A little farce here, a little farce there…

In between a generally funny sex/New York real estate farce and an earnest play about the founders of the NAACP and their possible sexual attraction, I took in two photography shows exploring the artistic possibilities of the photograph.

The shows at MoMA and ICP were spookingly similar.  What curators are having coffee or otherwise kanoodling?  Wait!  This isn’t a sex farce!

Still, you might forget which bed, um, museum you’re in.  The ICP show has a clear focus on digital, with lots of photos mimicking abstract art movements.  Doesn’t this image by James Welling look just like a Mark Rothko?  Yawn.  I can do that on my iPhone.

Walead Beshty, Three Color Curl, 2008



To make the point, this piece is from the MoMA show.  Not that the works aren’t lovely.  Just what are they saying about “what is a photograph?”  That it can be just like a painting?  Okay…






How much fun are the Polaroids by Lucas Samaras from the 1970s?  So how did he do that?  He started with a selfie, a self portrait using a regular Polaroid camera.  Before the chemicals setup, he could manipulate the image.  Let the experiments begin.  Make sure you see this tiny series downstairs at ICP.

Upstairs is a better show overall, I think.  Robert Capa was well known for his black and white images of war, but he worked extensively in color, too.  Covering exotic locations for Look Magazine, taking candids on movie sets, capturing the British Queen’s coronation, and more, I was most taken by the unexpected stare, the casual twist of a body, a glance at a party.





Doesn’t this just look like Paris?





Capucine at cocktail party in Rome, photo by Robert Capa, Rome, Italy, August 1951


and Rome in 1951.





2014-02-08 16.46.43


MoMA did what MoMA does–pulls out some greatest hits mixed in with some of-the-moment contemporary. While the crowd may gather around a video or lie down on the floor to gaze at the surround-screen-experience, I like the old stuff.





Harold Edgerton always amazes me, with his slow motion studies from the 1930s.  A drop of water.  A golfer’s swing.


Who knew Berenice Abbott did these kinds of experiments?

Robert Rauschenberg worked with cyanotypes.  Beautiful!

Bill Wegman up to his ol’ tricks.

William Wegman. Dropping Milk. 1971

William Wegman. Dropping Milk. 1971

Edward Weston plays with our perception, too.







Both are Edward Westin,  Nude, Mexico, 1925

Today, I was really attracted to the hard edges of Charles Sheeler, Paul Outerbridge, and even Man Ray and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Beyond beautiful.

Charles Sheeler. Cactus and Photographer's Lamp, New York. 1931

Charles Sheeler. Cactus and Photographer’s Lamp, 1931


Images de Deauville

Paul Outerbridge, Images de Deauville, c. 1936


Man Ray. <i>Laboratory of the Future</i>. 1935. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/16 x 7" (23.1 x 17.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of James Johnson Sweeney © 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Man Ray, World of the Future, 1935












Robert Mapplethorpe, Hermes, 1988

A classic Nadar, two by Julia Cameron.  Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. It’s good.

Nadar, Pierrot Laughing, 1855

Julia Margaret Cameron. Madonna with Children. 1864

Julia Margaret Cameron. Madonna with Children. 1864




















Irving Penn, Ballet Theater, New York, 1947

Richard Avedon, Carl Hoefert, unemployed blackjack dealer, 1983

Richard Avedon, Carl Hoefert, unemployed blackjack dealer, 1983


The show is all over the place, but still worth a look.  Then maybe you can figure out how two curators got together in a Manhattan location…, no, no, that’s the making of a sex farce, with a New York real estate twist…


MoMA Sculpture Garden at dusk, 2-8-14

MoMA Sculpture Garden at dusk, 2-8-14