Photography and Text by Hilary Lam, Copyright 2018
Book Review: Looking at Photographs by John Szarkowski
The Organic Form as Sculpture
Szarkowski’s collection of 100 photographs from the Museum of Modern Art is a compilation of historic works from the 20th to early 21st century. The book is seemingly a timeline displaying various methods of photographic representation that have been utilized by different artists; Mediums range from the daguerreotype of William Shew to the collotype prints of Edward Maybridge, and even a postcard from an unknown artist. The composition and style of each photograph is distinct and truly embodies a life of its own.
Of all the photographs, I was particularly intrigued by Edward Weston’s Torso of Neil from 1925. I was immediately taken by the sculptural quality of the form and especially the framing of the image itself. The black background of the man’s torso creates an intense contrast, highlighting a silhouette that drags the viewer’s attention. The soft shadows running from the armpit of the body onto the ribcage, and gently towards the lower body projects the intimacy and gentleness of the natural and organic human form. The reality of the subject, Weston’s son, and the compression and focus of the imagery with the small 91/8” x 5 1/2” frame gives a tangibility and added beauty to the organic figure as a cherished form.
My accompanying photograph is one that I took at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, which I immediately thought of upon viewing Weston’s image. In a similar manner, I created a composition which focused on the human torso, however with my subject in the form of a stone sculpture. I am always in awe of the human form, in all it’s organicity and variety of ways in which humans embody themselves. Especially when the human figure is rendered sculpturally in such a static medium as stone, I am amazed by the suppleness and verity the sculptor is able to capture.
“Photography is a matter of the eyes, intuition, and intellect.” -JS
About The Author: Hilary Lam is a Graduate student enrolled in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional article by Hilary Lam, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/hilary-lam-its-personal/