Category Archives: Book Reviews

George Krause: Lunch With a Legend

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Martha Gibson. George Krause. Lunch at the White Dog Cafe, March 8, 2018. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018.

 

 

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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GEORGE KRAUSE: LUNCH WITH A LEGEND

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I first met my friend and mentor, George Krause in 1975 at Photopia Gallery on South Street. The Philly based gallery was located in the same neighborhood where Man Ray was born and where Ray K. Metzker, also a legendary photographer and friend of George, lived by converting an old 19th century fire house into his studio. Metzker’s studio was located just around the corner from where George Krause lived for several years before relocating to Wimberly, Texas, where he currently resides with his girlfriend, the artist, Martha Gibson.  Photopia was the place to see fine art photography during those days and George Krause was amongst the finest artists to exhibit at the avant-garde exhibition space.  A couple of years earlier,  Krause had  published GEORGE KRAUSE-1, his first book of groundbreaking photographs, which became a visual bible for anyone interested in photography as a fine art at the time. Toll & Armstrong of Haverford, Pa. published the monograph with forward by Mark Power, in 1972. I have a signed copy proudly displayed of GEORGE KRAUSE – 1 in my personal library. 

Before I was informed George would be visiting Philadelphia this year to install his latest exhibition, Introspective 1957 to 2017 at the University of the Arts, I had already introduced his work to my photography students at the University of Pennsylvania. In September, I assigned the class a book review of John Szarkowski’s classic, Looking at Photographs.  George was  selected by Szarkowski to  be represented in this  iconic representation of the history of photography published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1973.

Needless to say, my students were thrilled to learn that the legendary, George Krause would be visiting their class during his visit to Penn’s campus.  When I showed the students the signed copy of his first book, I completely forgot that it contained personal letters. I  shared with the class, that I had received letters from George during the 1970’s when we corresponded while he was working in San Miguel, Mexico or at the American Academy in Rome. I was a graduate student studying photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology where many of Georges contemporaries lectured at my graduate seminars including: Ralph Gibson, Emmet Gowin, Duane Michals, Susan Sontag and Peter Bunnell. The list would also include George Krause after he accepted an invitation that I forwarded to him on behalf of the masters program at R.I.T. We’ve stayed in touch ever since.

George was thrilled to see an exhibit of the students work at the Clutter Gallery in Addams Hall.  The class had the good fortune of reading about photographic history and then to meet a living embodiment of its history made for an amazing learning experience for the students. George mentioned during his talk that it was the first time he had been asked to speak about his work by accessing his web site: www.GeorgeKrause.com.  George also mentioned that he may have been the first photographer in photographic history to cut a beveled mat window to present his photographs. After his talk we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the White Dog Cafe on Penn’s campus with his girlfriend; the artist, Martha Gibson.

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George Krause: Exhibition Announcement. UArts.

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George Krause with Photography Students at UPenn

George Krause with Photography Students at UPenn. Photo: Martha Gibson.

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George Krause and Tony Ward at Introspective opening reception, UArts. March 28, 2018.

George Krause and Tony Ward at Introspective opening reception, UArts. March 28, 2018.

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and adjunct professor of photography at the University of Pennsylvania.  His published works can be accessed herehttp://tonyward.com/shopping-cart/books-bonus-gift/

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Editor’s Note: Tony Ward used the new Sony RX100V to make the portrait of George Krause during lunch with an ISO setting of 320, White Balance: AWB, Shutter: 1/30th, F-Stop:1.8.

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn Photography

Wenjia Guo: Architectural Gift

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Photo: Wenjia Guo

 

Photography and Text by Wenjia Guo, Copyright 2018

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Book Review

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John Szarkowski:  Looking at Photographs

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When I first got this book, I was wondering why we need to look at such a “history” book to learn photography. The book I rented from Cornell University first surprised me with its date due list, whose first reader rented it in 1984, ten years before I was born. This magical feeling seemed to have nothing to do with photography technique, but related to the most important thing I absorbed from the book — the historical significance of photo selection, which I understand as real important.

The first time I read Looking at Photographs, I just focused on the pictures without tasting the articles, the first time, portraitures mainly caught my eye. The eye contact, the hairstyles, the clothes, even the gestures showed the harmony with the environmental background of the time. But after reading each picture’s introduction, I found even gestures are more vivid, needless to say landscape photography, architecture photography and other genres have come to my awareness. The historical background is quite charming. When you see a man with his hands crossed holding his head chatting with others, the situation that farmers in those those years with not much work to do, instead had plenty of time for conversation is reasonable but a little bit surprising. 

