Posts Tagged ‘FotoArtFestival’

Naomi Rosenblum (1925-2021)

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Naomi Rosenblum, the celebrated author of two landmark histories of photography, her World History of Photography (1984) and A History of Women Photographers (1994), died on February 19th, 2021.

Her work widened our knowledge of the history of photography and gave it a more international perspective as the ‘World Photography’ in the title indicates, and it was an inspiration to me later to try and write about the history and development of photography in countries around the world when I wrote online for ‘About Photography’.

Similarly her book on women photographers opened up a wider area for study, and was of particular interest to me as many of my better students were women. Of course there were women who had become well-known as photographers and who I had featured in my courses – Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea Lange, Berenice Abbott and others spring obviously to mind, but many others had been sadly sidelined from previous histories, often mere footnotes to the work of their male colleagues.

Together with her husband, Walter Rosenblum she did much to promote the work of Lewis Hine, and of the photographers of the New York Photo League, where Walter had met both Hine and Paul Strand and had become its President in 1941 before his war service. Naomi had also been involved with the Photo League, although she was not a photographer. As a designer she designed the cover of ‘Photo Notes‘, the influential magazine of the League (Edward Weston praised it as the most worthwhile magazine dealing with photography.)

I’m sure there will be many detailed obituaries of Naomi Rosenblum appearing and I’ll not write one here. But I do have fond personal memories of meeting her back in 2007, in Bielsko-Biala, Poland. For me the most important exhibition at the FotoArtFestival there was the early work of her late husband, ‘Message from the Heart‘. Naomi was there to launch the Polish version of her ‘World Photography’ and also, like me, to give a lecture, and her daughter, film-maker Nina Rosenblum came to present her film about her father, Walter Rosenblum: In Search Of Pitt Street.

It was a great privilege for me to go with Naomi and Nina around the show of Walter’s work and to hear their stories about him and the pictures. We talked too at some of the meals and events, and in the lecture hall – where I listened to her lecture and they to mine. There was actually some overlap the two, hers on the New York Photo League but rather more wide-ranging and mine on street photography in London, and it was interesting for us to compare our slightly different thoughts and wildly different presentations.

There is just a little more about our meeting in the lengthy diary I put on line in 2007 about my experiences at the FotoArtFestival. It includes brief thoughts on many of the of the exhibitions and events as well as photographs of the festival and of my walks around Bielsko-Biala.


Sarah Moon – Orient Express

Friday, January 10th, 2020

I’ve never travelled on the Orient Express, but years ago one of my late friends, Terry King, got what seemed to be a dream job, working on an advertising commission for the company.

He’d gone to their offices with his portfolio of gum bichromate prints and they had sat around them in awe in their kaftans (it was then a rather new age company.) I’ve described elsewhere how Terry, Randall Webb and myself had all started investigating the process but Terry had evolved his own methods of progressing with the process, using several large paper negatives printed in different tones and colours and with carefully controlled manual development at each stage to produce highly pictorial results.

So Terry got a free trip on the Orient Express to Venice, where he spent a few days taking pictures before returning to his London studio and working on the results, producing prints to take back to the company. He went in to show them the results and immediately sensed the company had changed management; in place of kaftans the executives were now all in smart business suits and ties. They didn’t appreciate his work and the project was abandoned.

Terry did make some fine prints of his work in Venice, and some of them will still be hanging on people’s walls around the country, with sales through an art dealer in Richmond. (I have one of his pictures of London on my wall – we did a swap – but not of Venice.) Until recently you could see some of them on his web site, but that is no longer on line. The only example I can find is on the Silverprint web site, a company which supplies fine photographic materials – including some of the chemicals and sundries that both Terry and I used. It is a picture from Venice and I think is possibly a cyanotype over a gum image, though it could possibly be simply a gum using two shades of blue.

I have met Sarah Moon (above with photographer Joan Fontcuberta), though only fairly briefly when we were both speaking at the FotoArtFestival in Bielsko-Biala in 2007. We shared several meals at the event and had some long conversations and there are a few more pictures of her in my diary.

Sarah Moon with film-maker Nina Rosenblum and photo-historian Naomi Rosenblum

Which brings me – finally – to the reason for this post, Sarah Moon : Orient Express – Louis Vuitton Editions – which was featured on ‘The Eye of Photography‘. This is a book in their Fashion Eye collection, a series in which each “book evokes a city, a region or a country, seen through the eyes of a fashion photographer.”

LV is a French fashion house and luxury retail company founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton, who introduced a range of luggage with flat-top trunks for travel, which meant they could be stacked, particularly on rail journeys – previously trunks had been made with rounded tops so that the rain would run off when they were carried on open waggons and carriages. The Orient Express which began in 1883 thus seems a very appropriate subject.

You can read about this book on the UK LV web site, which has the same selection of stills as ‘The Eye of Photography’. But if you scroll down the page there is also an over- rapid ‘page-through‘ video of the book, which gives a good idea of the size and layout of the work. And if you change the video to 1080px, make it full screen and stop the playback you can actually see and read the pages. Presumably you can buy it in their shops as well as on-line, but at £42 (including standard delivery) although it looks an intersting book I find it a little too expensive – like their luggage.