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13 November 2022 – WFH’s Darkroom

When mentioning the name Willem Frederik Hermans, any Dutch person will reply to you “The darkroom of Damocles”, his most famous literary work, taking place during WWII and just afterwards. A bit of existentialism, cynicism, a reflection of human condition dressed up like a thriller. What most people don’t know however is that Willem Frederik Hermans was also an avid photographer with his own darkroom. Taking as a pretext his 100th birth anniversary, Fotomuseum Den Haag presents his photographic work on a small scale with several vintage and new prints. The name of this exhibit, chosen by WFH himself, as indicated on a box he left behind “Quite Important Photos”. It is at the time of “The Darkroom of Damocles” publication in 1957 that WFH purchased a camera and started to learn about how to use it with his friend Nico Jesse. He spent some time taking pictures, first in his immediate surroundings around Groningen, then in Amsterdam and Paris. He left behind some 15,000 negatives  under which some interesting pictures of the cities, focusing a bit on the less glamorous details, buildings, posters. He also tried to take portraits but was always limited by his shyness. It is in his archives that WFH had a binder titled “quite important pictures” that was used as a title for the exhibit. Although far less developed than the oeuvre of other Dutch photographers active in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the pictures of Hermans serve as a witness of a world that is no more. For that reason alone, they are quite important indeed.

Self-portrait in Headlight, Santander, Spain, 1957 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Posters, Paris, 1957 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Self-portrait, Paris, 1978 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Posters and stairs, Paris, 1957 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Newsstand, Paris, 1956 Paris, 1978 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Newspaper-sellers in Pontevedra, Spain, 1957 Paris, 1978 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Wall with lettering near Dinant, Belgium, 1958 Paris, 1978 ©Willem Frederik Hermans
Backlit street, Paris, 1958 Paris, 1978 ©Willem Frederik Hermans

6 November 2022 – Van der Keuken and friends

Johan van der Keuken was inspired by others. He mentioned studying Henri Cartier-Bresson throughout. Some of his friends were present in the large retrospective given by the Nederlands Fotomuseum, providing the viewer with an insight in his inspiration, allowing us to better understand his work. A pleasure to see works by Cartier-Bresson, Emmy Andriesse or Eddy Posthuma de Boer, alongside the large selection of van der Keuken’s photographs.

Valencia, Spain, 1933 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson – Collection FOMU
Juliette Gréco, 1949 ©Emmy Andriesse – Collection FOMU
Mali, Mopti, Mosque 1971 ©Eddy Posthuma de Boer – Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum

©Ad van Denderen

6 November 2022 – In van der Keuken’s Kitchen

Johan van der Keuken (1938-2001) was a prolific photographer and film maker. After his passing, his heirs donated his archives of more than 20.000 negatives to the Nederlands Fotomuseum in 2019. Three years later, a large retrospective of his photography is presented in Rotterdam, under a quote of the author “The Art I love Most”. This is a remarkable collection of black and white photos, original or inspired by others, in various places, France, Africa, India, Italy. He shows the human in his day to day activities, taking various viewpoints, as he was always aware of that fact that there is not only one narration to any topic. He attempted to show the intangible behind the perceptible. This became clearer in the films he produced later in his career. A kitchen full of varied ingredients, colours and tastes make for an exceptional experience.

Paris, 1956 – 1958 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection University Library Leiden
Paris, 1956 -1958 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection Maison Européenne de la Photographie
Yvonne, behind Glass, 1956 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection Maison Européenne de la Photographie
Women and Children in Madras, October 1987 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum
Jaipur, Rajastan, India, 1991 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection Maison Européenne de la Photographie
Paris, 1956 – 1958 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection University Library Leiden
Paris, 1956 – 1958 ©Johan van der Keuken – Collection University Library Leiden

5 November 2022 – Deconstructing Construction

Aglaia Konrad is photographying architecture as an obsession: construction, deconstruction, reconstruction is at the centre of the series she presents at FOMU Antwerpen under the German title “Umbau”. A yellow-coloured wooden structure serves as the support for large photographs representing various parts of the Ghent’s Boekentoren recently renovated. Electric colours, negatives show us another refreshing vision of architecture. A well deserved breath of air after the visit to Congo…

© Courtesy Aglaia Konrad & Gallery Nadja Vilenne
© Courtesy Aglaia Konrad & Gallery Nadja Vilenne
© Courtesy Aglaia Konrad & Gallery Nadja Vilenne

5 November 2022 – Tintin in Wonderland

Belgium and Congo have a long and difficult history. It started in the late 19th century when the King of Belgium, Leopold II, established his own (private) colony there: the Congo Free State, recognized internationally. Leopold ruthlessly exploited the large region and did not hesitate to terrorize the local populations with his private army until the international community started to get interested (late) and forced the personal rule to cease. Eventually, Congo became a Belgian colony in 1908. The brutal exploitation and arbitrary use of violence was reduced but at the same time, a certain level of continuity was established to the further exploitation of resources to the benefit of the dominary power. A colonial (white) power was well established and covered all parts of administration and justice. Belgium enforced an idealistic vision of Congo in the media, in photographs, in reports, depicting a sort of wonderland where local populations were growing happy, were educated, were provided healthcare and civilization, worked freely under the protection of the paternalistic good Europeans. An excellent example of this was given by Hergé, who otherwise enchanted my youth, in his album “Tintin in Congo”… The reality was rather different… social inequality and racial discrimination were the rule and the beautiful system collapsed after numerous hiccups and eventually led to the independence of Congo in 1960. The long and difficult history did not stop there and 60 years later, it continues to haunt the memories of the Belgians. The beautifully led out FotoMuseum of Anwerpen, FOMU, gives a large exhibition on the subject “Recaptioning Congo” in an attempt to highlight the contrasting perspectives from both African and European photographers. The photographs are disturbing, and shed light on the past and present relationships between Belgium and Congo. From the early 20th century judges and “white fathers”, to the tour of St Nicholas in 1933, to the visit of King Baudouin in 1960: a worthwhile trip through the 20th century, as seen with European and local Congolese eyes and a reflection of what civilization is and how it is portrayed by the winner.

Children and parents follow the St-Nicholas car through the streets of the city, 1933 ©P. Verheyen, Collection RMCA Tervuren
Untitled, ca. 1892 ©H.A. Shanu, Collection RMCA Tervuren
Untitled, 1897 ©F.L. Michel Collection RMCA Tervuren
No 3 – The authorities wait to enter the church, watching Reverent Père Pierre blessing the church, 1934 ©P. Verheyen, Collection RMCA Tervuren
A model, 1960 ©Jean Depara – Estate Depara, courtesy of Magnin-A gallery
A jazzer from Leopoldville, 1959 1960 ©Jean Depara – Estate Depara, courtesy of Magnin-A gallery
Leopoldville, 1960 ©Robert Lebeck/Robert Lebeck Archive – Collection FOMU

28 October 2022 – It takes two

As part of the Photo Marseille 2022, an open air exhibition is given on the place Villeneuve-Bargemon, just behind the town hall. A short professional stay is an occasion to step out and enjoy. Its title: “The Anonymous Project – A deux, c’est mieux”… it is better with two. A large selection of adorable vintages colour slides spanning over 70 years by amateur photographers, collected by filmmaker Lee Shulman show ordinary lives of two people, taken at a given moment in their activities. Complicity between them, sharing of a moment, a joy, a laughter, a somewhat embarassing situation, a gesture. This is in essence the best of ourselves. The photographs were assembled in a random box of vintage slides purchased by the filmmaker. This exhibition, placed in a public space, where people play and live or just pass by, gives those depicted on the slides a second life. Touching moment shared with them.

©Anonymous Project
©Anonymous Project
©Anonymous Project
©Anonymous Project

23 October 2022 – Perfect Imperfection

We are all imperfect and finite. The thing is: how do you come to terms with it? The sooner the better, as then, you can live the rest of your life free of this search. For most, it comes later in life as a revelation. Artists have sought perfection in their art, the lines, the palet of colours, the plastic of a body, a rendition of reality. Some are working their creation over and over again, until their view of perfection is achieved. Some have come to terms with imperfection, have accepted it to the point of beautifying it, on canvas, in objects or on photographs. The Japanese have theorized it with their concept of wabi-sabi. Japanmuseum SieboldHuis in Leiden gives a broad exhibition of the concept with more than one hundred pieces presented by Japanese and international artists using different media like photography and ceramics. A wonderful journey through transience and imperfection is offered to the discerning contemporary visitor always caught in his/her day-to-day activities between the speed and the “always more” of our society. A refreshing haven of peace.

Ivy and Wood, 2017 ©Horie Mika
SOU, 2012 ©Kobayashi Nobuyuki
ReCollection, 2022 ©Casper Faassen
The Mouth of Krishna, 2016 ©Albarrán Cabrera

23 September 2022 – Burgundian Sakura

The famous maison Veuve Ambal, specialized in Crémant de Bourgogne, opens its doors on a regular basis to small scale photo exhibitions organized together with the Nicéphore Niépce museum of Chalon-sur-Saône. What a delight to see vintage Japanese photographs of the 1860’s. After the opening of Japan to the western world in 1854, some European photographers went to Japan to open up studios like the Anglo-Italian Felice Beato or the Italian Adolfo Farsari. These delightful photographs show the traditional Japan: Geishas, sakura, craftmen, paysans and street views enchant our early 21st centuty eyes. Most of these photographs were posed, to accommodate the technology of the time. They are presented in the halls and corridors of maison Veuve Ambal. A sweet smell of wine in the making in the nostrils, we travel far away, to a different place and time, in a refreshing combination of genres.

Anonymous, around 1880, Tamara Kozaburo Workshop
Anonymous, around 1885-1890, Adolpho Farsari & Co Workshop
Sakura, Anonymous, around 1880, Tamara Kozaburo Workshop

6 September 2022 – Lazy Susan?

I saw Susan Meiselas photos for the first time when I was offered her book “Nicaragua” by a dear friend, as being something that would interest me. This was a wonderful gift indeed and I revisit regularly the powerful pictures of the fight of the local population against the ruthless regime of Somoza that eventually lead to his fall and the rise of the Sandinista. No need to introduce Susan Meiselas. This Baltimore born American photographer has been associated with Magnum Photos since 1976. She started her activity close to home, with the strippers of New England, but quickly switched to a more ambitious project in Central America: she documented the insurrection in Nicaragua, in the 70’s, revisited the situation in the 90’s and the early 2000’s. She also spent time in El Salvador or Kurdistan. Her social engagement remained throughout her career, like one of her latest projects in England, covering women in shelters. A short stay in Berlin was the occasion to visit a retrospective of her 50-year long career at C/O Berlin. Under the title “Mediations”, which to me reflects on her approach to documentary photography she practices, more than 250 photographs are presented in this large exhibition covering her oeuvre, in black and white and vivid colors. Of course, the center piece is the so called “Molotov man” with an interesting and revealing behind the scene account of that photography and what happened to that man later. In any case, Susan Meiselas is not lazy Susan.

Matagalpa, Nicaragua, 1979 © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Carol, JoJo and Lisa hanging out on Mott Street. Little Italy. New York City. USA. 1976. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Esteli, Nicaragua, 1979 © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos

29 July 2022 – Bliss at the top

Contemplating Matthieu Ricard’s pictures is a Buddhist act in itself, like a moment of meditation. They provide calm, peace and a sentiment of wholeness. Matthieu Ricard, because of his position and his background, has a unique perspective on people and the planet. He probably fits in better than the average westerner in most places he visits. He is part of the landscape and can pretend to be invisible to the outside world, thereby snatching the most remarkable expressions from close by. Does he need a fixer? maybe not. His monk status gives him the aura and introduction most people won’t benefit when traveling overseas. The result? a collection of remarkable views on some of the most breathtaking places and people on the planet. His usual playground is high in the Himalayas, where no one goes. Over the years, he has assembled views of cultures and rites like no other. His eye is clearly generous and caring. His view on people loving and kind. One can clearly see how much he enjoys being there and witnessing these dances, events, large assemblies. The arch de la Défense gives him, in a peaceful place, high above the ground, remote from the rumors of the city, a large space to show his pictures, for our undivided attention and pleasure.

Monk dancers, Bhutan, 2007 ©Matthieu Ricard
Statue of Padmasambhava, Pemakö, 2020 ©Matthieu Ricard
Jetsun Jampa Chökyi (1922-2004), Darjeeling, 1978 ©Matthieu Ricard
Sacred Dance Festival, Bhutan, 2016 ©Matthieu Ricard
Forest of prayer flags, Thimphu, Bhutan, 1983 ©Matthieu Ricard
Young Tibetan, Eastern Tibet, 2004 ©Matthieu Ricard
Thai monks ©Matthieu Ricard

29 July 2022 – Saga d’eau

Salgado continues to present his monumental work to the French public, and the French public seems to like it. This time, the work turns into a master work. With Aqua Mater, mother water (but for me also “water matters”), he gives an overview of some of his work around the theme of water, from the Amazon to Iceland, the South pole and back. The setup is exceptional: A 1,000 square meter pavilion, inspired by the indigenous great malocas, made of Gadua bamboo, was built from scratch for the occasion on the overheated La Défense parvis, to host the exhibition. The result is an area of enchanted calm, freshness, dimmed light, bathed in water-inspired music. The lighting on the pictures is phenomenal and highlights each scenery displayed. Salgado benefits an extraordinary logistics. Often taken from heights, an airplane, a helicopter, a balloon, his photographs embrace a large area of space, often unreachable on foot for the normal person. He seems to rule over clouds to make them appear majestic and threatening. As a demiurge, he organizes people and animals, nature itself, to fit his desires. I must say the result is stunning. Despite critics that he is too commercial, too predictable, too well polished, too perfect, his photographs remain for me an enchantment for the eyes and the soul and one leaves this place rested and calm, with lasting impressions of the vistas revealed by Salgado.

The Ichun-Prarata waterfalls, Venezuela, 2006 ©Sebastião Salgado
Fishing in the river Jukiki with Timbó, Suruwaha Indigenous Territory, Amazonas State, Brazil, 2017 ©Sebastião Salgado
Cotabota, Mindanao Island, Philippines, 1999 ©Sebastião Salgado
Kafue National Park, Zambia, 2010 ©Sebastião Salgado
Amazonas State, Brazil, 2019 ©Sebastião Salgado
Sassoon Docks, Mumbai, India , 1995 ©Sebastião Salgado

28 July 2022 – You said landscape?

Henri Cartier-Bresson experienced the landscape like no other: like a painter. From his position as a spectator, slowly getting filled with the general view at first, then discerning geometric lines and patterns, experiencing it, mentally drawing the lines, composing his tableau, carefully weighing in the patches of light and shadows, the different colours offered, transforming them into shades of grey with various intensities, and then at some moment giving the order to his finger to push the trigger, snapping the picture… HCB expressed his experience as follows “to photograph is to hold one’s breath when all our faculties converge to capture the fleeting reality; it is then that the capture of an image is a great physical and intellectual joy”. I feel the same physical and intellectual joy looking at his images, again and again. I am charmed by his compositions, modestly perfect, with the characters exactly where they should be, with some subtle humour at times, like this one-legged man in Hamburg, not perceived at once, or the customs officer of Bailleul, sweeping in front of his shelter, on a cold winter morning. The Fondation shows a series of images selected by Cartier-Bresson before his death, for an exhibition in Japan in 1999. Some are well know, some less. We also see when more than one shot was made of a particular situation and why a given image was selected. Throughout the years, the fondation is expanding. Expanding its approach to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s oeuvre (I would love to see his never shown before pictures one day!) but also its exhibition space with an additional 30% surface area. Something to rejoice in advance.

Near Bailleul, France, 1969 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
New York, USA, 1959 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
Livorno, Italy, 1933 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
Serbia, Yugoslavia, 1965 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
Hamburg, Germany, 1952 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

28 July 2022 – His eye in my hand on my heart 

L’institut du Monde Arabe, a marvelous building in itself located on the shores of the Seine river, invites us to a travel back in time with Raymond Depardon, a well-known photographer and movie maker, a legend, and Kamel Daoud, a much younger Algerian writer. This travel through time and space brings us back to 1961 in Algiers and Oran, abundantly photographed by a young Depardon, and 2019, photographed by the same, 58 years later. Daoud, born 8 years after the independence of Algeria, wanders with him through time and history and provides his own comments, with his views of 2022. The result is a unique cooperation between two artists confronted with the same topic: a large body of black of white photographs showing everyday life in the  disturbed Algeria of 1961 and a more appeased Algeria of 2019, showing yet other signs of possible disturbances. Daoud summarizes this work eloquently: “Raymond Depardon photographs what he sees at the junction of what he does not see. I look at what I don’t see, thinking I know what it means. His eye in my hand. His body is my memory. What interests me in the photographer is his body, his wanderings, his journey: I slip into him, I fit his movements, his gaze, his culture, his prejudices perhaps, but also his singularity. Wandering from click to click”. No better way to say it.

Algiers, 1961 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Algiers, 1961 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Algiers, 1961 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Algiers, 1961 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Algiers, 2019 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Algiers, 2019 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Algiers, 2019 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos
Oran, 2019 ©Raymond Depardon ⏐ Magnum Photos

28 July 2022 – August in July

Centre Georges Pompidou features a large exhibition on the art and culture of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) in Germany in the 1920’s and around August Sander. It is a temendous overview presented in France of this artistic trend. Apart from painting and photography as the main art forms presented, the project also brings together architecture, design, film, theatre, literature and music. Although fascinated by some of the portraits painted by Georg Grosz (especially his “Porträt des Schriffstellers” showing an astonishing look alike to French political dwarf Eric Ciotti) and Otto Dix or Jeanne Mammen (with her “Zwei Frauen, tanzend” amazingly resembling the drawings by French contemporary comics artist Boucq), the purpose of this note is to report my fascination for the portraits of August Sander. It is my second encounter with Sander. This time, Centre Pompidou did not hesitate to provide a significantly large body of photographs from his master work “People of the 20th century”. Sander painstakingly photographed his contemporaries, before the chaos brought by the nazis (he did not know in 1920 what was going to happen in the 1930’s and 1940’s). He systematically ordered them in all branches of society, the artists, the farmers, the employees, the clerks, the workers, the clergymen, etc. It gives an insightful view of the German society in the early 20th century, with these people long gone, staring back at us. The body presented is so large that I can only extract a few I particularly enjoyed, like the boring looking engineer, the impressive pastry chef, the tormented painter, the smoking secretary or the amusing police officer. A last reflection when leaving this gallery of portraits…what happened to those people in the next two decades?

The Company engineer © August Sander, Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne
Konditor (Pastry Chef), Cologne 1928 © August Sander, Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne
Radio Emission secretary, 1930 © August Sander, Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne
German Painter Franz Wilhelm Seiwert, 1924 © August Sander, Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne
Police Officer, 1925 © August Sander, Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv, Cologne

27 July 2022 – Exceptional women

My day in Paris continued with an exhibition of the work of exceptional women, the very reason I went to Paris in the first place, to meet the “women, war photographers”, exhibit displayed at the museum of liberation of Paris, near place Denfert-Rochereau. I met well-known figures like Gerda Taro, Lee Miller, Christine Spengler, Françoise Demulder and Catherine Leroy but met also new ones like Susan Meiselas, Carolyn Cole and Anja Niedringhaus. The latter, a German, remains to be remembered as a rising star, until life was robbed from her at the early age of 48, at a checkpoint in Afghanistan. All in all, a trip through the gruesome wars from the 1930’s to today, as seen through the eyes of some remarkable women. Whether in black and white or colour, they show the story to tell. That of the absurd, of pain, fear, loss, blood, tears, chaos, death. A bit of hope maybe as well, when one stares at Vernon Wike, the corpsman in Anguish on Hill 881, or the surgeons operating on the battle field of Normandy in 1944. From the civil war in Spain to the recent events in Afghanistan, women have been there, taking all the risks, reporting, taking pictures, telling those stories and bringing them back for us to wonder, despair, or just gaze in awe. I already reported on Catherine Leroy and wondered why she was not recognised by a book. The catalog of this exhibit is a meager gesture to her legacy, but it is slowly getting there. One regret, the absence of Véronique de Viguerie from this exhibition: she would fit amongst those grandes dames.

