_lee friedlander at work / a slice of americana in bologna

New York, NY – January 2018  /  Fondazione Del Monte – Palazzo Paltroni / Bologna Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back on 2017, I was fortunate to engage in several photographic presentations that offered specific themes, albeit quite different. In particular, with an invitation to participate in the prestigious 2017-18 Mdina Cathedral Art Biennale in Malta’s The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualities, as an exhibiting photographer and the only American to receive this honor, I navigated with both intention, and agenda working in tandem to add Bologna Italy to my itinerary. I boarded planes, trains, buses and such for the 3rd edition of Foto/Industria in association with MAST Fondazione’s BIENNIAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY ON INDUSTRY AND WORK. It was for me, a tasting _a mixture of art and cuisine, as Bologna is Italy’s capital of food. And, I wasn’t disappointed on both counts.

The Biennial (12 October-19 November) highlighted the work of 14 extraordinary image-makers at exhibitions located in galleries throughout a city shrouded by architecture of medieval beginnings. My arrival on 17 November afforded me an opportunity for a quick viewing. Having this very short window, I decided to limit my coverage to the images of Lee Friedlander. The Palazzo Paltroni, was the designated space to host his presentation of At Work.

For introductory purposes, one learns Friedlander is considered one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. American born (Aberdeen Washington (1934), his images detail America’s social landscape. They have been noted as “keen depictions” that include the worlds of jazz, television, urban landscapes and deserts. At Work, is a monograph dedicated to the urban life of largely the anonymous worker photographed over a 16 year period beginning in 1979. It is a commissioned work offering a cultural fabric woven with images of factories and offices, as well as tools, work practices, and relationships in professional settings. Shot in black and white with the use of a 35mm Leica, the work defined an era. “Friedlander has acknowledged the largely anonymous worker, making inventive pictures of the familiar, humdrum, yet overriding role of work in America.” Throughout the course of this assignment, Friedlander maintained his personal artistic freedom and integrity. True to his aesthetic, it is an outstanding selection of photographs that give homage to a place and time_ a brilliant documentation and archive of Middle America and its working class and social structure.

 

 

“Friedlander has acknowledged the largely anonymous worker, making inventive pictures of the familiar, humdrum, yet overriding role of work in America.” _ Fraenkel Gallery

 

What was of great fascination was the play between the view and the viewer. I buried myself between young students engaged in dialogue with professors, individuals from foreign lands, like me _ just enough to catch a few remarks in English and Italian. At various moments, noting the crowds, I thought of how different this all must seem _a retrospective of working class Americans in past decades, in black and white, before digital, before selfies. It was profound.

 

 

As a student, I was fortunate to have the experience to work only in black and white, capturing images with the use of 4×5, 2¼ and 35mm cameras_ bracketing exposures. And not to forget,  spending countless hours in darkrooms, adjusting enlargers, and submerging hands in developers and fixers. Now, when I stare at Friedlander’s work, I am reminded of how artfully we were trained. How precise we were with every shot. Kudos for MAST and Foto/Industria for its presentation of At Work which ultimately reminds us of this lost art.

 

Lee Friedlander is represented by Fraenkel Gallery – ­San Francisco, CA. USA

Image: #1 Renay Elle Morris / renayellemorris.com
Images: #2, 3, 4 / courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery + Foto/Industria + MAST

 

 

 

 

_leonard freed: six stories

Steven Kasher Gallery_Leonard Freed: Six Stories / Renay Elle Morris_ September 2017

Hassidics of Brooklyn, 1954
Harlem, 1963
Black in White America, 1963-65
Israel, 1962 and 1967
Italy, 1956-58
Germany, 1961-66

As fellow Magnum photographer Cornell Capa expressed in The Concerned Photographer, “… he (Leonard Freed) was a photographer of ordinary people going about their every day lives – at home, at work, and in the streets. He has a keen eye for social hierarchies and, in part because of his working class origins; he felt great solidarity with outsiders, and the oppressed.”

No doubt, it was a bittersweet moment as I walked into the Steven Kasher Gallery, on that balmy evening_14 September. First sight was Leonard Freed’s wife and widow, Brigitte, surrounded by family and friends. Nestled by the door, she greeted guests with her warmth and charm as they arrived for the opening night of Leonard Freed: Six Stories. Holding court, she held in her heart the memory of her partner in life and work_ guardian of his galaxy.

