A chance encounter with Harold A. Cueva Vasquez

Yesterday I bumped into Peruvian painter Harold C. Cueva Vasquez on the streets of Winterthur. We had had a lovely chat, and he invited me to take some pictures of him in his atelier in ‘Haus zum Bilder’ (www.inzwischen.ch) as well.

You can visit his exposition in Kulturort Uferzone, Theiligerstrasse 59, 8484 Theilingen (www.ufer-zone.ch) until June 16, 2019. On June 2, 2019, he will paint there live!

Harold’s own website is http://artecuevas.ch/. Check it out!

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Panasonic Lumix G81 | Panasonic 12-60 3.5-5.6


Big Heads Martin Schoeller Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam

I really enjoyed visiting the exposition Big Heads by German photographer Martin Schoeller in the Fotomuseum earlier this year. ‘Big Heads’ is a series of close-up portraits taken of (mostly) celebrities, taken with a wide angle lens from a short distance with a large format camera and a large aperture. The pictures only show the face of the subjects – even their necks are not visible.

Martin Schoeller explains this unusual perspective from the fact that, when he was an unknown photographer, he did not get much time and possibilities to influence the location or the clothing of his subjects. Cleverly, he decided to turn this weakness in a strength. Instead, the had to work fast and accept the location and clothing as a given.

Martin Schoeller explains the choice of celebrities as subjects due to this upbringing in post-war Germany where heroes and worshipping them, was not done due to the second world war. For this reason, he was surprised by the celebrity culture in the USA when he emigrated to this country.

Prior to establishing himself as an independent photographer, he worked as an assistant for Annie Leibovitch. He credits his technique to Bernd and Hilla Becher, who became famous for their work of identical industrial installations.

The Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam is located in Katendrecht, in the neighborhood of Hotel New York. the former terminal building of the HAL (Holland America Line). Here a number of emigrants left Europe for the US.

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All pictures were taken with a Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 (Mark I)


 

Ed van der Elsken: ‘The camera in love’

wp-tmp-ee4Last week I visited the exhibition ‘The camera in love’ about the life and works of Dutch street photographer and film maker Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990). The exhibition took place at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Although a large part of Ed van der Elsken’s work deals with Amsterdam, he traveled and worked all around the world. He made some of his best known work in Paris and Japan.

His photographic style is quite recognizable. Most of his pictures are high contrast black and white pictures of street scenes and people who live on on the seamy side of life (bohemiens, transvestites, gangsters, etc.). In the latter part of his work he comes across as a kind of Nan Goldin ‘avant la lettre’.

Although I personally I do not really like his work, because it is too one-dimensional and pessimistic to my taste, I do recommend everyone to visit his exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (open until May 21, 2017). It shows all his movies and the most important of his photographs, as well as his letters, notebooks, etc. The set-up of the exhibition is great: the exhibition of his pictures felt spacious and there were dedicated locations where his movies could be seen.

Pictures by Ed van der Elsken

 


The pictures of the museum and exhibition below are taken with my Olympus OMD-E-M10 with the standard 14-42 mm kit lens. The pictures were post-processed with Adobe Lightroom.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Annie Leibovitz’s Women in Zurich

wp-tmp-al-annie-leibovitz-student-large_transuhyhmljpqefqbb7eg7erxjsajvwqwx9ttwdcnru7gmgAnnie Leibovitz was the first artisitic photographer I came to know about. Although I have been a keen photographer myself ever since I was a child, I never considered photography as a form of art. ‘Art’ was something I associated with painters, sculptors and writers. Photography was something that I considered to be a technical skill. All this changed however when I saw the pictures Annie Leibovitz took for an advertising campaign for American Express. This was the first time I experienced that a photographer could have an own, recognizable style.

 

 

wp-tmp-al-7d95c77c3cfec7a93c5d4aab126f7ac3I have been an ardent fan of Annie Leibovitz ever since. As a matter of fact, the first photography book that I bought was ‘Photographs 1970-1990’ from Annie Leibovitz.

This book has the famous picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover, a picture which Annie Leibovitz shot shortly before John Lennon was murdered.

Although I bought photo books from many different photographers afterwards, Annie Leibovitz however remained my absolute heroine.