Refugees from Málaga in Almería, Spain. February 1937 © Gerda Taro © International Center of Photography | Magnum Photos
Surgeon and anaesthetist, France 1944 © Lee Miller Archives England
Cimetière de Qom, Iran, 1979 © Christine Spengler
Massacre at Quarantaine in Beirut, Lebanon, 1976 © Succession Françoise Demulder/Roger-Viollet
Firing range used by U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion © Susan Meiselas
Vietnam. US Navy officer Vernon Wike with a dying US Marine at the Battle of Hill 881, near Khe Sanh,
April 1967 © Catherine Leroy
Dozens of bodies are laid in a mass grave on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, August 2003
© Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times
Afghan men on a motorcycle overtake Canadian soldiers with the Royal Canadian Regiment during a patrol in the Panjwaii district, southwest of Kandahar, Salavat, Afghanistan, September 2010
© Anja Niedringhaus / picture alliance / AP Images

27 July 2022 – Steve McCurry’s curries

Steve McCurry’s curries are made of a mix of good looking people, being at the right place at the right time with the right fixer, saturated colours, picturesque places. Despite the controversies about his removing disturbing elements from his pictures, or the abuse of “creating the moment and make it look purely spontaneous”, one cannot just not enjoy the experience. It is a ravishment for the eyes. The Musée Maillol, in the heart of Paris, gives a large view of McCurry’s work, old and recent. The link between Musée Maillol et McCurry in particular, the sculptures of Aristide Maillol and the pictures of the American photographer in general is not obvious. As a matter of fact, the second floor, fully devoted to Maillol’s work, was totally empty of visitors, despite its own beauty and interest. So, one asks whether the Musée was trying to attract visitors, just for the sake of cash generation? In any case, the displays, in darker rooms with perfect lighting, were stunning. McCurry’s portraits echoing each other, his landscapes inviting the visitor to just step in. I was a bit distressed by the proximity of the displays, not allowing an intimate interaction with the photos, because of the large crowd present, make that’s the price of success. McCurry’s kitchen is popular and the crowds are attracted to his curries recipes. Once upon a time, Steven McCurry was a photo journalist with Magnum. He covered the conflicts around d the world, spending much of his time in Afghanistan. The first room showed his black and white photographs of the late 1970’s. A couple of pictures of 1979 made a lasting impressions and stayed with me, long after the visit: This mujahid praying with his Kalashnikov rifle and the fierce looking boy with a wooden Kalashnikov. I was wondering: what happened to him in the last 43 years?

Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, 1991 ©Steve McCurry
Nuristan, Afghanistan, 1979 ©Steve McCurry
Kyoto, Japan, 2007 ©Steve McCurry
Baluchistan, Pakistan, 1981 ©Steve McCurry
Porbandar, India, 1983 ©Steve McCurry
Nuristan, Afghanistan, 1979 ©Steve McCurry
Rajasthan, India, 2009 ©Steve McCurry

2 July 2022 – Rooted Rutten

William Rutten has a very full address book. He knows everyone and eveyone knows him. His exhibition at the very active Museum Hilversum tells it all: he photographs Icons and his photographs are icons. From The Netherlands to the USA and across Europe and Asia, Rutten’s camera captures the essence of people. His approach is simple: a small corner of his house-studio has the best light: that will be the place where he will squeeze in the artist to take their portrait. Museum Hilversum provides a large overview of his oeuvre, spanning over 35 years. Rutten is rooted in our collective memory and his photographs provide not only a delight for the eyes but also a trip through our own history.

Lady Gaga ©William Rutten
Chantal Janzen ©William Rutten
Adele ©William Rutten
Thé Lau ©William Rutten
Oprah Winfrey ©William Rutten

18 June 2022 -WorldPress Photo 2022

The annual rendez-vous of the WorldPress Photo is currently taking place in the Nieuwe Kerk of Amsterdam. Beyond the usual reporting on the sufferings of the world, I focused this year on some of the stories told by artists involved in long-term projects throughout all the continents. Lalo de Almeida, a photographer based in São Paulo, Brazil, tells us about the Amazonian dystopia, portraying the social, political and environmental realities of Brazil under the presidency of Bolsonaro. A gruesome view of the Amazonia, today, the lungs of the world. Charinthorn Rachurutchata, a photography-based visual artist based in Bangkok, Thailand, juxtaposes archival images of the 6 October 1976 massacre of students at Bangkok’s Thammasat University with photographs she took during the 2020-2022 Thai pro-democracy protests, in order to understand the root causes of the present-day protests, using the Japanese technique of kintsugi by tearing photographs, then mending them with lacquer and powdered gold: an elegant way to share her will to remember, the title of her work. Matthew Abbott, an Australian who once lived in West Arnhem Land and was accepted into a local community, follows the Indigenous Australians who have strategically burned land to protect their environment for tens of thousands of years.Guillaume Herbaut, member of Agence VU’ since 2021, is a French photographer based in Paris, France. He followed the events in Ukraine In November 2013, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Kyiv in the Ukraine to protest against the decision of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych to pull out of signing an association agreement with the European Union. An Ukraine crisis calling another one. There were many more stories told, but these were, for me, representative of a new generation of artists driven by a strong desire to tell a story.

Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River, September 2013 ©Lalo de Almeida
Members of the Munduruku people boarding a plane at Altamira airport, June 2013 ©Lalo de Almeida
Protest in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2020 ©Charinthorn Rachurutchata
Protest in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2020 ©Charinthorn Rachurutchata
Nawardekken elder Conrad Maralngurra, May 2021 ©Matthew Abbott
Protesters on Hrushevskoho Street, Kyiv, Ukraine, January 2014 ©Guillaume Herbaut
Cheminots Park, Kotovsk, Ukraine, December 2013 ©Guillaume Herbaut

1 June 2022 – Turnley Turnkey

When an announcement is made that a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, of two World Press Photos of the Year, and of the Robert Capa Award for Courage is going to have an exhibition in Paris, the occasional traveler that I am, making to good use an encounter with a dear fellow photographer friend is intrigued and wants to go. So, here we are, rushing towards the Mairie du IIIème for the promised exhibit by David Turnley about “the soul of mankind”. Turnley has documented the human condition in more than 75 countries, and is considered to be one of the best Documentary Photographers working today. How deeply disappointed we were to only see 6 photographs hanging on the gates of the mairie. Great photos for sure, but doesn’t he deserve a better treatment? The pictures were mainly taken in Paris in the 1970’s and greatly inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Turnley speaks warmly of Cartier-Bresson’s “lyrical and rhythmic sensibility for movement and space”. He went all the way from Indiana to Paris to meet him and Martine Frank and eventually managed to knock at their apartment front door. This encounter changed his life forever. The few pictures presented gave a wonderful insight of his work and we would have loved to spend more time exploring it further. What a missed opportunity. Let’s hope David Turnley gets a fairer chance in the future.

Paris, 1975 ©David Turnley
Paris, 1975 ©David Turnley
Paris, 1975 ©David Turnley

29 May 2022 – Dagmar van Weeghel is magic

The Dutch photographer Dagmar van Weeghel is central in the Alexine Tinne exhibition at The Hague Historical Museum. She revisited Tinne’s travels with her own work and her master photographs are also exposed, alongside those of Tinne. This work, in collaboration with the Hague Historical Museum and Leiden University echoes the life of Alexine Tinne, and one wonders, at times, who the true star of the exhibit really is. The photographs taken in Tinne’s home in The Hague are mesmerising. Dagmar managed to make us feel her presence beyond time, the soft rustle of the fabric of her dress when she passed upstairs or just nearby, the breath of a phantom… Dagmar reenacted old photographs and paintings of Tinne with a model. Again, Tinne’s presence is tangible, through the magic of Dagmar. Furthermore, in the spirit of Tinne’s travels, Dagmar invites us to meet beautiful people, similar to those Tinne’s encountered during her travels. The result is a series of stunning portraits of beautiful contemporary people living in The Netherlands but with a strong link to their roots. A remarkable enriching encounter.

In her Spirit I, 2019 © Dagmar van Weeghel
In her Spirit II, 2019 © Dagmar van Weeghel
After a painting of Alexine Tinne by Auguste d’Ainecy © Dagmar van Weeghel
Esther, 2021 © Dagmar van Weeghel
Shams, 2021 © Dagmar van Weeghel
Adam, 2016 © Dagmar van Weeghel

28 May 2022 – Ten for Tinne

Alexine Tinne was special. Educated in the best circles of The Hague, with or despite her father’s wealth accumulated on slave trade, she grew up riding horses, playing the piano and becoming a “proper” 19th century lady. After the early passing of her father when she was 10 years old, Alexine became the richest lady in The Netherlands. She started photography in The Hague and Scheveningen and started to explore the world with her mother and aunt at age 26. North Africa became a new territory to explore and to photography. Her endeavours of reach the Tuaregs came to a halt in 1869 when she was murdered. She left behind her ethnographic collections and photographs, now at the National Archive and Municipal Archive of The Hague. The exhibition presented at the Historic museum of The Hagues provides an overview of her life and work, in the form of a dialogue between past and present, between two female photographers, Alexine and Dutch photographer, Dagmar van Weeghel, who sought to approach Tinne’s life and legacy by recreating her and her settings with her series “Nader tot Tinne”. Dagmar’s photographs will be the subject of another post.

View on het Tournooiveld from the Hoge Nieuwstraat towards the Korte Vijverberg, ©Alexine Tinne, collection Haags Gemeentearchief
Living room, Lange Voorhout 32 ©Alexine Tinne, collection Haags Gemeentearchief
Alexine Tinne on horse back in The Hague Manege, ©Maurits Verveer, Rijksmuseum Collection, National Archive and Royal Collections

22 May 2022 – Coup de ❤️ to Alex the Alchemist

Alex Timmermans calls himself an alchemist. A mixture between technique and magic, art and precision of an intricate work. He works with the old fashioned wet plate process, collodium photography. To tell us his stories with a special quirky humour, he will spend long hours setting up his antique camera, lighting, model, plate. The result is that of a one-of-a-kind photographer. Small stories, tongue in chick. with some British humour and the same enigmatic character. The viewer needs to pay some attention to the details and relate to the titles. The situations depicted give a smile, a laughter. He is my coup de ❤️ of the day. I particularly liked his butler delivering a drink in style, attentive, at the wheel of his high speed racing car, or the angel taking a rest in a chaise longue. I also enjoyed his “Fleeing Brexit” shot.

Born to be wild, 2017 ©Alex Timmermans
Heavenly Temptation, 2017 ©Alex Timmermans
Fleeing Brexit, 2017 ©Alex Timmermans
Cafe Racer, 2017 ©Alex Timmermans

21 May 2022 – La Haute

Haute Photographie: a new concept in a new location in the old harbour of Rotterdam. What’s better than a large refreshed former warehouse with high ceilings to exhibit photographs? Keilepand is not easy to find but worth the trip. The Haute Photographie event draws its analogy to what’s haute cuisine is to cuisine. A posh concept for a high-end exhibition featuring a healthy and copious mix of (old) masters like Arnold Newman, Marvin E. Newman, Vincent Mentzel (again!) or Atze Haystsma and young new talents, like Alex Timmermans, Antoine Khol, Du Choff, Constanza Gastaldi or Joep Hijwegen. To mention those few, amongst more than 40 artists presented. Deep black&white or bright colours harmoniously provide ravishment for the eyes and browsing through the displays feels like being in a museum. Of course, not everything resonates in the viewers, some catch the eyes and attract, some don’t. I selected the few pictures featured here: The bright coloured reflection and silhouette of Joep Hijwegen, with a special attention to the eye, providing a patch of white at the bottom left of the picture, the delicious quirky humour of Alex Timmermans, subject of an upcoming coup de ❤️, the mysterious mountainous landscape of Costanza Gastaldi using the photogravure process, the no less mysterious manly silhouette of Du Choff named “Katachi”, the shy young David Hockney in his atelier or the humorous 1948 warning of Ge van der Werff “Stay calm, not a racing strip”, depicting a place and time long gone. Finally Antoine Kohl, a French photographer with a unique aesthetics, showing material somehwere between photographs and modern paintings. The list of discoveries could have been much longer. The staff of Haute Photographie strives at putting together an exhibit twice per year, once in Rotterdam, once in Amsterdam. Something to look forward to. The appointment is already made for the next edition in September.

Safe traffic signals, Rotterdam, December 1948 ©Ge van der Werff / ANP
Untitled 305, 2021 ©Antoine Khol
Katachi ©Du Choff
David Hockney, London 1978 ©Arnold Newman
The wild bunch ©Alex Timmermans
Lotto Nero #03, 2019 ©Costanza Gastaldi
Diner, 2021 ©Joep Hijwegen

14 May 2022 – Brandt’s brand

Brandt’s brand was to some extend, but not only, “dark and crisper”. He tried to explain it in a letter: “There are certainly no rules governing how a photograph should be printed. This really changes from picture to picture. Some should be dark and muddy, some very white and underprinted. I often prefer the very contrasting black and white effect because it looks crisper, more dramatic and very different from color photographs”. FOMA in Amsterdam puts together a large restrospective of his work, from the early 30’s and his “English at home” and “a Night in London”, to after the war with his exploration of the female nude. Bill Brandt was a German who became British, putting him already in a unique breed of people. He worked in Vienna and Paris, met and worked with people like Man Ray, André Kertész and the surrealists. His work, as a result is a nice bridge between modernism and surrealism. Brandt was fascinated by the “unheimlich”, the weird, the bizarre, the uncanny, the strange or mysterious in an unsettling way. FOAM called the exhibit “The Beautiful and the Sinister”… associating “sinister” with “uncanny”. I don’t really subscribe to that, as I don’t see anything sinister in his work. Bill Brandt was also a witness of his own time and reported on what he saw. I particularly enjoyed his views and street photography of the UK in the 30’s, his encounters with famous people, more than his landscapes, whether of the female body or the wider nature. He was also well aware of his art and wrote wise words, about it, words that continue to resonate with me, long after having left the grounds of FOAM… “A feeling for composition is probably the most important asset for a photographer. I think it is partly a matter of instinct; it can perhaps be developed, but I doubt it can be learned. To achieve his best work, the photographer must discover his own world, and That’s exciting and he must come to terms with his lens. The lens is to a creative photographer what the eye is to a creative painter. With it he must see more intensely than other people. He needs a child’s sense of wonder always to see the world anew. His dread is that  he may lose this ability, for then he will copy himself and his work becomes sterile and repetitive”,

Rainswept Rooftops, 1933 ©Bill Brandt
Snicket in Halifax, 1937 ©Bill Brandt
Coach Party, Epsom Derby, 1936 ©Bill Brandt
Francis Bacon on Primrose Hill, London, 1963 ©Bill Brandt
René Magritte, 1964 ©Bill Brandt

5 May 2022 – Viva España

I took the opportunity of a visit to the remarkable Museo Carmen Thyssen of Málaga to discover two Spanish photographer artists I did not know about at all: The first one is Antoni Arissa Asmarats (1900-1980) who was one of the most influencal Catalan photographers. A beautiful play with shadows and light, mixed with a deep black and white, makes for a magic experience. He wents from pictorialism in the early 1920’s through symbolism in the early 1930’s and finally to avant-garde until 1936. There is little known about him past the Spanish civil war and the latter part of his life. He just stopped taking photographs… There are little exhibits or publications about his oeuvre. An article in El Pais (dated June 2014) called him “the missing link in Spanish photography”… When he died in 1980, his heirs, not knowing about his work, threw away most of the glass negatives and sold the rest for a dime on the dollar. It is thanks to the pain-staking work of two historians, Rafael Levenfeld and Valentín Vallhonrat, that his work was reassembled and presented… but yet, just one book, hardly available, exists. The second photographer is Gabriel Casas (1892-1973), also born in Barcelona, one of the most important and prolific photojournalists in the 1920s. Photos full of movement, quite rare at the time, are the most representative of his work. Gabriel Casas peak period is from the International Exhibition in Barcelona at 1929 to the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. He was called “the photographer of the impossible angle”, for his high-angle and low-angle shots, making him one of the most modern photographers, well in advance on his times. Both Casas and Arissa are universal photographers deserving to be widely known and recognized as such and yet, for whatever reasons, they remain known in their native Catalunya or Spain at best, unlike the likes of Vivian Maier, now widely publicised, recognized and published globally. Fair?

El beso ©Antoni Arissa Asmarats
Madre, carro y niño (Mother, cart and children), 1923-29 ©Antoni Arissa Asmarats
Tramvia de la línia 12 ©Gabriel Casas
Día del libro, Barcelona, 1932 ©Gabriel Casas

23 April 2022 – Moroccan Roll

Moroccan photography is alive and well. The Cobra museum demonstrates that fact in a wider exhibit of Moroccan art. Young and old photographers are present under the injonction “Photography, Now!”. Several artists are present, like Mous Lamrabat and his hilarious traditional lady  in pink with her eyes covered with less traditional glasses, khalil Nemmaoui and his structures, Daoud Aoulad-Syad who says “no”, Hassan Hajjaj – already spotted in Breda – with his flamboyant montages of patterns, colours and interesting characters, like this “Imaan in Da Shop”, or Rachid Ouettassi who shows Tangiers from yesterday and today. Across generations, the Moroccan photographers shed a indifferent light on their own culture and society. Not the postcard but a country well alive, full of contradictions, passion, noise and furor. A country torn between tradition and  modern life, between the past and the future, well anchored in today’s present. A particularly enjoyable experience and refreshing moment amongst these universes.

Mom sees Everything, 2019 ©Mous Lamrabat
Untitled, 2011 ©Khalil Nemmaoui
Untitled, 1986 ©Daoud Aoulad-Syad
Mohammed Choukri, 2001 ©Rachid Ouettassi
Imaan in Da Shop, 2021 ©Hassan Hajjaj

23 April 2022 – Korda de acuerdo

If I tell you Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez… does it ring any bell? Not really! If instead, I call him Alberto Korda… or simply… “Korda”? Any better? If I tell you: the author / photographer of the most iconic picture ever taken? Do you know get it? El Che, 1960. A couple of shots taken quickly, one horizontal, between another man and a palm tree, one vertical, with the palm tree in the frame, A lucky day for Korda. An almost christic picture of a man, with voluntary eyes looking far away, lots of hair, a beret, the mouth closed… a “guerillero heroico”, modern warrior, eternal warrior, the symbol of a generation. Alberto Korda followed Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution for many years and documented the times, from the lengthy speeches of Fidel, to the visit of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, to Fidel and Che Guevara playing golf, to Fidel in New York or in Moscow, to the people of Cuba. The exquisite Cobra museum of modern art in Amstelveen gives a large view of Korda’s work under the title “Korda, Cuba, Che, Glamour”, from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Not only a journalist documenting his times but also a true artist, whether when photographing the leaders of the Cuban revolution, the ordinary Cuban people or the women, dear to Korda. He was a simple man, caught in extraordinary circumstances, but Korda remained an artist and he described his work, quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”, and Korda to add “that’s a photographer”…

Contact sheet from March 5, 1960 ©Alberto Korda
Fidel Castro et Ernest Hemingway, 1960 ©Alberto Korda
El Quijote de la Farola [Don Quixote of the Lamp Post] 1959 ©Alberto Korda
David and Goliath, Washington DC, 19 April 1959 ©Alberto Korda
Model Norka photographed by her husband, 1959 ©Alberto Korda

8 April 2022 – Dawoud at Bey

The MFAH is giving a large exhibit of several projects by American Photographer Dawoud Bey. Bey has been exploring the lives of ordinary black people in the USA for more than 40 years. These people stare back at us, the viewers. We cannot really fathom what it is to be black in this country, yesterday, today, tomorrow. Walking through the large display of portraits, close ups, intimate moments gives us a glimpse of that reality, but just a glimpse. Some look back at us beat, others are fierce, disillusioned, full of hopes. Dawoud’s street photography is powerful. His encounters with his fellow American authentic.

A Girl with a Knife Nosepin, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1990. From the “Black-and-White Type 55 Polaroid Street Portraits” series ©Dawoud Bey/University of Texas Press
A Couple in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1990. From the “Black-and-White Type 55 Polaroid Street Portraits” series ©Dawoud Bey/University of Texas Press
Jean Shamburger and Kyrian McDaniel, Birmingham, Ala., 2012. From “The Birmingham Project” series ©Dawoud Bey/University of Texas Press
A woman at Fulton Street and Washington Avenue, 1989 ©Dawoud Bey
A man at Fulton Street and Cambridge Place, 1988 ©Dawoud Bey

6 April 2022 – Davidson: a roaring mechanics

The charming Menil collection gives an exhibit of the most significant photographs of Bruce Davidson, under the title “Collection Close-Up: Bruce Davidon’s Photographs”. Bruce Davidson, an American photographer, was active between 1956 and 1995. Like his humanist peers of the time, he spent significant efforts in documenting what he called “worlds in transition”. Whether in heavily industrialised South Wales in the 50’s, or in Brooklyn, Birmingham, Alabama, Central Park or Harlem, he took the time to build a rapport with his subjects. The result is stunning. Close-ups on the lives of those people, documentation of their surroundings, life styles, encounters. The little boy on a steep road with the contrast of white washes on a backdrop of industry stacks, the teenaged girl checking her hairdo in a cigarettes dispenser, the defiant young black lady caught by two white cops, with in the background the title of a movies echoing the situation, the old lady in her kitchen under the protection of St Theresa and the honourable gentlemen in a cafeteria were the most significant pictures for me. The Menil has a large collection of photographs but does not always show them. This exhibit of Davidson’s photographs is an effort to be praised. Let’s hope more such initiatives will follow.

