PRATT INSTITUTE | HISTORY OF ART & DESIGN
HA337-02 | 6PM-7:50PM THURSDAYS

21 out of 25 review slides are now posted.
To attain maximum studying enjoyment, click here.

I’ll add the last 4 images following Thursday’s lecture, and I’ll review the exam format/details in class.



Weegee, Booked on Suspicion of Killing a Policeman, January 1941, Gelatin silver print
Anthony Esposito, Accused “Cop Killer” January 16, 1941
Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was a key figure in street photography. His work usually depicted shockingly realistic scenes such as poverty, crime, death, and violence. Known for his inexplicable ability to arrive on the scene just as a crime or tragedy had happened, he gained the nickname “Weegee” because of the popular fortune-telling board game Ouija. He worked as a press photographer in the 1930’s and 40’s, mostly hanging around police stations and night clubs listening for police broadcasts and any word of criminal activity.
This photograph is a prime example of what Weegee was capable of. He was able to travel to a police station and photograph the criminal as he was going to the line-up platform, as signified by the yardstick in the top right corner. This obviously was taken right after the arrest. Weegee is able to show us the behind the scenes of a New York police station. The accused man is Anthony Esposito, who was arrested on charges of murdering a policeman in the Battle of Fifth Ave.
Esposito attempts to shield himself from Weegee but is forced by one detective’s hand on his coat collar to face the camera. On the other hand, the two detectives choose to hide their identities by having their backs turned towards him. We can only get a feel for the criminal’s surly and possibly drunk expression. His hair is disheveled and his clothes are disarray. A bandage is taped beneath one eye. I truly get a feeling that I’m looking in on something very serious that I maybe shouldn’t have seen. Even without the background knowledge of what he’s being arrested for, I can see that this photo tells a dark and gritty story.
Technically speaking, this shot is very snap-shotish which is how Weegee liked to work. He was there in the moment and that’s how this photograph feels. Weegee’s flash illuminates the act of pulling Esposito towards the line-up in an otherwise dark room. The background is very bare which allows for the three figures to stand out more. Verticals are created by the three men, their long coats, and the line-up yardstick.
Weegee was a master at stark unflinching street photography and portraits. His work revealed to the public the eerie and darker side of New York city, many times making people feel uncomfortable or troubled, but also sending an important message.
high resolution →

Weegee, Booked on Suspicion of Killing a Policeman, January 1941, Gelatin silver print

Anthony Esposito, Accused “Cop Killer” January 16, 1941

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) was a key figure in street photography. His work usually depicted shockingly realistic scenes such as poverty, crime, death, and violence. Known for his inexplicable ability to arrive on the scene just as a crime or tragedy had happened, he gained the nickname “Weegee” because of the popular fortune-telling board game Ouija. He worked as a press photographer in the 1930’s and 40’s, mostly hanging around police stations and night clubs listening for police broadcasts and any word of criminal activity.

This photograph is a prime example of what Weegee was capable of. He was able to travel to a police station and photograph the criminal as he was going to the line-up platform, as signified by the yardstick in the top right corner. This obviously was taken right after the arrest. Weegee is able to show us the behind the scenes of a New York police station. The accused man is Anthony Esposito, who was arrested on charges of murdering a policeman in the Battle of Fifth Ave.

Esposito attempts to shield himself from Weegee but is forced by one detective’s hand on his coat collar to face the camera. On the other hand, the two detectives choose to hide their identities by having their backs turned towards him. We can only get a feel for the criminal’s surly and possibly drunk expression. His hair is disheveled and his clothes are disarray. A bandage is taped beneath one eye. I truly get a feeling that I’m looking in on something very serious that I maybe shouldn’t have seen. Even without the background knowledge of what he’s being arrested for, I can see that this photo tells a dark and gritty story.

Technically speaking, this shot is very snap-shotish which is how Weegee liked to work. He was there in the moment and that’s how this photograph feels. Weegee’s flash illuminates the act of pulling Esposito towards the line-up in an otherwise dark room. The background is very bare which allows for the three figures to stand out more. Verticals are created by the three men, their long coats, and the line-up yardstick.

Weegee was a master at stark unflinching street photography and portraits. His work revealed to the public the eerie and darker side of New York city, many times making people feel uncomfortable or troubled, but also sending an important message.


