History of Photography



Introduction  
History of Photography

A World History of Photography

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991

Photographers' Dictionary










 

 



Chapter 9

 

 

GINGO HANAWA
KOZO NOJIMA
YOSHIO WATANABE
MORTON SCHAMBERG
CHARLES SHEELER
PAUL OUTERBRIDGE
(collection)
BERENICE ABBOTT
(collection)
LAURA GILPIN
WALKER EVANS
(collection)
JOHAN HAGEMEYER
EDWARD WESTON
(collection)
MARGRETHE MATHER
IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM
(collection)
ALMA LAWENSON
ANSEL ADAMS
(collection)
HANS FINSLER
SHERRIL V. SCHELL
ILSE BlNG
(collection)
BORIS IGNATOVICH
(collection)
MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE
(collection)
 

 



 

ART, PHOTOGRAPHY,



AND MODERNISM




1920-1945


 


The New Vision in Japan

Japanese photographers were attracted to the new vision as a result of the curiosity about Western ideas in general that surfaced during the so-called "Taisho democracy" of the 1920s. Access to articles, exhibitions, and reproductions of camera images from Europe led to the expansion of photographic activity beyond the previously limited areas of portraiture and genre scenes and brought about an invigorating diversity of stylistic and thematic directions. While a late-blooming pictorialism continued to evoke a "redundancy of misty scenes and blurry figures," many more photographers, who were engaged in documentation and portraiture (including that of the despised lower classes—see Chapter 8) or in exploring new approaches to still life and the nude, embraced the entire vocabulary of the "new photography," as it was called in Japan as well as in the West. Urged to "recognize the mechanistic nature of the medium," photographers began to use sharper lenses and to experiment with close-ups, montage, and solarization, producing during the 1930s works clearly influenced by Surrealism (pi, no. 521) and the New Objectivity. Images such as Hosokawa Cbikako (pi. no. 522), a portrait by Kozo Nojima reminiscent of the Burchartz image mentioned earlier, or the emphatically geometric Ochanomizu Station, 1933, (pi. no. 523), by Yoshio Watanabe, were instrumental in bringing Japanese photography into the modern era.

 

521. GINGO HANAWA. Concept of Machinery of the Creator, 1931.
Photocollage.

522. KOZO NOJIMA. Hosokawa Chikako, 1932.
Gelatin silver print.

523. YOSHIO WATANABE. Ochanomizu Station, 1933.
Gelatin silver print.


The New Vision in the United States: Precisionism

Within limits, the new vision attracted all significant photographers in the United States in the 1920s, many of whom accepted the idea that "absolute unqualified objectivity" constituted the unique property of the camera image. Whether depicting nature, person, artifact, machinery, or architecture, American photographers emphasized the material properties of the real world even as they sought to embrace modern aesthetic ideas, an attitude they shared with the Precisionist painters of the period.

Of the older generation, neither Steichen nor Stieglitz with their roots in Pictorialism, adhered strictly to the vocabulary of the New Objectivity, though both incorpo-rated elements of the style with brilliant results. Steichen's preference for sharper definition and his interest in compositional theory in the postwar years is owed in part to his experiences in an aerial photography unit during the first World War. In 1923, a unique opportunity to become chief photographer for Conde Nast publications enabled him to fuse his extensive experience and intuitive decorative flair in a practical enterprise to be discussed in Chapter 10. As for Stieglitz, his consistent belief in the primacy of subjective feeling underlay the stylistic devices he chose to incor-porate into his imagery, as the close-ups of O'Keeffe, the abstraction of the Equivalents, and the assertive geometry of the late New York scenes all affirm.

As the first World War was ending, Strand (whose role was discussed earlier) and Precisionist painter-photographers Schamberg and Sheeler emerged as the flag-bearers of the new approach. Schamberg, probably the first American to incorporate abstract machine forms in painting, used the camera for portraiture and to create complex Cubist-like juxtapositions of geometric shapes in the few urban landscapes (pi. no. 524) he made before his untimely death in 1918. In early images of rural architecture, Sheeler, who began in 1912 to sustain his painting activity with commercial architectural photography, sought out the clarity of simple geometric relationships. He collaborated in 1920 with Strand on Manhatta, a short expressive film about New York City based on portions of Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and, following a stint in advertising and publicity photography, landed a coveted commission in 1927 to photograph the nation's largest automotive plant— the Ford Motor Works at River Rouge. Though Sheeler often exhibited paintings and photographs together and his work was included in the prestigious German Film Und Foto (Fifo) exhibition in 1929 (see below), a growing am-bivalence about the creative nature of photography eventually caused him to regard the camera as a tool for making studies, as in the untitled arrangement of stacks and funnels (pi. no. 525) that he transformed into the lucid oil Upper Deck (pi no. 526).