South wales, 1965 ©Bruce Davidson – Gift of Joe C. Aker in memory of Edna Faye Cornett Aker
Brooklyn gang, 1959 ©Bruce Davidson – Anonymous gift
Damn the defiant, Birmingham Alabama, 1963 ©Bruce Davidson – Gift of Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil
East 100th street, 1966 ©Bruce Davidson – Anonymous gift
Garden Cafeteria, 1973 ©Bruce Davidson – Anonymous gift

26 March 2022 – Gold for Silver

Since 1949, the Zilveren Camera is the Dutch price for photojournalism. The Hilversum museum gives a platform to show the winners of the last edition of 2021. We can admire on three levels the different categories rewarded: news, local and international, documentary, local and international, nature, sport, etc. A great show of various pictures, all united by a high level of photographic quality of the topics and themes displayed. A few highlights: the photo of minister Ollongren with the visible sheet of paper that fed the dutch political sphere for many months (Bart Maat, winner of the zilveren camera 2021, a gold medalist of sorts), the clear message of a demonstrator to the police operating a water cannon (Richard Mouw), the inhabitants of Staphorst, slightly disconnected from today’s world (Annie van Gemert) or the black and white pictures of Norbert Voskens. and many many more. A wonderful moment of photography, showing how varied this art can be.

A cup of coffee on the Museumplein, 2021 ©Norbert Voskens
Forbidden demonstration on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, 2021 ©Richard Mouw
Minister Kasja Ollongren, 2021 ©Bart Maat
Colourful Staphorst, 2021 ©Annie van Gemert

5 February 2022 – Vincent Mentzel again

After being dazzled by Mentzel in Hilversum in December 2021, the Rijksmuseum gives a large retrospective of his oeuvre in Amsterdam. One can wonder about the programming of these exhibits so close to one another. I also wonder if the curators talk on a regular basis to avoid redundancy. In any case, it was another occasion to view (for some revisit) his photographs of the Dutch political elite and public figures in their day-to-day activities. Handsome black and white, an innate sense of composition and an eye capturing the right moment. I selected only of few of the great portraits he made to show here. Vincent Mentzel had a career as a photojournalist, covering topics close to home: politics, the royal family. His work was largely available to the public in the newspapers. The Rijksmuseum, after the Hilversum museum, had a great idea to show his work where it deserves to belong and to be shown: on the walls of a photography museum. It is now done, and well done.

People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy leader and vice-prime minister Hans Wiegel with a group of photographers in the House of Representatives in The Hague, 12 October 1981 ©Vincent Mentzel
Portrait of Princess Beatrix, 14 November 1980 ©Vincent Mentzel
Portait of Queen Juliana, Portait of Princess Juliana, 17 September 1991 ©Vincent Mentzel
Portrait of Audrey Hepburn, 1984 ©Vincent Mentzel

30 January 2022 – Under the tropics

After a drought of more than a month due to Covid lockdown, the museums have finally reopened their doors. This weekend was an occasion to go under the tropics at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam where a small exhibit “Through the lens of” has been awaiting the public for a while. Several talented African photographers, male and female, give us their view of various parts of Africa, from North to South, West and East. A variety of situations, characters, landscapes are shown. I was particularly ravished by the work of Nada Harib from Lybia, Fethi Sahraoui from Algeria, Yoriyas from Morocco or Sydelle Willow Smith from South Africa. These four were among the sixteen exhibited. Their photographs go beyond the artistic composition and whether it is the story of today’s Casablanca in “Casablanca Not the Movie”, “Escaping the Heatwave” in Algeria, or that of the women of Lybia, in the series of the same name, or the somehow sad life of the whites in today’s South Africa in “Project: Un/Settled”, these young photographers stand out and catch our attentions. I wanted to know more about them and discovered unexpected jewels: Africa is not only the cradle of humanity, but also a place where talents can grow and bloom. Let’s encourage them and let’s hope for more exposure in our countries in the very near future. In the meantime, it is an exhibit definitely worth visiting in a lesser known gorgeous museum in Amsterdam.

“The Wheel of Life” From the series “Casablanca, Not the Movie”, 2017 ©Yassine Alaoui Ismaili (Yoriyas)
“The red table”, From the series “Casablanca, Not the Movie”, 2016 ©Yassine Alaoui Ismaili (Yoriyas)
“Prayer during Eid al-Fitr”, From the series “Casablanca, Not the Movie”, 2017 ©Yassine Alaoui Ismaili (Yoriyas)
From the series “Escaping the heatwave” ©Fethi Sahraoui
“Ubari woman”, from the series “Women of Lybia” ©Nada Harib
“My cousin Mina”, from the series “Women of Lybia” ©Nada Harib
Kalahari Rest Stop, November 2016, from the series “Project Un/Settled” ©Sydelle Willow Smith
Kingsley Holgate, Famous Explorer, KZN, January 2018, from the series “Project Un/Settled” ©Sydelle Willow Smith
West Coast Drive, November 2014, from the series “Project Un/Settled” ©Sydelle Willow Smith

24 December 2021 – Christmas everyday

With the recent publication of new photography magazines, here in The Netherlands and in France, it seems that Christmas is everyday. At least, it is a renewed feast for the eyes. From the avant-gardist Fisheye, to the homage to photo reporters in Like, to the posh Pf fotografie and to an air of Polka.

18 December 2021 – This is us

Another weird exhibit at the Fotomuseum Den Haag. This time, it is an exhibit of photographs literally dug out of nowhere. A photographer, Ernst Lalleman, found a box full of large-format negatives in a squatted building in The Hague in 1984. These photographs were taken by a studio, well known to the locals in the past “Foto Americain”. This is a bizarre encounter with past inhabitants of The Hague, most of which are total strangers, photographed in the 1960’s. Lalleman had the idea, through his project “Who are we”, to give a name to these people. So far, he was able to trace back 48 of them. Beyond the documentary aspect, those photographs show a world that is no longer. Nostalgia for the 60’s? I don’t think so, but these people, young and old, staring straight back at us, are disarming and endearing, and yet, strange and weird.

“Wie we zijn” Project, courtesy of Ernst Lalleman
“Wie we zijn” Project, courtesy of Ernst Lalleman
“Wie we zijn” Project, courtesy of Ernst Lalleman

18 December 2021 – I don’t play ball with Ballen

I knew Roger Ballen from his series of photographs and portraits taken in South Africa, collected in his work “Platteland” and depicting a forsaken white population. The portrait of this policeman (shown below) was priceless. I saw him exhibited in Ottawa, Canada, and found it already quite scary and shocking. He is a famous photographer, widely recognised as one of the best of his generation. He was born in New York City in 1950, but lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, since 1980. After studying psychology at the University of California, he started to work as a photographer. Over the past two or three decades, Roger Ballen has mixed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques around his photographs, to create enigmatic, mysterious (weird?) scenes. The Fotomuseum in Den Haag pays a tribute to his creativity by presenting a wide range of his photographs and pieces and invites us to discover “the world according to Roger Ballen”. A weird world for sure, populated by humans at the margin of society, dead animals displayed, revealing the darker sides of the human spirit. Highly disturbing images, staring into the eyes of cruel boys, playing with (or torturing) cats. An esoteric world that we don’t necessarily want to know, to be honest. So in short, I decided that this time, I did not want to play ball with Ballen.

Sergeant F de Bruin, Dept of Prison Employees, OFS, 1992 ©Roger Ballen
Cut Loose, 2005 ©Roger Ballen
Puppy Between Feet, 1999 ©Roger Ballen
The world according to Roger Ballen
The world according to Roger Ballen

23 December 2022 – Coup de ❤️ for Randy Fokke

I discovered Randy Fokke on a famous Dutch television game program. A woman with a quiet strength and determination. Fokke is also an artist. Apart from acting, which she does professionally, she is also a photographer. Her website, titled “Listen to your eyes” is also an ode to listening to one’s heart. The message of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in “Le petit prince” comes to the mind “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”. Randy manages through her photographs to beat that quote, or else, she tells us another story… your eyes is a direct conduit to your heart. In any case, she is my coup de ❤️ today. I particularly enjoyed her Random Beauty series and her capturing of loneliness in the busy streets of Amsterdam. I hope that Randy continues, alongside a successful acting career, to develop her true talent for images and that she is presented in exhibits and published.

From the series Amsterdam Streets, 2020 ©Randy Fokke
From the series Amsterdam Streets, 2020 ©Randy Fokke
From the series Amsterdam Streets, 2020 ©Randy Fokke
From the series Random Beauty 2020 ©Randy Fokke
From the series Random Beauty, 2020 ©Randy Fokke

12 December 2021 – Coup de ❤️ for Interstellar Keler

The pictures of New York by Alain Keler are simply exceptional! Somewhere between “The Americans” by Robert Frank and “America in Passing” by Henri Cartier-Bresson. He took his photographs in the early 1970’s while being down and out in NYC and trying to earn a living  as a waiter, before eventually being expelled as illegal alien towards Mexico… Beautiful black and whites, a grain to dream of, a profound sense of composition, an intimate encounter with the real Newyorkers hanging out on Washington Square or elsewhere. A very humane look at and a declaration of love to the city that never sleeps. A definite coup de ♥️ for this incredible photographer. Les Editions de Juillet made a remarkable work creating a beautiful object and revealing a wonderful artist. Alain Keler quotes Walker Evans in this book, and it definitely applies to him “Photography is an Art when the photographer is an artist”: chapeau l’artiste! Looking forward to the publication of his works in Latin America in 2022 by the same incredible publisher.

©Alain Keler
©Alain Keler
©Alain Keler

6 December 2021 – van der Velden in the field

On the side of the Vincent Mentzel exhibition, a few photographs of Marieke van der Velden were shown. The self-professed storyteller spent a Monday in Kabul in 2013 and shows us the life of the ordinary Afghani living their life, without that Talibans. With nothing big going on, we see people enjoying being together for a picnic, a walk in a park or a gathering near the mosque. Refreshing pictures of people laughing and profiting of the mild weather. In 2021, these pictures give of course another insight, as one cannot forget to draw a parrallel with the current situation in Afghanistan.

Baghe Babur Park ©Marieke van der Velden
Square around Blue Mosque during New Years Day ©Marieke van der Velden
Meeting with my Women’s Group ©Marieke van der Velden

5 December 2021 – The leap of van Gennip

On the side of the Mentzel exhibit, the curator had the great idea to present young talents. Joris van Gennip is one of them. He works for the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant and covered the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Paris in June 2020. Gripping contrast between this female demonstrator on the ground, hands tied in the back, and the boots of the law enforcement personnel. Graphic views against the blue skies above Paris, and phantasmagorical shadows… a photographer to follow. The future of photojournalism is not dead!

BLM demonstration, Place de la République, Paris, 13 June 2020 ©Joris van Gennip
Paris, France, 3 June 2020 ©Joris van Gennip
BLM demonstration, Place de la République, Paris, 13 June 2020 ©Joris van Gennip

4 December 2021 – Dazzled by Mentzel

It is never too late to be exposed to new or unknown (by me) artists. I did not know of the existence of Vincent Mentzel, although he had a rich career as photojournalist since the early 1970s. His work was published mainly in the major Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad but also in  NewsweekTimeLife, and The New York Times. The gorgeous museum of Hilversum, now a familiar place, presents his oeuvre under the title “Photographer of the Power”. I don’t like this title, as it has limited bearings to his talent. Yes, he did photograph extensively the Dutch political arena and class, but not only. He also documented the social and political fights of the average Dutch citizens (they seem long forgotten now), made extraordinary portraits of all sorts of people, like Vaclav Havel or Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam (whom he managed to render almost sympathetic), travelled to various parts of the world including China, Iran or Suriname, and brought back compelling images of the ordinary men and women in their day-to-day existence. The man, now 75, enjoys the fame he deserves. I truly hope someone will make a book of his masterpieces. `

Demonstration of old soldiers, The Hague, 30 August 1979 ©Vincent Mentzel
Demonstration against weaponization of the country ©Vincent Mentzel
Vaclav Havel ©Vincent Mentzel
Beijing, 4 June 1989 ©Vincent Mentzel
Femke Halsema, 13 December 1997 ©Vincent Mentzel

28 November 2021 – Colour is (also) beautiful

While at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, I came across a small-scale exhibit of the work of Julie Cockburn. Curious and eager as I am, I investigated further… Julie Cockburn takes old found photographs, portraits and landscapes, and gives them a new life with embroidery, ceramic and montages. The result is refreshing, colourful, playful and amusing. A bit Picasso-esque, dadaist. I leave to the curator the explanation of the approach: “In offering up her personal, visual language in dialogue with the original, Cockburn highlights that we all bring our histories and perspectives to bear as we look or ‘read’
photos, and invites the viewer to become aware of, and empowered by, their own reading”.

Jolly Jelly, 2018 ©Julie Cockburn
Goody, Goody, 2021 ©Julie Cockburn
Ceramic Face (man), 2021 ©Julie Cockburn
Japanese Mountain, 2021 ©Julie Cockburn

27 November 2021 – Conjunctions

Sometimes, some conjunctions take place… seeing one picture makes you think of another… Helen Levitt met Henri Cartier-Bresson and yet, her picture is anterior to that of HCB. Coincidence? I don’t know. In any case, Helen Levitt’s street baseball player of Mexico City made me think of the boys I met in Havana doing the same.

New York (milk bottles), 1940-1942 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of the Albertina, Vienna
Rue Mouffetard, 1954 ©Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
Mexico City, 1941 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Martin Z. Margulies Collection, Miami
Havana, Cuba, December 2008 ©Nicolas Genty

27 November 2021 – The other side

I stumbled upon another marvel, while browsing for photo galleries in London: the work of Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen. Sirkka Liisa is a Finnish photographer who has worked in the UK since the 1960s. After studying photography in London in the 1960s, she moved to Newcastle in 1969 and started photographing Byker, the part of town where she lived. After the posh England of Regent Street and Pimlico, a trip to the poor England of Byker was appropriate. Poverty exudes from each photograph. Humans making a living in a bleak environment, rows of houses, uniformity, greyness, gloom, misery. Striking images of a time, not too far away in the past, not far away from us. A reminder that sometimes poverty is at our doors and we fail to see it. A sobering moment looking at these images.

Byker, Kendal Street in snow, 1969, © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Byker, Byker rooftops, 1975, © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Byker, Mending the pavement, 1969, © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
Byker, Lost Children, 1971, © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

26 November 2021 – Levitt in levitation

A visit to London was the occasion to check out a magnificent retrospective of the work of Helen Levitt at the no-less magnificent Photographers Gallery located in the heart of Soho. Helen Levitt was an avid street photographer. From the 1930s through the 1990s, she spent decades documenting local communities in her native New York (and one single small step out to Mexico), capturing everyday city life on the street, in neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, Bronx, and Spanish Harlem. She left behind a massive body of work, inspired at times by works from Henri Cartier-Bresson whom she met and got inspiration from. I could find among the numerous photographs exposed on two floors, some winks to HCB but Helen Levitt definitely developed her own style, made of surrealist pictures of people making weird poses in the street and candidly going about their business. Summarizing her oeuvre in a few words is impossible but the exhibit presented spans over various moments of her life as an artist: from the streets of Spanish Harlem in black and white to the portraits in the metro to the lovely colour photographs of the 1970s. Helen Levitt also turned to filming the same streets and it was fun to recognise the subjects she also photographed. I give here a few examples only of her masterpieces. All in all, a beautiful moment, almost levitating in awe in front of the pictures of this grande dame.

New York, 1943 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Film Documents LLC and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
New York, ca. 1940 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Film Documents LLC and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
New York, 1940 ©Helen Levitt, courtesy of the Albertina, Vienna
New York, 1940 ©Helen Levitt, courtesy of the Albertina, Vienna
New York, ca. 1940 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery
New York, 1959 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Film Documents LLC and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
New York, 1959 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Film Documents LLC and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
New York, 1973 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Film Documents LLC and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
New York, 1988 ©Helen Levitt, Courtesy of Film Documents LLC and Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

25 November 2021 – Coup de ❤️ for Emmanuelle Biadi

Coup de ♥️ for the pictures of Emmanuelle Biadi. Emmanuelle’s eyes are the first thing one notices when meeting her. Surrounded by her iconic red glasses, they sparkle and shine. She cannot be mistaken for someone else. Woman with a real presence, She is an expert, a guru in her very technical field, but she is much more than that. She is also an artist. Those eyes of hers scan for the ordinary beauty around her constantly and when spotted, she captures it on pixels. It can be a close-up of a flower, a landscape, an attitude, a pattern. She shares her work scarcely only with the people she trusts and considers. She is eclectic, always seeking the plus, the  extra. Her sense of composition is pronounced and she organizes her photographs like paintings. I suspect she would like some more recognition around that aspect of her (otherwise) lovely personality. So it is with great pleasure that I share here some of her recent work.

©Emmanuelle Biadi
©Emmanuelle Biadi
©Emmanuelle Biadi
©Emmanuelle Biadi
©Emmanuelle Biadi

9 November 2021 – A moment at the MoMA

The Musée du Jeu de Paume, located in the prestigious Jeu de Paume, on Place de la Concorde opened its doors to the MoMA. More precisely, to the Thomas Walther collection, acquired in 2001 and 2017 by the MoMA. It is a large body of works covering teh beginnings of photography in 1900 to the 1940’s. More than 230 pictures, small and big, are displayed in a large exhibit covering the two levels of Jeu de Paume. I arrived at the opening and could stroll freely, with a few other visitors on this Tuesday morning, between the works of Berenice Abbott, André Kertész, George Hoyningen-Huene and many others, lesser known. The prints are old, often small, and give a sense of uniqueness. We go through the inventive first years of photography, lots of experiments, beautiful portraits of famous artistes, like Henri Cartier-Bresson in his early years, to Jean Cocteau, photo-shy to Paul Citroen and Piet Mondrian. Germany in the 1930’s is always fascinating as well, when one knows what happened later. The roofs of Paris, the streets of Berlin are virtually unchanged despite the years. August Sandler is also present, with a portrait of an Art dealer, far from the romantic view one may have. 

Royal Air Force  British ‘Chute Jumpers, 1937 ©The MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Untitled, 1936 ©Paul Wolff, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
View of Berlin’s Department Store Karstadt, 1929 ©Umbo, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Articulated Mannequin, 1931 ©Iwao Yamawaki, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Violent Intervention, 1925-1929 ©Francis Bruguière, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1935 ©George Hoyningen-Huene, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Self-Portrait, 1930 ©Paul Citroen, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Jean Cocteau, 1929 ©Germaine Krull, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Art Dealer, 1928 ©August Sander, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Latin Quarter, 1927 ©André Kertész, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Mondrian, 1926 ©André Kertész, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Untitled, 1931 ©Alfred Tritschler, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther
Roof, Paris, 1913 ©Alvin Langdon Cobum, the MoMA, New York. Collection Thomas Walther

8 November 2021 – Christie’s a gogo

To finish this fruitful day, a small stop for a glass of champagne at the posh Christie’s gallery in Paris. We were not on the list of guests but made our way into the inner sanctum, shoulder to shoulder with the happy few, capable of purchasing 30,000€ to 80,000€ pictures for their loft in the 16eme arrondissement… or simply there because they knew someone who knew someone, and the champagne was free of charge. In any case, some very nice art work was for sale the next day, and exhibited publicly, before disappearing for ever in the collection of some private collector. I particularly enjoyed being confronted again with a large piece by Edward Burtynsky, already seen in Singapore, the girl with a shopping bag on her head by Hendrik Kerstens or the homage to Marc Riboud with “Mathilde on the Eiffel Tower” by Peter Lindbergh, alongside the original or “the Wild Ones” by the same Lindbergh.

