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Review: The Big Picture

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 1, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
The Metropolitan Museum has been a major player in the field of contemporary photography for years, but the massive scale of some of its most important acquisitions has kept them out of view—until now. The new Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography, a long, sleek, high-ceilinged space across from the more classically proportioned galleries on the second floor, gives the museum a chance to flaunt its biggest pictures.


By Vince Aletti

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Fisk University and Museum of Wal-Mart Heiress Agree to Share Prized Art

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Fisk University's board of trustees has agreed in principle to share ownership of its prized Alfred Stieglitz Collection with the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas in exchange for $30 million, the two sides announced on Tuesday.

The agreement, subject to approval by a chancery court judge, would entitle the university and the museum to display the 101 works in the collection for equal amounts of time, they said. Crystal Bridges is scheduled to open in Bentonville, Ark., in 2009.


By Theo Emery


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A Wartime Photographer in Her Own Light

Posted By Administration, Saturday, September 22, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sometime in the spring of 1936, the lovers and photographers André Friedmann and Gerta Pohorylle changed their names and, in the process, the history of photography. To distinguish themselves from other Jewish émigrés in Paris at the time, Mr. Friedmann, a Hungarian Jew, took the name Robert Capa; Ms. Pohorylle, also Jewish and born in Poland, became Gerda Taro. Working at times as "Capa," an imaginary American photographer, they began documenting the Spanish Civil War, capturing the ruined towns and devastated civilians and soldiers on the Republican side.

Mr. Capa went on to become one of the world's greatest war photographers. But Ms. Taro, seen by many as the first woman known to photograph a battle from the front lines and to die covering a war, survived in the public eye mostly for her romance with Mr. Capa.

Now, 70 years after Ms. Taro's death at age 26, the first major exhibition of her work begins Wednesday at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan. Many of Ms. Taro's sympathetic and graphic photographs of supporters of the Spanish Republic will be seen for the first time. The exhibition is one of four concurrent shows at the Center related to the Spanish Civil War, including a display of Capa war pictures.

Now, 70 years after Ms. Taro's death at age 26, the first major exhibition of her work begins Wednesday at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan. Many of Ms. Taro's sympathetic and graphic photographs of supporters of the Spanish Republic will be seen for the first time. The exhibition is one of four concurrent shows at the Center related to the Spanish Civil War, including a display of Capa war pictures.

"This is really a discovery," Willis E. Hartshorn, the director at I.C.P., said of the exhibition and new research on Ms. Taro. "It adds immeasurably to the perspectives and history of photography," he said, "a history that in a great many ways is being written as we speak.

"For the first time, we really understand the scope and scale of her work," Mr. Hartshorn said.

Ms. Taro's celebrity was short-lived but outsize. Shortly after establishing herself independently of Mr. Capa, she was sideswiped by a tank after jumping onto the running board of a car transporting casualties during the battle of Brunete, and killed. Her funeral in Paris (on Aug. 1, 1937, which would have been her 27th birthday) drew thousands who hailed her as a martyr to anti-Fascism. The French writer Louis Aragon and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda were among those in attendance. Alberto Giacometti, the sculptor, designed her memorial.

Because the two photographers worked together, some of Ms. Taro's photographs were published under Mr. Capa's name or with a joint byline, while others were lost, Mr. Hartshorn said. The I.C.P. show, which includes about 100 of her photographs, highlights her as an artist in her own right and as an important figure in both the changing role of women and the use of art as propaganda.

"War photography and propaganda are inseparable," Irme Schaber, Ms. Taro's biographer and one of the show's curators, said in an e-mail message. "Moreover, Gerda Taro was a woman photographer in a war that is retrospectively seen as the first modern media war because of the rise of war photography, photojournalism, magazine and film."

Jordana Mendelson, an art historian and an associate professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University, said Ms. Taro left behind "an extraordinary document of war" that was lost until now.

"Taro is part of a small pantheon of women photographers who saw photography as an extension of their political commitment and of their role as new women," Ms. Mendelson said.

The 184-page catalog that accompanies the exhibition is the first book about Ms. Taro to be published in English. It includes her photographs, her biography and the tale of how some of her work was discovered in 1980, stacked in boxes among Mr. Capa's papers and prints in the Manhattan apartment of Cornell Capa, Robert's brother and the founder of the I.C.P., and his wife, Edie. The book is edited by Ms. Schaber, an independent scholar based in Germany; Richard Whelan, who published a definitive biography of Mr. Capa in 1985 and who died this year; and I.C.P.'s associate curator, Kristen Lubben.

"Defiant farmers, fists clenched, photographed from audacious angles — it is not least because of such mutual demonstrations of self-confidence in front of and behind the camera that the Spanish Civil War has been perceived as a romantic conflict," Ms. Schaber writes in the catalog of Ms. Taro's role in creating the visual language of war photography.