However, what inspired me most in the book is the staircase photo, which was created by Tina Modotti when she lived in Mexico in the years 1923 through 1926. Pictures of architecture definitely shows the combination of materials, the wood, the metal, the concrete all have diverse brightness, and even it is a picture of black and white, I could feel the different temperature when sun light heated them. What’s more, the powerful straight lines created a wonderful geometric pattern, the perspective of the stairs as well as the handrail created a spiral of beauty.

The light in this picture that I created is also attractive, it comes from the back and forms a different kind of depth. So, during my travel week in Miami, I paid a lot of attention when I visited different buildings, trying to find some contemporary characteristics of architecture and how the light and materials played in the view. When I stood in the hall of New World Center by Frank Gehry, I see the flow curvature, the prefabrication technique, the slowly rising stairs, the elegant boundary of windows and walls, as well as the light gently irradiated from a particular distance. 

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About The Author: Wenjia Guo is a Graduate student in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Wenjia Guo, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/wenjia-guo-emotional-change/

 

Also posted in Architecture, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Engineering, Environment, Health Care, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Mu Qiao: Builder

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Montage: Mu Qiao

 

Montage and Text by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

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Book Reviews

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Jerry Uelsmann’s “Poets House” and John Szarkowski’s “Looking at Photographs”

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After reading JERRY UELSMANN’s “Poet’s House”, which is in the book of “LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS”, I am quickly drawn into the idea of ​​synthesized photographs. I really appreciate the point that photographs can be constructed to produce an assembled effect, which the photographer wants the audience to see instead of showing the audience purely realistic photography, which may mis -convey the photographer’s points of view.

One of the examples that I used most for the synthesized photographs is montage.

Montage is a manifestation of freedom. Making good use of montages or collages, in the early stages of design, we architects can get many ideas and inspiration. The essence of collage is the creation of relationship between things. This relationship is not just a juxtaposition of two nearby elements, but also a spatial affiliation. In composition, the height of each collage element, before and after cover, material color, size and so on all related to their hierarchy in the entire collage works. A good collage or montage can portray a less clear story.

For example, Richard Hamilton’s very famous pop art collage “Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?” (1956). This work is composed of images tailored from American magazines. There are many representatives of elements such as the explosion of multimedia information and the popularization of electrical appliances at that time. The elements create interest and conflict while expressing the author’s ideas. For example, the photo of the earth at the top of the room was taken from the cover of Life Magazine. Although it appears on the ceiling as an irrational phenomenon, it is indeed the result of the development of science and technology at that time. This shows that collages are often humorous.

In the procedure of synthesized photographs, there are many tips. Collage is to construct an order, what is new, what is old, what is important, what is secondary, and what is the role played by people in the scene character of. This information is generated by, but also the audience need to think about.

Appropriate to add some lines to help collage to form a complete space. Simply use the background pattern and white space to distinguish space outside. Another common practice is to use a natural scene or material texture as a material to create a silhouette of people or things. Such silhouettes will carry the emotions and atmosphere of the pictures they contain or reflect some of the characters.

The montage also breaks the perspective and combines the building with a flat map. The two parts interact to show the geographical orientation and at the same time add a visual texture to the map area.

In the model, people are used to represent the scale, while people in the collage can increase the sense of substitution and let the audience see the content of the painting from his perspective.

For the “Builder”, I used several photos of famous architects, who are working at a table. The table becomes the connection and also the center of that scene. Taking the photo of New York city view as the background creates the sense of space. The whole picture then presents a fantasy scene that architects are working together and designing the world.

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About The Author: Mu Qiao is a Graduate student enrolled in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Mu Qiao, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mu-qiao-left-or-right/

 

Also posted in Architecture, Art, Contemporary Architecture, Engineering, Environment, History, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students

Grant Wei: An Accurate Painting

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Photo: Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

 

Photography and Text by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

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Book Review

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John Szarkowski: Looking at Photographs

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AN ACCURATE PAINTING

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Photos as emulations of paintings, creating some sort of misplaced hierarchy between paintings and photographs. Photographs, allegedly, were recreational, while paintings were considered to be fine art. At least, in the first couple of centuries of photography. But in another interpretation, mostly by fascists in Germany, the quality of the art was defined by how realistically it portrayed reality. And in that sense, there can be no greater portrayal of reality than through a photograph.

But some moments cannot be captured by a camera. The feelings associated with a sunset — those are moments that cannot be captured no matter how skilled the photographer. Or any artist, for that matter. There are aspects to a sunset that are seem to be intangible, leaving an artist with a sense of helplessness in capturing the sheer ineffability of the sun. Such a sentiment gave rise to the impressionist movement, which was coincidentally coined Tournachon’s studio. And so, the question is, how do photographers capture things that cannot be captured?

