Dear Mr Hodgson
Just to say that I am so glad to see a new post from you. Your writing never fails to inspire and enegise. Many thanks and long may it last
This is handsome, thank you. I quite see that my irregular attention to these pages is frustrating and goes against all received wisdom for blogging – I think the approved recipe is ‘little and often’. But I’m glad you’ve waited & hope it was worth it.
I have after having it in my possession for a long time come around to researching 1912 photo of a man reading profile right with a Hugo N VanDenoyen label on the frame back and the monogram element of the label with date on the textured wove paper the silver gelatin print is laid down to. Perhaps you could tell me if this was the father of H.V. who from googling I note was Cheltenham based (and from your site I see that of whose you are an admirer ).
If it is of interest I will send an image of photo and paper label which bears the address
Number Five Windsor Place Cardiff
in a rather Seccessionist style graphic —the label I would say was wood blocked rather than letter press printed.
[ Slightly mystified by this: I have now replied twice, but my replies don’t show for some reason. Apologies. ]
My thought is that you may well be right. Hugo van Wadenoyen ( but he’s spelt like that ) did indeed work in his father’s studio in Cardiff for a time. You can do a certain amount online, but if you need a precise account of your particular picture, you might take it to an auction house. They will be primarily interested in value – which may not be your first interest – but they should be able to tell you what can be known about the picture as a part of arriving at a figure for value.
In your perceptive non-review of Ben Rivers’ show ‘Edgelands’ you say a number of right things about the Keith Arnatt photographs in the show. Although I understand why you did it, I think you say something very odd about photography — that ‘it has been shown to expand the consciousness that lies within vision’. In connection with Keith’s work, that is the sort of claim that he might have targeted early in his career (when those sorts of claims were associated with the distinctness of the artistic process). Slightly more technically, it would be interesting to know if there was a physical or, a little more precisely, a neurological basis to the claim. Is there, for instance, a module, or node, in the brain universally distinguished in its control over the operations of the photographic appendage? Perhaps you mean that someone using a camera with an educated awareness of the history of other users’ uses + a functioning perceptual system + some operational sensitivity to some cluster of environmental sensitivities including 2nd order ones like, a history of landscape uses; a sense of that history determined as ‘genre’; a local history of some photographic uses within a genre etc. etc.— is likely to display a particular sensitivity (like an awareness)? I partly make these points because Keith suffered—especially late in his career—from an unfounded willingness to ascribe a particular interest in photography to him. In fact consistently, Keith ironised (heavily and often unsubtly) any interest in photography thought of as a distinctive enterprise (he had the same contempt for that as he had for any interest in art so thought of).
I have just enjoyed reading your fascinating piece on Otto Steinert. Although I’m not entirely convinced that the Tate’s curators “get” photography as a medium either in its own right or in its relationship to modern and contemporary art, at least the collection does contain work such as Steinert’s. Indeed the whole “subjective fotografie” movement deserves to be represented in such an art historical context, precisely because it treated photography as a medium of individual creative expression, and one intended to provide an antithesis to the camera practice of the Third Reich (and also that of the Soviet Union, which was no doubt why Marxist critics were also vociferously against it). The formalism evident in the work of Steinert, Keetman, Toni Schneiders and Christer Stromholm (amongst others) was both “dans l’air du temps” of 1950s art, but also an attempt to recover the artistic experimentation of the 1930s that had been derided as “degenerate” and suppressed by fascism. The history of the movement is discussed at length with copious illustration in Michael Koetzle’s fascinating chapter on Subjektive fotografie in “Eyes Wide Open”, (Kehrer, 2015).
I read your conversation with Joerg Colberg on his website. I was really interested on what you had to say about image surfaces. I wanted to comment on something else however, which was referential images. You brought up writing a novel about London, theatre, classical music, television, and pop music. I think the attempting to complete a work in any of the above subjects requires access to resources(time included) that are less accessible to the average person, without drastic change to ones lifestyle. When you say pop music is entirely referential, I’m not sure that is the case, but if it comes across that way I think it is a result of accumulated sounds in ones mind and certain patterns in a new song that emerge can be found in others or derived from a mix of other, largely because of the accumulation I referenced. In photography, say analog, the derivative might come from similar materials like camera, lens, film, and scanner, but there is a lot of variability in life so what might be appear as derivative might be masked. I think the picture taker’s intent for the setting in which the image will be view should be taken into account to. Is the image meant to be on a tumblr/blog, to get followers that like picture of fruit in bowls, girls with flowers in their hair with sunglasses on, or whatever reason? Is it meant to be online at all for some other context, to be a part of a niche, get attention to your self or people around you. Is the image created to serve a purpose to drive action in a local community or community spread apart in distance with same interests? Is it meant to .. the blanks could be filled in for a while. In relation to the current majority culture(in the west at least) I’m not sure people have a general understanding of their national or regional history, so any references to past events that are not mentioned often or made large note of (slavery in the us for example) are limited by what they know(taught via school at any level or own own initiative, or need to know based on the content of interaction on a daily basis). What do you think about photographer intent of image setting and location, in addition to the assumed viewer and how that effects the picture and how its created?
I apologize for errors. I am typing this quickly. I’ll be taking a look around your blog for your writing since the Colberg discussion caught my interest. Cheers
I suppose I think that photographers have to take responsibility for every detail of their pictures. Since viewers might read any detail for understanding, photographers must be clear that each detail acts within the picture in the way they need it to. That would include setting and location; and of course it would include the amount of reference a photographer intends to local or broader history.
I was wondering, why Bernard Plossu one of the major French photographer of his generation, has never being shown in a major show in London.
His latest work “Monet intime ” on the house and garden of Claude Monet in Giverny seems to find some good reviews.
I wholly agree; Plossu’s absence is a mystery, and a loss for London. To some extent, though, I think it part of larger phenomenon whereby the stars of one country’s photography are little known elsewhere. I am constantly amazed at how well-known photographers in one community are unknown in another. I recently noted in a piece in the Financial Times, for example, that Pierre Gonnord is all-but unknown in the Anglo-Saxon world. Yet photography remains transcultural, demotic, vernacular. It is an art form which requires less from its intermediaries than any other.
Part of the problem is institutional, too. It is obviously easier to get funding, press attention &c for a show or a publication of a national of one’s country than for a stranger. But, given what photography is, that’s absurd.
Any curators reading this, please note: Bernard Plossu is overdue a UK showing. I’ll help to arrange it, too, and with pleasure !
I agree. I had the chance to meet Bernard Plossu at the opening of an exhibition of his in Brussels, at Box Galerie. Beside my love for his photography, I was fascinated by his modest, yet very self-conscious attitude.
Something that many from the new generation of photographers should apply to.
Glad you’re back and looking forward to the next posts.
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