The Clarence White School of Photography proved to be a fountainhead of modernist ideas despite the Pictorialist outlook of its director, perhaps because in pursuing its goal of training photographers for jobs in advertising and publicity it needed to stress modern design. The successful transformation of the vocabulary of the new vision into a style of both personal expressiveness and commercial utility is visible in the work of a number of illustrious-students, notably Ralph Steiner, Outerbridge, Gilpin, Bruehl, and Bourke-White (the latter two will be discussed in Chapter 10). At the outset of Steiner's long career in professional photography and documentary film, he produced Typewriter Keys (pi. no. 580), a close-up that in its angled view and insistent pattern predates the appearance of this approach in Europe. This image—later used in an advertising campaign for a paper company—was a harbinger of the facility with which Steiner handled the modernist idiom in both commercial and personal work. Outer-bridge's restrained treatment of city architecture and machined objects is exemplified in Marmon Crankshaft (pi. no. 527), a work inspired by the scries of machine images made by Strand in 1921. After a brief period in attendance at the White School, GUpin returned to her native Southwest to open a commercial portrait studio. Her handling of local architectural and landscape themes during the 1920s reveals an interest in abstract geometrical pattern still visible in the stark design of the much later Church of San Lorenzo, Picuris, New Mexico (pi. no. 529).

That the aesthetics of the "new vision" also informed the early work of photographers who eventually chose odier paths can be seen in the work of Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans, both of whom were in Europe during the cultural ferment of the 1920s (see Abbott's portrait of James Joyce, pi. no. 528). The high vantage point and spatial ambiguity in Abbott's view from the elevated tracks above Lincoln Square (pi. no. 530) is reminiscent of the handling of such views by European Bauhaus followers, but the image itself suggests the staccato rhythms of New York. Similarly, Evans, whose brief sojourn in Europe occurred before his commitment to photography, imbued the striking geometric pattern of Wall and Windows (pi. no. 531) with an emphatic tonal contrast that brings to mind the rude energy of the American urban scene.
 

524. MORTON SCHAMBERG. Cityscape, 1916.
Gelatin silver print. New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans.

525. CHARLES SHEELER. Untitled, c. 1927.
Gelatin silver print. Gilman Paper Company, New York.

526. CHARLES SHEELER. Upper Deck, 1929.
Oil on canvas. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Louise E. Bettens Fund.

527. PAUL OUTERBRIDGE. Mormon Crankshaft, 1923.
Platinum print. Art Institute of Chicago; Julicn Levy Collection.


PAUL OUTERBRIDGE
 (see collection)

Paul Outerbridge, Jr. (1896–1958) was an American photographer noted for early use and experiments in color photography. Outerbridge was a fashion and commercial photographer, an early pioneer and teacher of color photography, and an artist who created erotic nudes photographs that could not be exibited in his lifetime. Outerbridge, while still in his teens, worked as an illustrator and theatrical designer designing stage settings and lighting schemes. After an accident caused his discharge from the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service, in 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he did his first photography work. In 1921, Outerbridge enrolled in the Clarence H. White school of photography at Columbia University. Within a year his work began being reproduced in Vanity Fair and Vogue magazine. In London, in 1925, the Royal Photographic Society invited Outerbridge to exhibit in a one-man show. Outerbridge then traveled to Paris and became friends with surrealist artists, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and Berenice Abbott. In Paris, Outerbridge did a layout for the French Vogue magazine, met and worked with Edward Steichen, and built the largest, most completely equipped advertising photography studio of the times. In 1929, 12 of Outerbridge's photographs were included in the prestigious, German Film und Foto exhibition. Returning to New York in 1929, Outerbridge opened a studio doing commercial and artistic work and began writing a monthly column on color photography for the U.S. Camera Magazine. Outerbridge worked in tri-color carbro process. In 1937, Outerbridge's photographs were included in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art and, in 1940, Outerbridge published his seminal book, Photographing in Color, using high quality illustrations to explain his techniques. A scandal over his shocking, full-color erotic nude photography, led to Outerbridge retiring as a commercial photographer and moving to Hollywood in 1943, although he continued to contribute photo stories to magazines and write his monthly column. In 1945, Outerbridge married fashion designer Lois Weir and worked in their joint fashion company, Lois-Paul Originals. One year after his death, Smithsonian Institution staged a one-man show of Outerbridge's photographs in 1959. Although his reputation has faded, revivals of Outerbridge's photography in 1970s and 1990s has periodically brought him into contemporary public knowledge.
 

