Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflections on a World After War

“Using my camera helped me understand my roots and the times in which I lived.”[1]
- N. Jay Jaffee

GW’s Collection includes a strong selection of numerous postwar American photographers of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, including Louis Faurer (1916-2001), N. Jay Jaffee (1921-1999), Louis Stettner (1922-2016), and Todd Webb (1905-2000). The four were contemporaries and their photographs share many of the same characteristics: capturing the everyday life of urban dwellers in New York, Philadelphia, London, and Paris. While researching these artists for our current exhibition, REFLECT: Photography Looking Forward, Looking Back, we found that, like most Americans, each served in some capacity – whether military or civilian – during World War II. In honor of Blue Star Museums and Memorial Day, we decided to put these photographers and their photographs in the context of their war and postwar experiences.

These four photographers were nearly the same age and grew up in the same era, along with a number of other postwar American photographers and visual artists. As Lisa Hostetler has noted, this group bridged the gap between the sentimental, documentary photography of the 1930s and the abstract photography that would become popular in later decades.[2] Each one used techniques and strategies made popular by photojournalists during the war for their own means.[3] While the Spanish Civil War was the first conflict in Europe to attract the attention of skilled photographers to document it, the destruction of the Second World War was unprecedented.[4] Images of liberated concentration camps, terrifying images of the new atomic weapon and its power, as well as the rising tensions with Russia contributed to the trauma and anxiety in the postwar America that these veterans and photographers returned to.[5] As co-founder of the Photo League in New York, Sid Grossman told his students there to practice “photography as an act of living.”[6] Indeed Jaffee, Faurer, Stettner, and Webb all imbued their photographs with something of the personal, even while documenting the everyday lives of other people.

Louis Stettner, The Reading Wall, Paris, 1951.
Gelatin silver print. 12 x 10 inches. GW Collection.
Gift of Lawrence Benenson, 1983.
Primarily known for his photographs of New York and Paris, Louis Stettner spent the better part of his life moving back and forth between the two cities, documenting ordinary people in their everyday activities, focusing on the middle class. During the war, he served as an Army combat photographer in New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan. Stettner used the camera, he once wrote, as “my personal language for telling people what I was discovering, suffering or immensely joyous about.”[7] While his photographs reflect his own feelings about his subjects, today they also serve as a reflection of these places in a time gone by. The Reading Wall, Paris (1951) shows an elderly man, a bit hunched over, reading the pages of a newspaper posted to a wall in Paris. Upon closer inspection, these pages appear to be from the Communist-affiliated newspaper L’Humanité. A decade earlier, he would not have been openly reading this paper, as the French government had taken steps to ban its publication as a result of the non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union just prior to World War II.[8] Published secretly by the party until the liberation of Paris in 1944, the newspaper was at the height of its popularity in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, when this photo was taken and the French Communist Party was the dominant party of the left.[9]

N. Jay Jaffee, Man with Sun Reflector (East New York),
1952 (print date unknown). Gelatin silver print, ed. 
18/25, 10 x 8 inches. GW Collection. Gift of Lawrence 
Benenson, 1982.
Like Stettner, N. Jay Jaffee had also served during the war, but he only took up photography in 1947, after he had returned, as a way of dealing with the things he had experienced and the post-war climate: “I was one of those veterans who, after three years of army duty that included six months of combat in the European theater, came home with the naïve impression that the world was going to have a more peaceful future.”[10] His photographs also tend to capture people in their everyday activities, such as Man with Sun Reflector (1952), of which he remarked: “I was startled when I saw this man sunning himself with a metal reflector. This was the first I saw this contraption being used. Also, it was not often that I came across a person whom I wanted to photograph that just happened to be in a perfect design pattern… I made this exposure in a matter of seconds and quickly walked away, hoping that I did not interfere with his dreams.”[11]


Louis Faurer, Staten Island Ferry, 1946,
1946, (printed c. 1981). Gelatin silver print,
7-3/4 x 7-1/2 inches. GW Collection.
Gift of Gary Granoff, Esq., 1984.
Louis Faurer had already decided that he would pursue photography as a career before serving as a civilian photographic technician for the U. S. Army Signal Corps in his hometown of Philadelphia during the war.[12] In his photographs people are surrogates for himself, suggests Lisa Hostetler; he not only empathizes with them, but identifies with them.[13] His tendency to include his own reflection in a number of photographs belies the personal nature and projection of his own identity as seen through others in his photographs.[14] He often used reflections, double exposures, and sandwiched negatives to convey the complications of urban life in postwar America. Some images, however, existed without these interventions, such as Staten Island Ferry (1946).[15] Occasionally he gave this photograph the title I Once Dreamed About the Most Beautiful City in the World, Staten Island Ferry, which Anne Wilkes Tucker suggests refers to both the beauty of the New York skyline as reflected in the ferry window and to the anticipation of arriving in the city “on the part of an immigrant’s son.”[16] Although he is perhaps more well-known as a fashion photographer, the style that made his fashion photographs unique was cultivated during these explorations of New York and its people.[17]

