William Eggleston

Posted: May 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art sur canapé: exhibition reviews | Tags: , , | No Comments »
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There is no particular reason to search for meaning.” William Eggleston

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Untitled, 1965-68

William Eggleston is literally photographing the world around him.
The current show at the Fondation Cartier in Paris was the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the great photographer.
Three years ago, the Fondation Cartier commissioned him to photograph Paris, a city so often depicted in photography (possibly too much?). The French capital has become an icon in itself. The task was not easy, even for Eggleston who already documented Paris on different occasions. He cleverly avoids the romantic cliché by “approaching it as if it is just anywhere“, as he states in the exhibition catalogue. No famous monuments, no Parisian romantic couples kissing. Instead, almost abstract close-up photographs of graffiti, garbage and shop’s neons. 70 pictures were selected for the show at the Fondation Cartier. Eggleston says he didn’t try to avoid clichés in a conscious way. “I didn’t change my style for Paris. I just did as always, used the same approach.”

His large-format prints give credit to everyday subjects, every detail deserves attention, whatever it is a red ceiling in a friend’s house or a farmer’s Ford truck. He knows how to capture the beauty in commonplaces we even not notice. His first snapshots of everyday life in the Deep South were criticized for being “perfectly banal” though.
Since then, he is also acknowledged as a master of Color, using saturated shades since the beginning. Most surprisingly they are not studio-manipulated. “Everything must work in concert,” he says. “Composition is important but so are many other things, from content to the way colours work with or against each other.”
He supposedly never shoots a subject twice, he doesn’t want the model to strike a pose in this respect, which shows his grasp of composition.

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Memphis, c. 1969-70

William Eggleston was raised mostly by his grandparents (his father being in the Navy, his parents stayed mostly at the military base). As a kid, he was first introduced to photography by his grandfather, who had his own darkroom. But he really got interested in taking pictures years later, when he attended college. In 1959 he discovered the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson with The Decisive Moment. He was impressed by the good quality of the prints and by the depiction of the subject from an oblique angle, instead of the traditional front view.
When he started using color photography in the mid-60’s, it was still the reign of black-and-white prints in the artistic context. Color photography was reserved for advertising and journalism, mainly because the clients had money to pay for the expensive developing. So it was mainly considered as a commercial medium.
Eggleston’s pictures are often taken from unconventional perspectives. The picture of a red ceiling below (which became an icon for Eggleston’s work) is a good example as our gaze unusually goes upward in the room.

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Untitled (Greenwood, Mississipi), 1974

The night of the opening of his show in Paris, William Eggleston sat down in front of the piano which is displayed at the entrance of the downstairs gallery (Eggleston is an accomplished pianist). He played a few tunes then grabbed a cigarette from his pocket. It seems that Memphis’ spirit was not far away…

American photographer born 1939 in Memphis, Tenessee.
Still lives and works in Memphis, but travels considerably for his projects.

William Eggleston: Paris is at the Fondation Cartier, Paris, until June 21.

Official site of William Eggleston:
http://www.egglestontrust.com/

Fondation Cartier:
http://fondation.cartier.com/

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Untitled, Paris series, 2006-2008


Ken Gonzales-Day

Posted: May 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art sur canapé: exhibition reviews | Tags: , | No Comments »
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Il a étudié l’histoire de l’art, la peinture et la photographie. On lui doit de nombreux essais, publiés dans les pages des magazines d’art ou de catalogues. Il dispense également des cours d’histoire de l’art depuis plus d’une dizaine d’années dans différentes universités.
Son travail repose sur des faits historiques, en particulier sur une facette relativement méconnue de l’histoire des Etats-Unis, le lynchage. C’est un certain William Lynch (1736-1796) qui décida de « réformer » la façon dont la justice était appliquée dans l’état de Virginie pendant la guerre d’indépendance. En sa qualité de juge de paix, il instaura des procès expéditifs menant parfois à des exécutions sommaires à l’encontre des défenseurs de la couronne britannique. La loi de Lynch se répandit dans l’Ouest américain, punissant les voleurs, les tricheurs au jeu et les hors-la-loi. Le mot lynchage apparaît vers 1837, désignant un déferlement de haine raciale à l’encontre des Indiens, en dépit des lois qui les protègent, et de la population noire.

Dès la fin du XIXe siècle, de nombreuses images de lynchage ont circulé de manière légale aux Etats-Unis, et ce jusqu’en 1908, date à laquelle les services postaux américains décident d’en interdire l’envoi. Le format carte postale a facilité leur diffusion et leur commercialisation. La plupart du temps, les scènes de lynchage étaient immortalisées par des professionnels ou des amateurs. Ces images trophées attestaient alors de la présence sur les lieux de leurs auteurs. Ils avaient assisté à l’événement. En Californie, le lynchage a toujours été un acte public, ayant peu à peu pris place à la tombée de la nuit. La pendaison est toujours le moyen d’exécution le plus employé.

