All posts by Bruno

Bhupendra Karia: ‘Listening to India with one’s eyes’

NEW YORK — India, with its complex history, mix of cultures and massive population, represents a world unto itself that is at once a force to be reckoned with on the global stage and an unknowable land to outsiders. It is this veil that artist, teacher, theorist, curator and photographer Bhupendra Karia sought to pierce, and in the process humanizes the nation with a unique, visual synecdoche that reflects his cultural awareness and personal vision.

Among the most striking images in the exhibit: A vertical B&W print of a turban, a shawl and a rifle hanging on peg embedded in a terra cotta wall. The deceptively simple image evokes India’s cultural identity (or one segment of it), its struggle for independence, and the violence of Partition in 1947 — when lands occupied by the British Empire were carved into Hindu and Muslim nations to form what is current-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Estimates of the death toll vary between 500,000 and 1.5 million, marking one of the most tragic periods in modern history.

Karia’s Population Crisis project produced views of urban life in Bombay (Mumbai), from the manual labor of men lugging cloth, tied in bundles, on their backs, to the quotidian hustle and bustle of commerce and transportation clogging the city’s streets in every direction, with such richness in its subjects to provide the viewer an immersion, however brief, into life in India; from food vendors preparing to distribute lunch orders in stacked tins from crudely constructed wooden carts, to residents making their way around tenement-style, colonial-era housing.

In the second half of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Karia undertook extensive photographic journeys that would last weeks, sometimes months, at a time, logging some 80,000 miles across India’s rural landscape — likely fueled by an anthropological impulse to explore and record rural India and its native creative traditions–textiles, pottery, and architectural decoration. The resulting project comprises a quarter-million images, which Karia edited down to a portfolio of 74 photographs that he called “the meager harvest of my first 20 years in photography.” Twenty of those images are included in the current exhibition, Bhupendra Karia / India 1968-1974, through March 19 at sepiaEYE, with selected work from the Karia Estate, comprises two projects, Selections from the Portfolio and Population Crisis.

Bhupendra Karia / India 1968-1974 at sepiaEYE, 547 W. 27th Street, #608, New York, NY, Feb. 4, 2016, through March 19, 2016.

Lecture: “An Evolving Archive: The Photographs of Bhupendra Karia with Paul Sternberger,” at International Center of Photography, 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 16.

Bhupendra Karia, Population Crisis B.45.70, Bombay, early 1970’s, Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Population Crisis B.8.74.70, Bombay, early 1970’s, Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Population Crisis B.88.70, Bombay, early 1970’s. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Population Crisis B.96.70, Bombay, early 1970’s. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Population Crisis B.229, Bombay, early 1970’s. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Old Bombay Dwellings, Bombay, 1970. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Birdcage and Saris on Porch, Sankheda, 1967. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Hand Print on Wall, 1968. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Lamp and Two Umbrellas, Baroda, 1968. Vintage Silver print
Bhupendra Karia, Turban and Gun, Bhavnagar, 1969. Vintage Silver print

Vogue at 100: A history of groundbreaking imagery

Kate Moss by Mario Testino quarter page.jpg
Kate Moss at the Master Shipwright’s House, Deptford, by Mario Testino, 2008 ©Mario Testino

The embodiment of photography history itself, Vogue and its storied photography collection steps into the spotlight with Vogue 100: A Century of Style at London’s National Portrait Gallery, an exhibition that encompasses a veritable who’s-who of photography — and fashion — from the medium’s earliest days.


On exhibit are vintage prints from the first professional fashion photographer, Baron de Meyer, and World War II images by Vogue’s war correspondent, Lee Miller, to more contemporary names that helped define the genre in the modern era and make its mark on popular culture, including Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Snowdon, David Bailey, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Tim Walker and Albert Watson.

Highlights include the entire set of prints from Corinne Day’s controversial Kate Moss underwear shoot, taken in 1993 at the pinnacle of the “grunge” trend, along with  Horst’s famous “corset” photograph from 1939, which inspired the video for Madonna’s hit song, “Vogue.”

