Thursday, December 30, 2010


Alfred Eisenstaedt: Molyneux Model, 1934

To all of our dear clients, friends, followers, and fellow Photography enthusiasts, we wish you All the Very Best in 2011.

Slim Aarons: Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper, and James Stewart  enjoy a joke at a New Year's party held at Romanoff's in Beverly Hills, 1957

Follow the official countdown to 2011 here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Via Joe McNally's Blog:

The show at the Monroe Gallery I mentioned a couple weeks ago went well. You can always tell you’re having an exhibit in New Mexico when you see one of these:

Sorta makes you wish anybody who shows up really likes your work, ya know? More tk…." --Joe McNally

Related: Holiday Book Signing and Exhibit With Joe McNally

Friday, December 24, 2010


Three Santa Clauses leaving Downtown IRT Subway, New York, 1958

Bill Ray: Three Santa Clauses leaving Downtown IRT Subway, New York, 1958

Martha Holmes: Brother and sister on the phone talking to Santa Claus, New York, 1947

Martha Holmes: Dean of Santas giving a lecture at the Waldorf Astoria Santa Convention, New York, 1948

Steve Schapiro: Chicago, December, 2009

Follow Santa's journey tonight here, courtesy of Norad .

Ready For Christmas?

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Wounded by a land mine, Joao Silva, a New York Times photographer, shot three frames before becoming too weak to hold the camera.

The New York Times
By Michael Kamber

Published: December 23, 2010

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Joao Silva was a troubled high school dropout on the streets of Johannesburg. His future looked bleak until the day a friend took him along on a photo shoot. Joao fell in love with the camera.

He was drawn to battle. Within a remarkably short time, his photos of conflict were on the front pages of newspapers around the world. His camera became a prolific instrument, helping the public understand the wars of the last two decades.

His photographs from Iraq — where he was embedded with both the American troops and the insurgents fighting against them — created, in my opinion, an unequaled record of the war: a Marine pulling a bloody comrade through the mud to safety; an Iraqi mother wailing in anguish as her dead son lay nearby; an enraged militia member firing a machine gun from a window ledge at American soldiers; a car bomb victim engulfed in flames.

The danger was extraordinary. As his colleagues were killed and wounded over the years, Joao became the last working member of the fabled Bang-Bang Club to cover conflict. A tight-knit group of South African photographers who covered the township wars near the end of apartheid, they soon branched out into photographing other conflicts. Yet even with two young children, Joao persevered, making trip after trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and other war zones.

“I’ve always somehow managed to walk away unscathed,” Joao said. “I’ve been very, very lucky.”

Joao’s luck held until Oct. 23, when he stepped on a cheap plastic land mine outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. The blast ripped his legs off. Shrapnel tore through his abdomen, causing massive internal injuries. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where he will remain for the foreseeable future.

Talented, humble and generous, Joao was the rock for many photojournalists in the field. It would be no exaggeration to call him probably the best-loved and most respected photographer working today. So his wounding has created a crisis of confidence of sorts for many photojournalists.

Like Joao, I am a contract photographer for The New York Times and have covered conflict over the years. I have taken his place in Afghanistan. In the wake of Joao’s wounding, friends ask me why I keep returning to photograph men inflicting suffering upon one another. I have asked myself and my fellow photojournalists this same question over the years.

I grew up in the 1960s, learning of Vietnam by poring over black-and-white photos in Life magazine and The Portland Press Herald. The classic images of Eddie Adams, Nick Ut and Henri Huet brought home to me the politics and drama of the war, a sense of my country’s history unfolding on the page. Photojournalists gave us a visceral understanding of the link between foreign policy and the violence done to people’s lives.

And photojournalism helped create a culture of visual literacy that was instrumental in the activism of the 1960s. It is a culture that is slowly receding into a storm of visual, aural and written white noise: the weekly wait for Life is replaced by a stream of cellphone photos, blogs and Twitter feeds. And as papers close around America, front-line photojournalism is in decline.

Still, the frustrations of photojournalists today are outweighed by many rewards. We venture into remote corners of the world to watch incredible dramas. We are often the sole objective witnesses. We find that much history would happen in a vacuum, save for our cameras.

“I get a lot of messages from people saying that we show the world what they cannot go see firsthand,” Joao told me last year.

This is the reward and the magic of photojournalism.

I know that Joao Silva’s camera has not finished its work. Once Joao finds balance on his new legs, he will venture again to the corners of the world. He loves photography like few I have known. Photojournalism remains a profession that allows a dedicated, courageous high school dropout from Johannesburg to help record the history of our times.


Mick Rock:  Truman Capote and Andy Warhol 1979

Related: "The Man Who Shot The Seventies"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Via La Lettre De La

All Photographs © Steve Schapiro

Steve Schapiro is an American photographer whose pictures have graced the covers of Vanity Fair, Time, Sports Illustrated, Life, Look, Paris Match, and People. In Hollywood he has worked on more than 200 motion pictures; his most famous film posters are for Midnight Cowboy, Taxi Driver, Parenthood, and The Godfather Part III.


Steve Schapiro was the special photographer on the set of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, capturing the film’s most intense and violent moments from behind the scenes. "Taxi Driver, Steve Schapiro" features hundreds of unseen images selected from Schapiro’s archives, painting a chilling portrait of a deranged gunman in the angry climate of the post-Vietnam era.


Related: Making Movies

Monday, December 20, 2010


In our previous post, we wrote about the official beginning of the winter season. Nation Public Radio's "The Picture Show" reminded us of a truly iconic photograph, one that only could have been made on the shortest day of the year, on a fleeting moment when the city was slightly darkened, but the office lights remained on.

Night View [New York at Night, Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue, West Side, 34th and 33rd Streets], 1932

New York City At Night, 76 Years Ago

by Shannon Perich

Between 4:30 and 5 p.m. on Dec. 20, 1934, Berenice Abbott's camera was hanging off an upper floor of the Empire State Building recording New York City at Night.

With a fixed artistic vision, the location scouted and exposure calculated for fifteen minutes, the independently-minded photographer captured that fleeting moment when the city was slightly darkened, but the office lights remained on.

For some, this photograph, though some 76 years old, may seem somewhat familiar with its dramatic angles, hovering perspective and workers still in their offices after dark. But for Abbott, it represented the emerging of the modern New York and new lifestyles that came with it.

Abbott was born in 1898 in Springfield, Ohio, and moved to New York in 1919. Frustrated by the commercialism and politics threatening her Greenwich Village bohemian lifestyle (like Prohibition), and intrigued by the artistic and literary of circles of Paris, she moved in 1921. Her eight years in Paris were pivotal in shaping her as a photographer.

She was versed in sculpture, drawing and writing, but it was during her employment in Man Ray's photography studio that she learned to make photographs. Ray (1890-1976) ran a famous portrait studio but in his spare time was at the vanguard of surrealist photography. He challenged the conventional approaches to photography, which provided Abbott with opportunities to become a successful portrait photographer in her own right. He also introduced her to Eugene Atget (1857-1927), a photographer noted for tirelessly documenting the architecture, urban views and landscapes of Paris.

The modernist tendency to see the city as a valid subject and as a scene for formal studies — and the appreciation for long-term documentary work — were both visible trends in Abbott's photography by the time she returned to America in Jan. 1929.

It might be difficult for our contemporary eyes and city experiences to allow us to imagine Abbott's New York City at Night as a new view of the world. In 1932, the Great Depression was still plaguing many Americans. And the Farm Security Administration was about to create a vision of America that remains seared into a shared visual history — with photos from the field like Migrant Mother.

