Kazimir Malevich

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Kazimir Malevich
Self Portrait 1908-1910

Four months ago in September, I visited an art exhibition at Tate modern in London. I’ve never been a fan of art exhibitions as I simply think paint splashes on a canvas is boring and not interesting at all, some part of me still thinks this today about certain exhibitions. A few months went on and I familiarised myself more with art and those types of exhibitions. I realised I had little understanding about this creative industry. It wasn’t all about ‘paint splashed’ on a canvas, there was a lot more to it, and it ended up fascinating me. A friend of mine invited me to go to an exhibition with her, she is an art student, and so I ended up going with her to Kazimir Malevichs exhibition ‘Revolutionary of Russian art’. Kazimir is the creator of the suprematist ‘Black Square’, the first and last word in abstraction, painting absolute nothing in the shape of a black square. The exhibition was filled with a few venues, each presenting different aspects of Malevich’s remarkable career from October 2013 to October 2014.

By the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Malevich started moving away from painting oil on canvas. He said that ‘Painting died, like the old regime, because it was an organic part of it’. A room placed with his paintings all around it, immediately gives the viewer a deep understanding of his work, so my friend told me. I could say for artists only (as all of this baffled me!).

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Kazimir Malevich
Suprematism 1915

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Kazimir Malevich
Dynamic Suprematism 1915 or 1916
Oil on canvas
support: 803 x 800 mm frame: 1015 x 1015 x 80 mm

As I moved through the surrounding spaces I saw what was displayed high up across a corner of the room, a ‘Black Square’ (not  the original, as it is too fragile to move). It has a strange magnetic presence and seems to exert a gravitational pull on the paintings around it, their lines and blocks of colour appearing to migrate across the canvas.

There is little that’s particularly compelling in the square motif itself, the painting technique is nothing very special, the materials that were used to make it was oil on canvas, which is very ordinary. ‘Black Square’ is a landmark of modernism because by reducing painting to a simple geometric shape and a single colour (or lack of it) Malevich removed all references to the things art had always been about, among them representation, nature and emotional content.

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‘Black Square’ 1929 (Original)

Once In Moscow in December 1915, when the ‘Black Square’ was first shown as part of a group of 39 abstract paintings,it was placed at the top of a wall in a corner. Kazimir Malevichs supreme work presiding over the rest of the pictures that were there.

By producing this piece of work, Kazimir has changed the questions viewers ask about the work of art. Until the picture of the black square came into existence, people would look at a paintings and ask what it showed and how the artist showed it. But the subject, composition and painting technique isn’t whats important about a black square. So this lead me to think,  Why, since it refers nothing outside itself, is it a work of art at all?

“Our world of art has become new, non-objective, pure,” – Kazimir Malevich


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Malevich (1878 – 1935) -Supremus No. 55 1916

At the start of the exhibition, I didn’t completely comprehend the meaning of Kazimirs work as there is so much placed around you, its too much to take in at once. To be honest, the only thing i liked were the colours within the shapes that i saw. This is because I was never really interested in art exhibitions, I found them complicated and they always came across to me as chaos. However I did enjoy looking at the fine abstract arranged within some of Kazimirs work, and left the exhibition with a better understand about the art industry.


References

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/kazimir-malevich-1561 Viewed 5/12/14

Quote can be found on link below:

http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/exhibitions/malevich-tate-modern–exhibition-review-9608561.html Viewed 5/12/14

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Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred was an established photographer when he moved to the united Stares from Germany in 1935. In 1945 he once took a photograph of a sailor in his blue inform kissing a nurse in her white uniform in Times square that led to his fame. He managed to capture this moment by being persistent and not planning, this is how he stayed true to the moment, photographing a real life event.

‘That day in August of 1945, Eisenstaedt was simply walking among the crowd that had gathered on the streets of New York. One of the people he noticed was a sailor who was kissing his way through the crowd. He followed him long enough to see him grab the woman whose outfit in white brought the contrast of the sailor’s blue to his keen eye. At that moment, Eisenstaedt snapped the picture’.