Colorado River Delta #2, Near San Felipe, Baja, Mexico, 2011 ©Edward Burtynsky
Mathilde on the Eiffel Tower (Homage to Marc Riboud), Paris, 1989 ©Peter Lindbergh
The Eiffel Tower painter, 1953 ©Marc Riboud
The Wild Ones 1991 ©Peter Lindbergh
Shopping Bag, 2008 ©Hendrik Kerstens

8 November 2021 – The concierge is in the stairs

A delightful art opening at the delightful Artcurial auction house to see delightful pictures of a delightful man, present that evening: Johannes von Saurma is an old fashion man, kind and discreet, he went on the steps of Robert Doisneau to enter the private world of some of the Parisian concierges. After a few words, he was given the opportunity to photograph that endangered species in their own habitat. Small apartments, meager possessions, modest condition, the concierges have been present throughout the centuries to keep an eye on the tenants of the Parisian buildings. They are still alive in front of Johannes’s Hasselblad 6×6 chamber. Discreet, industrious, they kept our staircases clean, distributed the mail, gave advices. What is now left of them? The concierges are somewhere in the stairs, where they have always been.

Rue Daguerre, Paris 14eme, 1989 ©Johannes von Saurma
Rue du Buloi, Paris 1er, 1989 ©Johannes von Saurma
Cité de Trois Bornes, Paris 11eme, 1989 ©Johannes von Saurma
Concierge with glasses, 1945 ©Robert Doisneau

8 November 2021 – Pinault Noir… and white

The Bourse de Commerce, in the heart of Paris, became recently a testament to the glory of François Pinault / a monument to the glory of modern Art (delete as applicable). The architect Tadao Ando was put in charge of transforming the historic building and I must say, the result is just splendid! Pinault’s passion for contemporary art has led to the assembly of a large collection of some young artists and the century-old building is the perfect repository of large paintings, pieces of art and photographic series. I particularly enjoyed the 2012 series of 18 portraits by Sherrie Levine “After August Sandler” and the 1974 series of Michel Journiac “24 hours of the life of an ordinary woman”, was totally indifferent of the Helms Amendment series and amused by the large colour photographs of Richard Prince, reproducing the too (in)famous advertising campaign of a major American cigarette company. What impressions remain after this visit? Does Pinault deserve the place he aspires to? Can money buy everything? Will he remain in history as a modern Medici? I do not know but at least, this temple to trade, epitomising the glory of France at the peak of its power did deserve to be be preserved in the most magnificent way, and only history will tell if Levine, Prince and Journiac get a place at the Walhalla of photography.

All photographs ©Sherrie Levine, courtesy of François Pinault Collection
24 hours of the life of an ordinary woman, 1974 ©Michel Journiac, courtesy of François Pinault Collection
24 hours of the life of an ordinary woman, 1974 – All photographs ©Michel Journiac, courtesy of François Pinault Collection
Untitled (cowboy), 2016 ©Richard Prince, courtesy of François Pinault Collection

8 November 2021 – René Burri on the banks

As part of PhotoSaintGermain, a small-scale exhibition of René Burri was given on the banks of the Seine, underneath Musée d’Orsay at Solferino Harbour. I visited a René Burri exhibit in Rotterdam several years ago and was charmed by the discretion of this Swiss artist. Modest, almost invisible, Burri made some of the most famous photographs of the 20th century, like that of a defiant Che Guevara, a cigar between his teeth. He travelled around the world, from Switzerland, to Germany, Japan, Brazil, Cuba, the USA for Magnum and brought back some of the best photographs. He would certainly deserve a large retrospective in Paris or elsewhere to give him the spot he deserves in the Pantheon of the greatest. I particularly enjoyed his Flatiron building from an unusual angle or the pictures he took in a torn Berlin, just after the war. He also took one of the few portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1956…

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana beach, 1958 ©René Burri/Magnum Photos-Fondation René Burri, courtesy Musée de l’Élysée-Lausanne
Germany, West Berlin, 1957 Interbau exhibition ©René Burri/Magnum Photos-Fondation René Burri, courtesy Musée de l’Élysée-Lausanne
Leipzig railway station, East-Germany, 1993 ©René Burri/Magnum Photos-Fondation René Burri, courtesy Musée de l’Élysée-Lausanne
Daitoku-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan, 1961 ©René Burri/Magnum Photos-Fondation René Burri, courtesy Musée de l’Élysée-Lausanne
Flatiron Building, New-York, USA, 1978 ©René Burri/Magnum Photos-Fondation René Burri, courtesy Musée de l’Élysée-Lausanne

7 November 2021 – Annie, an old friend with a “+”

While walking from Rive Gauche back to Rive Droite via la passerelle des arts, one passes the arches of the honourable Institut de France. There, as part of the PhotoSaintGermain festival, Annie Leibovitz, a long time former Parisian, shows 200 of her most iconic photographs and others, lesser known. No need to introduce Annie Leibovitz, an old friend full of talent, who photographed the most famous for Rolling Stones, like a naked John enlaced with Yoko on the floor of their bedroom, a highly pregnant semi-naked Demi Moore or Schwarzenneger on a horse. The “+” of this exhibit in the invisible presence of Annie herself. She came, saw and conquered. Spread over four large rooms, the photographs are presented in a typical Annie’s style: rough, raw, without tralala, without frame, bare on the walls. The scotch tapes are left behind on the walls to mark where the pictures should be placed. A previous exhibit, seen on Singapore, was also prepared by the master herself, in the same fashion. The content of the photograph is central and suffices itself, as Annie lets us know. I particularly enjoyed the graphic image of the ladders in a Kibbutz, the high contrast of the American soldiers with Mary, Queen of the Negritos, the “selfeet”, or the stunning image of Nixon leaving the White House and three guards trying to keep their dignity while assuring their duty. The exhibit is dense, and the various talents of Leibovitz are represented on the walls. How delightful to be treated and photographed by a colourful Andy Warhol, or to follow Patti Smith off the frame. Finally, listening to the private conversation between Willie Nelson and Louise Bourgeois. The lasting impression of this wealth of pictures: the one of Louise Bourgeois: a portrait of a beautiful old lady with at the centre of attention, an imaginary line between her eyes and her open hand – all is said.

Kibbutz Amir, Israel, 1969 ©Annie Leibovitz
American Soldiers and Mary, Queen of the Negritos, The Philippines, 1968 ©Annie Leibovitz
SoHo, NYC, 1977 ©Annie Leibovitz
Richard Nixon, leaving the White House, Washington DC, 1974 ©Annie Leibovitz
All photos ©Annie Leibovitz
Andy Warhol, New York City, 1976 ©Annie Leibovitz
Patti Smith on tour, 1978 ©Annie Leibovitz
Willie Nelson, Spicewood, Texas, 2001 ©Annie Leibovitz
Louise Bourgeois, NYC, 1997 ©Annie Leibovitz

7 November 2021 – Kivu’s Saint-Jacques

Photography is everywhere in the city. Action is frequent. La Ville de Paris, together with Fondation Carmignac, took an initiative to “preserve the forests of Central Africa”. The exhibit “Kivu’s Forest” by photographer Guerchom Ndebo is presented on the gates surrounding la tour Saint-Jacques, at this occasion. Images of desolation, pain, sufferings, poverty, war, contrasting with the peace of the place on this sunny Sunday morning, and the tower, symbol of a far away past long lost and yet still vividly present in Paris.

Virunga National Park, DRC, January 2021 ©Guerchom Ndebo for Fondation Carmignac
Bukavu, South-Kivu Province, September 2021 ©Guerchom Ndebo for Fondation Carmignac
Bugamanda, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, September 2021 ©Guerchom Ndebo for Fondation Carmignac

6 November 2021 – Celts in Paris

One can legitimately ask for what purpose the Senate exists. The higher chamber has a reputation of obscure work by well off and well fed older gentlemen discussing laws in comfortable arm chairs or around well served tables during endless lunches and dinners. The Luxembourg gardens were a wonderful place to be, this Saturday morning, while waiting for good friends and enjoying the November abundant sun and the numerous children cheering their sail boats navigating the basin. Gérard Larcher, #2 in the State hierarchy as President of the Senate is the master of the place. He introduced the currently shown exhibit surrounding the park “Terres Celtes“. From Brittany to Ireland and Scotland, French photographer Philippe Decressac brought back stunning pictures of rugged coasts, large skies, furious seas and enduring nature. A wonderful contrasts with the quiet arrangement of chairs and flower bushes of the gardens.

Irish nostalgia ©Philippe Decressac
Coup de cœur de Sarah Bernhardt !, Belle Ile en Mer ©Philippe Decressac
Petit phare de point of Ayre Winkie, Isle of Man ©Philippe Decressac

6 November 2021 – Roger-Viollet dusted off

The historical space of photography agency Roger-Viollet, located rue de Seine in Paris 6th arrondissement, has opened its doors to the public since December 2020, to show its huge collection of photographs (more than a million pieces) and sell them to a public, keen to novelty and ever more eager to acquire prints. The third exhibit since opening is grand by its title “L’orient en Grand” and the size of the photographs. I had never heard of 16cmx42cm glass plate negatives before: the operators of the studio created in 1864 by Moyse Léon and Isaac Georges Lévy strolled the Earth to bring back pictures of the planet and its people. The result is stunning of sharpness and beauty. 50 prints spread over the walls, in between the shelves stuffed with the historical green boxes that were carefully preserved, containing demo prints for the customers and evoking places and historical dates. One would love to spend some time pulling those boxes one by one and discovering the treasures they contain. “Saturday is not a good day for that”, told us the sympathetic and enthusiastic young employee present in the gallery and showing us around. Nonetheless, gallery Roger-Viollet is a new space that counts: wonders are awaiting to be reveaved or rediscovered, once pulled out of the green boxes… we will be back.

Gizeh pyramids (Egypt) ©Roger-Viollet
Prayer in the Sahara desert, Algeria ©Roger-Viollet
Jemaa el-Fna square. Marrakech (Morocco) ca. 1900 ©Roger-Viollet
©Sortir à Paris

6 November 2021 – Viva Vivian

A lot has been said about who she was, how she was discovered, how she worked, how incredibly smart and such a wonderful businessman her discoverer,John Maloof, is, but one thing remains, Vivian Maier was a true artist, working hard, in the shadows of her anonymity, assembling an incredible body of work throughout her active years, from New York City, to Chicago, Paris and all the places she’s been with her 6×6 Rolleiflex. I saw her colour work in FOAM a bit more than a year ago as reported here. My good friend Thierry gave her the place she deserves in two of his marvellously carved chronicles here and here. This time, le Musée du Luxembourg gives her a space of choice in Paris. A walk through her evolution, from her large body of self-portraits, to her street photography, more graphic work, portraits of her contemporaries, children, films. In small rooms packed with mainly female visitors, we can admire her work in posh and large recent prints, hung vis a vis some original vintage prints and several contact sheets, giving us an impression of her ways of working. Discreet, often invisible, relatively frugal in her way of telling a story, she paid attention to details: a tie hanging straight here, an expression there, a shoe, a shadow. With a photographic writing style unique to her, Vivian Maier deserves a place in the sun, side by side the greatest street photographers of the past century.

New York, 26 January 1955 © Estate of Vivian Maier, courtesy of Maloof collection and Howard Greenberg gallery, NY
Chicago, 1954 © Estate of Vivian Maier, courtesy of Maloof collection and Howard Greenberg gallery, NY
Undated, New York, NY © Estate of Vivian Maier, courtesy of Maloof collection and Howard Greenberg gallery, NY
Digne-les-Bains, 12 August 1959 © Estate of Vivian Maier, courtesy of Maloof collection and Howard Greenberg gallery, NY

5 November 2021 – an incredible place

I discovered the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation by chance, because a dear friend visited it recently as well and sent me this incredible vision of rows of fashion photos exhibited in an orderly, artistic way. Fashion is the word. Azzedine Alaïa was a couturier, designer of amazing black stylish dresses. He worked together with German photographer Peter Lindbergh and together, they created an aesthetics for beauty and style, around the colour black. Black and white photographs were a must for them. The result is presented in the foundation, rue de la Verrerie, in the heart of Le Marais, where Alaïa lived and worked: actual dresses and the models pictured by Lindbergh wearing those dresses echo each other throughout.

Ariane Koizumi, Duisburg, 1985 ©Peter Lindbergh and Foundation Azzedine Alaïa
Tatjana Patitz & Linda Spierings, Le Touquet, 1986 ©Peter Lindbergh and Foundation Azzedine Alaïa
Tatjana Patitz, Le Touquet, 1986 ©Peter Lindbergh and Foundation Azzedine Alaïa

30 October 2021 – Affordable Beauty

When I saw the announcement for the Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam, I did not know what to think… What is affordable? What is art? anyways. The venue was the same as two years ago, before COVID. A large exhibition hall in the north of Amsterdam, full of galleries from all over Europe. “Affordable art” is thus a vague notion, resulting in a large offering of things, going from the ugly, to the unusual, to the okay, to the beautiful, to the sublime. I naturally focused on the photo offering and found several jewels in disguise, resulting in many coups de ❤️. I loved for instance the beautiful portrait of this old woman titled Namasté, or the shaman contacting his spirit animal by the same photographer, Marie van der Heijden. I also enjoyed Yvonne Michiels‘s fascinating dolls, The visits to beautiful empty spaces, left overs from past splendour, by two different artists, Matthias Haker and Daan Oude Elferink, following parallel paths, the monks in the snow by Jeremy Hunter and the outrageously dressed nun (only showing the decent part here) of Cécile Plaisance. There were many more photographs represented, for the pleasure of the eyes, making a stroll through the stands worth the journey.

Walker between Worlds ©Marie van der Heijden
Namasté ©Marie van der Heijden
Ancient History ©Daan Oude Elferink
Ancient Green ©Daan Oude Elferink
Li-An ©Yvonne Michiels
Coco ©Yvonne Michiels
Monks await Living Buddha ©Jeremy Hunter
©Matthias Haker
Alex Nun Miroir, 2021 ©Cécile Plaisance

17 October 2021 – Chas gardée

Chas Gerretsen is one of these lesser known famous figures. Chas who? is the most likely question you may get when mentioning a visit to the first ever Chas Gerretsen retrospective exhibition of his work and life exhibited in the Nederlands Fotomuseum, in Rotterdam: “Chas in de hoofdrol” or “Chas in the main role” in English. And yet… he walked into Vietnam and fame during the Tet Offensive and became a freelance reporter. The year was 1968. Then later, he went into Cambodia from Paris, in 1970, the year Gilles Caron disappeared, as part of the too many “unofficial casualties among correspondents covering the war in Indochina  since 1965”. He flew helicopters, visited the Karens, camped in front of Angkor Wat with the troops, all this before being even recognised as a correspondent and joining Gamma in 1972. He became however famous for his coverage of the September 1973 coup d’état in Chile. His famous photograph of General Pinochet was already mentioned here and has become an icon: A group of relaxed and cool, pleasant gentlemen, the embodiment of friendliness and joie de vivre. Pinochet did not like the photo, according to his own words, as it was “making him resemble too much a Latin American Dictator”… no comments needed. Chas was close to the action, on both sides, during those events, as one of the few present. Later on, and for 6 months in 1976, he became the set photographer in The Philippines of “Apocalypse Now”. An irony for a war photographer to take photographs of a fake war on film. and double irony when the title photography of the exhibit is Dennis Hopper as a war photographer taking a picture… of Chas Gerretsen, taking a picture of him… mirrors, mirrors…in any case, a deserved retrospective for yet another grand monsieur of war photography.

Dennis Hopper during the filming of Apocalypse Now, 1976 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Pinochet and his merry men, Chile, 1973 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Cambodian child soldier, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 1970 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Salvador Allende on the way to La Moneda presidential palace, 4 September 1973 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
The heads of the Chilean army during the suppression of the ‘El Tancazo’ coup attempt. Santiago de Chile, 29 June 1973 ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
4 September 1973, before the storm ©Chas Gerrestsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum

9 October 2021 – When all the stars align…

A beautiful old city: Leiden, a gorgeous Autumn sunny day, a quiet morning with fresh air, more than 10,000 daily steps and a 10 km walk with a wonderful company, a stop for a delicious capuccino, an open air photo festival along the way with talented local and international photographers: that’s what I call a perfect Saturday morning. The International Photo Festival Leiden is open since mid September until end October. No big venue and no huge crowds, no QR code required but instead small scale exhibits in the open, in the parks, along the spectacular singelpark surrounding the medieval part of Leiden. We discover the work of diverse talented [mainly female] artists like Eelkje Colmjon and her portraits of young Iranian women, Patricia Nauta who followed writer Marteen Biesheuvel in the intimacy of his home before his passing in 2020 and gives us a marvellously humane portrait of another artist, Katharina Pöhlmann and the still lives as “it is” around her room, Franky de Schampheleer and his funky universe of Flandronië, Daniëlle Cellie who makes the portrait of a vanishing town, we meet the hilarious supers of Craig Tuffin, or we follow Rachel Mounsey all the way to Australia, in the eyes of the storm, and many others. Broad choice of genres and formats, some likeable, some not, some triggering indifference, laughters, disgust or joy, but always worth stopping by and enjoying. When all the stars align and one recognises his/her good fortune, the world looks different.

In the eye of the storm ©Rachel Mounsey
Portrait of a vanishing town ©Daniëlle Cellie
Hip in Iran ©Eelkje Colmjon
Hip in Iran ©Eelkje Colmjon
It is ©Katharina Pöhlmann
Flandronië ©Franky Schampheleer
Marteen Biesheuvel ©Patricia Nauta
Marteen Biesheuvel ©Patricia Nauta
The supers ©Craig Tuffin

1 October 2021 – Two Ruben and a Xiaoxiao dreaming of China

Three photographers in their thirties dream of China in their own way. Two Dutch men and a Chinese woman. One lives in China, two in The Netherlands. The Chinese is here, the Dutch is there. The third Dutch goes back and forth. The Chinese speaks Dutch, the Dutch Chinese. All show the China of today, dream or reality? Xu, XiaoXiao was already the Coup de ❤️ of last years’s Breda festival [see my post of 19 September 2020] with her series “Watering my Horse by a Spring at the foot of the Long Wall”… a walk with her along the great wall of China, meeting the people that are born, live, work and die in its shadows. The two Dutchmen are two Ruben… Ruben Terlou has multiple talents: a medical doctor by profession, speaking fluent Mandarin, a master at interviewing people with an infinite compassion, a talented document maker and photographer. He has ravished us with his VPRO series “Langs de oevers van de Yangtze“, Door het hart van China“, “Chinese Dromen” and more recently “De wereld van de Chinezen”. Ruben Lundgren is a photographer based in Beijing. All three show their China dreams in an exhibit at the beautiful old town hall of Hilversum turned into a museum. Small scale exhibit but wide reach. Three sensitivities echoing each other, a ravishment for the eyes and a marvellous view into a dreamed China.

©Xu Xiaoxiao
©Xu Xiaoxiao
©Xu Xiaoxiao
©Xu Xiaoxiao
©Ruben Terlou
©Ruben Terlou
©Ruben Lundgren
©Ruben Lundgren
©Ruben Lundgren

26 Septembre 2021 – Bouvet at war

Thanks to a friend, I recently discovered the work of photojournalist Eric Bouvet and it became my coup de ❤️. Eric Bouvet worked for the French photo agency Gamma during the 1980s, and launched his freelance career in 1990. He won multiple awards throughout his long career and covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Chechnya, Sudan, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Israel, Northern Ireland, Kurdistan, Surinam, Burundi, Libya and Ukraine. He recently published a 40 years anniversary magazine using crow-funding. The format is very unhandy (too big with slippery pages) but the pictures are marvellous and show how he looks at his contemporaries. Covering wars brings with it the sweat, the blood, the tears, the filth of it all. But despite that, Eric Bouvet remains human and he is able to capture the human suffering through the eyes of his models. Fantastic series of pictures. A few questions remain in my mind though: why does a photographer of his talent need crowd-funding to publish a small magazine gathering 40 years of his work? Where are the publishers of books? He would definitely deserve one and a big retrospective of his work. Any taker?

