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Simon Baker, Curator of Photography at Tate Modern. Photo © Graham Harrison.

Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art at Tate Modern on the bridge that connects the Boiler House to the new Switch House. London, 14 June 2016. Photo © Graham Harrison.

Look, Observe and Think

Dealers unhappy with auction houses, auctioneers looking for new markets and the new Tate Modern on building its photography collection: A report by Graham Harrison.

“Today with photography we can communicate our thoughts, conception and realities, to all the people on earth; if we add the date of the year we have the power to fix the history of the world.” August Sander speaking on Westdeutscher Rundfunk, German radio, in 1931.

“Oh, we are not looking for anything specific,” said Simon Baker, Tate’s Curator of Photography and International Art at the launch of the new Tate Modern. “We are looking to build a collection. We are looking to represent photography in many different forms in many different geographies by many different practitioners,” said Baker standing at the entrance to the Living Cities exhibit on Level 4 of the Switch House, Tate’s new £260 million extension.

“We’re trying to build a photography collection that is representative and wide ranging and global,” Baker said. “So we are not looking for one particular thing in one particular image.”

Tate’s acquisitions follow research and discussion, he said.

“There’s a team of people working on this collection and, you know, there’s very, very different photography,” said Baker who joined the Tate from an associate-professorship at Nottingham University in 2009 to become the museum’s first photography curator. “In fact, on view you see the Bechers, you see Reni Buri, you see Takanashi, Lorna Simpson, Boris Mikhailov: there’s nothing in common other than they are all photographers.”

In May, Simon Baker told the British Journal of Photography that his team were investigating photography in South East Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and were building on their collection of British photography – making acquisitions of work by Don McCullin as well as Chris Killip and Jem Southam.

Baker added, “And we are looking at how best we can represent people such as Chris Steele-Perkins and Martin Parr. I’d like to make sure that every year we acquire something significant from that generation.”

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate and Frances Morris, Director Tate Modern both mentioned photography in their speeches at the opening of the new Tate Modern in London on 14 June 2016. Photos © Graham Harrison.

When Tate Modern opened its doors to the public in May 2000 the former power station exhibited the work of predominantly male artists from North West Europe and North America. “We had very little photography, almost no film, some installations,” Nicholas Serota the museum’s founder said when the new Tate Modern was presented to the press on 14 June 2016. “Now the collections have been transformed.”

Frances Morris, Director of Tate Modern since January 2016, said the gallery was showing work that included photography, performance and film from three hundred artists from over fifty countries.

The Tate’s representation of women artists has been increased substantially. Today 50% of the solo rooms in the new Tate Modern are showing works or collections of work by women, the gallery’s first female director said.

Renamed the Boilerhouse, Giles Scott’s power station with its giant Turbine Hall will now concentrate on art created between 1900 and 2016.

The brand new ziggurat-inspired Switch House, built above the station’s subterranean oil tanks will, said Morris, tell the story “how art became active in the 1960s, when artists began forging new and dynamic relationships with audiences, when artists began to ask more of audiences, [when] sculpture came off the plinth.”

“Artists began working in new media and so you can see how the role of the artist, the art object and the viewer radically changed in the past fifty years,” said Frances Morris.

Photographs of Brasília and the Suez Canal taken by René Burri in the 1950s and 60s hang in the Media Networks display in the Boilerhouse at Tate Modern beside Umberto Boccioni’s futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) and the painting Still Life with a Beer Mug (1921-2) by Fernand Léger. Photo © Graham Harrison.

THE PLANNING ROOM

At VOGUE100: A Century of Style, an exhibition looking back over one hundred years of British Vogue, at the Manchester Art Gallery until 30 October, is a darkened ‘Planning Room’, its only illumination a lightbox laid out with colour transparencies ranging from Cecil Beaton’s half plates from 1946 to strips of 35mm by Helmut Newton from the late 1970s and some 6×4.5 transparencies taken by Patrick Demarchelier in the 1990s.

