Archive for the ‘Photographers’ Category

Magnum called out

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

Magnum holds a hugely important place in the history of photography, and many of us grew up with a concept of photojournalism that was largely based on its founding photographers, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, William Vandivert and David “Chim” Seymour (three of whom only heard about it after the meeting in Paris.) From the start it was a co-operative and importantly the photographers retained copyright, and they divided up the world between them.

Magnum of course flourished and grew, but retained its basic structure, owned and administered entirely by it photographer members, employing staff to support them. As well as the full members who are shareholders and vote at its annual meetings, there are also nominees, associates, contributors and correspondents who have no voting rights. A Wikpedia article gives more details, and includes the sentence which is perhaps relevant now, “No member photographer of Magnum has ever been asked to leave.”

I don’t know how complete the list of members (of all grades) on Wikipedia is, but it names over 130 photographers, many now deceased or withdrawn from Magnum, almost all of the familiar names, and including many of the best-known photojournalists of the last 73 years. Among them is American photographer David Alan Harvey, active since 1993 and a full member since 1997.

Magnum began with five male photographers, though both the Paris and New York office heads were women (Maria Eisner in Paris and Ruth Vandivert in New York) and among those in the members list only around 20 are women. It could be seen as a photographic ‘old boy’s net’ and perhaps its structure and membership have both contributed to the current controversy over both some of the work available in its digital archive and its perhaps sluggish response to allegations of sexual abuse.

As Kristen Chick points out in her special report, Magnum’s moment of reckoning in Columbia Journalism Review, it was only in 2018 that Magnum issued a code of conduct for its members in 2018 while in the same year boasting that it had not received a single complaint against any of its photographers. 

Chick’s article rapidly disposes of that assertion, pointing out that complaints had been made nine years earlier over inappropriate behavior by David Alan Harvey but that no action was taken by Magnum until a scandal broke on the web. In August 2020 Fstoppers reported that Magnum was selling explicit photographs of sexually exploited minors on its website, including pictures taken by Harvey in Bangkok in 1989; this led photojournalist Amanda Mustard to tweet “alleging that sexual misconduct allegations against him were an open secret in the industry.”

Chick’s report goes into some detail about the allegations made by eleven women against Harvey, and also what appears to be a very inadequate response by Magnum. The exploitative photographs were withdrawn from their web site but apparently remain available through other suppliers, and although Harvey was suspended and an inquiry launched into his behaviour, the report demonstrates that it and Magnum have failed or refused to listen to women making complaints.

And perhaps rather surprisingly, although Magnum proudly claimed it had drawn up a code of conduct for members, it refuses to make this public.

Do read the full report at Magnum’s moment of reckoning in Columbia Journalism Review.

Shortly after I wrote this last Tuesday (22nd Dec) Magnum issued a statement that they were “deeply upset to read the allegations about David Alan Harvey that have been reported in the CJR” and that they “will immediately investigate them and consider the appropriate action.”

What this omits is any mention of the several allegations that Magnum failed to investigate earlier that are mentioned in the CJR report, and the apparent shortcomings in the investigation that resulted in his clearly inadequate one year suspension.

According to the report, Harvey’s behaviour over several decades was widely known among other photographers, and Magnum is an organisation run by its photographers; it seems more than likely that at least some of the other members were aware of it – yet nothing was done before the organisation was forced into action by the furore in August 2020.

Kamoinge Workshop

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Thanks to Antonio Olmos, a Mexican photojournalist, editorial and portrait photographer based in London and one of the finest photographers working for the UK press at the moment for posting a link on Facebook to a current show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop.

Of course I won’t be travelling to New York before the show closes on Mar 28, 2021 (nor for that matter after that date, as I generally don’t do air travel for environmental reasons and am unlikely to be offered a yacht trip) but have enjoyed looking at the show online. Should you be in New York the gallery may be open – at your own risk – but you will need to book a ticket in advance.

The Kamoinge Workshop was set up by black photographers in New York in 1963, taking its name from the Kikuyu word for a group of people working together. The Whitney show has around 140 pictures from 14 of the photographers – 13 men and one woman – from the first two decades of the collective: Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Daniel Dawson, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson.

