Category: Books
Robert Frank | London & Wales

Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.

-Robert Frank

London 1952-53, Robert Frank

London 1952-53, Robert Frank

London 1951, Robert Frank

London 1951, Robert Frank

London 1952-53 © Robert Frank

London 1952-53 © Robert Frank

 Caerau, Wales 1953 © Robert Frank

Caerau, Wales 1953 © Robert Frank

London 1951-52 © Robert Frank

London 1951-52 © Robert Frank

London 1952-53 © Robert Frank

London 1952 -53 © Robert Frank

London 1951-52 © Robert Frank

London 1951-52 © Robert Frank

Ben James and His Wife, Wales 1953 © Robert Frank

Ben James and His Wife, Wales 1953 © Robert Frank

Ben James, Wales 1953 © Robert Frank

Ben James, Wales 1953 © Robert Frank


Washington, DC | Lincoln Memorial

Offutt talked big about Lincoln as a wrestler and Bill Clary, who ran a saloon 30 steps north of the Offutt store, bet Offutt $10 that Lincoln couldn’t throw Jack Armstrong, the Clary’s Grove champion. Sports from miles around came to a level square next to Offutt’s store to see the match; bets of money, knives, trinkets, tobacco, drinks, were put up. Armstrong, short and powerful, aimed from the first to get in close to his man and use his thick muscular strength. Lincoln held him off with long arms, wore down his strength, got him out of breath, surprised and “rattled.” They pawed and clutched in many holds and twists till Lincoln threw Armstrong and had both shoulders to the grass. Armstrong’s gang started toward Lincoln with cries and threats. Lincoln stepped to the Offutt store wall, braced himself, and told the gang he would fight, race or wrestle any who wanted to try him. Then Jack Armstrong broke through the gang, shook Lincoln’s hand, told them Lincoln was “fair,” and, “the best feller that ever broke into this settlement.”

-Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln – The Prairie Years

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC; Leica M6 TTL .58, 35mm summicron, Agfa APX 400 © Doug Kim

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC; Leica M6 TTL .58, 35mm summicron, Agfa APX 400 © Doug Kim


Frank Frazetta | 1928-2010

The great pulp painter Frank Frazetta died yesterday. His brushstrokes were the literal entrance into the world of pulp novels when I was a kid. A Frazetta cover would herald the different worlds inside those cheap mass market pages, enthralling me as a suburban kid, reading Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft and others.

He may have been the first artist I actively sought out, not to buy paintings or monograms but to purchase cheap Dell paperbacks with those fantastic luminous covers.

Here are some of his more famous paintings. I will post a collection of his sketches, pencil drawings and pen and ink work which I always favored, maybe because the deftness of his hand was so readily apparent.

Rest in peace, Frank. And thank you.

Note: two great articles in the Los Angeles Times on Frazetta, one by Lance Laspina, the director of Frazetta: Painting with Fire and one by Guillermo del Toro

Wild Ride, Frank Frazetta

Wild Ride, Frank Frazetta

When it came to my art, I went my own way and did not follow the trends.

-Frank Frazetta

Flesh Eaters, Frank Frazetta

Flesh Eaters, Frank Frazetta

Winged Terror, Frank Frazetta

Winged Terror, Frank Frazetta

Captive Princess, Frank Frazetta

Captive Princess, Frank Frazetta

By the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was a born draftsman and liked all forms of art, so I just knew that’s what I wanted to do.

-Frank Frazetta

Man Ape, Frank Frazetta

Man Ape, Frank Frazetta

Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving were my big days. I guess I drew more Santa’s, bunnies, and turkeys on blackboards than anyone could count. At the insistence of one of my teachers, my parents enrolled me in the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts when I was eight. The Academy was little more than a one floor/three room affair with a total of thirty students ranging in age from eight–me!–to eighty. I still remember the Professor Michele [Michael] Falanga’s look of skepticism as I signed in. He was rolling his eyes and you could almost see the thought balloon over his head, “Oh no! Not another child prodigy!” He sat me down with a pencil and paper and asked me to copy a postcard featuring a group of realistically rendered ducks. When he returned later to see how far I had progressed, he snatched up my drawing exclaiming, “Mama mia!” and ran off waving it in the air, calling everyone over to look at it. I thought I was in some kind of trouble.