Attached to the ceiling is a digital projector which imitates a Kodak Carousel (1962-2004) by simulating, every so often, the manual focussing of the lens. The visual effect is supplemented by the sounds of a fan and the clunk and transition of slides and a panel which informs the visitor: “Until the mid 1990s and the dawn of the digital age the art room, shuttered in darkness, resonated to the hum of the slide projector and the repetitive rhythm of the carousel moving forward image, by image by image.”

Among the 280 predominantly colour prints on display, three graphic but sensitive black and whites stand out: Horst’s studio-shot of a model wearing a Mainbocher corset for the feature ‘Where there’s a will there’s a waist’ published in September 1939; Irving Penn’s June 1950 cover of Jean Patchett for ‘The black and white idea… London Season’ and Bert Stern’s contemplative Marilyn in black Dior shot in February 1962 and published that September, a month after Munro’s death from acute barbiturate poisoning.

These classic photographs were shot for American Vogue and so, one might guess, were not commissioned by British Vogue as advertised.

The American Saul Leiter did come to London to work for British magazines and his typically sensitive, graphic, long-lens image of Jean Shrimpton with red lips and wearing a red raincoat, shot for a Max Factor makeup feature published in British Vogue in August 1966, is one of the most effective colour photographs at VOGUE100.

SALVAGE

Among the work by British photographers employed by British Vogue is a reminder of the graphic qualities of the traditional black and white print. Two such classics on show are Clifford Coffin’s New Look, April 1948, and John Deakin’s torn and intense closeup of Francis Bacon taken in 1952.

Robin Muir, former Vogue picture editor and the curator of VOGUE100, was partly responsible for the rediscovery of Deakin who’s Vogue prints and negatives were found “tucked away in a dusty recess” at Vogue House shortly after the exhibition The Salvage of a Photographer, at the V&A in 1984, revived interest in the aspiring artist and looser of Rolleiflexes.

Salvage of a Photographer was a small show of Deakin’s own prints saved following his death in 1972 by his Soho mates Francis Bacon and Bruce Bernard. [1]

When Deakin’s visceral, damaged and paint-splattered photographs of what he called his “victims” were exhibited at the NPG in 1996, attendance broke gallery records set the previous year by Richard Avedon. The numbers having been boosted by Deakin’s surviving victims for whom the NPG was just a short walk from their favourite Soho haunts.

In the catalogue Robin Muir noted how prolific Deakin was. In the mid 1950s he shot over five hundred fashion and portrait assignments for British Vogue, more than any of his contemporaries, Clifford Coffin, Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson.

Don McCullin, recipient of the 2016 Photo London Master of Photography award with a large print of pre-ISIS Palmyra taken in 2010. McCullin was in converstaion with Simon Baker, curator of photography at Tate Modern on the Thursday of the five-day art fair. Photo © Graham Harrison.

COVERT OPS

From April to July the Photographers’ Gallery exhibited the work of Trevor Paglen, the American ‘investigative-artist’ and winner of the 2016 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize who reveals in his work how post 9/11 mass surveillance and information infrastructures reach from the depths of the ocean to the stars in the skies.

A student of the data released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Paglen takes photographs “to insist on his right to photograph”.

Paglen’s moonlit time-exposure They Watch The Moon, taken in 2010, shows a classified listening station located at the centre of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a region of approximately 34,000 square kilometres in West Virginia and parts of Maryland. Undisturbed by normal radio transmissions the station is capable of capturing communications that, having escaped into space, are reflected back towards Earth by the moon.

For his 2007 series Limit Telephotography, Paglen used telescopes with focal lengths between 1300mm and 7000mm to photograph classified infrastructures deep inside military buffer zones in New Mexico and the Nevada Desert.

At forty miles his distant subjects became mere abstractions yet they imply covert operations and, Paglen says, “help us see the historical moment that we live in”.

Once we accept the network is hostile and preying on us, Paglen believes, then we can move forward and plan a better future.

Somerset House, 22 May 2016: A pigeon flies over a series of posters by Wolfgang Tillmans at Photo London that warned of the dangers if Britain left the EU. Photo © Graham Harrison.

NEWSPRINT TO ART PRINT

Photo London returned to Somerset House in May for a second, bigger edition with eighty-four galleries from nineteen countries.

