Tag Archives: DIA

Summer 2010 Wrap Up – Recent Photo News@the DIA

 As summer comes to a close, and we push through our annual August slow down, it’s no doubt our visitors are wondering what’s been going on at the DIA. Through African Eyes closed earlier in the month. The exhibition was carefully packed up and is now en route to the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. A few select photographs from the DIA’s collection by West African photographer Sedyou Keita and South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa will travel with other exquisite and very unique African treasures from museums around the world.

DIA special exhibition galleries in transition, August 2010

In the meantime, our special exhibitions galleries are presently in overhaul mode as we prepare for the November 21, 2010, opening of Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries which will feature about 50 re-evaluated permanent collection works of all media and from many cultures.  The exhibition explores the methods used by museums to examine and authenticate works of art. One photograph will be on view – a dubious Man Ray rayogram (also known as a photogram) that experts believe is a copy, but you’ll have to come to the exhibition to learn more about this.

André Kertész circa 1980, by Bill Rauhauser, © Bill Rauhauser 2010

With the Robert Frank photo exhibition closing in July, and our main photo gallery down for most of the year, behind the scenes preparations are ongoing for an upcoming season of new programs and more exhibitions in development. The Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery is now under wraps for a fresh paint job and cleaning but will open again to the public on November 24, 2010, with An Intuitive Eye: André Kertész Photographs 1914-1969. Largely a permanent collection exhibition, we were fortunate to find the artist’s lesser known, but critical early Hungarian photographs which will be on loan from University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor. From the DIA’s collection, we’ve included Kertész’s iconic work from Paris in the 1920s and 1930s in addition to late work he made throughout New York City after 1940. The exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work at the DIA and coincides with the 25th anniversary of his death in 1985. 

Philip Gefter scheduled to lecture at the DIA Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

Our stellar department support group – The Forum for Prints, Drawings and Photographs – will host a series of artist’s lectures this fall as well as an encore presentation by Philip Gefter on the work of  André Kertész. Gefter traveled to Detroit and the DIA this past June for a talk on Robert Frank, and we so enjoyed it, we asked him back again! Join us for his  lecture and a special preview of An Intuitive Eye at 7pm on Friday, November 19, 2010. The exhibition will open officially to the public on Sunday, November 24, 2010, and is free with museum admission.

Hall of Thirty-Three Bays, 1995, by Hiroshi Sugimoto, © Hiroshi Sugimoto

 On the publications front, DIA editor Judith Ruskin and I have finalized texts for an upcoming issue of the DIA’s Bulletin – the first dedicated solely to the medium of photography (the DIA’s Bulletin has been in publication since 1919). Ongoing research and interest in our growing collection by several colleagues across the nation led to the development of this journal. The issue will feature essays on permanent collection works including Victorian era photography as seen in the cyanotypes of Anna Atkins and examine the pre World War II era of pictorialism in the work of Paul Anderson. Also highlighted are contemporary photographs including work by Lewis Baltz, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Greg Crewdson and the young women of the so-called Yale School who rose to fame in the late 1990s. MFA, Boston, colleague Karen Haas was even kind enough to take time away from her research as curator of The Lane Collection to pen a very interesting article on a series of 1955 photographs made by Robert Frank for an essay on train travel for Fortune magazine. The Bulletin is due out sometime in September 2010 and will be available in our museum shop.  

One highlight from the summer was an email from writer and film producer Mary Dejarlais asking if I would take part in the upcoming documentary film based on the life and photographic work of Detroit native Bill Rauhauser, who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday. As a former photo student of Bill’s at the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, back in the 1980s, it was an absolute pleasure to share what I remembered about him as a mentor and creative spirit. And so few people know about his efforts to establish the DIA’s photography collection early in the 1960s. Bill still supports the DIA and attends events and exhibitions. News about the film’s première and accompanying biography will get posted here as soon as I get word from the producers, but we may see it screen locally in September 2010. Desjarlais is also the author of a biography about Bill to be published this fall.  

