Archive for the 'Photography' Category

Q&A with Lisa Hostetler – Part II

Posted by on Dec 27 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Photography

This month, Lisa Hostetler, PhD, joined the Eastman House staff as Curator-in-Charge of the Department of Photography. This is Part II of a recent conversation with Hostetler about the current state of photography, her interests in the medium, and her plans for working with the Eastman House collection. Click here to read Part 1!

LisaH

GEH: Which artists’ or era’s photography have been most formative in the way you approach (or consider) the medium?
LH: I’ve always been particularly intrigued by street photography of the 1940s and ’50s. I wrote my dissertation on Louis Faurer, and the exhibition and book Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940–1959 grew out of my research on that project.

Street Seen focused on the work of six artists—Faurer, Lisette Model, Saul Leiter, Ted Croner, William Klein, and Robert Frank—whose work conveyed the subjective edge that sliced through American art during the war and immediate postwar years. The raw power of their images is unforgettable, and the unique combination of brashness and vulnerability that characterized the best postwar street photography spoke volumes about the anxieties and aspirations that pervaded society during that period. The way that those photographers’ work conveyed a personal vision of the world while collectively suggesting something fundamental about the nature of everyday life in the 1940s and ’50s taught me a lot. It showed me that photography can be a private aesthetic journey and a socially significant activity at the same time, and that paying attention to both aspects of a photographer’s work is a profoundly rewarding way to consider his or her accomplishments.

William Klein (American, b. 1928). Gun 2, near the Bowery, New York, 1955, printed 1985. Gelatin silver print. George Eastman House. Museum purchase: Lila Acheson Wallace Fund.

William Klein (American, b. 1928). Gun 2, near the Bowery, New York, 1955, printed 1985. Gelatin silver print. George Eastman House. Museum purchase: Lila Acheson Wallace Fund.

GEH: What photograph or body of work have you experienced recently that surprised you, and in what way?
LH: Lately, I’ve been noticing that traditional photographic processes seem to be attracting a number of young photographers, who experiment with materials as they explore what is gained and what might be lost in the transition from analog to digital photography. I’m very excited about this work and look forward to seeing how this trend continues to develop.

GEH: To what extent do you see cinema and photography as reciprocal media? How do they influence each other?
LH: I see photography and cinema as related media in that they both have complex relationships to realism and to narrative. My favorite photographers and filmmakers often confound popular assumptions about their medium, especially when those assumptions involve the expectation of documentary truth or linear storytelling. That said, I think the urge to believe what we see in a photograph is practically a part of human nature by now, and the desire for a film to tell a story is equally strong. There is value in satisfying those instincts as well as in questioning them.

Photographers and filmmakers have been influenced by each other throughout history. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues in the motion picture department to explore those connections and tease out their broader significance.

GEH: What aspects of the George Eastman House collections are you most looking forward to bringing to the public?
LH: At this point, I’m still looking forward to learning what all is in the collection! With over 400,000 objects, I have a lot of looking to do and many plans to make. I can’t wait to share what I find with the public. Also, I will be working with museum staff to make our entire photography collection searchable online, so that people can make their own discoveries as well.

 

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Q&A with Lisa Hostetler – Part I

Posted by on Dec 26 2013 | Behind The Scenes, Photography

This month, Lisa Hostetler, PhD, joined the Eastman House staff as Curator-in-Charge of the Department of Photography. We recently spoke with Hostetler about the current state of photography, her interests in the medium, and her plans for working with the Eastman House collection.

LisaH

GEH: What made you decide that joining us at George Eastman House was the right decision for you?
Lisa Hostetler: The opportunity to shape the future development of one of the world’s best photography collections was a key factor. The depth and variety of Eastman House’s holdings is impressive, and its legacy of important exhibitions— such as New Topographics—has made the institution an important player in the history of photography.

I want to build on this excellent foundation while working to raise the institution’s profile both nationally and internationally. In order to do this, I will focus on building a dynamic program that activates the collection, brings it up-to-date, and presents it in compelling ways. At the same time, I plan to support the development of new ideas and new voices in the field through temporary exhibitions and publications.

