Friday, February 28, 2020

London: Lillian Bassman, Redefining Fashion

It's a Cinch, Carmen, New York, Harper's Bazaar, 1951

A solo exhibition of work by Lillian Bassman (1917-2012), renowned as a modernising force in post-war fashion photography, opens at Atlas Gallery on 27 February (until 18 April 2020). A fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s – 1970s, Bassman was famous for her high-contrast images of society women, actresses and models. Reworking early negatives in the 1990s, Bassman accentuated the stylised vision she had begun exploring in her early career, attracting a new wave of interest in her work. A selection of black and white photographs from both periods will be on display.

Bassman’s work was significant in emphasising the power of elegance, mystery and gesture in fashion. “[Lillian Bassman] makes visible that heart-breaking invisible place between appearance and the disappearance of things” (Richard Avedon). Her prints, developed in high contrast and carefully over-exposed, are abstract, luminous, soft yet captivatingly dramatic. The models become silhouettes, consumed by blankets of light and darkness; only the curve of an eye in profile, the gentle sweep of a jawline or a tiny nose peeping out from under a large hat give any indication of their features.

Bassman’s career in photography started under the guidance of legendary Alexey Brodovich (1898-1971), Art Director at Harper’s Bazaar. After being appointed co-art director of Junior Bazaar in 1945, Bassman’s images were published in Harper’s from 1950-65. At Harper’s, Bassman helped foster the careers of photographers Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Arnold Newman and Louis Faurer. Bassman herself spent long hours in Harper’s darkroom developing and manipulating her images to achieve her signature style. She explained to one interviewer: “I tried to make my pictures soft and flowing. I was never interested in the straight print and I was trying out soft-focus effects by printing through tissue or gauze and vignetting with ferricyanide bleach.”

Lillian Bassman (1917-2012), Barbara Mullen, Harper’s Bazaar, New York, c.1958. © The Estate of Lillian Bassman  
49 Dorset Street London W1U 7NF

Lillian Bassman : Redefining Fashion
27 February – 18 April 2020

More information: Gallery Website
More exhibitions: All About Photo Website

Monday, February 10, 2020

Belgium: Seydou Keïta and Norbert Ghisoland at Gallery 51

To launch its 20th year of existence, Gallery FIFTY ONE is delighted to present its upcoming duo-show including studio portraits by Norbert Ghisoland and Seydou Keïta. Both coming from different backgrounds and eras, they share quite a few similarities. The studio portraits of ordinary people, taken in different social contexts, give us a glimpse of how both photographers captured the surrounding society within the small constraints of their studios.

Seydou Keïta (Mali, 1920 - France, 2001) has been introduced to the art world by the gallerist in 1995 - even before the official opening of the gallery in 2000. Keïta has been a part of the represented artists ever since. He belongs to a generation of African photographers who enjoyed an international recognition only at a later stage of his life. This exhibition will only feature life-time prints signed by the artist.

Keïta started making furniture and spending a lot of time as an apprentice of Pierre Garnier, who had his own studio. Just like a few other Malian photographers such as Kouyaté and Sidibé he learned the trade and soon realized that there was an enormous demand for individual pictures. This drove him to open his own studio in 1948. Up until then, western settlers had had a lot of trouble convincing the local population of having their pictures taken as they believed they would lose their identity. With Keita all became different: he was part of their community and let them choose the image that would be given to the close family or friends.

From then on people queued up to have their pictures taken. The sole desire of people posing in front if Keïta’s lens was to look their best. To accomplish this, Keïta gave them costumes, accessories and furniture to further enhance their appearance. Men, women and children, all look perfectly elegant. If we look beyond the aesthetics of the black-and-white pictures, Keita shows us a portrait of Malian society in full transition.

Finally Keita was to become the country's official photographer, and stopped working in 1977. Nevertheless, it took many years for his work to get the proper recognition and be included in the famous "Rencontres de Bamako”.

Norbert Ghisoland (Belgium, 1878 - 1939) comes from the coal-mining region of "Le Borinage", in Belgium where he opened his shop and studio. He was able to attract a whole crowd of people wanting to be photographed either as individuals or in groups. Not only local miners came by but also middle-class people, military men, clergymen, sportsmen, young and old. Norbert Ghisoland chose the setting and poses of his models, either in a specific decor or in front of a white backdrop, always capturing them in a most positive way.