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Eisenstaedt set up his first darkroom in his family’s bathroom. His first image that he sold was of a woman playing tennis that he captured when he was on vacation in Czechoslovakia in 1927. Der Weltspiegel a German bought it for $3, after someone bought his photography Eisenstaedt didn’t even know he could make money this way, so this encouraged him to keep taking photos further. When it came to 1936 Eisenstaedt was taking pictures of Hollywood celebrities but also ordinary people around him. The editor from a magazine called ‘Life’ who Eisenstaedt photographed for, once told Eisenstaedt ‘The most important thing is not to be in awe of anyone. Remember, you are a king in your own profession’. Eisenstaedt said that, ‘I never forgot those words.” His small stature and his personality served him well with his many subjects’. Here I see that Eistendaet had a lot of inspiration from certain people throughout his life, they encouraged him to find that great photographer within him, as at times he himself didn’t see it, mainly because he was 5t 4, a short man who not many people took seriously. However he continued photography various origins of people when he had his camera with him, walking through the crowds waiting for a moment to happen that he could capture. Which is exactly how he managed to be come well known for photography of the sailor and the woman, this happened by him just waiting, being patient until he felt ready to take the picture.

What I like about the work of Eisenstaedt is that he was always staying true to who he was and the work he wanted to produce. He had a lot of negative feedback at times because his style of photographing was never seen before at that time, he captured moments as they were happening, they were never planned, which got many people interested in his work as they connected with what they saw in his images, realism, how life should be, they felt the honesty and thought this is how we should photograph life.

Whilst Eisenstaedt was photographing people in the street, he also photographed some famous people at the time, which included Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedy family, Bob Hope, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt and many others. Even though he was photographing world leaders and movie stars, Eisenstaedt would make them look no more distant than someone’s next door neighbor, because he would capture their bad moments, moments when you shouldn’t take a photo, but Eisenstaedt did, making people see that all they are underneath fame, are ordinary people.


References-

Alfred Eisenstaedt. Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2014 http://www.encyclopedia.com> Viewed 20/11/14

Website: http://life.time.com/alfred-eisenstaedt/ Viewed 20/11/14

Suyeon Yun

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Bagpipe/Port Matilda PA. 2007

‘Suyeon Yun is a Korean born photographer who earned her MFA in photography at Yale University in 2008. She won several awards for her previous projects; Daum Prize 2008 from Geonhi Art Foundation, Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship (2008) from Yale University, and Tierney Fellowship (2008) from Tierney Family Art Foundation. Her work has been done with North Korean refugees (Incomplete Journey), American war veterans (Homecoming), and Iraqi war refugees (New Haven, No Haven) since 2003. She is based in Seoul and traveling through countries for her fourth war project which is supported by KT&G Photography Fellowship (2010)’.

I came across her work in Portfolio magazine, learning that she photographs American war veterans. Suyeon Yun is not photographing her subjects whilst they are in the midst of war, her work is much more subtle, leaving the reading of the images to the viewer. Within Yun’s images the viewer is left to decipher what emotions and thoughts the subject has. Her work comes across extremely powerful visually and can mean many things. When looking at Yun’s work and seeing very peaceful and ordinary images, knowing the context of who the subjects are and what they have done within their career makes the viewer only imagine what scenes they have been part of in the past. The is the reason i took an interest in her work. Simples images, yet they say so much, it leaves the viewer with many questions, this has made her work very successful.


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‘American soldiers come home from the war. They return from every war since WWII to the Iraq war of today. Spanning 42 states and several hundred veterans and their families, ‘Homecoming‘ documents an unseen American landscape. Glorious and disgusting, abominable and necessary war covers city of Harrisburg with banners to the ‘Hometown Hero’. War leaves Alex’s coffin in his dad’s garage. War teaches us Arabic at a class for young soldiers before their first deployment. And war wets Randy’s pants at Walter Reed’

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Garbage bag/Harrisburg PA. 2007

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Suyeon states that her photographs show no evidence of tragedy or trauma, and that “The deeper wound is hidden beyond its visible scar and no lens can capture that”. As i have said i say again, that her work is for sure visually powerful. So much truth is hidden behind an image and still you’re just left with the thought ‘wow’. The images leave the viewer thinking about the grief and pain the people feel/felt in the photographs.


References

http://www.suyeonyun.com/bio.php

Viewed 20/12/15

http://www.suyeonyun.com/work_1.php

Viewed 20/12/15

Damien Hirst Exhibition

Damien Hirst is an English artist, entrepreneur, and art collector. Death is a central theme in his work. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved, sometimes having been dissected in formaldehyde. The best known of these being ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’, a 14 foot tiger shark immersed in formaldehyde in a vitrine. He has also made “spin paintings,” created on a spinning circular surface and “spot paintings”, which are rows of randomly coloured circles created by his assistants.

