♢ EDITORIAL by Sal McIntyre, New York ♢
There is an age old argument revolving around whether or not photography can be considered art, which we now have collectively learned to navigate— understanding that painting and photography are two very different creatures. We can embrace some ecstatic individualities about the art of photo making that don’t exist in other mediums, these unique traits blossoming into a vocabulary all their own, a separate language altogether, allowing for some coolly brilliant visions emanating from the creative process. At its very simplest, photography is a translation of light and shadow, an expression that directly matches a seed thought, feeling or intention— and to this end a host of dynamic, personal, intimate and honest motives can be communicated. In a way, an artist cannot hide behind a photo. A photograph makes a precise indication of what the photographer was thinking, feeling and experiencing, an unwavering statement that they can rely on to aid in the formulation of some very delicate and nuanced inklings. When striving to communicate some whisper of beauty sensed, photography captures a fleeting moment of an artist’s roving oculus.
Man Ray, original photographic innovator, experimented with many uncharted facets of image making, delving into the tools of the medium itself, working and bending the process to his whims. He was such an icon that the practice of making photos by placing objects directly on the paper in the darkroom was named after him, the inventor of the movement. Even though numerous artists since have worked in this style, Man Ray’s images are striking and unmistakable, his spirit transmitting across waves in the art world and over many years. His sensibilities with the manipulation of light are effortless and unmatched, this print Le Store (The Vertical Blind) exemplifying his bewitching allure.
Alfred Stieglitz is the monumental photographer, editor, publisher and curator who fought tirelessly for the right of photography to be called an art. He maintained and promoted a passionate methodology uncontaminated by biddings for economic gain or public renown, and as such his imagery is instilled with the great care, quiet attention and true admiration for which he became known. This piece for an exhibition at Metropolitan Museum of Art for his portraiture of his wife Georgia O'Keefe is lyrical, dark and sophisticated, just like the woman.
Robert Doisneau is the photographer behind the famous image of the couple kissing in the square in Paris— a master of revealing that everyday life is steeped with romance and drama. In Les Pains de Picasso, Vallauris (1952), his portrait of this famous artist manages to present all shades of an enchanting multi-faceted personality by way of a casual and humorous light.
In this original signed 1978 print Sex Pistols, photographer Michael Zigaris captures in stark, radiating energy the electric feeling of not only being in that space, but ultimately of the band themselves. Being entranced in the music and in the intoxicating atmosphere led to an image that is likewise captivating.
Glamour and fashion portraiture is a category unto itself, inspiring photographs that are magnetic and universally compelling. The subjects are submerged in a staged scene requiring graceful and spontaneous action that is both ephemeral and representative of their real personalities. Edward Steichen does justice to Marlene Dietrich, William Klein snatches Chapeau + 5 Roses, Paris (1956) out of thin air, and only Richard Avedon can conjure such an image as Dovima with Elephants.
And O. Winston Link has perhaps his own genre in art, creating perplexingly unassuming images that simultaneously mesmerize with innocence and disrupt with the subtle humor of bluntness. He is well known for his photography and sound recordings of the last days of steam locomotive railroading in the United States in the late 1950s, and his process was as intrepid as it was candid. His Hawksbill Creek Swimming Hole is one of his most famous images, somehow encapsulating many of his intriguing traits.