Among her work at the center, on display through Jan. 6, will be photographs of Republican militia women training on the beach outside Barcelona in 1936, a photograph from the same year of a man getting a haircut at the headquarters of the fifth regiment in Madrid, and a 1937 image of a sleeping child refugee from Málaga in Almería.

Ms. Taro's work was published in the Parisian newspaper Ce Soir and in the French magazine Regards, among other places; in this country, her death was reported in Life magazine, which also ran some of her photographs.

But after her brief career ended, a flood of photographs of World War II helped push her work off the stage, Ms. Lubben said. In later years, she had the stigma of being "a communist heroine," Ms. Schaber noted in her e-mail. As a result, Ms. Taro all but disappeared from public consciousness.

With the I.C.P. show, "we're trying to redress the crimes of history," Ms. Lubben said. "A lot of it has to do with being in the shadow of this man, whose career was so renowned. And part of the reason she is lost to history is people don't know what photos she took," she said, noting the frequent errors of attribution of Ms. Taro's work.

"She has a different aesthetic than Capa," Ms. Lubben said. "Her pictures are much more posed, using strong camera angles. Capa was much more into movement."

For Mr. Capa, his relationship with Ms. Taro was "a very painful private matter," Ms. Schaber wrote in an e-mail message, and he never attempted to officially commemorate her except in his book "Death in the Making," about the Spanish Civil War.

Just what history will make of Ms. Taro's newly robust story is too early to tell, said Naomi Rosenblum, an art historian and the author of "A History of Women Photographers."

"She died so young and her career was so short, her significance wasn't so much in photography — though it was significant — but can be attributed to the fact that a woman did go and involve herself in battlefield photographs," Ms. Rosenblum said. "Taro and Capa represent a sort of romantic vision of the stateless person involving themselves in terrible battles: the social battles, the political battles of the time."

By Felicia R. Lee

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Archived News

Posted By Administration, Saturday, September 8, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

July through September, 2007

Eye on the Scene
September 2007
September's energy is abrupt and exciting. It's like rising from a deep nap, and stumbling out into a party; wake up, it's on. From September 6 to October 21, Montreal celebrates the 10th anniversary of Le Mois de la Photo. The festival is actually longer than a month, but then Presque Sept Semaines de la Photo doesn't really roll off the tongue, and anyway, they can be allowed some artistic license, given the conceptual bent guest curator Marie Fraser brought to this Mois with her theme, "Replaying Narrative."
By Joanna Lehan
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Exhibition Review: Model Citizens
September 3, 2007
Though she was born in Vienna and made her first important work in Paris and Nice, Lisette Model became one of the great New York photographers. Her pictures of Coney Island bathers, Lower East Side crones, and denizens of Bowery bars, all from the nineteen-forties, have the rude vitality of snapshots, but even the most satiric are unexpectedly warm.
By Vince Aletti
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Galleries Expand in Uncertain Market
August 27, 2007
The art market may be heading for a correction, but you wouldn't know it from the number of existing galleries expanding and new galleries opening around town this fall.

On October 4, Marlborough Chelsea will open a 10,000-square-foot space on the first two floors of the new Chelsea Arts Tower at 545 W. 25th St. The gallery was previously located in a considerably smaller space on West 19th Street. With 15-foot ceilings on the first floor, the new space will allow the gallery to show monumental sculpture. It also has a system of movable walls and sophisticated track lighting, so that paintings can be lit either on the external walls or in the middle of the gallery, depending on how the space is configured, a vice president of the gallery, Tara Reddi, said.
By Kate Taylor
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John Szarkowski, Curator of Photography, Dies at 81
John Szarkowski, a curator who almost single-handedly elevated photography's status in the last half-century to that of a fine art, making his case in seminal writings and landmark exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, died in on Saturday in Pittsfield, Mass. He was 81.

The cause of death was complications of a stroke, said Peter MacGill of Pace/MacGill Gallery and a spokesman for the family.
By Philip Gefter
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In memory of Carroll T. (Ted) Hartwell, who passed away July 10, 2007,a scholarship fund has been established at The University of Minnesota. Ted was a pioneering Curator of Photography at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Over 45 years he build a world class collection for Minneapolis, influenced several generations of museum professionals, hundreds of photographers, and will be remembered by all.