But Abbott's cityscape offers a perspective of excitement about American technological achievements — through her ability to blend cubist visual constructions with the reality of urban modern architecture. The photograph also holds some of the romance and mystery of the night that Ella Fitzgerald sings about in Cole Porter's song, All Through The Night, from the musical Anything Goes.

This image, perhaps her most well-known, remains a visually exciting image with complex rhythms that might offer our jaded eyes a way to see the city with refreshed excitement.

Abbott's enthusiasm for documenting New York City resulted in an extraordinary documentary project that can be explored in her book Changing New York. Many of those photographs can be seen at the Museum of the City of New York, where Abbott left her archive.

The Smithsonian's Archive of Art also holds many documents related to the Federal Art Project that funded the massive photography project and Abbott’s assistant Elizabeth McCausland's papers. Abbott's legacy also continues through a photography award in her name that is given to emerging photographers with a body of work waiting to be published.

Shannon Thomas Perich is an associate curator of the Photographic History Collection at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Her regular contributions to The Picture Show are pulled from the Smithsonian's archives. See the original NPR article here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Trees in snow,St. Moritz, 1947
Alfred Eisenstaedt: Trees in snow, St. Moritz, 1947

In astronomy, the solstice is either of the two times a year when the Sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, the great circle on the celestial sphere that is on the same plane as the earth's equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, this year the winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, at 6:38 p.m. EST. (This year is a rare celestial "Trifecta": the Winter Solstice, a full moon, and a total lunar eclipse.)

Already, wintry weather has made headlines around the world. Currently on exhibition at Monroe Gallery of Photography is "'Tis The Season", an imaginative survey of photographs with a winter theme or setting. Just in time for the holidays, the exhibition also includes several photographs depicting the celebrations of the season. As winter approaches in the northern hemisphere and the days grow short, this exhibition looks to the beauty of ice and snow.

Happy Winter!

Sledding in Central Park, 1939
Harold Roth: Sledding in Central Park, 1939

Maine Morning, Pemaquid, ME, 1978
Verner Reed: Maine Morning, Pemaquid, ME, 1978
Wrought Iron Design in Snow, NYC, 1945
Ida Wyman: Wrought Iron in Snow, New York, 1947

Friday, December 17, 2010


Rooftop Ballerina  (Nadia Grachevo, Prima Ballerina), Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow, 1997
Joe McNally: Rooftop Ballerina (Nadia Grachevo, Prima Ballerina), Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow, 1997

Please join us tonight, Friday December 17, from 5 - 7 as we welcome Joe McNally for a reception, book signing, and special exhibit. Joe will be signing copies of his new book, The LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need To Shoot Like The Pros.

Also on view, "'Tis The Season", photographs with a winter theme or setting. A perfect way to look at snow - inside!

Hope to see you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

American Express Gives $100,000 to Help Ellis Island Group

Corridor 9, Island 3
Stephen Wilkes: Corridor #9, Island 2, Ellis Island

Back in April, we wrote about an article by Robin Pogrebin in The New York Times reporting that "Save Ellis Island, a nonprofit charged with restoring that historic immigrant gateway to America, may not be able to save itself. The group has run out of money." There was an urgent appeal: Funds Sought to Continue Restoration at Ellis Island; abandoned buildings on the southern side of Ellis Island immortalized in Stephen Wilkes' photographs.

Today, The New York Times reports that "American Express Gives $100,000 to Help Ellis Island Group".

By Robin Pogrebin

On the brink of extinction last spring, the nonprofit organization charged with restoring Ellis Island will benefit from a $100,000 gift from American Express, the credit card company is to announce on Thursday.

"It’s an enormous boost,” said Judith R. McAlpin, the president of the organization, Save Ellis Island. “American Express has long been associated with the very best in historic preservation. It’s like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.”

The donation, the company said, was prompted by an article in The New York Times about how Save Ellis Island was struggling to continue the restoration of 29 buildings on the 27.5 acre historic immigrant gateway to America. “We’re trying to help them help themselves so they’re able to raise more money not just for the restoration of the buildings — they need general operating support,” Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation, said. “People are in love with the buildings, they’re passionate about the buildings — that’s kind of the easy money. But how do you sustain yourself as an organization?”

What Save Ellis Island needs most, Mr. McClimon said, is to build its fund-raising capacity by strengthening its board and development staff. As a result, American Express will make its donation through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which will provide expertise. The trust included Ellis Island on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places twice in the 1990s.

Mr. McClimon left open the possibility that American Express might contribute more in the future. “We’re very positive about Save Ellis Island,” he said. “We think they have great potential.”

See Stephen Wilkes' Ellis Island Collection here.



On December 15, 1939, "Gone With The Wind" premiered in Atlanta, Georgia.

Gone With The Wind  is often considered the most beloved, enduring and popular film of all time. Sidney Howard's script was derived from Margaret Mitchell's first and only published, best-selling Civil War and Reconstruction Period novel of 1,037 pages that first appeared in 1936, but was mostly written in the late 1920s. Producer David O. Selznick had acquired the film rights to Mitchell's novel in July, 1936 for $50,000 - a record amount at the time to an unknown author for her first novel, causing some to label the film "Selznick's Folly." At the time of the film's release, the fictional book had surpassed 1.5 million copies sold. More records were set when the film was first aired on television in two parts in late 1976, and controversy arose when it was restored and released theatrically in 1998.

The famous film, shot in three-strip Technicolor, is cinema's greatest, star-studded, historical epic film of the Old South during wartime that boasts an immortal cast in a timeless, classic tale of a love-hate romance. The indomitable heroine, Scarlett O'Hara, struggles to find love during the chaotic Civil War years and afterwards, and ultimately must seek refuge for herself and her family back at the beloved plantation Tara. There, she takes charge, defends it against Union soldiers, carpetbaggers, and starvation itself. She finally marries her worldly admirer Rhett Butler, but her apathy toward him in their marriage dooms their battling relationship, and she again returns to Tara to find consolation - indomitable.

Authenticity is enhanced by the costuming, sets, and variations on Stephen Foster songs and other excerpts from Civil War martial airs. Its opening, only a few months after WWII began in Europe, helped American audiences to identify with the war story and its theme of survival.

With three years advance publicity and Hollywood myth-making, three and one-half hours running time (with one intermission), a gala premiere in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, highest-grossing film status (eventually reaching $200 million), and Max Steiner's sweeping musical score, the exquisitely-photographed, Technicolor film was a blockbuster in its own time. A budgeted investment of over $4 million in production costs was required - an enormous, record-breaking sum. The film (originally rough-cut at 6 hours in length) was challenging in its making, due to its controversial subject matter (including rape, drunkenness, moral dissipation and adultery) and its epic qualities, with more than 50 speaking roles and 2,400 extras

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Monday, December 13, 2010


The ABC News program “Good Morning America.” featured an interview with the legendary Barbra Streisand on Wednesday, December 15.  Several of Bill Eppridge's photographs of Barbra are included in the program. Watch the full interview here.

Barbra Streisand on the Johnny Carson Show, New York, 1963
Bill Eppridge: Barbra Streisand on the Johnny Carson Show, New York, 1963

Good Morning America will be the first of several television appearances the week of  December 13 for Barba Streisand. Forty-four years ago, LIFE magazine ran a cover story on Barbra Streisand as she was reaching international stardom, photographed by Bill Eppridge.