“Migrant Mother”Dorthea Lange, American, Nipomo, California, 1936Gelatin Silver Print from 4x5 negative13 7/16 x 10 9/16 in. J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angelos, CaliforniaGenre= environmental portraitureThis photograph is a depiction of Florence Owens Thompson, a migrant pea picker living in California during the time period of the Great Depression. It is an environmental portrait, as it depicts a woman with her two children outside of a controlled space by the photographer. Instead the photograph was taken in their place of residence which was under a small tent, as indicated by the canvas cloth that recedes into the background of the image and the large piece of wood at the bottom right of the image. Style= realisitcThe style for this photograph is a realistic one. This environmental portrait is a piece of photojournalism. It is intended to document the realities of the time and how they affected this mother and her children in particular. No changes have been made to distort the image from its original capture. This is what makes the photograph a piece of realism. it is a document of a moment in time. Composition= angle and perspective, depth of field. balance of forms. gaze. focal point . high contrast. The composition of this photograph is what brings the image itself and the content it is expressing together. The angle and perspective here is a very tight crop on the figure, particularly the face and arm of the mother. Lange also employs a very small depth of field, forcing the foreground to be in sharp focus and the background to fade back into a blur. These two visual elements force the viewer to really examine the figures, what they are wearing, and their expression. There is also a great balance of forms here as the mother is the central focal point of the photograph and her two children with similar hair have turned their faces away from the lens of the camera on either side of her. The high contrast in the image brings out the weariness in her face, exposing all wrinkles, winded hair, grime, dirt, and grease on the hands and hair. The power of the image lies in the gaze. As the arm brings the eye upward, the viewer examines the far away gaze of the mother out into the distance. Her long mouth, tight lips and furrowed brow all indicate the intensity of the moment.
“Migrant Mother”
Dorthea Lange, American, Nipomo, California, 1936
Gelatin Silver Print from 4x5 negative
13 7/16 x 10 9/16 in.
J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angelos, California

Genre= environmental portraiture

This photograph is a depiction of Florence Owens Thompson, a migrant pea picker living in California during the time period of the Great Depression. It is an environmental portrait, as it depicts a woman with her two children outside of a controlled space by the photographer. Instead the photograph was taken in their place of residence which was under a small tent, as indicated by the canvas cloth that recedes into the background of the image and the large piece of wood at the bottom right of the image.

Style= realisitc

The style for this photograph is a realistic one. This environmental portrait is a piece of photojournalism. It is intended to document the realities of the time and how they affected this mother and her children in particular. No changes have been made to distort the image from its original capture. This is what makes the photograph a piece of realism. it is a document of a moment in time.

Composition= angle and perspective, depth of field. balance of forms. gaze. focal point . high contrast.

The composition of this photograph is what brings the image itself and the content it is expressing together. The angle and perspective here is a very tight crop on the figure, particularly the face and arm of the mother. Lange also employs a very small depth of field, forcing the foreground to be in sharp focus and the background to fade back into a blur. These two visual elements force the viewer to really examine the figures, what they are wearing, and their expression. There is also a great balance of forms here as the mother is the central focal point of the photograph and her two children with similar hair have turned their faces away from the lens of the camera on either side of her. The high contrast in the image brings out the weariness in her face, exposing all wrinkles, winded hair, grime, dirt, and grease on the hands and hair. The power of the image lies in the gaze. As the arm brings the eye upward, the viewer examines the far away gaze of the mother out into the distance. Her long mouth, tight lips and furrowed brow all indicate the intensity of the moment.
Helen Levitt, New York, 1940, Gelatin Silver Print, Museum of Modern Art

Helen Levitt was really gifted at capturing every day life in New York City. Most of her photographs, like this one, capture the essence of what it was like to live in New York during that time period. This photograph follows her usual style. Many of her photos, like this one, are of children. Capturing the essence of what it was like to be a child growing up in New York seemed to be important to her. These children look like they are in a familiar and comfortable environment. They are completely apart of their environment and they are helping to shape it.
 
Overall this photograph feels very comfortable and relaxed, but there is also a sense of drama. The masks add a theatrical and dramatic effect. It makes a normal, every day scene appear a little odd. It raises the question as to why are they wearing them. It is possible that it is Halloween, or a parade, but we can’t be certain. It is also hard to tell if the children know they are being photographed. The girl in the middle appears to be aware and perhaps slightly performing for the camera. Levitt was also a master at capturing small details. The angles that the little boys’ knees create causing an interesting effect and it plays off of the angles of the railing. The children seem to be confined and framed within their stoop. The doorway frames the girl perfectly. The doorway also creates an interesting reflection within the door window, creating geometric shapes that play off of the angels of the stairway and building. The lighting within this photograph is very evenly dispersed; most likely it was shot during a sunny day. The good lighting helped create a wide range of tones within the photograph. Helen Levitt was a master at street photography and capturing the essence of life in the city during the 1940s. high resolution →

Helen Levitt, New York, 1940, Gelatin Silver Print, Museum of Modern Art


Helen Levitt was really gifted at capturing every day life in New York City. Most of her photographs, like this one, capture the essence of what it was like to live in New York during that time period. This photograph follows her usual style. Many of her photos, like this one, are of children. Capturing the essence of what it was like to be a child growing up in New York seemed to be important to her. These children look like they are in a familiar and comfortable environment. They are completely apart of their environment and they are helping to shape it.

