Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Helen Levitt

Helen Levitt was born August 31, 1913 and passed away March 29, 2009.  She is well known for her street photography throughout New York City.  The images of the children that I found for her seems to portray children that are very angry, or maybe even afraid.  The girl in the first picture appears to be worried, while the child next to her is trying to see through the window pane.  The directional force through angles in this photograph work well to create a space, story, and time.  The boys in the second picture appear to be angry or after someone.   They seem to be holding something in their hands, and I can only hope it is not guns.  I wonder if these are scenes that have been set up by the artist, or if she's portraying real life where children live in such fear and anger.  We can only expect a horrible future for these kids if this is not an act.  However, it is their struggle for survival. 

Danny Lyon

                                                Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement

Danny Lyon was born March 16, 1942.  He taught himself photography.  He completed separate documentary studies that were made into books.  The first picture of "The Movement" series symbolizes the strife that continued during the Civil Rights Movement.  Such a photograph could not be posed, as the reactions in the picture are real and terrifying at the same time.  The second photograph followed a series study on the "Conversations With The Dead" series that took place in multiple Texas prisons.  The idea was to portray the real life of prison hardships and loss of freedoms.  The image of the lined men, stripped and placed outdoors stands as a strong image, as most would probably feel embarassed and mortified to have to be stripped down in front of everyone.  The loss of rights is prevalent here. 

Sally Mann

                                                         Sally Mann, Black Eye 1991
                                                 Sally Mann, Jessie and the Dear. 1984

Sally Mann was born May 1, 1959.  She is known for her photographs of her young children as well as landscape portraits.  I believe that "The Black Eye" is so successful for me simply  because of the wingback chair and the shapes, shadows, and lines it creates in the picture.  This photo definitely doesn't look like it was taken in the 90's, but perhaps the artist set it up to look that way.  "Jessie And The Deer" is also visually interesting because of the small pretty girl in a Sunday dress posing next to a dead deer.  We can probably guess that she lives in the country.  However, even though she is standing next to such a sad thing, she is still posing and smiling for the camera.  This shows a state of normalcy for her, as she seems to be unaffected by the situation. 

Robert Mapplethorpe

Derrick Cross & Friends,1982

Robert Mapplethorpe, Derrick Cross, 1983, stampa in gelatina d’argento / gelatin silver print,
50.8 x 40.6 cm

Robert Mapplethorpe was born November 4, 1946 and passed away March 9, 1989.  He is widely known for his compositions of nude men.  I must say thin that I was upset with some of his work, as he lost the art in the pictures and instead created a far jump over to pornography.  Specifically, I found one of his works consisting of a close of a hand grabbing an erect penis.  There is no story or art about that.  It is simply the artists fascination with the sexual desire.  However, I did find some of his pieces that I liked.  I enjoyed the contrast and lights and darks working throughout the man's back in the first picture.  It resembled very similarly the famous picture of the pepper for me.  I also enjoyed the rhythm created with the body shapes in the second photograph.  I think that the movement is very nice. 

Mary Ellen Mark

                                                National Circus of Vietnam, Lenin Park, Hanoi, North Vietnam 1994

                                                       National Circus of Vietnam, Lenin Park, Hanoi, North Vietnam 1994

Mary Ellen Mark was born March 20, 1940.  When looking through her portfolio, I found that she did multiple studies of the circus in different countries.  I found that I really enjoyed her work, as it displayed a much happier tone and was full of interesting viewpoints and unexpected surprises- such as the standing dogs in picture one-.  Her use of light and dark, as well as shadow angles against deep perspective points created very dramatic scenes, while still somewhat whimsical.  The contrast of geometric shapes on the walls and floors make the figures stand apart in the pictures. 

Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Lucybelle Crater and Close Friend Lucybelle Crater in the Grape Arbor (1971)

Ralph Eugene Meatyard was born May 15, 1925 and passed away May 7, 1972 at age 46.  Meatyard is known for creating photographs using dolls or masks as props.  I must say that after looking through some of his work, that I found most of it a little creepy, especially the masked figures I have placed above.  The people are dressed and posed in an everyday fashion, but their faces make them appear a little frightening.  It is an unexpected surprise to see their faces when looking at the photographs. 

Susan Meiselas

           EL SALVADOR. Cabanas. 1983. Soldiers Under Fire
Soldiers Searching Bus Passengers, Northern Highway, El Salvador 1980

Susan Meiselas was born in 1948 in Maryland.  She is a freelance photographer who is probably best known for her work in El Salvador, as she has published some books with these photos.  It was in 1981 that she visited a village in El Salvador that was destroyed by the armed forces.  She took pictures of this, called the El Mozote Massacre- "The El Mozote Massacre took place in the village of El Mozote, in Moraz├ín department, El Salvador, on December 11, 1981, when Salvadoran armed forces trained by the United States military killed at least 1000 civilians in an anti-guerrilla campaign during the Salvadoran Civil War".  Now knowing what the El Mozote Massacre was and stood for, I believe Susan's images are even stronger in my mind.  I do not think I would have the ability to stand by and photograph these men at war.  I wonder is she was in any real danger when shooting in the trench for "Soldiers Under Fire".  And the men patting down the civilians in "Soldiers Searching Bus Passengers" would scare me enough to hide my camera.  This shot that she made, while not pointing directly at the people, creates an even more eerie and secretive effect for such a situation.  They are only shadows, but they are probably doing a lot of harm.