Category Archives: interview

Linda Ruan: 10 Questions

 

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TW: Let’s start with your acceptance to PAFA. How did you feel when you heard the news of acceptance to MFA program?

LR:  It was only a month between my submission to PAFA and my acceptance into PAFA. I was excited because it would be my first time going to a fine arts academy to pursue a fine arts degree. My four-year liberal arts experience was more on the theoretical side. PAFA seems to be a better place for me to do something more practical. I went to the open house last fall and immediately fell in love with the facilities inside and decided to apply there: a rooftop terrace that holds the best part of the city, spacious private studio space, skylit painting studios and etc. The location is also a plus. Located in center Philly makes everything more accessible. More opportunities to go to gallery openings and to meet more people in the art circle. Hope I could walk outside my comfort zone and experiment with more mediums during my next two years there. Looking forward to the new semester.

TW: You spent part of the summer visiting friends and family in Shanghai. What is it like in China these days with the tariff wars seemingly going on with out an end in sight.  Are the American tariff’s having an impact on daily life in Shanghai and more generally through out China? 

LR: I am not really into politics, so I don’t have much to say for this question. But my friends talk about it, only talk about it because there isn’t much that they could do. I remember the day my friend circle all came out and cried when 1 USD converts to 7 CNY. The currency rate is going insane. It is now up to 7.16 CNY. The rate might be a real problem to those studying abroad because it means that they need to pay more for their high tuition. Other than that, I think people just live their normal life and are not really affected by the tariff. Well, I still need to say that I am not a political person. So my words really don’t count towards this one.

TW: So you’ve clearly drawn a distinction between your art and politics.  Tell me what draws you to make Art. What is its purpose if it’s not political?

LR: I don’t think art should always be political. My painting professor Ying Li at Haverford College was the one who inspired and encouraged me to do art. She always says to me: “just paint what you see and the more you paint the more clearly you will see the object”. Landscape, cityscape, and still life are my current main interests in painting. I am interested in exploring how forms, structures, and colors impact the way I see and make a painting. One of my favorite artists is Joan Mitchell whose work focuses on abstract forms and colors.

TW: You coined the phrase Imitation Kills.  What does the term mean to you and do you apply the concept in life in some way?

LR: I used that phrase for my social platforms. Nowadays people just imitate each other, from clothing style to art style. Influencers post outfits on Instagram and followers go after them. Originality is lost or is diminishing. People are doing similar stuff. I don’t think that’s a good thing, especially in the field of art because we are different individuals and we need to use our own way to prove that we are unique, even if one’s art style has not been widely accepted.

TW: Your current series of paintings featured at the senior exhibit at Haverford College this past Spring revealed a focus on abstraction with an effusive application of paint and vigorous brush work. How do you anticipate your work evolving in the next two years at PAFA?

LR: I look forward to trying something different at PAFA so I couldn’t answer how I would anticipate my work to be. Let this be an open question and we shall see.

TW:  You have a love for fashion that is often reflected in your affection for oversized clothing as part of your day to day style.  In this series of pictures another side of your persona is revealed in your choice of  bathing suit for a series of pictures taken at the Oceana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.  Tell us about the black two piece you brought back from Shanghai on your recent trip. What is your impression of the Jersey Shore?

LR: I bought the bathing suits from a Chinese lingerie brand named NEIWAI. The brand features intimates for petite sizes. Their design is simple but also sexy in a subdued way. I think that impression is similar to my day to day style. They don’t have too many options in bathing suits, so I just bought the piece that I think might fit me the best in size. I chose black because that has always been my top color. The leather jacket is from All Saints. I feel more comfortable covering more of my body. Speaking of the Jersey Shore, I mean, who doesn’t like the beach? It’s a perfect getaway from busy city life. I like the architecture of the Oceana. The design is quite modern and the curves on the exterior are totally on point. Shoutout to Tony who picked this place to shoot. The surrounding fits the outfit perfectly.

TW: The Chinese government has blocked access to Google, Facebook, Youtube, and other mass global communication platforms on the internet.  What do you think the reason for that is?

LR: I think the voices on these social platforms are different, especially when the problem goes to politics. However, I am not saying that one voice is better than the other. It’s just that politics has always been a complicated thing. Our minds could be easily influenced by words spreading on these platforms. The government is just trying their best to eliminate the unnecessary issues that might arise.

TW: Are artists based in China heavily censored by the government as to what they can express in a work of Art?

LR: I am not familiar with the art circle in China because I spend most of my time here in the States. But I think we can do whatever we want unless we create and show art that has strong politically sensitive subjects. Other than that, I believe that artists based in China have enough freedom.

TW: With the exception of Al Weiwei are there other leading artists from China having an impact on the global stage that inspire you to make Art?

LR: I am thinking about adding more Chinese elements in my paintings. My two favorite Chinese artists are Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing. They are both creative in their way of making art and are also the ones who incorporate Chinese materials and culture in their work.

TW:  What are your goals in the next 5 years?

Haven’t planned that far. I hope to have a solo opening after graduating from PAFA. So I guess I will keep painting. I am thinking about going back to Shanghai to spend more time with my family after graduation. It just has been a while since I first came here.

Editor’s Note: Linda Ruan is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a concentration on painting and art history. She recently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

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Repost: Larry Fink – Interview

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LARRY FINK: INTERVIEW

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Editor’s Note: Larry Fink: The Boxing Photographs is presently on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from August 11, 2018 – January 1, 2019. The interview between Tony Ward and Larry Fink took place in January of 2013.

