Tuesday, March 27, 2007

John Szarkowski (and George Tice)


Two nice little pieces in the latest Focus Mag (warning 26mb...) - one on John Szarkowski and one on George Tice. I think I'll probably be heading out to get a copy of this particular issue.

As always, John has some interesting things to say about photography (including a dig at the idea of "equivalents"..), as well as on big photographs (not necessarily bad):


Photography is the easiest thing in the world,if one is willing to accept pictures that are flaccid, limp, bland, banal, indiscriminately informative and pointless, but if one insists on a photograph that is both complex and vigorous, it is almost impossible. One can, like an unreformed gambler, keep going out, keep trying, hoping that one might one more time be visited by luck or grace and make one more photograph that is exactly right... and if one is to photograph seriously, that also takes one’s best, concentrated attention. It cannot be picked up on Friday night and put away on Sunday—except perhaps by the greatest geniuses or talented beginners...

Size is a very interesting problem and deserves a thick book. Big is not bad; consider the pyramids and the elephants.Furthermore, I will say without equivocation that the first pictures that Talbot made with cameras were too small. They were a little smaller than 35 mm contacts, and his wife called his cameras mousetraps. It is hard to do serious work while one’s wife is making jokes about how one goes about it.

On the other hand, I think it would not be unfair to ask the Germans exactly what they think they are achieving by making photographs that seem to compete—at least in size—with Raphael during his Roman years.To my mind something is lost in these gigantic prints...

and from the Tice article:


“One of the things Paterson is about is the story of Paterson,” says Tice.“Paterson II is part of the future of the first Paterson, 30 years later. Tice’s distinctive awareness of past time and future time in the present moments of his photographs separates them from the work of other photographers who have turned their lenses toward similar subject matter. A typical street scene by Lee Friedlander, for example, offers the energies of a frenetic puzzle of contemporary life, corralled and ordered for the viewer to release. The stillness in what Tice himself describes as the “sad beauty” of his urban scenes has a different weight, the weight of history, not moments, but stories evolving. As with putting down a good book to go and do something else for a bit, Tice says of his work, “Any of these projects that I’ve done, I feel I can go right back to them and pick up where I left off.”


(note: Fair Dealing review of Focus Magazine)

1 comment:

Guðmundur said...

Szarkowski has not heard yet, that Gursky compairs himself to Carvaggio (probably with the theoretical help of Galassi ) and the germans now nickname him "the eye of God". This is the power of fame and money.