© Brigitte Freed at the opening exhibition_Renay Elle Morris 

Leonard Freed was a wonder. His artistic and intellectual sensibilities drawn from a background in fine arts, and a desire to reveal and expose the struggles of civics and society was his raison d’être. It found its place with a merging of the two. His passion was revealed in photography, subscribing to ideals of Magnum Photos, and its co-founder, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s credo. “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”

Freed’s ability to capture “the art of the image” with such fierce reverence earned him respect worldwide as a leader in photojournalism_documenting a world of conflicting and misunderstood social norms_complete with a legacy of images that covers six decades of work. The Six Stories are a masterful display of that documentation. Reflected in the 75 vintage black and white images on exhibit is his innate sense of responsibility to bring a voice to politically and socially challenged individuals, along with a mission to change that dialogue.

This is the first exhibition that elucidates in depth Freed’s six earliest and most personal stories.” _The Steven Kasher Gallery

This series, on display until 21 October, offers a view into Freed’s world. From his personal challenge to  understand his Jewish roots by documentation of a Hassidic community_to the racially charged images in Black in White in America, the viewer gets to “go along for the ride”_ to bear witness to his ability to bring back to life stories of bygone eras_to preserve those decisive moments that will forever be embedded in our historical landscape.

© Leonard Freed, courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery

 

© Leonard Freed, courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery

And bittersweet? My first interview with a Magnum photographer was Leonard Freed. We became friends. In 2006, the year of his death, I spoke at his eulogy. Memories never to be forgotten. /R.

Leonard Freed: Six Stories
Steven Kasher Gallery
515 West 26th Street New York, NY 10001
For further info: contact Cassandra@stevenkashergallery.com

_paci contemporary gallery / porto cervo, italy

Ensconced in the northern coastal jet-setting playground of Porto Cervo, Sardinia, famous for its jeweled-toned sea, sits another gem portside_not to be overlooked.

 While the buoyant glitterati ready yachts and great sailing vessels for adventures in paradise_ toasting to the magnificence surrounding the Bai of Sardinia, and the curious gather for celebrity sightings along the The Costa Smeralda, the Promenade du Port aka The Costa Smeralda Hub_ lies several meters inland from the mighty seafaring crafts. Designed as a “luxury space where people can gather day or night”, it is complete with international art galleries, high-end retailers, bars and fine dining establishments, and an array of events_ all with first class offerings.

Paci Contemporary Gallery is among those glamorous offerings. Sitting pretty, shade side, the Paci Gallery sets its own course. Currently playing host to several photographic legends on both sides of the camera with an exhibition entitled “Moda and Cinema”, I was delighted to have the opportunity to view this collection of some of the most iconic women of the silver screen. The beauty was delivered_san aucun doute, not only detailing trends in fashion and makeup, but the posture, allure and enchantment of decades past, now preserved forever in archives, and brought back to life as the current vogue dictates. While the exhibition is well suited to it’s locale (Prince Aga Kahn’s creation) Paci’s presentation of the provocative and seductive is an engaging selection by the likes of such photographic luminaries as Douglas Kirkland, Bert Stern, William Klein, and Terry O’Neil, among others.

What is evident as you make your way around the gallery is how the photographers are aligned in the use of a “language”. To connect with their subject, the photographer must secure trust. The language is flirtation_ both visual and spoken, and very subtle, as it is the most important element in this photographic process. As an example, and most notably, Bert Stern has captured his star_ Marilyn, allowing the viewer to access the defining moment where intimacy is captured. And the result from Stern is clear in the outcome_ Monroe’s vulnerability. With vulnerability revealed, the intention is a success.

You can still catch the works, as they are on display until 30 September.

For additional information on upcoming exhibitions visit:
info@pacicontemporarygallery.com / pacicontemporary.com
Promenade du Port_Via Aga Khan1 Porto Cervo, Italy

Image, courtesy of Paci Contemporary Gallery_Porto Cervo / 2017


			

_the cherkashin’s. new work. a new chapter. / june 2017

For decades, Valera and Natasha Cherkashin have added layer upon layer of philosophical and political ideology to their masterful works of photographic genius. With exhibitions, lectures and talks on an international stage, the art of their images have recently been compiled into a 254 page publication entitled, Actions, Happenings and art performances 1962 – 2016 _ Night with a Pioneer Leader, which delves into a history of 2 artists_a husband and wife team, and the legacy of their talent. What inspires them may not offer an easy answer. Perhaps it is a fearless energy to defend beliefs, or a lifetime of a Soviet regime. Perhaps it was Perestroika, the political movement and the “openness”policy that led to the reforms of the Soviet political and economic system during the1980s that allowed for such ambitious work.