Organisers Candlestar estimate 35,000 visitors attended the five-day event and 3,000 the Photo London Talks programme curated by William A. Ewing, former Director of Exhibitions at the ICP, New York.

Audio of the talks, which included interviews with Don McCullin, Alec Soth and Martin Parr will be available on the Photo London online archive “very soon” Candlestar claim. However a link to recordings made during the 2015 event presently leads to a page which reads, “Sorry, nothing to see here”. On 10 August 2016 this was updated: the 2015 talks programme is now available here. The 2016 programme here.

Among the diverse array of photographs on display at Somerset House were two stark black and white news-wire prints from the twentieth century which shocked the world when published in newspapers but today relate more to an Andy Warhol screen print.

Wirephotos of Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl, 8 June 1972 and Los Angeles Times photographer Boris Yaro’s Assassination of Robert Kennedy, 5 June 1968 could be bought from Munich dealer Daniel Blau for €1,100 and €800 respectively. An original print of Eddie Adams’ Saigon Execution, 1 February 1968, printed that November, was on sale for considerably more at €15,000. [2]

At the Photographers’ Gallery late signed prints of Bert Hardy’s work were available for £750 plus VAT while unique vintage prints from Hardy’s private collection were priced between £2,500 for two dancing teenagers in 1957 and £5,500 plus VAT for his iconic two boys in a Glasgow street, taken in January 1948 for a Picture Post social awareness story ‘The Forgotten Gorbals’, although never published by the weekly magazine.

Removed from its slum context, Bert Hardy’s spontaneously shot image becomes a simple representation of childhood optimism.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan at the opening of the new Tate Modern on 14 May 2016, nine days before Britain voted to leave the European Union. Khan said, “I’ve made culture one of the big things I want to define my time as mayor. I’m putting it at the heart of my administration. A core priority right there with housing, the environment and transport in a way that no world city has ever seen before.” Photograph © Graham Harrison.

STRANGER THAN WE GUESSED

Aptly timed for the lead up to the EU referendum in the UK was Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers at the Barbican from March to June 2016.

Memorable were an eye-shaped display of photographs of London taken by Sergio Larrain in the winter of 1958-9; Evelyn Hofer’s 5×4 inch portraits and the less well known work of Shinro Ohtake, who’s collection of enprints, sketches and ephemera were the product of a journey through the suburbs of London and South East England in 1977. [3]

‘Visit the Scenic Painted Beer Garden’ suggests one sign spotted by Ohtake. ‘Keep Dogs on Lead: Poisons Laid’ warns another. And in the gutter lies a copy of the Daily Mirror, its headline: ‘Elvis Presley is Dead’.

Ohtake’s photographs and drawings, were finally published in UK 77: Digging My Way to London, twenty years after his UK visit. [4]

You could have left the Barbican unscathed had it not been for a room of giant portraits by the American Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden, who’s close-ups map the lives of his subjects. Gilden says he seeks out faces, and eyes particularly, that “scream a story”.

A plump girl photographed in Essex in 2013 accepts the cold analysis of the viewer while Peter at West Bromwich Bus Station in 2014, with his nose ravaged by broken capillaries and eyes expressing loss and sadness, blanks out what led him to where he was.

Gilden is criticised for the harshness of his work but he found among the English the unrepresented, perhaps, who were given a fleeting chance to express their sense of exclusion in June 2016 when the stresses of the markets were transferred to politics and then erroneously compressed into a binary question: The EU. Remain or Leave? [5]

Few photographers caught the underlying disconnect so clearly, and so long before it was expressed in the surprise result of the EU referendum.

Photo London’s “Mount Rushmore of photography”: (L-R) Quentin Bajac, Chief Curator of Photography MoMA; Anthony D’Offay, art dealer; Michael G Wilson, James Bond film producer and photo collector and Howard Greenberg, gallerist discuss the roles of curating, dealing and collecting photographs at Photo London on Sunday, 22 May 2016. Photo © Graham Harrison.

NURTURE

In the words of Alison Nordström, the former Senior Curator of Photographs at George Eastman House, a “Mount Rushmore of photography” convened on the last day of Photo London for a panel discussion on the triangular relationship between curators, dealers and collectors.