Below is the entire original story from the March 18, 1966 issue of LIFE magazine. As to how Bill Eppridge made the cover: "For a studio portrait, Bill had set up a rear projection of another of his photographs of Streisand. She was unhappy with the picture and, in fact, everything. She had brought her dog with her, but Barbra just didn't want to be there. Unreceptive to Bill's best efforts, totally stiff and uncooperative, she sat expressionless. Suddenly, in exasperation, and in a scene reminiscent of Karsh yanking Churchill's cigar to produce that glaring bulldog expression of his most famous portrait, Bill grabbed Barbra Streisand's dog and shoved it into her arms. "Here, take this damn dog," he almost yelled. "It's the only friend you've got in the place."

A bit startled: "Oh," she uttered and smiled for one frame. Bill had his cover." --Bobbi Baker-Burrows

Cover Photo by Bill Eppridge

March 18, 1966

‘They all come thinking I can't be that great’
by Diana Lurie

Stricken with phenomenal success at 23, Barbra Streisand is more ridden than ever by self-doubts and fears 'It's scary—it could suddenly all fall apart'

Barbara Streisand in her kitchen, Brooklyn, NY, 1964
Bill Eppridge: Barbara Streisand in her kitchen, Brooklyn, NY, 1964

The big studio audience is rapt, silent as Barbra Streisand softens and rounds the long-held note, stripping the brass from it before she lets it fall, ever so gradually, into a throbbing, eyes-closed, roller-coaster drop-off. She rebounds to the final note and deliberately hits it a spine-tingling shade flat. The silence into which she is singing remains perfect. She holds that agonizing fraction of a tone of flatness, then slides into pitch. And then the roar comes. It sounds as though it's for Tebaldi in Milan. Or Garland at the Palladium at her peak.

A couple of minutes later Barbra Streisand is in the control room waiting for the tape of her just-completed TV performance to be run off, sure it is going to he awful. She turns to the director and, between breaths, explodes: "I am waiting for you to say whether I am great or lousy. You said nothing. I must know what you think or I am depressed."

You said nothing. I must know what you think or I am depressed."

Bill Eppridge: In TV control booth Barbra watches tensely as a song in her new show is played back. At right, she is so distressed by her singing and appearance that she hides her eyes.

Why Barbra Streisand has to know what people think of her every time she performs is an astounding, and wrenching, phenomenon. At 23 she is an undisputed queen of musical comedy, television and records. Every one of the seven records she has made sold a million copies. She gets $50,000 per concert appearance. For nearly two years she pulled in standing- room-only audiences for an otherwise undistinguished musical, Funny Girl, which she will make into a movie (for a possible $1 million). Starting next month, she will play the stage role in London. She also has a contract to do 10 television shows in the next 10 years for a sum in excess of $5 million.

Barbara Streisand with Paparazzi, Paris, 1966
Bill Eppridge: Barbara Streisand with Paparazzi, Paris, 1966

Everybody knows Streisand is on top. So does she. And the more she is hailed, the more scared and insecure she feels. "I win awards and everything but one of these days something is going to bomb. It's a scary thing. It can all suddenly fall apart."

Barbara Streisand

Bill Eppridge: In the "Color Me Barbra" TV recording session, Barbra, listening to a song being played back, vacillates wildly between doubt, delight and despair.

Such massive self-doubt amid such success might be funny if her fears were not so very real to Barbra. When her understudy replaced her one night in Funny Girl, Barbra worried that the audience would prefer the substitute and she might lose her job. When she left the cast, she got upset when a waiter kiddingly asked her how it felt to he out of work. Whenever she hears one of her numbers being sung on the air by a run- of-the-mill vocalist, she psychs herself into thinking the performance is better than her own—and will sell more records. She has been known to worry 18 hours over just such a possibility.

Her audiences adore Barbra—but she looks on them as her adversaries. For her taped TV show she sang five songs before a live audience. When the director, Dwight Hemion, asked her to redo two numbers, she insisted that the audience leave. She was tired, she was not fond of the songs, and she disliked her interpretation even more. "Tell the audience to go away," she said to her manager, Martin Erlichman. "I hate them. I hate them." For half an hour, while the audience wailed. Erlichman and the director pleaded with Barbra, pointing out that the crowd was needed for the proper sound effect. When she gave in and walked back on stage, she got a thunderous reception. She did the two numbers with dispatch, mumbled "Thank you for staying" to the "bravo"-ing crowd and re- entered the control room. "O.K.," she said, "let's see what we've got."

Sitting stony-faced she watched herself on the three monitors (two black-and-white, one color). Her mood changed mercurially. At one point she groaned in agony, seconds later was exclaiming, surprised, "Ooh, that's nice." Hours later, sipping champagne from a paper dip, she was still critically eying herself on the monitors. During the sixth run- through, she turned to her agent and said: "I know this is a better show than the first. But They are wailing for it to bomb. They always are. People say, 'Go and see this terrific girl.' But most of them come thinking, 'Nah, she can't be that great." It makes me feel they're the monster and I'm their victim."

To deprive the monster of the satisfaction of seeing her bomb, Barbra puts about four times as much work into a performance as she used to—or needs to. In the case of the TV show, most of it was done before there was ever an audience. Three songs were prerecorded—that is, the music was recorded before the taping and dubbed in later. For a prerecording session, Barbra arrived late as usual, carrying her while poodle, Sadie, in one arm and in the other a large shopping bag from Gucci, an expensive New York shop. It was stuffed with letters, her pocketbook, photographs and a pair of shoes. She took off her silver fox fur and put it down on a chair in the control booth. Then, in brown sailor blouse, black slacks and short black boots, she turned to the small multitude of engineers, directors, producers and arrangers behind the control console. She tossed off a couple of jokes in a comic Brooklyn accent, as if it were expected, handed Sadie to her manager and went to the mike, abruptly crisp and professional.

No detail of the music escaped her notice. During a dry run of the first number, she said to the music director: "The drums are too fast. And shouldn't he use brushes or some- thing?" After recording each song, Barbra strode into the control room and flung herself into a chair to listen to the playback on four giant wall speakers that would not only reproduce but magnify any error. As she listened, doubt flickered in her eyes, her expression became dissatisfied, then disgusted and finally desperate.

"I'm going to do it again," she announced.

"You'll be hoarse tomorrow," Erlichman warned.

Already at the studio door, Barbra flung back: "I sang 25 songs a night eight times a week in Funny Girl. I won't be hoarse."

She did it again, and after recording all the other numbers—correcting every phrase, word or syllable she disliked and could get the conductor and the director to alter—she was ready for the even more arduous ritual of second-guessing. "Please replay the tapes from the beginning," she said. And they did. Four hours later, she leaned back in her chair. "Yeah," she said, exhausted. "I love it."

Bill Eppridge: Warding off 6 a.m. chill with her silver fox coat, Barbra listens to the upteenth playback of her recordings for an album of French songs. She sang in French, polishing every word more than ever

Barbra runs after and flees from fame. When she sees people on the street take on the look that says they have recognized her and are about to greet her, "I cringe, I run." Into such moments is crammed a whole bundle of conflicts. She hates to be recognized because, though she wants to avoid her fans, she doesn't want to appear a snob. On the other hand, she thinks that by acknowledging gushing praise graciously she is indicating that she thinks she's all that good. But she is devastated if she is ignored. "Barbra," says her husband, Elliott Gould, "is the kind of person who is hurt if her puppy walks past her."

