Lost in the Dream

It’s rare to hear a rock album that feels classic without feeling derivative and irrelevant. The woozy, comedown grooves of ‘Lost in the Dream’ by The War on Drugs is just such a beast. It’s an album of long drawn out tracks that swing along without dragging. Like the last album from fellow Philadelphia native …

Schapiro’s Taxi Driver

One of the first films that had a visceral effect on me was Martin Scorcese’s ‘Taxi Driver’. I’m sure for many it’s depiction of the gritty New York streets of the seventies remains the way they see NYC now. In this film it is a dangerous, semi-lawless place where lone psychopaths are just waiting to …

Colorless Tsukuru Tasaki

Haruki Murakami is not everyone’s cup of green tea. His bizarre switches from reality to fantasy can leave more conservative readers both baffled and slightly put out. Talking cats, men being flayed in Mongolian deserts and people inexplicably trapped at the bottom of wells are a few of his more memorable flights of fancy. Yet …

Rome 56

I’ve always been a big fan of William Klein but probably my favorite images are those he took in Italy in the mid 1950’s. They are impressive in their ability to depict a culture to which Klein was a total stranger. His brilliant early work in New York were taken in neighborhoods he knew well …

Detroit 68

Once, long a go, Detroit was an industrial capital. A vibrant, multi-racial urban center that produced the cars that America drove. It’s all recorded in Enrico Natali’s book Detroit 68. First published in 1972 under the title ‘New American People’ the book depicts a city 40 years ago that was at the beginning of a …

Growing Up Black

Dennis Morris is a photographer, designer and musician previously known to me through his photographs of Bob Marley and The Sex Pistols. However he was also a fine documentary photographer as witnessed by his book ‘Growing up Black’ a chronicle of his East London neighborhood during the sixties and seventies. A snapshot of an era …

The World of Yesterday

Hong Kong in the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties is beautifully captured in Fan Ho’s The World of Yesterday. Rather than just attempt to capture candid moments Fan Ho would often find a spot and wait for the perfect light before capturing his images. The result are some dreamy and ethereal pictures that seem to hark …

The Many Splendored Thing

Love is strange, particularly if shot by Alec Soth. Recently I’ve been revisiting his book ‘Niagara’, which deals with honeymooning couples in a motel near the famous falls. What Soth uncovers is something vulnerable, sad and almost desperate. The people in his pictures are young but necessarily in love. It feels more going through the …

Eighties Italy

Charles H Traub, head of the photography department at SVA in New York, spent the eighties documenting Italian street style in Rome, Naples and Florence. It was time well spent to judge by the images in his book ‘La Dolce Vita : Vibrant, Colorful Photos of Italy in the 1980’s’. There’s a wry humor at …

Skins

Mark Asnin gained notoriety in photojournalistic circles for his wonderful book ‘Uncle Charlie’ which shows the gradual harrowing deterioration of a man diagnosed with schizophrenia. I also like his images of American skinheads that graphically capture the raw physicality of this unthinking sub cult.

Excerpts from Silver Meadow.

Todd Hido is famous for his depiction of eerie unpopulated homes and weirdly haunted landscapes. The lanes in his suburban neighborhoods feel like they lead to one of the circles of hell. Nothing good can come of this world. What are strangely absent are people, who make only occasional visits to his photographs. This all …

Life’s a Beach

Beaches have always provided inspiration for the photographer. After all, a beach features humanity off duty, with it’s guard down so to speak making it the perfect place to capture the beautiful, the ghastly and the brazen in all their glory.

The Banality of the Belgians

There aren’t that many famous Belgians in the world but by rights Harry Gruyaert should be one of them. He’s produced some of my favorite color work outside of William Eggleston yet remains relatively unknown. He is perhaps most recognized for his work in Morocco and a series he began in 1973 to capture the …

A Most Missed Man

Often great acting performances are great at the detriment of the film they’re in. Not so with ‘A Most Wanted Man’, which features a devastating lead performance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing the seedy, slightly down-at -heel intelligence officer Gunther. The storyline is simple: Issa Karpov, a Muslim suspected of terrorist activity in …

Jeff Koons at the Whitney

The contemporary art world owes a lot to Jeff Koons. He’s one of the few artists post Warhol who can get people into galleries en masse. My recent visit to his retrospective at the Whitney was packed out with lines round the block to see his iconic work, displayed on three floors of the museum. …

The Magic of Musardo

Following in the footsteps of KyleThompson and the Benetels, 19-year-old Giulio Musardo is the latest photographer to breathe new life into the self-portrait with his surreal, fantastical digitally manipulated images that are going down well on flickr. He describes each picture as ‘representing a parallel world where time stands still’. Personally, I think of them …

Fred Stein

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marc Riboud, Robert Doisneau and Fred Stein. Not heard of the last one? That’s a shame because like his more famous counterparts, has taken some charming images of the eternal city, Paris that deserve to be better known. Born in Dresden  in 1909 he was one of the early pioneers of the hand-held …

Fashion Forward Feurer.

Hans Feurer may not be a name on the tip of every fashion photographers tongue but perhaps he should be. Responsible for some of the more graphic and memorable images of the 80’s Swiss born Feurer is enjoying something of a resurgence of late. So much so there is now a book of his most …

Mosh

Teenagers, you’ve got to admire their energy. Where as their older brothers and sisters would be content to nod their heads empathetically to their favorite bands these intrepid youngsters choose to unleash themselves on a mosh pit. Emily Stein was there to capture the sweat, angst and acne in all it’s glory.

Shanks for the Memory

Growing up on Merseyside in the seventies and eighties it was impossible to ignore the presence of Liverpool Football club. In an area with high unemployment and decaying infrastructure they were one of the few things to swell the city with pride. Yet only a few years before they had been a second tier team …

Ground from Above

A football pitch is not merely a place to kick a ball. For many living in the poorest parts of the world it’s a virtual oasis, a patch of ground where you can escape the reality of your life. Brazilian photographer Renato Stockler pays tribute to the humble playing area with his series of aerial …

Before they Pass Away

The Huli, the Asaro, the Chukchi, the Dropka, the Himba and the Arbore. These are just some of the beautifully named tribes of the world that have been photographed by Jimmy Nelson. The intrepid Brit set out to shoot some of the world’s most obscure peoples in his collection ‘Before they Pass Away’ Hopefully the book …

Sun and Shadow

The Beautiful Game is even more beautiful when Eduardo Galeano is writing about it. Better known for his political works, Galeano endears himself to me through his fabulous football book ‘Soccer in Sun and Shadow’. It’s perfect subway reading with each piece rarely longer than two pages and covering some of the most magical and …

Gooooooaaaaalllllll!

He shoots.. he scores! Yes, Brazilian artist and graphic designer Cristiano Siqueira has created a series of fabulous team posters for ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup. Vibrant and colorful they capture all the pride and fun of the tournament and give you something to remember your side by ( even if they played as badly …

Blue Sky Days

Tomas Van Houtryve’s ‘Blue Sky Days’ sounds like it might be a lovely series of images about happy people on their summer holidays. It sounds like it but it most definitely isn’t. In fact, hearing stories of drone attacks in Afghanistan inspired it. One 13 year old boy, injured by shrapnel in a strike, said …

Naked in the Abstract

Photographers from Andre Kertesz to Bill Brandt have got mileage out of the idea of the abstract nude. Former Architect Eric Marrian is the latest to visit the subject and has created some clean and imaginative images in his series ‘Carre Blanc’, which remind me a little of Robert Mapplethorpe.    

Surf’s Up

Ed Freeman’s black and white images of surfers on the north coast of Oahu are unapologetically digitally enhanced, for his aim is not to reproduce the way surfing looks in real life but instead to show how it feels. From the look of these images I think he succeeded.

Those Feet: A Sensual History of English Football

Having watched yet another highly depressing England world cup defeat at the hands of silky skilled Continentals, I am tempted to throw my hands to the heavens and scream ‘Why, oh Lord, why can we never play with style and grace? But I don’t because I’ve just finished David Winner’s excellent book ‘Those Feet: A …

Camera Phone Photo

I remember the days when an iPhone was what you used to make calls on. These days it’s more likely to be used for capturing and sharing beautiful imagery. So much so that I now discover there is something called the ‘iPhone Photography Awards’ that features the very best shots taken with an iPhone camera. …

Dear Diary

He toured with the Rolling Stones, was painted by Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon and was friends with Karen Blixen, Andy Warhol and the Kennedy’s. Yes, Peter Beard knew how to live. Not that he was merely a friend to the stars. He was also brilliant artist in his own right. Combining photographs with collages …

Deep In A Dream

Photographer Michael Massaia is the latest photographer to find inspiration from Central Park. However you’d never know it to look at these brooding artful images. Sunbathers lie supine in a dark dream world that seems removed from time and place. Yet in fact these unsuspecting New Yorker’s were photographed as they lay on the grass …

The Brandals

Britain’s Brandalism is a movement dedicated to taking back spaces from the corporate ad world, namely the billboards that litter our cities. The group thoughtfully replaces the existing ad units with original art created by their members. Irreverent and at times thought-provoking it’s the perfect pick me up for all who hate the modern corporate …

Men and Cats

It is the love that dare not speak its name. Yes, I’m talking about man’s love for his cat. It seems there’s a movement a foot to finally encourage dude’s to come out of the cat closet and proudly say “Yes I have a cat. And I love it” The site menandcats.com is doing it’s …

The Beats are Back.

If you’re looking for someone to blame for the existence of hipsters, look no further than the beatniks. The iconic fifties youth group, made famous by one of their earliest practitioners Jack Kerouac, are clearly the template in look and attitude for many a modern-day Williamsburg trendy judging by the images in Larry Fink’s recently …

American Colour

  Tony Ray Jones is a photographer famous for his black and white work. Yet like many great practioneers he was also not bad at color either. His work from 1962-65 has been collected in the book ’American Color’. The shots are mainly taken in New York and remind me of Saul Leiter’s early color …

Finding Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier is one of the most mysterious figures in street photography. A woman with obvious skill and a unique eye for the small absurdities of life that seemingly made no attempt to get her vast body of work, totaling some 100,000 images, published. If not for a chance purchase of negatives by John Maloof, …

The Park

Lauren Henkin’s pictures of Central Park put a new spin on an old photographic favorite. The images often feature people looking for their own piece of solitude in the heart of the most intense city on earth. Of course that city cannot be totally obliterated and is visible through its towering skyscrapers that poke their …

Yolanda Dorda

The paintings of Yolanda Dorda feel reminiscent of Bonnard or some of the post-impressionists. However the content is in comparison, highly sexualized and shows Dorda is clearly not afraid to explore the darker side of her psyche.        

Oh to be Young, Beautiful and on the Game.

The title of Francois Ozon’s new film ‘Jeune et Jolie ‘could be the title of a Francoise Hardy song from the late sixties, full of wistful desires and longings. In fact it starts in territory not so very far away from this in the form of a holiday romance in a sultry southern French beach …

The Lover

No one writes about romance quite like the French. Intellectually and emotionally their very best writers are on it, picking over each liaison from every conceivable angle until the familiar and expected way of viewing the subject has evaporated under the laser heat of their enquiries. ‘The Lover’ by Marguerite Duras is a case in …

Ravaged

‘Across this Ravaged Land’ is a depressingly beautiful collection of African animal images by photographer Nick Brandt. As the title suggests these are not your classic animal beauty shots, even though they are stunning pictures. ‘Across this Ravaged land’ is more of a dire warning to humanity of the consequences of excessive poaching and environmental …

Redeployment

If you set yourself the task of writing about war experiences you set yourself the task of battling everyone from Wilfred Own to Leo Tolstoy. It’s a fight most don’t win. Even with tales that are singularly compelling, the conventions of the genre intervene to make them strangely stylized and predictable. There’s a kind of …

Robert Doisneau

Life can be a beautiful thing. Just look at the photographs of Robert Dosineau. His eye sees a world is full of dancing couples and playful children. All captured with a wry sense of humor and consummate sense of style. The son of a plumber killed in the First World War, Doisneau was orphaned from …

The Twisted World of Jonah Samson

Direct from the warped mind of Jonah Samson come these dark, disturbing and sometime comic creations. Samson creates childlike models and gets them to do unspeakable things from flashing to murdering, then photographs them in a highly cinematic fashion. Indeed you have the feeling that you are watching a moment from a much larger story …

Paris I Love You

Many people would sell a non-essential organ, a spare kidney say, to live in Paris. The mere uttering of the word causes many to hyperventilate at the thought of romantic trysts in secluded side street bistros and strolls in statue-strewn gardens. Rosencrans Baldwin thought he was very much one of their number but when he …

La Dolce Vita

  Oh to be in Rome in the late 50’s and early sixties. It was a time of Fellini, de Sica, Audrey Hepburn and Anita Ekberg. ‘The Years of La Dolce Vita’ Exhibition in London is about to show off those halcyon days to their best advantage. A series of images taken by cinematographer Arturo …

Guy Bourdin

The often surreal nature of French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin’s work is unsurprising considering he started his career as a protégé of Man Ray in Paris in the 1950’s The sense of experimentation that you see in Man Ray’s work was evident in the fashion imagery created by Bourdin for clients such as Charles Jourdan, …

Mapplethorpe at Musee Rodin

A trip to Paris has to include a trip to a museum. It’s just the way it is. I don’t make the rules I just follow them. Luckily I choose an early morning visit to the Musee Rodin where it just so happened there was a Robert Mapplethrope exhibition taking place. I never really thought …

Costa Blanca

Perpignan is mainly associated in my mind with rugby and fine wine but it’s also home to French psychedelic pop band The Liminanas. Headed by brother and sister duo Marie and Lio Liminana the band released their third album last year the sublime ‘Costa Blanca’. It’s a druggy trip that merges a cool, Gauloises-smoking ennui …

Sinfully Skilled

Perhaps it’s because I’m currently enjoying some time in France but the art of Bernard Charoy appeals to me. Part of his artistic output falls within the pin-up category and his illustrations of women remind me of a Gallic Gil Evlgren. Here’s a series from 1958 that’s pretty indicative of his style.  

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