“British Vogue has played a pivotal role in the development of photographic portraiture over the past century, commissioning leading photographers and designers to produce some of the most memorable and influential images in the history of fashion,” said Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery.

Kirsi Pyrhonen by Tim Walker
Kirsi Pyrhönen in Mongolia by Tim Walker, 2011 ©Tim Walker

The exhibition is curated by Robin Muir, a contributing editor to British Vogue, who has arranged several exhibitions over the past 20 years focusing on fashion and portrait photography. His books include “People in Vogue: A Century of Portraits” (2003) and “Vogue Model: The Faces of Fashion” (2010).

One surprising aspect of the collection lies in a hair-raising detail about what happened to many of the early photographic prints in the British edition’s files.

Hattie Crisell quotes Muir in New York magazine:

“There is almost nothing left in the British Vogue archives between 1916 and 1942,” he explains. “In 1942, Condé Nast sent all its photographs to the paper pulper — it was an economic necessity during wartime to try to save paper. There’s a great photograph somewhere of Cecil Beaton sitting amongst all his photographs, just about to go off to the recycling.” Luckily, in those early decades of the magazine, much of the imagery was borrowed from its older U.S. cousin, “so we were able to call upon the American Vogue archive, which is very, very thorough and beautifully stocked from about 1909 onwards.”

Thank goodness for the archives of U.S. Vogue in contributing to the exhibition.

Vogue 100: A Century of Style, National Portrait Gallery, London, 11 February – 22 May 2016, sponsored by Leon Max.

American dancer Fred Astaire dancing in a tuxedo
Fred Astaire by André de Dienes, 1939 ©Condé Nast Inc.
Claudia Schiffer - Herb Ritts resized
Claudia Schiffer in Paris by Herb Ritts, 1989 ©Herb Ritts Foundation/Trunk Archive

MoMA offers its first free online photography class

NEW YORK — The Museum of Modern Art has launched its first online photography class titled “Seeing Through Photographs,” a six-part course offered through learning company Coursera.

MoMA describes it:

Led by Sarah Meister, Curator, Department of Photography, the course introduces learners to firsthand perspectives and ideas from artists and scholars about what a photograph is and the many ways in which photography has been used throughout history and into the present day: as a means of personal artistic expression; a tool for science and exploration; a method for documenting people, places, and events; a way of telling stories and recording histories; and a mode of communication and critique in our increasingly visual culture.

The course launched Feb. 10, 2016.

Top: Still from Vik Muniz: Equivalents, from Seeing Through Photographs. © 2016 The Museum of Modern Art. Below: Screenshot of Coursera page.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 10.35.05 PM

Gordon Parks exhibit focuses on Civil Rights era

Untitled (Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell) , Harlem, New York, 1963, Silver Gelatin Print. The Gordon Parks Foundation, Courtesy Of Jenkins Johnson Gallery.

Gordon Parks, the first African-American photographer at Life magazine, is the subject of a new retrospective of his work documenting the Civil Rights movement.

Priscilla Frank of The Huffington Post writes:

His images exposed many Americans to the realities of segregation for the first time, setting off an irreversible sequence of events that catalyzed the Civil Rights movement as we know it today. Parks’ 1963 series “The March on Washington” documents the titular occasion in black rights history, including one unforgettable image of the Washington Monument, brimming with people of all backgrounds desperate for change.

Gordon Parks: Higher Ground” at Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco opened Feb. 4, 2016, and runs through April 2, 2016.


NYPL releases trove of public-domain images

More than 180,000 images held in the archives of the New York Public Library were put online this week in what may be the largest web-based collection of photographs in the public domain.

Broome Street, Nos. 504-506, Manhattan. 1935. By Berenice Abbott.

The library announced on its blog that users of the NYPL Digital Collections would contain easier-to-use links and filters to find restriction-free content. Power users will also have access to the database’s Digital Collections API, as well as additional tools added to the NYPL’s GitHub account.


In addition to photographs, the collection includes historic maps, botanical illustrations, unique manuscripts, ancient religious texts, and more.