She herself understands the anomaly. Recognition after all was her aim in going into show business. Her father died when she was 15 months old. Her mother worked all the time Barbra was growing up, meanwhile marrying a man Barbra disliked. The girl, a "loner" in school—and a bright one—overaware of her large nose and hands, longed to be loved. "This is why I wanted to become an actress, I guess," she says. "I felt I could get the attention I missed as a child."

Many have found Barbra's face beautiful. She is aware of this but not convinced. She genuinely fears that her looks are too great a handicap for her talent to overcome. "I'd like to be beautiful but sometimes I think I am strangely put together." When someone talking to her avoids her eyes, she gets upset. "I know I should realize that person may be nervous," she says. "Instead, I think he can't bear to look at me. They always write about me as the girl with the Fu Manchu fingernails and the nose as long as an anteater's. This hurts far more than if anyone wrote that I was a terrible singer—which they never did. There are a lot of cold people in the theater who build walls so as not to get hurt. I don't ever want to build up that kind of wall. I would rather get hurt. If my vulnerability goes in real life, it goes as a performer and an artist on stage too. I must retain the vulnerability or lose sensitivity as an artist."

If Barbra has difficulty playing star to her fans, she also has problems meeting stars she admires as a fan. She is crazy about Sophia Loren, but she could never bring herself to ask her for her autograph. "I couldn't," she says. "I'd say, "Hullo. I have nothing to talk to you about. Goodbye.' Sometimes, when I am with a real movie star like Marion Brando, I think, 'How can I be famous if he is famous?'"

Just about her all-time horrible example of timidity came last fall at a New York party for Princess Margaret. Barbra, true to form, was late. Actress May Britt and the singer Tommy Steele flanked the guest of honor. As Barbra was being introduced, it popped into her head that the accepted form of address was inappropriate, if not downright hypocritical. "She is not my royal highness," Barbra said later. "I just could not say 'Hullo, Your Royal Highness' to anyone. It doesn't suit me. So I just sort of said 'Hullo.'

"Princess Margaret looked at me, almost like a fan, and told me she had all my records. I didn't know what to say so I just stood there and replied 'Yeah?' Then May Britt asked me how come I was so late. I said 'I got screwed up.' The princess looked bewildered. It was unbelievable, like a scene out of a bad movie. I quickly said 'I mean I got fouled up.'

"Tommy Steele looked white and shocked. I didn't know what to do so I turned to him and asked: 'You two know each other from London, huh?' Tommy is a glib fellow but he was speechless. I don't know if the princess was amused or horrified. She turned her head away. Nobody said anything. 'I mean,' I said, 'you have worked for her sister?' Tommy answered stiffly in his London accent: 'I have performed for Her Majesty and Princess Margaret too.' I said, 'Yeah, that's what I mean.'

"I honestly hadn't plotted it out beforehand. I just didn't know how to reach the princess. I knew I must not have a wishy-washy existence with her—she must like me or hate me. But I didn't mean to act that way. It just came out. Still, I guess I could as easily have said nothing."

Barbra's great current wish is "to be known not as Barbra Streisand the singer or the actress, but just as Barbra Streisand." She wants to become a persona, a style-setter, a woman of the world—a combination of Maria Callas, Sophia Loren, Nicole Alphand and Jacqueline Kennedy. Last year the Encyclopedia Britannica nudged these ambitions along by naming her a major trend-setter of the '60s, and this January she made the list of the world's 10 best-dressed women: quite a change for a girl who a few years ago was famous for her kooky gowns salvaged from thrift shops.

Barbra Streisand with Marlene Dietrich and Elsa Martinelli (Wearing Chanel Suits), Chanel Fashion Show, Paris, 1966
Bill Eppridge: In Paris to be photographed by Vogue, Barbra, in a jaguar suit she designed herself, watches Channel spring collection opening in stony silence.  Elsa Martinelli Marlene Dietrich is far right.

(In 2009, Streisand wrote the following for In Style magazine about this photo: “I was at the Chanel collections in Paris. I had leopard-skin pillows on my bed, and I decided to have a leopard suit made. This was before PETA! Going to the fashion houses was exciting. Unfortunately, I was sick to my stomach for 10 days from a bouillabaisse I ate in Marseille. If I look a little strange, it's because I thought I might throw up. I don't think I was even aware that Marlene Dietrich was at the end of the row.”)

This winter, Barbra, in pursuit of this new image—and a vacation— made a trip to Europe. The first stop was Paris, where she was to pick the clothes for next fall's TV show from the spring collections, with her sponsor, Chemstrand, picking up the tab. At four of the six showings, Barbra was late, partly because she was ill and partly because she is Barbra. Dior delayed it 10 minutes while the Duchess of Windsor, among others, waited. "I didn't expect them to delay for me," said Barbra later. "No wonder the duchess looked so grouchy."

Bill Eppridge: Barbra Streisand and Marc Bohan at Maxine's, Paris, 1966

Barbra didn't like the Paris prices ("They sew buttons better here but they also charge more") and the styles didn't send her. At Gres, watching a large tent dress sway past, she whispered: "You'd never be able to tell what was going on under there." At Dior, though, she broke down and bought day dresses, suits, evening gowns, sports clothes, hats, shoes and coats, costing a snappy $20,000, as though she were putting together an order of sandwiches, to go, from the Stage Delicatessen.

Barbra was not the ideal carefree traveler of the tour ads. She never could get her mind away from her work. While craning her neck at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, she remembered, through her wonder at Michelangelo, that she was going to have to go back to the hotel to audition an English actor for the male lead in the London Funny Girl. On a visit to the Louvre, she admired the diamonds in the crown of a Bourbon king, opened her Nefertiti eyes wide at how the paint on a mummy case had survived the centuries and then asked Erlichman: "How about that clinker I made in that song on the show?'' referring to a variation from pitch that just might be delectable on an oscillograph. When Erlichman told her there were only a handful of people in the world capable of detecting it, she said, "That's enough. I'll do it over."

This absorption, this pursuit of perfection, is not just fear of failure or vanity. It mirrors Barbra's deep respect for the theater, a sense almost of purity about it.

"There is a holiness about the theater," she says. "There are certain laws you cannot break. I can only explain it in terms of what other people do wrong. When an actor breaks the barrier between audience and stage, when he all of a sudden includes the audience, it is the worst thing he can do. It is cheap and vulgar. The magic is gone. You can't include the audience by looking out front, smiling when they smile and agreeing with them. By being involved in the play you include them the most.

"I hate the theater and I love it. I hate it desperately because it is so intangible. You go from night to night constantly re-creating. But I find out how I can manipulate, how to work on moments, and how to get the audience to understand. The relationship between audience and performer is interesting and dreadful. The spontaneous reaction is the greatest and also the most frustrating. I love the grandeur and formality of the ballet and the opera. If an audience likes you they stand up and throw roses. This is the way it should be—the audience should stand and yell bravo, or boo."

When Barbra flies to London this week to prepare for a three-month stint in Funny Girl, her actor-husband Elliott will be working in California or New York and will be able to visit her only about once a month. This will be the first time in two years she hasn't had him around. She regards him as one of the chief factors in her success and the guardian of her psychological equilibrium. She relies on him greatly.

The separation comes at a time when Barbra says the excitement she felt when she was just closing in on success is no longer there. "When you are doing something, it is nowhere as interesting as the thought," she says. "It is depressing."