-Frank Frazetta

The Destroyer, Frank Frazetta

The Destroyer, Frank Frazetta

He [Falanga] died when I was twelve, right about the time he was making arrangements to send me off to Italy at his own expense to study fine art. I haven’t the vaguest idea of whether it would have really affected my areas of interest. I don’t know, but I doubt it. You see, we never had any great conversations. He might look over your shoulder and say. “Very nice, but perhaps if you did this or that…” He spoke very broken English and he kind of left you on your own. I think I learned more from my friends there, especially Albert Pucci. Falanga would look at some of the comics stuff I was doing and say, “What a waste, what a waste! You should be in Italy and paint the street scene and become a very famous fine artiste!” And that didn’t thrill me! After he died the students tried to keep the school going; we had become such close friends that we couldn’t bear to close up shop so we all chipped in and paid the rent and continued to hold classes. I did nude life drawings and still lifes; we’d paint outdoors. It was all totally different from the way I work now, but it taught me a lot about brush technique and perspective and helped me to develop my own style.

-Frank Frazetta

Lost City, Frank Frazetta

Lost City, Frank Frazetta

When I was about 15 someone in my family introduced me to John Giunta. He was a professional artist who was working for Bernard Bailey’s comics publishing company and he really wasn’t a very personable guy. He was very aloof and self-conscious and hard for me to talk to, but he was really very talented. He had an exceptional ability, but it was coupled with a total lack of self-confidence and an inability to communicate with people. Being around him really opened up my eyes, though, because he was really that good. He had an interesting style, a good sense of spotting and his blacks worked well. You can see a lot of his influence even today in some of my ink work.

-Frank Frazetta

Frankenstein and Dracula, Frank Frazetta

Frankenstein and Dracula, Frank Frazetta

Deathdealer II, Frank Frazetta

Deathdealer II, Frank Frazetta

Deathdealer I, Frank Frazetta

Deathdealer I, Frank Frazetta

I hope my work has inspired young artists. I have always tried to maintain my freedom as an artist and I feel it is one of the main reasons I have been successful.

-Frank Frazetta

Conan the Avenger, Frank Frazetta

Conan the Avenger, Frank Frazetta

Chained, Frank Frazetta

Chained, Frank Frazetta

When Ralph [Mayo] took over he pulled me aside and said, “Frank, you stuff is great, but you need to learn some anatomy.” When I was in school with Falanga the emphasis was on feeling, not on the nuts and bolts, so I really didn’t understand what he meant by ‘anatomy.’ So Ralph handed me an anatomy book and when I went home that night I had decided to learn anatomy. I started with page one and copied the entire book – everything in one night, from the skeleton up. I came back the next day like a dumb kid and said, “Thank you very much, I just learned my anatomy.” Of course Ralph fell over and roared with laughter. “Frankie, you silly bastard! I’ve been studying for ten years and I still don’t know anatomy, and you went home and learned it last night?!” But the thing was I had learned an awful lot. I had the ability to absorb things and he saw an improvement in my work right away. It amazed him and that meant a lot to me. From that point on I developed pretty rapidly: I started to do things with figures that made sense. I worked for Mayo and Standard for a few years, doing things like “Looie Laziebones” and all the funny animal stuff.

-Frank Frazetta.

Catgirl, Frank Frazetta

Catgirl, Frank Frazetta

The Cave Demon, Frank Frazetta

The Cave Demon, Frank Frazetta

What I do is create images, period.

-Frank Frazetta

The Snow Giants, Frank Frazetta

The Snow Giants, Frank Frazetta


André Kertész | Landing Pigeon, New York, 1960
André Kertész | <i>Landing Pigeon</i>

André Kertész | Landing Pigeon, New York, 1960

This was taken around 59th Street where they had demolished the houses, and I saw a pigeon flying in and out. The original idea for this photograph dates back to my days in Paris, where I also saw some old run-down houses and wanted to photograph them with a pigeon. But the pigeon never came. Here in New York I sat and waited. Time and time again I went back to the same place, but it was never right. Then one day I saw the lonely pigeon. I took maybe two or three pictures. The moment was here. I had waited maybe thirty years for that instant.