see also: Outerbridge Paul
 


PAUL OUTERBRIDGE. Phoenix Rising, 1937


 

528. BERENICE ABBOTT. James Joyce, 1928.
Gelatin silver print. Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stephen R. Currier Memorial Fund. .


BERENICE ABBOTT
 (see collection)
 

529. LAURA GILPIN. Church of San Lorenzo, Picuris, New Mexico, 1963.
Gelatin silver print. Centre Canadien d'Architecture/Canadian Center for Architecture, Montreal.

530. BERENICE ABBOTT. El at Columbus and Broadway, New York, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago.

531. WALKER EVANS. Wall and Windows, c. 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago.


WALKER EVANS
  (see collection)
 


Precisionist Photographers: The West Coast

The Americanization of the New Objectivity reached its height in the work of West Coast photographers. Through personal contact, as well as articles and reproductions in European and American periodicals, Johan Hagemeyer, Edward Weston (see Profile), Margrcthe Mather, Imogen Cunningham, and Ansel Adams became aware of the new photographic vision. Hagemeyer, a former horticulturist and close friend of Weston, was the first to bring the anti-Pictorialist message back from the East in 1916, but despite his newfound preference for contemporary themes and high vantage points (pi. no. 532), a dreamy romanticism continued to pervade his imagery. Weston's attempts to slough off the soft-focus style that had gained him national renown were more successful. In a 1922 image of the American Rolling Mill (Armco) works (pi. no. 584) made in the course of a trip east, he handled the industrial theme with sharp definition and singular sensitivity to the dramatic character of stacks and conveyors. Weston described the object-oriented images on which he concentrated in the late 1920s as revealing "the very sub-stance and quintessence of the thing itself." At times, such intense concentration on form virtually transmuted the object into an abstraction, as in Eroded Plank from Barky Sifter (pi no. 533).

Mather, until 1922 Weston's associate in his California studio, transformed the misty orientalism of her early work into a style marked by sharply defined close-ups and emphasis on pattern (pi. no. 534), which reveal her stylish flair. After Cunningham established contact with Weston and saw European examples of the "new vision" in the 1920s, her earlier penchant for fuzzy allegorical figures cavorting on wooded slopes was replaced by an interest in close-ups of plant forms (pi. no. 535) and other organisms. Her clean, stark views of industrial structures (pi. no. 583) can be considered, along with Weston's, paradigms of the Precisionist style. Beginning around 1927, Brett Weston, following in his father's footsteps, also showed himself intensely concerned with form and texture in images of nature.

A deep respect for the grandeur of the landscape of the American West combined with the active promotion of the straight photograph brought world renown to Ansel Adams. Involved with the medium throughout the 1920s, though not completely convinced of its transcendental possibilities until about 1930, Adams took an approach to his chosen theme—large-scale nature in all its pristine purity—that is similar in its emphasis on form and texture to that of other Precisionist photographers. His work also embodies a scientific control of exposure, developing, and printing. Adams's special gifts are visible in the incisive translation of scale, detail, and texture into an organic design seen in the early Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada (pi. no. 536; see also pi. no. 537).

In 1930, the "f/64" group, informally established in San Francisco, promoted Precisionism through its advocacy of the large-format view camera, small lens aperture (hence the name), and printing by contact rather than enlarging. Besides Adams, Cunningham, and Weston, its members included Consuelo Kanaga and Willard Van Dyke—the latter a guiding light in the group's activities who went on to renown as a documentary filmmaker. Ironically,  optimistic celebration of technology, which is exemplified in the crisp forms of Alma Lavenson's starkly geometric Calaveras Dam II (pi. no. 538) and Van Dyke's Funnels (pi. no. 581), was about to be supplanted by a different sensibility as the onset of the Great Depression altered general perceptions about the wonders of industrialism.
 

532. JOHAN HAGEMEYER. Modem American Lyric (Gasoline Station), 1924.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago.