“Where are the common interests and the potential conflicts? Where do market forces collide with curatorial values? How do collectors relate to dealers, and vice versa?” were the questions asked.

The simple answer was ‘nurture’ argued speakers Howard Greenberg, Quentin Bajac, Michael Wilson and Anthony d’Offay.

James Bond film producer Michael Wilson, a collector of books and prints as a young man, praised the scholar-dealer Lucien Goldschmidt for nurturing his interest in photography.

Goldschmidt had broken new ground with the monograph The Truthful Lens : A Survey of the Photographically Illustrated Book, 1844 – 1914 (Grolier Club, 1980) which he’d written in collaboration with Weston J. Naef, curator of prints and photos at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York (and subsequently architect of the great photography collection at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles). [6]

Anthony d’Offay, the former dealer and cornerstone of the London art scene agreed, saying Goldschmidt was interested in young people and a wonderful person to know. He was “legendary” said d’Offay.

d’Offay also described his monthly lunch with William S. Lieberman, chairman of twentieth century art at the Met.

Lieberman was often accompanied by a glamorous widow for whom he would perform what d’Offay called his Uncle Bill role to ensure she “did the right thing”.

The right thing, it transpired, was a “marriage for ever in heaven with the Met” that resulted in the Gelman Collection, the Matisse collection and many, many more valuable bequests being left to the museum, said d’Offay.

Lieberman would take her to the opera, to lunch. She loved Bill and Bill looked after her, d’Offay said. “This is America. We do not have that in Europe or in the United Kingdom.”

Anthony d’Offay added that in San Francisco, the collectors collect constructively as a pack so as not to duplicate on works. “This seems to be the right way for museums to behave, the right way to find finance and the right way to keep the community happy going forward, doing something really meaningful,” said d’Offay.

A STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN

Also speaking at Photo London was Philippe Garner, the auctioneer, writer and lecturer on photography, who was just days away from retiring from Christie’s after forty-five years in the auction business. [7]

At a lecture given at the Frick Collection in New York in May 2015 called The Birth of the Modern Auction Market, 1971-1975, Garner described the early programme of auctions of photographs held at Sotheby’s Belgravia which, he argued, proved a catalyst for the photo community.

“What started as a step into the unknown soon became a significant conduit for photographic treasures that set record prices and indisputable reference points of value,” Garner told the New York audience. This endorsed publically the historical importance of photographs.

Key buyers in London at the time were Howard Ricketts, Anthony d’Offay and Sam Wagstaff, who was among the most innovative of photography collectors.

The son of a wealthy New York lawyer, Wagstaff began collecting nineteenth century photographs after seeing the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition The Painterly Photograph 1890 – 1914 and meeting Robert Mapplethorp, who would become his life-long companion.

In London in June 1974, the Mia Album, containing photographs by Rejlander and others and assembled by Julia Margaret Cameron for her sister Maria, was sold at Sotheby’s Belgravia to a private buyer for the record sum of £40,000.

That record fell four months later when the Herschel Album went to Sam Wagstaff for £52,000. The subsequent refusal of an export licence and the publicity surrounding the raising of funds to save the album for the nation, spread the message that “nineteenth century photographs could be of great potential value,” asserted Garner. [8]

A high proportion of the works which were bought by private individuals forty years ago are today in institutional collections, Garner said. Howard Ricketts sold to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Sam Wagstaff to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California. [9]

“All this material and more which first surfaced in the 1970s, has allowed a generation of scholars to write a fuller history of the medium,” said Garner, recipient of the 2011 RPS Award for Outstanding Service to Photography.

Howard Greenberg at Photo London 2016. Galleries compete more with the auction houses than they do with each other, said the New York photography dealer. Photo © Graham Harrison.

A JOURNEY “TO DEVELOP THIS FIELD

Contemporary auctioneering was presented in a less rosy light at the Photo London discussion on the relationship between curators, dealers and collectors.

Photography auctions have proliferated, said Howard Greenberg, and selling and buying at auction has become more attractive for the collector. However, “auction houses get their commission no matter what something sells for. And they tend to sell at prices which undermine the market and all the work dealers do over the years,” Greenberg said. Today galleries compete more with the auction houses than they do with each other.