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész


Terry Richardson | Jim Carroll
Jim Carroll by Terry Richardson

Jim Carroll by Terry Richardson

Excerpt from The Basketball Diaries:

Summer 65: Fucked up yesterday, lost our last game in the summer 15-and-under league up at George Washington High School, and that deuced us out of the championship game today. We had a good squad, mostly cats from down the block in the projects but they had a rule that no Varsity players could play. That ruined our chances of using big Lewie Alcindor even though he’s from the neighborhood and all. I mean, shit, most of the teams got ringers but it’s a little difficult to sneak in a seven foot All-Everything cat onto a court. He can’t exactly use a fucking pair of sunglasses, dig? So I go up to watch the game today and pick up my trophy for the all-league team and what a hassle is steaming as I bop into the gym. THE SUGAR BOWL ALL-STARS, one of the teams playing, are in a rage bitching about the ringers on the RUTGERS team. So true! those cats didn’t have a dude under eighteen running for them, none of them played school ball, but they were some of the best playground players in Harlem. I walked over and was rapping to a few friends, Vaughn Harper, an All-American from Boys High, and Earl Manigault, a Harlem legend of 5 ft. 10 in. who can take a half dollar off the top of a backboard. He’s invariably on and off his school team because of drug scenes and other shit. These two cats are, with big Lew, the best high school players in the city. Finally the captain of SUGAR BOWL points over to us and tells the other team and the man who runs the gig that if they’re gonna use that team, that their team’s gonna use Harper, “Goat” Manigault, and me. The bossman axes the idea of letting in Harper and “Goat” but says they can use me, which is fine with the other team who don’t even know who the fuck this white boy is. Before I say a fucking word I get a uniform tossed in my mug and since there’re bunches of chicks in the stands, my new team mates are huddling around me and I whip on the shit and start warming up. Big fucking difference I’m gonna make ’cause we need leapers for the boards and no backcourt dude like me. Anyway the slaughter starts and I’m hitting long jumpers like a fucker (I gotta say that I always burn up that gym, something about it that I just can’t miss, crazy) so we’re holding our own by the half and I got twenty-eight points, each move of which I make sticks out like a hardon because I’m the only whiteman on the court and looking around, in the entire fucking place, in fact; my bright blond-red hair making me the whitest whitey this league has ever seen. So in short we made a good show for a team our age, but can’t keep up with the other dudes and lose by ten, but that ain’t bad and I got myself forty-seven points and at least got to play for once with these cats I’ve always had to play against in various tournaments since Biddy League days. Then to bust all kinds of balls, the bossman gets some college scout in the stands to testify the other team got at least three ringers he knows and we are awarded the champ bit. After the gold is handed out and all (I didn’t get a trophy for the game ’cause they were one short and I had to say “fuck it,” but got an outofsight plaque for All-League), we go in a corner and pose a team picture for the Harlem paper, “The Amsterdam News.” We’re waiting for the birdie to click when the photog calls over the SUGAR BOWL coach and whispers something to him who then walks over to me and mumbles, “Dig, my man, don’t know how to say this but for, well, …” I cut him short and told I got the message and stepped out of the pix. I guess I would have messed up the texture of the shot or something. Or maybe they didn’t want to let the readers get to see that the high scorer was a fucking white boy.

-Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries


Mary Ellen Mark | Seen Behind The Scenes

Mary Ellen Mark’s latest book from Phaidon, Seen Behind the Scene: Forty Years of Photographing On Set, is a beautiful volume, full of genuine, candid moments, posed portraits and a great insider’s peak at the process behind some of the most iconic films since the late sixties.

Whether Mark is shooting portraits of people on the fringe or documenting issues, she brings a lushness and striking empathy to her subjects. Combine this velvety touch with the make-believe machinations of a movie set and legendary figures of cinema, and the results are a surreal anthropologic study of cinematic artists where there is no line between performance and reality.

It’s like looking behind the curtain and seeing nothing but towering giants.

Dustin Hoffman sneaks up on Lawrence Olivier on the set of John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man (1976) in New York’s Central Park. Mary Ellen Mark

Dustin Hoffman sneaks up on Lawrence Olivier on the set of John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man (1976) in New York’s Central Park. Mary Ellen Mark

The levity of the photos belies the tension of the scene being shot, in which Babe (Hoffman) frog-marches Szell (Olivier) to the reservoir pump house in the film’s climax. Mary Ellen Mark

The levity of the photos belies the tension of the scene being shot, in which Babe (Hoffman) frog-marches Szell (Olivier) to the reservoir pump house in the film’s climax. Mary Ellen Mark

It’s all changed so much. When I first started to photograph, it was really based on individuality. Much more. When I look at photographs now, I think sometimes it’s hard to tell actually who took the photograph.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Photos from Mary Ellen Mark’s Seen Behind the Scene: Forty Years of Photographing on Set, published by Phaidon Press Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” in the dressing room

Photos from Mary Ellen Mark’s Seen Behind the Scene: Forty Years of Photographing on Set, published by Phaidon Press Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” in the dressing room

Now there is a big emphasis on advertising so it requires a lot of studio work. When I first started to work on film sets, you didn’t need to do any studio shots.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark, pictured above in 1976 on the Philippines set of Apocalypse Now, has a new book out: Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon Press) collects forty years of her on-set photography from a wide range of movies.