Alvin Langdon Coburn is considered to be one of the first photographers who attempted to capture abstract ideas with his photos. Some notable pictures by him include photos of clouds, which he considered to be oddly poetic in the sense that they only exist in the shape and position they are in at one period in time throughout the entirety of time. In this regard, each photo of a cloud is considered to be a rare photo in the sense that it cannot be replicated in quite the same fashion. In a way, Coburn gave birth to conceptual photography.

While Coburn extrapolated the meaning of clouds to be a series of different worlds, the uniqueness of his cloud photos lies in his interpretation. The photos have meaning behind them; in other words, they have concept in addition to aesthetic. What people can see is a picture of a cloud, but the picture of a cloud is not the photo. Although I do not particularly agree with his analysis of clouds as different worlds, I do appreciate his effort to add a poetic element to his pictures. The clouds are indeed quite beautiful, but to me, the value of a piece of art lies in its concept — not its aesthetic.

I, too, try to create art that is not only aesthetic but also conceptual. Titled: Black Mirror, I wanted to create a sense of existential dystopianism influenced from the Netflix TV series, Black Mirror. Taken in a bathroom of a random pop-up shop in Philadelphia, I wanted to create a sense of dread and confusion. By adding noise and distortions to the photo, I hoped to create a sense of discomfort while maintaining a degree of aesthetics. Because, like the reality of the TV series black mirror, our conception of reality is also warped by a warm filter that prevents us from seeing the nothingness that lies behind.

I saw a black space in a frame, and I saw an accurate reflection of the emptiness of our reality. But simply taking picture of a black picture frame was not adequate to capture my sentiments. I could not communicate my feelings of overwhelming despair with a simple photo, which is why I used Adobe Photoshop to modify the noise and add filters. Not unlike Coburn, I saw a different world in an object we see every day, and I wanted to share my sentiments through something more than an aesthetically pleasing photo.

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About The Author: Grant Wei is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Grant Wei, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/grant-wei-cigarettes-sex/

 

Also posted in Art, History, Painting, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students

Lilibeth Montero: Looking at Photographs

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Photo: Lilibeth Montero

 

Photography and Text by Lilibeth Montero, Copyright 2018

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Book Review

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John Szarkowski: Looking at Photographs

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The first picture John Szarkowski introduces is a portrait. The portrait created by William Shew, using the daguerreotype process, fascinated me. Szarkowski mentions in the book that daguerreotype was mainly used to capture the faces of people. I find this early usage of photography similar to the current most popular use of photography, to take “selfies”. Although, it’s incredibly narcissistic to take pictures of one self, oddly we are capturing our history just like the people taking pictures using the daguerreotype technique were. I also find it important to note that I feel photography has become heavily flooded my narcissism, and I feel that’s the direction new photographers emerging will perhaps take.

Another image I found quite fascinating was “Chicken and tree” by Edouard Boubat. The way Boubat plays with the viewer’s perspective is incredible. At first sight, I was sure this image was of a tree and chicken, and the sky behind it. To my surprise there is a wall behind the tree. I find this image fascinating because one can understand the technical process that went into producing an image like this, but it’s still incredible. I really agree with what Szarkowski says, that our interpretation of an image may change but the image itself doesn’t. After reading, I realized there was a wall, however I still saw a sky behind the tree. On the other hand, Baron Adolph De Meyer’s image “Helen Lee Worthing” is fascinating to me because of the “frank and luxurious artificial light” within the image. I feel this light makes the image look much more luxurious, and conveys a sense of wealth. I find it interesting how Baron Adolphe De Meyer influenced fashion, and how technological improvements allowed him and other photographers have a larger platform.

In my image, I attempted to mimic the way Boubat deceives the viewer in his image. I decided to take a picture of a lamp, but added a teddy bear to the bottom of it. I wanted the bear to be out of focus, and the purpose of the teddy bear is to change the interpretation of the image, yet have the image be the same. Although it’s not the same way Boubat fools his audience, I am very pleased with the result. When you don’t notice the teddy bear one focuses on the lamp asking questions like: why this lamp post? Where is this lamp post located? After noticing the teddy bear one’s interpretation changes and the viewer asks questions like: why this lamp post and this teddy bear? How do they relate? Similar to Baron Adolphe De Meyer’s image, my picture portrays a sense of luxury through the light released by the lamp. The lamp post itself aesthetically conveys a sense of wealth because of the careful details embedded in the stone, the marble at the bottom it and the chandelier looking light bulbs.

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About The Author: Lilibeth Montero is a freshman enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2021. To access additional articles by Lilibeth Montero, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/lilibeth-montero-abril/

 

Also posted in Architecture, Art, Documentary, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women