photography

Bill Cunningham New York

November 12, 2011
Film Still, Bill Cunningham New York

There are many occasions in this film when one begins to wonder: “Is Bill Cunningham actually, clinically, mad?” Never in the course of a human life-time has so much energy and enthusiasm been expended on a subject that many would regard as trivial, superficial or blatantly commercial – the fashion industry. After watching this documentary … More


Bill Henson

April 9, 2011
Bill Henson photo

Most artists would be delighted to find a TV news crew at their exhibition, but last week in Melbourne a Channel Ten reporter and her entourage were not allowed to film the first night of Bill Henson’s new show at Tolarno Galleries. Because television reporters apparently have a God-given right to go anywhere, the indignation … More


Photography & Place & An Edwardian Summer

April 2, 2011
Screen shot 2012-06-30 at 9.52.29 PM

In 1975 the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York, hosted the exhibition: New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. It is still talked about as one of the most influential shows of the modern era, with an index of its significance being that second-hand copies of the original catalogue now change hands for … More


Pride and Passion

March 19, 2011

Photographic Portraits of Fairfield by Danny Huynh Multiculturalism isn’t folk dancing, it’s the stoning of adulterers. Anthony Daniels. ‘Multiculturalism’ is one of the most contested terms in our modern liberal democracy. For some commentators it represents a sentimental dream of folk dances, national costumes and ethnic cuisine. Others see it as a mask for religious … More


Jeff Carter

February 12, 2011
Jeff Carter, Joie de vivre, Sydney, 1963 Digital (inkjet) photographic print PXD 1070/no. 75

Ideally we expect a steely detachment from our arts professionals, but Barry Pearce, the retiring Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW, recently admitted that he couldn’t be objective about the works of Justin O’Brien. At the State Library last week I had the same feeling about the late Jeff Carter, one … More


Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life

November 27, 2010
Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag, Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris, 2002

Annie Leibovitz’s career reads like one long cautionary tale on the fickleness of fame – a condition the poet, Rilke, famously described as “the sum of all misunderstandings”. As the world’s leading photographer of celebrities she has become a celebrity in her own right. This is the main reason her exhibition at the Museum of … More


Annie Leibovitz: a preview

November 20, 2010
Annie Leibovitz's family snaps: My brother Philip and my father, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1988

Every aspiring amateur should find inspiration in the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, for it suggests that one can be the most famous, most highly paid photographer in the world, and rarely produce anything that might be called a masterpiece. Leibovitz is known for her portraits of celebrities, and by the ineluctable … More


Annie Leibovitz at the MCA

November 19, 2010
Annie Leibovitz, Patti Smith with her Children, Jackson and Jesse, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 1996

Every aspiring amateur should[JM1] find inspiration in the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, for it suggests that one can be the most famous, most highly paid photographer in the world, and rarely produce anything that might be called a masterpiece. Leibovitz is known for her portraits of celebrities, and by the … More


Alfred Stieglitz

July 24, 2010
Alfred Stieglitz ‘City of ambition’, 1911, photogravure, 33.9 x 26.0

In his poem, On the Manner of Addressing Clouds, Wallace Stevens describes those billowing masses as “gloomy grammarians in golden gowns”. Passing through the skies, clouds elicit high-minded tributes from poets and artists, yet drift on indifferently. Clouds are ephemeral, yet monumental. The work of art aspires to permanence and monumentality, yet it too is … More


Bill Henson David Aspden

May 15, 2010
Bill Hensen, Untitled #7, 2008/2009, archival inkjet pigment print

How fleeting and fickle are the excitements generated by the media. In 2008 it seemed as though Australian civilisation was on the brink of disaster because Bill Henson had exhibited photographs of nude teenagers. It made little difference that he had been doing this for almost thirty years already, with the works being shown in … More