Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gordon Parks

American Gothic, Washington D. C.

Paris 1951, Life
Gordon Parks was born November 30, 1912 and passed away March 7, 2006.  He is best known for his fashion photography as well as his photographs representing racial segregation and the Civil Rights leaders.  He was even hired by Vogue magazine to shoot ball gowns, which certainly sounds like a fun job. I am also interested in his American Gothic, Washington D.C.  The picture almost seems to resemble feelings of oppression or slavery.  The idea of a dirty broom and mop next to the American flag probably even made some people angry, as such a contrast is normally not compared with "The American Way".  His use of contrast and even tones in his fashion photos are very interesting and dramatic.  He has achieved details in the lightest lights and darkest darks of the model's outfits.

Paul Outerbridge Jr.

Nude Standing at a Dressing Table, c. 1936

Paul Outerbridge was born August 15, 1896 and passed away October 17, 1958.  He is known for his color photography experimentation, as color photography was a new invention during his time.  He also did a large study of nudes, posing some in erotic positions that led to these photographs not being exhibited during his time.  It was not until after his death that they were to be seen by the public.  I am not necessarily impressed with the actual photos that I have chosen for him, but instead I am impressed at his advancement and challenge to create such photographs during his day in age.  I believe it becomes more artistic because of this, as it is taking a stand against the normal "rules" of society.  We would not view these photos as largely erotic today, but it was viewed as such during his lifetime.

Bill Owens

Damned Dishes
"How can I worry about the damned dishes when there are children dying in Vietnam."
(c) Bill Owens


Bill Owens was born September 25, 1938.  He is best know for his documentary type of work shooting domestic suburban scenes in housing development communities that overtook the nation after World War II.  These photos were published in a book called Suburbia, published in 1973.  These pictures capture almost a completely different world from now.  The interiors and exteriors of the houses seem very clean cut.  I enjoy the contrast between the two pictures that I have chosen for him, as one -Damned Dishes- shows how even a person living in such a clean community can still be a messy person with a busy life, and the other picture of the community party appears to be a little too clean for my taste.  We are getting an inside view on how these people from the past, living in a rigid clean world, can still relate to us today when we peek into their personal lives.

Nicholas Nixon

Friendly, West Virginia
photograph | gelatin silver print

The Brown Sisters
Gelatin silver print, 17 7/8 x 22 3/8" (45.4 x 56.9 cm)

Nicholas Nixon is known for his portraiture and documentary work in the use of a large format camera with 8 by 10 inch film.  Whenever the new age came that everyone was using smaller and more portable 35mm cameras, he rejected them by saying, "when photography went to the small camera and quick takes, it showed thinner and thinner slices of time, [unlike] early photography where time seemed non-changing. I like greater chunks, myself. Between 30 seconds and a thousandth of a second the difference is very large."  His photos are interesting compositionally, but I can't understand how he was able to achieve such clarity with the speeds his camera was getting.  Shooting still images is one thing, but shooting still people is a whole separate ball game. 

Arnold Newman

American author Truman Capote June 28, 1977 in New York City. Capote is best known for such novels as "In Cold Blood" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Arnold Newman was born March 3, 1918 and passed June 6, 2006 at the age of 88.  He is the so called founder of Environmental Portraiture, which places subjects in surroundings that represent their lives or work.  I found that after looking through most of his work that this type of portrait represents a type of documentary for me, as it seems to tell a story.  He was able to place most of his subjects in such a way that not only created interesting viewpoints, but interesting contrasts between the individual and their surroundings.  Some how they all look as if they belong in these environments, and as if they are comfortable enough to be in their own homes.  I believe that for Arnold Newman to be able to acheive this type of relationship with the photo to the figure and their surroundings is key to his portraits becoming actual pieces of art.