Posts Tagged ‘Lee Friedlander’

NEW BOOK: Book Launch @ Aperture, June 1st

May 30, 2011

Alex Webb, cover of "The Suffering of Light" (Aperture), with an essay by Geoff Dyer

 

Please join us to celebrate the launch of Alex’s new book, The Suffering of Light, at Aperture at 6:30pm, which will include a conversation with photographer and critic Max Kozloff and a booksigning afterwards. (To take a look inside Alex’s new book, follow this link to the PhotoEye site.) And here’s a link to a portfolio of Alex’s work from the new book on the La Lettre site, courtesy of the Robert Klein Gallery in Boston, which will have a joint show of our work on Saturday, September 17th, from 2-4pm.

And below you’ll find a rough, homemade video of our Violet Isle show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, an exhibition mentioned in The New York Times on Sunday and reviewed in The Boston Globe on Tuesday, May 31st.   For those who are part of the “Two Looks” online community, please let us know if you get a chance to see Violet Isle at the MFA, Boston, which will be up until January 16, 2012.

By the way, if you visit the MFA by June 16th, be sure and stop by and see the photography show, “Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection,” which includes work by such noted photographers as Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Julia Margaret Cameron, Wright Morris, Alec Soth, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Mitch Epstein, Larry Sultan, Mike Smith, and Helen Levitt.–Rebecca Norris Webb

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TWO THANKS: Violet Isle

January 24, 2011

Rebecca Norris Webb, "Violet Isle" cover, Radius Books

We have some good news to share:  VIOLET ISLE was selected as one of the “Best Books of 2010” on the Photo-Eye website by independent curator/photography blogger, Elizabeth Avedon.  We’re pleased and honored to be included among such photographers as Alec Soth, Martin Parr, Sally Mann, Lee Friedlander, Tim Hetherington, Taryn Simon, Jean Gaumy, Mark Powers, Jason Fulford, Thomas Demand, David Taylor, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Carl De Keyzer, and others.  To read more about the various authors and books, visit the Photo-Eye site. Thanks so much, Elizabeth.

And thanks again to award-winning Cuban poet, Reina Maria Rodriguez, for allowing us to use her wonderful quote below in VIOLET ISLE.  Recently Reina, who lives in Havana (she’s photographed below), received our gift to her — a copy of our book, whose title was inspired by the title poem of one of Reina’s poetry books. –– Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb


fue una ciudad con puerto

donde ya no se ha ido ni ha vuelto nadie más…

–de “Violet Island” por la poeta cubana, Reina María Rodríguez

once it was a city with a port

where now no one else has come or gone…

–from “Violet Island” by Cuban poet, Reina María Rodríguez

WEBB LIBRARY: New Additions

December 13, 2010

In this new column, we’ll occasionally mention some of the books we’ve added to our ever-growing and eclectic library, which is gradually taking over our Brooklyn apartment.  (We were both English majors in college, so we have 100’s of poetry, nonfiction, novels, and photography books.)

We recently added the following four books of photography — Lee Friedlander’s America by Car, Alec Soth’s From Here to There, Jason Eskenasi’s Wonderland, David Taylor’s Working the Line — and one book of poetry: Charles Simic’s Lingering Ghosts.  They are all very different books, reflecting five fascinating and unusual ways of responding to the world and human existence. What they do all share, however,  is a sense of individuality: one cannot imagine anyone else making these books except these particular authors. It’s what both Rebecca and I prize about each of these books.

Trent Bailey’s photograph of the five books on our library’s mantelpiece also shows a detail from an early Patrick Webb painting, as well as an unusual new addition — Phinneas the Pheasant — a specimen of a ring-tailed pheasant, which happens to be the state bird of Rebecca’s home state of South Dakota.  We acquired Phinneas this fall while driving back from the  Black Hills to our Brooklyn neighborhood.–Alex Webb

NEW HONG KONG WORKSHOP ADDED MIDJANUARY:

We’ve added a two-day workshop in Hong Kong next month, in which we’ll feature the first unbound copy of Alex’s upcoming survey book, The Suffering of Light, hot off the press from the printing plant in Hong Kong.  If you’re based in Hong Kong or the area — or have photographic friends that are — please feel free to email them this link to the workshop, which is on the Magnum site.

