Author Archives: nancy barr photocurator

This Blog Has Moved!

Untitled from Beyond Borders: Latino Immigrants and Southwest Detroit by Carlos Diaz, (c) 2011

Join me and other DIA staffers at our new blog – In upcoming months, I’ll be posting on photography exhibitions and related programs at the DIA. In the meantime save the date for our next photography exhibiton Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010 which opens to the public on Sunday, October 16, 2011 and mark your calendars for an evening lecture with Peter Galassi on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

Perspectives on Photography – Panel Discussion this Friday, May 20, 7p.m.@the DIA

Detroit's Cary Loren will weigh in on photography this Friday at the DIA. (c) Cary Loren, 2011

What does it mean for a photograph to be authentic? How does the so-called manipulation of photographs influence our perception and understanding of medium? What is the value of learning to “read” photographic images? A panel of Detroit-area photographers, arts professionals and educators will meet to discuss these issues during the program Perspectives on Photography: Authenticity, Invention and Image  which takes place this Friday, May 20, 7 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Lecture Hall.

Please join DIA Associate Curator Nancy Barr and moderator Leonard Walle, collector and president of the Forum for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs who will engage panelists in dialogue. Participants include Kyohei Abe, artist and director of the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography; Michelle Andonian, editorial and documentary photographer; Sara Blair, University of Michigan professor and author; Cary Loren, author, artist, and musician; and Corine Vermeulen, photographer and 2009 Kresge Fellow. A Q&A will follow the panel discussion.

This event is free with museum admission. This program is sponsored by the Forum for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Questions for our panel? Please post them below.

The kids are alright – students get behind the scenes at the DIA

Oakland Community College students on a visit to the DIA's works on paper study room (c) Rob Kangas 2011

The DIA’s department of prints, drawings and photographs has seen a good amount of activity these past few months with visits from art and art history students who attend Detroit-area colleges and universities. Oakland Community College instructor Rob Kangas recently brought his class to the museum’s works on paper study room to view photographs from the DIA’s collection. Rob has been working with the museum’s photo collection for nearly twenty years to teach his students about the history of photography and give them a rare opportunity to study a variety of photographic media first hand. They can see everything from 19th-century daguerreotypes to traditional black-and-white photographs and more recent digitally output prints. The photograph on the table seen above is by New York street photographer Weegee, but contemporary work was also on view and several students took the time to study an oversize photograph by Andrew Moore as seen below.

Students study an oversize photo in the DIA's works on paper study room (c) Rob Kangas

The experience is always memorable for his students – and for some it is the first time they actually step foot into the DIA!

Around Town and@the DIA – ART X Detroit, Rust Belt to Artist Belt and Detroit Revealed exhibition announced at the DIA

Southeast from Roof, Michigan Central, 2009, Scott Hocking © Scott Hocking, 2011

Recent photographs of Detroit will be the subject of an exhibition to open October 16, 2011, in the Albert and Peggy De Salle Gallery of Photography at the DIA. Featuring the work of Detroit-based and international artists, Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010 examines the challenges and dramatic visual transformation that came to characterize the city in the first decade of a new century and millennium that mark the post-industrial era of Detroit. Related programming is in the works and soon to be announced. In addition to photographs, the exhibition will feature video work by Dawoud Bey and Ari Marcopoulos.

Two artists representing a new generation of photography in Detroit –  Scott Hocking and 2009 Kresge fellow Corine Vermeulen – will contribute their vision of the city to Detroit Revealed. The two artists will also take part in upcoming city-wide ART X Detroit events this week – Corine’s photographs will be on view at MOCAD with other Kresge grantees in the ART X Detroit exhibition opening Wednesday, April 6. And Scott recently opened a solo exhibition at Hamtramck’s Public Pool and will join the panel discussion The Art of the Commons: A Discussion About Contemporary Art in Detroit” at an ART X Detroit related event to take place at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) on Friday, April 8 at 6 p.m.

