Tony Bannon's Posts

Dr. Anthony Bannon is the Director of George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. He has held that position since 1996, previously serving as director of the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center, and director of Cultural Affairs on the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo, both located in Buffalo, N.Y.

Eastman House at Chautauqua

Posted by on Jul 23 2010 | Photography

As we head into the weekend leading up to Chautauqua Institute’s Week Five Picture This: Photography, I look forward to the full calendar of outstanding speakers and events to come.

Established in 1874, Chautauqua has developed as a major center for the arts, culture, and reflection. It’s nine-week summer session tackles nine different compelling topics. This year, George Eastman House and Eastman Kodak Company have teamed with the Chautauqua Institution to present a week of programming starting July 25th. It was my pleasure to select speakers for the week that will be familiar and

popular favorites to our Eastman House community:

• Magnum and National Geographic Photographer Steve McCurry

• Former Kodak Engineer Steve Sasson, who developed the first digital camera

• Curator of Photographs at Eastman House Alison Nordström

• Photojournalist Ed Kashi

• Christopher Mahoney, Senior Vice President of Sotheby's Photographs Department

• Margaret Geller, Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass

• Fred Ritchin,  professor at the Tisch School at NYU, and the director of PixelPress

• Jimmy Colton, Photography Editor at Sports Illustrated

• former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins

Steve McCurry (American b. 1950)
ca. 1985
Afghan Refugee Girl
chromogenic color print
George Eastman House Collection

In addition, we will have two celebrated authors and photographers conducting presentations and workshops with us. David Friend, creative editor at Vanity Fair magazine, will discuss his book Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11. Todd Gustavson, our own Curator of Technology, will be discussing and signing his groundbreaking book (by jhade). Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital, now in it’s third printing. Jeff Dunas, photo artist and Director of the Palm Springs Photo Festival, will be leading a Portraiture workshop and Ross Whitaker, moving and still photographer, will run a workshop on photographing children and a portfolio review session.

A full Week 5 calendar is available by clicking here.

For those who can’t make the trip to the New York’s Southern Tier, you can still join us at  Photoweek@The Chautauqua Institution where we will be bringing images, interviews and highlights of this remarkable experience.

Editor’s note: Dr. Bannon will be also speaking on Friday afternoon, July 30th.


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Kimes plus five

Posted by on Jul 14 2010 | Photography

This excerpt is taken from an article that featured in the Chautauquan Daily on July 7th.

Todi Steel and Popolopen, 2008 by Don Kimes

The silent presence of death stands inside the doors of the new Kellogg Hall, itself a transformation of more than a century of use, now used as galleries for the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution and renamed Fowler-Kellogg Art Center.

To celebrate the handsome new art center (3600 square feet over two floors and five galleries), Don Kimes has installed 24 pictures of ruinous destruction. They add a somber witness to change and reflect both the bitter and the sweet of any change.

The images report on all that is left of Kimes creative output during the first decades of his career as an artist – just about the same years that he has served the Institution, first as director of the School of Art and now as Artistic Director of the school and galleries and their programs.

A wall text installed in the Fowler-Kellogg gallery describes the situation in Kimes own words:“…on June 22, 2003 my home and studio outside Washington, DC were destroyed by a flood, causing the loss of 25 years worth of drawing and many paintings, five filing cabinets containing nearly everything I have ever written, most of the slides documenting my life and work as a painter, more than a thousand photographs including not only a record of my work…Nature took everything back.”

Kimes set out to create a photographic record of the destroyed material – the drawings, the paintings and the photographic records of his artistic images. Of particular interest were the oxidized photographs – a forensic well known to conservationists who work to preserve the world’s film heritage.

Films made before the late 1940s – particularly those of the silent era – were of a nitrate base, and highly flammable. Short of burning up, the film slowly, relentlessly oxidizes of its own according, in spite of archives’ best practices. It is a colorful process. As films decompose, the imagery they depict congeals into an array of hues massed to echo the original compositions — similar to the different, though effectively similar, oxidation experienced with Kimes’ photos.

Runny yellows, smudgy blues, burnt umbers, gravelly purples gather around a central point in the image, often framed by a remnant of sprocket holes. Sometimes a trace of another paper pressed into the water-glued disaster forms an overlying geometry,sometimes odd biomorphics emerge, some alien cellular structure, even replete with cilia.  Barbara Rose, the critic and friend of the artist, wrote of his work: ” The transformation of the material into the immaterial has always been the goal of ambitious painting.”

She was not being ironic. Kimes himself identifies in his gallery statement his interest in the results: ” metaphoric works based on time, nature, memory, perceived loss and re-birth.” Subjects which are inescapable.  Kimes' images have died to one form to live as another— just as has the very building in which they are installed. No question: Kimes invention of over painting upon the photographic records of the destroyed photographs creates fascinating pictures (by jhade). But they become even more interesting when the process of their destruction and recovery is acknowledges as a basis for metaphors of transformation, redemption, “perceived loss and rebirth.”

To read the entire article, click here and choose July 7.

