Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New York Ideas Forum


Will NYC’s top cop weigh in on the Cronut?

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton and Cronut creator Dominique Ansel are among the dozens of thought leaders, innovators, disruptors, influencers, and change agents gathering next week for New York Ideas. The day-long “laboratory for innovation,” presented by The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute, takes place Tuesday, May 6, at the New York Historical Society.

Twenty minutes have been allotted for Brian Greene to explain the cosmos (1:30-1:50 PM).

For the full list of participants and details …

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Raymond Pettibon: Making Waves

Venus over Manhattan has assembled forty ‘surfer works’ created between 1985 and 2013 by California-based artist Raymond Pettibon. Inked across one of the works is the line “SOME THINGS (SEA FOAM, FOR INSTANCE) CANNOT BE DRAWN AT ALL, BUT ONLY SURFED.” While this might sound like a disclaimer, it ends up serving as more of a myth for Pettibon to defy. Impressively, the non-surfer manages with his loose, gestural style to convey, way beyond more realistic renderings, the heart-stopping tininess of the surfer up against a world-obliterating wave.

I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with how the viewer experiences the paint as water and the rhythmic strokes as waves. The vigor of Pettibon’s marks and the wateriness of the drips impart an immediacy that lets you see the big picture and be inside it at the same time, something not possible with a more photographic approach. In effect, this allows Pettibon to work both the wide-angle lens and the zoom in one frame. The comic book-style freefloating thoughts and phrases, add yet another level of intimacy, placing the viewer inside the head of the speck inside the monster curl. 

“Are Your Motives Pure? / Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1985-2013” is on view through May 17.














Saturday, April 12, 2014

Letters From a Photo Auction


Aaron Siskind (1903-1991)
"Lithuanian Store"
Silver print, 1957

The items in the upcoming auction, “The Vernacular Eye: Photographic Albums, Snapshots & Objects” are on view now at Swann Galleries until the sale on April 17. In addition to photos of spiritual apparitions, chain gangs, and early aviation, you’ll find albums of criminal mug shots, advertising photography and photo objects.

If you’ve ever considered collecting, say, photos about typography, this would be a great place to start.

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)
"Jacob Heymann Butcher Shop, 345 Sixth Avenue"
Silver print, 1938


Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Bowery lunchroom, New York, New York.
Silver print, 1933-34


Georgia moonshiner from collection
of "Hooch" vernacular.
Silver prints, 1960s


William Klein (1928-)
"William Klein New York 54/55"
Portfolio of 12 silver prints, 1954-55


Yasushi Nagao (1930-2009)
Death of Inejiro Asanuma.
Silver print, 1960

This Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph shows the death of Asanuma, a Japanese politican and leader of the Socialist party. He was assassinated by an extremist nationalist while speaking in a televised political debate. His violent death was seen in graphic detail on national television, causing widespread public shock and outrage.


Ralph Steiner (1899-1986)
"Typewriter Keys"
Silver print, 1921-22


Nat Fein (1914-2000)

"Babe Bows Out"
Silver print, 1948


Photo album of window displays for Kleinhans Co., 
Buffalo, NY, 1919-26.


Post-Victorian vernacular photograph
Bromide print, circa 1910

No typography here, but I refuse to be constrained, even by my own self-selected topics.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

eBay Eyes: Vintage Baseball Goodies From Japan

Baseball season is well underway and April is National Kite Month! I came across these vintage baseball-player kites on eBay a while back along with some mid-century "baseball menko" cards.

eBay Eyes is an occasional presentation of found visual treats from that ever expanding , electronic mega-marketplate. 




I was amazed to see pictorial elements of traditional Japanese prints in the three "bookmark" cards above. 

European artists were smitten with the "new" aesthetic they encountered when Japanese prints found their way to the continent in the later part of the 19th Century. The influence of ukiyo-e on the Impressionists, and everything from fashion to d├ęcor was profound.

These baseball cards confirm how culturally determined our sense of design really is. What struck the eyes of Western artists as “fresh” in Japanese prints—asymmetrical compositions, adventurous cropping, the flat indication of space—were elements of design native to the Japanese sensibility. So much so, as to show up in in their baseball cards!

The portrait cards, below, are formatted with traditional Western composition.





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