Vivian Maier – The Original Street Photographer and Godmother of Selfies

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

You should have seen the documentary on Miss Vivian Maier already, if not then do so and then you will be compelled to see the photography for yourself.

Vivian Maier was a curious character, very much a lady who pet herself to herself, a woman who looked after children as a job but according to different reports could be a rather cold character. Not a huge amount is known about Maier apart from the accounts of  the families she worked for, her secret life as the most prolific street photographer perhaps of all time has only just come to light.

Maier died in 2009 and until then her huge body of work went unseen, until it was bought as a job lot by one fellow who spent hours sifting through the many boxes and realising he had hit upon gold. The exhibition has been around the world and now finds itself in Berlin for a small but perfectly formed retrospective at Will-Brandt-Haus, it is on until 12th April and is free, this is one exhibition to make sure you include in your schedule.

Maier was a curious character but also supremely adept at capturing people out of pose, in their natural environment and while they were not playing up to the camera. The subtly and lighting in her shots create a beautiful depth and story to each shot. The fact that she did not develop any of them, or name them means that these stories are somewhat lost but that adds to the beauty of the exhibition, sometimes you can have too much information.

Maier’s shots span NYC, SF, Chicago plus her travels to France and the Far East, the majority are black and white with some more recent colour versions. Maier was also the true originator of the now much maligned ‘selfie’, but in her technique it looks cool, stripped down and not showy at all. I worded how it would have sat with her to know she was the original selfie dropper…..

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A dip into the ICA

Sometimes you want a quick artistic immersion, short and sweet. Like a quickie before heading out to meet friends. Well the ICA is SF’s fave for this very thing.

See what you will......

See what you will……

At the moment you have Lutz Bacher with Black Beauty , Design by John Cheim and Zhang Enil’s Space Painting

Mini review now.

Lutz Bacher, loved the imagined chess board, it has a life size Elvis after all, very playful and something easy to relate to and interpret as you please. SF enjoys art that does not give a prescriptive or obvious meaning but merely sets some themes and ideas and lets the viewer wander and wonder of into them.

Design – John Cheim, iconic collection of books he has designed for a variety of names such as Warhol and Bruce Webber featuring Madge, Matt Dillon and a fellow draped in a wet dog.

Zhang Enil’s Space Painting, taking over the entire room by the café, long brush strokes create a very smooth effect. For SF the effect is not dramatic enough/. Personal taste and all that

Scream and shout

Sexy Lego

Sexy – Lego Sailor – Sally Fuerst 

Scream Gallery on Eastcastle Street is fast becoming a regular haunt for SF on lunchtimes, the variety of top modern art in recent months, available for commercial sales is a welcome tonic to a day in stuffy London Office.

Justify My Love - Chris Bracey

Justify My Love – Chris Bracey

Unfortunately the cash-money supplies were at a low level so it was purely a voyeuristic visit with no souvenirs for home. Work from a variety of up and coming and slightly more known artists have been brought together for a recent exhibition under the rather unimaginative name of…….. Summer Exhibition 2013

The masters and the fizzy nectar

Picasso on Coca-Cola Crates - Pakpoom Silaphan

Picasso on Coca-Cola Crates – Pakpoom Silaphan

Dali on Pepsi Crates

Dali on Pepsi Crates

Skull Cards

Poker Skull – Jacky Tsai

Religion kills and starts all wars….. at least this is pretty

Son of a Gun - Chris Bracey

Son of a Gun – Chris Bracey

Ellen Gallagher – AxME – A new kind of art

Ellen Gallagher at Tate Modern presenting AxME. A visual representation taking inspiration from both her Irish and African heritage.

Many faces of black advertising

Many faces of black advertising

The images she creates are otherwordly with black women styled with ornate do’s made of rubber, plasticine and plastic, bringing to life the aesthetic of an advertisement in a new and stunning fashion.

Getting hair did

Getting hair did

Gallagher’s use of a variety of techniques and materials make for a vivid realisation of her subject matter. The sheer size of the repetitive imagery of black woman with yellow re-imagined hair is pretty awesome, very detailed but unfussy.

