Category: Books
Daido Moriyama | Shinjuku

One of my favorite single series is Daido Moriyama’s book of wanderings in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo. Viewing his fractured, scattered, shattered images is to embark on a journey as a furtive outsider, stalking the streets, seeking prey in alleys, noodle shops and sex bars.

Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

As long as I can walk, I will continue wandering the streets.

-Daido Moriyama

Shinjiku, Daido Moriyama

Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

I want to express the realness of Japan. I want to show what is really going on.

-Daido Moriyama

Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

I’m not always a stray dog. Sometimes I’m a cat or an insect.

-Daido Moriyama

Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

The cover of the limited signed edition of Shinjuku, Daido Moriyama

The streets are my territory and I still wander them aimlessly with my camera.

-Daido Moriyama


André Kertész | Broken Plate, Paris, 1929
André Kertész | <i>Broken Plate, Paris, 1929</i>

André Kertész | Broken Plate, Paris, 1929

In this picture of Montmartre, I was just testing a new lens for a special effect. When I went to America, I left most of my material in Paris, and when I returned I found sixty percent of the glass-plate negatives were broken. This one I saved, but it had a hole in it. I printed it anyways. And accident helped me to produce a beautiful effect.

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész


André Kertész | Underwater Swimmer, 1917
Underwater Swimmer Esztergom,1917, André Kertész

Underwater Swimmer Esztergom,1917, André Kertész

After I was wounded [in WWI] I was in the hospital for almost nine months. We went swimming in the pool every day, and I realized the distortions in the water. When I photographed them my comrades said, ‘You are crazy. Why did you photograph this?’ I answered: ‘Why only girl friends? This also exists.’ So I photographed my first distortion in 1917 – others followed later, especially the nudes in 1933.

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész


Yasuhiro Ishimoto | Newspaper Photo

I have owned a book of Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s work by The Art Institute of Chicago for almost a decade now. I enjoy Ishimoto’s work and refer to it periodically. From his street shooting to his found still lifes or to his austere study of the Katsura Villa, Ishimoto jumps through these jarringly different genres with his signature delicate quiet touch intact.

Here is one of my favorite images of his which I believe does not have a title. It was taken in Chicago in Grant Park and as much as it appears to sum up the decisive moment of the street photographer, Ishimoto actually chased those sheets of newspaper for over an hour.

Untitled

Untitled, Yasuhiro Ishimoto


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


Born Yogis | Korean Edition
The cover of the Korean edition of <i>Born Yogis</i> © Susie Arnett, Doug Kim

The cover of the Korean edition of Born Yogis © Susie Arnett, Doug Kim

I just received the Korean edition of our book Born Yogis in the mail yesterday. It is awesome on many levels.

First, the design aesthetic has changed to a high-end slick Asian magazine look, which is the photos presented plainly with very clean black text on white pages.

Second, the biggest surprise is that they took Ely off the cover and put Soul on instead. But then again, it is an Asian market so the exotic white baby with a bit of a Topanga ‘fro will market well. I apologize for the dirty scans but well, I was using a dirty scanner.

Still waiting for the Russian edition. And a copy of the German edition, come to think of it. More to come!

Kelly, from the Korean edition of <i>Born Yogis</i> © Susie Arnett, Doug Kim

Kelly, from the Korean edition of Born Yogis © Susie Arnett, Doug Kim

Forrest, from the Korean edition of <i>Born Yogis</i> © Susie Arnett, Doug Kim

Forrest, from the Korean edition of Born Yogis © Susie Arnett, Doug Kim


Robert Frank | New Yorker Article on “The Americans”

There is an excellent article in the September 14th issue of the New Yorker, detailing Robert Frank’s journey across the States and a review of the book Looking In: Robert Frank’s “The Americans.”

Rodeo, New York City, 1954, Robert Frank

Rodeo, New York City, 1954, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Anthony Lane writes in the article:

It had been a year, more or less, since he embarked, and there was much to reflect upon. Luckily, he’d taken a few photographs along the way.

In fact, he took around twenty-seven thousand. There were more than seven hundred and sixty rolls of film to develop: an impressive tally, even to snap-happy profligates of the digital age. Then there were contact sheets to print and mark up; from those, he made a thousand work prints, which were tacked to the walls of his apartment on Third Avenue, near Tenth Street, or laid flat on the floor for closer inspection, before being whittled down to a hundred. The final count, from all those months on the road, was eighty-three pictures: enough for a slim book, which was published in November, 1958, in Paris, as “Les Américains,” and here, in January, 1960, as “The Americans.” For his pains, Frank was paid two hundred dollars in advance, a sum that rose to just over eight hundred and seventeen dollars by the end of the year. By then, the book was out of print.

The original book from 1959:

Robert Frank ‘The Americans’ New York: Grove Press 1959

Robert Frank ‘The Americans’ New York: Grove Press 1959

Trolley, New Orleans, 1955, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Trolley, New Orleans, 1955, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Parade, Hoboken, New Jersey, 1955, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Indianapolis, 1955, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Indianapolis, 1955, Robert Frank "The Americans"

Additional contact sheets from the hardcover edition of “Looking In”:

proof sheets from Robert Frank's "The Americans: Looking In"

proof sheets from Looking In: Robert Frank's " The Americans "


Jim Carroll, 1949 – 2009
Patti Smith and Jim Carroll, sometime somewhere by someone

Patti Smith and Jim Carroll, Circa 1970 Photo by Wren D'Antonio

I met him in 1970, and already he was pretty much universally recognized as the best poet of his generation.