Mary Ellen Mark, pictured above in 1976 on the Philippines set of Apocalypse Now, has a new book out: Seen Behind the Scene (Phaidon Press) collects forty years of her on-set photography from a wide range of movies. Photo by Dean Tavoularis

I was on that set almost a month [Apocalypse Now], and it was such a luxury. It took away a lot of the pressure to get the material I needed. I can’t stand having my picture taken now. You see a picture of yourself as a young woman and think, ‘I wish I still looked like that.’

-Mary Ellen Mar, New York Times interview

Jack Nicholson, Stockard Channing and Warren Beatty on the set of "The Fortune" in 1974, Mary Ellen Mark

Jack Nicholson, Stockard Channing and Warren Beatty on the set of "The Fortune" in 1974, Mary Ellen Mark

I could never have thought of that pose [above]. I’m not a conceptual photographer. If I’d asked them to do it, it never would have happened. I think I snapped off two frames, and that was it. It was over.

-Mary Ellen Mark, New York Times interview

Nicole Kidman in costume on set, Australia, Kununurra, Australia, 2007. Mary Ellen Mark

Nicole Kidman in costume on set, Australia, Kununurra, Australia, 2007. Mary Ellen Mark

You used to have much more freedom. You used to really be able to wander the set much, much more. And I work a lot on Tim Burton’s films and when I do go on his set, he does give me a lot of freedom. But I think that often when the film company hires you now, they really just want studio photographs so they can use them for what they call their ‘one sheets’ for advertising.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Marlon Brando on the set of "Apocalypse Now" in 1976, Mary Ellen Mark

Marlon Brando on the set of "Apocalypse Now" in 1976, Mary Ellen Mark

On Marlon Brando:

I first worked with him in ‘The Missouri Breaks.’ The rule was, before you took his picture, you had to ask his permission. It was so frightening. And if he said no, you felt like a fool. On ‘Apocalypse’ it was easier, but I knew the idea had to be his. So I brought a jar of bugs, set them down.

-Mary Ellen Mark, New York Times interview

Sean Penn in his dressing room for the Broadway play Slab Boys, Manhattan, 1983. Mary Ellen Mark

Sean Penn in his dressing room for the Broadway play Slab Boys, Manhattan, 1983. Mary Ellen Mark

‘I asked him if I could come to his dressing room with him, and he said fine, and I took that picture. He was — a kid.’ Later Mr. Penn refused to cooperate on the set of “The Falcon and the Snowman” (1985). ‘I begged him, but he wasn’t in the mood, and it was a terrible situation because it’s your fault. You have to come back with that photograph.’

-Mary Ellen Mark, New York Times interview

Director Federico Fellini surveys the elaborate set of Satyricon (1969) in Rome, including the house where the movie’s two protagonists, Encopio and Ascilto, live. Mary Ellen Mark

Director Federico Fellini surveys the elaborate set of Satyricon (1969) in Rome, including the house where the movie’s two protagonists, Encopio and Ascilto, live. Mary Ellen Mark

With directors who love still pictures, you still have access. They don’t mind you being there. And you learn how not to be intrusive. You just take cues of where you can be that’s not going to be disturbing.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Gregory Peck with two young extras, Old Gringo, Mexico City, Mexico. Mary Ellen Mark, 1988

Gregory Peck with two young extras, Old Gringo, Mexico City, Mexico. Mary Ellen Mark, 1988

Regarding the contributions written by the filmmakers in this book and the absence of writing by herself:

I always felt as a photographer, what is really interesting about my photographs are the subjects and not myself.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Jessica Lange and Dustin Hoffman on Set, Tootsie, Hurley, New York. Mary Ellen Mark, 1982

Jessica Lange and Dustin Hoffman on Set, Tootsie, Hurley, New York. Mary Ellen Mark, 1982

Readying the horses for the next take, Fellini's Satyricon, Rome, Italy. Mary Ellen Mark, 1969

Readying the horses for the next take, Fellini's Satyricon, Rome, Italy. Mary Ellen Mark, 1969

I just think it’s important to be direct and honest with people about why you’re photographing them and what you’re doing. After all, you are taking some of their soul.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Tim Burton prepares for a scene with Paul Giamatti (in orangutan costume) in his remake of Planet of the Apes (2001). Mary Ellen Mark