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Save the dates for spring photography programs at the DIA and around town

Drive-in movie—Detroit, 1955, © Robert Frank, from The Americans

SAVE THE DATES! – The DIA will present upcoming programs in conjunction with Detroit Experiences: Robert Frank Photographs, 1955.

Friday, June 4, 2010, 7:30 p.m. in DIA’s Lecture Hall, author Philip Gefter will present a lecture – Robert Frank and the Beat Generation.

Philip Gefter believes that Robert Frank split the century in half in terms of his legendary and groundbreaking photographic work of the 1950s. His influence was felt by all who followed him. Join him as he discusses the work of Frank and his relationship to Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac among others. Gefter will also be on hand after the lecture to sign copies of Photography After Frank, a book of essays recently published by Aperture.

Gefter was on staff at The New York Times for over fifteen years, both as the Page One Picture Editor and Senior Picture Editor for Culture, and wrote regularly about photography for the paper. He produced the forthcoming documentary, Bill Cunningham New York about the New York Times fashion photographer. Currently he writes about photography for The Daily Beast, and he is at work on a biography of Sam Wagstaff for W.W. Norton.

This program is free with museum admission and sponsored by the Forum for Prints, Drawings and Photographs. For more info about the auxiliary, follow us on facebook at  www.facebook.com/DIAFPDP or check in on our activities at the DIA’s new website.

Saturday, June 12, 2010, 4:00 p.m., DIA’s Detroit Film Theater will present An American Journey by French director Phillipe Séclier. I highly recommend this film having seen it last fall at the Film Forum in New York – a documentary with often breathtaking cinematography, it is illuminating, humorous and takes a different look at Robert Frank and the making of his book The Americans. Made in 2009, An American Journey travels back to the cities, towns and rural communities that Frank immortalized in The Americans. He even traveled to Detroit’s most famous public park Belle Isle to find the place where Frank took photographs.

Speaking with many individuals who knew and know Frank, the director included commentary by artist Edward Ruscha, publisher Barney Rosset, photographers John Cohen and Raymond Depardon, and curators/critics Vicki Goldberg, Sarah Greenough and Peter Galassi who discuss the inspiration and complex artistic methodology that fueled the Swiss-born Robert Frank in his American journey. The film is free with museum admission. For more information about this film and the DFT film schedule – it’s all at www.dia.org/detroitfilmtheatre.

Of note as well is photographer Andrew Moore’s lecture this Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m at Oakland Community College. Moore just released a new book of his work entitled Detroit Disassembled and will appear at the OCC for a lecture and book signing sponsored by Book Beat.

Robert Frank and his Detroit experiences on view in DIA photo exhibition opening March 3

Detroit River Rouge Plant, 1955, © Robert Frank

Detroit Experiences: Robert Frank Photographs, 1955 opens at the DIA this Wednesday, March 3. I thought readers might want a quick look at a few of the photographs in the exhibition (there are over 60 works – all from the DIA’s permanent collecction) which will be on view in the special exhibition galleries just off Rivera court where the Detroit Industry murals by Mexican artist Diego Rivera have been on view since 1932.

View of the DIA's Rivera court and Diego Rivera's Industry murals from 1932

View of the DIA's Rivera court and Diego Rivera's Industry murals from 1932

Both men found inspiration for their work at the Ford Motor Company River Rouge plant (known as “the Rouge” to locals) in Dearborn, Michigan.

Frank spent several days photographing at the Rouge in 1955. About a third of the exhibition includes Frank’s rare imagery from inside the huge complex. He also visited Belle Isle, the Gratiot Drive-In (found in Roseville, Michigan, and now demolished), as well as other familiar haunts around the city. Frank came to Detroit to photograph “how Americans live and work” – several of the Detroit images were reproduced in his book The Americans and appeared in later publications he created. The photographs were part of a larger group of nearly 27,000 images he took traveling across the U.S on a Guggenheim fellowship.

