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The Life & Art of Judy Chicago

An incredible career that spans five decades, Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual.

judy chicago art

The Dinner Party, International Honor Quilt, The Birth Project, Powerplay, and The Holocaust Project are her most notable projects, and her art has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Asia.

Equal parts sculptor, installation artist, feminist, and harnesser of the zeitgeist, she has known her calling since a young age

Background

Judy Chicago was born in 1939 in Chicago, Illinois. Heavily influenced by her mother’s love of the arts, at the tender age of three, Judy started drawing and attended some classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.

judy chicago young

By the age of five, she knew she “never wanted to do anything but make art” and began pursuing her passion further.

“Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn’t always lead to action.

Many of the women had been raised without the sense that they could mold and shape their own lives, and so, wanting to be an artist (but without the ability to realize their wants) was, for some of them, only an idle fantasy, like wanting to go to the moon.”

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She attended UCLA on a scholarship and graduated in 1964 with her Masters of Fine Arts. In 1965, Judy held her first solo show.

It was at the Rolf Nelson Gallery in Los Angeles, and she was one of four women who participated in that show.

Judy refuses to participate in any show that has a ‘women’ or ‘Jewish’ label attached to it, like the California Women in the Arts exhibition, as she feels that there should be no labels attached. During this time, Judy began sculpting.

judy chicago minimalist sculpture

Fresno State

As she began her experimental gallery of sculptures and drawings that were, in her words ‘minimalist,’ Judy’s work was at the forefront of the conceptual art movement in LA.

She began experimenting with lighting, pyrotechnics, and smoke to create an atmosphere for her exhibits.

She wanted to feminize and soften the playing field, and she began exploring sexuality in her work, and this became a turning point for her craft.

In 1970, Judy began to teach full-time, teaching women’s only art classes at Fresno State College.

fresno state college feminist art program 1970

It was the first of its kind in the United States, and Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro would go on to renew the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts.

Judy is known as a leader and pioneer of feminist artists, and for a good reason.

Womanhouse was a collaborative project that used the artists’ problems as women as inspiration.

“The aim of the Feminist Art Program is to help women restructure their personalities to be more consistent with their desires to be artists and to help them build their art-making out of their experiences as women.”

womanhouse

This project displayed Judy’s own identity struggle as an artist.

Judy appears in our feature article, What is Installation Art?

The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party, possibly her most famous work, has a permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Five years and $250,000 later, this work is Judy’s triumph.

the dinner party

Tables set up in a triangle formation with 39 place settings, each commemorating an important woman in history. This piece took over the work of over 400 people to come to fruition.

Each place setting is unique, with a china plate that is hand-painted and deliberately embroidered runner. The floor beneath the table has the names of 998 women and one man who has made a mark in our history.

Each piece of artwork has an abstractly painted vulva-styled form. There was some resistance from the people in the art world for this piece, but at the time that it came out, it toured to 16 venues in 6 countries and is now a permanent fixture in Brooklyn.

Here’s a look…

The Birth Project

The Birth Project took another five years to create, finishing up in 1985.

Judy realized that there were no representations of birth in western art or none that she could immediately think of.

The Birth Project uses the iconography of women giving birth to celebrate motherhood. While motherhood was not for Judy, she was inspired by women who choose motherhood.

Powerplay

After The Birth Project, she went back to independent studio work and created Powerplay, a series of drawings, paintings, weavings, bronze reliefs, and cast paper.

This piece explored the female gaze and how power has affected men.

The Holocaust Project

The Holocaust Project, a collaboration with her husband, Donald Woodman, touched on her interest in male power in regards to the holocaust.

During this time, Judy became more interested in exploring her Jewish heritage, and her work began another shift.

In the span of eight years, she and her husband finished the piece that documented the victims of the holocaust, during a time she was facing her own personal loss.

The passing of her brother and her mother aided her in creating the visual and written art components of this piece.

The Holocaust Project explores the themes of victimization, injustice, cruelty, and oppression. There are a variety of mediums used in this project, including stained glass and metalwork.

Books

Judy has penned many books in her career, and she has been included in numerous publications. Her work has been published in a variety of languages, so she still reaches a global audience.

judy chicago beyond the flower

Her work has been the subject of articles, history texts, and her goal to create a piece of art history has been realized. Art curators and historians have studied her work, and the impact of her work will be reviewed for years to come.

At 81 years old, Judy is still holding exhibitions and talks scheduled into 2020. She even has an Instagram account that has over 31,000 followers.

She says “I love that so many young people follow my Instagram and come to my openings. It means that my work is still vital. When you’re old, that’s important.”

judy chicago

Judy Chicago has been a monumental contributor to feminist art, in a variety of mediums.

From her drawings and paintings to her incredible installation art of The Dinner Party, Judy has and will continue to inspire young artists for years to come.

‘I do not think art can change the world. I do think art can educate, inspire, empower people to act.’ – Judy Chicago

Sources:

http://www.judychicago.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Chicago

http://www.artnet.com/artists/judy-chicago/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/54456.Judy_Chicago

https://www.glamour.com/story/judy-chicago-feminist-artist-interview

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Boogie – Showing The Dark Side of Street Life

Boogie (real name Vladimir Milivojevich) is a Serbian photographer based in New York.

His homeland‘s history influenced him to choose to capture the dark side of street life in his home town Belgrade, Moscow, New York, and other places.

Here he is, pictured below.

boogie photographer

Some of his images would appear to the casual observer to be quite shocking, but by using different perspectives, Boogie mostly is showing real people who live in the periphery of society and generally what kinds of lives they lead.

He had published nine photography monographs and created commercial projects for worldwide known brands like Nike, Adidas or Puma.

Background

Boogie was born in 1969 in Belgrade, Serbia. His father and grandfather were amateur photographers, so he grew up surrounded by cameras.

He got interested more seriously into photography around the ’90s during the civil war in Serbia.

This experience pushed him to focus on the darker side of street life in different places marked by many personal tragedies and are not what one might think of as particularly popular topics in street life photography.

Vladimir Milivojevich aka Boogie (26)

In 1997, he won the green card lottery (so to speak) and moved to the USA. Since then, he has been residing in Brooklyn, New York, but also keeps traveling around the world and looking for new inspiration.

In some ways, you might think of Boogie as a journalist with a camera, as he is very much interested in documenting or chronicling a certain side of life – uncovering it or exposing it for all to see, who are willing to look.

Gangs and Drugs

Boogie‘s photography style in one word could be described as fearless.

Between 2003 and 2006 he spent a lot of time with his camera in the BedStuy, Bushwick and Queensbridge neighborhoods of NYC, which are known as dangerous spots because of actively working gangs there.

Boogie-TheHundreds

While he was spending time in those areas, he captured real, non-polished moments of a wild and unsafe street life which was fulfilled with guns, violence, drugs and other illegal and dangerous stuff.

According to Boogie, experiences he had during the civil war in Serbia helped him to adapt very fast to the gangs‘ daily life and helped to capture their daily scenes and emotions.

Brazil

During his visit to Brazil cities Salvados, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the photographer kept the focus on the raw side of Brazil‘s street life.