2017, and we turn to NEW DRAWINGS_a new series. Compelling, simplified lines detail this new work. Like a fingerprint, no two are alike. Yet, they engage you and hypnotize you. Why now, and why this direction? This mystifies me. These works are “anti-chaos”_ far from anything we have seen from them before. I am reminded of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. In my minds eye, I see the face, but above all, it is his wavy lines of color drawn on paper that grips me. Is this, the Cherkashin’s return to the pleasures of life drawing, sketchbooks, student impressions before the intrigue of cameras and film came into play? In conversation with Valera, he explained that he intuitively went to the origins of his drawing, before professional training, with the desire to catch that primary element, a thrilling feeling of a simple touch to the paper. It was joy from a simple touch and moving a pencil over a piece of paper, while anticipating the source of something important and mysterious. The beginning of something infinite and desirable, but still completely unknown.

Lines provide the foundation to every form of art. It reveals forms, displays length, width, tone, and texture. My consideration is that the Cherkashin’s intention in these drawings is to remove oneself from the chaos of modern times and find solace in simplicity. In addition, as line itself denotes direction, it is fair to state these lines are visual directions which may be seen as a metaphor for contemplation on the orientation of one’s life_ a course that is extremely personal to an artist as well as each and every viewer.

The work is powerful and profound.

 

“Untitled 1” / “Untitled 5”


 

 

“Untitled 8” / “Untitled 10”

 

 

“Untitled 24” / “Untitled 23”

    

 

 

Contact information /  website www.cherkashinart.com / email cherkashin@metro33.com

Actions, Happenings and art performances 1962 – 2016 _ Night with a Pioneer Leader  Natasha & Valera Cherkashin

Book information: www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/6568799/884c0a46741dc84b45aea55e107d90c7e536b63c

Thomas J. Watson Library / The Metropolitan Museum of Art _New York, NY USA
Available in Russian. Coming soon_English Language Edition.

_my encounter

Dear Mr. McBurney,

On Wednesday, 04 January of this year, I had the privilege of attending your marvelous production of The Encounter at the John Golden Theatre in NYC, where I live. Needless to say, I was much enthralled by your heroic performance of photojournalist Loren MacIntire_and the dramatic appetite for extreme audio and visual production elements that cleverly allowed the audience the sensory perception of a intriguing and true story of a man, an explorer, a seeker, well told. So bravo, well done!

Perhaps, my interest was so intense, due to the fact that I, too, am a photographer_and journalist, and have had the opportunity to cross some of the indigenous regions of the Amazon.

My experience began after a flight to Iquitos, Peru where I journeyed up the Ucayali River in only modest wooden crafts with a marvelous guide at the helm and several other passengers.To explore the Amazon, its tributaries, natural wonders, and extraordinary communities left me breathless. In addition, before the river excursion, my friend and I were greeted by Walter Saxer at La Casa Fitzcarraldo in Punchana Iquitos, for a stay before our Amazon venture. Saxer’s beloved “leisure refuge”, was complete with all the operatic sounds and film recordings of Werner Herzog’s grand
film_Fitzcarraldo of which was filmed on location in the Peruvian Amazon and was the production’s home, and base of operations for the cast and crew.

So thank you once again, for your presentation of The Encounter. I have attached a photo of “My Encounter” for your enjoyment. /R

Image copyright: Renay Elle Morris / photopresseimages.com / 2016

_PhotoPlus Expo Rocks. Graham Nash sets the stage.

 

New York, NY – November 2016

NYC’s PDN PhotoPlus Expo Rocks. Keynote speaker Graham Nash sets the stage.

New York City is a fabulous place to be especially if you are a photo enthusiast. The recent PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo (October 19-22) offered an amazing, well-defined image-based agenda that captured the attention of shooters worldwide. Welcoming over 21,000 image-makers, the event, held yearly at NYC’s Javits Convention Center, did not disappoint. Those eager to set eyes on a never-ending assortment of new cameras and equipment, software and hardware, and a bevy of top-of-the line digital capture products ready for market, had the opportunity to participate in a series of talks and walks, workshops, product demonstrations, lectures and portfolio reviews _ all designed for the amateur as well as the pro.

A crowd pleaser for sure, was a “Keynote Conversation” featuring two icons in music and photography. Rock legend Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) revealed private thoughts and public commentaries on the music industry and his love of the photographic medium with Rolling Stone’s chief photographer, and musician himself, Mark Seliger. And with Seliger, can it get any better? The two, relaxed and unrehearsed, captured the audience’s attention with an impressive and spontaneous delivery of ideas and thoughts about both mediums. Nash, years before he garnered fame as a rock icon, held his first camera as a child and never lost interest. Storytelling was a big part of the conversation while his images were displayed on 2 large screens. They were poignant and deeply personal, and reflected the sensitivity of an artist with a soul deep and caring.