To read more about this workshop in Chinese, please visit this link.Rebecca Norris Webb

Webb Library, 2010

TRENT’S PICKS: Friedlander at the Whitney

November 14, 2010

TRENT DAVIS BAILEY is a young photographer from Colorado who recently moved to New York.  He recently received a BFA in photography and a BA in art history from the University of Colorado.  Besides photographing and working with us on a variety of projects, he is also currently reviewing exhibitions for Daylight Magazine.  We have each chosen a photograph to accompany Trent’s review of the current Lee Friedlander show at the Whitney, “America By Car,” which is up through November 28th.––Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Lee Friedlander, “Alaska, 2007,” represented by Fraenkel Gallery

LEE FRIEDLANDER (b. 1934) has long been recognized for his compound street photographs, which document “social landscapes” through a complex arrangement of reflections, shadows, street signs, and self-portraits. For his latest book and current exhibition, “Lee Friedlander: America by Car,” the photographer went on a decade-long succession of road trips driving on US highways, city streets, country roads, and thoroughfares. In the tradition of other itinerant street photographers, such as Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand, Friedlander’s work examines the expanse of infrastructures and social constructs that pervade the United States. And now, at age 76, Friedlander is still demonstrating his ability to revisit, challenge, and extend his well-established photographic vocabulary.

By photographing through car windows with a Hasselblad Super Wide, Friedlander uses his camera’s foreshortening perspective to methodically construct images that operate as a frame-within-a-frame (often with rear-view mirrors and side-view mirrors acting as additional frames). The photographs focus on the makes, models, and hardware of his rental cars while also considering the environments beyond the cars’ interiors. As consistent with his past work, Friedlander is not at all timid about including himself in these photographs either. Whether it is the flare of his flash or his reflection in a mirror, his presence is felt in every image.

Pictured beyond many of Friedlander’s cars’ windows are especially bleak locales such as dilapidated Rust Belt factories, suburban homes in California, and a car graveyard in Arizona. In this context — when gazing through a rental car window — the visual contrast trades cynicism for wit. And even though each photograph is muddled with information, Friedlander is still able to establish a compositional order. The physical and figurative relationship that coexists between the car interiors and the momentary scenes beyond each window provides a timely, often-satirical commentary on contemporary America.––Trent Davis Bailey

Trent’s review via Daylight Magazine

Lee Friedlander: America By Car
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
September 4 – November 28,  2010
http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/LeeFriedlander
To see more of Lee Friedlander’s work, visit the Fraenkel Gallery website.


Lee Friedlander, “California, 2008,” represented by Fraenkel Gallery

NEW YORK AND BEYOND: OTHER NOTED PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITIONS:

–The Mexican Suitcase: Rediscovered Spanish Civil War negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro
The International Center of Photography, New York, NY
September 24, 2010 – January 9, 2011
Exhibition: http://www.icp.org/museum/exhibitions/mexican-suitcase

More about the suitcase: http://museum.icp.org/mexican_suitcase/

–From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
September 12, 2010 – January 2, 2011
http://calendar.walkerart.org/canopy.wac?id=4673

–Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century
SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA
October 30, 2010 – January 30, 2011
http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/409
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–Chicago Cabinet: Views from the Street
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
October 16, 2010 – January 16, 2011
http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/exhibition/Street
 

BURN MAGAZINE: Alex’s response

October 17, 2009

Here’s an excerpt from Alex’s response today on Burn Magazine to a question raised by photographer Eric Espinosa.  To read all the comments, visit:

http://www.burnmagazine.org/

ERIC ESPINOSA: In a way, Alex has been true to his vision all these years and I am a huge fan but maybe he would have preferred to take his vision into more different directions?