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Guns, prostitution, police, abandoned buildings – Boogie shoots the opposite of what a typical tourist could imagine about this exotic country and that is the reason why his perspective is unique and shows a wider diversity of population around the globe.

Moscow

In 2019, Boogie released his newest photography book of pictures he took in Russia‘s capital Moscow. In these urban style pictures, he documented the daily life of locals.

boogie moscow photo 2

Tough tattooed guys, “Khrushchyovkas“ (apartment buildings, started to build during former USSR leader‘s Nikita Khrushchev governance period) and Soviet monuments mark today‘s Russia which was strongly implicated of USSR‘s heritage.

Boogie opened up, saying that doing photographs in Moscow gave him a feeling of being from the same tribe as these people.

According to him, Serbs and Russians were always connected as both nations are Christian Orthodox, both always had a similar world outlook and mentality.

Belgrade

Since Boogie moved to New York, he often visited his hometown Belgrade. Born as Serbian, he knows all the corners and for him, this city is full of inspiration for unique and raw pictures.

new york drug photo

Even his shots look gloomy, you can feel the power of reality in those pictures and that is something that attracts the viewer‘s attention – everything looks just very authentic and the opposite of glamorous and romantic views.

Serbia used to be a former country of Yugoslavia and because of the political situation in the country, Boogie also captured some signs of this situation.

He had published two books of pictures he took in Belgrade. According to him, the second book named “Belgrade guide“ (2017) is much different than the first one, called “Belgrade belongs to me“ (2009).

boogie photo

The first album comprises mostly of the pictures that he took during the massive protests in the ’90s against the regime and former country‘s leader Slobodan Milošević.

Boogie described his regime as apocalyptical – people have been starving and riot police were especially rough with the protesters.

He also noticed that taking a camera along with him and going into the street helped him to be more as an observer, not a participant in that chaos, so photography helped him a lot to survive hard times his country passed through.

Commercial photography

Near wandering through various cities and publishing photo albums, Boogie also made photoshoots for advertising. He shot photo campaigns mostly for sports brands like Nike, Adidas or Puma.

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Even shooting for commercials, he didn‘t renounce bold style of pictures, including even vulgar or harsh models‘ emotions and urban backgrounds or abandoned locations.

Links:

Boogie was featured here on our site:

My Top 10 Best Contemporary Photographers

Boogie‘s official page:

https://www.artcoup.com/

Boogie on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/boogiephotographer/

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Art Installations and Tradition in Japan

Les Archives du Coeur

Written by: Erika Yamao

What are art installations?

Recently, with the new technologies and materials, interesting art installations seem to be popping up in the contemporary art scene.

In a few words, an art installation is experiential art. Three-dimensional works that we can feel with our senses and they aim to offer an experience.

It’s art that we are able touch, or walk into, hear sounds from, and interact with; breaching that distance between viewer and object.

They could also be defined as a blend of art & architecture.

As we live in a time where we seem to be getting a little numb with technology, this trend seems to be appearing to reconnect us with our senses.

Art without borders

Japan, always experimenting with innovation, is holding nowadays the amazing “Borderless” exhibition by “teamLab” collective, in Tokyo.

They spread digital projections throughout the whole space allowing you to be inside the work of art.

Here’s a video guide to teamLab Borderless in Odaiba, Tokyo.

Not only the moving flower projections are mesmerizing, but the space itself; dark and filled with mirrors, paths, and sudden doors to other rooms make you wander around and get lost like in a forest, reconnecting you with the perception of your own body.

A little bit of context: Japanese appreciation for the 5 senses

The perception of the surroundings is very present in Japan in everyday life. To begin with, their Shinto religion worships all elements in nature as sacred.

Secondly, each season of the year has a strong presence, from the falling of cherry blossom petals in spring, or the red Momiji leaves that carpet the floors in autumn, the green moss that emerges from the concrete cracks in the moist summer, the heavy snow in winter, or even the natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons give awareness of being under nature’ s world.

shinto

Also, body awareness has its roots in the synesthesia that you can experience while walking through Japanese gardens. They are made to be walked with full consciousness of the body.

Filled with slopes, hills, curved bridges, thin paths with branches of low trees to elude, ponds to cross through stepping stones. Body awareness must be involved to cross the garden.

japanese garden

Being in between worlds

Another incredible installation worth mentioning in the “Borderless” exhibition, is one named “Infinite transparency”.

A dark area with an “S” shaped longitudinal passageway is delimited by levitating transparent panels, which display animations of animal characters dancing to traditional music.

infinite transparency

The figures are ghostly. Their contours are bright green and blue, and their movements are slow and enigmatic. Some of them are interactive. But the distinctive experience of this installation is that you feel lost in between worlds.

Both the digital characters and the visitors coexist visually in the same diffuse atmosphere as you can see the people walking ahead through the translucent panels, giving them a ghost-like aspect as well.

Both realities strangely coexisting give the whole space an otherworldly atmosphere. This idea of two worlds–the world of the living and the world of the dead- mixing is a recurrent topic in Japanese culture, often seen in their anime movies.


Life memories

Meanwhile, in the Mori Art Museum, also in Tokyo, one of the most popular exhibitions held this year is “The Soul Trembles” by Shiota Chiharu.

life memories

The artist expresses a childhood memory in which she witnessed her neighbor’s house burn down in a fire.

Red or black thread take up entire spaces and engulf furniture to recreate that experience.

The day after the fire, she woke up to see a half-burnt piano standing on black ashes, and the beauty that she saw on that scene stayed with her. She utilizes thread to connect objects that crossed her memories in life.

In Japan and other Asian countries, the red thread is a symbol of connections and destiny. It comes from a legend that says that people that are meant to meet are joined by these threads.

the soul trembles

Trip inside your body

One last interesting art installation in Japan is one called “Les Archives du Coeur” (or “The Archives of the Heart”) set in Teshima Island, one of the so-called “art & architecture islands” in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan.

This one was created by a french installation-artist, Christian Boltanski, so the cultural background might be different, but it is worth mentioning because of its surreal experience.

Placed in the border of the island by the shore of the sea, there is a small and discrete wooden building. Inside, a minimalistic, silent atmosphere, like a hospital, and a lonely receptionist welcomes you. You are invited to record your heartbeat with a digital stethoscope in a room with a computer.

Next, you enter a small waiting area with a screen that displays the hundreds of names of the people that have already left their heartbeat.

After that, you can enter the main room. It is a narrow and dark space, with a single light bulb hanging from the center, and mirrors scattered on the walls. You find yourself surrounded by the soft but powerful sound of your own heartbeat, that the light from the bulb follows rhythmically.

The surreal experience is the feeling you are inside your own body. The darkness of the space and the muffled sound of the heartbeat might be similar to being inside a womb. The recordings of other people play after yours, to realize that each heartbeat is, unexpectedly, different.

Unlike the other installations, which seem to connect the visitor outside, with surroundings, other worlds, memories…., this work transports you inside, allowing you to have a kind of organic experience.

Japan has and receives all kinds of artists with different sensitivities. Art installations seem to be a strong trend finding its nest in this country where traditional culture already hosted a mindset based on interaction, harmony, and senses.