Possessed and blinged

Possessed and blinged

AxME is Gallagher’s first major retrospective in the UK, with the title a play on both the ‘Acme Corporation’ and the BlackAmerican vernacular for ‘ask’ or ‘aks’ as it sounds.

Shower cap

Shower cap

Plus this amazingly conceptually f-ed up masterpiece is something between Dr Who, Cleopatra, Carry on Hospital and a bit of campery in the form of the furry space ship.

Abu Simbel, 05

Abu Simbel, 05

Ellen Gallagher at Tate Modern until Sept 1st

Bowie’s mirror image

Musically, culturally, aesthetically, emotionally, etc etc. Many of today’s creative types quote a certain Brixton born music superstar as one of their biggest influences. There are too many to mention so I would suggest everyone creating within the last 50 years would have been touched by the Starman in some way shape or form

One such inspired type was a certain David Sims. His 2013 re-imagined   Bowie imagery known as Bowievirus features images you think are Bowie but in fact not.

Bowie?

Bowie?

Imagery featuring a model, rock star Vince Taylor and what appeared to be Bowie featured. But you could not tell which was which. Head to ICA to see for yourself, and to pick up a free print 

Bowie!

Bowie!

Bowie....

Bowie….

At the V&A museum at the moment there is a rather amazing exhibition all about the man behind the multi-coloured-faceted-sexual-talented Mr David Jones.

SlowBen’s Progress

Ben Slow 13

Ben Slow 13

New Endings – March 7th Exposure Gallery London, the first solo show for Ben Slow, or Slow Ben, depends how well you know him. Slow showcased his latest works to a packed out crowd, prints and originals, yours for between £200 and £2000. The exhibition is live for 4 weeks total and the Gallery is open daily on week days.

BS

BS

Slow’s style has evolved from portraits to something hyper real, black and white portrait styles cut with shards and angles in colour, something of Tron about it. These pieces take one female subject as their focus and split the images almost in to pieces of puzzles.

BS

BS

‘It’s a step away from the safety of what I know and into something new and exciting. It’s important for me to experiment and to be uncomfortable, to question things and go seek answers. It’s been a challenge collating a body of work that I am proud of to showcase for the first time. There has been a lot of trial and error, plenty of mistakes made but that’s a good thing, it’s healthy to fuck a painting up every now and then.’

photo-200

Head to Brick Lane and you will see numerous pieces by Slow, a bit of a break from the high colour style you usually see on London walls.

Godfather of Pop Art – Roy Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein @ Tate

Lichtenstein @ Tate

One of the most seminal artists of the modern era and one that even a heathen would recognise. Mr Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 in Manhattan New York, the exact place that he died some 73 years later, by this time he had influenced a generation with his take on art and his use of modern advertising and imagery found in comic books.

AM:FM

AM:FM

Blue pictures

Blue pictures

Dot work

Dot work

Beach

Beach

The exhibition currently running at the Tate Modern in London is a whistlestop tour through his stages in thirteen rooms, from his early discovery of his now iconic styles through experiments, sculpture, Chinese Song dynasty influences and up to the end of his life and his artistic career.

Pop sculpture

Pop sculpture

Along with Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist defined a movement and one of the most exciting ones ever, the influence of modern brands taking art away from more traditional areas and injecting some humour and irreverence.

Pop Chinese

Pop Chinese

It has been said that Lichtensten actually was fed up with being seen as purely a pop artist  and his iconic use of dots to create depth and shade actually limited his scope of work. Unconfirmed but you would can forgive the man for feeling that way.