 

 

wp-tmp-al-womenA couple of years later I bought another book from her called ‘Women’. This book (published in 2000) is entirely dedicated to women from all walks of life: the arts, the armed forces, entertainment, hospitality, sports, etc. It proved to be a fantastic purchase; it is a book I keep going back to. The essay at the beginning of the book is from her deceased partner Susan Sonntag, and is quite interesting as well. As a man I first wondered why you would make a book only about women, but Susan Sonntag’s essay completely convinced me.

I was thrilled when UBS commissioned Annie Leibovitz to do a follow-up project called ‘Women – New Projects’. Not only did UBS commission her to do these portraits, UBS also generously organized a travelling exhibition of the pictures to 10 major cities around the globe.

Her new series of pictures of women are absolutely amazing; I cannot wait to buy a book with them if and when this is published. The new series consist of portraits of 39 women, again from all walks of life.

They include unknown heroes like Denise and Linamandla Manong (who are caring for Aids patients in South-Africa) and Andrea Medina Rosas (who fights for the rights of women in Mexico), to well-known artists like Cindy Sherman and Sally Mann, singers Adele and Patti Smith, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and businesswoman Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook.

In Zurich the exhibition is shown in Unterwerk Selnau, an old industrial building of the electricity company of Zurich. A wonderful industrial setting to see the pictures. The only drawback was that the pictures themselves were shown on a relatively small format (I guess 70 cm x 50 cm or so) and all on one wand of approx. 10m by 2 m). This meant all visitors had to stand in a small area and in all kind of awkward positions to be able to see the original works.

Additionally the works were shown in two slide show on large screens, but for me personally that does not really work. When I see photographs I prefer to see them in large print and in my own stride, but perhaps I am over-critical…

Let’s hope a book with the pictures will find its way to the printers soon!


The pictures below of the exposition were taken by me with an iPhone 6+ and post processed in Lightroom.

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Art Basel 2016

It is great that in these times – when the world seems to filled with politcal, human and moral crises – a fair like Art Basel exists.

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Founded in 1970, Art Basel is the biggest fair for modern art in the world. The concept has proven to be so successful that events organised by the Art Basel organisation are now taking place in Hong Kong and Miami Beach as well. Confusingly enough, they are labelled Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Basel Miami Beach.

The original Art Basel is an annual event taking place in Basel, a Swiss city which borders on France and Germany. Around 200 galleries set up shop in small booths, where they expose works of the artists they represent and works they want to sell.

It is a great place to see not only great art, but also to observe “the scene”.

Apple devices and Moleskine notebooks form the vast majority of electronic and physical communication and recording tools of art dealers. For male dealers, the dresscode consists of (light) blue suits with relatively short cut trousers; pochets, cufflinks and socks are apparently considered as optional. If glasses are necessary: big frames. For female dealers the dress code seems to be more liberal, but by all appearances you can never go wrong with black.

The booths tend to be minimalistic in terms of colour (predominantly white) and furniture. Barcelona and Eames chairs can be spotted incidentally, but design does not seem to be a must as far as furniture is concerned. Space is apparently very expensive: some galleries have to make do with a couple of square meters on the inside of the outer walls of the building, sometimes near the entry to the restrooms.

In terms of trading, apparently most of the deals are conducted before or in the first hours of the fair. However occasionally you can spot champagne carts being pushed on other days across the halls to a booth where a successful deal has been completed.

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Part of the tradition for non-VIP visitors is trying to have lunch in the foodcourt in the open air. Here price elasticity is taken to a new (higher) level and obtaining a place to seat requires good eyesight, excellent physical condition and an overdose of assertiveness.

However people do not go to Art Basel to observe the scene or  lunch, they come to see art. And there is a lot of art to see and admire. Quite often great pieces can be seen that move from collector to collector, without ever having been inside a museum. A couple of my personal favourites are shown below.

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Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein

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Roy Lichtenstein

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Robert Motherwell

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Alex Katz – Red Hat (Renee)
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Wayne Thiebaud – Woman in Tub

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Joan Mitchell – Untitled (1951)

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Jean-Michel Basquiat – Hoax

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David Hockey – Untitled (From the Yosemite series)
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Marc Chagall – Le cheval à la lune
Excuses for the high number of paintings from Roy Lichtenstein. I really like his works for their playfulness, relativism and technique. They never fail to invoke a smile in me.