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Réhahn Croquevielle – Making It Personal

rehahn croquevielle

Réhahn Croquevielle is a french photographer who resides in Vietnam and is known for his fascinating pictures of Vietnamese people and their cultural attributes.

web-Giving-back-Project-6

He has released five photo albums, created exhibitions all around the world and established the Vietnamese heritage museum. Réhahn shares Vietnamese culture with the rest of the world and helps locals to live a better life.

Background

Réhahn Croquevielle was born on 4 May 1979 in Bayeux, Normandy region of France. He didn’t learn photography formally – he is a self-taught photographer.

He grew up in a middle-class family and started to travel soon after he got his first passport. Starting more like a touristic places capturer, he decided to go deeper in photography, when he moved to Vietnam.

rehahn croquevielle

According to Réhahn, he couldn’t get good pictures back in France and it looked like Vietnam offered many more opportunities for interesting shots almost on every corner.

The first time he came to Vietnam in 2007 as a volunteer with the French project “Les Enfants du Vietnam“, whose mission is support for needy children.

After that, he use to come to this country every year when one time in 2011 he decided to relocate himself and moved to France to Vietnam.

The main reason for that was because this country had everything he needed as a modern person – good roads, fast internet, etc. and of course people, who always were friendly, kept peace, and smiled at him.

young hmong photo rehahn croqueville

Réhahn visited 32 countries, but the most cheerful, no matter their social standing or how old they are, always smiling and warm people he met especially in Vietnam.

Réhahn has some rules for taking pictures of locals: he always spends a lot of time with his models, he thinks, it is important to know the person before you gonna shoot him.

This clearly helps to create a close bond with people in front of the camera which clearly is one of the keys to good portrait photography.

Giving back project

Réhahn’s work as a photographer can be described as a social responsible artist’s work. He does not take opportunities to take pictures of people for granted, he always wants to do something for exchange.

Since he started to live in Vietnam and shoot portraits of locals, Réhahn created a “Giving back“ project, which purpose is to support Vietnamese people whether it be medical care equipment for elders or education for children.

web-Giving-back-Project-2

His first book “Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts” was published in 2014 and on its cover was a 74-year-old woman Mrs. Bui Thi Xong. Photographer met her accidentally in the summer of 2011 – he was walking by the river, saw her on a boat and asked if he can take a picture of her.

When she agreed and saw herself framed on a camera, Thi Xong started to laugh at herself and covered her forehead and mouth with hands – that was the real moment for the perfect shot. The portrait came on the book cover as a symbol of joy despite the human’s age and social position.

Réhahn-Croquevielle-2

After the success of the shot, Réhahn became friends with this woman, they kept in touch with each other and he even helped her by buying a new boat cause this was the thing she wanted the most.

It also became one of the most popular images which represent Vietnamese people in the world.

You can see a picture of The Madam Xong today in The Vietnamese Women’s Museum, where it represents the strength, kindness and hard work of the women of Vietnam.

Behind blue eyes

The other impressive portrait of Vietnamese people he took, is the picture of seven years old girl An Phuoc in 2015.

an-phuoc

The image draws the viewer’s attention with incredible blue eyes, which is a rare attribute in countries like Vietnam. Turns out, girl’s great-grandfather was a French and that can explain why she could have this unique eye color.

The look of this girl is accentuated by a vibrant blue scarf on her head and the whole view looks playful because of her natural and childish smile.

He also took pictures of her older siblings and parents – the whole family represents the Cham ethnic group, of which they are descendants.

web-Blog-An-Phuoc-3

Before taking this shoot, Réhahn spent a few days with a girl’s family at their home. He created friendly connection, which clearly helped him to make as natural as possible looking portraits.

In exchange for succeeded images, Réhahn helped financially for the family, also invited them all to his home in Hoi An and made sure that children could have the opportunity to learn the English language.

We featured Réhahn in our article, “My Top 10 Contemporary Photographers

Little girl and the Elephant

In 2014 Réhahn took a picture of a little girl named Kim Luan. In this picture, little Kim is standing next to the huge animal thus creating a spectacular contrast between each other.

little girl and elephant

This shot represents the M’nong tribe, an ethnic group in Vietnam, also respect to elephants and to all animals in general. Picture became famous everywhere around the world, when was published in Times and National Geographic magazines.

Capturing heritage

Photography can be a great way to show different cultures and heritage of other nationalities.

So Réhahn used this opportunity: he traveled across Vietnam by his motorbike and collected various stories from different ethnic groups, including their captured traditional costumes.

rehahn

He did surprisingly huge job by visiting 53 of 54 different tribes in Vietnam and collected 60 different traditional costumes. In 2017, Réhahn opened the Precious Heritage Museum in the city of Hoi An and he is planning to open another – the Co Tu Museum in Quang Nam city in 2019.

Current projects

Even he took thousands of pictures in Vietnam, Réhahn still keeps himself busy and socially responsible for various projects.

Despite his exhibitions all around the world, he creates landscape pictures from the top by using drone and his aim is to create pictures from different parts of the country.

With this project, Vietnam can be shown not only to people all around the world but also to the Vietnamese who cannot travel because of their social circumstances.

Réhahn’s official page:

https://www.rehahnphotographer.com/

Réhahn on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/rehahn_photography/

Réhahn on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Rehahn.Photography/

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Tomasz Gudzowaty – Iron and Sinew

Tomasz Gudzowaty is a polish photographer, who has received many awards for his unique photographs touching upon nature, social commentary, and sports photography.

Often presented in black and white, Tomasz’s photos are imbued with a sense of grandiosity that can be gleaned from quiet observation, even if the movements in the picture involve dramatic movements and spur of the moment actions.

tomasz gudzowaty

Background

Tomasz Gudzowaty was born on September 19, 1971, in Warsaw, Poland. He became interested in photography since early childhood, mainly because of his uncle, who was very passionate about photography and used to take pictures of his own home town.

When Tomasz was growing up, Poland was still under the Iron Curtain. Photography, like the other types of art in Poland, was controlled by the government.

In the eighties, the Independent Photographic Agency named Dementi was very active with recording the struggle for the restoration of democracy to Poland, and thereafter the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Despite his interest in photography, Tomasz has chosen to study Law at Warsaw University.

gudzowaty taking pictures

After graduation with a master’s degree from the Faculty of Law and Administration, he has chosen his way as a professional photographer in then already free country.

Big break

The novel photographer started his career first in his homeland and soon after that, got his first awards at Polish Press Photography Contest.

Gudzowaty’s name became known to the international photographers’ community for the first time back in 1999, when he won the First Prize in Nature-singles category in the World Press Photo competition for his picture with wild animals cheetahs.

Gudzowaty cheetahs photo

That shot was breathtaking because of the killing moment in wild nature.

The next year, he continued his success and got two more awards in World Press Photo at the same Nature category, which gave him a well-earned reputation of being an observant and multi-talented nature photographer.

 Beyond the body

Next to nature-related photography, Tomasz tried him hand at sports photography. But he has chosen to look closer not into classical athletes: he took part in two Summer Paralympic games: in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens as a photojournalist.