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‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ (1991). Photographed by Prudence Cuming

A while back in May 2012, I went to visit the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern with some of my family. The exhibition was extraordinary, ranging from paintings to collections of pots and pans, a dead cows head to a room filled with live butterflies. it wasn’t like anything I’ve seen before. Normally I’m use to seeing painting and pictures hung up in galleries, but this time, 3D objects were placed around certain rooms, everything felt and looked more alive. It forced me to be intrigued, the work was just astonishing. The exhibition wasn’t one for someone with a weak stomach as there was a fair share of uncomfortable confrontations as you made your way around the rooms. The image of Damien with the dark was preserved in formaldehyde solution which gives it that life like appearance.

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Damien mentioned in the exhibition guide ‘It was the first time I’d ever made anything that had a life of its own… something that I had no control over’. He fascinated himself when he saw the final outcome of the 3D objects that he had created and left many people in awe as they walked looking around the exibition.

As I continued to carry on through the different rooms, you couldn’t miss the obvious dead cows head that was in a glass vitrine. I saw blood stream stains on the floor beneath as it’s fed on by flies and rots on the floor. There was also a small container in the corner of the vitrine where maggots hatch and turn into flies. I remember seeing a silver tray that hung from the roof of the vitrine attached to a lamp, where dead flies are collecting by the day. There was also a sheep placed in see-through glass. The enclosed space produces an on going life cycle, providing the idea of recurring life after death. Overall this exhibition was one of my favourite, everything was ‘put in your face’ as the objects are so real.

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The most beautiful part of the exhibition i must say was seeing real life butterflies flying around the room. There were large white canvases hanging from the walls where cacoons are made and where butterflies emerged from. There was a table in the centre of the room where bowls of rotted fruit were placed for the butterflies to feed on. ‘In and Out of Love’ by Damien Hirst is very different to ‘A Thousand Years’ when you first enter the exhibition. There were different sized butterflies which had a variety of colours to them and various wing sizes. Looking at this moment was just amazing. As people walked around the area, they took very careful care, not to harm anything, the room felt magical and refreshing, the whole reason Damien put this together was to reinforce the idea of the continuation of the circle of life. Damien Hirst’s work by this point clearly showed that he was trying to display how life and deathare continually link together in many different ways.

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At the end of the exhibition i finally came to understand the meaning of all of Damien’s unique and unusual work. The preserved shark, although dead, fear of it still lives on through the continuation of other sharks. The dead cows head lives on through itself being used as food for maggots and flies and so on and so fourth. It was a difficult concept to grasp at the start but fascinating at the end of it all.

Documentary and Intimacy

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Now that i know how to work with a black and white film camera and knowing what my chosen theme is (documentary/intimate), i photographed a few rolls of films. Some as portrait documentary and the other ones showing more intimacy, showing a clear understanding of Nan Goldins work that I’m currently studying. I’m developed the rolls of film, and as i had free time i decided to take some similar photographs of my model with her Nikon so that i could see what the images would look like in colour. By seeing the images in colour i was able to evaluate my work and then make changes to how i was photographing. My model (Lu) had just come from the shower and was lying in her underwear in her room on her bed, she allowed me to photograph this moment. After this she went outside for a smoke in her dressing gown with her underwear still on. I wanted to take this opportunity to experiment shooting with her dressed like this, as Nan golden does this a lot within her work, photographing people in such close proximity whether they have clothes on or not. She removed her gown and just sort of leaned against the wall, we were sort of being true to the moment, as the photograph is still slightly staged. However the image still allows the audience to have their own opinion on it, as it is hard to tell what emotion to feel when looking at the images. My model looks like she is isolated,with someone watching her..turning away from the person that she may be close to as she’s openly in her underwear. This image leaves the audience to decide what to think which makes it interesting. Although Nan Goldins work is more intimate, none staged, these photographs still helped me to progress in my shoots, causing me to relate my work more and more to my chosen artists as i now know where to make changes.