DIA visitors weigh in on the photographs of Walker Evans

Response station for the recent DIA photo exhibition

When the exhibition Photography – The First 100 Years closed on January 3, 2010, I had a chance to review feedback left behind from visitors who took the time to comment on the work of Walker Evans, who was the first photographer to be recognized  with a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1938. A response station was set up in the gallery and we asked visitors, “are you a fan or a critic” of the late photographer’s work? An overwhelming majority of visitors expressed their praise for Evans’ straight documentary approach to 1930’s American subjects.

View of Walker Evans' photographs in the DIA exhibition "Photography: The First 100 Years"

View of Walker Evans' photographs in the DIA exhibition "Photography: The First 100 Years"

Evans was represented by over a dozen photographs in the exhibition, which traced the development of photography by over 50 photographers from about 1840 to 1940. Impressionistic imagery by pictorialist photographers and iconic modernist photographs by Edward Weston, Charles Sheeler and Edward Steichen were on view to the public as well. Walker Evans cared neither for the “artsiness” of the pictorialists nor the slickness of modernism, particularly when applied to advertisting work as seen in work by Edward Steichen.

With nearly 1,000 response cards submitted, I read them all  – from eloquent to stoic and sparse – Evans clearly had a few critics, but mostly fans. Here are a few cards that represent a cross-section of the wide variety of responses we received.

Response stations are popular with our visitors and can be found throughout the museum. One particularly active station has been set up in the current Schwartz galleries for the exhibition “Government Support for the Arts: WPA Prints from the 1930s” – to view visitor responses, mostly hand drawn, check out our  “WPA Response” Flickr page.

The First 100 Years of Photography – Exhibition to Open Sept. 2@the DIA

Julia Margaret Cameron, Enid from Idylls of the King, 1874

Julia Margaret Cameron, Enid from Idylls of the King, 1874

On September 2 the DIA opens a new exhibition, Photography – The First 100 Years: A Survey from the DIA’s Collection. Taking a look at the early years of photography and its development as a new art form, the DIA presents a survey of 90 works from its collection. Included are a number of notable rare works from the 19th century as well as iconic imagery from the 1920s and 1930s. Photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke White, Dorothea Lange in addition to 50 other pioneers and great innovators of the medium are on view in the exhibition which runs through January 3, 2010.

Unknown Photographer, Soldier and Companion, 1861-65, tintype.

Unknown Photographer, Soldier and Companion, 1861-65, tintype.

One of the highlights from this exhibition is a tintype portrait of an African American couple from the 1860s. The process, a photographic image made on metal, appeared in the 1850s.  The DIA was fortunate enough to acquire it back in 2001, when it went on the auction block with other items from the collection of Jackie Napoleon Wilson, a Detroiter who developed an important and rare collection of 19th-century portraits of African Americans over the years. The exhibition moves onward from the 19th century with sections devoted to the pictorialist, modernist and social documentary eras. Photography – The First 100 Years kicks off a new and exciting season of photography exhibitions this fall 2009 and into spring 2010 at the DIA – here’s the round-up:

Avedon Fashion Photographs 1944-2000– opening October 18, 2009 through January 17, 2010. The DIA will host the first large-scale fashion retrospective since Richard Avedon’s death in 2004. Organized by the International Center for Photography, New York, the exhibition includes 181 images – many are well-known photographs – in addition to magazines and other interesting ephemera that illustrates the long and legendary career of one of America’s most successful and interesting photographers.

Detroit Experiences: Robert Frank Photographs 1955 opening March 3 through July 4, 2010. This exhibition includes over 60 black-and white photographs taken by Robert Frank in Detroit. Made during his travels through the U.S. photographing for his book The Americans, Frank observed Detroiters as they lived and worked at mid century in the U.S. In this rare body of work, many of which will be on view for the first time at the DIA, Frank documented the day-to-day lives of Americans as he tried to mingle with assembly line workers at the Rouge Factory, took in a movie at the Gratiot Drive-In, and experienced public life on Belle Isle and in the streets of Detroit. All were part of the Detroit experience as Frank perceived it over fifty years ago.