Tomasz was interested in those sports, which didn‘t receive as much media attention. He created images of unique sports featuring different continents around the world.

gudzowaty 2

From the interesting variations of yoga, synchronized swimming, gymnastics stretching and all kinds of peculiar local sports such as slum golf in India, also the Nadaam race (a brutal kind of horse racing taking place in Mongolia), to the Flying Warriors (a variation of the oldest known martial arts type known as Kalaripayattu) or Sumo wrestling in Japan – all these activities, not all very well known to ordinary people in Western countries, got his attention and the result was mesmerizing.

These shots show not only the physical capability of the body but also human philosophy conveyed by body motions.

Tomasz-Gudzowaty

His works have been printed in world-class magazines like L’Equipe, Newsweek, Forbes, Time, Photo, GQ, National Geographic Traveler and etc.

Tomasz Gudzowaty is also featured in the article, “My Top 10 Best Contemporary Photographers

 “Closer”

In 2016, Gudzowaty came back to nature photography. He released a new photography book called “Closer”, in which he put pictures of various penguins species in Antarctica.

tomasz gudzowaty penguins

In these, mostly black and white pictures, a photographer captured moments of penguins daily life. Next to the high contrast, mesmerizing pictures, Tomasz is sending a message about the frightening situation in the Antartica Peninsula – that part of Earth is warming five times faster than the rest of the World, which means a huge decline of penguins.

According to Gudzowaty, his goal was to make people “stop and catch their breath in delight at all this diversity.”

closer

Three years have passed from the releasing of this book, but the topic is relevant especially these days when many movements for climate change around the world are trying to draw governments‘ attention to make important decisions.

Family

Tomasz Gudzowaty is married to a Dominican-Spanish model Melody Mir Jimenez and they have two daughters. The couple is living between Warsaw and Spain, also travels around the world.

melody_gudzowaty

His wife joined him when he was wandering around Antarctica for three weeks, where he took pictures of its nature and wildlife for his album “Closer“.

Achievements

During his career, Tomasz received nine World Press Photo awards, won many prizes at Polish Press Photography competition, Grand Press Photo, Black and White Spider Awards and many more.

gudzowaty photo 1971 ship scrappers

Accolades aside, Tomasz still keeps working actively and brings joy to the Photography enthusiasts community.


Tomasz Gudzowaty official page:

www.gudzowaty.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tomaszgudzowatyoffical/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/tomaszgudzowaty/

Further Viewing

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Joe McNally – Creating Connection

Nikon-Ambassador-Joe-McNally-headshot-2016

Joe McNally is a globally renowned, award-winning American photographer, and visual storyteller. Some of his bestselling books include: Faces of Ground Zero (2002), The Moment it Clicks (2008), The Hot Shoe Diaries (2009), and Sketching Light (2011).

Joe is known for his passion for the medium of photography, as evidenced by his varied creative output, culled from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, as well as his fervour for cameras of all shapes and sizes, both old and new.  He still likes to hear the sound of a shutter.

He is also not afraid of heights, it seems.

View-from-Top-of-Burj-Khalifa-Dubai-2013

As a working photographer, Joe has played many roles and worn many hats over the years, with career highlights that continue to this day, such as being the ambassador for Nikon, not to mention that he was the former TIME /LIFE Magazine staff photographer, and a winner of four World Press Photo awards.  The list goes on.

Joe is always involved with something creative and extraordinary.  This video on “Transformation” is just one example of the many curious projects that he has been involved with over the years, with himself right in the thick of it.

Now, as then, Joe keeps tenaciously at his work, and is able to create remarkable singular portraits, by establishing a relationship with the subject in front of his camera to create a unique dynamic.

Joe-McNally-Ambassador-mountain-biker-over-canyon

His work may be compared to that of a master movie director, who is able to, by their sheer enthusiasm for the task at hand, bring forth a certain energy from those they work with, with unmistakable results.

(photos from: https://portfolio.joemcnally.com/index)

joe mcnally portfolio


Background

Joe McNally was born on July 27, 1952, in Montclair, New Jersey.

joe mcnally as a kid with his dad

He grew up gazing upon “Nikon World”, a magazine published by Nikon, thinking that printed pictures in such a magazine would be among the highest achievements for a photographer.

Little did he know at the time that he would become so closely associated with the word “Nikon”…

nikon world magazine

During his younger days, his inspiration came from well known and award-winning photographers like Jay Maisel, Pete Turner, and Eric Meola.

The first time Joe got his hands on a real camera, which belonged to his dad, the device resonated with him, and the snapping of photos soon began at a leisurely yet ever-increasing pace.

Speaking of Joe’s dad, Joe has talked about him on his personal blog, and it is clear that his dad’s influence – that of hard work and blue collar life, a connection with nature, and even his dad’s experience from being in the Navy – all this helped to form Joe’s identity as both a person and as a photographer

Many of his works definitely and rather directly pay an homage to his father in some form or another, even if it isn’t readily apparent in every single shot he does.

joe-mcnally-24

After attending Syracuse University with sights set on photojournalism, the first inklings that photography could be his career began to make themselves known to him.

After graduating, with camera in hand, opportunities for adventure began to call, and Joe was soon swept up in it.

One time he bought a train ticket heading east. He was walking through the docks and talking to the locals when suddenly got an invitation to join sailors for 14 days trip to the sea. This isn’t something that a lot of people would be apt to say “yes” to, but Joe relished the chance.

While riding the currents, there was, at one point, a huge storm at sea, and the ship and crew found itself pitching through 50 feet waves!  So, naturally, Joe started to take pictures. This experience was so breathtaking, that after the ordeal, he decided that perhaps photography was his calling after all.

Perhaps because of this nautical episode, in addition to his trips to Bliss Musky Lodge, bodies of water and peoples’ interaction with them have become a recurring theme in Joe’s work, used in a multitude of ways.

kelby online video training sessions


Career

Not too long after leaving Syracuse U, with a masters degree in photojournalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications, Joe got a job with The New York Daily News newspaper as a copy boy.

This job was apparently was fated to be brief stint, because he was fired, and from there, Joe then moved to ABC Television and worked there as a photographer.

As the medium of colour photography continued to evolve, McNally saw more possibilities open up for him. It was surely an exciting time, as he started to work as a freelancer for various magazines like TIME / LIFE, Sports Illustrated, and National Geographic.

joe mcnally digital photo

National Geographic proved to be very educational for him by showing him a new standard for what was required of a professional photographer.

Joe’s photography skilled, combined with his passion and deftness with a camera lens, became to lead Joe into a full time career, where he then began to travel the world and meet many famous people.

One defining moment of his career was when Joe took a black and white portrait of former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, which was taken in the woods in some snowy Soviet woodland region.

The former Soviet leader looks ever-so-nationalistic when set against such a starkly beautiful backdrop of crisp white snow and characteristically Russian trees.

gorbachev by joe mcnally

With a growing base of experience, and his travels taking him around the world and meeting people of all walks of life, Joe McNally’s name began to really become well-known.

As such, he can basically photograph anything and tell a story with it.  His ability to relate to all people, places, and things of the world make him a jack of all trades, so to speak, but still with a style that is identifiable.

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From Burj Khalifa to Ground Zero

Throughout his career, Joe McNally has been to some stunning locations, some of which were not easy to reach, but gave spectacular views.

