Photogrammar, or how to time travel to the Great Depression and WWII…

In the middle of the Great Depression, the New Deal administration sent photographers such as, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and many more, to record the American life across the country and sensitise the public to the hard conditions of the farmers hit by the crisis of the 1930s.
This intensive project, which produced some of the most iconic images like the Migrant Mother of Dorothea Lange, has been brought back to life by the University of Yale in their clever database called Photogrammar.

This catalogue of 170,000 photos is accessible online, and allows you to search the pictures, by keyword, photographer name, year or via an impressive interactive map of the United States.
And it is indeed a fascinating collection!

The pictures, all taken between 1935 and 1945, are real snapshots of this troubled time (with of course the subjectivity of the photographers to take into account like any photo-documentary) : we discover (or rediscover) images of early gamblers in Las Vegas, child playing in the streets, but also the daily struggles of rural workers and urban job seekers.

This compilation allows you to explore this decade through the eyes of these talented photographs and it creates a fantastic time travel for any viewer.

arthur-rothstein-son-of-a-cotton-sharecropper-lauderdale-county-mississippi-1935

Arthur Rothstein, son of a cotton sharecropper, lauderdale county, Mississippi, 1935

walker-evans-main-street-morgantown-west-virginia-1935

Walker Evans, Main Street Morgantown West Virginia, 1935

Carl Mydans, Front of a typical house offering furnished rooms for rent, District of Columbia, 1935

Carl Mydans, Front of a typical house offering furnished rooms for rent, District of Columbia, 1935

Arthur Rothstein, George Washington Bridge from New York City side, 1941

Arthur Rothstein, George Washington Bridge from New York City side, 1941

Arthur Rothstein, Employment agency, Sixth Avenue, New York, New York, 1937

Arthur Rothstein, Employment agency, Sixth Avenue, New York, New York, 1937

John Collier, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, 1941

John Collier, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, 1941

The photorealistic prints of Vija Celmins

There is an incredibly sense of calmness looking at the drawings of the Vija Celmins. Like frozen in time, the natural environments (sea, deserts, night sky…) depicted with delicate palette of grey tones, are very similar to a black and white photographs, thanks to her obsessive attention to detail and meticulous technique.

I see drawing as thinking, evidence of getting from one place to another. One draws to define one thing from another … I tend to take very small increments and steps in changing. An example was that I had been working with the pencil and I began to see that the graphite itself had a certain life to it. So I did a series of images of oceans and deserts using different grades of graphite and pushing each one to its limit. I learned a lot about the possibilities of expressiveness in graphite by doing this. Then I moved into the galaxy drawings. Even though you may think they came from lying under the stars, for me, they came out of loving the blackness of the pencil. It’s almost as if I was exploring the blackness of the pencil along with the image that went with it.
(Quoted in Drawing as Thinking, [pp.1-2].)

She is using indeed charcoal, graphite and erasers like no one, and we just cannot stop to be amazed in front of her art, where the absence of colour and human presence (especially in her late works) cultivate even more the neutral aspect of her subject, out of all romantic cliché.

B e a u t i f u l

Pictures: © 2016 Vija Celmins ; Leslie Feely Gallery ; Berggruen Gallery ; Susan Sheehan Gallery
I encourage you to read on ART 21 for more information about her art and technique

The stunning black and white landscapes from Michael Kenna

Because many of my friends are going on holidays today, I wanted to share the black and white landscapes from Michael Kenna.
This English photographer magnify each place, through a clever and unusual squared framing (especially before Instagram) with a very long exposure sometimes up to 10 hours. The result is stunning and we can only but admire his talent which transform a ‘boring’ road in the French country side in a hauntingly beautiful one…

http://www.michaelkenna.net/

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2008
Homage to HCB, Study 2, Bretagne, France. 1993
Ten Balloons, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. 1993
The Matterhorn, Pennine Alps, Switzerland. 1994
Fifty Two Birds, Zurich, Switzerland. 2008