533. EDWARD WESTON. Eroded Plank from Barley Sifter, 1931.
Gelatin silver print.


EDWARD WESTON
 (see collection)

Edward Weston was born in 1886 in Highland Park, Illinois. When he was sixteen years old his father gave him a Kodak Bulls-Eye #2 camera and he began to photograph at his aunt's farm and in Chicago parks. In 1903 Weston first had his photographs exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute. Soon after the San Francisco earthquake and fire on April 19, 1906, Weston came to California to work as a surveyor for San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. For a short while Weston returned to Chicago and attended the Illinois College of Photography, but came back to California to live in 1908 where he became a founding member of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles. He married Flora Chandler in 1909 and they soon gave birth to two sons: Edward Chandler Weston, in 1910 and Theodore Brett Weston in 1911. Weston had his own portrait studio in Tropico, California and also began to have articles published in magazines such as American Photography, Photo Era and Photo-Miniature where his article entitled "Weston's Methods" on unconventional portraiture appeared in September, 1917. Weston's third son, Laurence Neil Weston, was born in 1916 and his fourth, Cole Weston, in 1919. Soon after Weston met Tina Modotti which marked the starting point of their long relationship, photographic collaborations in Mexico and later much publicized love affair. Modotti's husband, a political radical in Mexico, died in 1922. That same year Weston traveled to Ohio to visit his sister and there took photographs of the Armco Steel Plant. From Ohio he went to New York and met Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler and Georgia O'Keefe. At this time Weston renounced Pictorialism and began a period of transition, self-analysis and self-discipline while making voyages to Mexico, often with Modotti and one of his sons. Some of the photographs that he and Modotti made in Mexico were published in Anita Brenner's book Idols Behind Altars. Weston began photographing shells, vegetables and nudes in 1927. Weston kept very detailed journals or "Day Books" of his daily activities, thoughts, ideas and conversations. His first publication of these writings "From My Day Book" appeared in 1928 - others were published after his death. Two years later he had his first New York exhibit at Alma Reed's Delphic Studios Gallery and later exhibited at Harvard Society of Contemporary Arts with Walker Evans, Eugene Atget, Sheeler, Stieglitz, Modotti and others. Weston was a Charter member of the "Group f/64" that was started in 1932 and included Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Consuelo Kanaga and others. They chose this optical term because they habitually set their lenses to that aperture to secure maximum image sharpness of both foreground and distance. Weston went even further toward photographic purity in 1934 when he resolved to make only unretouched portraits. Even though several large exhibitions followed, he was still of modest means and in 1935 initiated the "Edward Weston Print of the Month Club" offering photographs at $10 each. In 1937 he was the first photographer to be awarded a Guggenheim fellowship taking his assistant Charis Wilson along on his travels whom he married the next year. In 1940 the book California and the West was published with text by Charis and photographs by Edward. The same year he participated in the U.S. Camera Yosemite Photographic Forum with Ansel Adams and Dorthea Lange. In 1941 he was commissioned by Limited Editions Club to illustrate a new edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Weston started experiencing symptoms of Parkinson's disease in 1946 and in 1948 made his last photographs at Point Lobos. In 1952 his Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio was published with his images printed by Brett. In 1955 Weston selected several of what he called "Project Prints" and began having Brett, Cole and Dody Warren print them under his supervision. Lou Stoumen released his film The Naked Eye in 1956 of which he used several of Weston's print as well as footage of Weston himself. Edward Weston died at home on January 1, 1958.


see also:
 Weston Edward
 


EDWARD WESTON. Nude Floating, 1939


 

534. MARGRETHE MATHER. Billy Justema in Man's Summer Kimono, c. 1923.
Gelatin silver print. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; Courtesv William Justema.


Margrethe Mather

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Margrethe Mather (b. Emma Caroline Youngren March 4, 1886 - d. December 25, 1952) was a photographer and painter who worked in transforming photography to a modern art, exploring form and light. In her youth she worked as a prostitute.


Margrethe Mather, 1921. Photography by Florence Deshon.



Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston, 1922.
Photography by Imogen Cunningham.