“It’s not the process. It’s the vision.” _ Graham Nash

2017 Dates: 26-28 October / Javits Conventions Center, NYC / photoplusexpo.com

 

 

images 1_ copyright / renay elle morris

images 2, 3_ copyright / graham nash

 

_toasts to the toastmaster – photographer david derex

A touch of the provocative filled the Stable Gallery in Ridgewood, New Jersey this past April as David Derex hit a milestone with a retrospective celebrating 50 Years of photographic imagery. No stranger to the celebrity world, he worked the room of curious onlookers with joy and spontaneity, as they were welcomed into a beguiled world of bewitching beauty. Aptly titled, “Guys and Dolls” – Character Studies and Glamour Portraits, the gallery’s 2 floors revealed images of actors and performers; character types with familiar grins and poses captured in time while others, those of fashion models, beckoned visitors to take a closer look – revealing Derex’s style of seductive post production execution.

Say’s Derex, “I aim to seduce viewers with aesthetics – vitality and unity – in order to sensitize them, as they recognize and take pleasure in their own physical, emotional, sensory, or spiritual vibrations.

 

2 Briauna GL103

1 Jerry Orbach - chair

Derex’s work is of a painterly quality, achieved with hours of tedious attention to detail. He challenges and champions the use of the photographic medium to achieve precise and colorful options to fit the range of his subjects, and his interest in portraiture is a strength that is created in many genres, including family and pet studies. As an expert in the subject of framing, Derex offers solutions for presentation for a range of clientele. And, in his publication of Studio Portrait Photography in Black & White,he discusses the importance of lighting in photography, spelling out in great detail a plethora of instructive information for studio photographers and for the amateur as well.

Derex is a member of the Professional Photographers of America, and past President of its New Jersey chapter.The organization has bestowed additional honors on him in consideration of his photographic achievements.

For more information, log on to davidderex.com

All images copyright David Derex 2016.

_jean pigozzi: photovocateur

The 16th of April proved to be a beautiful Saturday in Manhattan. I found my way into Madison Avenue’s Gagosian Gallery where the glitterati hold court. The event du jour was a conversation with photographer Jean (Johnny) Pigozzi and NY Times best selling author, Derek Blasberg. The French born and Harvard educated Pigozzi was in town to reveal moments; private and public from his new book Pool Party: Sixty Years at the World’s Most Famous Pool. Blasberg engaged Pigozzi in lively talk, revealing Pigozzi’s quick and passionate humor and his photographic love of “capturing the moment” – referencing one of the great photographers, Robert Frank, whose photojournalistic efforts defined an era. Gagosian’s walls hosted images of delicious soirées at the Villa Dorane, Pigozzi’s manor in Cap d’Antibes, France. He enticed the audience with scandalous tales of celebrity romp. A “to die for invite up to the villa” was most likely on the minds of the standing room only crowd that sipped champagne while Pigozzi set stage.

My life in the art world is very simple. I’m very focused. I enjoy it. I have a lot of friends and artist friends. It’s an industry that I enjoy, and I think we can agree that it’s much more interesting than, for example, the roofing business. —Jean Pigozzi

“Jean Pigozzi’s pictures are a great way to start collecting art and photography, and they represent an intimate, insider’s point of view to a rarefied world.” – Derek Blasberg

Gagosian Gallery
JOHNNY’S POOL ON VIEW
APR 12 – MAY 28, 2016
976 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075
T. 212.744.2313

image: renay elle morris / photopresseimages.com
*Johnny Pigozzi IMG_1074

Paris Photo 2015 – with gratitude

Given the cruelest of intentions by the discontent, and the course of terror that has captured the Paris light in an unforgiving campaign, I offer my deepest condolences to the city I love. And, of course, to all my friends, colleagues, and fellow artists at Paris Photo whose remarkable expertise and talent are not in vain. It is still an opportunity to pay tribute and honor these individuals, and all the innocents who stand united in the midst of this horror.
Though you are forced to close the portals of the 2015 expo, I await 2016. For the finest of the photographic medium.
Je suis Paris.
– Renay Elle Morris, photographer / journalist    November 2015
Paris photo 5 2015 blog IMG_6747
Paris Photo 3 2015  blog IMG_6823
          © paris photo renay elle morris / photopresseimages.com