 

Overall this photograph feels very comfortable and relaxed, but there is also a sense of drama. The masks add a theatrical and dramatic effect. It makes a normal, every day scene appear a little odd. It raises the question as to why are they wearing them. It is possible that it is Halloween, or a parade, but we can’t be certain. It is also hard to tell if the children know they are being photographed. The girl in the middle appears to be aware and perhaps slightly performing for the camera. Levitt was also a master at capturing small details. The angles that the little boys’ knees create causing an interesting effect and it plays off of the angles of the railing. The children seem to be confined and framed within their stoop. The doorway frames the girl perfectly. The doorway also creates an interesting reflection within the door window, creating geometric shapes that play off of the angels of the stairway and building. The lighting within this photograph is very evenly dispersed; most likely it was shot during a sunny day. The good lighting helped create a wide range of tones within the photograph. Helen Levitt was a master at street photography and capturing the essence of life in the city during the 1940s.

Robert Capa, Normandy, Omaha Beach, June 6th, 1944

Robert Capa was a very important figure in the history of war photography. This particular image, taken during the storming of Normandy during World War II, utilizes blur and intense grain as an effect to help convey the moment. The photograph is of a soldier swimming amongst debris and what appears to be wreckage in the background. Nothing in the photograph is perfectly in focus, but the soldier is clearer than his surroundings. It is hard to make out where the horizon line is, due to the extreme loss of detail because of the graininess of the film. He is the only human that can be seen in the photograph, although one cannot be sure if the ambiguous floating objects behind him are bodies.
    The photograph does not depict the soldier in a humanizing way. It is difficult to make out the expression on his face. It seems to be blank and without emotion. The photograph is not really about this individual’s personal struggle, but the chaos that is war. It is an interesting portrayal of war, in that it is abstracted to help the viewer understand the violence that occurred. The photograph has a gritty feel to it, the grain and blur give the feeling of movement and destruction. It shows that Capa was right in there with the soldiers, and didn’t have the time to carefully shoot the photo. Instead what the viewer sees is a distorted, surreal photograph that is depicting a very real event. The ambiguity of the forms draws the viewer in to try and make out what exactly they are. It is almost like what the vision of a wounded and dazed soldier would render. The disorienting jumble of forms creates a chaotic scene to portray a chaotic war.

Correction to last week’s lecture, wherein I informed you that the Modotti print was a gelatin silver print, despite the fact that it looked like a platinum print. I WAS WRONG. It IS a platinum print (or in the case of the version at MoMA, a platinum, palladium print). Please make a note of it!

Photo left: Tina Modotti, Worker’s Hands, 1927, platinum/palladium print, 7 1/2 x 8 7/16 inches (Museum of Modern Art, NY)

Photo right: Tina Modotti, Hands Resting on a Tool, 1927, platinum print, 7 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

And if you click above on Haverchuck, you’ll also find an expanded list of writing & research resources.

Don’t forget to look for an email from me.
(I’m sending the instructions as a word doc, too.)

James Van Der Zee, A Harlem couple wearing raccoon coats with a Cadillac, taken on West 127th Street, 1932 

James Van Der Zee’s black and white photograph depicts a couple standing in front of a Cadillac wearing raccoon coats. This is a street scene that was not unfamiliar at that time. As the title of the photograph says it is a “Harlem couple” and it was taken on “West 127th Street.” The photo is dated 1932, during the special time in Harlem known as the Harlem Renaissance. During this time the area went through an exposition of wealth, culture, and arts. 
Van Der Zee chose to show wealth in this photo, which was seemed strange as the stock market had recently crashed. This couple appears to have money in a number a ways. You see it in the clothes they wear, and the raccoon skin coats. Also the car matches the coats in lavishness. The Cadillac is a big part in this photo as it out shines the rest. Your eye is first drawn to the front of the car that seems to be glowing off the front tire. The two figures seem to be surround by the light reflecting off the car.   In every respect, the couple seems to be flaunting their money. Van Der Zee also has no problem with trying to amplify that feeling through his photography. 
A less obvious but still important part of this picture is the relationship between the man and woman. The woman stands outside the car, while the man sits in the passenger seat. She is in the same powerful, but soft and beautiful sunlight that is also making the car glow. The man is in the shadows of the car. They are darkening most of his face till you can only see a small part of it. This is an odd contrast to the rest of the picture where almost 90 present of it is in powerful sunlight. On her face is a smile, as he looks at the camera seriously. The stern look the man is giving is reminiscent of many photographs from the Great Depression, such as Dorothea Lange’s, Migrant Mother (1936) a photo that is the most well known image associated with that time. Overall, this picture is a exception to the bleak feeling of the 1930s, other then the man in the car. 

James Van Der Zee, A Harlem couple wearing raccoon coats with a Cadillac, taken on West 127th Street, 1932 

James Van Der Zee’s black and white photograph depicts a couple standing in front of a Cadillac wearing raccoon coats. This is a street scene that was not unfamiliar at that time. As the title of the photograph says it is a “Harlem couple” and it was taken on “West 127th Street.” The photo is dated 1932, during the special time in Harlem known as the Harlem Renaissance. During this time the area went through an exposition of wealth, culture, and arts. 

Van Der Zee chose to show wealth in this photo, which was seemed strange as the stock market had recently crashed. This couple appears to have money in a number a ways. You see it in the clothes they wear, and the raccoon skin coats. Also the car matches the coats in lavishness. The Cadillac is a big part in this photo as it out shines the rest. Your eye is first drawn to the front of the car that seems to be glowing off the front tire. The two figures seem to be surround by the light reflecting off the car.   In every respect, the couple seems to be flaunting their money. Van Der Zee also has no problem with trying to amplify that feeling through his photography. 

A less obvious but still important part of this picture is the relationship between the man and woman. The woman stands outside the car, while the man sits in the passenger seat. She is in the same powerful, but soft and beautiful sunlight that is also making the car glow. The man is in the shadows of the car. They are darkening most of his face till you can only see a small part of it. This is an odd contrast to the rest of the picture where almost 90 present of it is in powerful sunlight. On her face is a smile, as he looks at the camera seriously. The stern look the man is giving is reminiscent of many photographs from the Great Depression, such as Dorothea Lange’s, Migrant Mother (1936) a photo that is the most well known image associated with that time. Overall, this picture is a exception to the bleak feeling of the 1930s, other then the man in the car. 


Hans Bellmer, “La Poupée” (The Doll)

La Poupee

Hans Bellmer, La Poupée (the doll), 1934-35, Silver Gelatin with applied color, 5.4 x 5.5 in (George Eastman House)


Hans Bellmer’s photographs of La Poupée, or The Doll, were taken in Germany in the mid 1930’s. This image was originally produced in black and white by the artist anonymously in 1934, and caused him to be forced to flee Germany by the Nazi party in 1938.  He later joined with André Breton and the Surrealists in Paris and republished the work in color under the title “Poupée, Variations Sur le Montage d’une Mineure Articulée” (The Doll, Variations on the Assemblage of an Articulated Minor)

This particular image, taken around 1934, is interesting in both technique and subject, and is hard to define.  La Poupée borders on portraiture and still life.  While the photo is closer to a still life, as it is an arrangement of objects and props, there is still a sense of humanity and individuality in the pile of doll parts shown.  This photo is clearly surrealist photography at its best. The overt sexuality and reference to female beauty as a thing to fear was typical to the surrealist movement. 

The square framing creates a harmonious image, one that calls attention to the spiraling of the figure and balance of the composition, which would not be as strong if it were rectangular.  The square creates certain symmetries and balance as well as a very intentional framing of the subject.  The image is an aerial view of the subject disorienting any connections to a place or setting.  There is also very little depth which adds to this sense of disorientation

Bellmer also chose to color this image, which calls attention to various parts of the form. Dislocating them even more from each other. As a result these elements become foreign objects and appear to not be part of a woman at all.  The use of color on the doll also directs your eye around this photo in a very circular and even manner.  It is also interesting to note Bellmer’s choice of coloring the disjointed hand red.  This gesture seems to be a nod at DeChirico’s The Song of Love.  DeChirico was a very influential painter to the Surrealist and The Song of Love was a quintessential painting in the creation of the movement.  Bellmer’s red hand is just as out of place and disconnected as the rubber glove in The Song of Love. 

Compositionally La Poupée spirals around a center point.  The edges of the photo are generally bare and much darker; however, there are a few details, like the chair leg on the right edge, that remind the viewer of the frame.  Bellmer also positioned the fabric so that it would not be completely centered.  This choice balances out the photo, since the figure is so heavily engaged with the right side.  All in all though the background is sparse giving the figure dominance. 

The chair in the photo is broken, mimicking the gesture of the doll, as well as becoming one with the doll in places.  For example the placement of the bow and the connection of the red hand and chair leg with color. 

The conventions Bellmer used are what make this image so strong.  Everything was done intentionally to draw the viewer into the picture and show them what and how to see. 


lex mitchell 

dcimorosi:

Radio Tower Berlin

László Moholy-Nagy, Radio Tower Berlin, 1928, gelatin silver print, 14”x10”, National Gallery of Art, Washington


Moholy-Nagy’s Radio Tower Berlin is framed in a portrait orientation, which tightens the composition and creates a greater sense of tension in the image.

The…