A few of the names are familiar to me, with scattered photographs in various of the many books I own, but I’d not really appreciated the work of this group as a whole. According to the museum web site:

Nine of these artists still live in or near New York City. The photographs provide a powerful and poetic perspective of the 1960s and 1970s during the heart of the Black Arts Movement. Working Together also presents an overview of many of the group’s collective achievements, such as exhibitions, portfolios, and publications.

Clicking on each of their portraits links to a video of each photographer talking about their career and work as well as reproductions of their works in the show. The photographers also speak about one of their works in the audio guide and there is a section devoted to archival works, several of which lead to versions of portfolios and publications digitised by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And there is a series of installation views

It’s a show of some fine work and remarkably thoroughly documented on the web site. Although it’s always good to see actual prints, in some ways I think the site (assuming you can view it on a decent monitor) is a better experience than the real thing, and certainly less tiring on the legs, as to see it all will take you a couple of hours. I spent so long looking at it all that I nearly didn’t get this post written.

Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop
Antonio Olmos


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


Paris 2010 (final)

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

After breakfast on Saturday we went for a walk, first making our way alongside the Metro Aerienne to La Rotonde de la Villette, one of my favourite Paris buildings, and then walking a little beside the canal, first to the north and then turning and going south to where there was a street photography show displayed as single images in each of a number of shop windows in the streets around the Rue de Lancry. It was a nice idea, but not really much of a way to display photographs, though we did enjoy the hunt for them. See more about the exhibition and the wedding here on >Re:PHOTO and more photographs in my diary at  Street Photography in the 10e.

Of course I was taking pictures, and for a short while became an unofficial wedding photographer, though I turned down an opportunity to join the party as we had other things to do.

The largest photographic event taking place in Paris was not the dealer show Paris Photo, nor even the Mois de la Photographie, though that had the most prestigious shows, but the fringe, the Mois de la Photo-Off. This is a well organised event, with a free booklet listing the many events accepted for it (and there is also a fringe of the fringe with many other photography shows), but also a series of organised tours around the shows in different areas of Paris on each Saturday afternoon in November.

Photographer Loïc Trujillo (left) talks with Neil Atherton, Commissaire General of the Mois de la Photo-OFF, who led the tour, in Galerie Impressions

On November 20th we had a choice of two areas, and picked ‘Beabourg’, going to eight shows and meeting the photographer or gallerist at all but one of them. We spent around 15-20 minutes in each gallery before walking the short distance to the next. At times it was rather taxing on my hazily remembered ‘O’ Level French, and I was pleased to have my interpreter with me. You can read more about the shows on the tour in two posts here, Photo-Off – A Guided Tour – 1 and Photo-Off – A Guided Tour – 2, and again there are more pictures in my diary.

We had to hurry away at the end of the tour to change and meet Linda’s brother and his wife for a dinner in one of Paris’s institutions, Chartier. It has become a must for tourists and it’s best to go early to avoid a long queue.

I spent Sunday morning at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie and you can read about what I saw there in Sunday Worship at the MEP, though there are no illustrations as photography is forbidden there. Linda chose instead to attend the culte at the Temple de l’Oratoire du Louvre, and we met afterwards for lunch, buying some delicious slices of quiches and cakes on the rue St Antoine and sitting and eating them on a bench out of the light rain in the Place des Vosges.

Afterwards we wandered aroung the Marais, visiting several shows open on a Sunday afternoon, including ten Swedish photographers of the collective Tio Fotgrafer and A Few Shows in the 4e, before making our way across the Seine to the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), to view France 14, the work of 14 younger photographers selected by Raymond Depardon, and then another Metro ride to FIAP Jean Monnet in the 14e, to view a show celebrating 40 years of women’s liberation. And then it was time for dinner and to return to our hotel and rest. There are more photographs from the afternoon in my diary at The Marais and BnF and FIAP.

We had a day before catching our Eurostar back to London on Monday evening for a final walk, rather more relaxed than in the previous days with hardly a visit to a photographic exhibition. You can see the pictures at  Monday Wandering and read a little more about the walk at Monday in Paris.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Paris 2010 (continued)

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

On Friday 19th November I rushed from lunch to make my final visit to Paris Photo, mainly to attend the launch of the book Lab East, showcasing 30 young photographers and to take a few pictures. You can read what I thought about the book and a few of the contributions in Paris Photo – Lab East, probably written in my hotel room late at night, which perhaps excuses the fact that I got the title of the book wrong twice (now corrected.)