The auction houses chose not to remain as wholesalers, added Michael Wilson. “They decided to become retail houses, raise their prices and compete. As a result they made it harder for the galleries and undermined the entire business. They have no real insight and can not tell you whether a print is a good one or not. They are not giving you any confidence,” said Wilson.

For Michael Wilson a dealer should be scholar and a mentor like Lucien Goldschmidt. “We are all on this journey to develop this field,” he said. “I am so disappointed with the direction this is going. I don’t see any young dealers in vintage [nineteenth century] photographs. There’s no fresh blood.” The film producer is worried about the future and sees no answer to the problem.

Turning to the role of curators, Wilson pointed out that dealers and collectors build up a photographer’s work, whereas, “curators have the luxury of being able to stand back and wait, because [they are] in for the really long game,” said Wilson. “The ultimate end user is the museum.”

CRISIS

“The French system is slowly dying,” Quentin Bajac, chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) told the Photo London audience. Four years ago Bajac moved from a public funded system in France to a completely private funded system at MoMA in New York.

In 1839 the French government bought Daguerre’s secret ensuring he had a modest pension for life and in 1851 embarked on the Mission Héliographique, a programme of documenting many of France’s historic monuments. Today, at Chalon-sur-Saône, the Musée Nicéphore-Niépce is in grave danger of closure through lack of government support.

“The French institutions receive less and less money from the state – especially for acquisitions,” lamented Bajac. “I had the feeling when I left the Pompidou that it was not possible any more to have a real acquisition programme.”

Although the American system is working it is also in crisis, Bajac believes. One drawback, he said, “is you have to be very pedagogical to try and convince them to go in other directions”.

They need to support the museum but you also have to make them aware about other things that they are not personally interested in, Quentin Bajac, successor to John Szarkowski (1962-1991) and Peter Galassi (1991-2012), pointed out.

When the Department of Photography was established at MoMA in 1940 it set out to be a place where the aesthetic problems of the medium could be evaluated, “where the artist who has chosen the camera as his medium can find guidance by example and encouragement and where the vast amateur public can study both the classics and the most recent and significant developments of photography.”

The exhibition program under Beaumont Newhall and then Edward Steichen from the 1940s to the early 1960s put forward the “most recent and significant developments of photography”.

Three-quarters of the exhibitions included living photographers and current themes, writes Bajac in his 2015 book, Photography at MoMA: 1960 to Now – Volume II.

Detail of the the Disruption Picture (1843-66) by David Octavius Hill. Hill included himself and Robert Adamson in the painting. Hill can be seen sketching behind his colleague who leans forward to focus his camera. Property of the Free Chrurch of Scotland. Photograph © Graham Harrison.

ROCK HOUSE

As the new Tate Modern widens its horizons Tate Britain focusses in on its original function as the national gallery of British art.

Painting With Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age at Tate Britain until 25 September, is “a look at the two-way dialogue and influences between painting and photography from the 1840s to the 1900s” and “the first exhibition of its kind”, declared Tate Britain Director Alex Farquharson at the press view in May.

The show opens with a short-lived partnership between a genial artist and a meticulous young scientist who joined forces in Edinburgh in 1843, just four years after photography had been announced to the world. Until Adamson’s premature death in January 1848 their combined talents produced some 3,000 calotypes which are now considered to be among the most artistic works in early photography.

To ease the burden of sketching 457 preliminary drawings of the founding delegates of the Free Church of Scotland for a massive canvas known as the Disruption Picture, the painter David Octavius Hill joined forces with the twenty-two year old Robert Adamson, a chemist and Edinburgh’s first calotype photographer, to photograph the delegates individually and in groups.

It took Hill twenty-three years to copy most of the calotypes to produce what is considered the first ever painting created from photographs. However, Hill is less celebrated for his paintings than for the portraits he and Adamson produced as works of reference.

Their success as photographers lay in the way Hill and Adamson understood the limitations of Fox Talbot’s paper negative process, with its texture, soft tones and lack of detail, and used them to their advantage.