Ted Hartwell was was a graduate of The University of Minnesota, and while there studied photography with Jerome Liebling. That experience was the beginning of a lifelong passion for the arts. In recognition of this influence, the fund is being established to help students pursue their own interest in photography. The goal is to raise $25,000 for a permanent scholarship fund in his name.Please send donations to:

Carroll Theron (Ted) Hartwell Memorial Photography Scholarship
c/o University of Minnesota Foundation
McNamara Alumni Center
200 Oak Street SE, Suite 500
Minneapolis, MN 55455-2010

Ted Hartwell, MIA's Founding Photography Curator, Dies
Raised in the American heartland, Ted Hartwell merged down-home humanism with international vision during his 35-year career as founding curator of the photography department at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Nationally known as a pioneering advocate for photography as an art form, Hartwell died Tuesday at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester after a heart attack July 5 near his home in Pepin, Wis. He was 73.
By Mary Abbe
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Well-Traveled Photographer, Recording and Then Returning
August 11, 2007
ARLES, France — Susan Meiselas is looking a bit shaken. She has just heard that her trip to Guinea, scheduled to start the next day, has been canceled; her driver there has been assaulted and is fleeing the country. She is working with Human Rights Watch photographing child domestic workers, and clearly someone didn't like it.
By Caroline Brothers
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Cut-And-Paste History
July 22, 2007
MORE than any other genre or medium, photomontage was the pre-eminent symbol of Modernity in the 1920s and '30s, according to Matthew S. Witkovsky, the curator of "Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. "It was the ultimate symbol in the play between the singular artist and mass media that defines the times, in terms of photography," he explained.

Using newspapers, magazines, advertising and books, artists in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary and Poland turned to cutting and pasting to forge an art that helped explain the crumbling of Central Europe's four great empires and the new society that was evolving after the devastation of World War I.
By Kathryn Shattuck
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Wall Retrospective is Picture Perfect
July 13, 2007
Did Jeff Wall miss his calling? The Vancouver-based artist -- whose giant, highly doctored and often obsessively detailed photographs are making an appearance as part of a eye-popping new retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago -- would have been one hell of a filmmaker.
By Kevin Nance
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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Names April M. Watson As New Associate Curator of Photography:
Jane L. Aspinwall Promoted to Assistant Curator of Photography

KANSAS CITY, MO, July 6, 2007 – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, emerging as one of the world's premier museums for photography, has named April M. Watson as the new Associate Curator of Photography. Watson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, began her work last month as the Museum opened the new Bloch Building, an expansion with more than 3,000 square feet of gallery space dedicated to photography.
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Olivia Arthur Wins Inge Morath Award
July 10, 2007
The winner of the 2007 Inge Morath Award is Olivia Arthur, a London-based photographer working on a project called "The Middle Distance," about young women on the border of Europe and Asia.
By Daryl Lang
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A Museum That Lives Within Its Means
July 8, 2007
WHEN Ann Philbin took the reins of the Hammer Museum here eight years ago, she knew one thing for sure. If she ever started collecting actively for the institution, she would not be amassing masterpieces in the spirit of the oil magnate Armand Hammer, who left the museum a trove rich in old master portraits and French Impressionist landscapes.

For starters this kind of material does not play to the current strengths of the Hammer, known for showing fresh-from-the-studio contemporary art. Also, she couldn't afford it.
By Jori Finkel
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Photo Exhibitions Grab the Spotlight
"PHOTOGRAPHY is very hot this year," said Frank Goodyear, photo curator at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Galleries and museums are mounting huge shows, luminaries like Annie Leibovitz and Ansel Adams are the subjects of traveling exhibits, two museums are adding sizable photography wings, and the Venice Biennale's highest honor is going to a photographer.
By David G. allan
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Eye on the Scene
The denizens of the art world, fresh from Basel, continue the grand European summer tour of Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, and the Venice Biennale (where Malian portraitist Malick Sidibé has just been awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement). Meanwhile, right here in the US of A, a landmark museum building project, in Akron, Ohio, opens to international notice in July.
By Joanna Lehan
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Full Spectrum
Martin Parr, the British photographer famous for color work that both relishes and skewers contemporary vulgarity, is ever so politely miffed that William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, and other Americans tend to get all the credit for introducing color to the black-and-white world of art photography in the seventies.
by Vince Aletti
July 2, 2007
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LACMA Names New Photography Curator
A former Victoria & Albert curator is named to lead the photography department after teaching and writing in the Big Apple.
By Suzanne Muchnic
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Acquisitions Survey: New Media on the Rise
LONDON. US museums are expanding their contemporary collections to include new media art, with acquisitions of film, video and mixed media installations on the rise in 2006 compared to 2005.
By Helen Stoilas
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Directors of Smithsonian Art Museums Fight Back
In August 2005, Ned Rifkin, undersecretary for art at the Smithsonian Institution, asked an external panel of leading US museum directors to assess the eight art museums run by the federal body. The report it compiled, which was submitted to the Smithsonian's board of regents in January, concluded that these museum are failing on many levels.
By Jason Edward Kaufman
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