Ghisoland showed a lot of emotion towards all his models. They either sit or stand with their hands folded or with one hand simply resting on the shoulder of a friend or relative posing next to them, all of them without a trace of a smile on their faces as they come from Le Pays Noir, the local coal-mining area.

Tormented by the pre-war times and worried at the thought of his son being called up in the army, Norbert Ghisoland passed away in 1939 at the age of 61, leaving behind a unique testimony about his fellow people of the coal mining era.

Ghisoland’s work has been shown on an international scale on several occasions with the 2013 Venice Biennale as a highlight.

This exhibition creates an interesting dialogue between two studio-photographers from different time periods and locations, but aiming to achieve the same goal: to create a moment of peace and quiet in the rough day to day lives and entertaining their models using accessories such as watches, hats, bikes, etc., that weren’t available to everyone at that time. 

More information: HERE
More exhibitions: HERE

Switzerland: Rankin Disruption

© John Rankin
Photographer Rankin launches his first solo exhibition at Petra Gut Contemporary Gallery, showcasing iconic portraits and never-before-exhibited Polaroids from top shoots.

Celebrating the start of their gallerist and artist collaboration, Rankin has joined forces with Zurich based Petra Gut to explore his boldest portraiture. From international superstars to dancers and models, Disruption is a unique tour through the emotion, intimacy and humour evident in Rankin’s portrait and beauty work.

“I’ve always been obsessed with people. I want to get to know everyone and know everything about them. I think this is why I love portraits as I get to spend one-on-one time with the great and the good and really find out what makes them them. Disruption is the first time I’ve had a show that is really all about that emotional connection. The works show sadness, happiness, nervousness and confidence. Just like my portrait and beauty photography, this exhibition is all about a connection and a feeling.”

Opening up the door further into his artistic practice and the photographer/model relationship, Disruption also sees Rankin explore his Polaroid archive to find one of a kind frames. Taken between the 1990’s and early 2000s, these images are unique snapshots from some of Rankin’s best known shoots. Taking familiar subjects from unfamiliar angles, these Polaroids reveal close-up and behind-the- scenes views of beauty, fashion, nudes and advertising.

The most revealing display of what makes beauty and portraiture exciting and essential artforms, Disruption is a personal take on faces both known and unknown.

Rankin : Disruption
6th February – 20th March, 2020
Petra Gut Contemporary
Nüschelerstrasse 31
8001 Zürich, Switzerland
More information here
More exhibitions on All About Photo

© John Rankin

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Netherlands: Temps Zero

Since 2012, the international collective Temps Zero – led by photographer and curator Stéphane Charpentier and sound artist Alyssa Moxley – has been bringing together a new generation of international experimental visual and sound artists. The group travels across European cities in ever-changing line-ups, with poetic exhibitions, improvised concerts and workshop presentations.

© Gabrielle Duplantier
This collectively supported art project is like a close-knit family of outsiders, looking for their place in an unruly world. The participants find each other in their existential drive for freedom and the intensely creative impulses that result from it. Together they fuse photography, video, sound art and music into penetrating sensory experiences.

From January 16 to April 12, 2020, Temps Zero settles in Groningen and presents an interactive installation in the Noorderlicht studio. In the halls, images are combined with multi-track sound that responds via sensors to the movements of visitors. A continuous projection is shown in a film room with a specially composed score.

© Martin Bogren
Photos and video
Michael Ackerman, Gaël Bonnefon, Martin Bogren, Lorenzo Castore, Stéphane Charpentier, Clara Chichin, Adam Grossman Cohen, Damien Daufresne, Gabrielle Duplantier, Theo Elias, Nicu Ilfoveanu, Marco Marzocchi, Lorena Morin, Patricia Morosan, Alisa Resnik, Gilles Roudière, Gilles Roudière M Schueppel and Marie Sordat.

© Michael Ackerman
More information about the exhibition: HERE
More photo exhibitions: HERE