“They saw their subjects broadly, and composed in simple masses of light and shade, for they had an intuitive respect for the medium”, wrote Beaumont Newhall in The History of Photography (Secker & Warburg, 1972). Mark Howorth-Booth, in The Origins of British Photography (Photofile, 1991) commented, “They bought an artfulness, but also a genuine sense of graphic distinction and grandeur, to their portraits”.

Hill’s milieu was Edinburgh society. The partners’ photographic studio at Rock House, Adamson’s home overlooking Edinburgh from Calton Hill, soon became the “prototype of the fashionable portrait studio of later years”, wrote Howarth-Booth. Their interests were not limited to fashionable society however.

Hill and Adamson also photographed the masons working on the Scott Monument and their calotypes of the fishing community at Newhaven, a village on the coast two miles north of Edinburgh city centre, are no less perceptive and artfully composed than their society portraits.

Indeed, they hold a greater historical significance as their’s was, it seems, the very first camera to document the life and fashions of a working-class community.

The curators of Painting with Light, also chose to hang Hill’s tiny painting In Memoriam: Edinburgh from Calton Hill, a ‘moral landscape’ recalling the childhood of his daughter, Charlotte who died in her early twenties.

As a lace curtain blows from of an upper window of Rock House a woman hangs a red blanket over the wall and two girls walk down Calton Hill towards a figure, perhaps Hill himself, who carries a framed canvas from the gateway. On a bank to the left, a camera draped with a dark cloth represents Hill’s colleague Robert Adamson who, like Charlotte, died young.

Francis Hodgson, pausing from his note taking at the press view of Painting With Light, said he approved of the sourcing of works from British collections and the use of British scholarship throughout.

Hodgson was less happy with the suggestion that the exhibition makes that photography lies in the background of paintings. “The curators talk about a reciprocal relationship between painting and photography and yet the way they actually thought it through is a dependent relationship,” said Hodgson.

Top: Detail of the painting In Memoriam: Edinburgh from Calton Hill (1862) by David Octavius Hill. Bottom left: Hill stands at the entrance to Rock House in the 1840s and, bottom right, the entrance today. Property of City Art Centre, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries / University of Glasgow Library / Photograph of gateway at Rock House © Graham Harrison.

THE MAGICAL WORLD OF 60s MAGAZINES

As a young man Philippe Garner fell in love with the “magical world of creativity” he found in British and French magazines of the 1960s. He filled albums with cuttings taken from Vogue, Queen, Town, Paris Match, Elle, Connaissance des Artes and the photo-essay rich Réalités (1946-1978). On joining Sotheby’s as a trainee auctioneer his office copy of Gernsheim’s History of Photography lay unopened as he found his own way through the history of the medium.

In 1971 Garner conducted the first specialist photography auction in London at Sotheby’s new sale room on Motcomb Street in Belgravia. A collector’s sale of nineteenth century photographic equipment and thirty studies by Julia Margaret Cameron, the auction was led by a Cameron portrait of Sir John Herschel which sold for £260.

A trickle of sales of Victorian photography became a torrent over the next few years as the “impecunious descendants of the high Bohemian circles in which Mrs Cameron moved” sold their inheritance. “Such provenances were an integral part of those early sales,” Garner told his audience at the Frick Collection in New York.

At Sotheby’s Belgravia on 19 March 1975, Garner hosted Britain’s first auction of contemporary photography at which prints donated by Robert Frank, Bill Brandt, Irving Penn and other celebrated photographers were sold on behalf of the fledgling, cash-strapped Photographers’ Gallery.

The top lot – Penn’s portrait of Collette – went to Sam Wagstaff for £260. And people scoffed.

“When one category disappears from the market we must refocus to make the most of new opportunities,” said the veteran auctioneer and keen disciple of 60s magazine culture.


