Monthly Archives: October 2009
André Kertész | Chez Mondrian

I had the great pleasure of seeing a vintage print of Chez Mondrian in person at a gallery in Los Angeles. Not behind glass, framed on a wall but pulled from a vellum sleeve inside a photo box. I was flush at the time and contemplating buying one of my favorite photos.

I did not purchase it. But I will someday.

chez mondrian

Chez Mondrian, Paris, 1926, André Kertész

I went to his studio and instinctively tried to capture in my photographs the spirit of his paintings. He simplified, simplified, simplified. The studio with its symmetry dictated the composition. He had a vase with a flower, but the flower was artificial. It was colored by him with the right color to match his studio.

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész


October™ | Central Park

This past Sunday was that legendary, perfect autumn day, impossibly sublime, crisp air, music in your ears, face full of afternoon light. All of us tried to work our superpowers to slow time, to make the day last but Monday still came, steamrolling that afternoon into memory.

I am back east now after 12 years in Los Angeles. You cannot convey to a creature of Southern California the fleeting magic of a perfect October™ day. The day is a wisp of smoke, soon to be hidden by clouds and rain, eaten by the advancing calendar. You have missed it. You need to wait for the great wheel to keep turning until October™ appears on the horizon again.

Angelenos, it does not matter what day it is, the month, the time of year, if it’s an El Niño season or not. Tomorrow in Southern California is a constant; it will always be in the 70s, no humidity, blazing sun. Put your flip flops on and burrito yourself. No hurry, no rush; it’ll be the same until the end of time.

I will take the cycle of seasons, even with the squalor of February and the thick sweaty terror of August. Only 11½ months until October™.

Central Park, October™ 25, 2009, Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikon © Doug Kim

Central Park, October™ 25, 2009, Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikon © Doug Kim

October

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if the were all,
Whose elaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–
For the grapes’ sake along the all.

-Robert Frost


Annie Liebovitz | Hunter S. Thompson
hunter and mcgovern

Hunter S. Thompson and McGovern, 1972, Annie Leibovitz

Annie Liebowitz in her book At Work, says that:

Hunter sweated a lot. When he wasn’t sweating he was screaming that we wasn’t sweating and he thought he was dying.

Hunter S. Thompson exhaling lighter fluid at Jann Wenner, at Wenner's New York home . Annie Liebovitz 1976, Contact Press Images

Hunter S. Thompson exhaling lighter fluid at Jann Wenner, at Wenner's New York home . Annie Liebovitz 1976, Contact Press Images

Hunter S. Thompson, Annie Liebovitz 1972

Hunter S. Thompson, Annie Liebovitz 1972

From the Washington Post, the note Thompson sent to his wife four days before his suicide:

“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”

With a sort of cryptic, ironic, metaphorical hilarity, he took a black marker and titled the note: “Football Season Is Over.”

hunter, self-portrait

Self Portrait, After Beating by Hell's Angels, circa 1960s, M + B Gallery, West Hollywood


Chelsea | Pier 85

August 2009

Chelsea Piers, M6 TTL, Kodak TMZ © Doug Kim

Pier 85, M6 TTL, Kodak TMZ 3200 © Doug Kim

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.

-Muhammad Ali

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’

-Muhammad Ali

It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.

-Muhammad Ali


Josef Koudelka | Prague Spring

Josef Koudelka told Sean O’Hagan of the Guardian that it was a year after the Soviet invasion of Prague when he was in London traveling with a theater group, that he first saw his images published. He had come out of the hotel and some members of the group were looking at his photos in The Sunday Times, credited to the initials P.P. (Prague Photographer), a pseudonym he used out of fear of reprisal.

They showed me the magazine where it said that these pictures had been taken by an unknown photographer from Prague and smuggled out of the country. I could not tell anyone that they were my photographs. It was a very strange feeling. From that moment, I was afraid to go back to Czechoslovakia because I knew that if they wanted to find out who the unknown photographer was, they could do it.

Thus began one of the most important and prolific photographic careers in the last fifty years and a period of freedom and wandering for Koudelka who said that “for 17 years I never paid any rent.”

Koudelka turned to photography in 1967, abandoning a career in aeronautical engineering. He started shooting gypsies and theater groups, until the night of August 21st a year later when the Soviets invaded Prague. He had never documented a major event before. He took to the streets to capture this singular and historic moment. In that seven day period, Koudelka took over 5,000 photographs on the streets of Prague, getting shot at once and being pursued through crowds by soldiers. He was 30 years old.

The photos anonymously reached Magnum Photos in New York and later earned him the Robert Capa award.

The mother of my son, an Italian lady, she once told me, ‘Josef, you go though life and get all this positive energy, and all the sadness, you just throw it behind you and it drops into the bag you carry on your back. Then, when you photograph, it all comes out.’

-Josef Koudelka

You know, people say, ‘Oh, Josef, he is the eternal outsider,’ but on the contrary I try always to be an insider, both as a photographer and as a man. I am part of everything that is around me.

-Josef Koudelka

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Invading Warsaw Pact troops in front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Invading Warsaw Pact troops in front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, Aug. 21, 1968.

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, Aug. 21, 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968.

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, Aug. 21, 1968.  © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, Aug. 21, 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968.  © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—In front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—In front of the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Warsaw Pact tanks invade Prague, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The body of a young Czech, killed for having tried to drape his flag over a Russian tank, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The body of a young Czech, killed for having tried to drape his flag over a Russian tank, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—A poster in a window with a dove stabbed through the middle, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—A poster in a window with a dove stabbed through the middle, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The Czechoslovakian flag, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—The Czechoslovakian flag, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Near the radio headquarters, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Vinohradska Avenue, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—Vinohradska Avenue, August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia—August 1968. © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos


Raymond Carver | Loafing

Loafing

I looked into the room a moment ago,
and this is what I saw—
my chair in its place by the window,
the book turned facedown on the table.
And on the sill, the cigarette
left burning in its ashtray.
Malingerer! my uncle yelled at me
so long ago. He was right.
I’ve set aside time today,
same as every day,
for doing nothing at all.

-Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver in 1984, by Bob Adelman

Raymond Carver in 1984, by Bob Adelman

There are significant moments in everyone’s day that can make literature. You have to be alert to them and pay attention to them.

-Raymond Carver, Conversations with Raymond Carver

It’s been a continual series of starting-overs for me.

-Raymond Carver, Conversations with Raymond Carver


Hollywood Forever Cemetery | Cinespia

One of the great treasures of Los Angeles is the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and its summer film series Cinespia.

Yes, it sounds creepy, like the opening scene of a zombie movie. Everyone assumes that you will have to walk over graves in the dark, lean against headstones to watch the movies as your friends slowly disappear in the night, one by one. This is not the case at all. There is a great lawn near one of the buildings where you can spread your blankets and pillows and picnic under those perfect summer nights in Los Angeles.

The selection of flicks is eclectic, alternating between classics and cult movies. Beware of the really popular films because the line at the entrance and parking will be horrendous. Each night features a guest DJ before and after the movie and it is a great festive evening. Go grab your wine and pesto pasta and throw pillows and get in line. You will not be disappointed.

Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Cinespia, Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Hollywood Forever is also well worth checking out in the daytime as many celebrities reside within its fences and there are many tragic stories to be stumbled upon and discovered.

Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

These dolls were arranged in the hedges next to a series of children’s graves.

Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Johnny Ramone, Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

Johnny Ramone, Hollywood Forever Cemetary, Leica M6, Kodak Tri-X

I do not know if this is still the case as I have not been there in a couple of years, but near Johnny Ramone’s statue, a gang of extremely territorial ducks and geese reside in the reflecting pond. Since there are no other graves or markers nearby, they really appear to be Johnny’s guardians and they are mean fuckers. In this image, you can see that they waddled all the way over from the water just to come chase me off.

And yes, they did chase me off. Fuckers.

There are two quotes on the side of the statue:

Please come back.

-love, Vincent Gallo

As good a friend as there ever was.

-John Frusciante


Mies Van der Rhoe | God is in the details
Mies van der Rohe. Photo: Irving Penn

Mies van der Rohe by Irving Penn

Somehow over the years, Van der Rhoe’s great quote has been changed to the devil is in the details and is used to describe the difficulty of work. It has attained such a pejorative meaning now, especially when applied to the realm of negotiations or politics.

The original quote, God is in the details, is such a positive anthem that speaks to the poetry of the minutiae and the artistic focus and follow through required to achieve anything of worth.

I do not know the etymology of the misquote but the fact that it changed from a message dealing with spirituality and aesthetics to a verbal shortcut describing the burden of work is fascinating and bizarre to me.

Every physical element has been distilled to its irreducible essence. The interior is unprecedentedly transparent to the surrounding site, and also unprecedentedly uncluttered in itself. All of the paraphernalia of traditional living –rooms, walls, doors, interior trim, loose furniture, pictures on walls, even personal possessions – have been virtually abolished in a puritanical vision of simplified, transcendental existence. Mies had finally achieved a goal towards which he had been feeling his way for three decades.

Maritz Vandenburg, Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House


Agfa | Eulogy

The B&H page is still up for this film though it is of course listed as "discontinued"

The B&H page is still up for this film though it is of course listed as "discontinued"

Ah, I really miss Agfa. For years, all I shot was Agfa APX 400. The 100 ISO was a much better film but I needed the leeway shooting on the street. Great contrast, fine grain quality, tonal structure (especially in the mids) and inexpensive when compared to other films.

I do not know the technical specs or chemical characteristics of why or how it looked like it did, but it was a lush film with a classic look. It was not known as a push film but I never had a problem with it. Kodak’s Tri-X is a fine, legendary film and it is what I  primarily shoot now, but it is not the same. My favorite mode was to expose the 400 at 250 ISO and develop it at 300 so it was under by a quarter stop. I like my shit dark.

Even if you did not shoot their films, you had your prints made on their papers. Their 111 multi-grade paper was a favorite as was their 118 warm eggshell paper.

I can remember when it was announced that they were going out of business and in Los Angeles, the last shipment of Agfa paper was on its way. Those few with enough foresight bought up the remaining paper in that shipment to hoard like dragon’s gold. My friend is a B&W printer in Los Angeles and one of his clients has a stash of Agfa paper which he only brings over when he needs some prints to be made.

Below are some scans of photos shot with Agfa APX 400 and printed by Nourredine El-Wariri on Agfa’s 111 and 118 papers. It’s a bit silly because I am trying to show you how great an extinct film and paper were through a computer monitor which makes as much sense as videotaping oil paintings.

Tiananmen, Beijing, Nikon N90s, Agfa APX 400

Tiananmen, Beijing, Nikon N90s, Agfa APX 400, printed on Agfa 118 © Doug Kim

Market, Hanoi, Nikon F5, Agfa APX 400

Market, Hanoi, Nikon F5, Agfa APX 400, printed on Agfa 111 © Doug Kim

AGFA-APX100-36AGFA-APX400-36-sAGFA-APX100-36bAGFA-ColorPro200-24-sAGFA-CTPrecisa100-36-sAGFA-CTPrecisa200-36-sAGFA-HDCPlus200-36AGFA-RSXII100-36-sAGFA-Ultra100-36AGFA-Vista400-24-sAGFA-Vista400-24AGFA-Vista400-36-s