For example, he climbed to the top of the world’s highest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Here, he left a love note to his wife, and took the picture from the top, looking down.

Burj Khalifa joe mcnally

The funny thing about this particular shoot is, surprisingly, he didn‘t get paid at all. The only thing he got, monetarily, was some shoes from the same shoe brand he was wearing in the picture.

Of course, that particularly picture went viral and that led, not surprisingly, to new offers, to climb other skyscrapers, which of course from then on Joe accepted payment for.

This tower climbing story is a perfect example of Joe’s maverick spirit where he followed a seemingly crazy idea, took a risk, and it led to something great.

In January 2002, Joe finished one of the most important projects, not only in his career, but in the whole history of American photography – he captured images of people who saved others’ lives during the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

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In these human-size portraits, there are firefighters, victims’ relatives, medical coworkers, who represent the real heroism of one of the most difficult moments in America’s history.

Here is Joe talking about this exhibition.

Joe opened up about the emotional struggle he dealt with in creating this project – sometimes people in front of the camera started to cry, remembering terrifying events of that day, and, during these hard moments, it was hard not to be too emotional.

With this project, Joe showed that despite difficult emotional moments, the final aim was achieved – these pictures became a book, and helped raised two million dollars which was then donated to public education.


Communication and Reminders

McNally has revealed that photography helped him greatly in his private life, to communicate with his family such as his daughters and ex-wife, while also providing reminders of situations that may not seem altogether positive, but ultimately show a sense of triumph.

He applied his photography skills when his daughter had self-confidence issues, or, the time that she accidentally hurt her face near a pool.  Rather than talk to his wife about it, he sent her this picture.

joe mcnally's daughter

In these situations, he couldn‘t find the right words to communicate how he felt, but the pictures spoke for themselves, showing support and encouragement, but also sometimes causing some controversy.

Also, Joe used photography as a reminder of the feeling he had, when he was visiting his mother for the last time at the hospital before she died.

Joe McNally's mom

Pictures like these can be bittersweet, but also provide important reminders about times that often can go undocumented, fading into memory and obscurity.  In some way, photos are a way to never forget, because we don’t want to forget.  In some way, documents like this are a way for us to learn.


Tips for Beginner Photographers

According to Joe, there isn’t a better time to be a photographer than right now.

There is plenty of good photo equipment, and, from there, the question becomes how to find a way to monetize various photography projects and get funding.

joe mcnally photo

In a sense, it may have been easier in the past, because printed publications were more plentiful when McNally started his career.

He always used to tell young photographers: get yourself a job in a newspaper, but, now, the world had changed, and newspapers are disappearing and online publications are on the rise.

Therefore, it is important to be active and tenacious when it comes to succeeding with your own destiny: start to create proposals, find contacts, and make sure to send your proposals out – from newspapers and magazines to corporate entities, places who might have a need of photography.

A good start for a career in a very fast-changing world can start even from local Starbucks or the library. Really, it can start from anywhere.

Joe McNally, as some other famous photographers, has a personal blog which he updates constantly, where, for example, shares his favourite camera lenses: 20 mm f/2.8 and 28 mm f/1.4.

Visit his blog here: https://blog.joemcnally.com/

Joe recommends starting a blog because it gives a voice and platform to spread works and ideas. Even if at first 10 people will read it, maybe 20 more will be the next month.  The snowball effect is real.


Joe McNally Quotes

“When shooting a story about someone, their hands should always be on your list to shoot.”

“The most important piece of equipment in your bag is your attitude.”

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“When I teach young photographers, I say: look, photography is not what you do, being a photographer is something you are. And if you are a photographer, you’re screwed, because you have no choice, you only need to go forward.”

“I wanted to meet Gorbachev because that’s what you can do as a photographer: take your imagination and make it real by photographing what you see.”

“When you find something which is truly beautiful, you can’t not shoot”.

Joe_McNally_by_Ahmed_Arup_Kamal

“A lot of people think that is all about the pictures; it’s not. You have to have a personality that sustains you. You have to have the drive, work ethic, to relate to the client, to people in front of the camera and make that happen quickly.”

“Even after 35 years of practice, it good pictures don’t come automatically. Maybe you have problems at home, and you need to work, so you do it. It’s not always like wandering through perfect lighted streets, sometimes it is, but most of the time is just hard work.”


References

Faces of Ground Zero:

https://www.facesofgroundzero.com/index

Joe McNally on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/joemcnallyphoto/

Joe McNally on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/joemcnallyphoto/


Recommended Videos With Joe McNally

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Jason M. Peterson – High Contrast Hustler

Jason M. Peterson is an American digital and mobile photographer who has come upon the photography scene in recent years, taking the world by storm with photos that play off the drama of darkness and light, and overall capture the majesty of the human experience.  

He is also, in the best sense of the word, a “hustler”.

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For his photos, Jason uses a strictly black & white technique, which was a style foreseen by the artist early on, and which is now seen by millions of admirers online and offline.

Rising to prominence via Instagram, Jason is part of the online movement of late, where people with amazing but previously uncelebrated skill seemingly rise to notoriety out of nowhere, due to a growing popularity, undeniable skill, and nascent social media presence. 

jason m peterson photographer

Jason is also the chief creative officer at Havas, a multi-national ad agency. 

He is a creator who clearly has the ability to straddle several worlds at once, from gritty stark street photography which broods with human drama, to a futuristic style that puts people into the context of the world we live in, to a more corporate lifestyle centred around his ad business. In this latter regard, he has worked with the Chicago Bulls, ESPN, and PacSun, to name a few organizations of note.

Visit: Jason M. Peterson’s legendary Instagram


Pre-Mobile Photography Days

Jason M. Peterson was born on 20th November, 1970, in Phoenix, Arizona. He started to delve into the world of photography by way of its history when he was in high school.

Early on, his methods of taking photos were no different than your typical photographer, using a camera and film, since that’s what was available at the time – all the while he had this burning desire to deliver quality results faster and better, in a more impromptu, temporal, and guerrilla way.

At first, none of this was not possible, creating some frustration for the artist, who simply wanted more freedom to work according to his creative impulses. 

Still, in his mind’s eye, Jason pondered the legacy of his artistic heroes, such as movie-maker Stanley Kubrick and photographer Harry Callahan, whose high contrast work that he did many decades before made a huge impact on Peterson’s style (see below).

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Early on in his evolution as an artist, and prior to the social media boom with mobile apps like Insta and Tumblr, there didn’t seem to be a way to be a truly “modern” photographer in the sense of applying the new mobile technology that was capable of beginning to combine phones, computers, and cameras into one convenient package.

Jason wouldn’t find a solution to the ADD-satisfying instantly epic results he desired until some time later.

jason peterson photographer

After graduating from high school, he studied history and design at the University of Arizona, where he made forays into fashion and urban photography.

One of the first things he captured photographically in his search for an artistic aesthetic was punk rock bands performing on a stage, since Jason himself was a fan of this type of music, and could easily spot the drama inherent in this style of performing.

jason m peterson arizona straight edge

In the beginning, he was using more conventional methods of photography, resisting digital photography as it appeared to be too obviously digitally made and inferior.

It took him some time before the technology caught up with his desire to actually use it.