• • •


Look, Observe and Think: Asked how he came upon the idea of creating his monumental project People of the 20th Century August Sander replied, “look, observe and think and the question is answered”. In a statement accompanying his work at an exhibition of modern art at the Cologne Kunstverein, Sander wrote, “Nothing seemed more appropriate to me than to render through photography a picture of our times which is absolutely true to nature.” In Focus: August Sander – Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000)

Sander’s quote about “The power to fix the history of the world” comes from his 1931 radio broadcast Photography as a Universal Language, the fifth of six lectures on the Nature and Growth of Photography given by Sander on Westdeutscher Rundfunk (West German Broadcasting), Cologne in 1931. Tate Paper No: 19 August Sander and the Artists: Locating the Subjects of New Objectivity by Dorothy C. Rowe.

The scholar and artist Terry Barrett argues Sander’s claim that photography is a universal language is naive. “As with words, the meanings of photographs rest to a large extent on the uses to which they are put,” writes Barrett in Photographs and Context (1987). “It is easy to alter the meanings of a photograph, generally by altering the contexts in which it is shown, specifically by adding text.”

Sikert and Photography: British artist Walter Sickert (1860-1942) was born in Munich to Danish-German/Anglo-Irish parents with whom he moved to London at the ahe of eight. This display at Tate Britain explores the way Sickert used photography as a source for his work, 4 July 2016 – 17 April 2017.

The dining room at Rock House, home to pioneer nineteenth century photographers Hill and Adamson, on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, 19 February 2016. Photo © Graham Harrison.

Rock House: Dating from the 1750’s the Calton Hill residence of Hill and Adamson has panoramic views of the city of Edinburgh. Robert Adamson lived at Rock House between 1843 and 1847 and David Octavious Hill until 1869. Thereafter the property was occupied by a succession of photographers including Archibald Burns who documented the streets of old Edinburgh and Francis Caird Inglis photographer to kings Edward VII and George V.

In November 2014 Rock House was put on the market at £1.2 million. Following renovation by new owners the designers Jonathan Reed and Graeme Black, the property was made available for short term lets through agents Dickins Edinburgh. That said, the property has recently been removed from the Dickins website.

Museum attendance: Survey Reveals Most Popular Museums in the World – Tate Modern comes seventh with 4,712,581 visitors in 2015.


• • •


NOTES on Look, Observe and Think

[1] Bruce Barnard joined the Sunday Times Magazine as a picture researcher that same year, 1972, and was appointed picture editor shortly after.

[2] Nick Ut will retire at the end of 2016 after fifty one years with the news wire service Associated Press. In 1973 Ut won the Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography for his Napalm Girl picture. The girl, Kim Phúc, became a United Nations Ambassador for Peace and traveled the world with Ut to speak about the futility of war.

[3] An enprint is a “fixed-ratio enlargement produced from the whole of a negative in an automatic large output printer.” The original size for an enprint from a 35mm negative was 3 1/2 × 4 1/2 inches according to the Focal Encylopedia of Photography Focal Press, 1972. Today it is 5 × 3 1/2 inches.

[4] The text in the catalogue for Ohtake’s first solo exhibition held in Tokyo back in 1982, was written by David Hockney who became friends with the photographer after Ohtake turned up unannounced on the doorstep of Hockney’s parents in Bradford.

[5] “A columnist in the Financial Times – always a good read when the markets are roiling – reminds his constituency that ‘financial capitalism survived the 2008 global crash. Liberal democracy has not fared so well. There is a connection… Capitalism needed saving, but in bailing out the financial institutions with taxpayers’ money, governments transferred stresses from markets to politics.’” Where are we now? T.J. Clark, London Review of Boks, 14 July 2016.

[6] The Truthful Lens was based on an exhibition of the same name at the Grolier Club in New York in 1974.

[7] Philippe Garner was in conversation with English portrait photographer Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney, at Photo London on Thursday, 19 May 2016.

[8] At Quad, Derby during the National Photography Symposium 2016, Colin Ford pointed out that Sam Wagstaff graciously allowed him an extra week beyond the agreed deadline so he could secure the final £5,000 required to save the Hershel Album for the nation. The money was donated by Kodak UK.

[9] Seeking a new challenge in 1984 Wagstaff sold at least 2,500 photographs to the Getty Museum for about $5 million and began collecting nineteenth century American silver.


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Look, Observe and Think
All photos and text © 2016 Graham Harrison



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