"My success? The only way I can account for it is that whatever ability other performers have, I must have it plus. Onstage I am a cross between a washwoman and a princess. I am a bit coarse, a bit low. a bit vulgar and a bit ignorant. But I am also part princess—sophisticated, elegant and controlled. I can appeal to everybody."

But with this hard-eyed self-perception comes the ever-present self- doubt. She adds: "When I am not performing, however, I don't think I have that definite a personality. I think maybe I have nothing."

Bill Eppridge: On Louvre visit, Barbra and Elliott study porcelain vases in glass case. What impressed Barbra most in the museum were the diamonds

(All photographs available from Monroe Gallery of Photography)


American Expressionists:

Nina Leen: Life magazine’s portrait of the Abstract Expressionist artists known as ‘The Irascibles,’ 1951. Front row: Theodore Stamos, Jimmy Ernst, Barnett Newman, James Brooks, and Mark Rothko; middle row: Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, and Bradley Walker Tomlin; back row: Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, and Hedda Sterne

Copyright ©The New York Review of Books
By Sarah Boxer

At the summit of “The Irascibles,” Life magazine’s 1951 portrait of the Abstract Expressionist painters, stands an imperious-looking woman, the Romanian-born artist Hedda Sterne. She is the only female in the photograph and, in some sense, the most prominent figure—the “feather on top,” as she once put it. Now, at age one hundred, she is the sole survivor. “I am known more for that darn photo than for eighty years of work,” Sterne told me a few years ago. “If I had an ego, it would bother me.” Plus, she said, “it is a lie.” Why? “I was not an Abstract Expressionist. Nor was I an Irascible.”

Who is Hedda Sterne? In 2003, when she was ninety-two and still drawing every day, I interviewed her and tape-recorded the conversation. We met in her apartment on East 71st Street near Third Avenue, where she’d lived for almost sixty years—first with her then husband, Saul Steinberg, the New Yorker artist, and later, beginning in the 1960s, alone. The kitchen and living room were one space. On a table were Sterne’s recent white-on-white drawings. Just about all the other art was Steinberg’s. On a wall hung a trompe l’oeil work spoofing Mondrian; a small table was piled with Steinberg’s wooden “books.” Over the stove hung a faux diploma for cooking, which Steinberg had presented to Sterne in the 1950s, and over the sink was another diploma, for dishwashing. A large carpet of raw canvas lay on the floor, with handwritten lines organized into the squares of a grid. This, I realized, was Sterne’s Diary from 1976, and a perfect emblem of her: a dense fabric of words, drawn with intense concentration, left to be obliterated underfoot.

Recently I listened again to my tape recording. What came through was an artist who, in contrast to almost everyone else in the “Irascibles” photograph, had effectively erased herself. Not only was she not an Abstract Expressionist; she was the anti–Abstract Expressionist, someone who had no use for the cult of personality and personal gesture. As Sarah Eckhardt, curator of “Uninterrupted Flux,” Sterne’s 2006 retrospective, noted, Sterne saw her art as a diary, her eye as a camera finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Her subjects were mundane. Her palette was spare and muted (tan, ochre, black, white, and blue), her brush more often dry than loaded, her line searching. And at a time when just about every painter who mattered was a heroic abstract artist, or trying to be, she

She was enthralled with the look and feel of America. In the late 1940s, when the new abstraction was taking over New York, she painted unbalanced, totemic machines, which, she told Joan Simon in 2007, she saw as portraits of psychic states—”the grasping, the wanting, the aggression.” Then she took up spray paints—blues, reds, blacks, yellows—to depict engine parts, hazy highways, and steel girders as eerie figures and dense networks. (You can see one of these, New York VIII (1954), in the exhibition “Abstract Expressionist New York,” at the Museum of Modern Art until April 25, 2011.) In the 1960s she drew lettuce heads as crazy mazes, as if she were a worm inside, investigating. Whenever she hit a dry period, she made likenesses of her friends (some of which were shown last year at the Pollock-Krasner House on Long Island). Rarely did she paint a pure abstraction. She pointed out that even the webby white-on-white drawings made in the 1990s, when she was practically blind, represented something—the “floaters and flashers” crossing her field of vision.

Sterne was not alone in her absorbed, transforming take on the world around her, which she learned from the Surrealists. What really distinguishes her is her refusal to develop what she tartly termed a “logo” style. And that refusal, Sterne said once, “very much destroyed my ‘career.’” Although Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons championed her, although major museums acquired her work, although Clement Greenberg praised her “nice flatness” and “delicacy” and Hilton Kramer mentioned her “first-class graphic gift,” and although she has had one of the longest exhibition histories of any living artist (seventy years), she is hardly well known. That doesn’t bother her. “I don’t know why, I never was burdened with a tremendous competition and ambition of any kind…. There is this wonderful passage in Conrad’s Secret Agent,” she noted. “There is a retarded young boy who sweeps with a concentration as if he were playing. That was how I always worked. The activity absorbed me sufficiently.”

Hedda Sterne was born Hedwig Lindenberg on August 4, 1910, in Bucharest, Romania, to Simon Lindenberg, a language teacher, and Eugenie Wexler Lindenberg. Her brother, Edouard Lindenberg, became a conductor in Paris. Her parents were Jewish but not religious.

I knew I wanted to be an artist at age five or six. I always drew. At eight I was permitted to study. I always loved Leonardo. Artists were always referred to as great artists. I thought that’s what the profession was. One word: great-artist. There wasn’t one moment in my life when I thought I wanted to be anything else.

In the 1920s she studied art history and philosophy at the University of Bucharest, reading Husserl, Heidegger, Gurdjieff. In the 1930s she took painting lessons with Andre Lhote in Fernand Léger’s Paris atelier. Her early Surrealist collages were shown in 1938, at the 11th exhibition of the Salon des Surindépendants in Paris. In a 1981 interview with Phyllis Tuchman, Sterne described her method: “I would tear paper and throw it and then look at it the way you look at the clouds, and then accent with a pencil what I had seen.” At that exhibition, the Surrealist Victor Brauner, Sterne’s friend, introduced her to Hans Arp, who in turn introduced her to Peggy Guggenheim. Soon after, one of Sterne’s collages turned up in a group show at Guggenheim’s London Gallery.

In 1941, after the Germans occupied Bucharest, Sterne fled to Lisbon and finally to New York City. “In Romania, I escaped a horrible death…. I don’t like to talk about it,” she said. “I was married and separated from a man named Fritz Stern, who changed his name to Frederick Stafford…. I added an e to the name, because I didn’t want to use his name, or lose it.” She became Hedda Sterne and on arrival phoned Peggy Guggenheim. “She was extremely friendly.”

In 1942 Sterne was included in “First Papers of Surrealism,” America’s introduction to Surrealism, curated by André Breton and Marcel Duchamp, and the next year she was in several group shows at Peggy Guggenheim’s Manhattan gallery, Art of This Century. Her first American solo exhibition followed at the Wakefield Gallery—a show of nostalgic egg temperas and drawings in which Sterne, as the critic Dore Ashton noted, exorcised her Romanian past. One, the semi-naif Violin Lesson, depicts a dark, high-ceilinged room inhabited by a teacher and student, bowing violins. The curator was Betty Parsons, the dealer who championed Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb when they were unknowns. She became Sterne’s dealer and introduced her to the Abstract Expressionists.