Other goings on around town will prove to be a full slate of art-related events this week including the first ever local conference devoted to creative communities and urban development and renewal in Detroit and elsewhere. Hosted by my alma mater, the College for Creative Studies, the Rust Belt to Artists Belt conference will feature a line up of local and national influential voices on city development and the role of artists. If you are looking to hear a photographer’s perspective, check out Minneapolis-based artist Wing Young Huie who will contribute to the April 7 panel “Proving Ground Experiments in and with the Public Realm, and their relationship to the post-industrial environment.”

ART X Detroit events from April 6-10 feature city wide performances, discussions and exhibitions featuring appearances by recent Kresge Foundation fellows at museums, colleges and other sites around town.  Artists, writers and performers will be on hand to present their work and discuss their relationship to Detroit as an environment for creativity.

Of particular note, and for those interested in photographs of Detroit, is a Saturday, April 9 panel discussion entitled Chronicling a City in Change. Moderator and Team Detroit mogul Toby Barlow will join forces with local photographers and Detroit’s most respected art critic Vince Carducci (I may be partial to Vince knowing he regularly visits photo exhibitions at the DIA with his CCS students!). One notable young photographer Sean Doer will be on hand as well – if you don’t know Sean, his work graces the pages of a recent publication Lost Detroit.

The DIA will get in on the Art X Detroit action this Saturday, April 9, with a full day of events devoted to the pursuits of Kresge fellows. One of many highlights is a program with nationally acclaimed writer Luis Aguilar on Saturday evening when he presents The Troublemakers: The True, Epic Story of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Depression Detroit, with readings, historic images and original music composed and performed by Jessica Hernandez.

Going on as well this Saturday, in what may well be the big photo event of the spring, is the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography (DCCP) exhibition Artists Choice: Photographic Works by Michigan Artists which will open in their new digs at the Russell Industrial Center. DCCP Founding Director Kyohei Abe mentioned the current space is temporary until renovations are complete on another space at the Russell. Kyohei will be present as well at the DIA for the upcoming panel discussion Perspectives on Photography – Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m.

Kertész Exhibition Extended through May 29, 2011

Satiric Dancer, 1926, by André Kertész, (c)Estate of André Kertész, Higher Pictures

Due to popular demand, the DIA has extended An Intuitive Eye: André Kertész Photographs 1914-1969 through May 29, 2011. If you haven’t  seen it, the exhibition presents a survey of the photographer’s work from Hungary, Paris and New York City. It includes several new acquisitions, among them one of Kertész’s most iconic images entitled  Satiric Dancer from 1926. Throughout his years in Paris from 1925 to 1937, Kertész’s closest friends and subjects were fellow Hungarians such as dancer Magda Förstner who strikes a modern pose in the studio of another fellow Hungarian – the painter and sculptor István Beöthy.

Picture of the week – Hugh Grannum and William T. Williams – DIA’s Alain Locke honorees

Hugh Grannum (left) and William T. Williams (right) at the DIA; photographed by Eric Wheeler (c) The Detroit Institute of Arts 2010

The DIA’s Friends of African and African American Art honored former Detroit Free Press photographer Hugh Grannum and painter William T. Williams  at their annual Alain Locke Awards event this past Sunday.

DIA Alain Locke Awards to honor Detroit photographer Hugh Grannum and painter William T. Williams

This afternoon at 2 p.m. DIA’s Friends of African and African American Art (FAAAA) will present awards in honor of two legendary artists – painter William T. Williams and Detroit-based photographer Hugh Grannum – at their annual Alain Locke Awards event. As part of the program, Williams will present a lecture entitled “Merging Art and Life in Abstraction.” The event is free with museum admission.

Williams is known for his large, abstract paintings that reflect his mastery of color, his innovative artistic approaches, and his diverse range of interests. Emmy-Award-winning photographer Hugh Grannum worked for the Detroit Free Press for 37 years (he retired in 2007).

The FAAAA established the Alain Locke Awards in 1992 to honor individuals who advance and promote an understanding of African American culture. Dr. Alain Locke (1886-1954) was a distinguished African American intellectual and a leading promoter and interpreter of the artistic and cultural contributions of African Americans to American life.