Some of the photography collections available include:

The collection also includes historic maps, botanical illustrations, unique manuscripts, ancient religious texts and more. Visit for information.

Carrie and Alfred with Alfred’s pony ‘Tim’

Wim Wenders on Walker Evans, Polaroids

Filmmaker Wim Wenders speaks with MoMA curator Josh Siegel about the inspiration for his 1974 film, “Alice in the Cities.”

The conversation is part of a retrospective of the German-born filmmaker, organized by the Museum of Modern Art.

The film exhibition runs March 2-17, 2015.

Cat photos help raise privacy issues

Owen Mundy has taken online cat pictures to another level.

On the surface, his website, I Know Where Your Cat Lives, appears to be a feline-lover’s dream, offering up random pictures of public photos of a wide range of kitties from all over the world.

But in his Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for web hosting, Mundy of Tallahassee, Fla., explains a deeper purpose to his efforts.

“This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all,” he writes. “This website doesn’t visualize all of the cats on the net, only the ones that allow you to track where their owners have been.”

The Kickstarter campaign runs through 9 August 2014.


Facebook selfies as depiction of the American girl

Jenna Garrett waded through countless Facebook self-portraits, or “selfies,” for a new exhibit that examines the concept of the online identity.

As part of the Aperture Summer Open project, Garrett’s series, “The Public Profile of An American Girl” comprises nearly 5,000 public images of young women posted to the social-media website.

“It’s very important to me that the work be viewed as an installation—there is something really visceral about seeing 500 images of people licking one another. So much of what we do online feels intangible—people post photos, share their entires lives and say so many things without so much as a thought. Making images online a physical thing (public images that anyone could stumble upon and see) changes the dynamic entirely,” she tells Cool Hunting.

Garrett’s series is part of a larger body of work, titled “The Public Profile Project.” In one of its pieces, “Pretty/Ugly,” she creates a disturbing mosaic of YouTube videos from a recent phenomenon in which teenage girl invited viewers to weigh in on her looks.

Steve McCurry reveals stories behind the images

Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs – YouTube.

Steve McCurry took inspiration from New Zealand photographer Brian Brake‘s famous 1962 image of an Indian girl in a monsoon years later when covering the subcontinent’s rainy season.

“During my monsoon coverage in India, I learned that there was this terrible flood in one of the cities in Gujarat. So, I got a flight, and to my horror, I saw that three-quarters of the city was underwater. People were living on their roofs. They had no fresh water. They had no food. So, I set about documenting this situation,” he said a video accompanying his book, “Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs,” published by Phaidon.

“I literally spent the entire day walking around up to my waist or my chest in water, and the water was very dirty an fully of dead animals. It was very disgusting,” McCurry added. “But It was fascinating how people persevere, how they can live through these situations and actually cope and do quite well, despite this kind of very difficult circumstance.”

Documentary digs into NYC street photography

Cheryl Dunn casts a spotlight on nine decades of New York street photography — with some of the discipline’s best-known practitioners and a few unheralded ones — in her new documentary film, “Everybody Street.”

“If you want to get a really broad slice of humanity, you can find it in New York,” Dunn tells Wired. “Every kind of person is out there and I think that’s what’s attracted all these photographers.”

An image from 'Everybody Street.'
An image from ‘Everybody Street.’

The cast reads like a who’s-who of photographers known for their fleeting imagery of a different time in New York’s history and iconic imagery of the city’s inhabitants: Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper and Boogie, as well as historians Max Kozloff and Luc Sante.

The “Everybody Street” Vimeo page contains selected clips from the interviews, including one in which Meyerowitz responds to a question of what makes a good photograph.

“I hitchhiked to Mexico, and in Mexico I saw this. It’s a shooting gallery, and in the shooting gallery there’s a wooden trunk, and in the trunk is a baby who’s screaming. Probably the gunshots,” he said. “I mean, I was able to see that that there was kind of an overall thing, rather than just looking at the baby. So, I think early on, I kind of developed a sense of, you know, what might make an interesting photograph.”

via New Film Profiles NYC’s Greatest Street Photographers