Sterne threw herself into painting America inside and out. “I immediately got involved in the immediate, the American kitchen, the American bathroom, the American street, you know, its horizontals and verticals, its points and lines.” In the 1940s, “New York was a total delight, a paradise,” Sterne said. “It was enchanting. Tiffany’s in the window didn’t have jewels but exquisite airplane parts. That’s America to me.”

She lived in a studio on Beekman Place, near the river, next door to Peggy Guggenheim and Max Ernst.

I didn’t know that I had moved into the most fashionable neighborhood. There would be a party every week, parties for three hundred people. I thought all New Yorkers lived like that…. All I met were celebrities. But of course, I didn’t see them as such. I saw them as displaced people, like myself…. I would have loved to see real Americans….

At Guggenheim’s she met the Surrealists Yves Tanguy, André Breton, and Hans Richter, as well as Gypsy Rose Lee, William Saroyan, Igor Stravinsky, and Alexander Calder.

I met Mondrian without knowing who he was. Peggy invited me to the party. I sat in a corner, watching. After a while a little old gentleman sat next to me. We were equally bewildered. People came and talked to him with great deference. The party was for him. But he didn’t know at all how to deal with it.

Sterne, along with Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, became one of the few women in a circle of Abstract Expressionist painters that included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Rothko, and Franz Kline. “The guys would say, ‘Oh, you are one of us!’ or ‘You paint just like a man.’ That was supposed to make me die with being pleased.” In fact, though, Sterne was painting nothing like them. Her teetering, machine-like constructions had more to do with Paul Klee and Alexander Calder. Yet she liked her new circle of friends and found that the macho, hard-drinking New York School of legend was in fact “no more a boy’s world than what I have encountered in my entire life…no, on the contrary, it was an agreeable surprise.”

Sterne’s recollections of individual painters often run counter to the usual myths: “Pollock had the reputation of being a drunk,” but she remembered how “he would spend an evening or two with people who had small children” and “worried when people talked too loud that it would disturb the sleeping children.” Franz Kline would tell fantastic stories about his cat for hours.

She became especially close to Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, but her recollections of them are not always complimentary. Rothko “was a very neglected-looking man, but not Bohemian—you know, spots on his tie.” His brothers belittled his art, indeed art in general. One of them once refused to visit the Statue of Liberty, saying, “I don’t like sculpture.” That only fueled Rothko’s grim determination. “He was always a sad man and very depressed. Insanely ambitious. Even after he was a success, in the end he didn’t have enough.”

Newman, who wanted to be mayor of New York when he was young, was one of the forces behind the 1951 photograph of the Abstract Expressionists. “There was a meeting of artists,” called by Newman and Gottlieb in 1950, Sterne said.

They decided that the Metropolitan Museum does not encourage modern art. They wrote a letter of protest [which a group of artists signed] and gave it to every newspaper in town. Emily Genauer, the art critic of The Herald Tribune, kind of tongue-in-cheek, mockingly called the group “The Irascibles.” The photographer of Life magazine followed the story and invited everybody to come…. She created a kind of amphitheater of chairs. I was the last, like a feather on top.

Sterne appears to be the supreme Irascible, commanding the troops, but the situation was different. In her interview with Tuchman, Sterne said, “Well, the girl at Life magazine had prepared the chairs completely…. I came in rather late and she told me, ‘stand there,’ that’s all.” With no chair for her, she stood on a table. That photo, she added, is “probably the worst thing that happened to me.” The boys weren’t too happy about it either. “They all were very furious that I was in it because they all were sufficiently macho to think that the presence of a woman took away from the seriousness of it all.”

Sterne’s closest friend by far was a fellow artist from Romania, Saul Steinberg. “We didn’t know each other in Romania. Saul left at the age of seventeen. I was four years his senior. A girl, nineteen, doesn’t see a boy, fifteen, very much. He went to Italy first. We had different lives. But I knew of him,” she said. “I saw his cartoons in Europe.” She remembers their first meeting, in 1943:

He came to lunch one day and stayed. It was less weird than that would be now. I was living at 410 East 50th Street, right near the river, five flights up. He was not yet in uniform; this was before he entered the Navy. I had a collection of children’s art on the wall. He was very pleased. He thought we are going to see eye to eye.

Sterne analyzed her instant rapport with Steinberg: “I grew up out of refusals—‘I don’t want this.’ Saul had the same horrors and taboos. It took about a half-hour and we were old friends.” They married in 1944.

CDS Gallery
One of Hedda Sterne’s tondo machine paintings, 30 inches (diameter), circa 1952

His thinking and his drawing were completely one…. I would have liked to have what he had…. I never saw him draw a line I didn’t think was delightful…. I didn’t just like it. I would hyperventilate.
In 1947, they spent time in Vermont, where Sterne discovered the farm equipment that became a staple of her work through the 1950s. (In these paintings she seemed to cannibalize machines for their parts—tractor seats, bellows, crane claws—to create new anthropomorphic structures.) They had a stint in Hollywood (where Steinberg was supposed to have designed the artwork for An American in Paris). And in the mid-1950s they saw America, by car:

Whenever you went on a drive with Saul you never went where you intended. He either lost his way or something. We saw all fifty states by car in three and a half months. The only place we didn’t get to was Hawaii…. We ended in an Indian reservation in an Indian hotel where you had to pay extra for sheets.

Steinberg discovered American baseball and bank buildings. Sterne found blurry, swirling highways.

“This was a hardworking period for me.” Sterne said of the 1950s. “I painted all day. I would work eight hours a day. Saul would never work more than a half-hour to three quarters of an hour. When it wasn’t total play and amusement, he stopped.” On top of that, she said, “I had dinners for fourteen. I cooked and cleaned, did everything myself, once or twice a week, or maybe once every three weeks…. Saul became more and more famous. He knew all The New Yorker people, the writers and cartoonists, and movie people”—Charlie Addams, Cobean, William Steig, Peter Arno, Ian Frazier, Dwight McDonald, Harold Rosenberg, E.B. White, Katherine White—and they all came to dinner.

Steinberg, in honor of Sterne’s efforts, made her the two diplomas, complete with seals and signatures—one for dishwashing, one for cooking. When I asked whether she was particularly good at dishwashing, Sterne replied: “He was indulgent.” Then, she joked: “For a long time I functioned only with a certificate for cooking. For me cooking is an extension of love. I never cook, you know, I cook for him. If we went to a restaurant and he liked something I would find out how it’s made. My preoccupation was doing things he liked.”

Steinberg left in 1961. She recalled their marriage, without rancor, as “sixteen years of infidelity,” and as “a kind of partly pleasant, partly difficult interlude” to a long friendship. At the separation, “there was never anything practically said, except that he just moved out. There was no divorce. No anger. We went together to friends’ houses to tell them…. Our friendship kept growing. We talked on the phone twice a day,” she said, adding, “Saul would like to have a harem. He knew how to add, not subtract.”

In the 1960s Sterne began what she called “her reclusive life,” drawing, painting, and seeing a few friends.

I remember when Saul left, there was a friend of his, a movie man, and I gave him a party with New Yorker writers. It was the first one without Saul. I made a big dish of paella. After everyone left, I found the dish of paella. I forgot to serve it…. I was without him and someone would always want to stay on. And there was a great problem to get the drunk out. I stopped giving parties totally…. The last opening I went to was in the 1970s, when Saul had a show at the Whitney.