Tim Burton prepares for a scene with Paul Giamatti (in orangutan costume) in his remake of Planet of the Apes (2001). Mary Ellen Mark

The Cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Posing for their photograph on location at the Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon. Mary Ellen Mark, 1974

The Cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Posing for their photograph on location at the Oregon State Hospital, Salem, Oregon. Mary Ellen Mark, 1974

Alejandro González Iñárritu directs Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in a small Moroccan village for a scene of Babel (2006). Mary Ellen Mark

Alejandro González Iñárritu directs Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in a small Moroccan village for a scene of Babel (2006). Mary Ellen Mark

Regarding the absence of any images from Arthur Penn’s “Alice’s Restaurant” in the book:

That was the first film that I worked on. And I looked at the pictures and I didn’t really think that I did as well as I should have on that film. It was the first one. I wanted these pictures to all be of a certain level. Although it was a wonderful film to work on, I almost wished it had happened a bit later when I was more experienced.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Cinematographer Billy Williams checks Katharine Hepburn’s light in the woods of New Hampshire on the set of On Golden Pond (1981), directed by Mark Rydell. Mary Ellen Mark

Cinematographer Billy Williams checks Katharine Hepburn’s light in the woods of New Hampshire on the set of On Golden Pond (1981), directed by Mark Rydell. Mary Ellen Mark

Director Francis Ford Coppola shelters himself from the driving rain that added to the troubles of an already beleaguered shoot for Apocalypse Now (1979). Mary Ellen Mark

Director Francis Ford Coppola shelters himself from the driving rain that added to the troubles of an already beleaguered shoot for Apocalypse Now (1979). Mary Ellen Mark

Reality is always extraordinary.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, and Art Garfunkel “French-kissing” on the set of Mike Nichols’s Carnal Knowledge (1971), in Vancouver, Canada. Mary Ellen Mark

Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, and Art Garfunkel “French-kissing” on the set of Mike Nichols’s Carnal Knowledge (1971), in Vancouver, Canada. Mary Ellen Mark

The obsessions we have are pretty much the same our whole lives. Mine are people, the human condition, life.

-Mary Ellen Mark

Melanie Griffith with her then boyfriend, Don Johnson, on Sanibel Island, Florida, during a break in filming of Night Moves (1975), directed by Arthur Penn. Mary Ellen Mark

Melanie Griffith with her then boyfriend, Don Johnson, on Sanibel Island, Florida, during a break in filming of Night Moves (1975), directed by Arthur Penn. Mary Ellen Mark

She was an innocent 15-year-old who was madly in love with Don Johnson. She was just a little kid with a little baby voice, but her mom trusted me. Now everything has to become this big production. I could never get a picture of that intimate morning now.

-Mary Ellen Mark, New York Times interview

Johnny Depp and Gunpowder, his character’s horse, in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999), Surrey, England. Mary Ellen Mark

Johnny Depp and Gunpowder, his character’s horse, in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999), Surrey, England. Mary Ellen Mark

People like Johnny Depp – he’s amazing, and he’s really cooperative – can make the picture for you, but you have to be able to move very quickly. You have to be on top of things, always, and know when to try to catch a picture.

-Mary Ellen Mark


André Kertész | Satyric Dancer, Paris, 1926
André Kertész | <i>Satyric Dancer, Paris, 1926</i>

André Kertész | Satyric Dancer, Paris, 1926

This picture of Magda was also taken in Beöthy’s studio. I said to her, ‘Do something with the spirit of the studio corner,’ and she started to move on the sofa. She just made a movement. I took only two photographs. No need to shoot a hundred rolls like people do today. People in motion are wonderful to photograph. It means catching the right moment–the moment when something changes into something else. It shows a kind of distortion similar to that in the photograph of the swimmer.

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész


Robert Frank | Los Angeles

To live for two months in LA is like being hospitalized.

-Robert Frank, February 27, 1956; from a letter to Walker Evans, while Frank was applying for a continuance of his Guggenheim grant.

Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

Los Angeles, 1956 © Robert Frank

Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

St. Francis, Gas Station and City Hall – Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

St. Francis, Gas Station and City Hall – Los Angeles, 1956, Robert Frank

Ranch market, Hollywood, California, Robert Frank

Ranch market, Hollywood, California, Robert Frank

Motorama, Los Angeles, California, Robert Frank

Motorama, Los Angeles, California, Robert Frank