-Patti Smith

Nice_to_See_You_photo1
Nice_to_See_You_photo2

You’re growing up. And rain sort of remains on the branches of a tree that will someday rule the Earth. And it’s good that there is rain. It clears the month of your sorry rainbow expressions, and it clears the streets of the silent armies… so we can dance.

-Jim Carroll

Dave Treganna, Dave Parsons, Jim Carroll and Stiv Bators, NYC, 1981, unknown photographer

Dave Treganna, Dave Parsons, Jim Carroll and Stiv Bators, NYC, 1981, unknown photographer

Do not see that piece of shit movie (Okay, I haven not seen it, but it looks like a piece of shit). Go to a bookstore and buy The Basketball Diaries or the album Catholic Boy. I have bought that book four or five times because it is never returned once it has been lent.


Frank O’Hara | Music

Music

If I rest for a moment near The Equestrian
pausing for a liver sausage sandwich in the Mayflower Shoppe,
that angel seems to be leading the horse into Bergdorf’s
and I am naked as a table cloth, my nerves humming.
Close to the fear of war and the stars which have disappeared.
I have in my hands only 35c, it’s so meaningless to eat!
and gusts of water spray over the basins of leaves
like the hammers of a glass pianoforte. If I seem to you
to have lavender lips under the leaves of the world,
I must tighten my belt.
It’s like a locomotive on the march, the season
of distress and clarity
and my door is open to the evenings of midwinter’s
lightly falling snow over the newspapers.
Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear, trumpet
of early afternoon! in the foggy autumn.
As they’re putting up the Christmas trees on Park Avenue
I shall see my daydreams walking by with dogs in blankets,
put to some use before all those coloured lights come on!
But no more fountains and no more rain,
and the stores stay open terribly late.

Frank O’Hara

Frank O'Hara, 1958 by Harry Reidl

Frank O'Hara, 1958 by Harry Redl

O’Hara remains my favorites of the Beats. His Collected Poems and Lunch Poems are essential additions to any library.

He was known for writing poems in an instinctive and reactive manner, improvising on the spot, not caring anything for traditional form or structure, and for later disregarding or even discarding the final product. Shoving them into his desk drawer to be forgotten was the best that could be hoped for and Garrison Keillor wrote that “Some of his poems only survive because friends copied them down and sent the copies to each other in letters.”

I don’t believe in rhythm, assonance, [any] of that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, ‘Give it up! I was a track star.’

-Frank O’Hara

It may be that poetry makes life’s nebulous events tangible to me and restores their detail; or conversely, that poetry brings forth the intangible quality of incidents which are all too concrete and circumstantial. Or each on specific occasions, or both all the time.

-Frank O’Hara


Looking In: Robert Frank’s “The Americans”

September 22, 2009 through January 3, 2010, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be hosting the exhibit, Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans. Organized by the National Gallery of Art, the exhibit has traveled from DC to San Francisco, ending in New York. The new exhibit and book are a celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Americans, one of the most influential single series of photographs ever published. The exhibit will feature all 83 photos from the book that were made on his cross-country road trip from 1955-56.

On Friday, October 9th, Robert Frank will be appearing in conversation with the curators and organizers of this presentation at the Met. Do not miss this, as Frank does not make many public appearances these days. Purchase tickets here. I already have mine and am sure it will sell out soon.

Whether you attend or not, purchase the book right now. The expanded hardcover features 83 pages of contact sheets which are a treasure unto themselves (the softcover is an abridged version and does not offer all of the contact sheets.) I have had the book for two weeks and have barely made a dent in it because of the richness offered and the lessons to be learned. The Americans and Robert Frank’s body of work were already inestimable contributions and as familiar as I am with those 83 images, I am stunned by how little I understood the skill and remarkable taste Frank had in his choices, the sequencing of the images, cropping and yes, even grant writing (the original letters are included.)

It is truly an eye-opening experience into how complete his talents are and how the mix of of them achieved a perfect balance with The Americans.

The one thing I will share is the tiniest snippet of a lesson I am absorbing. The shot of the elevator girl in Miami Beach has always been a favorite of mine. Below is an excerpt from the contact sheet with that image on it. You can see Frank working the situation and the idea over 14 frames.

Cartier-Bresson once said of contact sheets:

My contact sheets may be compared to the way you drive a nail in a plank. First you give several light taps to build up a rhythm and align the nail with the wood. Then, much more quickly, and with as few strokes as possible, you hit the nail forcefully on the head and drive it in.

Robert_Frank_Elevator-Miami-Beach_1955sm

Elevator, Miami Beach, 1955, Robert Frank

robertfrank

Excerpt from contact sheet from the book: Looking In: Robert Frank’s “The Americans”