Pop interaction

Pop interaction

Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at the Tate Modern London runs until May 27, plan to book your tickets to avoid queues and disappointment. One of the finest exhibitions around and worth a re-visit. SF will be heading there again soon

Jose Parla – Broken Language

Jose

Jose

Jose Parla is a NY based photographer / artist who has his first London exhibition at the moment from 8th February to 28th March at the Haunch of Venison in Mayfair, he has a pretty damn amazing view on the streets of Londinium

Paving

Paving

So Jose heads to a city and take up residence, then he goes out on a wonder with his camera and shoots the landscapes that he sees, taking in the colours, textures, light, darkness and all the flaws of the city to inspire and create his pieces.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane

Once he has a catalogue of images then he uses these for his paintings and sculptures, some are included some are just inspiration. It is pulls together some amazing perspectives on the city he is in.

photo-166

London is arguably the best city in the world (NYC, Berlin, Lisbon will argue this) and has variety in the people, the food, the architecture, the weather and wealth. This all makes for a case study to bring a vibrant and energetic collection to life, Jose describes it as a reaction to the area he is in, giving him broken languages of a global community. SF reckons this is just Street Art.

photo-164

When SF visited Haunch of Venison the man himself was there to speak to visitors and he genuinely looked excited to be showing in London, well you would be wouldn’t you.

Pinky

Pinky

Jose explains here

A veritable aesthetic eye Wank

by Jason Pierce - Williams

by Jason Pierce – Williams

What does a company that practices law everything from banking to copyright to IT to real estate have to do with creative imagery? Well they put up the £££ to sponsor a photographic portrait prize that serves to exhibit your casual amateur snapper with the best and most lauded in the business. Therefore even the most anti brand luddites must admit that their cash money has a purpose.

Sponsorship is a good thing when done to bring otherwise lost arts and areas of interest back to the masses. For one it is only £2 to go and see Taylor Wessing at the National Portrait Gallery.

Anyway on to the entries.

Mo Farrah by Mate Peters

Mo Farrah by Mate Peters

Sixty portraits have made the shortlist from over 5000 entries taken on everything from a mobile phone through to digi and on to old school film, a veritable aesthetic eye wank. There are award winning artists shooting Olympic champions, there are absolute novices snapping their family, there are the fringes of society pictured and a heroic photographer who lost multiple limbs shooting in an area of conflict.

Gillian Wearing by Robin Friend

Gillian Wearing by Robin Friend

Ai WeiWei (hero) by Matthew Niederhauser

Ai WeiWei (hero) by Matthew Niederhauser

My personal no.1 Gandee Vasan

My personal no.1 Gandee Vasan

Moving, funny, dutty, crazy, sexy, cool.

Everything was moving, just too slowly

NYC - nothing like the deep south

NYC – nothing like the deep south

Twelve brilliant photographers from across the globe in one place, the Barbican Centre London. Everything Was Moving covers thought provoking, amusing, dark, and difficult subjects in colour and black and white and using a variety of methods which were revolutionary back in the day. These days any Thomas, Richard or Harold can use an app to put an effect on a shot an make it look good, but not even close to these original shots using good old fashioned cameras with film.

Arse peacock

Arse peacock

With Apartheid graphically explained by Ernest Cole and David Goldblatt to Bruce Davidson and William Eggleston documenting the Civil Rights movement that shook up the USA in the middle of last century. Added to this Vietnam pictures, shots with Chairman Mau, Mexican black and white pictures and an Asian flavour with Raghubir Singh.

GoldBlatt - Size of the problem

GoldBlatt – Size of the problem

The most powerful shots for me were of the South African Apartheid from David Goldblatt, showing the European’s rather short sighted view of the black people in Soweto and Joberg. It was quite astounding what went on in South Africa when you consider the Worldwide outrage at Nazi Germany, although not as extreme in the results, quite as wrong in the thinking and affect it had on the people, the perception of all involved and the effects to this day.

Goldblatt - Looking for a solution

Goldblatt – Looking for a solution

All shots were accompanied with text to give added depth but the facial expressions told a thousand stories. From the deluded white settlers to the strong proud mine workers of Soweto.

Boris Mikhailov - Exposure overlays

Boris Mikhailov – Exposure overlays

Plus this dude looks pretty amazing….

Eggleston - capturing something very American

Eggleston – capturing something very American

On until January 13th, a top SF pick.