Beyond the Barriers

Like many professional photographers, before starting to use social networks to promote his work, Jason M. Peterson was skeptical.

The Instagram platform, for instance, seemed to him to be a hipster haven with no appreciable value to him or his work.

welcome to instagram

At the behest of a friend, he tried it, and soon, he was hooked. 

After posting his first few pictures and getting likes from strangers all around the world, he quickly changed his mind – from there it became a game he could relate to, and a platform where his rapid fire photography of urban life and human interaction and expression might take shape.

Once the mobile phone technology finally “arrived”, as it were, in terms of camera quality, Jason was quick to embrace this new technology, where he could do his work in a very “in the moment” style, capturing exactly the combination of subject, light, and shadow, that he wanted.

The results he was getting, started to speak for themselves.

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Jason was quick to brand his Instagram page as a ready-made portfolio of his classic, high contrast, black and white images, and the world began to take notice.  Posting daily helped.

As he continued to evolve, he began to develop a more “timeless” technique, where everything he took seemed to rival his heroes in terms of composition and aesthetics, gaining an increasingly epic quality with an eye for details most would miss.

Now, to get the perfect shot, all he really needed to do with be out in the world, and the world would present to him shots that no one else but him could see or get.  Contrast, angles, subject, meaning – it all began to coalesce into what became his signature style.

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As time went on, he began to create with both expensive technology, and then different mobile technology and apps.  The world had opened up to him, and nothing was off limits in terms of achieving his photographic and artistic visions.

Jason began to truly embrace the freedom inherent in taking photos with a mobile device.  The devices were able to deliver the goods, and Jason M. Peterson became almost a medium between the “shot” and the camera lens.

Read our article featuring Jason M. Peterson – Top 10 Best Contemporary Photographers


Chicago

After twenty years of living in New York, Jason M. Peterson moved to Chicago and became a nonofficial ambassador of this city.

content_Chicago_Skyline

Jason has no qualms with sharing with the photography community exactly what camera and settings he uses, and which places or spots he visits.

Jason wants that everyone would have the option to do what he’s doing, but in their own way.  Since so many people have phones capable of taking incredible shots these days, there is no reason that people can’t do this for themselves, if that’s their wish.

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Jason has joked that he probably did more for Chicago’s tourism than all tourism campaigns combined, because everyone who follows his works on social media think that Chicago is amazing place to visit and they want to go there.  


Keep on Hustlin’

Seeking to improve his skills every day, Instagram has given Jason M. Peterson the ability to streamline his efforts, and progress in a way that is pleasing to him.  

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Keeping in mind the philosophy that new work should be, even in a small way, an improvement over old work, keeps Jason’s work ever-evolving, as he continues to capture the world in a way that has people in awe.


Quotes

“Wherever I’m at, I’m just looking around and I’m just watching life happen. There will be light shining off a building, and there will be a little reflection that people are just walking by with their Starbucks not noticing. I’ll just stop and look at that light and wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I’m late all the time, to everywhere I’m going. I’ll sit there and wait for some weird small little life moment to happen right in that light, and then it’s like literally one shot –  boom, I got it. And that’s it. But it’s like these little moments that happen in urban life all the time that you miss.”

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“I think the number-one thing is, do stuff that you really love to do. Don’t follow other people. Be true to your vision or what your passion or talent is. I shoot photographs every day, and people are like, how long did it take you to do that? And I’m like, I don’t know, like two minutes? Because it’s what I do. I’m really passionate about it. I think a lot of people are trying to force themselves into doing something that they may not even necessarily like or do or have a talent for. So I think the biggest encouraging thing is, figure out what your own voice is, and then just be about that. People will come along to that if it’s good.”


Videos

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Steve McCurry – Revealing The World’s True Colours

steve mccurry photo war

Steve McCurry is an American photographer and photojournalist. 

steve mccurry young

Background

He was born on April 23, 1950 in Philadelphia. Steve studied Film at Pennsylvania State University. After graduation in 1974, he started to work for a local newspaper called The Daily Collegian and started his career as a photographer.

After a few years of working as a freelance photographer, McCurry made his first trip to India.

Back then, he didn‘t know that this country would be the start for his international career, filled with many trips to countries, which suffer from armed conflicts, war, and poverty, but also will give him huge resources to know different cultures and take fascinating pictures.


India

Everything started from a one-way ticket. India for the first trip was chosen not accidentally. Its rich culture promised many vivid and lively shots.

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Through his career, McCurry had visited India many times and collected wide spectrum of pictures. From cities full of people like Mumbai or Kolkata till farmscapes in the Uttar Pradesh area.

While traveling through these places, he started to create spectacular portraits of locals, surrounded by cows and busy with their daily works. You can see deep looks, which catch your attention and give you the feeling, that behind every person, it doesn‘t matter if he or she is young or old, is an individual and unique story, which Steve was trying to bring to the world.

young boy with a gun to his head

India is very generous of giving the photographer plenty of colors – red, orange, blue or green and that perfectly reflects at Steve’s photos. You can see different fabrics on people’s bodies or turbans on men’s heads.

By taking these pictures, the photographer shows, that huge part of India‘s culture can be disclosed exposing the vivid colors of locals, because it seems like every person he shoots is one of a kind and unique.

Steve said: “I think that joy of photographing in India is that you never quite know what is waiting for you around the next corner. There is always, what‘s delightful, horrified, something that you never saw before, something who always can strike you in the face”.

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The artist emphasizes a picture he took in the Rajasthan region, saying that circumstances were favourable, when suddenly dust storm started and it created an exclusive atmosphere for the shot.

Group of women were hiding from the storm covered in the circle and started to sing.

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What McCurry likes of this picture, is how fabric was blown during the dust storm and the fabrics itself symbolize the past, cause they aren’t produced anymore and also the trees are symbol too because there is a big desolation of trees in that part of the country.


Afghanistan and the big break

While being in India, Steve McCurry accidentally snuck into Afghanistan, just before it was invaded by Soviet troops.

He needed to be very careful: shave his beard, put the same clothes as locals wear and especially hide his cameras in a bag.

At that time, there was a military zone with the armed Pakistani soldiers and the whole region was unsafe but also very interesting for a photographer.

khumari afghanistan

When he sent films with pictures back to his family, one of them were printed in Geo magazine and The New York Times, but the real break happened when the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan later the same year and then the appearance of these photos was vitally important for all printed media.


The famous Afghan girl

When photo of the Afghan girl was printed on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985, it became one of the most popular and iconic pictures in the whole photography history.

The picture was taken at the refugee camp during the Soviet invasion. McCurry remembered, that there was a full class of children, but one girl took his attention from the entering in the classroom, because of her incredible green eyes and mesmerized look.

Steve-Mccurry-Afghan-Girl-Pakistan-1984

At first, a girl was a bit shy, because probably it was the first time in her life when somebody was taking pictures of her, but her teacher told her, that it would be important to let the whole world see her.

To create this portrait the circumstances were perfect – right light, good background and an expression of the girl‘s face.

The authenticity of a girl brought success, because she didn‘t pose, just sat calmly and looked into the lens.

The picture of a girl symbolizes the fear and horror of war and perfectly illustrates how one image can describe individual experiences during a difficult situations of the country during the war.

