The Year in Contemporary Photography: 2012 Highlights of Shows, Events and News

2012 in fine art photography had many highlights.  Here are some picks from the last year.

Holy Motors and Contemporary Fine Art Photography

Holy Motors, by Leos Carax and Contemporary Fine Art Photography

Although a film, Holy Motors explores many contemporary fine art photography concepts prevalent today.  The film seems to ask: are we all just playing a role?   Much of this exuberant and indescribable mash-up of a film, directed by Leos Carax, not only references other film genres, but also covers similar conceptual territory as Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall and Greg Crewdson.

Hurricane Sandy Hits and Devastates New York Photography/Art World

Hurricane Sandy hit the New York art/photography world with a wallop towards the end of 2012.  Weeks and months after Sandy hit Chelsea, galleries were decimated and some will never reopen.

Many galleries abutted  the flood zone and have saw water enter their spaces.  Galleries such as David Zwirner, Gagosian, CRG, Fredericks & Freiser and others felt the direct impact.

Luc Sante Lecture at SVA

One of the best talks on photography in 2012 was the photographic explorations of the past conducted by Luc Sante at SVA.

Luc Sante’s most interesting discussion was on crime photography.  He centered on unknown New York crime photographers and remarkably did not include Weegee the Famous.  He showed many photographs of both interiors and exteriors, remarkable only for their lack of drama or compelling visual elements.  It was this very subject of banality that lead one to conclude that this could only be a crime scene, and this was chilling.

Eliot Porter at MoMA

Eliot Porter at MoMA

One oddly compelling show were the previously little-seen photographs of birds by Eliot Porter at MoMA.  The selection, organized by contemporary artist Trisha Donnelly,  was a strange grouping of birds in nests, taken in the 1940-1950s.

Strangely, it seems these were all taken without Eliot Porter actually seeing what he photographed.  The images must have been at low light or at night and required flash.  Also, being so close to the subject–the lenses didnt seem to be extremely long telephone ones–seems impossible without disturbing the feeding, resting, etc. of the birds.  So, remarkably, they must be taken intuitively.

 Arm Chair Photographer: Doug Rickard

A compelling gallery show was Doug Rickard’s photographs at Yossi Milo Gallery.  Although several photographs of Rickard’s were exhibited at MoMA the previous year, this show presented a fuller context, which served them well.  Here Doug Rickard didn’t take the photographs in a traditional way.  Rather, he observed them from Google Street View, and reprinted them.  As a result, the highly blurry and sometimes extremely pixilated photographs have a appearance of a realist daydream.  There is something about the act of looking–not from the real street but from Street View–that makes these photographs powerful.

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, a mostly historical show of manipulated photographs which includes many lessor-known photographers was an interesting museum show of 2012.

Photoshop Upgrade

Early 2012 brought Adobe’s Photoshop CS6, and with it many, many changes for fine art photographers.  Some included an interface change, greatly improved performance, new ACR controls, video editing support, and much more.

Pinterest: A Place for Photography

If you’ve not already heard, one of the fastest growing site is Pinterest.  Its focus is on images and is a great place for photography and browsing images at a glance.  Most of the images fall within the usual range but some include Duane Michaels, Bill Brandt and others.

The End of Kodak

Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and sold most of its business as the once mighty photography giant slowly fades.

Comments are closed.