Leiter’s best photographs lack all pretense, and are full of a productive doubt. When I heard the news of Leiter’s death, I asked Leach what the experience of working on the film—over a period of three years—had been like. “He was funny, intelligent, and insightful,” Leach wrote to me. “He was full of curiosity and mischief.” The Magnum photographer Alex Webb, who is celebrated for the sophistication of his color work, said Leiter had “an uncanny ability to pull complex situations out of everyday life, images that echo the abstraction of painting and yet, simultaneously, clearly depict the world.”
In 1971 Frank bought an old fisherman’s shack in Mabou, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island. He began to divide his time between there and his loft in New York City. He took up his Leicas and bought a cheap Polaroid, and returned to still photography. The photographs he began to shoot in Mabou were, at first, relatively simple in composition, but they were significantly more introspective and personal than anything he’d done before. His earlier work was all about the external world; his new work was deeply internal. It was less about others and more about himself. It’s as if Frank began for the first time to use photography as a mode of personal expression. The photographs retain the air of melancholy that marked his more famous work, but the melancholy grew out of the style of the work—out of the photographer, it could be said—rather than from the subject matter.
Some of that grew out of his personal life. Frank’s son Pablo was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1970s, and eventually he required hospitalization. In 1974 Frank’s daughter Andrea died in an airplane crash in Guatemala. These personal tragedies clearly began to shape Frank’s work. It became more volatile and almost painfully personal.
The Fire Below Mabou January 1980
( Click to see large)
“Despite the fierce look, Mayakovsky does not look authoritarian, he appears, instead, defenceless. It is like a still from an American movie rather than a Russian one, a major criminal caught in the lens of the law. He is pictured against a wall, as if he were Public Enemy Number One, or, rather, the enemy cornered just before his perfectly legal street execution, with no trial. He is not holding a weapon, but some sheets of paper, and that is the only thing that seems out of keeping with his otherwise harmonious figure, unless the sheets of paper are not, as one fears and regrets, poems, but pamphlets he was reading to a crowd from a platform. He is an ill-tempered or perhaps a hounded man, but, as revealed by that determinedly wide stance, unwilling to give in or surrender even if they riddle him with bullets. The most striking and most resolute thing of all, however, are his shoes, so remarkable that they slightly invade the turn-ups of his beautifully pressed trousers: one could not give up such shoes even at the moment of death.”
Artist Sarah Charlesworth, whose trenchant work investigated pop culture by borrowing from and tweaking its imagery, died of a cerebral hemorrhage yesterday, according to her New York gallery, Susan Inglett. She was 66.
Ms. Charlesworth is perhaps best known for her “Modern History” series, which she made from 1977 to 1979 by producing photographs of the front pages of various newspapers, typically excising all the content except the nameplate and photographs.
Nusch Éluard (by Man Ray) – in “Le Temps déborde” (Paris 1947). This book of Paul Éluard was published (under the pseudonym of Didier Desroches) several months after the very sudden death of Nusch (28 Nov. 1946); it contains 14 poems and is illustrated with 11 photos of Nusch by Man Ray and Dora Maar. It is dedicated to Éluard’s friends, Alain and Jacqueline Trutat, who helped him to go through this tragedy.
¨Nusch had beautifully chiselled lips, her blood-red lipstick emphasized her voracity, her long black hair highlighted her bone structure, her whole body, the way that she moved, exuded a fiery sensuality. Éluard, who was tall and somewhat ungainly with astonished watery-blue eyes, was clearly in thrall to her.¨
She was model and muse to Man Ray, Picasso and her very own Éluard (whom she married after abandoning color geometry genius Max Bill) but she was no wall flower. Very liberated and with inspiration of her own, she concocted crazy collages in her nights of insomnia. She lived fast and died as if stricken by too much beauty in the streets of Paris at the age of 40.
Djuna Barnes (American, 1892–1982), Sketch of a woman with hat, looking right, for “The Terrorists,” New York Morning Telegraph Sunday Magazine, September 30, 1917. Ink on paper, 12 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (32.4 x 21.6 cm). Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries (via)
Force feeding Djuna Barnes clipping
Photo below “Differential Action” by Thomas Eakins