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TW: Taking pictures for Conde Nast titles such as Vanity Fair and W  is an aspiration for many photographers around the world. What is your advice to those photographers that share similar goals and aspirations?

L.F.

Watch out for what you ask for….. it might ask more from your soul than you would be comfortable with giving up…

TW: Are you specifically referring to contractual agreements with the publishing house? Work for hire agreements and the like? When a photographer shoots for Conde Nast, who owns the rights to the picture?

L.F.

Never have I given my copyright to anyone…….. but some other more desperate types have sold the apple with the tree…

TW: You’ve photographed a large variety of people from all walks of life over the course of your career; where do you draw your inspiration from these days?………

L.F.

..   Inspiration comes  with  breakfast….. and an obsessive  need to merge within  the soul of each who I am attracted to..   the  shape of the pictures  is constructed within the moment of impulse…

TW: What was the most fun assignment you’ve ever worked on?  What was the worst?

L.F.

Over the course of 56 years  there have been many assignments which were  fun  but the  deeper truth is that each and any  job I have ever taken and done has been vital to my life and craft…working under contract  with Vanity Fair was a  very good time…

TW: Which photographers did you look up to when you were in your teens and first learning the craft?  Who do you admire today? 

LF.

Henri Cartier Bresson… Simpson  Kalisher,,, Bruce Davidson..  Lisette Model,  Brassai…

Todays workers could be…Gilles Peress…. Mitch Epstein …,  Debbie Flemming Caffery   

TW: How did your growing up influence the way you frame a shot?  Were your parents artistic and teach you to interpret the world through composition and structure, via the lens of a camera?

LF.

I was reared by leftist parents with a deep if  rigid appreciation of  art and music …….  It was of great inspiration to be  cuddled within culture…

TW: Henri Cartier Bresson was known for the “decisive moment”. In your picture making, the “indecisive moment” seems to be your hallmark.  Which visual standards must be met before you decide to make a print for the world to see?

LF.

Indecisive is not something that I am known for and if the images  are such then they fail… visual standards  are fleeting and fixed…. The answer to the question is a dissertation  of  which I will not write here.

TW: During your recent talk at the University of Pennsylvania you mentioned you were beginning to explore the use of the digital camera?  How will the new medium transform your interpretations of new ideas, concepts or assignments?

LF.      

Creative  visual promiscuity…….  Is not a sin……… it  opens up my  photographic eyes by its ease of experimental  rendering ..

TW: You’ve been teaching at Bard for decades: what do you find most rewarding or challenging with regards to the instructor/student classroom experience?.

LF:

………………………………………….I love kids and fear for the future of culture amongst other things…..      I teach in order to contribute to the richness of life experience… I teach in order to learn ..   each student is a lesson…

TW: You’ve accomplished so much in your storied career, from one man shows at the Museum of Modern art, to the glossy editorial pages of W and Vanity Fair: what is the next big goal or desire for Larry Fink in 2013?

LF.

I have no goals.  In the beginning we wished for revolution .. a new spirit for man… but we have not gone there in fact.  We here in the USA are the bastion of  reaction and art is  dominated by commerce not soul…… the essential goals have been squelched.

However each picture has the possibility of being a miracle  even if it  is not  often received as such…. Of course, I have projects and books in mind  One thing which is interesting as well.. as  I have been  respected I have not had a retrospective show in a major venue in my country the USA…..    I would love to do that before I die. That said  my health is sound so we have time.

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Biography

​Besides working as a professional photographer for over fifty-five years, Larry Fink has had one-man shows at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art amongst others. On the European continent, he has had one-man shows at the Musee de l’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland and the Musee de la Photographie in Charleroi, Belgium. Recently, in the last three years, he had a traveling retrospective shown in six different Spanish museums. He was awarded the “Best of Show” for an exhibition curated by Christian Caujolle at the Arles Festival of Photograph in France. As far as being represented in group shows, the list is longer than the eye can see. Most recently, Larry has been awarded the
2015 International Center for Photography (ICP) Infinity Award for Lifetime Fine Art Photography. He has also been awarded two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships and two National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Photography Fellowships. He has been teaching for over fifty-two years, with professorial positions held at Yale University, Cooper Union, and lastly at Bard College, where he is an honored professor. 
Larry’s first monograph, the seminal Social Graces (Aperture, 1984) left a lasting impression in the photographic community. There have been twelve other monographs with the subject matter crossing the class barrier in unexpected ways. Two of his most recently published books were on several “Best Of” lists of the year: The Beats published by Artiere /powerhouse andLarry Fink on Composition and Improvisation published by Aperture. His most recent book is Opening the Sky, published by Stanley / Barker. As an editorial photographer, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have been amongst a long list of accounts.
 
Coming early 2017, Fink On Warhol: New York Photographs of the 1960s, featuring rare photographs of Andy Warhol and his friends at the Factory interspersed with street scenes and the political atmosphere of 1960s New York. Additionally, he is currently working on a massive retrospective book to be published by the University of Texas Press. Grafiche dell’Artiere in Bologna will make the exquisite prints for the book..

To access Larry Fink’s web site, click herehttp://www.larryfinkphotography.com/

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All Rights Reserved. Copyright, Larry Fink, 2018.

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Friends of Tony Ward Studio

 

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