ALEX WEBB: The questions you raise about repetition and reinvention are complicated and difficult for any photographer or artist who has been working for some time.  When does an obsession become stale?  When is one repeating oneself without expanding one’s vision?  In the early stages of one’s work, the changes are often more striking, more evident.  As one works deeper into an obsession, as one hones one’s vision and one’s craft,  the variations are often subtler. For me, some of the questions I’m grappling with are:  Are my variations on my obsessions deepening and expanding my work? Or have I exhausted the tension, the vitality, and the power of these obsessions, so that the work no longer sings?

I sometimes look at other photographers and artists to see how they have grappled with this question.   I think of photographers like Bruce Davidson, or Josef Koudelka, who have changed cameras and sometimes formats for different projects, clearly demarcating divisions between their bodies of work.  Lee Friedlander, on the other hand,  for years (until recently) never changed formats, but his projects seemed fairly unique, though clearly it was the same remarkable eye that created all the images.  And  Cartier-Bresson never changed his approach significantly for all those many years of working (though I do think there is a  difference between the early, more formal and surrealist work  — Italy, Spain, Mexico — and some of the the later work — India, China — which often seems to strike a more worldly, more socio-political note.)  As I was originally a literature major, I also often think of writers and how they have dealt with obsessions.  I sometimes feel with some of my favorite novelists that they have simply written the same book many times over.  It’s only the superstructure that changes: the essential themes, the essential elements remain fairly consistent throughout.  I also often wonder if we as photographers or artists have more than one or two serious obsessions in our life.   Maybe it’s okay to have just one — if indeed it’s rich enough, complex enough, and expansive enough.  In my case, I discovered a certain way of working in color in certain kinds of places and have expanded on that obsession for 30 some years.  Is that enough???  Or does it simply reflect my limitations?  Or are my limitations perhaps ultimately also my strength?I don’t know.  So, these questions that you bring up are ones that bedevil me — especially now, after nearly 40 years of photography.

Though I think you are right that there are certain themes, motifs, tendencies that run throughout my color work, and that some of the notes — especially visual notes — struck in, say, Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds or Under A Grudging Sun, are also struck in my Cuba work, I think that there are emotional notes that I  more consistently strike in Violet Isle that are distinct.  It’s the same photographer, the same eye, but it’s a different place and it’s a different time in life.  In my early work, I think I had a much greater need to directly confront the otherness of the world, to explore that tension, and, as in Under A Grudging Sun, to experience and photograph the violence of the world, specifically Haiti.  The Cuba work is subtler, at times perhaps more lyrical, though often tinged with melancholy (a little bit like my Istanbul work).    Yes, there are photographs in Violet Isle that could have been taken by the Alex Webb of 1986, but the Alex Webb of 1986 could not have produced the totality of this particular body of Cuba work.

Along the same lines, one of the things that appealed to me about the notion of doing a book with Rebecca was that it would be something new, a different kind of book.   I have produced books on Haiti, the Amazon, Florida, the US-Mexico Border — did I just want to do another on Cuba?   I found it very exciting to collaborate with Rebecca, to experiment, to try something different and new.   Furthermore, there have been quite a few very good photography books about Cuba.  Both of us liked the idea of producing this “duet” — a form that inevitably makes Violet Isle a unique kind of book on Cuba.

Ultimately, I don’t have any answers right now about the issues of artistic repetition and reinvention.  After all, a certain level of repetition is not problematic; in fact, the very nature of obsession implies a certain level of repetition.  Certain art forms — most notedly poetry and music — rely heavily on repetition (an obsession is “…a refrain, after all, playing itself again and again in the mind.” –– the poet, Katie Ford.)  I’m not sure what’s next for my work.  Usually I am working on several projects simultaneously, but not so right now (though I have some ideas.)  So we’ll see. I don’t think you’ll see me on the corner with an 8×10 camera anytime soon. But you never know…