©Eric Bouvet
©Eric Bouvet
©Eric Bouvet
©Eric Bouvet

18 September 2021 – Happy scene seen at Unseen

Unseen 2021 was back this last weekend, after a dry period due to COVID and some financial difficulties. The new edition was still located at the iconic Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, on a somewhat smaller scale but with a wealth of interesting galleries and a tremendous riches of artists. Above and beyond the usual selection of straight-in-your-face crude sexual content, bright highly saturated colourful living room pictures and empty architectural structures, the selection offered several young, mainly female, talented artists with a different vision. I was particularly touched by the works by Ilona Langbroek, Mouna Saboni, Sara Imloul, Lisa Sartorio and Chieko Shiraishi. Across borders, cultures and generations, those women show, in my humble opinion, a true talent and a unique approach to photography and story telling. Lisa Sartorio uses existing photographs and brings them to life – a life of destruction – with her work with paper, textures and structures, leading to a stunning effect of buildings silently exploding. Chieko Shiraishi brings to life the sophistication of Japan through her landscapes involving deers in winter in her Shikawatari series: pure and clean lines, subtle greys and blacks, tending towards abstraction and a Japanese perfection. Mouna Saboni and Ilona Langbroek, both seek their own identity, one through poetry and photography, using traditional middle-Eastern portraits and revisiting them with her own poetry, while the other shows intimate and nostalgic views of a past forever lost in the turmoil of a colonial past. Sara Imloul revisits the old technique of calotype to bring to life a deep black and white contrasted intimate universe. The men are also present in my own selection. For instance I noted the “Borderline” work of Paul D’Haese, created while hiking along the northern French coast, emphasising the edge between inhabited human-made landscape and nature. Talking about emptiness, I could not forget the “Past and Present” series shown by the Galerie Julian Sander. Julian’s great grand father, August Sander, was a tremendous German portraitist in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s. He left an incredible and remarkable body of work depicting his contemporaries in their every day life and environment, whether it is at home, at work, in formal settings, indoors or outdoors. Beyond that, and I could have stopped right there and be happy with this discovery, an American photographer, Michael Somoroff, took August Sander’s photographs and removed the people from the pictures, to show empty settings and landscapes, workplaces and living rooms. The series “Past and Present” in its entirety comprises 40 photographs of August Sander and their “empty” counterparts by Somoroff, to make an amazing ensemble where the past echoes the present and vice versa. A stunning presentation that will resonate long within me.

Le Touquet, 2020, From the Borderline series (2016 – 2020) ©Paul D’Haese Hangar, Brussels, Belgium
Longing for Insulinde #3, 2021 ©Ilona Langbroek Bildhalle, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ceux que nos yeux cherchent #14, 2020 ©Mouna Saboni Galerie 127 Marrakech – Morocco
Autoportrait II ( L’oeil), 2014 ©Sara Imloul Galerie 127 Marrakech – Morocco
untitled #34 (Eritrean war), Ici ou ailleurs series ©Lisa Sartorio Galerie Binome
Paris – France
Small-town Women (I/6/10,’), 1913, 1990 ©August Sander Galerie Julian Sander
Köln – Germany
Small-Town Women, 2007 ©Michael Somoroff Galerie Julian Sander
Köln – Germany
Hashirikotan, Betsukai-cho, Hokkaido, 2017 ©Chieko Shiraishi Galerie Écho 119
Paris – France

9 September 2021 – Tokyo top in Paris

Two giants of the Japanese photography meet in Paris, across times. Daido Moriyama ans Shomei Tomatsu conceived a joint (large) exhibit before Tomatsu’s death, to show their love of Tokyo, the city-world / world-city, as two faces of the same coin. The approach of both photographers is quite different, as can be experienced on two separate levels of the beautifully designed MEP building. The location is the same, like Shinjuku, but the visions of the two artists are quite different. In a nutshell, soft vs hard. Tomatsu’s photogaphs are soft in their approach, their rendition. It shows close up of people embracing, landscapes or people engulfed in artistic vagueness. Moriyama is in your face, with strong – highly contrasted grainy blacks, movements, furor, sex. Which Tokyo do you prefer?

©Shomei Tomatsu
©Shomei Tomatsu
©Daido Moriyama
©Daido Moriyama

8 September 2021 – Paris revisited

Revoir Paris with Henri Cartier Bresson is always an enchantment. The musée Carnavalet, a prestigious location in the heart of Paris, gives him the space and surroundings to shine. HCB’s images are generally well known and often admired for what they are: chefs d’oeuvre of composition, decisive moments depicting a situation, an encounter, instants of humanity. This time, the grand exhibit describes the encounter of HCB with Paris or Paris with HCB, from his origins as photographer in the 1930’s to his latest works as a drawer. Paris in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. A Paris that was and is no longer. Despite the photographs seen so many times before in previous exhibits and in books, the curator was able to also present a tremendous body of works less known and seen before. I was touched by those photographs as well (below) and remarks, such as this comment by HCB himself when meeting Irène and Frédéric Jolliot-Curie “I rang the bell, the door opened, I saw this [the picture he took of them], I shot the image and said hello afterwards; it was not very polite”, or this dedication by Jean Cocteau on one of HCB’s books “you know very well that your book is a masterpiece, but I am happy to tell you so”… precious.

Boulevard de la Villette, 1955 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
Under the underground metro, Boulevard de la Chapelle, 1951 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
Boulevard Pasteur, 1955 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
Window Fitter, 1951 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
Place Pigalle, 1932 © Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

7 September 2021 – Salgado’s adagio for Amazonia

Diving into the Amazônia of Sebastião Salgado and Jean-Michel Jarre at the Philarmonie de Paris today. As always with Salgado, it is with an overwhelming wealth (200) of huge incredible, almost unreal, black and white photographs that Salgado welcomes us into “his” Amazônia. This time, he has teamed up with Jean-Michel Jarre who delivers music on par with the majestic landscapes. Breathtaking images taken from impossible positions, heavenly skies, massive clouds, infinite meanders of waters crisscrossing the horizon, flying rivers at a continental scale. It is gorgeous, it is fantastic, it is incredible. But, what makes this exhibit uniquely touching is not the trees, the mountains, the river or even the impeccable, almost too perfect, technique (with no doubts, unique means) but rather the people, the inhabitants of the forest, yet another endangered species. We meet Adriele da Silva André Macuxi, Typaramatxia Awá, Bela Yawanawá, Sína, the family of Gabriel and many others, and with Salgado,while they stare back at us, we all wonder what the future will bring to these people. 

Mariud Archipelago, Middle Negro River, State of Amazonas, 2019 ©Sebastião Salgado
Gabriel and other members of the Suruwahá, Suruwahá Indigenous Territory, State of Amazonas, 2017 ©Sebastião Salgado
Sína, Village of Maronal, Valley of Javari, Marubo Indigenous Territory, State of Amazonas, 2018 ©Sebastião Salgado
Bela Yawanawá, Rio Gregório Indigenous Territory, State of Acre, 2016 ©Sebastião Salgado
Adriele da Silva André Macuxi, Raposa-Serra do Sol Macuxi Indigenous Territory, State of Roraima, 1998 ©Sebastião Salgado
Typaramatxia Awá and Kiripy-tan, Awá-Guajá Indigenous Territory, State of Maranhão, 2013 ©Sebastião Salgado

6 September 2021 – Marc Riboud – Possible Stories

We were fortunate enough to catch the very last day of a tremendous exhibition of the work of Marc Riboud in the no less fantastic musée Guimet. Riboud gave his oeuvre to the museum and as an homage, the museum organised a grand retrospective of his work. And grand it is! With an impossible title “Histoires Possibles”, we go back to the early 50’s in Lyon where Marc was born, to Paris and his painter of the Eiffel tower, before starting with him his grand tour of Asia, through Afghanistan, India, China and Japan. A delight for the eyes. a marvellous display of his prints with an impeccable lighting. Marc Riboud’s most well known photographs are on display of course but i chose but a few of some that are possibly less known but significant of his eye: humour with a profound respect for the people he met and a humanistic view of his contemporaries.

Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, 1955 ©Marc Riboud
The Dhotti, on the shores of the Ganges in Benares, India, 1956 ©Marc Riboud
Darjeeling, India, 1956 ©Marc Riboud
Shanghai Ballet Dancer, 1971 ©Marc Riboud

1 September 2021 – Isabel Muñoz, 1001 Spanish in Japan in France

Staying in Provence was a good occasion to discover the newly opened Centre of Photography of Mougins. A marvellous building in a remarkable town on the heights of Cannes. The first exhibition displayed here on the two levels of the building is “1001” by Isabel Muñoz. Isabel travelled many times to Japan and brought back haunted photographs. Portraits of nude Yakuza, Butoh dancers and scenes of shibari. A very disturbing and unsettling but pleasant trip through the Japan you will never experience.

Series: Beyond the Goal, 2019 ©Isabel Muñoz
Series: Beyond the Goal, 2019 ©Isabel Muñoz
Series: Man is an Island, 2017 ©Isabel Muñoz

26 August 2021 – Those who repair…

Valérie Couteron spent time at the Protéor plant in Seurre, near Dijon, France to take portraits of the employees. Ordinary men and women engaged in an extraordinary work: designing protheses for handicapped people. Couteron seized their profound humanity, mainly focusing on the eyes of her subjects. The result of her work is exposed in a XIIth Century romanesque church in the heart of Dijon, the Saint-Philibert church.

©Valérie Couteron
©Valérie Couteron
©Valérie Couteron
©Valérie Couteron

24 August 2021 – La reine Leroy

Another coup de ❤️ for the poignant photographs of Catherine Leroy and respect for the woman. She was a war photo reporter with an incredible story, forgotten for too long and far less recognised for her tremendous value than her male counterparts. Henri Huet, Larry Burrows, Don McCullin, Tim Page, Horst Faas or Gilles Caron have been long recognised internationally. Catherine has been somehow forgotten. Le Monde just wrote a long paper on her. A dotation Catherine Leroy is rehabilitating her work and life. The next step would be a book presenting and praising her work. “Une sacrée bonne femme”, as we say respectfully in French. She deserves the title of queen of photo journalism.

US navy Corpsman Vernon Wike by the side of a mortally injured Marine, Hill 881, April-May 1967 ©Dotation Catherine Leroy
Vietnam 1966-1968 ©Dotation Catherine Leroy
Under fire near the DMZ, a Marine holds a wounded comrade, Operation Prairie, 1967 ©Dotation Catherine Leroy

22 August 2021 – When two masters meet

Photography is all about how you look at things. One subject, two different pairs of eyes and you end up with very different pictures. Both Henri Cartier-Bresson and Fred Stein strolled around cities, whether it was Paris or New York, with their eyes wide open and a camera, the same for that matter… a Leica. Henri Cartier-Bresson invented the notion of “moment décisif”. Fred Stein did not, but eventually had a similar approach. Across times and space, those two masters met without possibly knowing of each other. I tried to illustrate my “theory” with some examples among a rich iconography for both artists.

Bruxelles, 1932 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson
Hole in a fence, Paris, 1936 ©Fred Stein
Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1954 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson
Man with Bottles, Paris, 1938 ©Fred Stein
André Malraux, Paris, 1968 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson
André Malraux, 1934 ©Fred Stein

14 August 2021 Fred Stein: No stone left unturned

Another late and wonderful discovery for me at the Joods historisch museum of Amsterdam: the photos of Fred Stein. From Dresden to Paris and then New York, Fred Stein enchants us with his account of his time, mainly through the 1930’s and 1940’s. Wandering through the city, capturing moments and people in their daily lives. He then focused on making portraits of his contemporaries. A wonderful gallery of known and less known figures, mainly in the US and in Germany. The magnificent exhibit in Amsterdam is with freshly reprinted photogrpahs and it gives us a vibrant and broad overview of his work, forgotten for too long a time. I am not sure Fred Stein ever met Henri Cartier-Bresson but many of his pictures echoe those of the master. Definitely worth a visit!

Three Chairs, Paris, 1936 ©Fred Stein
Le Gaz, Paris, 1935 ©Fred Stein
Newspaper Hat, New York, 1946 ©Fred Stein
Chinatown, New York, 1944 ©Fred Stein
Hannah Arendt, 1944 ©Fred Stein
David Ben-Gurion, 1959 ©Fred Stein

25 July 2021 – Posthuma posthumous

The giant of Dutch photography Eddy Posthuma de Boer passed away today, at age 90. He was a photographer with love for the people he was portraying. We were enchanted by his work when we first discovered it last year. I had the chance to see a large exhibit at Fotomuseum The Hague and reported it here. His pictures, full of a humanism since then long gone in the streets from our cities, will survive him for ever.

©Eddy Posthuma de Boer
©Eddy Posthuma de Boer
©Eddy Posthuma de Boer

17 July 2021 – a low key FFN2021

The yearly visit to the FotoFestival Naarden edition 2021 was a disappointment. At least, the offering in the vesting Naarden was just so-so. I don’t know what it was… a lower scale display, some local photographers, the topics, the artists… A few jewels were displayed in the gardens of the Comenius museum, like the works by Frank Rentink and Wim Banning. After a couple of hours of strolling through the beautiful location, I thought this was it for this time… But away from the vesting, there was a real exhibit in a former garden center, transformed for the occasion, before complete demolition, into a gallery. I was particularly attracted to the series “Fica Suave” from Sabine van Wechem. Sabine followed a young girl, Thay, in her daily life in the favela Vila Cruzeiro in Rio de Janeiro.I also enjoyed the haunting portraits of Maan Limburg, especially in the dimmed light of the location. Jorge Mañes Rubio, Cynthia van Elk and Milene van Arendonk also gave some remarkable pieces of work, in different styles and locations. These young artists made my day.

©Frans Rentink
©Wim Bannink
Fica Suave ©Sabine van Wechem
Fica Suave ©Sabine van Wechem
Like Stone ©Maan Limburg
Like Stone ©Maan Limburg
El Tajin ©Jorge Mañes Rubio
Demolition Derby ©Cynthia van Elk
Demolition Derby ©Cynthia van Elk
Profound Silence ©Milene van Arendonk

4 July 2021 – WorldPress Photo 2021

Sir Winston Churchill had nothing to offer to the British people but “blood, toil, tears and sweat” in a famous speech in 1940. Thats’s about what you get at each new edition of the WorldPress Photo festival in Amsterdam. It seems mankind is destined to suffer, to bleed, to cry and to sweat, over and over again. This suffering is also what gives the best pictures. The 2021 edition is no different, spanning from the absurd short war for Nagorno-Karabakh, to the massive ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut, to the demonstrations for freedom in Peru, to nature playing its own part in The Philippines. And if people live in peace, they just accumulate absurd numbers of firearms for an hypothetical protection against bad guys. There will be enough suffering to renew this yearly event for many years to come. We cannot complain as the best photojournalists will be there to give us touching, moving pictures of the human suffering.

Soldat resting in a trench, Nerkin Khndzoresk, Armenia ©Vaghinak Ghazaryan
©Valery Melnikov
©Valery Melnikov
Men direct a helicopter to drop water on the site of the explosion, 4th August ©Lorenzo Tugnoli
©Lorenzo Tugnoli
An injured man stands near the site of the explosion ©Lorenzo Tugnoli
Police forms a blockade to prevent the protesters from reaching the Peruvian Congress building in Lima, 12 November ©Ernesto Benavides
Trees stand covered in volcanic ash, near Tall Volcano, 14 January ©Ezra Acayan
Torrell Jasper (35) in the backyard of his house in Schriever, La ©Gabriele Galimberti
Parker Fawbush and family, in the backyard of the church where he works as a pastor, in Poseyville, In ©Gabriele Galimberti
Robert Baldwin Jr stands in his secret gunroom, behind a one-way mirror in his home ©Gabriele Galimberti

13 June 2021 – Coup de ❤️ for Lola Álvarez Bravo

I discovered a few photographs made by Lola Álvarez Bravo, during the exhibit around Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. A lifelong friend of Frida Kahlo, she was taught photography by her husband Manuel Álvarez Bravo, continued as his assistant, but soon enough became recognized as a photojournalist and independent artist. Her photo archive is located at the Center of Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, USA. I particularly enjoyed her “burial in Yalalag” that echoed for me the “Srnigar, Kashmir” picture of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Burial in Yalalag, 1946 Lola Álvarez Bravo
Srinagar, Kashmir, 1948 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson

12 June 2021 – Love is in the air

After several months of closure and a delayed start, the Cobra museum in Amstelveen has finally opened its doors to a large exhibit around Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. “A love revolution” covers a wealth of Mexican masterpieces from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman collection. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are totally unforgettable but another couple is also represented: Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, photographers of the Mexican identity. So with the Gelman, the Rivera/Kahlo and the Álvarez Bravo, a family affair. Frida was admired and photographed during her tumultuous relatively short life. Some of these were displayed to bring some context to the paintings exhibited. Photos by Gisèle Freud, Lucienne Bloch, Manuel and Lola among others.

Frida and Diego during a Mexican labor anti-fascist demonstration in Mexico City, 1936 ©Anonymous
Frida and Dr. Farill, 1951 ©Gisèle Freud
Frida at the Society of Modern Art, Picasso exhibit Mexico, ca. 1944 ©Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Frida at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, 1933 ©Lucienne Bloch
Frida Kahlo, 1944 ©Lola Álvarez Bravo

12 June 2021 – Ellen Thorbecke’s China

The Nederlands Fotomuseum reopened with the great promise of the honour gallery of the Dutch photography with its “99 iconic photos”, gratified by the presence of the king, himself, opening it. But at the same time, almost unnoticed in the basement, another exhibit also started on June 9th: that of Ellen Thorbecke’s China. And that is a real delight for the eyes and the true discovery of the day, combined with a coup de ❤️. Ellen Thorbecke, a German by birth, was a true 20th century woman. With a classical education in languages and piano, she further studied economy and worked as a freelance journalist. After meeting her second husband Willem J.R. Thorbecke in 1930 while working at the Dutch embassy in Berlin, she started photography with a Rolleiflex. She followed her husband to Beijing in 1931, not just as an expat wife, but with a journalist contract to report in writing and images on life in China. And what a photographer and a story teller! Ellen Thorbecke is far less known and recognized than Henri Cartier-Bresson but her work on China is, certainly for me, of the same quality, with a rare talent and as additional twist, a closer, more feminine approach of her subjects, as shown for instance in her portraits of Chinese figures. The large exhibit displayed in Rotterdam mixes original prints, extracts from her delightful books and beautiful new prints, as the museum is also the curator of her large fund of 6×6 negatives. Mainly focusing on China, Ellen also spent some time in Hong Kong – see her hilarious picture of the diverse Hong Kong police – and traveled back via Paris where she spent some time as well in 1936. A book was issued at the occasion of this marvelous exhibit, which found in the meantime its way to my private library…

The envoy, 1931 ©Ellen Thorbecke
The streets of China, 1931 ©Ellen Thorbecke
The streets of China, 1931 ©Ellen Thorbecke
The Manchu Duke , 1935 ©Ellen Thorbecke
The industrialist, 1935 ©Ellen Thorbecke
The theater-manager, 1935 ©Ellen Thorbecke
The monk, 1935 ©Ellen Thorbecke
Police, Hong Kong, 1939 ©Ellen Thorbecke

11 June 2021 – At last!

After seven long months without museums and exhibitions, the curse has finally ended and all museums have reopened, with some drastic measures to prevent the bugs from jumping from one visitor to another. To break this cultural scarcity, an early  visit to the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam was a must, especially since the king opened a new setup and exhibit a short while ago, the same week. The fotomuseum is expanding, which is a good thing, doubling his surface within the same premise. The permanent space boasts a “gallery of honour of the Dutch photography”, showing 99 photographs spanning over the end of the 19th to the early 21st centuries. The 99 photographs were carefully selected by a panel of “experts” for their “social and artistic impact, and are meaningful for photography in The Netherlands”. What to think about it? First of all, such a selection is by definition completely subjective. Some of the early photographs are clearly presented first and foremost because of their historical meaning, like a tiny dark portrait of Charlotte Asser, taken in 1842, or this couple from Paramaribo, Suriname in 1846, a then Dutch colony in the new world. Some are there for their scientific significance, like a photography of the moon dated 1862 or a microscopic shot of a plant stem dated 1873. Some for their social resonance, like these photographs of the Dolle Minas demonstrating for birth control and abortion rights in 1970, or the South Moluccans, photographed in colours in Tiel in 1970 by no less than Ed van der Elsken. Some are there because of the renown of the photographer (what makes Erwin Olaf “one of the greatest photographers of the century”?, who decided that? His bankable value on the market?), some because they are simply a reflection of the period, like Snoop Dogg from 2014. But for sure, a lot of them are there NOT for their artistic content. I could make my own gallery of honour of Dutch photography. It would be certainly centered around Ed van der Elsken (two photos here), Cas Oorthuys (two photos) and Koen Wessing (one photograph) and a few others. Beyond the somewhat pompous title of this gallery, this visit made however for a pleasant promenade throughout the century, with some unexpected jewels discovered, lots of rejections and a few coups de coeur. I deliver herewith some of the photos that touched me more than the others. Why those? The portrait of the hungry lady is haunting, her eyes empty, focusing on feeding herself with a meager piece of bread. The suffering is present. Pinochet, for his irresistible mugshot, the mother with children, yet again a moment of dispair captured so elegantly by the photographer. The hewer in a coal mine and Kennedy in a ball, for their similar expressions of satisfaction, and yet, such world-apart from each other and the construction of the dam, for its echoing of the painter of the Eiffel Tower by Marc Riboud… my own gallery of honour.