For me, the prospect of doing both historical and contemporary projects was especially appealing, as I’ve always been fascinated with all eras of photography’s history.

GEH: What do you think the role of photography collections and museums is today, given the medium’s ubiquity in our culture?
LH: Photography museums have an important role to play as our culture becomes increasingly saturated with photographic images. In this environment, visual literacy is essential, and good photographs hone our ability to see clearly and understand the world’s complexity. Photographers spend their lives thinking about seeing and com- municating their ideas, and we have a lot to learn from them. By preserving and exhibiting their work, photography museums allow audiences to benefit from their experience. In addition, sometimes a photograph’s scale and physical presence are as telling as its imagery, and museum collections are vital for preserving access to the insights original objects offer.

GEH: How does that affect what we should collect and exhibit?
LH: These factors directly inform collection and exhibition activities. We need to maintain our connection to photography’s history—where it’s been both materially and conceptually— in order to truly understand and appreciate its current situation. I hope to pursue acquisitions and exhibitions that have meaning in the present, but that are informed by an understanding of the past and open to future possibilities.

Read Part II of this Q&A!

 

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Focus 45: Nick Brandreth

Posted by on Aug 29 2013 | Photography

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Our Erie Canal tintype excursion

Posted by on Aug 16 2013 | Photography

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Hair, film, and photography

Posted by on Aug 12 2013 | Photography, Student Work

Victoria Gao is an intern in our photography department.

Check our Tumblr, Dodge & Burn all week for more *interesting* hair in film and photography.

Hair often transcends categorizations of gender by transforming people into fashion icons or recognizable characters. Celebrities are often noted for starting hairstyle trends or for embodying them so well that their hair becomes as much of their celebrity as they themselves are.

Louise Brooks

Edward Steichen (American, b. Luxembourg 1879 – 1973), Louise Brooks, 1928, Gelatin silver contact print, Bequest of Edward Steichen under the direction of Joanna T. Steichen, ©Estate of Edward Steichen

For example, Louise Brooks, the American silent film star and the first woman to dance the Charleston in London, epitomized the Roaring Twenties with her sharp bob haircut. She popularized the style through her appearances in movies and advertisement photographs. Similarly, Charlie Chaplin, with his small bowler hat, baggy pants, and comical waddling walk, completed his “Tramp” look with the toothbrush moustache that was fashionable decades earlier but would come to define him throughout his career.

1982.2027.0027

Charles C. Zoller (American, 1854 – 1934), Charlie Chaplin, ca 1917-1918, Color plate, screen (Autochrome) process, Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Lucius A. Dickerson

Hair can also be used as a tool for masquerade.

Andreas Feininger (American, 1906 - 1999), Wig shop exhibits in store window, New  York, 1968, Gelatin silver print, Gift of the photographer

Andreas Feininger (American, 1906 – 1999), Wig shop exhibits in store window, New
York, 1968, Gelatin silver print, Gift of the photographer, ©Estate of Andreas Feininger

People use wigs to disguise signs of balding, aging, or illness, or to transform themselves into costumed characters for entertainment. The modern history of wigs is closely intertwined with the history of photography. Nineteenth century photographs of men and women dressed in elaborate, white-powdered wigs and other eighteenth century clothing were lighthearted sources of satire and comedy. Wigs remained largely out of fashion until the 1960s and 70s, when women’s bouffants revived the industry, but Andreas Feininger’s 1968 image of a wig shop draws close parallels with the famed street photographs of store window mannequin heads taken by Eugène Atget in the early decades of the mass consumer culture industry.

Richard Avedon (American, 1923 - 2004), Brigitte Bardot, 1959, Gelatin silver print, George Eastman House

Richard Avedon (American, 1923 – 2004), Brigitte Bardot, 1959, Gelatin silver print, George Eastman House, ©Richard Avedon Foundation

Above all else hair is a source of aesthetic pleasure, and film and photography have played significant roles in representing that. From the politically charged musical-turned movie Hair (1979) to photographs focusing on hair as an abstracted, formalist element throughout twentieth century art movements, hair has bewitched, provoked, inspired, repelled, and entertained us all.

-Victoria Gao
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