Todd Webb, London, 1948. Gelatin silver
print, 8-1/2 x 6-1/2 inches. GW Collection. 
Gift of Lawrence Benenson, 1982.
Todd Webb served as a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy ­– just one in a long list of careers he had tried by that time, including working as a prospector for gold in California and for Chrysler in Detroit after having lost all his money in the 1929 stock market crash.[18] Just a year after he returned from the South Pacific, in 1945, however, he had his first exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York thanks in part to having sold three of his photographs at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, An American Place, in 1942 on his way to report for duty.[19] His return to New York brought new subjects to photograph, including the welcome-home messages greeting other veterans as they returned home. Signs were a favorite subject and he photographed numerous billboards, advertisements and shop windows.[20] In addition to photographing New York after the war, Webb also traveled to Paris and London. The GW Collection includes a number of photographs from his travels, including London (1948), which shows a soldier of The Queen’s Life Guard standing at attention with a crowd of people around him. The white plume and shiny cuirass that he wears are characteristic of the uniform and this breastplate also shows the reflection of another crowd of people across the street. As the highest rank of the British Army The Queen’s Life Guards also took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy. Though the location is not certain, it is possible that this was taken outside Buckingham Palace. While the Queen’s Foot Guards (those soldiers in red tunics and bear skin hats) typically guard the Palace, Webb notes that this photo was taken in August 1948 and during August, the protection of the Palace may be taken over by other regiments. In addition, the Summer Olympics (also nicknamed the “Austerity Games”) were held in London in 1948, the first games to be held since the 1936 games in Berlin. It is also possible that the guard in standing at attention in his ceremonial uniform for some event connected to the games.  

While some of the photographs here depict literal, physical reflections, others touch upon another meaning of the word “reflect” – to think deeply or carefully about, to consider, review, or mull over - and some represent both simultaneously. Placing these in the context of postwar America and Europe gives new appreciation to the reasons why these photographers turned their cameras to capture the everyday experiences of those that came through such a tumultuous time. Through their eyes, the ordinary became extraordinary.

By Michelle Mazzuchi, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator

REFLECT: Photography Looking Forward, Looking Back
is on view at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery through July 7, 2017. For more information, visit www.gwu.edu/~bradyart.


[1] N. Jay Jaffee, “Reflections: My Early Photographs,” September 17, 1996. <http://njayjaffee.com> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[2] Lisa Hostetler, Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959. Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959, held at the Milwaukee Art Museum, January 30 – April 25, 2010. (New York: Prestel, 2010) 21.
[3] Hostetler, 25.
[4] Hostetler, 53.
[5] Hostetler, 60.
[6] Quoted in Hostetler, 63.
[7] Grimes, William. “Louis Stettner, Who Photographed the Everyday New York and Paris, Dies at 93,” The New York Times, October 14, 2016. <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/arts/design/louis-stettner-dead.html?_r=0> Accessed 13 April 2017.
[8] “Historical development of the media in France” (PDF). McGraw-Hill Education, from The Media in Contemporary France by Raymond Kuhn, 2011, Open University Press, Berkshire, England. <http://www.mheducation.co.uk/openup/chap­ters/9780335236220.pdf> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[9] “L'Humanité,” Wikipedia. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L’Humanit%C3%A9> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[10] N. Jay Jaffee. “The Photo League: A Memoir,” August, 1994. <http://njayjaffee.com> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[11] Jaffee, “Reflections: My Early Photographs.”
[12] “Faurer, Louis.” Museum of Contemporary Photography. Website. <http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?type=related&kv=7100&t=people> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[13] Hostetler, 83.
[14] Hostetler, 83.
[15] Anne Wilkes Tucker; Lisa Hostetler; Kathleen V. Jameson. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Louis Faurer. Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Louis Faurer Retrospective, held at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, January 13 – April 14, 2002 and at four other museums through Sept. 7, 2003. (New York: Rizzoli, 2002) 27.
[16] Tucker, 27.
[17] Hostetler, p. 75, footnote 55.
[18] Justin Porter. “Signs of Life in Todd Webb’s New York,” The New York Times, April 14, 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/nyregion/todd-webb-photographer.html> Accessed 2 May 2017.
[19] Porter.
[20] Porter.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Joyce Tenneson

“As a portraitist, I’m the opposite of the kind of photographer who stands back and says, ‘Let the person reveal himself.’ When I know there’s something inside, I try to bring it out. People tell me incredible secrets.” – Joyce Tenneson [1]


Joyce Tenneson was born in Boston in 1945, and grew up with her two sisters in Weston, Massachusetts where both of her parents worked on the grounds of a convent. In speaking about her early life and its influence on her as an artist, Tenneson said,


There is no question that the convent where my parents worked was the greatest inspiration. For me as a child, it was a mysterious environment...filled with symbolism, ritual, and beauty, and also a disturbing kind of surreal imagery…[The nuns] lived in a mysterious world of secrets that I longed to penetrate and uncover. So I watched. In a way, I became a voyeur, and this desire to observe everything has stayed with me.


