Category: Quotes
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


Sharon Olds | The One Girl at the Boys Party
St. Maarten's, Nikon D300, 80-200mm

St. Maarten's, Nikon D300, 80-200mm © Doug Kim

The One Girl at the Boys Party

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they’ll plunge in the deep end, she’ll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she’ll be doing her
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.

-Sharon Olds, (1983)

Sharon Olds by David Bartolomi

Sharon Olds by David Bartolomi


Helmut Newton | The Gunfighter Pose

You know, I loved always Gary Cooper as a gunfighter in High Noon. They are always ready to draw. They are always like this… Which means that the outline of the body, there is daylight behind them. When you have your hands there [on the body], you don’t see the outline of the body, the little waist, the big shoulders. So my models often stand exactly, or what I hope will be the gunfighter’s stance.

-Helmut Newton

Nadja Auermann by Helmut Newton

Nadja Auermann by Helmut Newton

Brigitte Nielsen by Helmut Newton

Brigitte Nielsen by Helmut Newton

Hugh Hefner's screening room by Helmut Newton

Hugh Hefner's screening room by Helmut Newton


Joe Sorren’s Paintings

I first became aware of Joe Sorren’s work at Storyopolis in West Hollywood, that amazing children’s bookstore which has since relocated to the valley. What other kids book store has original Dr. Seuss drawings and vintage New Yorker cartoons?

There were two pieces hanging on a column at Storyopolis that caught my eye. They were the two posted below, “Those Two Guys…” and “Opus” which are now available at La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Feliz. Sorren’s work reminds me of those completely rare picture books I read as a kid that instead of simple adventures involving backyards and rabbits, were stories that were surreal and wild and scary and took me to places beyond what I could have imagined.

His paintings are a gentle moment of LSD lucidity with broad strokes of humor and playfulness and in each, underneath the surreal patina, a touch of something darker and sadder.

"Those Two Guys That Everyone Wishes They Had At Their Party", Joe Sorren

"Those Two Guys That Everyone Wishes They Had At Their Party", Joe Sorren

"Opus", Joe Sorren

"Opus", Joe Sorren

I love the fact that all bets are off when you paint; the idea that anything can happen captivates me.

-Joe Sorren

"Elliot's Attraction to All Things Uncertain", Joe Sorren

"Elliot's Attraction to All Things Uncertain", Joe Sorren

Joe-Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

"When She Was Camera", Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

"Bump", Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

"Astrea", Joe Sorren

I usually enter a painting with no ideas, and just begin applying paint to see what arrives. I find art to be most engaging when I am surprising myself. As long as I stay open for whatever to arrive, anything can show up for dinner.

-Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

"Anthologia", Joe Sorren

joe-sorren2

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

Unknown Title, Joe Sorren

Joe Sorren

"Jammer", Joe Sorren

"Glimmer", Joe Sorren

"Glimmer", Joe Sorren

"Butterflies", Joe Sorren

"Butterflies", Joe Sorren


Gordon Parks | Long Haired Furs

This series from Life Magazine in 1952 sums up just one of the many contradictions and facets that made up Gordon Parks. Filmmaker, poet, writer, photographer, movie producer, cinematographer, magazine publisher, novelist, activist, choreographer, semi-pro basketball player, and composer. And those are the accomplishments of his that I can list just off the top of my head.

He was an amazing man and perhaps his greatest work of art was his life itself. Read his works, watch his movies, read about his life, view his images. He was truly an iconoclast.

Someone once described him as the “elegant photojournalist.” This may be true, but it is also a sadly narrow and tiny taste of his expansive talents.

What is truly remarkable is how he could compartmentalize his talents. The eyes and the mind behind these images were also behind Shaft, The Learning Tree, “American Gothic” and “The Emerging Man”.

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs1_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

You know, the camera is not meant just to show misery.

-Gordon Parks

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs2_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

There’s another horizon out there, one more horizon that you have to make for yourself and let other people discover it, and someone else will take it further on, you know.

-Gordon Parks

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs3_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

I bought my first camera in Seattle, Washington. Only paid about seven dollars and fifty cents for it.

-Gordon Parks

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs4_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

I haven’t even learned how to spell Renaissance yet.

-Gordon Parks

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs5_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

But all I know, it was a constant effort, a constant feeling that I must not fail, and I still have that. And now, I feel at 85, I really feel that I’m just ready to start.

-Gordon Parks

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs7_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

In New York growing up, you never saw a black person on the street, you never saw a black person in the store, you never saw them in a restaurant. It just didn’t exist. So when Gordon and I met, it was really without any boundaries. First of all, he was drop-dead good-looking. We just looked into each other’s eyes, and we were friends.

-Gloria Vanderbilt

http://www.ricecracker.net/files/blog_images/gordonparks_furs8_large.jpg

Life Magazine, Gordon Parks, 1952

Many times I wondered whether my achievement was worth the loneliness I experienced, but now I realize the price was small.

-Gordon Parks


The Hamptons | The End of Summer

Labor Day weekend in The Hamptons.

Tim, Amagansett; Leica M6 TTL, 35mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X

Tim, Amagansett; Leica M6 TTL, 35mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

-Sam Keen

Cullen, Amagansett; Leica M6 TTL, 35mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X

Cullen, Amagansett; Leica M6 TTL, 35mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Till Summer folds her miracle-
As Women-do-their Gown-
Or Priests-adjust the Symbols-
When Sacrament-is done-

-Emily Dickinson

Ellie and Aubrey, Amagansett, Leica M6 TTL, 35mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X

Ella and Aubrey, Amagansett, Leica M6 TTL, 35mm summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

In summer, the song sings itself.

-William Carlos Williams


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”