Hunger Winter, Wittenburg, Amsterdam, 1944 ©Cas Oorthuys
Portrait of General Pinochet with officers, before the holy mass in honour of Chile’s Independence Day, Santiago, Chile, 1973 ©Chas Gerretsen
Mother with children during the Watersnoodramp, Stavenisse 1953 ©Ed van Wijk
Hewer at the coalface, Oranje-Nassau mines, Herleen, 1953 ©Nico Jesse
John F. Kennedy, at his sister Eunice’s birthday party, London, 1939 ©Peter Hunter
Construction of the Haringvliet Dam, Zeeland, 1961 ©Aart Klein

14 April 2021 – Jenny de Vasson

14 April 2021 – Jenny de Vasson

A friend of mine, Hugues, made me aware of a passed exhibit I missed because of COVID. It is now a virtual exhibit on the site of the  bibliothèque numérique patrimoniale de la Ville de Versailles, La Sirène. Jenny de Vasson was a rich young woman living in the XIXth century, near Versailles. She was one of the first street photographers, a far predecessor of Robert Doisneau. She did that for fun mostly and left behind a wealth of photographs of her times, the people she met ad the places she visited. This is a wonderful walk through a distance time and space and a new window opened into the past.

Dans la rue, Catane, Sicile, Italie, 1906 © G. Wolkowitsch
Les jumelles, Varennes, Fougerolles, Indre, 1914 © G. Wolkowitsch
Le Carroir Doré – Romorantin-Lanthenay, Loir et Cher, 1904 © G. Wolkowitsch
Dans la rue Montluçon, Allier, 1905 © G. Wolkowitsch

9 January 2021 – Lockdown by night

What to do when you are bored and in lockdown? When you don’t have any new perspectives of discovering new horizons, new people and exotic landscapes and situations? Well… you put your coat on and get out to photography the beauty of your immediate surroundings day after day, preferably during the blue hour, at dusk, when no one is around. Carla Matthee, born in South Africa but living in Leiden since 2004, has created a beautiful series of intimate portraits of Leiden that can be visited on her website.

Breestraat ©Carla Matthee
©Carla Matthee
©Carla Matthee

13 December 2020 – Ulay was here and so were we…

I took the opportunity of (still) open musea to visit the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam before it shuts down again for 5 weeks… Among a wealth of modern and contemporary art of the highest quality, a few photographs of their large collection are exhibited, among which four pictures by Cor Jaring, Who was very present in the Amsterdam of the 60’s. His photographs of John and Onno remained very famous to this day. At the same occasion, I browsed through a special exhibit of the recently passed Ulay. I cannot say I was impressed. Ulay was certainly an artist of his own but he existed for me though his relationship with Marina Abramović, present throughout as well.

Association of Visual Artists protesting the construction of the van Gogh museum, 1969 ©Cor Jaring
Phil Bloom, the first nude girl on Dutch TV, in VPRO’s program “Whoops” ©Cor Jaring
Bed Peace, Hilton Hotel Amsterdam, 1969 ©Cor Jaring
©Ulay
©Ulay
©Ulay

9 December 2020 – Coup de ❤️ for Didier Bizet

I discovered the photos of Didier Bizet by chance, while browsing the emails I get from “L’oeil de la photographie”. I particularly fell in love with his “the big Lie” series of photographs of North Korea. As he puts it, it is “a trip to another world”. But Didier Bizet went further than the typical lines of obedient workers and students, the empty squares and the monumental statues of the Kim dynasty. A small, almost imperceptible, twist if you don’t pay attention and his vision of North Korea reveals the deadly absurdity of this regime. I let you discover it in the few extracts below and strongly invite you to explore his work further. Enjoy the massive pingpong player, the perfect student with a bubble gum, the AC/DC piano lesson and these two employees “steeling” the hammer…

©Didier Bizet
©Didier Bizet
©Didier Bizet
©Didier Bizet

5 December 2020 – A Crazy World for Sure

Ed van der Elsken is back, at the Rijksmuseum this time. I always wondered how he “treated” Japan during his stays there in 1959-1960 and then in the second half of the 1980’s before his death in 1990. I was curious to see his “blessed eyes” fall upon this culture, so strange for us, so difficult to apprehend and to understand. His book about Japan “de ontdekking van Japan” remains almost impossible to get, so getting an insight on his vision of Japan, for a passionate lover of Japan like me, was crucial. Van der Elsken took the time, in Japan, to photograph not only the streets, the youth but also the a-typical Japanese: the yakuza, the sumos and the geishas. The result is stunning and triggers this deep desire to go back there very soon. The Rijksmuseum put together a large exhibition of his work, titled “a crazy world”, not only to show his Japanese pictures but mainly to get a deeper insight into the way he worked: multiple reframing of the same picture, to get the perfect balance for a publication or an exhibition. But what remains remarkable of Van der Elsken’s work, and for that matter for all the artists of that time, is to be seen on the several contact sheets exhibited: not many shots of the same subject, one, two, maybe three. We are far from the hundreds of shots one can take with a digital camera. One, two, three shots and the magic happens. Ed van der Elsken hd undoubtedly “blessed eyes” to get the decisive moment.

“first picture taken in Japan, November 1959, Kobe” ©Ed van der Elsken
Girl from the refugee district with a barrel of water, Hong Kong 1959-1960 ©Ed van der Elsken
Portrait of a woman, 1984 ©Ed van der Elsken
Yakuza, Osaka, Japan, 1960 ©Ed van der Elsken
Students, Osaka, Japan, 1960 ©Ed van der Elsken
Protest against racial discrimination outside of a Woolworth store, New York, 1960 ©Ed van der Elsken
May Day demonstration, Paris, ca. 1949-1951 ©Ed van der Elsken
one of the contact sheets exhibited ©Ed van der Elsken

5 December 2020 – Wim Diepraam

I went to the Rijskmuseum in Amsterdam for yet another van der Elsken exhibit. And I got to discover Wim Diepraam as well. Diepraam left a significant legacy of documentary pictures of The Netherlands in the 50’s and later. A country that does not exist anymore. 50 years of nostalgia, 50 years of photography, exploring the deepest layers of society. The glamorous and the ordinary. An excellent photographer of his time with a lot of empathy for his subjects. A discovery.

Schilderwijk, Den Haag 1972 ©Wim Diepraam
Nickerie, Suriname 1973 ©Wim Diepraam
Maria Soledade Lima Peru 1989 ©Wim Diepraam
©Wim Diepraam

22 November 2020 – Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry continues to enchant me with his pictures. He has remained “in search of elsewhere” the title of his most recent book.

Papua New Guinea, 2017 ©Steve McCurry
Italy, 2011 ©Steve McCurry
India, 1999 ©Steve McCurry

1 November 2020 – Circle of Life

I never knew about the quaint museum of Hilversum, located in the beautiful building that used to be the townhall of the city. A large exhibition of photos by Belgian artist Lieve Blancquaert titled ‘Circle of Life’ makes use of the circular space on three stories to walk us around the circle of life, from birth to death and again. Date of birth, date of marriage, date of death summarise in few dry numbers our lives. Lives of hope, of suffering, of love, of pain, of tears and laughters. Lives of fun and sorrow, births of children and deaths of loved ones. Lieve went throughout the world, from her native Belgium to China, the USA, Ghana, Mexico, India and other places to show us that despite our differences, we all are human and we all go through the same phases of life, living them differently but none the less experiencing life in a universal way across borders, religions, social status. We are welcomed by a beautiful Japanese lady who invites us with a wink in her eye to enter the circle of life…

Nepal, District Rautahat – 2015, Chandar ©Lieve Blancquaert
Top: USA, Las Vegas – 2015 Terri & Larry, The Gun Store – Bottom: Nederland, Urk – 2014 Nelleke ©Lieve Blancquaert
USA, Las Vegas – 2015 ©Lieve Blancquaert
Indonesia, Sulawesi, Toraja – 2017 Ma’nene ©Lieve Blancquaert
Mexico, Oaxaca – 2016 (fragment) ©Lieve Blancquaert

25 October 2020 – I like to be in America…

In a large exhibit, the museum of Amersfoort shows us what America is today. “This is America Art USA today” gives us a wide vision of the America of immigrants from the South, former slaves, far away from what’s shown everyday on Fox News. From the civil right movement champions now older, to the millennial wrapped in the American flag, from the reenactment of a slave rebellion to fresh immigrants hugging each other, the USA is showing its richness, its openness, its values. Let’s hope that THIS dream will become a reality again, very very soon.

#1960Who ©Sheila Pree Bright
#1960Now ©Sheila Pree Bright
Slave Rebellion Reenactment, performance still 6, 2019 ©Dread Scott
Queer Crisis Flash Collective, 2014 ©Avram Finkelstein
Hugs not walls, 2018, Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, TX ©Monica Lozano
The camps 2019-2020, Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, TX ©Monica Lozano
The war 2008 -2016 ©Alejandro Aragón
The war 2008 -2016 ©Alejandro Aragón
Young Americans ©Sheila Pree Bright

27 October 2020 – 6 Mois… émoi…

It is never too late, one is never too old to discover a real jewel… 6 Mois “le XXI˚ siècle en images”, the 21st century in pictures. A beautiful format, a thick delivery literally full of pictures, a dream for those, like me, nostalgic of the photo reporters of the past, in these times of quickly browsing on the social networks and forgetting in the next second. This magazine is a real and rare pleasure. Browsing and dreaming through the pages in B&W and colours a moment to cherish. Thanks to Hugues for giving me this wonderful tip!

16 October 2020 – The Street Art named Desire

Visit to the newly created street art museum “straatmuseum” in Amsterdam-North in the impressive 7,000 m2 building of the former Nederlandsche Dok en Scheepsbouw Maatschappij (NDSM) shipbuilding company. A perfect location for such a collection of art. The high ceilings make the large paintings look small. with inspiration in comics and photography, but also in history, travels, personal experience, the various collection from all over the world is deployed in a street-like fashion. the visitor walks from street to street among the panels. I was particularly impressed by “Super Nurse” by Fake (Netherlands) and by “My death dream” by Cix (Mexico) inspired by the Mayan culture. ”La deriva” by Morcky (Italy) depicts the end of a love story that occurred in Amsterdam and Helen Proctor (USA) shows us a mountain landscape of Les Alpilles. A very nice experience in this new place, relatively remote and very quiet because of the current restrictions in place.

Yuansu (2017) ©Fin DAC
It is what it is (2018) ©Ben Slow
Cubana contemporánea (2020) ©Tymon de Laat
La contemplación (2018) ©Entes
La deriva (2017) ©Morcky
Les Alpilles – mountain landscape (2020) ©Helen Proctor
Super Nurse (2020) ©Fake
My death dream (2017) ©Cix

4 October 2020 – Rotterdam at work

A large exhibit about Rotterdam at work at the Nederlands Fotomuseum. Not that the topic is exciting, but some jewels can be found in the large body of pictures presented, covering the whole 20th century. It shows a world that does not exist anymore. The modern Rotterdam harbour is high tech, the containers are moved around with computers, a society of services, of “working from home”. Difficult to imagine that only 60 – 70 years ago, a large population of workers, like this man staring at us with a cigarette pinched between his lips, lived in this busy city.

Hendrikstraat and Frederikspad, 1946 ©Rotterdam Phototechnical Department
Hendrikstraat and Frederikspad, 1946 ©Rotterdam Phototechnical Department
Hendrikstraat and Frederikspad, 1946 ©Rotterdam Phototechnical Department
Positioning of the quay-walls IJsselhaven, 1913 ©Wouter Cool jr
Preparation for wooden pavement, between 1919-1920 ©unknown
Military Supply Service St. Job, 1914-1919 ©François H. van Dijk
Steamer Germaine in dock 6, 1929 ©François H. van Dijk
Waste Food Collector, Frederikstraat, Crooswijk, 1960 ©Henk Jonker
Wood Collector, Frederikstraat, Crooswijk, 1960 ©Henk Jonker
Port Worker ca. 1952 ©Ad Windig

4 October 2020 – Somfy, Somfy not

A disappointing series of photographs at the Somfy Photography award 2020 exhibit, with a theme of “Gimme Shelter”. More on this award here. Difficult to extract appealing pictures in this group of 9 nominations of young photographers from various places in Europe. More than the pictures themselves, it is the project that is judged. I was only sensitive to some of the shots by Jordi Ruiz Cirera (Spain) and Antoinette Nausikaä (NL). “La Espera”, Cirera’s project, explores the waiting, where as in “A river runs through me”, Nausikaä explores the confrontation of nature and civilisation along the river Seine.

La Espera ©Jordi Ruiz Cirera
A river runs through me ©Antoinette Nausikaä
A river runs through me ©Antoinette Nausikaä

26 September 2020 – 5 years in 100 photos

WWII ended 75 years ago. A commemoration of 5 years of occupation of The Netherlands in Europe and Asia led to the Dutch public selecting 100 photos to represent this painful part of history. The result is a stunning exhibit in black and white and colour at the small Amsterdam Verzetsmuseum (resistance museum). It tells about ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations, violence, destruction, misery, hunger, sorrows and, retrospectively, about the absurdity of it all when, 75 years on, we are all one and we don’t spend hours and days without crossing the path of peaceful German tourists enjoying the fresh air of the North Sea beaches.

Rotterdam bombed, South Holland, Rotterdam, 1940 ©W. van der Randen
Youth for National Socialism, Groningen, 26 July 1941 ©Noord-Nederlands Persfotobureau Folkers
Military character, Friesland near Wokum, May 1942 ©unknown Photographer
Walking, Utrecht, Nachtegaalstraat, 1942 ©Nico Jesse
Colourful liberation, North-Holland, Purmerend, 5 may 1945 ©Dirk Bakker

20 September 2020 – Karl Imperator

While visiting the ‘China imagined’ exhibit in Breda, I stumbled upon (and bought in a heartbeat) what looked like a great book by a photographer I didn’t know… Carl de Keyzer. Carl visited the USSR of Gorbachev in 1989 and brought back stunning black and white pictures. The cover of his book and the topic immediately resonated in me… and I drew the parallel with the amazing photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson assembled in his 1973 ‘A propos de l’URSS’ (About Russia) but HCB reported on the URSS of Brezhnev, at the peak of the soviet power. Looking a bit further, I realised that Carl, a Belgian, was a member of Magnum… this explains that… Great photographer. I am looking forward exploring his other projects in Cuba and North Korea.

Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg, Russia 1989 ©Carl de Keyzer
Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg, Russia 1989 ©Carl de Keyzer
Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg, Russia 1973 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson

19 September 2020 – the number is still in service at the old KPN building

The old KPN building in the centre of Breda is the perfect location for a broad exhibit of contemporary photography from around the world. Large empty rooms, high ceilings, wide windows letting a beautiful summer light bathe the ample displays. I decided to focus on two of the many photographers displayed at the occasion of this 2020 edition: “Three colours I know in this world” by the young Romanian photographer Kingsõ Bede. Kingsõ did not grow up in Ceausescu’s Romania but was marked by the traumas her parents lived through. Her pictures are haunting us long after we leave the building. Luis Cobelo comes from another part of the world, also marked by continuous traumas: Venezuela. His series Zurumbático shows bizarre situations depicted by the word itself, a mixture of dazed, bemused, stupid, melancholic, gloomy, dull, puzzling and drunk… the feeling we leave with.

Three colours I know in this world ©Kingsõ Bede
Three colours I know in this world ©Kingsõ Bede
Three colours I know in this world ©Kingsõ Bede
Zurumbático ©Luis Cobelo
Zurumbático ©Luis Cobelo

19 September 2020 – China imagined in the Church of Our Lady in Breda

An astonishing contrast at the Church of our Lady built from 1410 onwards. First and foremost the series “Watering my Horse by a Spring at the foot of the Long Wall” by Xu, Xiaoxiao who travelled 25,000 kilometers along the Long Wall to document the lives of the people she met. Xiaoxiao shows them in their daily lives and rites. Many more photos can be seen on her web site right here. In any case, she definitely is my Coup de ❤️ of this festival. Feng Li invites us to his weird White Night. After Nanjin in 2016 and Paris in 2017, he is now exhibiting in Breda. Guo Yingguang depicts the Bliss of Conformity in a poignant installation from the matchmaking corner in the People’s Park of Shanghai where desperate parents trying to find a spouse for their daughter. The church of Our Lady was caught in the statue storm (Beeldenstorm) of 1566 and became Protestant after that. Some damage is still visible today but the main statue of Virgin Mary is still intact, offering an amazing echo to the young Chinese gymnasts. We finally leave China to go back to the vibrant brabantian southern city of Breda after a farewell from two young Chinese ladies from Shanghai.

Watering my Horse by a Spring at the foot of the Long Wall ©Xu Xiaoxiao
Watering my Horse by a Spring at the foot of the Long Wall ©Xu Xiaoxiao
Watering my Horse by a Spring at the foot of the Long Wall ©Xu Xiaoxiao
Watering my Horse by a Spring at the foot of the Long Wall ©Xu Xiaoxiao
White Night ©Feng Li
White Night ©Feng Li
White Night ©Feng Li
The Bliss of Conformity ©Guo Yingguang

19 September 2020 – Weird Breda

At the occasion of Breda Photo 2020, a trip through a weird gallery of portraits by young photographers from various horizons, genders and breed. Baqteria, also known as “the Ghost rider” is from Kibera, the largest slum of Nairobi. Hatti Rees is British. Not sure if Britain is still on Earth at this point in time, after its divorce with the EU. She/he is showing disruptive auto-portraits from another galaxy. Finally Bruin Parry, a Dutch artist with Down syndrome, puts on a performance as a free-styling dancer on the Johnny Jordaanplein in Amsterdam.

The Ghost rider series ©Baqteria
The Ghost rider series ©Baqteria
The Ghost rider series ©Baqteria
©Hatti Rees
©Hatti Rees
©Hatti Rees
©Bruin Parry

21 June 2020 – Coup de coeur for…

Coup de ❤️ for the photos of Romain Laurendeau and his series on “Kho, the genesis of a revolt” depicting the demonstrations against the sclerotic military-backed regime of Algeria: a country where the “80 plus” generation leads the “30 minus” population – How can that work? Romain Laurendeau is among the people when he takes his pictures. One of his shots stuck in my memory: the portrait of this woman in the crowd looking at the young boy on the shoulders of a demonstrator. Photojournalism at its best, chapeau!

April 2019 ©Romain Laurendeau
April 2019 ©Romain Laurendeau
April 2019 ©Romain Laurendeau
April 2019 ©Romain Laurendeau
April 2019 ©Romain Laurendeau
April 2019 ©Romain Laurendeau

20 June 2020 – WorldPress Photo in Amsterdam

The world press photo edition 2020 is again in the beautiful Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam in Amsterdam. A regular rendez-vous with photography. Many subjects cover the world events, my favourite. This year, an excellent series by Romain Laurendeau on the Kho movement in Algeria. More to come on that.

Kho, the genesis of a revolt ©Romain Laurendeau
©Nicolas Asfouri
©Farouk Batiche
©Alessio Mamo
©Dai Kurokawa
©Lorenzo Tugnoli
©Mark Peterson

13 June 2020 – Colourful Vivian Maier

After several months of coronhibernation, it seems that the world has decided to continue turning. FOAM in Amsterdam has reopened its doors and offers a small travel through the 1970’s of Vivian Maier in full colours. Vivian Maier was well known post mortem (she died poor and anonymous in 2009) for her discrete black and white street photography but we can see here a series of color photographies showing an America yet familiar (clothes, attitudes, expressions, black children with fear in their eyes, black men selling cheap items on the street, huge cars passing by) but at the same time an America that is no longer: Those white women with excentric wild glasses, curlers and fancy dresses, tailleurs and white gloves are no longer strolling the streets of Chicago, New York or elsewhere. At that time, Nixon was president and America was undisputed. Its people were living their American dream, mostly unconscious, if not ignorant, of the surroundings. As the newspaper reports: “Bombs saved lives” said Nixon… and they believed it. 50 years later, the black children still have fear in their eyes, black men are still having lesser jobs but those white ignorant people that believe that America is still the way it was are no longer nonchalant and insouciant – and that’s the way it should be.

