razor-sharp focus and the strange juxtaposition of organic forms and mechanically produced objects convey the photographer's reaction to the perplexing contrasts between nature and culture in the American West. American influence, in particular that of Weston's work, moved Toshio Shibata to use the direct expressive power of the camera to produce enigmatic images of land and water. Notions about gender equality emanating from the United States have led to an increase in the number of women photographers active in Japan in recent years. Among them are Miyako Ishiuchi, who deals with issues of aging by photographing in close-up the hands and feet of women, and Yoshino Oishi, considered Japan's most prominent contemporary photojournalist.

(Left Hand of the Sitting Image of Buddha Skakanmni in the Hall of Miroku, the Muro-ji), c. 1960s.
Gelatin silver print.


SHOMEI TOMATSU. Sandwich Man, Tokyo, 1962.
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; Gift of the artist.

IKKO. Two Garbage Cans, Indian Village, New Mexico, USA., 1972.
Gelatin silver print.

Photography in China during the 20th century has contrasted with developments elsewhere. For some 80 years, camerawork there has been valued almost entirely in terms of its contributions to the political struggles that have consumed the nation. Isolation from Europe and the United States, as well as China's relative underdevelopment, has deprived photographers of access to the rich creative ideas of modernism and the tradition of Western social documentation. In the wake of the revolutionary ferment during the first decade of this century, Chinese picture-news journals emerged to promote photo-reportage as a means to document the facts of life while emphasizing the country's political and economic advances. Le Monde (edited in Paris and published in Shanghai), which was started in 1907 as the first Chinese-language picture journal, reproduced between 100 and 200 images per issue. Following the outbreak of the war with Japan in 1937, photoreportage on the Communist side was limited by the lack of materials. In an effort to gain adherents to their cause, the Communists devoted their scarce resources almost exclusively to presenting information about the activities of the Eighth Route Army in the remote areas of northwestern China.

After the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949, the appearance of picture magazines such as China Pictorial and China Reconstructs increased the demand for photojournalistic images, but the images became less factual and more frankly propagandistic, a role they continued to play during the Cultural Revolution. Remaining somewhat proscribed until the 1980s, photographer's continued to portray industrial workers, peasants, and indeed ail sectors of the populace in a confident and picturesque fashion. Though technically proficient, their images seldom probed beyond superficial appearances or investigated problematic aspects of life in China.

Given the extent of China's political and social turmoil throughout this century, it is hardly surprising that photography as artistic expression did not receive the same support as photoreportage. Books of scenic views emphasizing the beauty of the countryside were published in Shanghai in the early part of the century, and in the 1930s the Pictorialist style attracted a small following of amateurs and professionals who sent works to the international salons and competitions. Among them was Wu Yinbo, the most consciously artistic of professionals, who later became a photojournalist for China Pictorial. The emulation of the themes, compositions, and styles of scroll painting that characterized Chinese Pictorialist photography continued into the early 1980s, with calligraphed characters sometimes added to the negative or sometimes brushed onto the print. An effort was made during the 1930s to adapt this style to working-class themes, as in Construction by Liu Ban Nong. In another approach photographer Zhang Yin Quan tried to fuse the European experimental ideas of the "new vision" with socially significant subjects; both these attempts appear to have been short-lived. On the whole, although there were fine photographers at work, such as the veteran photojournalist Zhang Shuicheng, Chinese photography was circumscribed by a number of factors: by the high cost of materials and of reproduction in a relatively poor nation, by the strong grip of traditionalism on all visual expression, and by the limited interest within officialdom (where funding was controlled) in the medium's potential to create images that would transcend utilitarian purposes.

In the past fifteen or so years, this situation has changed dramatically as photography has become almost a passion among the Chinese. The number of individuals involved in photographic societies has increased from 100, before 1980, to more than 30,000 now. The practice of the medium has become diversified, with individuals not only working for government agencies but also freelancing by selling their work for publication and taking pictures as personal expression. These changes have been triggered by increased contacts with, and greater acceptance of, American and European ideas and individuals, as well as by easier access to materials now that foreign manufacturers have established factories in China producing photographic equipment and film. In addition, for the first time, officials in charge of cultural activities admit that differing concepts of photography exist, freeing individuals to choose their own directions.

Chinese photographers currently involved in social documentation have shown themselves less inclined to idealization. The inadequate schools that rural children must endure have been pictured by Xie Hailong, and the rapid changes brought about by rampant building are presented as mixed blessings by Xu Yong, whose images of disappearing hutongs bring to mind photographs made by Westerners mourning the loss of cherished elements of their own past. The wide-spread excavations in China of archaeological remains have provided photographers with the occasion to document their country's ancient culture. Acknowledgment of the medium's aesthetic potential has afforded former pilot Chen Changfen an opportunity to combine aerial views in color of earth, moon, and sun, merging modern aesthetic concepts with ancient philosophical ideas.

LIU BAN NONG. Construction, early 1930s.
Gravure. Courtesy Zhang Shuichcng, Beijing.

ZHANG YIN QUAN. Cart Pullers, 1935.
Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Zhang Shuichcng, Beijing.

XIE HAILONG. The Entire School, Nanyantou Village, Shenyoiugou Township, Shanxi Province, 1992.
Gelatin silver prim. China Photography Publishing House, Beijing.

CHEN CHANGFEN. Environmental Metamorphic Fission, c. 1983.
Chromogenic color print. Chinese Photographers Association, Beijing.