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Chosen Image

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Elliot Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt was a documentary and advertising photographer. He is well know for his black and white candid photographs, where he photographs every day things, such as families spending time together, someone cooking, children, eating and everything else. Erwitt started studying photography in 1939 at Los Angeles city college when he moved to America, finishing his education in 1950. Elliot served as a photographer’s assistant in the 1950s in the United States army. Photographers such as Robert Capa, Edward Steichen and Roy Stryker influenced Elliott to take photography further as he was inspired when looking at the images they took of society, making them look natural, within the moment, and what actually happens in real life.

Roy Stryker hired Elliott to work on a photography project for the ‘Standard oil company’. This experience led to him becoming a freelance photographer, producing work for Colliers, Life and Holiday. He then went on to continue shooting projects around the world because he joined the Magnum Photos agency in 1953.

All of Elliott Erwitt’s photographs are very simplistic and observed. He waits to grab the best angle and photo which comes naturally. In four of Elliot’s books that he published, Son of bitch (1974), Dogs Dogs (1988), Woof (2005) and Elliot Erwitts dogs (2008), a subject he decided to focus on was dogs. Elliot went on to spend a lot of time in film making since the 1970s. Some the documentary films that he produced are ‘Beauty knows no pain’ (1971) and ‘Red, white and bluegrass’ (1973), but the most well known one is ‘Glassmakers of Herat, Afghanistan (1977).

I looked at one of Elliott Erwitts latest books called ‘Personal Exposures’. Seeing what few others see and capturing it for us, is the essence of personal exposures. In this book Elliott put together prints that he rediscovered after a long time of not seeing them, creating a unified whole that reflects a consistent, mature vision of photograph and humanity. He photographed men, woman, children in off guard moments, old people, little girls, and many other things. I took ideas from his work, looking at how he approached society to photograph them working, living everyday, something I am going to do. Finding people in the most bizarre places, doing unusual things, or things we see all the time, find that perfect moment and then capturing it.


References-

Book: Elliot Erwitt, W.W.Norton & Co,First Edition(16 Nov 1988).Personal exposures. Schirmer/Mosel Verlag Gm (2012).

Website: http://hautlieucreative.co.uk/Photography/2014A2E/elliot-erwitt-david-bailey-preferences-for-film/ viewed 27/11/14

Website: http://www.americanphotomag.com/photo-gallery/2014/05/elliot-erwitt-work?page=1 viewed 27/11/14

Eugene Richards

Eugene Richards is an American documentary photographer. Within Richards photographs his main aim is to raise social awareness and they have been characterized as highly personal. In his first book that he published ‘Few comforts or surprises (1973), he photographed the poverty in Arkans. In His seconds book however ‘Dorchester Days (1978), the book comes across more angry and bitter, both political and personal. Eugene has also been a member of Magnum photos.

As Eugene lived in Arkansas in 1968, he became increasingly involved in the black community. He began to use his camera to record what he observed, not only the poverty and suffering of these people but also their laughter, contemplation, and triumphs. His subjects range from children at play to an African style wedding to scenes of work and home life. Death, religion, and imprisonment are major elements of Delta existence, and of these photos. The 110 photographs collected within his book ‘Few comforts or surprises’ that I looked at and studied, express the quality of life in a part of the South.

  

When Eugene was in Arkans, he helped found a social service organization and a community newspaper, many voices, which reported on black political action and the Ku Klux Klan. Photographs he made during these years were published in his first monograph and book ‘Few comforts or surprises’ which I studied, learning from his work and taking ideas from it to put towards my theme. When Richard returned to Dorchester, he started to document the changing, racially diverse neighbourhood where he was born. His second monograph ‘Dorchester days’ was published in 1978, the same year he joined Magnum photos where he remained for 17 years.

Some of Eugene’s work has appeared in major magazines worldwide including Life, New york Times, Mother Jones, National Geographic and The Nation. Some of the books that he has published include ‘Cocaine true Cocaine blue’ which is an extensive reportorial on the effects of hardcore drug use. Looking at some of the books that Eugene has published that I myself studied here and there, I see how he clearly photographs people in unstable surroundings, showing their actions, which give us an understanding as to why they are showing a certain emotion. Eugene’s aim is to capture moments where the viewer connects with the person in the image, understanding their life and behaviour; this is something I have included within my shoots.


References-

Book: Eugene Richards.MIT Press,New edition (22 Aug 1974).Few comforts or surprises: The Arkansas Delta.

Website: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photographers/photographer-eugene-richards/ viewed 27/11/14

Website: http://www.photoeye.com/Auctions/Auction.cfm?id=6278 viewed 27/11/14