About the inspiration: “I think what inspires me, is that incredible world we live in, all the ways people live their lives, come out of the mountains, wearing this jewelry, hats, and in the middle east women covered to the top – all of this area of culture is happening in the same little particular place of dust. I am amazed by how we all are the same, we do the same things, we all do them erratically in different ways. So I think the thing, which inspires me is the traveling, absorbing and wandering around this amazing planet”.

And where is that famous Afghan girl now?  Here she is speaking with the BBC.  Clearly the photo was a mixed blessing for her.


Family

Steve McCurry is married and has a daughter, who was born in 2017. He loves to travel with his family to various countries, he hopes, that his daughter could know other cultures, meet different people and learn to speak several languages, because for him it is important, that she could feel comfortable in different parts of the world.


Published works and achievements

Steve McCurry has published books including: The Imperial Way (1985), Monsoon (1988), Portraits (1999), South Southeast (2000), Sanctuary (2002), The Path to Buddha: A Tibetan Pilgrimage (2003), Steve McCurry (2005), and Looking East: Portraits (2006), In the Shadow of Mountains (2007), The Unguarded Moment (2009), The Iconic Photographs (2012), Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs (2013), From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail.

Through more than 40 years of his career, Steve received various awards, including Medal of Honor for coverage of the 1986 Phillippine Revolution given by White House News Photographers Association, Golden Doves for Peace journalistic prize issued by the Italian Research Institute Archivio Disarmo in 2018.

Steve McCurry

His works were exhibited in the exhibitions in New York, Hong Kong, Brussels, and other cities. The most important – his works inspired many photographers and creators around the world.

To see Steve McCurry‘s pictures you can visit on of the following sites:

https://www.stevemccurry.com/

https://www.facebook.com/stevemccurrystudios

https://www.instagram.com/stevemccurryofficial/?hl=en


Steve McCurry Videos

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Amrita Sher Gil – The James Dean Effect

Amrita Sher Gil is one of the most impressive and the most gifted Indian artists of the pre-colonial era.

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India’s Revolutionary Artist

She is considered as a revolutionary woman artist and pioneer of modern art in India, and often referred to along with Frida Kahlo for aesthetically blending traditional and Western art forms.

She was born on January, 30, 1913 in Budapest, Hungary. Her mother Marie Antoniette Gottesmann was a Hungarian-Jewish opera singer, and her father Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Majithia was a Sikh aristocrat and a Persian and Sanskrit scholar.

She developed an interest towards painting at her early childhood, by the time she was five. In 1921, Amrita’s family shifted from Hungary to the beautiful hill station of Shimla, due to financial problems.

amrita sher-gil

The young Amrita started to learn painting at the age of eight, trained under Major Whitmarsh and Beven Paterman.

A few years later, she joined a famous art school in Florence, Santa Annunziata, where she was exposed to the works of Italian artists, which furthered her interest in painting.

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Months later, Amrita and her mother returned to India.

Realizing Potential in Paris

In 1926, Amrita’s nephew Ervin Baktay, an Indologist aware of her amazing potential, played a crucial role in pushing her to pursue an artistic career.

At the age of 16, she went to Paris with her mother and started training under Pierre Vaillend and Lucien Simon at Grande Chaumiere, and received a formal education at the École des Beaux-Arts.

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She spent five years in Paris. It was a period of experimentation, and a period of exploring her own hybrid identity. Sher-Gil was fully aware of her exotic beauty, sometimes wearing western clothing, and sometimes wearing a sari.

During the initial stages of her career, her works were profoundly influenced by Western art, reflected academic style in which she was trained. It was the Western European idiom with its naturalism and textured application of paint.

In the early 1930s, many of her pieces included paintings of her Parisian life, still life studies, nude studies, portraits of her friends and fellow students, and the significant corpus of the self portraits, for which she is often considered as narcissistic by many.

The self portraits captured the artists in her many moods-pensive, joyous and obscure, while revealing a narcissistic line in her personality.

amrita sher gil

Pitiless Eye, Melancholic Soul

In 1932, she created The Young Girls: the two women- Amrita’s sister Indira sits on the left clothed in chic European style and a French friend Denise Proutaux partially undressed figure in the foreground.

The two women, one assured the other awkward with her face buried beneath streaming hair have been as personifying two different side of the artist herself.

Sher-Gil was the youngest and the only Asian artist to be elected as an Associate of the Grand Salon in Paris. The painting was gained wide recognition and was awarded a Gold Medal at the Parisian Grand Salon in 1933.

One of Sher-Gil’s professor predicted that her works would make more sense in the East, judging by the rich colors that she usually used in her painting.

Sher-Gil created self-portraits that represented her grappling with her own identity. These paintings often reflected troubled and introvert woman caught between her Indian and Hungarian existence.

amrita sher gil self portrait

Gaugin’s Disciple

She was profoundly influenced by the simplified and symbolically charged paintings of Paul Gauguin. It became explicit in Self Portrait as Tahitian (1934), where Sher-Gil appear in a three-quarter profile naked to the waist, and looking beyond the frame of the picture.

Her body is depicted in Gauguin’s technique of the female nude with a distant, obscure expression of her face. She self-consciously plays on her status as the exotic other in Paris.

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In 1934, Sher-Gil returned to India in order to find a mode of delineation appropriate to her Indian subjects.

Decoding Indian Traditions

A few years later, 1937, in order to decode the traditions of Indian art she began her journey to the south India, a journey that shaped all her future work.

Sher-Gil was deeply moved by the plight of unprivileged people and common villagers; she explored the sadness felt by people, especially women, giving voice and validity to their experience.

It would reflect in her work South Indian Trilogy (Bride’s Toilet, Brahmacharis and South Indian Villagers Going to Market) are much different from the prevalent realist watercolor mode of Indian painting at that time.

Her artistic style and technique was indeed fairly unusual in India. Influenced by the wall painting of the Ajanta Caves, she attempted to fuse their aesthetics with the European oil painting techniques.

She had learnt to incorporate Indian traditions in her work and rediscovered her purpose in painting. Once she even wrote to a friend saying that Europe belongs to the artists such as Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse while India belongs to her.

Her artistic style was in marked contrast to that of her contemporaries in India – Nandalal Bose, Abdur Rahman Chughtai and Abanindranath Tagore, who belonged to the Bengal school, as the first modern movement of Indian art.

She considered the school retrograde and blamed it for the stagnation in Indian painting of that time.

self-portrait

In the following years, her work had a tremendous impact on Indian art. As an exceptional colorist, Sher-Gil was able to achieve special effects with colors that were bold and unbridled, in opposite to the pale hues in vogue among her contemporary colleagues. 

Some of the best examples of her work such as Village Scene, Siesta or In the Ladies’ Enclosure represented the poor state of women and other unprivileged people.

tribal women amrit sher gil paintings

Understanding

The painting Three Girls, from 1935, shows melancholic women wearing passive expressions; their solemn brown faces a contrast to the vibrant reds, ambers and greens of their clothing.

The mood is dispirited – the women are waiting for something they doubt will ever come along. Sher-Gil lived between worlds, between West and East, in searching for a sense of belonging.