Mather is commonly connected with Edward Weston. They were collaborators on many photographs and were close companions. His fame tends to overshadow Mather's considerable work from the period of collaboration and afterwards. Mather and Weston met in 1913 and worked together until he departed for Mexico in 1923 with Tina Modotti. Her work, both alone and in collaboration with Weston, set the tone for the shift from pictorialism (softly focused images giving the photograph a romantic quality) to modernity (exploration in form and light). The work tended to be more experimental and simple than many others from the period.
In the 1930's she did work for the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, in which she took simple objects like combs and fans then arranged them in repetitive patterns.
Mather found a dear friend and model in a young man named William Justema, who would write a memoir about her after her death. Mather's last piece of substantial work was in the early 1930s for the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. She arranged objects such as seashells, chains and combs in repetitive patterns to be used as prototypes for fabric designs.
 

MARGRETHE MATHER. Edward Weston, 1921-1922

MARGRETHE MATHER. Edward Weston, 1921

MARGRETHE MATHER. Pierrot, 1920


Imogen Cunningham, 1922. Portrait of Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston

535. IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM. TWO Callus, 1929.
Gelatin silver print.


IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM
(see collection)

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Imogen Cunningham (April 12, 1883 - June 24, 1976) was an American photographer known for her photography of botanicals, nudes and industry.
Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon. In 1901, at the age of 18, Cunningham bought her first camera, a 4x5 inch view camera, from the American School of Art in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She soon lost interest and sold the camera to a friend. It wasn’t until 1906, while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, that she was inspired by an encounter with the work of Gertrude Kasebier to take up photography again. With the help of her chemistry professor, Dr. Horace Byers, she began to study the chemistry behind photography; she subsidized her tuition by photographing plants for the botany department.
After graduating in 1907 she went to work with Edward S. Curtis in his Seattle studio. This gave Cunningham the valuable opportunity to learn about the portrait business and the practical side of photography.
In 1909, Cunningham won a scholarship from her sorority (Pi Beta Phi) for foreign study and, on advice from her chemistry professor, applied to study with Professor Robert Luther at the Technische Hochshule in Dresden, Germany.
In Dresden she concentrated on her studies and didn’t take many photos. In May 1910 she finished her paper, “About the Direct Development of Platinum Paper for Brown Tones”, describing her process to increase printing speed, improve clarity of highlights tones and produce sepia tones. On her way back to Seattle she met Alvin Langdon Coburn in London, and Alfred Stieglitz and Gertrude Kasebier in New York.
Once back in Seattle she opened her own studio and won acclaim for portraiture and pictorial work. Most of her studio work of this time consisted of sitters in their own homes, in her living room, or in the woods surrounding Cunningham's cottage. She became a sought after photographer and exhibited at the Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1913.
In 1914 Cunningham's portraits were shown at “An International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography” in New York and a portfolio of her work was published in Wilson's Photographic Magazine.
The next year she married Roi Partridge, an etcher and artist. He posed for a series of nude photographs, which were shown by the Seattle Fine Arts Society. Although critically praised, wider society didn’t approve of such images and Cunningham didn’t revisit the pictures for another 55 years.
Between 1915 and 1920 Cunningham continued her work and had three children (Gryffyd, Randal and Padraic) with Roi. Then in 1920 they left Seattle for San Francisco where Roi taught at Mills College.
In San Francisco, Cunningham refined her style, taking a greater interest in pattern and detail as seen in her works of bark textures, trees, and zebras. Cunningham became increasingly interested in botanical photography, especially flowers, and between 1923 and 1925 carried out an in-depth study of the magnolia flower. Later in the decade she turned her attention towards industry, creating several series of industrial landscapes throughout Los Angeles and Oakland.
In 1929, Edward Weston, nominated 10 of Cunningham's photos (8 botanical, 1 industrial and 1 nude) for inclusion in the "Film und Foto" exhibition in Stuttgart. Cunningham once again changed direction to become more interested in the human form, particularly hands (and a further fascination with the hands of artists and musicians). This interest led to her employment by Vanity Fair, photographing stars without make-up or false glamour. In 1932, with this unsentimental, straightforward approach in mind, Cunningham became one of the co-founders of the Group f/64, which aimed to “define photography as an art form by a simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods”.
In 1934 Cunningham was invited to do some work in New York for Vanity Fair. Her husband wanted her to wait until he could travel with her but she refused and they later divorced. She continued her work with Vanity Fair until it stopped publication in 1936.
In the 1940s Cunningham turned to documentary street photography which she did as a side project whilst supporting herself with her commercial and studio photography and later on with teaching at the California School of Fine Arts.
Cunningham continued to take pictures until shortly before her death at age 93 on June 24, 1976 in San Francisco, California.
 