CDS Gallery
One of Sterne’s lettuce paintings, 64 x 64 inches, 1967

Her painting changed as well. In the 1960s, just as abstract painting was being dethroned by Pop, she turned more abstract. She began the so-called “vertical-horizontals”—tall canvases with horizontal bands of color reminiscent of Rothko’s work. One such painting begins at the top with a broad tan stripe, melds into fawn color, runs into a band of yellow, a thin brown, another fawn color, another brown, and then, little by little, grays out. It looks abstract, but Sterne denies it: “Mondrian and Albers are abstract. My work is always a reaction to a visual experience.” In 1963, she lived in Venice on a Fulbright and studied glass and its effects on light in the Murano factory. “I was obsessed by it,” she said. The works that emerged resemble modern geometric stained glass drained of color.

In the late 1960s Sterne swung back to more figurative work. She produced her Lettuces, huge, leafy paintings and drawings that look like Eva Hesse’s early works on paper. She also created an installation, first in her apartment, then at Betty Parsons Gallery—scores of anonymous, colorless faces, drawn in acrylic paint on canvas, looking outward, unframed on the wall. The 1970 exhibition, titled “Hedda Sterne Shows Everyone,” caused a small scandal akin to the larger one Philip Guston caused with his paintings of Klansmen at the Marlborough Gallery the same year. She was seen as a traitor to abstraction.

She turned further inward and began using written texts. She put raw canvas on the floor, divided it into a grid of days, and filled it with notes and quotes. It could be walked on, like some works by Carl Andre. One square had this text:

an animal on matto grosso has big flat feet which produce a musical sound as it walks and a trunk with which it sucks butterflies on the wing. its mane is very thick and it always runs away from the color blue.

CDS Gallery
An early self-portrait by Sterne, 11 x 10 7/8 inches, circa 1938–1940

By the mid-1990s, thanks to cataracts and macular degeneration, Sterne was almost blind. She stopped painting and began drawing—not with stronger contrasts, as one might imagine, but with white crayons on white paper, aided by a magnifying glass. She was drawing, she told me, “without any external stimulus, only internal stimulus.” But she was still a figurative artist, representing her own paling vision.

When I spoke with Sterne in 2003, three years before her retrospective opened at the Krannert Art Museum in Illinois, she was leading a full and solitary life:

Drawing is continuity. Everything else is interruption, even the night and sleep. I walk in the house like a lion everyday to keep healthy. I work out. I defend myself. I’m “invalidated.” …I can die at any moment. But I still learn. Every drawing teaches me something….

The following year she had a stroke that ended drawing for her, except as something to do in her head.

Leonardo drew things to explain them to himself…. That’s an essential quality of any work of art, the authenticity of the need for understanding. I once told Barney [Newman] a story which he wanted to adopt as the motto for the Abstract Expressionists: A little girl is drawing and her mother asks her what are you drawing? And she says, “I’m drawing god.” And the mother says, “How can you draw god when you don’t know what he is?” And she says, “That’s why I draw him.”

When I was young, I tried very hard. I wept every day in the studio because there was such a distance between what I wanted to do and what came out. Now I’m at peace, because of old age. It flows calmly now. I meditate for a long time. I work against ego. I think ego is an obnoxious bother. To a great extent I have lost all interest in this fiction, Hedda Sterne.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carl Mydans and the Alley Dwellers of Washington, D.C., 1935

Carl Mydans Slums near the Capitol Washington DC With the Capitol clearly in view these houses exist under the most unsanitary conditions; outside privies no inside water supply and overcrowded conditions 1935
Carl Mydans: Slums near the Capitol, Washington, D.C. With the Capitol clearly in view, these houses exist under the most unsanitary conditions; outside privies, no inside water supply and overcrowded conditions. 1935

We just became aware of this excellent post on Washington's alleys and the people who lived in them in 1935, and are pleased to share it with you.

Carl Mydans & the Alley Dwellers of Washington, D.C., 1935
 copyright John Edwin Mason

"My mother was still in high school, when Carl Mydans photographed her neighborhood -- Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. At the time, Mydans was attached to the federal government's Resettlement Administration [RA] and was there to investigate conditions in the city's slums. Talented and ambitious, he would soon leave the RA, join the staff of Life magazine, and go on to become one of the best known photojournalists of the twentieth century.

Mydans wasn't looking for families like my mother's. Although her parents had fallen on hard times, like so many other people during the Great Depression, they remained proud of their respectability and fiercely determined to see that their children attained the middle-class status that had been snatched out of their grasp. They believed that education and hard work were the keys to success, and, sure enough, they were just that for all of their children. But there was another reason for Mydans to ignore my mother's family. They lived on a street, not in an alley."

Read the full article here, complete with numerous Mydans' photographs.

Carl Mydans Slum backyard water supply Washington DC Backyard typical to a group of houses very close to the House office building showing only available water supply 1935
Carl Mydans: Slum backyard water supply, Washington, D.C. Backyard typical to a group of houses very close to the House office building, showing only available water supply. 1935.

Related: Carl Mydans: The Early Years

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trove of John F. Kennedy Photos Sold for Over $150,000 at Auction in New York City

President John F. Kennedy being visited by his children Caroline and John Jr., in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington during October 1962. AP Photo/Bonhams, Cecil Stoughton

Via The Art Daily:

By: Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP).- A trove of John F. Kennedy pictures by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton (STOW'-tuhn) fetched over $150,000 at a New York City auction. It included a rare image of Marilyn Monroe with the president and Robert Kennedy at a Democratic fundraiser.

The collection of 12,000 photographs was estimated to bring in $200,000. It was offered by Stoughton's estate at Bonhams auction house Thursday.

The Monroe image, contained in an envelope labeled "Sensitive Material — May 19, 1962," sold for just over $9,000. The price included the buyers premium and was above its presale estimate of $4,000 to $6,000.

"It's the only image of the three of them together," said Matthew Haley, Bonhams' expert for books, manuscripts and historical photographs. "There are very few prints of this photo." (Please contact Monroe Gallery of Photography for details)

Stoughton was the first official White House photographer. He captured public as well as intimate Kennedy moments. About 60 percent of the images are of public events. The rest are of private moments: the children's birthday parties, family Christmases, and vacations in Hyannis Port, Mass.

One of Stoughton's most famous images shows Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One following Kennedy's assassination Nov. 22, 1963. The photo shows Johnson with his hand raised taking the oath of office surrounded by his wife and Jacqueline Kennedy still wearing her blood-splattered dress.

"It is one of the most iconic images of the 20th century," said Haley.

Johnson signed it: "To Cecil Stoughton, with high regards and appreciation, Lyndon B. Johnson."

In the immediate chaotic aftermath of the assassination, Stoughton learned that Johnson was being sworn in on the aircraft on a Dallas airfield and rushed over in a car, said Haley. As he was running across the tarmac, "the Secret Service thought it was another assassination attempt and almost fired at him," he said.

Haley said Stoughton's camera jammed just as Johnson was about to be sworn in but he gave it a good shake and it starting working again.

The Monroe picture with the two Kennedy brothers was saved from being destroyed by the Secret Service. It was taken at a private Manhattan residence right after the actress infamously sang "Happy Birthday" to the president at Madison Square Garden in a simmering tight dress.

Haley said, "There apparently was a directive to the Secret Service that Monroe not be photographed with the president."

He said agents visited Stoughton's darkroom afterward and removed some negatives but overlooked the one of the threesome because it was in a tray being washed.

Among the more intimate photos of the Kennedy family is one from 1962 that shows the president sitting in a chair near his desk in the Oval Office while his children, Caroline and John-John, dance before him. It's inscribed by Kennedy: "Captain Stoughton — who captured beautifully a happy moment at the White House, John F. Kennedy."