Gonzales-Day a entrepris un important travail de recherche et de collecte de documents historiques qui sont ensuite montrés dans le contexte de l’art contemporain. Il a choisi de se concentrer sur les lynchages dont a été victime la communauté des latinos en Californie. Il dénombre 354 cas de lynchage pour l’état de Californie entre 1850 et 1935.

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The Wonder Gaze (St. James Park), 2006-2009, Courtesy de l’artiste

Pour l’exposition Spy Numbers, qui se tient au Palais de Tokyo du 28 mai au 30 août 2009, il choisit de montrer une reproduction monumentale sur papier affiche, réalisée à partir d’une photographie d’archive en noir et blanc. Un arbre se trouve au centre de l’image et une foule compacte de personnages se situe au premier plan.

Toutes les images ont un contenu brutal et bien réel. L’intervention de l’artiste sur ces images en noir et blanc consiste à en effacer le contenu horrifique, à savoir le supplicié et la corde. Seuls subsistent l’arbre qui a servi pour la pendaison ainsi que la foule des spectateurs. Tout l’enjeu du travail de Gonzales-Day est de parvenir à montrer ces images sans mettre en valeur l’événement de manière spectaculaire à nouveau. Comment montrer des atrocités ?
La question de la représentation est posée.
Il choisit de montrer l’événement par sa négation visuelle, autrement dit, son absence. Un comble pour le médium photographique qui repose avant tout sur l’observation des choses. L’image ressemble en fin de compte à une photographie de paysage aux allures fantomatiques. Son intérêt pour l’image photographique relève d’une fascination pour le signifiant, c’est-à-dire la perception d’une image par son contexte, formel ou culturel. La série des Erased Lynching est une référence directe à l’histoire du lynchage en Californie, elle-même effacée de l’histoire « officielle » de l’état. Ken Gonzales-Day produit des images d’images, en s’inscrivant néanmoins à contre-courant du flux où réel et simulacre ne parviennent plus à se distinguer l’un de l’autre.

Né en 1964.
Vit et travaille à Los Angeles.

http://www.kengonzalesday.com/

Ouvrage monographique :
Gonzales-Day, Ken. Lynching in the West : 1850-1935, Durham & London : Duke University Press, 2006

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Takato Yamamoto

Posted: May 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: | 3 Comments »
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Born in Akita, Japan in 1960. Akita is a prefecture located in the northern part of the main island of Japan.
He graduated from the painting department of the Tokyo Zokei University and he experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style. He further refined and developed that style to create his Heisei estheticism style (Heisei being the current era name in Japan. The Heisei era started on January 8, 1989, the first day after the death of the reigning Emperor, Hirohito).
His first exhibition was held in Tokyo in 1998.
He is working mostly with litho printing and Japanese ink on paper.

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs and landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan. Ukiyo-e were affordable because they could be mass-produced. The original subject of ukiyo-e was city life, in particular activities and scenes from the entertainment district. Beautiful courtesans, bulky sumo wrestlers and popular actors would be portrayed while engaged in appealing activities. Sex was not a sanctioned subject as it continually appeared in ukiyo-e prints. But artists and publishers were sometimes punished for creating these sexually explicit pictures.

Takato Yamamoto is interested in portraying famous occidental myths, such as Salome or Saint Sebastian. His graphic depictions of sex and death remind the work of English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, one of the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era.

salome

Salome is mentioned in the New Testament as the daughter of Herodias, a Jewish princess. Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness. Salome’s story has long been a favourite of artists such as Titian, Gustave Moreau, Aubrey Bearsley, Oscar Wilde, Gustave Flaubert.

sebastian

Saint Sebastian was a Christian saint and martyr, who is said to have been killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. He is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post and shot with arrows. He is venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church. The image of the martyred Sebastian has proved a popular subject for artists from the Renaissance onward.

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The Japanese junior -and senior- high school uniform traditionally consists of a military style uniform for boys and a sailor outfit for girls. The sailor outfit was modelled after the uniform used by the British Royal Navy when it was introduced to Japan in 1920. Sailor outfits play an undeniably large role in the Japanese sexual canon as evidenced by the large amount of anime and manga featuring characters in uniform.

books:
Takato Yamamoto, Scarlet Maniera, ET, 2007
Takato Yamamoto, Divertimento for a Martyr, ET, 2006