Editor’s note: Our thanks to Don Kimes on his feedback to this article: “perceptively intelligent…one

of the smartest pieces I've seen anyone write on my work.”


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A Tribute to our friend Manute

Posted by on Jun 21 2010 | Other

Manute Bol, the retired professional basketball star and humanitarian who died Saturday, will be missed around George Eastman House. He had become a good friend of the Museum, stemming from his experience with us in presenting our exhibition DARFUR/DARFUR from the series Witness: Know War/Know Genocide in 2007.  None of us will forget his moving remarks at a rally held at Asbury First United Methodist Church before the opening of the exhibition— reflections about his childhood in the Sudan, the rich diversity of cultures the nation enjoyed, and now the tragic conflicts that have torn the

nation apart.  His appearance here to support our exhibition had been arranged by his friend, the photographer Brady Dillsworth, a member at Eastman House, and he later stood tall in our gallery to explain to a packed audience the richness and horrors of his home.

xenical prescription order

Photograph buy generic cialis © Brady Dillsworth

Photograph © Max Schulte, Democrat and Chronicle 

Photograph © Brady Dillsworth

Photograph © Brady Dillsworth

Read other tributes to Manute from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins.


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Embracing Difficult Art

Posted by on Apr 12 2010 | Photography

Education, like art, should be about knocking us off our feet and challenging us to understand. And for this reason museums must present ideas one can't get a handle on.

George Eastman House invites one to consider art outside the comfort zone, by experiencing an exhibition of photographs by the contemporary, and often controversial, artist Roger Ballen. The 74 black-and-white images of his mini-retrospective, titled Roger Ballen: Photographs 1982-2009, are on display through June 6. Ballen himself will join us for a lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15.

South African artist Ballen is known for his thought-provoking photography and his particular attention to rich detail, photographing his human and animal subjects in complex, fictional scenes filled with symbolism.

Tommy, Samson, and a Mask, 2000, by Roger Ballen

Ballen’s work is fascinating, compelling, mysterious. It encourages viewers to step outside of their understanding of reality in a photograph, challenging them to assess

things differently.

Critics have called Ballen’s images powerful social statements that at the same time are disturbing psychological studies.  Aperture Magazine described his work as “images from a waking dream; compelling and surrealistic with sparkles of dark humor,” and Australia’s Artlink Magazine said they are “freeze-frame images stolen from the sub-conscious … Ballen’s bizarre tableaux are an illustration of the real world.”

Visitors to Eastman House have recorded both positive and negative remarks in a comment book inside the gallery. One visitor wrote, “Dark, repressive. I see the thoughts in these images, but wonder how and why this art?” Another described the exhibition as “an awake nightmare.” Some have replied with single words, such as “Freakish,” “Creepy,” “Scary,” and “What?” Positive notes include, “Dark but inventive and edgy,” “Touching and inspiring,” and “Thanks for bringing challenging work to Rochester.”

Puppies in Fishtanks, 2000, by Roger Ballen

If one only visits exhibitions of work he or she already knows, or already loves, he or she gets caught up in old, safe ideas, being trotted out yet again. The role of art may well be to describe the process of engagement, an ever vigilant search for what is not understood.

For instance, if one goes to the theater to see Samuel Beckett, whom Roger Ballen marks as one of the people he pays attention to, that theatergoer might come out and not have the slightest understanding of what her or she just saw.

Ballen's unique artistic vocabulary, which he composes using a square format, creates visual ambiguities as universal metaphors of the human condition. Our relationship with a photograph can be structured in a lot of different ways. Like anyone off on a trail of understanding, Ballen found the camera a way to mediate, to look more strongly, more intently, to segregate an aspect he wanted to examine or look at, and made a picture of it.

In that vein, German filmmaker Werner Herzog said, “Images are almost impossible. Artists had to dig for them within this damaged landscape, and did so simply because we urgently need images to accord with the state of civilization and our own innermost souls.”

Ballen’s photographs of people and places have a wonderfully rich, magical, if not spiritual, engagement of mystery. His subjects are people who may not be your favorite folks to sit down and have dinner with, but perhaps this is an occasion to engage that challenge and that conversation.

At the Ballen exhibition, a visitor will find things here he or she is not used to looking at, whether it be people or ways in which photographs are created (by douglas). With the right attitude, this art can be very fruitful for all of us, and the promise of the process rewarding.

View the complete talk ROGER BALLEN: PHOTOGRAPHS 1982-2009 [Parts 1-5] on our YouTube Channel.


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A New Year and a New Museum

Posted by on Jan 14 2010 | Photography

Today I am in Doha, Qatar, with cialis order museum leaders from around the world for the gala opening tonight of a new Arab Museum of Modern Art.

Qatar Museum Authority has done fabulous cultural work in recent years, and Roger Mandle, a good friend and former president of Rhode Island School of Design, is leading the Authority in its amazing development.

Eastman House

and the Qatar museum are working on plans for a collaborative program in photograph conservation. Everything is fine, except there is a sandstorm in Doha today!

The Arab Museum of Modern Art will celebrate its public opening on December 30th.


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