JUDY DATER. Imogen Cunningham and Twinka Yosemite 1974

 

536. ANSEL ADAMS. Frozen Lake and Cliffs, Sierra Nevada, 1932.
Gelatin silver print.


ANSEL ADAMS
(see collection)

(b San Francisco, CA, 20 Feb 1902; d Carmel, CA, 22 April 1984).

American photographer. He trained as a musician and supported himself by teaching the piano until 1930. He became involved with photography in 1916 when his parents presented him with a Kodak Box Brownie camera during a summer vacation in Yosemite National Park. In 1917–18 he worked part-time in a photo-finishing business. From 1920 to 1927 he served as custodian of the Le Conte Memorial in Yosemite, the Sierra Club’s headquarters. His duties included leading weekly expeditions through the valley and rims, during which he continued to photograph the landscape. He considered his snapshots of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, taken during the early 1920s, to be a visual diary, the work of an ardent hobbyist. By 1923 he used a 61/281/2-inch Korona view camera on his pack trips, and in 1927 he spent an afternoon making one of his most famous images, Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (Chicago, IL, A. Inst.;). Adams planned his photograph, waited for the exact sunlight he desired and used a red filter to darken the sky against the monumental cliff. He later referred to this image as his ‘first true visualization’ of the subject, not as it appeared ‘in reality but how it felt to me and how it must appear in the finished print’.
 

537. ANSEL ADAMS. Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Tosemite Valley, California, c. 1927.
Gelatin silver print.

538. ALMA LAWENSON. Calveras Dam II 1932.
Gelatin silver print. Alma Lavenson Association and Susan Ehrens, Berkeley, Cal.


Photography and Industrialism

Between the Armistice of 1918 and the Depression of the 1930s, the remarkable expansion of industrial capacity throughout the world commanded the attention of for-ward-looking photographers everywhere. The widespread belief in progress through technology held by followers of the Bauhaus, by Soviet Constructivists, and by American industrialists provided inspiration and, in conjunction with the emergence of pictorial advertising, made possible unprecedented opportunities to photograph industrial subjects and sites. As might be expected, Europeans often treated these themes more experimentally than Americans. For example, Hans Finslers Bridge at Halle (pi. no. 539) and the American Sherril V. Schell's Brooklyn Bridge (pi. no. 540) are each concerned with geometric design, but the vertiginous angle of the former is at once disorienting and stimulating in contrast to Schell's spatially more comprehensible and starkly decorative treatment. Many Europeans, among them Use Bing, Germaine Krull, and Eli Lotar, emphasized abstract qualities and formal relation-ships (pi, no. 541) without suggesting the utilitarian component of their industrial subject matter. In another example, the acute upward angle chosen by Russian photographer Boris Ignatowich (pi. no. 542) expresses the force and energy embodied in these structural beams but tells little about the size, shape, or usefulness of the objects pictured.

Not so in the United States, where machine images achieved a balance between expressive and descriptive elements in part because they were commissioned by industrial firms for advertising and public relations. However, even the photographs of machine tools, products, and mills made by Strand (pi. no. 578), Outerbridge, and Weston in the early 1920s idealize technology and suggest that it can be tamed and controlled. The emphasis on line and volume in Sheeler's treatment of the blast furnace and conveyors at the Ford River Rouge plant (pi. no. 585) were rightly assumed to express an "industrial mythos," a faith in industrial production as die sensible new American religion. This view was shared initially by Bourke-White, whose expressive handling of modernist vocabulary can be seen in a forceful 1929 image of a bridge structure in Cleveland (pi. no. 543) taken before a commission for a large steel company launched her on an illustrious career as one of America's leading industrial photographers (see also pi.no. 582). While Sheeler and Bourke-White were the most renowned, by the mid-1930s Bruehl, John Mudd, William Rittase, and Thurman Rotan also were associated with high quality industrial photography commissioned for advertisements and articles. And although Hine was motivated by a wish to celebrate the worker behind the machine rather than by any reverence for industrial formation as such, his factory images (pi. no. 446) and views of the Empire State Building in construction also reflect a belief that machines and technology ultimately were beneficial to mankind.