So, she understood the emptiness and loneliness of those women, since their moods were a certain reflection of her own.

In 1941, Sher Gil moved to Lahore, an undivided part of India, where the art was appreciated at that time. In this phase of her life, she produced some of her most known painting such as Tahitian, Bride, Hill Scene and The Red Brick House.

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Living Free, Dying Young

Amrita Sher-Gil was a free spirit who led a somewhat careless life; she was bisexual and had numerous relationships.

Regarding her sexuality, her biographer Yashodhara Dalmia in Amrita-Sher-Gil: A Life (2006) wrote it was (partly) a result of her broad view of woman as a strong individual, liberated from the social conventions.

She formed an intimate friendship with the painter Marie Louise Chassany who was a fellow student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Some art critics believed her painting Two Women reflected their yearning for one another.

Sher-Gil saw marriage as a way to gain independence from her parents. In 1938, she married Dr. Victor Egan, her Hungarian first cousin, revealing afterward that she was pregnant; Dr Egan arranged for an abortion and performed it.

She was a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. She never painted Nehru, as she stated he was ‘’too good looking to be painted’’.

In 1941, days before her first solo exhibition in Lahore, she became ill. A few months later, she died at the age of 28.

The real cause of her death was never ascertained. The cause was believed to be complications from a second abortion performed by her husband.  Her mother accused Dr Victor Egan, for her demise.

Her unfinished works reveal a move toward abstraction and incorporate richer colors that the colors seen in her previous paintings.

The artwork of Amrita Sher-Gil has been declared as National Art Treasures by the Government of India.

In 1978, India Post released a stamp of her ‘Hill Women’’. The Indian cultural center in Budapest has been named after her. The 100th anniversary of Amrita Sher-Gil’s birth was declared as the international year of Sher-Gil by UNESCO, in 2013.

The complexities of her life made her both, an outsider and insider, as did her ambivalent sexuality and identity-pushed her to constantly reinvent her artistic style and visual language.

She sought to adjust and reconcile her enthusiastic response to traditional art-historical resources with her modern sensibility.

Recommended Viewing on Amrita Sher-Gil:

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Rob Skeoch – Interview on Street Photography and What it means to be a gritty outlaw

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Today I speak with pro photographer Rob Skeoch, whom I met through a street art show we’re having together along with sculptor Barbara Di Renzo at the Homer-Watson House and Gallery in Doon, Ontario called Inside/Out (Street Art Bombing).

Here’s Rob swimming with a shark somewhere.  Rob looks, oddly enough, quite at home, while the shark looks rather incredulous about things.

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Here’s the show poster:

Street art is a term that may seem rather nebulous to some, even myself (who has been labelled a street artist and is involved in a show about street art), but I wanted to take this opportunity to explore it more, via this interview with Rob (who also fulfills the qualifications for being a street artist in one way or another).  If anyone should know, it’s apparently us!

Here’s some of Rob’s photography hanging in the gallery, looking good and rather mysterious!

homer watson house and gallery show with rob skeoch

Sit back, relax, and enjoy my interview with Mr. Rob Skeoch!


How long have you been doing photography and what got you interested in photography to begin with?

Rob: I’ve been doing photography for most of my life. Starting in high school in the camera club that provided photos for the yearbook.

I always found it fascinating and there was nothing else I wanted to work at. It’s funny how something you first try in high school can still be interesting to you forty years later.


What was the first camera you owned?

Rob: My very first camera was the Kodak X15, a plastic point and shoot with a drop in film cartridge.

Kodak X15

I used this type of camera in high school, until I bought a Pentax F camera in my final year of high school.


What passions do you have other than photography that might surprise people?

Rob: I’ve only been interested in two things for most of my life, photography and scuba diving.There’s nothing as exciting as diving with sharks or any of the big fish.

Last week I was diving in the Red Sea and later this spring I’m in the Philippines, mostly shooting underwater video.


What is a “photo essay”?

Rob: A photo essay is just a story that you tell through a series of photos. Maybe it’s two pictures or maybe it’s a collection of 20-30 shots. If presented properly, in a sequence that makes sense you can make a stronger point than you can with just one photo.

(The following piece was taken from Rob’s photo essay, Streets of Steel, about the city of Hamilton, Ontario – Click here to view more of this and other photo essays by Rob Skeoch)

In a sense the photo essay is a connected group of photos that are telling a story through a similar point of view.

Street photography is usually just one photo so it tells a more limited story. A group of street shots don’t always form into a photo essay either sometimes they’re just a group of photos about a similar thing but each saying something unique.


What type of street photography do you feel that you do?  Do you ever stop to define it as a particular genre or sub-genre?

Rob: Right now my street photography is more linked to portraits on the street. It’s an area I’m planning to explore this summer.

These portraits are different than straight Street Photography which tends to be more random and might be more sophisticated compositionally than portraits would be.

(The following piece was taken from Rob’s photo essay, Searching for China – Click here to view more of this and other photo essays by Rob Skeoch)

searching for china rob skeoch photograph


Do you have any primary influences that made you want to be a photographer? (these don’t have to be other photographers per se)

Rob: There’s so many great photographers who work in the genre but some work worth considering would be from Eugene Smith or Peter Turnley.


How important is presentation with your work and how do you go about it?

Rob: Part of communicating through photography, whether it’s fashion or something from the street is how the viewer experiences the artwork.

If you take great photos and hide them in a shoebox, you’re not really communicating. It’s only by having your artwork out there that the circle becomes complete.

I’ve tried shows using different gallery techniques to get people looking at the show to really see the photos.

Right now my work is printed small so people have to lean in to see it. The small print size forces them to do that. Is it the best way to go? I’m not sure. A small print will rarely have the impact of a larger one but it’s something I’m exploring.

rob skeotch

Will I make 5×7 prints for my next show? Likely not as I want to try different ways to present the work. The great thing with small prints is they’re like jewels hanging on the wall, each one very intimate. Plus the smaller size makes them available to a greater range of collectors.

Photography has become a funny business for those trying to make money at it. The opportunities have never been greater for the real top level shooter while the middle of the road talent is likely making no money at it.

With so many photos being taken and so many genres of photography, it’s hard to find a thread that links everyone together.

Being curious is likely a good trait to have if you want to be an artist, but on the other hand limiting your interests might be needed if you want to rise above the level of hack and take things to a higher level.


You work with a large company currently.  How do you approach work differently for them than you do for yourself?

Rob: For me, I work at Sony in a demanding job, so photography is an outlet from that work, and street photography is my genre because I can do it anywhere

I don’t have to have much time set aside for it, can find a subject anywhere, and don’t need much gear.

If I’m shooting digital I likely only have one camera and a small zoom with me, and if I’m shooting film I likely have one or two lenses and an old Leica film camera.

Although I work in the digital imaging department at Sony, shooting on film is often a nice break from digital and then having to edit on the computer. It’s great to be in the darkroom instead. 

The other thing about shooting film is you get to use some of the all-time classic cameras now that they’re less costly because most people want digital cameras.

With the better cameras the “user experience” is so much at a higher level it just makes the entire process that much more enjoyable.


To see more of your work, where should people go?

There is more work over at robskeoch.com


Thanks Rob!