Light Touch

light painting hibbertIn the finding-wonderful-art-in-unexpected-places department, I ran across the work of a French photographer, Christopher Hibbert, as a backdrop image from Google Open Gallery on my streaming device one evening. It sparked my curiosity enough to search for more of his pieces, two of which are shown here. A spectral blend of soft whimsy and technical prowess, the “light paintings” as they’re called, harbor a lingering quality, bringing a dash of the preternatural to settings that would ordinarily be typical, if lovely, landscapes. A process in which exposures are created, usually at night, by manipulating light sources or by the movement of the camera, the end result transcends technique; or, as the artist says, “Light is life.”
light painting hibbert
Photos: ©2016 Christopher Hibbert

Cindy’s (Ageless) Allure

cindy sherman 2016
Untitled (2016)

One of the most celebrated stars in the photography firmament, Cindy Sherman is back with her first series of images in five years – and she’s playing a few old-time Hollywood “stars” herself.

In an exhibit of 16 life-sized color portraits that opened May 5 at the Metro Pictures gallery in New York City, Sherman (who, as her followers know, utilizes her own lights and cameras, as well as costumes and make-up), conjures the ghosts of such cinematic legends as Swanson and Garbo in later years. “I relate so much to these women,” she told the New York Times in April. “They look like they’ve been through a lot, and they’re survivors. And you can see some of the pain in there, but they’re looking forward and moving on.”

cindy sherman untitled film stills
Untitled Film Still #21 (1978)

Sherman, whose works have commanded as much as $6 million at auction, shot to fame in the early 1980s with her now legendary Untitled Film Stills, a set of 69 black-and-white photographs, one of which is shown left, depicting herself as an imaginary actress in a series of cliché moments that symbolized notions of homogenized femininity. Iconoclastic and trailblazing, the Film Stills launched a career that in a way comes full circle with the Stills now on view in New York.

In other words, the fresh-faced ingénue has morphed into middle-age amidst a culture obsessed with youth. Sherman, now 62, also told the Times that, “I, as an older woman, am struggling with the idea of being an older woman.” She says that the new photos are “the most sincere things that I’ve done — that aren’t full of irony, or caricature, or cartooniness — since the Film Stills.”

Next month, the new Broad Museum in Los Angeles will launch its first special exhibition with a lifetime retrospective of Sherman’s work, which the artist has perfectly titled Imitation of Life. The name comes from a 1959 Technicolor melodrama by director Douglas Sirk, whom Sherman has cited as an influence. It’s said that the wardrobe for the movie’s star, another Hollywood glam queen, Lana Turner, cost in the neighborhood of a million dollars at the time.

Something any one of Sherman’s memorable leading ladies would definitely appreciate.

Feel the Barn!

sanders art vermontRural art with an eye on politics, taken in Kirby, Vermont 3/15/16.

Photo: Herb Swanson/ EPA

Picture Perfect

tugo chen photoIs it a photo, a pencil sketch, a painting? A photo, actually, and it most definitely can be considered its own kind of art in my book. It’s one of the pictures that’s been shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards to be presented next month, a competition that’s fielded more than a quarter of a million entries and is now down to 115 potential winners. As for the lingering image I’m so taken by, it depicts a fisherman farming the sea amidst bamboo rods erected for aquaculture off the coast of southern China. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that; as always, the creative eye surprises.

Photo: Tugo Cheng

Shifting Focus

new year's day new yorkNew Year’s Day #4580

(New York City, 2002)

Photograph by Bill Jacobson

On the Street with JR

JR street artHis “name” may be more associated with a famous soap-opera villain of long ago, but the mysterious street artist who goes by the initials JR has already become a legend in photography circles. I first ran across his work in a stunning mural he produced in conjunction with the New York City Ballet last year, and more recently many others were exposed to his imagination via the incredible piece, shown above, that appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in April, for a theme issue titled “Walking New York.” A massive image of an Azerbaijan immigrant named Elmar, pasted on the Flatiron Plaza in New York City, and made up of 62 supersized strips of paper and more than 16o feet long, it was photographed from above by JR (talk about meta!) via a helicopter, so the awe-inspiring expanse of the project could be appreciated.

Barely out his twenties, and determinedly anonymous, JR has already been called “the Cartier-Bresson of the 21st Century”; the photographer himself calls the world of the street “the largest art gallery in the world,” and his work is now celebrated in a recently published retrospective which asks the question, JR: Can Art Change the World? Much as in the case of his visionary (and equally enigmatic) contemporary Banksy, the short answer is most definitely “yes.”

Making Waves

waveTwo stunning images by Australian photographer Warren Keelan were among the winners announced last week at the International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards, where over 2,600 photos by both amateurs and professionals alike were narrowed to a “Top 101” of the finest shots submitted to the competition. “I love the raw, unpredictable nature of water in motion, and the way sunlight brings it all to life, from both above and below the surface,” said Keelan, who aptly – and simply – titled his photos “Kryptonite,” above, and “Teal” (and what a lovely shade of teal it is!) shown below.  A gallery of other amazing shots from the portfolio of winning entries is featured here.