Industrial images were made mainly for advertisements and publicity in trade journals, but the interest in this theme among artists and intellectuals can be gauged by the many gallery exhibitions and articles in general publications on this theme that appeared during the 1920s and early '30s. One example might suffice: of the images submitted to the Exhibition of Photographic Mural Design, held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932, the largest number were concerned with industrial subjects. Sheeler submitted a montage triptych based on the River Rouge images (pi. no. 585), while Abbott, Aubrey Bodine, Rotan, and Steichen entered works depicting skyscraper construction, smelting furnaces, and bridge structures. In the late 1920s, industrial and machine images began to appear in popular photographic journals, annuals, and Pictorialist salons also. The acceptance of "Beauty in Ugliness," as one article called it, occurred almost a quarter of a century after Coburn had justly pointed out that both bridgebuilder and photographer were creatures of the modern era.
 

539. HANS FINSLER. Bridge at Halle, c. 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Kunstgewerbemuseum der Stadt, Zurich, Switzerland.

540. SHERRIL V. SCHELL. Brooklyn Bridge.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Julicn Levy Collection.

541. ILSE BlNG. Paris, Eiffel Tower Scaffolding with Star, 1931.
Gelatin silver print. Art Institute of Chicago; Julien Levy Collection.


ILSE BlNG
(see collection)
 

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Ilse Bing (23 March 1899 – 10 March 1998) was a German photographer who produced pioneering avant-garde and commercial monochrome images during the inter-war era.
Her move from Frankfurt to Paris in 1930 and its burgeoning avant-garde and surrealist scene was the start of this notable period of her career. Producing images in the fields of photojournalism, architectural photography, advertising and fashion, her work was published in magazines such as Le Monde Illustre, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue. Respected for her use daring perspectives and cropping, use of natural light and geometries, she also discovered a type of solarisation for negatives independently of a similar process developed by the artist Man Ray.
Her rapid success as a photographer and her position of being the only professional in Paris to use an advanced Leica camera earned her the title "Queen of the Leica" from the critic and photographer Emmanuel Sougez.
In 1936 her work was included in the first modern photography exhibition held at the Louvre, and in 1937 she travelled to New York where her images were included in the landmark exhibition "Photography 1839 – 1937" at the Museum of Modern Art.
 


 ILSE BlNG. Greta Garbo, Paris


 

542. BORIS IGNATOVICH. On the Construction Site, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. Sovfoto Magazine and VAAP, Moscow.


BORIS IGNATOVICH
(see collection)

(1899 - 1976)

Boris Ignatovich is one of the outstanding photographers of the Russian avant-garde - the pioneers of photo journalism. He belonged to the Rodchenko and Lissitzky circle of artists and was closely affiliated and befriended with professional photographers like Alpert and Shaikhet, Skurichin and Shagin, Langman and Sterzer, Fridljand and Tules, Markov and Chalip, Petrusov and Kovrigin as well as Gruntal and Chlebnikov, the masters of subject- and document related photography.
For the avant-garde artist amongst the photographers of the 1920's there had been three different ways of becoming involved in photography. The first group started with painting and graphics and progressed to photography by working with polygraphy. The careers of Rodchenko and Lissitzky like those of the propaganda artists Gustav Kluzic and Sergej Senkin, the graphic artist and designer Nikolai Setelnikov and the architect and designer Georgij Zimin, who devoted himself to the photogram rather unexpectedly, followed this path. Others however began their professional career as photographers in photographic studios, alternatively through literature and journalism establishing contacts with writers, editors and working as journalists. Some professional writers also turned to photography. Photographs exist of writers like I. Ehrenburg, I. Ilf and S. Tretiakov.
Ignatovich was a journalist before becoming a photographer. During the autumn of 1918, he worked at the editor's office of the Lugansk magazine "Severo-Donezki Communist" and subsequently went to the Kharkov magazine "Krasnaja swesda". In 1920 he was appointed editor of the newly founded magazine "Krasnaja Bashkirija" and was sent as a delegate to the first Allunion congress of ROSTA workers. In 1921 he worked as chief editor for the magazine "Gornjak" (together with M. Mikov), where he published satirical poems by Majakovskij. Between 1922 and 1925 he was chief editor of the Leningrad humoristic magazines "Dresina", "Smechatsh" and "Busoter".
Ignatovich later remembered his first experiences with photography.
 


BORIS IGNATOVICH.
At the Hermitage, 1930


 

543. MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE. High Level Bridge, Cleveland, 1929.
Gelatin silver print. George Arents Research Library, Syracuse University. Svracuse, N.Y.


MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE
(see collection)
 

 
Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy