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Post #1047 • September 6, 2007, 7:00 PM • 5 Comments

Los Angeles - This one I'm punting. Here's Lawrence Alloway writing in 1969:

If we agree that the correspondence between the complex world and complex display is untenable... what is there to see in the show? An exhibition of blown-up photographs, and these are always handsome, getting grainier, more porous, and less lifelike as they reach life size. The only message that such images can carry are platitudes like "time marches on" and "we're all human." The first theme plays on nostalgia... and the second on our most automatic reflexes of good will.

To that I can only add that putting this exhibition adjacent to the Weston show was awfully hard on it. That the Chad photo evoked the crowded panels of Benozzo Gozzoli, or the one of the dead Jihadi, Holbein's entombed Christ, surprisingly made me want to go back and have a look at photos made on a modest scale, doing photograph-y looking things like sensitive studies of mills and gauzy sepia-toned portraits. They were, without a doubt, handsome, but self-conscious, so much so that the arty-ness one might ascribe to Weston didn't appear as such by comparison. This was an odd and uncomfortable thing to note given the grim situations of the subjects.




September 6, 2007, 10:54 PM

Chad kewl.



September 7, 2007, 6:54 AM

The pictures are ordionary, but the writing is noteworthy:

"While these subjects are known through the media, Delahaye's images propose a different view of them" (propose? Or are they actually a "different view"? and so what?)

"Delahaye's choice of subjects reveals an interest in the "ordinary."" (scare quotes, lest we in our ignorance think the ordinary is indeed ordinary)

"Delahaye records the continuity of human experience" (unique among photographers)

"Taken from a distant point of view, the Palestine Hotel extends the field of vision to provide context beyond our usual perceptions." (more of the city, maybe?)

"Delahaye sometimes combines elements from different shots taken at the same event to create a more powerful rendering of the scene. By positioning himself at eye level or above, Delahaye engages viewers as direct observers. His images appear to be momentarily halted theatrical performances that are open to our participation. Their dramatic scale emphasizes the fullness and complexity of the events depicted and also gives us the opportunity to examine their details." (such daring innovations! Takes one's breath away)

"Such pictures make us question our ability to comprehend the image, and images in general.
Ultimately, the cool lyricism of Delahaye's photographs urges us to reflect upon the relationships among art, history, and information." (somehow these powerful consequences eluded me)



September 7, 2007, 10:54 PM

I'm pretty sure you're not poling it down the Mississippi. But by "punting" do you somehow mean you're going for the extra point? Heh.

Looking at photography nowadays, from Weston to Wall (Jeff), Life to National Geographic, I have trouble finding images that don't willingly pitch themselves into either of the the twin pitfalls of kitsch or cliche. Excepting my own photos of course, from which I maybe get one keeper out of a dozen or more (though I don't snap very many). I really really like those couple of my best pictures.

I can't shake the feeling that the disposability of most photographs makes photography as a whole a dubious candidate for that highly sought and memorable art experience. And I can't contrive an defensible argument for why.

Maybe it has something to do with the way a photo fakes me out by making a millisecond permanent.



September 8, 2007, 8:47 AM

Ahab, in American football, if your team is too far back on a fourth down, you have the option to kick the ball downfield rather than execute a regular play. (



September 8, 2007, 8:50 AM

Striptags got the rest of my comment.

I said that I think that the lack of handwriting in mechanical processes like photography makes it easy to produce banalities. Anything that doesn't look awesome slides down the scale to Meh in a hurry.



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