I have mixed feelings about Blurb, and the post I wrote perhaps reflects that. Print on demand is I think an important part of photographic publishing, and one that puts control back into the hands of the photographer which I’m very much in favour of, but there are two great problems which I feel Blurb has failed to address. The first is simply cost – and I think better technology (and lower profit margins) could do much to decrease this, and the second is distribution.

There were just a few more stalls at Paris Photo to visit, and I did so before leaving. It is a huge show, and I feel sorry for anyone who tries to make just a single visit, as many paying visitors do. Fortunately with a press pass I was able to make a number of shorter visits and still see all I wanted to see. But there was far more happening outside the Paris Photo exhibition halls, and I left and strolled through the Jardin du Carrousel admiring the naked women (only sculpture) and walked beside the Seine to the Pont des Arts and across to the Institut De France to view the impressive landscape show by Thibaut Cuisset, which again I wrote about here, along with a little of my own work in  More Paris – French Landscapes. Leaving this I called in at a number of small galleries in the area, some of which were taking part in the Mois de la Photo or it’s fringe, L’Off, before meeting my wife as arranged in St Germain.

We were on the Left Bank for a reason, as this evening around 30 galleries were keeping open until 7pm, listed in a leaflet Photo Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, and we visited most of them, though we needed a brief rest in a café too. I wrote about some of them here in Parcours Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and there are more pictures from my afternoon and early evening walk in my diary at To Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

We took the Metro back to the north of Paris and after dinner took the funicular in Montmatre for a walk around. It was late and many places were shut and there were relatively few people were around. A bus came along and we jumped on it, getting a tour of the area and fortunately it took us to Place Pigalle, from where we walked along the backstreets and back to our hotel on the edge of the 10e. Pictures at  Montmartre at Night.

…to be continued

Chris Killip (1946-2020)

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

When I heard a few days ago of the death of Chris Killip, my immediate thought was that I should write something about him here. But I was busy with other things and when I had time others had already done so, and in some cases rather better than I could have done. One article that I recommend if you have not already seen it is by John Devos on The Eye of Photography, and as well as the text it has a good representative collection of his photographs and links to several videos.

Killip was not as well known as he should be outside the limited world of photography, and this was something I wrote about in some earlier pieces here and elsewhere. He seemed to have a reluctance to show his work to a wider audience, and particularly on the web which is reflected in his web site, only set up in recent years, which I think contains only a single one of his images, and the comment:

An archive of 1400 Chris Killip images can now be viewed by anyone visiting the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol.

Chris Killip web site

I wrote at some length in 2014 about the lack of publications of his work; after Isle of Man in 1980 and In Flagrante  in 1988 it was over 20 years before more publications, by which time the earlier books had become high-priced collectors items. I’d fortunately bought both when they came out and still have them on my shelves.

And while the obituaries are full of well-deserved praise, we should not forget the slight from the photographic establishment in 2013 when although clearly his work was the most outstanding among the four shortlisted shows for the Deutsche Börse Photography prize, he was passed over, as I predicted he would be in my post Deutsche Börse Anti-Photography prize. The strength of Killip’s work was that he was a documentary photographer, something seldom appreciated by the English photographic establishment. As Adrian Searle commented in his Guardian review of the prize shows at the time (with “but one artist stands head and shoulders above the rest” in the subhead), “He should win because his work is still valuable. Much of the other work here won’t be, in 30 years’ time.” 

The New York School

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

Another exhibition I would like to be able to see opened in Montpellier on 7th October (until 10th Jan 2021), at the Pavillon Populaire, the Espace d’art photographique de la Ville de Montpellier, a venue whose very existence screams a very different regard for photography (and culture in general) in France compared to the UK. I’ve never been to Montpellier, a large city on the Mediterranean coast with a long history and considerable historic remains, but it would certainly seem worth an extended visit in other times.

The show, featured in The Eye of Photography, is The New York School Show. New York School Photographers, 1935-1965, “presenting, for the first time in Europe, a project specifically dedicated to this movement considered to be a true visual revolution” and the ‘Eye’ features an introduction by Howard Greenberg, Exhibition Curator and Director of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, which you can also read in French on the Pavillon Populaire web site (a section of the municipal web site). From there you can download the exhibition booklet in English (or French) which contains, after an introduction by the Mayor a longer text by Gilles Mora, former artistic director of the the Rencontres d’Arles and since 2010 exhibition curator of the Pavillon Populaire and biographies of the 22 photographers included in the show. It’s an interesting selection including both very well-known figures and just a few previously not known to me – I think I have written at least a little about 18 or 19 of them.