You can catch Grannum as well this Thursday evening, February 17, 2011, at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, where he will participate in a discussion panel with other artists called “Art of the Masters: A Survey of African American Images, 1980-2000.” The event will begin at 6 p.m. – more information is available at the Wright Museum’s website –


DIA’s photo of the week – a rare portrait of Frida Kahlo

From the DIA's archive - Frida Kahlo overlooking Rivera Court circa 1932-33 (c) Detroit Institute of Arts

Last fall, I presented an informal talk for new members in celebration of the museum’s 125th anniversary. It seemed appropriate to look back on our long and illustrious history with a few historical photographs from the museum’s archive. DIA photographer Shell Hensleigh found the treasure above – a casual portrait of artist Frida Kahlo taken in the 1930s while her husband Diego Rivera completed his mural commission at the museum. Kahlo stood on the balcony overlooking the courtyard that we now refer to as Rivera Court.

Detroit Industry murals by Diego Rivera (c) Detroit Institute of Arts, 2011

DIA opens exhibition of photographs by André Kertész

Melancholic Tulip, 1938, by André Kertész, © Estate of André Kertész/Higher Pictures

André Kertész (1894-1985) brought a fresh eye along with his own perception of time and place to the art of photography. He worked intuitively – from the heart – most often without preconceived notions of the outcome of his photographs. His attention to light and composition was unique in his time.

Recently the Detroit Institute of Arts opened the exhibition An Intuitive Eye: André Kertész Photographs 1914-1969, which celebrates the artist’s work from over five decades.  The exhibition, drawn primarily from the DIA’s permanent collection, surveys his long and impressive career with 60 black-and-white photographs taken in Hungary, Paris and New York.

André Kertész was born in Budapest, Hungary, and obtained his first camera at the age of eighteen. He frequently photographed in his native countryside, and found meaningful subject matter in the landscape and among local farmers, family and friends. During World War I (1914-18) Kertész joined the Hungarian army and continued to take photographs, although he did not depict the horrors of war and instead made casual photographs of fellow soliders.  The DIA is fortunate to have a selection of these early photographs which are on loan from the Museum of Art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Shadows of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1929, by André Kertész © Estate of André Kertész/Higher Pictures

But Kertész is largely known for his photographic work made in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. Looking to prove himself as a serious photographer, he moved to the city in 1925. There he captured famous artists, writers and other creative individuals he met, but he became best known for his photographs of the city, mostly made on foot while he wandered around in neighborhoods, parks and other public spaces as a solitary observer. Kertész found great success in Paris. His workwas  included in exhibitions and was published frequently in magazines.

Melancholic Tulip, 1938, by André Kertész © Estate of André Kertész/Higher Pictures

In 1936, Kertész moved with his wife, Elizabeth, to New York. He made the  photograph Melancholic Tulip just two years after their arrival around 1938. Using distortion mirrors, a technique he had experimented with in Paris, he created it as a self-portrait representative of his disillusionment over a stalled photographic career and difficult transition to life in America. Although he only intended to stay in the U.S. for a short time, the outbreak of World War II made his return to Paris impossible.  It was a difficult period for the artist, and he had problems making professional connections in New York.

Washington Square, New York, 1954, by André Kertész, © Estate of André Kertész/Higher Pictures

Eventually he signed a contract with House and Garden magazine, to photograph interiors and architecture from 1947-62. His personal work diminished, but the DIA has a few photographs from these years including photographs of Washington Square Park, a frequent and familiar subject that he captured from the height of his 12th floor New York City apartment. It was not until he retired from the magazine in the early 1960s that he returned to his personal work with a renewed enthusiasm. He also finally achieved recognition that had alluded him for years when a renewed interest in his work led to international exhibitions and publications.

Just in time for the holidays, An Intuitive Eye: André Kertész Photographs 1914-69 is now on view in the Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography and will run through April 10, 2011. The exhibition is free with museum admission.

Philip Gefter to lecture on life and work of photographer André Kertész tonight@DIA

Shadows of the Eiffel Tour, 1926, by André Kertész, (c) Higher Pictures

Daily Beast blogger and former NYTimes page one picture editor will present a lecture this evening on the life and work of Hungarian photographer André Kertész. Join us a 7p.m. in the DIA’s Lecture Hall. The lecture is free with museum admission and is sponsored by The Forum for Prints, Drawings and Photographs.