             Marilyn Monroe, Kennedys Recalled in White House Archive Sale

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Water Polo Boys, (U.S. Water Polo Team, Long Beach, California) 1996
Joe McNally: Water Polo Boys, (U.S. Water Polo Team, Long Beach, California) 1996

We are pleased and excited to welcome Joe McNally for a very special book signing and exhibition. We will celebrate Friday, December 17, from 5 to 7 PM with a public reception during which Joe will sign copies of his newest book: The LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need To Shoot Like The Pros (256 pages; $29.95). A special selection of Joe's photographs will be on exhibit through January 30, 2011.

Just in time for the holidays, Joe McNally, one of LIFE's master shooters and the most recent in a long line of distinguished LIFE staff photographers, has prepared a fool-proof guide that covers tips of the trade; step-by-step instruction on focusing, lighting and composition; and features photos from his personal portfolio.

In The LIFE Guide to Digital Photography, McNally walks readers carefully through the do's and don'ts of shooting digital and concentrates on five fundamentals: light, the lens, design elements, color, and composition. He offers his expert advice on everything from shooting fireworks and family portraits, to telling a story with texture to choosing color or not — framing all discussions with his own personal experiences as a photographer.

Joe says: “The LIFE Guide is just that–a guide. It can take a newbie right from opening the box containing the new digital picture machine right through composition, light, lenses, and color.

I wrote this book for my alma mater, LIFE magazine. What a long strange trip photography is. I shot my first job for the magazine in 1984, and managed somehow to survive editor changes, shifts in format, style, and even the change of the physical size of the magazine to keep shooting for them right through the nineties. Just about 1995 they asked me to become their first staffer in 23 years, which also meant I became the last staff photographer in the history of the magazine, as it is no longer publishing. As I always point out, being the last in a series of 90 staff shooters at this illustrious picture magazine probably means that someone writing the history of this field will probably associate my name with the death of photojournalism :-)" --Joe McNally

Rooftop Ballerina  (Nadia Grachevo, Prima Ballerina), Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow, 1997
Joe McNally: Rooftop Ballerina (Nadia Grachevo, Prima Ballerina), Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow, 1997

Please join us Friday, December 17 for a holiday book signing with Joe McNally, along with a very special exhibit of his photography, during a reception from 5 - 7 PM. Or contact the gallery now to reserve a signed copy. Also be sure to check out Joe's highly acclaimed workshops, including his Santa Fe Workshop.

Related: Joe McNally: Faces of Ground Zero

Faces of Ground Zero: Louie Cacchioli, Firefighter, Engine 47, FDNY

Joe McNally: Faces of Ground Zero: Louie Cacchioli, Firefighter, Engine 47, FDNY, 2001

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


We have previously reported on the just-completed Paris Photo, Art Miami, and Art Basel Miami. As we near 2011, the attention turns to two venerable photography fairs: Photo LA and The AIPAD Photography Show in New York.

The 20th Anniversary edition of Photo LA, the longest-running photography fair West of New York City, will take place January 13 - 17, during the long Golden Globes weekend. It brings together photography dealers from around the globe, displaying the finest contemporary photography, video and multi-media installations along with masterworks from the 19th century to an audience of more than 10,000 attendees.

This year, artLA projects has joined with Photo LA, which returns to the historic Santa Monica Civic with an added 7,000 square foot tented canopy entry. This grand entrance provides space for sculpture, installations, book signings and seating. Attendees will enjoy an expansive lobby that includes a Phaidon bookstore, seating area, café, coffee bar and cupcake corner. Photo LA is proud to host the benefit preview reception for the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography at LACMA on the evening of January 13th from 6 - 9pm. Programming includes off site events, collecting seminars, a panel discussion, Troubled Waters, on photography’s impact on environmental issues and The La Brea Matrix Project, in addition to lectures by Uta Barth, Lyle Ashton Harris, Michael Light, Andrew Moore, and David Taylor among others. Monroe Gallery looks forward to seeing all of our friends at this special anniversary edition of Photo LA!

Review LA, presented by CENTER,  will take place simultaneous to the 20th Annual Photo LA.

One of the most important international photography events, The AIPAD Photography Show New York, will be presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) from March 17 through 20, 2011. More than 70 of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries will present a wide range of museum-quality work including contemporary, modern and 19th century photographs, as well as photo-based art, video and new media, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The 31st edition of The AIPAD Photography Show New York will open with a Gala Preview on March 16 to benefit the John Szarkowski Fund, an endowment for photography acquisitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The AIPAD Photography Show New York is the longest running and foremost exhibition of fine art photography.

“Photography has been less affected by the recession than other parts of the art world,” said Stephen Bulger, President, AIPAD, and President, Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto. “As a result, photography remains a growing market. Now more than ever, AIPAD is a must-do show for collectors, and clearly is the best show for photography in North America.”


A wide range of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries will exhibit at The AIPAD Photography Show New York. In addition to galleries from New York City and across the country, a number of international galleries will be featured. 

Exhibition Highlights

Deborah Bell Photographs, New York, will show black-and-white photographs by Andy Warhol (c. 1981-86). These are photographs that precede the stitched or sewn photographic composites and are primarily formal studies taken from street life, providing insight into "Andy's eye." Gary Edwards Gallery, Washington, DC, will show a portrait of Chairman Mao from 1963 by an unknown Xinhua Agency photographer. The portrait is said to have been printed in over 100 million copies. It is the basis of the gigantic portrait hanging on Tiananmen Gate, facing Tiananmen Square in Beijing; and Andy Warhol’s Mao screenprints of 1972 are based on this photograph, as well.

New work by Abelardo Morell will be on view at Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, including images of a landscape in Florence and a rooftop view of the Brooklyn Bridge made with a camera obscura. Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, will bring work by Annie Leibovitz, Lillian Bassman, Sebastiao Salgado, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Galería Vasari, Buenos Aires, will show the work of photographers, such as Annemarie Heinrich and Juan Di Sandro, who immigrated to Argentina between the 1930s and ‘50s. Originally from Europe, they belonged to a generation that had been trained at the most refined avant-garde schools and there is no doubt of their fundamental role in the development of modern photography in Argentina.

Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, will show work by the vibrant young Japanese artist Sohei Nishino (born 1982). This will be the first time his work has been shown in the United States. Nishino’s Diorama Map series is an ongoing project to map the world's great cities using his unique process of photography and collage. After an intense month of shooting thousands of photographs on black-and-white film from hundreds of locations across the city, he spends several months developing, printing, cutting, pasting and arranging of the re-imagined city into a huge photographic collage. The final piece is re-shot using a large format camera to create a single grand photographic print.

Niko Luoma is one of the leading professors at the University of Art and Design, Helsinki, and is an integral part of the Helsinki School. His series of abstract C-prints are inspired by nature in flux, every day events, chaos, chance, and time. Luoma uses a simple mathematical system in exposing negative space and composing each work based on ideas of symmetry. The photographs will be on view at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York.

Fiona Pardington's large-scale photographs in her series Ahua: A Beautiful Hesitation document the sculptures of indigenous peoples encountered during French explorer Dumont d'Urville's 1837 voyage to the South Pacific and will be on view at Lisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ.

Monroe Gallery will be located in Booth #417. We will be bringing significant examples of important 20th Century photojournalism, new work from Stephen Wilkes' "Day Into Night" series, as well as introducing important never-before exhibited historic images. See you in March!