Although Jane Livingston coined the name ‘New York Photographic School’ in her 1992 book (The New York School: Photographs, 1936-1963), when I was writing ten years later about the Photo League it was still not widely known, and I received considerably email from people about the articles, including from a number of photographers who had been involved, some of whom I had as yet failed to mention, but mainly from those previously unaware of the huge body of work from this era. I republished one of 2001 articles on the Photo League in general on this site in 2015.

Livingston included in her book The photographers included in the publication were Sid Grossman, Alexey Brodovitch, Lisette Model, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Louis Faurer, William Klein, Weegee, Ted Croner, Saul Leiter, Leon Levinstein , David Vestal, Bruce Davidson, Don Donaghy, Diane Arbus, and Richard Avedon, with shows based on her work adding Roy DeCarava and Ed Feingersh; 13 of them appear in the Montpellier show.

Many of them were of course included in the wider show  ‘American Images – Photography 1945 – 1980‘ at the Barbican in 1985, thanks largely to the personal knowledge of New York photography by one of the three curators of that show, John Benton-Harris, born in the Bronx and had became an active part of New York’s photographic culture before coming the the UK after serving in the US Army as a photographer in 1965. Although not dedicated the ‘New York School’ it introduced many of us to some of the main figures in it, and the catalogue, ISBN 9780140079883, available secondhand for under a tenner, remains worth buying.


The Power of Photography: Peter Fetterman

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Another set of ten pictures in the online series on the Peter Fetterman Gallery called The Power of Photography highlighting hope, peace and love in the world is now featured on ‘The Eye of Photography‘, and includes several images I don’t recall having seen before as well as some very familiar ones.

Along with the pictures are comments by Peter Fetterman, often very personal and usually perceptive. Photographers often despise gallery owners as mercenary parasites – and I think there is a great deal of truth in this – but many like Fetterman are knowledgeable about our medium and have a great love of it and the works they sell.

Selling photographs after all isn’t the easiest way to make a living – either as a gallerist or as a photographer. And while I think that the growth of the art market has had some unfortunate consequences for photography (and I think particularly of those huge boring decorative prints for corporate atriums a huge prices from rather untalented photographers – and the whole idea of limited editions) it has also supported many fine photographers. But if you want to buy prints to support photographers then where possible it makes sense to cut out the middlemen and buy direct – and you can do so on many photographers’ web sites – though those with gallery contracts are usually forbidden to do so.

You can see all the images in the series on the Peter Fetterman Gallery web site – when I looked a couple of days ago the latest posted was numbered CLXXII, which I make 172, and is a picture from 1950 by Arthur Leipzig, Chalk Games, New York City, looking down from a building at a group of boys and their varied chalking in the roadway between some parked cars. It’s a fine image from one of the many photographers to have emerged from the New York Photo League, which I’ve often written about.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


Paris, Me and Willy Ronis

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

I’ve long been a fan of Willy Ronis (1910-2009) and in particular his pictures of Paris, particularly of the working-class areas of the north-east of the city, and have on several occasions written about him and the pictures I’ve taken on walks around the same areas as him. When in 2008 I was given a copy of his ‘La Traversée de Belleville’ at Le Bar floréal, published by them for his exhibition there in 1990, I found that I had already walked all of the streets on his route – though that didn’t stop me doing so again.

Peter Marshall 2008

It’s now some years since I last went to Paris, and every time I look at http://peter-marshall.com my pictures of the city which I first visited in 1966 I feel the urge to go again.

Peter Marshall 1984

Like most of a certain age and medical condition I’m still more or less banged up at home, though going out for walks and bike rides avoiding so far as possible any close contact with others apart from my wife. So unfortunately I won’t be going to Paris in the next month and so will miss the exhibition of 100 photos by Ronis at the galerie Argentic from October 3-17 2020 which I read about in The Eye of Photography a couple of days ago.

Peter Marshall 1973

Instead I’ll take the few books of his work I have down from my shelves and browse through them to renew my memory of his work. And perhaps read again some of the posts I’ve made that mention him, including Retour en Lorraine, bar Floréal & Willy Ronis and the shortened version of my essay on him from 2003 that I republished in a post on the occasion of his death in 2009.

