We — and possibly you, too — are a big fan of large coffee-table art books by the likes of publishers Taschen, Phaidon and Rizzoli, to name but a few. Among our favorite stack of these large tomes is a book by a lesser-known German publisher. It’s a book of photographs by the artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss titled “800 Views of Airports.” And that’s exactly what you get, literally 800 photos taken in airports by the artists over several decades of international air travel. There’s no accompanying text, no explanations, no captions. Just photographs of airports, airplanes, tarmac vehicles, control towers and views looking out of windows from air-terminal boarding lounges around the globe. The book is a mesmerizing document of the airport’s cultural landscape. For those who have traveled widely and often by air, the images in this book may feel in their own way comforting.
The New Yorker magazine has a fascinating photo essay in its Photobooth series of photographer Josephine Sittenfeld’s then-and-now “Reunion” images. These are photos of her Princeton college classmates. Among them is Ellie Kemper of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” fame. It’s a touching testament to age and time.
French photographer Thibaud Poirier has created a series of photos documenting 25 of Europe’s grandest and beautiful great libraries. Poirier’s images capture the vast interior spaces of what he calls “temples of cultural worship.” In all of the these images the libraries are empty.
“Hot Mess” is the title of an artwork by Doug Aitken that features a beautiful photograph showing an aeriel view of the Las Vegas strip at night. The image is displayed as a back-lit circular framed object mounted to the gallery wall. At the center of the photo, just above the bright lights of the city, is the title of the artwork in a standard serif font.
There’s humor in this artwork, one of dozens currently on view as part of the artist’s massive retrospective exhibition “Electric Earth” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, a.k.a., MOCA, in downtown Los Angeles. “Hot Mess” is part of series of circular photographic works that marry text and image in intriguing and ironic ways. In the case of this piece, the words evoke and connect several notions about Las Vegas.
Vegas is a unique and strange city among America’s big cities, and for that matter it’s unlike any city in the world in ways that are both obvious and not-so-obvious. As a tourist in the unlikeliest of geographical places, Vegas has traded on its image of being home to several forms of legalized vice, and an image of moral laxity when it comes to this. Gambling, partying, hotel resort travel, and various types of adult entertainment (in addition to entertainment in general), plus a slew of massive trade shows and conventions, and flamboyant, whimsical architecture — all in the middle of the desert — make the city singular and a kind of “mess” culturally and symbolically.
The term evokes the idea of somebody or a thing that is scattered, disorganized, troubled and possibly pathological. Vegas can seem like that. And much like a freshly spewed pile of vomit — for which the term “hot mess” can also be applied — reeking on the pavement steps from its source, a drunken college student who’s chugged too many Jager shots at a strip club, Vegas is very much like that, too. But, hey, that’s only one facet of this multi-faceted metropolis.
And yet, it has its own beauty. Seen from afar, like many cities and in the photo in Aitken’s artwork, Vegas appears like a glittery jewel, a Milky Way galaxy of neon and LED coalesced into a distant blur of energy, enterprise, and urbanized humanity. From a distance, un-vomit-like.
The artwork of Australian-Iraqi artist Toba Khedoori leaves a distinct impression. Her works are primarily finely detailed, photo-realistic pencil drawings in monochromatic lead or color on massive sheets of waxed paper. The drawings tend to be focused on discrete, single objects set in a vast emptiness — a chair, a fence, a door — or a piece removed from its larger architectural context — rows and rows of seats from a theater or, as in the example pictured here, a fireplace. It’s one of a series of drawings of fireplaces currently on view as part of her solo show at LACMA in Los Angeles. The drawing has a trompe l’oeil quality but has none of the cheap gimmickry of that anachronistic decorative conceit. Looking at the drawing from afar, it appears as if there’s an actual fireplace recessed into the gallery wall.
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これらの大きくて、詳細で、現実的な図面は、オーストラリア – イラクの芸術家トバ・ケドゥリ氏によるものです。 これらはロサンゼルスのLACMAで展示されています。
On a recent visit to the Arcana bookstore in Culver City, in Los Angeles, we checked out some beautiful coffee-table books on surfing and surf photography. Among these was a book titled “Surfing San Onofre to Point Dume: 1936-1942.” It’s a collection of sepia-toned photos by Don James documenting his surfing experience and his surfer friends and their lifestyle in Southern California during the pre-World War II era and early war years. The photos reveal what the surfing life was like in its first idyllic golden age when the Hawaiian “sport of kings” was still novel and taking root in California.
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Time magazine recently published the “100 Most Influential Images of All Time.” It’s a stunning mixed collection of iconic, powerful and beautiful images. Among these images is the first photograph ever taken, a picture from 1826 titled simply “View from the Window at Le Gras.” The image shown above is a 1968 photo titled “The Invasion of Prague.” It’s one of our favorites.
The New York Times Style magazine “T” recently published an excellent feature on photographer William Eggleston, considered the pioneer of color photography. The article was written by Augesten Burroughs and offers images of Eggleston (like the one below) shot by another influential photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans. The online version includes video by Tillmans and a slideshow of some never-before-published images by Eggleston. Great stuff and a must read for fans of the photographer and his style.
Photographer Mike Kelley photographed airplanes taking off from airports around the world and then composited the images to provide a visualization of all the various airlines and takeoffs. Kelley calls these “Airportraits.” You can view more of these images on his website. The image of LAX above was used for the front cover photo of Nicholas Felton’s recent data-visualization book “PhotoViz.”
This blown-up black-and-white image is a fitting street-art tribute to the late great actor-comedian Robin Williams. The photo adorns a construction-site hoarding next to a popular book shop in the Mission District of San Francisco, where Williams had lived for many years and where he spent his early career working the local stand-up comedy club scene. In the photo, Williams is young, bearded, almost feral with a poignant, restrained intensity. In context of the city’s visual clutter, the image manages stands out.
We’re fans of the photography of Leroy Grannis (we even have Taschen’s wonderful book on him) so it’s great to see this awesome mural by artist Gretta Kruesi based on a photo of Grannis himself in Venice, Los Angeles.
This framed image of pop superstar Lady Gaga pictured below is one of many such celebrity portraits by the accomplished photographer Martin Schoeller currently on view at the Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York. (To the left of Gaga is portrait of artist Jeff Koons and on her right is one of actor-comedian Zach Galifinakis.)
We’re loving Acid, a fresh and artsy surf magazine based in Europe. In issue Number 2, pictured here, there’s beautiful photography and photo essays and fascinating personal essays about surf adventures in unlikely places like the southeast of England where waves are extremely rare and the Eisbach River in Munich, Germany, hundreds of miles from the sea and many more from an oceanic surf break.
This past Friday we went out to Rough Trade New York in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a performance by Swedish indie-electronic duo I Break Horses. The band were joined by a live drummer and in spite of some old-school analog-synth equipment needing reboot during the show, they sounded great in Rough Trade’s perfect cavernous performance space.
This stenciled “Smoke Trees” wheat-pasted street art poster in the Lower East Side of New York City has a graphical, lo-fi propaganda feel. The bear iconography and message harkens to Smoky the Bear and public service ad campaigns to create awareness about forest fire prevention. The message here is subversive and explicit, though unclear. The colors are beautiful and and make for a striking visual on the side of the general clutter of the graffiti- and street art-bombed Jay Maisel Building at the corner of Spring Street and the Bowery.