Untitled, 1956 ©Vivian Maier
Chicago, 1973 ©Vivian Maier
Chicago, 1972 ©Vivian Maier
Untitled, 1973 ©Vivian Maier
Chicago, July 1977 ©Vivian Maier
Chicago, April 1977 ©Vivian Maier
Untitled, 1972 ©Vivian Maier
Untitled, 1973 ©Vivian Maier
Milwaukee, 1967 ©Vivian Maier
Chicago, 1962 ©Vivian Maier

27 March 2020 – Coup de coeur for…

Coup de ❤️ for the photos of Jule Forth. Jule is a talented young lady with a mission: as a cultural anthropologist, she wants to “visually document the (extra) ordinariness of everyday life”. She’s done that in Leiden, her hometown, India and Iran. In these troubled times of staying at home, a refreshing view on mankind and stunning pictures of far away. I highly recommend a visit to her website here.

Serie “Dear India”, Holy river scenes ©Jule Forth
Serie “Dear India”, Gendered space(s) ©Jule Forth
Serie “Dear India”, Hay Labour ©Jule Forth

12 March 2020: Homage to Humanity in Maastricht

While passing by in Maastricht, a nice step out to a humanity on its way to extinction. Jimmy Nelson is exhibiting his Homage to Humanity at the Museum aan het Vrijthof: beautiful people magnificently shot by Nelson with respect and care. And Stephanie van der Wiel is not far…

Kazakh © Jimmy Nelson
Longhorn Miao in China © Jimmy Nelson

1 March 2020 – a “grand monsieur” of Dutch photography Eddy Posthuma de Boer

A new discovery today: the massive oeuvre of Eddy Posthuma de Boer. A giant in the footsteps of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ed van der Elsken and Robert Doisneau. At 88, Eddy can look back at more than 60 years of pictures taken all over the world. Nostalgia for a world that was and is no more, for an Amsterdam that one can only dream about today. His colour portraits of the 70’s in the Netherlands are particularly touching – one can clearly see the evolution of the population of then and now. Eddy Posthuma de Boer was a photojournalist. He preferred greatly having one of his photographs on the front page of a newspaper and thereby reaching 275,000 readers at once, rather than a few hundreds at an exhibit. The photomuseum in The Hague is however paying a well-deserved homage to this great and modest giant.

Rustenburgerstraat 393, Amsterdam 1957 ©Eddy Posthuma de Boer
Bookshop on the Clerqstraat, Amsterdam 1958 ©Eddy Posthuma de Boer
Miss Holland Peagant, Amsterdam 1959 ©Eddy Posthuma de Boer
Northern Ireland, 1969 ©Eddy Posthuma de Boer
Northern Ireland, 1969 ©Eddy Posthuma de Boer

11 January 2020 – A tribute to flowers

Exceptional series of breath-taking portraits of flowers – a “tribute to flowers”, by photographer Richard Fischer at the flowerart museum of Aalsmeer.

©Richard Fischer
©Richard Fischer
©Richard Fischer
©Richard Fischer

24 November 2019 – 3 exhibits at Fotomuseum Den Haag

Three very different exhibits at Fotomuseum Den Haag: Richard Learoyd, known for his portraits of sad looking skinny ladies but much preferred for his black and white landscapes, “La Soupe de Daguerre” displaying some of the photographs owned by the museum and finally a small exhibit of early photographs, when “Photography becomes Art” exploring the history of this art with spectacular views taken in the XIXth century.

#3 July 2015 ©Richard Learoyd
Lanzarote ©Richard Learoyd
La soupe de Daguerre, 1975 ©Marcel Broodthaers
Red, yellow and blue candles, 1980 ©Iain Baxter
Anton, with text about his father, 1978 ©Anton Heyboer
Paleisstraat, Amsterdam, ca. 1935 ©Johan Huijsen

16 November 2019 – On/Off Document Nederland

Documenting The Netherlands today. This is the task Martijn van de Griendt was given by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, with emphasis on the new codes of behaving around modern technologies and in groups. Bright colours, young and old, an in-depth dive into the Dutch society and the psyche of the country.

Lowland Festival ©Martijn van de Griendt
Toilets at the Hema ©Martijn van de Griendt
Carnaval in Breda ©Martijn van de Griendt

8 November 2019 – Henri Cartier Bresson in China

A marvellous exhibition of the fascinating Henri Cartier-Bresson’s trips to China in the periods 1948-1949 and again 1958. This very broad display shows a wide range of well-known photographs and also gems never seen before. It also provides an in-depth view on how HCB worked. Definitely worth an extended visit.

An oil workers union walks to administration headquarters to announce their production quotas. Yumen, Gobi desert, August 1958 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson
A simple soul near the forbidden city, Beijing, Décember 1948 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson
Gold rush, the last day of Kuomintang, Shanghai, December 1948 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson
Men exercising in the Tai Miao gardens, Beijing, December 1948 ©Henri Cartier-Bresson

7 November 2019 – Yann Arthus-Bertrand up in the air

An exhibit high in the air, on top of La Grande Arche in La Défense, for a photographer taking things from the heights… Yann Arthus-Bertrand and his beautiful shots from the skies: a marvel for the eyes.

Carpets in Marrakech ©Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Red ibis near Pedernales, Venezuela ©Yann Arthus-Bertrand
©Yann Arthus-Bertrand
©Yann Arthus-Bertrand

7 November 2019 – Paris Photo

Large Paris Photo fair in a wonderful place: le Grand Palais in Paris. A huge amount of artists, old and new, presented by a good hundred of international galleries. Difficult to make a representative selection of the art seen, so I will just give some of the pictures that I particularly enjoyed, with a coup de ♥️ for the crazy and wild images of Hassan Hajjaj.

Cardi B Unity, 20171438 © Hassan Hajjaj, Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
© Hassan Hajjaj, Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
© Hassan Hajjaj, Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
Still lives 3, 2005 ©Maria Friberg
Hanna Hall © Sumiko Iwamuro
Man with bandage, 1968 © Fred Herzog (already seen in Ottawa)
Mari Hirao and Yui Yamamoto operating Gen H-4 flying machines, Nagano, Japan, 2016
© Tim Walker
© Pieter Hugo

28 September 2019 – A new generation

The association Stadsfotograaf Leiden gives a yearly opportunity to a photographer to portray the city and its inhabitants. In 2018-2019, this chance was given to a group of seven young women anthropologists. The result of their work was displayed in the local newspaper and also in an exhibition.

©Lina de Los Rios Torres
©Jule Forth

28 September 2019 – Endangered species

Jimmy Nelson relentlessly travels to the most remote places on Earth to document the vast diversity of the human species. He brings back stunning pictures of our humanity. He calls it its “Homage to Humanity”, a magnificent collection of individual histories and a warning signal for a future without them? A small scale exhibition of some of his photographs is presented for a month at Kunsthuis Leiden.

Miguel Martinez Lopez, Chichimeca Jonaz
Misión de Chichimecas, Guanajuato, Mexico 2017 ©Jimmy Nelson
Marilena and Marisol, Q’ero
Qochamoqo, Hatun Q’eros, Andes, Peru 2018 ©Jimmy Nelson
Yangshuo Cormorants China, 2005 ©Jimmy Nelson

21 September 2019 – Visit at Unseen Amsterdam

Now a classic, the Unseen festival took place over the weekend at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam for its 8th edition. An occasion to see multiple facets of the photographic art, from classic black and white to the wildest uses of the medium. Young and old artists are confronting or complementing each other. Connoisseurs, collectors and ordinary people are strolling through the large exhibition area in the iconic gas tank. A surprise this year: the presence of Deck Gallery of Singapore exhibiting several pieces representing Singapore, among which an amazing “Hanging heavy on my eyes” by Ang Song Nian denouncing the haze issue in Singapore.

©Daido Moriyama
©Tokyo Rumando
Cypress Days 1, 2019 ©Yuval Yairi
TARACO, 2018 ©Izumi Miyazaki
Sans Titre (Vietnam), nº6 ©Adrien Boyer
The Knight (I), 2018 ©Jean-François Lepage
False Idol series, 2016-present ©Leonard Suryajaya
Hanging heavy on my eyes, 2019 ©Ang Song Nian

14 September 2019 – Eugène Atget in passing…

Berenice Abbott acquired a substantial fraction of Atget’s negatives in June, 1928, and quickly started work on its promotion. Abbott’s work on Atget’s behalf continued until her sale of the archive to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968. She published several books of Atget’s oeuvre like The World of Atget (1964), A Vision of Paris (1963), published a portfolio, Twenty Photographs, and wrote essays. Her efforts helped Atget gain international recognition. At the occasion of the retrospective of Abbott’s work at Huis Marseille, several Atget’s photographs printed by Abbott in 1956 are shown.

Eclips, April 1912 ©Eugène Atget
Street pavers, 1899-1900 ©Eugène Atget
Rue Saint-Rustique, March 1922 ©Eugène Atget

14 September 2019 – Berenice Abbott – Paris – New York

Berenice Abbott’s large retrospective at Huis Marseille covers her work from Paris to New York. She spent two years studying sculpture in Paris and Berlin and started her involvement with photography in 1923, when Man ray hired her as a darkroom assistant at his portrait studio in Montparnasse. Later on, she met and worked with Eugène Atget until his death. She then visited New York City where she realised most of her most famous work.

Construction, old and new from Washington Street, New York 1936 ©Berenice Abbott
Manhattan Skyline: South Street and Jones Street, 1936 ©Berenice Abbott
72nd street and 1st avenue, Manhattan, 1936 ©Berenice Abbott
Charles Lane, between West and Washington Street, 20 September 1938 ©Berenice Abbott
Bread Store 259 Bleecker Street, 1937 ©Berenice Abbott
Penn Station, Manhattan, 1935 ©Berenice Abbott

14 September 2019 – An encounter with Brassaï

Brassaï views of Paris and its people are all breath taking. A Paris that does not exist anymore. Phantoms and shadows of things passed. A nostalgic trip back to the Paris of the 30s to the 50s.

Couple in a Café, near the place d’Italie, c. 1932 © Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris
Seller of brushes, Paris, 50s © Estate Brassaï Succession
Morris column, Avenue de l’Observatoire, Paris 1934 © Estate Brassaï Succession
The stairs of Montmartre, paris 30s © Estate Brassaï Succession

14 September 2019 – Two giants in Amsterdam

Two photography giants are currently exhibited in Amsterdam. Brassaï at FOAM and Berenice Abbott at Huis Marseille with an extra thought to Eugène Atget, also shown in his relationship to Abbott. More impressions of these two exhibits in my news. Just follow the links. A ne manquer sous aucun prétexte!

9 September 2019 – a velvet revolution in Prague

The exhibition continues inside Queen Anne’s Summer Palace with photos dedicated to the velvet revolution of 1989. Seeing Havel and Dubček in the arms of each other is touching and allows strong souvenirs to resurface.

Prague, Národni třída, November 17th 1989 ©Jan Šilpoch
Prague, Wenceslas Square ©Miroslav Hucek
Prague, Wenceslas Square, November 24th 1989 ©Jan Šilpoch
Bratislava, SNP Square, November 22nd, 1989 ©Ján Lörincz
Prague, Wenceslas Square, November 22nd, 1989 ©Dana Kyndrová
Prague, Wenceslas Square, November 22nd, 1989 ©Jaroslav Kučera
Prague, Melantrich publishing house, November 1989 ©Miloň Novotný
Prague, Wenceslas Square, November 21st, 1989 ©Dana Kyndrová

9 September 2019 – Pád železné opony

1945: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent”. Winston Churchill

1989: the curtain rises in Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and other countries, to never descend again.

2019: 30 years have passed – Fantastic and touching open-air exhibition around the Queen Anne’s Summer Palace in the royal gardens of the Prague Castle to commemorate the events of 1989 throughout the once called “east block”.

Border crossing Kapitan Andrejevo, August 1989 ©Georgi Georgiev-Johny
Sofia, November 17th 1989 ©Ivan Grigorov
August 1989 ©Ferenc Rédei
Hegyeshalom, May 2nd 1989 ©Ferenc Rédei
Berlin, November 10th 1989 ©András Bankuti
Berlin, November 10th 1989 ©András Bankuti
Prague, Žitná Street, January 1989 ©Lubomír Kotek
Prague, August 21st 1989 ©András Bankuti
Warsaw, July 1989 ©Andrzej Iwanczuk

7 September 2019 – Helmut Newton in Dialogue…

… with other photographers around fashion and the female body. Large exhibition of his works from the years 1950-2000 but also several works of his contemporaries and influences from previous historical periods. Helmut Newton in Prague: sophistication and beauty at Museum Kampa, the former Sova’s mills on the eastern bank of the Kampa island on the river Vltava.

Portrait of Marlene Dietrich, 1940s ©Martin Munkacsi
Lisa Fonssagrives for Vogue, New York, 1940 ©Horst P. Horst
Jodie Foster, Hollywood, 1987 ©Helmut Newton
Père Lachaise, Paris, Tomb of Talma 1977 ©Helmut Newton
Annette and Angela, Lustgarten, Berlin, 1982 ©Sybille Bergemann
Untitled, 1980 ©Ute Mahler

1 September 2019 – Coal miners year Zero

Werner Mahler followed the miners of the Steinkohlenwerk Martin Hoop in 1975. An incredible testimony of the working conditions in the paradise of socialism. The coals miners are naked, with limited equipment and precarious working environment, extracting coal for the benefit of the homeland.

Steinkohlenwerk Martin Hoop Series 1975 ©Werner Mahler
Steinkohlenwerk Martin Hoop Series 1975 ©Werner Mahler
Steinkohlenwerk Martin Hoop Series 1975 ©Werner Mahler

1 September 2019 – Meet Bomber

Germany 1993 – 60 years after the rise of the nazi Germany, 48 years after its fall, in a suburb of Berlin… meet, thanks to Ute Mahler, the friendly and sympathetic “Bomber”, a young East-German, living his passion in full daylight…

Untitled (at home) Berlin-Lichtenberg 1993 ©Ute Mahler
Untitled (with a friend in the pub) Berlin-Lichtenberg 1993 ©Ute Mahler
Untitled (Bomber, his friend and son Robert) Berlin-Lichtenberg 1993 ©Ute Mahler

1 September 2019 – Zirkus Hein by Ute Mahler

Ute Mahler followed Zirkus Hein between 1973 and 1974 within the borders of the GDR. Beyond the specifics of being a circus in a communist country in the 70’s, it is the human beings that Ute met that make these pictures remarkable.

Zirkus Hein 1973-1974 ©Ute Mahler
Zirkus Hein 1973-1974 ©Ute Mahler
Zirkus Hein 1973-1974 ©Ute Mahler
Zirkus Hein 1973-1974 ©Ute Mahler

1 September 2019 – Ute & Werner Mahler beyond the borders of the GDR.

A large retrospective of the work of photographers and partners Ute (born 1949) and Werner (born 1950) Mahler, both from the German Democratic Republic. A series of portraits of a small town today, of a circus in the 1970s, of a neo-nazi in the 90s, or of coal miners in the 70s show a not-unexpected facet of human beings confronted to adversity, boredom or simply poor living conditions. Stunning photographs showing some poetry were no one expects to find any.

Kleinstadt Series 2015-2018 ©Ute&Werner Mahler
Kleinstadt Series 2015-2018 ©Ute&Werner Mahler
Kleinstadt Series 2015-2018 ©Ute&Werner Mahler
Kleinstadt Series 2015-2018 ©Ute&Werner Mahler
Kleinstadt Series 2015-2018 ©Ute&Werner Mahler
Kleinstadt Series 2015-2018 ©Ute&Werner Mahler

1 September 2019 – Krijn Giezen at GEM The Hague

Krijn Giezen (Noordwijk aan Zee 1939 – Caen 2011) was not really a photographer but used photography to document his discoveries and to develop, together with collages and installations mixing media, his conceptual art. He was fascinated by the smoking of fish on the coast line of The Netherlands and used this theme several times through the years.

Gutting and filleting smoked sprat, 1976 ©Krijn Giezen
Untitled installation, 1965 – 1989 © Krijn Giezen

18 July 2019 – Women to women

Objectifs, the Centre for Photography and film is boldly “examining Singapore women’s private lives, and queer female relationships” in two exhibits “The hour before she sleeps” by Mindy Tan and “How she loves” by Charmaine Poh. Nothing offensive (to me) despite the big warning at the door “Please note this exhibition is rated Restricted 18 (Homosexual content). Age-checks may be required prior to entering the gallery”. Showing artists whatever their sexual orientation is a big progress for Singapore as homosexuality is not officially recognised.

Her hair ©Mindy Tan
Golden girl, golden mane ©Mindy Tan
Prayers ©Mindy Tan
Swiping eyebrows ©Mindy Tan
©Charmaine Poh
©Charmaine Poh

18 July 2019 – Portrait of Home

Objectifs, the centre for photography and film in Singapore continues its discovery journey of the great photography artists of Singapore. After Mr Lui, it currently gives a large exposure to 87-year-old Lim Kwong Ling with his “Portrait of Home” exhibition. Breathtaking views of daily life in the Singapore of yesterday.

Children playing among oil barrels, Alexandra Rd, c. 1960s ©Lim Kwong Ling
Cat lover, Geylang Lor 3, c .1960’s ©Lim Kwong Ling
Collecting seaweed, making a living 1960 ©Lim Kwong Ling
Fisherman 1960 ©Lim Kwong Ling
Chapel Gallery

18 July 2019 – Meeting Mr Lui

I took the opportunity of a short trip to Singapore to meet my old friend and fellow photographer Mr. Lui. We spent an hour evoking souvenirs and browsing through an amazing collection of colour photos spanning the 60’s and 70’s and all the cultural communities of Singapore: another treasure worth discovering.

17 June 2019 – Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol was a son of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A visit to the Steel City was an occasion to also pay a visit to the museum dedicated to the artist, as Warhol took his inspiration from existing photographs.

White Burning Car III, 1963 ©Andy Warhol
Little Electric Chair, 1964-1965 ©Andy Warhol
Marlon, 1966 ©Andy Warhol
Jackie, 1964 ©Andy Warhol

9 June 2019 – FFN – Monk’s life by Armando Jongejan

Armando Jongejan (1960) spent several years of his life taking photographs of the monks’ life inside the St.Adelbert abbey of Egmond-Binnen. The result was exhibited during the Foto Festival Naarden, along with his book “Monnikenleven”. Although the topic can be perceived as very dry and confidential, Jongejan was able to depict the simplicity and humility of a monk’s life within the walls of an abbey.

©Armando Jongejan
©Armando Jongejan
©Armando Jongejan

9 June 2019 – FFN – Delta F collective

Photos hanging in the open air on the gates surrounding the church of Naarden. An interesting way of exhibiting photographs.

Tuk Tuk Chauffeur, Udaipur, India ©John Seegers
Ghent, Belgium ©Willem Wernsen
Three generations, Bikaner, India ©John Seegers
Salesman, New York ©Frank Detrixhe

9 June 2019 – FFN – Helena van der Kraan

Helena van der Kraan is a Dutch photographer born in 1940. She was featured in an exhibit of her most stunning portraits, in the attic of Naarden’s beautiful city hall.

Iris, 1998 ©Helena van der Kraan
Puck, 1998 ©Helena van der Kraan

9 June 2019 – FFN – Eddy van Wessel

At the Foto Festival Naarden, a beautiful exhibit in an old church: Eddy van Wessel is a Dutch photojournalist of the old type: the kind of Don mcCullin and Gilles Caron… hardship, tough environment, boots on the ground, close to his subject, great black and white pictures. Eddy van Wessel just was back from a trip in Irak, tracking the last followers of ISIS in their forced exile from their heaven on Earth caliphate…

©Eddy van Wessel
©Eddy van Wessel
©Eddy van Wessel
A stunning contrast between the topic and the location

9 June 2019 – Fotofestival Naarden

Attended the Fotofestival Naarden 2019 held in multiple locations of the gorgeous Naarden vesting. An occasion to see the work of some refreshing photographers, like Thijs Wolzak who took pictures of people in their living environments. Weird, unusual, funny, astonishing, as the people in general can be.

©Thijs Wolzak
©Thijs Wolzak
©Thijs Wolzak
©Thijs Wolzak
©Thijs Wolzak

26 May 2019 – The Anarchist Citizenship

A very unusual exhibition at the Rotterdam Kunsthal: The Anarchist Citizenship: Ode to Youthful Daredevils gives us an insight on on the young Somalilanders, inhabitants of Somaliland, dress and behave in their country. The installation consists of juxtapositions of photos printed on silk and plexiglass. They move with the air being displaced as we walk through it. The project is a collaboration between Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns.

©Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns
©Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns
©Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns
©Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns
©Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns
©Amal Alhaag and Nadine Stijns

26 May 2019 – Lust for Life Ed van der Elsken

Well known for his black and white photographs taken in Amsterdam and Paris in the 50’s, Ed van der Elsken also took throughout his life a large amount of pictures in colour on slides predominantly in the 60’s and 70’s. The fotomuseum in Rotterdam restored these pictures to their original glory. The result is a magnificent ode to life and love and a touching homage to human diversity. From Amsterdam to Dhaka, from Cuba to Tokyo, Ed van der Elsken shows his profoundly humane eye and sincere love for people. The large collection of photographs is presented in a buoyant way, as a celebration of humanity.

Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan, 1986 ©Ed van der Elsken
Nepal, 1966 ©Ed van der Elsken
Old Dehli, India, 1976 ©Ed van der Elsken
Santiago, Chili, 1971 ©Ed van der Elsken
Havana, Cuba, 1967 ©Ed van der Elsken
Diderik Vijghstraat, Tiel, The Netherlands, ca. 1970 ©Ed van der Elsken
Bourgogne, France, 1980 ©Ed van der Elsken
Greenland, 1969 ©Ed van der Elsken
Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1974-1975 ©Ed van der Elsken
India, 1966 ©Ed van der Elsken
Amsterdam, ca. 1966 ©Ed van der Elsken
Dam, Amsterdam, 1978 ©Ed van der Elsken
South Africa, 1968 ©Ed van der Elsken

19 May 2019 – Coup de coeur for…

Coup de ❤️ for the photos of Alejandro Cegarra, an extraordinary young (29) photojournalist from Venezuela, featured at the 2019 World Press Photo exhibition. His series “State of Decay” got him am award for Long-term projects. The Venezuelan society has been in a long state of decay, degrading day after day under Chávez and now Maduro with no sense of an outcome, happy or else. We see it every day on TV and then zap to some other news. The people of Venezuela suffer it day after day, with violence, deprivation, tears, political chaos, No way for them to zap from this daily nightmare and move on to something better. Cegarra has documented over the years this violence from within and brought back powerful pictures of an unimaginable turmoil with a divided society of ordinary people rising up to the occasion or not.

More on his website

© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra
© Alejandro Cegarra

18 May 2019 – WorldPress Photo in Amsterdam

The world press photo edition 2019 is upon us. The exhibition is presented in the beautiful Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam in Amsterdam. As usual, our eyes are confronted with a sum of misery, tears, blood, human suffering, absurdity, mal treatment of women and children. But yet, these are the best photographs of events and people around the world. My good friend Thierry calls it “the horror of the world that feeds the photojournalists“. This horror is relentless but, once in a while, there is some hope, like this picture by Iranian photographer Enayat Asadi of illegal refugees waiting to take a ride on a wagon at the eastern border of Iran and where one of the immigrants is comforting his companion. A simple image showing two human beings helping each other.

© Enayat Asada, July 2018
A supporter of Martin Fayulu, leader of an opposition party, runs from police tear gas in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 2018 © John Wessels

President Kabila sits in the garden of his ranch in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 2018 © John Wessels
The BFF, April 2018, © Brendan Smialowski
Figures representing Ireland’s dark treatment of women line up for social media cameras, May 2018 © Olivia Harris
An orphaned boy walks past a wall with drawings depicting rocket-propelled grenade launchers in Bol, Chad. © Marco Gualazzini
Mennonite farmers in Campeche, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico © Nadia Shira Cohen
A Caribbean flamingo, like a ballerina… Curaçao ©Jasper Doest

4 May 2019 – Deutsche Börse at FOAM

The Deutsche Börse art collection comprises approximately 1800 works from over 120 international photographers, including famous names like Diane Arbus or Walker Evans. FOAM in Amsterdam proposes a large exhibition “Changing Views – 20 Years of Art Collection Deutsche Börse“. The first part of this exhibition in four parts is titled “Chapter 1: Germany” and shows the view of their own country by various German photographers.

Town Hall, Cologne, Germany, 1958 ©Karl Hugo Schmölz
Socioeducational scheme, Cologne, 1974 ©Timm Rautert
Homeless due to housing shortage, 1973 ©Timm Rautert
Untitled ©Helga Paris
Train station Berlin-Schöneweide, 1989 ©Gerd Danigel
Volksbühne, 1996 ©Gerd Danigel

30 April 2019 – Coup de Coeur for…

Everlasting coup de ❤️ for the photos of Ed van der Elsken, this time, spotted on the walls of the AMC hospital in Amsterdam. Ed van der Elsken was extremely active in the years 50 and 60 and at the top of his art, both in Amsterdam and Paris, but also later on in Japan. I associate his black and white photographs of Paris and Amsterdam with the nostalgia I have for a world that does not exist anymore, for a moment of my life and a period of time that will never be back. A world where life appeared simpler, where happiness was within reach, where artists were gathering to reinvent the world permanently, where a laughter, a glass of wine, an animated discussion with a good friend could make your whole day. Of course, the 50’s and 60’s were also full of pain and drama, wars and misery but what’s left behind now from that era, apart from the History with a big H, is the humanist approach to everyday life.

Tweelingmeisjes op de Nieuwmarkt, 1956 ©Ed van der Elsken
Amsterdam, Nieuwmarket, 1958 ©Ed van der Elsken
Amsterdam, Nieuwmarket, 1958 ©Ed van der Elsken
Herengracht, Amsterdam 1956 ©Ed van der Elsken

18 April 2019 – MBS

Itinerrands playing it iconic, in front of MBS, thanks to Susan.

15 April 2019 – Saatchi #1

A visit in London would not be complete without spending some time at the Saatchi gallery, looking at the bizarre pictures of Jessica Craig-Martin.

©Jessica Craig-Martin
©Jessica Craig-Martin
©Jessica Craig-Martin

15 April 2019 – At the V&A Museum

In a day rich of visual wonder, strolling through the photographic collection of the V&A Museum.

Beach Clean, 1999 ©Sian Bonnell
What she wanted and who she got, 1982 ©Graham Smith
Hong Kong (Facade of a unité d’habitation), 1963 ©Frank Horvat
The Volga, 1958 ©Howard Sochurek
Spain: El Rocio Pilgrimage, 1959 ©Ramon Masats
29 pictures within 5 minutes London, 1970 ©Dieter Meier
Hardware store, 1938 ©Berenice Abbott

15 April 2019 – Markéta Luskacova

Taking the opportunity of being in Tate Britain, discovering a Czech-born photographer and her portraits of people in their everyday lives.

Laughing Pilgrims Levoca, Slovakia, 1964 ©Marketa Luskacova
Funeral of Starka Gordanova, 1971 ©Marketa Luskacova
Woman passing the procession near Kosice, Slovakia 1968 ©Marketa Luskacova
©Marketa Luskacova

15 April 2019 – Don McCullin

A fantastic comprehensive exhibition of Don McCullin at Tate Britain in London. An oeuvre spanning over several decades and all the continents. Don McCullin has been everywhere with his profoundly human eye. No one can put it better than himself “Photography for me is not looking. it is feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures”. I am glad I was able to be there.

©Don McCullin
Berlin, 1961 ©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin
©Don McCullin

31 March 2019 – Sally Mann – A thousand crossings at the MFAH

Lost paradise, haunted places, souvenirs of past battles, a reflection of age and death, Sally Mann explores in this exhibit the Deep South of the USA.

Easter dress, 1986 © Sally Mann
Picnic, 1992 © Sally Mann
Deep South, Untitled (Fontainebleau), 1998 © Sally Mann
Deep South, Untitled (Valentine Windsor), 1998 © Sally Mann
Battlefields, Wilderness (Solarized Trees), 2002 © Sally Mann
The two Virginias #2, 1989 © Sally Mann

30 March 2019 – Photography at its Limits, Houston, Tx

Visited a small scale exhibition of young Latino talents at the Houston Center for Photography. “Photography at its limits” explores “the regimes of power that have naturalised and popularised the use of the photograph as a means of tracking and controlling the world at large”…

#dominicanwomangooglesearch, 2016 © Joiri Minaya
#Container#2 fragment © Joiri Minaya
Libro abierto (con manos), 2011 © Oscar Munos
Criollitas, Santa Fe, Argentina, 1996 © Marcos Lopez
Asado en Mendiolanza – Fragment © Marcos Lopez
Inca Kola, 1997 © Marcos Lopez
Il piccolo Vapore, Buenos Aires, Argentina © Marcos Lopez

30 March 2019 – Chaville

Itinerrands on a nostalgic trip to Chaville, France, the town where I grew up. Merci beaucoup Evelyne pour ta contribution discrète à cette période.

23 March 2019 – Japanese Nudes at Sieboldhuis

The Sieboldhuis in Leiden was purchased by Ph.F.B. Von Siebold (1796-1866) to exhibit his collection of Japanese objects. it is now a foundation established “to further express the long and special ties between the Netherlands and Japan”. There was a new occasion to visit this special place during the recently opened photo exhibition titles “Japaans naakt” or “Japanese Nudes”.

Embrace #60, 1970 © Hosoe Eikoh
Embrace #62, 1971 © Hosoe Eikoh
Untitled, c. 1955 © Iwase Yoshiyuki
Nu 06, 1985 © Tahara Keiichi
Untitled, from Family, 1970s © Fukase Masahisa
Untitled, from Family, 1970s © Fukase Masahisa
Untitled, from the serie Alluring Hell, 2008 © Araki Nobuyoshi
#7 Rem & Marina from Fleshlove, 2010 © Photographer Hal
#25 Taiki & Shino from Fleshlove Returns, 2016 © Photographer Hal
© Daido Moriyama

10 March 2019 – Coup de Coeur for…

Coup de ❤️ today for Pearl Gan, a Singapore photographer and dear friend who recently published her new website. Pearl describes herself as a storyteller who tells stories with her images. She was heavily involved in the Asia Malaria project with the University of Oxford, which described the damages of malaria in Asian populations. She loves to get close to the people she photographs, capture them in their day to day activities, get to know them and their stories. I particularly enjoy her black and white portraits, but not only…

Singapore © Pearl Gan
Chinatown 2014 © Pearl Gan
Bandung, Indonesia © Pearl Gan

9 March 2019 – Coup de coeur for…

Coup de ❤️ today for Anette Brolenius discovered at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art. Anette was born in Stockholm and now lives in The Hague. Her serie of portraits of women’s rights activists, male or female in the exhibition “Unsung” are just stunning. More on her photography can be discovered on her website.

Mustafa Dzhemilev, 2015 © Anette Brolenius
Amala Francis, 2015 © Anette Brolenius
Madi Jobareth, 2016 © Anette Brolenius

9 March 2018 – Ladies First

Kati Horna, Eva Besnyö and Ata Kandó are three photographers who studied under the then famous photographer József Pécsi in Hungary. They were not as widely known as their male contemporaries and compatriots Brassaï, Robert Capa and André Kertész. All three were forced to flee Hungary in the 1930s. They all settled in different places (Mexico for Horna, The Netherlands for Besnyö and Kandó) and continued to exercise their art in their new home. The beautiful Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amstelveen devotes a large space to all three in a huge exhibition around Kati Horna mainly “Kati Horna, Compassion and Engagement”.

Spanish Civil War, Spain 1937 © Kati Horna
Spanish Civil War, Spain 1937 © Kati Horna
Spanish Civil War, Spain 1937 © Kati Horna
Dolle Mona, 1970 © Eva Besnyö
Hungarian Refugees in the border area, Hungary 1956 © Ata Kandó
Hungarian Refugees in the border area, Hungary 1956 © Ata Kandó

23 February 2019 – Erwin Olaf in The Hague

A very bizarre, well-visited exhibit in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague: a large retrospective of Erwin Olaf’s work for his 60th birthday. Olaf is a famous Dutch photographer. Most pictures cannot be shown here. Not my cup of tea as we say in French, but still worth the visit for education purposes mainly.

Olger, 1986 © Erwin Olaf
Pearls, 1986 © Erwin Olaf

16 February 2019 – Nach Holland

An unusual photo exhibit at the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam: the German troops invading Holland on May 10th, 1940 took photographs as if they were mere tourists. This must have been a walk in the park for them…

German soldiers boarding a JU52 that is ready to fly to The Netherlands
A group of German officers at a railway line. The soldier on the left put a Dutch helmet on for the picture
The petrol station at the top if the Afsluitdijk

10 February 2019 – Shadows by Alfredo Jaar – Photos van Koen Wessing

A strange exhibition at the Nederlands Fotomuseum of Rotterdam. An installation by Alfredo Jaar based on a photo of Koen Wessing taken in Nicaragua during the last days of the Somoza regime. The exhibit continues with a series of chilling photos from The coup of September 11st, 1973 in Santiago. The famous photos of blind military repression haven’t aged at all and are still very vivid.

©Koen Wessing
©Koen Wessing
The cover of this book long out of print serves as the exhibition’s poster
©Koen Wessing
©Koen Wessing
©Koen Wessing
©Koen Wessing

10 February 2019 – Coup de Coeur for…

Coup de ❤️ today for Merel Schoneveld, a young street photographer from The Hague, discovered during the Haute Photographie Rotterdam 2019. Her black and white pictures, taken mainly in The Netherlands, show a very diverse population, living together in this old country, in their day-to-day interaction with each other. Merel is among them, discreet but yet very present and engaged in their lives. She discovered this passion for photography very late in her young life and has created a large body of work to this date, all visible on her web site and instagram accounts. Merel’s web site can be seen here and instagram feed there.

©Merel Schoneveld, 2018
©Merel Schoneveld, 2018
©Merel Schoneveld, 2018

9 February 2019 – Haute Photographie Rotterdam

Fourth edition of this salon/exhibition, during Art Rotterdam Week 2019. Younger and older talents are presented by International galleries. The prices are exorbitant but the photographs worth admiring. I have extracted some of the gems I particularly enjoyed.

©Thomas Hoepker – Ali left Fist, London, 1966
©Marvin Newman – Broadway Bookstore, 1954
©Christer Strömholm – Paris, Montparnasse, late 50’s
©Yoshinori Mizutani – Rain, 2015
©Merel Schoneveld – 2018
©Werner Bischof/Magnum – A priest rests in the temple of Ryōan-Ji, Kyoto, Japan, 1951
©Marvin Newman – Theater Marquees, Broadway, 1954

9 February 2019 – Crossings

Without knowing it, some places and attitudes shared with Martine Frank…

© Martine Frank – Peintres de l’Imaginaire Exhibition, Grand Palais, Paris April 1972
René Burri Exhibition, Rotterdam, April 2010
©Martine Frank – Garden of the MoMa, New York, 2000
Meet me at the MoMa, New York, May 2010

5 February 2019 – Robert Doisneau and Music

Robert Doisneau spent a lot of time photographing musicians and singers. Maurice Baquet and his cello of course, but also the famous singers from the 1950’s to today. A sweet and nostalgic trip down memory lane at Cité de la Musique in Paris.

Les Petits formats, May 1951
Barbara à l’écluse, Paris VIº, December 1957
Les Cadres, 1958
Violoncelliste nu, 1957
Jacques Higelin, 31 août 1991

2 February 2019 – Martine Frank in Paris

A wonderful Martine Frank exhibit at the newly moved Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in the heart of Paris.

Strike at the Renault factory, Boulogne-Billancourt, May 1968
Nursing Home, Ivry-sur-Seine, 1975
Ms J.Q., Meung-sur-Loire, 1980
Xi’an, China, 1980
Swimming pool, designed by Alain Capeillères, Le Brusc Summer 1976
HCB in front of Goya, Madrid, 1993

21 January 2019 – Famous Noordwijkers exhibited

Saskia van der Linden, a local photographer, took amusing pictures of famous Noordwijker in poses from famous paintings. Where different arts meet. A small scale exhibit is currently held in Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin.

©Saskia van der Linden
Louis van Gaal and his wife

20 January 2019 – Rijksmuseum, 3 photos from the collection

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has a rich collection of photographs but those are timidly presented in a remote corner of the vast museum.

Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam by Roger Parry
Les Halles de Paris tôt le Matin by André Kertész
Bateau de Pêcheurs à Marseille by László Moholy-Nagy

19 January 2019 – Het Café by Stacii Samidin

The Dutch Café by a young photographer Stacii Samidin at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A celebration of the Dutch diversity in a historical place.

The presentation
Stacii Samidin
Witte de Withstraat, Rotterdam
Café Moskes, Breda
Buiten Bij – Outside Café Okee, Rotterdam

15 January 2019 – Toa Payoh

Itinerrands taking a stroll in the heartland of Singapore in Toa Payoh. Thank you Chen Ee for your kind efforts!

30 December 2018 – Sentosa

Itinerrands on Sentosa Island in Singapore. Back to where it came from. Thank You Susan!

20 October 2018 – Visiting the Cas Oorthuys Exhibit

Dutch photographer Cas Oorthuys has left behind a huge amount of photographs taken around the world depicting the people and their environment. A humanist like Robert Doisneau, he deserves to be better recognised as such. The exhibit at the Nederland Fotomuseum in Rotterdam is worth a visit.

11 October 2018 – Toronto, Ontario Canada

“Itinerrands” like 50% of the inhabitants of Toronto was not born in Canada. A good reason to enjoy the Indian Summer there… Thank You Leona!

 

10 October 2018 – Namur, Belgium

“Itinerrands” marching under the fortress of Namur, Belgium, on the tune of “Sambre et Meuse”. Merci Nathalie & Clara!

9 October 2018 – London

“Itinerrands” taking the British sun on the banks of river Thames, just before Brexit. Merci Patrick.

29 September 2018 – NOLA

My book “Itinerrands” taking a walk near Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA. Thank You Ian.

22 September 2018 – Visit at Unseen Amsterdam

7th edition of Unseen Amsterdam this weekend in a magical place, the Westergasfabriek in the Westerpark. Plenty for the eyes, on the walls and around. This year, some remarkable Japanese young artists were featured in the Beyond 2020 exhibit.

Kenta Nakamura – Your Story

15 September 2018 – Beautiful portraits by Koos Breukel

While visiting the Frans Hals museum in Haarlem, stumbled upon some beautiful portraits of Dutch people by Koos Breukel, a photographer born in The Hague.

Pieter van den Blink and his father

Detail

More on http://koosbreukel.com

9 September 2018 – Alphons Hustinx Exhibit

A fantastic exhibit in The Hague: Alphons Hustinx – A Traveller’s Perspective. Photos taken in 1932 during a road trip with a friend from Maastricht to Kabul. Additional colour photos taken during the German occupation of The Netherlands

The two first photos are mine!

4 August 2018 – Worldpress Photo 2018 in Leiden

Richard Tsong-Taatarii

Daniel Beltrá

Li Huaifeng

Oliver Scarff

Erik Sampers

Always a great source of inspiration, the yearly WorldPress Photo exhibit, this time in Leiden

14 October 2017 – Peter Martens Exhibit in Rotterdam

A small scale exhibit of Dutch photographer Peter Martens in Crooswijk, Rotterdam. Beautiful pictures taken in the USA and The Netherlands. A nice walk to the place by a wonderful “Indian Summer” day.

12 October 2017 – Fotomuseum Den Haag

Visiting the Peter Hujar exhibit at Den Haag Foto Museum. Active in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s until his death in 1987, Peter Hujar took pictures of his contemporaries, like Susan Sontag and William Burroughs.

Another exhibit left a vivid memory in our minds: the repetitive pictures of Hans Eijkelboom. He took hundreds of pictures of people in the streets of European cities, matching them on clothes patterns or types. Here the green loden.

7 October 2017 – Genesis

Visiting again the Sebastião Salgado exhibit Genesis in Rotterdam is like visiting an old friend… no need to recap, no need to catch up, it is well known territory, immediate understanding and the same awe is there! We can continue where we left it, one year ago, in Singapore. Marvellous setup, breath-taking pictures, really worth the trip. From Africa to Antarctica, from North America to Asia, Salgado’s Genesis pictures have something biblical about them. Our Earth and their inhabitants are just amazing and we should be reminded of that constantly.

7 October 2017 – Bruce Davidson Exhibit

Very big Bruce Davidson exhibit at the Nederlands Fotomusuem in Rotterdam. Pictures from the 50’s to the recent years, from New York to Paris. The famous pictures from his most famous series, from East 100th Street, to Brooklyn Gang, to Paris, to Los Angeles. The social struggles in the USA in the last 50 years. Nothing much has changed today.