Friday, 28 August 2009

Classic Album Covers #1 - Terry Callier

As this blog has slowly transformed into a collection of the many influences I'm absorbing into the photography on Art Of The City, I thought I should finally start acknowledging by other biggest source of visual inspiration: album covers. I remember Paul Weller once saying something to the effect that he didn't have a favourite author and that when he was growing up that Lennon and McCartney were his favourite authors. In that same spirit, when I was growing up in a non-descript Midlands satellite town, photography and art galleries didn't really register but album and single sleeves proved a constant source of inspiration. I would identify with a great cover, trust a songwriter more for their artistic eye and often chance my luck on buying an album on the strength of the appearance alone. The covers mattered and they still do.
     This occasional series will dig through the photos and designs that I've loved for years or just recently discovered, from the strange oddities to the stylish classics. First up is this cover from Terry Callier's 1973 lost gem What Color Is Love. The music is a dream; a hazy, lovelorn mix of folk, jazz and soul. When the sax flies on the epic opener Dancing Girl, it cuts cleanly through the bluesy atmosphere like a finger through dust on a shelf. As one reviewer has put it so sweetly, "everything you think about the cover is revealed in song." Listen to the full album here...

Hip Detours #2 - David A Ljungberg

David A Ljungberg

The Hip Walk
Imaginative manipulations, ethereal street photography and fantastical illustrations from the Swedish creative. Thanks to the excellent F Blog for the tip...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Double Or Quits

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sifnos, Greece, 1961 
© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

I've been in Paris for work over the weekend but managed to see the two Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibitions that are currently on show in the city - Henri Cartier-Bresson à Vue d'œil at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) and Henri Cartier-Bresson: L’Imaginaire d’Après Nature at the Museum of Modern Art.

There is plenty of overlap in the two displays, explained away by the former being a selection from their 300-strong collection and the latter being a set curated by Cartier-Bresson himself in 1975. The Museum has the benefit of a few larger prints and extra space, while the MEP has some less well-known images to tempt you in (not to mention the added bonus of some Saul Leiter images in the "recent acquisitions" display in the basement...). Regardless of the relative merits, what really struck me is the way in which HCB really drew the best from black and white - the shot above is almost no longer a scene from a Greek village but a beautifully arranged collection of bold abstract shapes. It is not only a moment caught but also a scene filtered down to it's very essence.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Quotes: William Burroughs

"You know, they ask me if I were on a desert island and I knew nobody would ever see what I wrote, would I go on writing? My answer is most emphatically yes. I would go on writing for company. Because I'm creating an imaginary — it's always imaginary — world in which I would like to live."
- William Burroughs quoted in Paris Review, Fall 1965

Monday, 17 August 2009

Todd Antony: Outside In

Todd Antony, Sicilian Room, 2009

Just a quicky today. Here's another great long exposure night photograph from Todd Antony. I especially like the fact that you get a sense of the city through the curtains and condensation, without ever seeing it directly. It is taken in a very traditional interior but the bustle of the city is deliciously close at hand, just outside the window. You can view more of Todd's stylish landscape work on his own flashy website here or better captioned on his flickr site here.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Hip Detours #1 - Antonio Santin

I come across plenty of great young(ish) artists and photographers online that I want to share and so I've come up with a quick format for this going forward. In a bid to turn a few more people on to their work, I'm going to offer you condensed tasters of their latest output, with a link to finding out more. Here's the first, I hope I end up uncovering something new that you like... 

Antonio Santin

The Jive Talk
“Santin’s images are imbued with a provocative edge, a painterly violation of photographic intentions - whilst simultaneously suggesting a celebration of the freedom of paint, enlivening an image from the flatness and fixed, controlled nature of the photographic image.”
- Rollo Contemporary Art press release

The Hip Walk
Spookily photorealistic portraits of women drowning in milk

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Floriane de Lassée: Another Night Shift

Continuing my recent fascination with long exposure shots of cities by night, I came across the "Night Series" by young Parisian photographer Floriane de Lassée. It is obviously something of an obsession for him too, as he has produced shots in a variety of locations over a number of years now, starting in New York and taking in Moscow, Paris and the Far East. 
     There's a real sense of inquiry and improvement across each subsequent series too, culminating in the stunning Beijing shots below, which are the first set of nocturnal photos I have seen that manage to capture interesting interiors and exteriors in a single image.

Floriane de Lassée, Image 213, Beijing 2008
from the "Night Views" series

Floriane de Lassée, Image 225, Beijing 2008
from the "Night Views" series

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Poster Art: Out Of The Past

William Rose, Out Of The Past
Original US poster print, 104x69cm, 1947

Poster Art Wednesday is back with the bang of a vintage Enfield revolver, as I opted to dig up this vintage Mitchum film noir.
     William Rose was one of the most prolific illustrators of the 1940s, preparing RKO cinema posters for everything from "the greatest film of all time" Citizen Kane to the cult B-movie Cat People (tagline: "She was marked with the curse of those who slink and court and kill by night!"). The artist also reportedly produced a painting a week for romance novels and society magazines, like Cosmopolitan and  American Weekly.
     The real interesting twist here is in the divided loyalties between these two sources of commissions. By all accounts, Citizen Kane was loosely based on the story of USnewspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who just happened to own American Weekly. Hearst had taken objection to the Orson Welles' film and done his damnedest to prevent its theatrical release in 1941. Given that there was a Rose original advertising Citizen Kane in foyers across the country, I can only presume he must have been a hell of a sweet talker to keep up the commissions from the notoriously no-nonsense Hearst.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Rut Blees Luxemburg: In Need Of Exposure

The fantastic thing about blogging is that you can start a new blog entirely unsure as to the exact purpose of why you are doing it, only to then land on an answer maybe 30, 50 or several hundred posts in. I began Hip Walk as an outlet for my enthusiasm for mid-20th century art and photography, before it gradually mutated into a place to post up imagery from any period that has inspired my own photographs, over at Art Of The City

While this much is true, and I'll still post things that I've discovered, however late or after the fact I am, I've also really realised that more than anything I want to find some like-minded people who can say: "You like this? Try this then..." It happened when Owen from Magic Lantern Show turned me on to the Vancouver photographer Fred Herzog. It also reaffirms subconscious steals or influences too, like when Bill Guy mentioned the obscure Jim Jarmusch film Stranger Than Paradise on this photo - for the record, I've had the poster of that film on my wall for about 5 years now, so Bill is either a) psychic, b) stalking me, or c) even more astute and visually perceptive than I first thought.

I've slowly discovered that such mutual tips and nods are the real reason I'm doing this second blog - it's obvious really, even if I've maybe not encouraged it the same. So for the few of you who check in here regularly, I really want to pick your brains as I go. If I post on a theme or a style that reminds you of something else, please leave me a comment and hopefully we can all turn each other on to something new, something enlightening or just something that looks pretty damn cool.

Anyways, today I've posted up the work of Rut Blees Luxemburg, a Berlin-born, LCC graduate who has taken some wonderful long exposure shots of East London over the past few years. Her work is suitably atmospheric and edgy enough for it to have graced the covers of two major UK albums - The Streets' Original Pirate Material and Bloc Party's A Weekend In The City - but I've returned to it purely for the skill of the rendering. I've been trying some long exposure night shots myself recently (I'll post them on AOTC when I finally take a good one) and have begun to appreciate how good these really are. In Luxemburg's photography there are no lens flares or other glossy Photoshop cliches, just grit, texture and glowing sodium colours.

So with my new spirit and purpose, can anyone recommend any other good long-exposure night photographers in a similar vein?!