Peter Marshall 2006

Here I’ve posted a few of my own pictures of Paris, very different from the work of Ronis which you can see a good selection of at the Peter Fetterman gallery. There is a video of an interesting talk by Matthieu Rivallin about his life at Hong Kong University, as well as many other short videos about him and his work available on line.

Peter Marshall 1984

More of my own pictures of Paris at Paris Photos.

Black Country DADA

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Please take a look at Brian Griffin’s Kickstarter project to produce a hardback volume of his autobiography from 1969-1990. Here is the first paragraph:

“I have written my autobiography ……yes I have written it myself! A hardback book of over 200 pages, with an insightful introduction by W. m. Hunt. It tells truthfully what it was like to survive and make ones way as a photographer in Britain back then. I tell the story through my personal experience of those tough times.”

Black Country Dada by Brian Griffin

Brian writes more on the project page, and of course there are some of his best-known images to illustrate the book, as well as some that I’ve not seen before. The book is expected to have 216 pages, professionally designed and edited by Cafeteria, a design agency based in Sheffield and roughly 10×8 inches in size, very appropriate for a photographic book.

If you’ve had the pleasure of attending one of his talks over the years – or rather I should call them performances – you will know that he is a great story-teller in words as well as images, and that he has some fabulous stories to tell, as well as an interesting taste in clothes.

I’ve written about Griffin’s work on several occasions, including about his show at the National Portrait Gallery of his London Olympic commission and the Paris opening of ‘The Black Country’.

The project needs £30,000 to be pledged by October 29th to go ahead, a daunting goal. As usual there are various levels of pledge, with perhaps the most popular likely to be £35, for which you will get a copy of the book, probably in February 2021, though shipping is extra, depending on your country – and seems a little expensive at £10 for the UK.

Higher amounts pledged qualify for extra rewards, including a signed poster, signed prints of various sizes, and at the top end, a special portfolio of 22 prints and a day-long portrait session with the photographer.

Black Country DADA on Kickstarter.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Election Eve

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Most Days at the moment I get four or five messages asking me to support Joe Biden, even though as a British citizen I have no vote in the forthcoming election. Trump’s team take no interest in me, perhaps because of the nature of some of my online posts. But it isn’t that election I’m writing about.

The Eye of Photography has reminded me of William Eggleston’s ‘Election Eve‘, originally published in 1977 as two leather-bound volumes containing 100 original prints in a box by Caldecot Chubb, a man best known as a film producer, in New York. It was a very limited edition of only five copies and the price was presumably astronomical, which was perhaps why I didn’t buy a copy.

There is a different reason which will stop me buying the second edition, printed more economically in offset litho. Though I have a great admiration for Eggleston, I already have somewhere on my shelves ‘William Eggleston’s Guide‘ and the first edition of his ‘The Democratic Forest‘, as well as the 1992 Barbican exhibition catalogue ‘Ancient And Modern’, as well as a number of portfolios in other publications. And frankly, although there are some images of interest, I think that from what I’ve seen so far ‘Election Eve‘ is a relatively minor work of Eggleston.

The price of the new edition, at € 85.00 (around £77) is perhaps not excessive, and doubtless it will be well printed and presented by Steidl. In 1989 ‘The Democratic Forest‘ cost £30.00, almost exactly the same allowing for inflation, though I think I may have got it as a review copy. But unless you are a completist collector, ‘Forest’ seems to me an unnecessary purchase.

There are relatively few photographers who I think it is worth owning more than a couple of books by, and rather more where just one is sufficient. The exceptions for me are those whose work has changed greatly over the course of their lives and also some where the subject matter is itself of great interest as well as the photography. Eggleston’s approach and subject matter seems to me remarkably consistent over the years (with a few minor aberrations.)

There have been so many interesting photographers over the years, and I’m well aware that many of the books on my groaning overloaded shelves are seldom opened but sit there gathering dust. For me they are a resource, a library I consult when writing about photographers, as well as occasionally sitting down to enjoy a volume.

But while books are important, the main way I and I think most others now experience photographs is on the web, and it would be good to see the Eggleston Art Foundation showing more of his work on the web. Although there are relatively few of his pictures available you can watch ‘page-throughs’ of several of his books on YouTube, including one of a more recent selection of work from ‘The Democratic Forest‘ as well as some others, often best with the soundtrack muted.