As a child, her favorite book was The Secret Garden, which is very telling of her interests of finding the hidden inner self and their “incredible secrets” from early on, because to Tenneson, The Secret Garden is “the story of a hidden place where you could make things be the way you want them, if you could only find the key to get inside.”[2]


In high school, Tenneson was hired as a part-time model by Polaroid, which provided her an opportunity to become familiar with the photography business. After college, with a major in literature and a minor in art, she continued on to graduate school at George Washington University where she obtained a master’s degree with a concentration in photography and art history. Immediately after graduating, she began teaching at a community college in Washington D.C., and later as a professor at the Corcoran School of Art and the Smithsonian Institution.[3] During this time in the 1960s and 1970s, Tenneson took black-and-white photographs, and focused her camera on herself.[4] Part of what motivated Tenneson to take self-portraits was that, “It was the 1970s, a time of social upheaval and reevaluation. I was very much an activist. It was a time when the image of women was changing a lot … this sense of claiming your own identity was very new.” [5]


Joyce Tenneson, Self-Portrait with Mask, 1977. Gelatin 
silver print, 11 x 14 inches. GW Collection, Purchase.

In our current exhibition REFLECT, the photograph Self-Portrait with Mask (1977), comes from this period of her life when she was taking self-portraits while working in Washington, D.C. Her portrait appears three times throughout this photograph, but all three are secondary images of her face, while her real face is hidden. The photograph shows Tenneson with her back to the camera looking into a mirror, revealing her face to the viewer through a reflection. The second image is the painted white mask on the back of Tenneson’s head, which presumably is a mold of her own face. Collaged onto this mask is the third image, which is a small photograph of Tenneson. Why is she hiding? Which image is the more authentic Tenneson? She creates a need to see who she is, an impulse to touch her shoulder and turn her around, as if seeing her face may reveal more of a truth about her.


Although the subject and photographic techniques are different during this early period, what Tenneson calls her materials, “the fabric, the skin, and the light, and then the inner person I’m trying to reveal,” remain consistent throughout her career.[6] In Self-Portrait with Mask, these materials are very present, including the invisible “material” of her own inner person. She often uses veils or transparent materials in her portraits and self-portraits. Her interest in self-discovery continues even when she is taking portraits of others and revealing their inner selves, because as she observed, “I look like my work, I take that as a compliment. Metaphorically, I look like my work.”[7]


In 1983, after 15 years of living in Washington, D.C. and recently divorced, Tenneson moved to New York City where she began focusing more intently on her photography and also began photographing other people. She shot her photographs primarily using the Polaroid 20x24 camera, and started using color as well. Her first big success was her photograph of Suzanne in Chair, which first appeared on the cover of American Photo in 1986, and later was in her 1994 book Transformations.[8]


Throughout Tenneson’s career, her photographs have appeared on the covers of many magazines, including Time, Life, and Entertainment Weekly. Her portraits include notable figures such as Nancy Reagan and Sandra Day O’Connor, as well as the New York Yankees baseball team. She has published over 16 books of photography, and her 2002 book Wise Women was the New York Times best-selling photography book of the year.[9] Tenneson currently resides in Maine, and continues to give lectures and teach workshops.

By Maria Gorbaty, Gallery Assistant


See Self-Portrait with Mask (1977) in REFLECT: Photography Looking Forward, Looking Back at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery through July 7, 2017.

_____________
[1]  https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/style/1983/10/30/tenneson-portrait-of-the-photographer/e78dc5cc-affa-45d2-a75c-ec4fad2e0c10/?utm_term=.953eab7f7793
[2] http://www.tenneson.com/sites/default/files/press/Intro-Interview-Transformations-JT.pdf
[3] http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/tenneson/interview6.html
[4] http://www.bandwmag.com/articles/joyce-tenneson-spiritual-warrior
[5] Ibid.
[6] http://www.photoworkshop.com/artman/publish/interview_with_joyce_tenneson.shtml
[7] Ibid.
[8] http://www.nehomemag.com/the-insider/
[9] http://www.tenneson.com/content/bio

Friday, March 31, 2017

Margaretta Peale

James Peale, Anna and Margaretta Peale, ca. 1805. 
Oil on canvas, 29 x 24 in. Pennsylvania Academy 
Margaretta Peale (1785-1882) comes from a prominent family of painters. Her uncle, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), is probably the most famous in the Peale family. Charles Willson Peale is known for his portraiture of prominent figures, and also establishing the Philadelphia Museum, one of the first museums in America. Some of Charles Willson Peale’s sons (Margaretta’s cousins) continued in the family business of painting. They are notable for their still lifes and portraits, as well as their unusual names - Rembrandt, Raphaelle, and Titian - names of some of Charles Willson Peale’s favorite artists. [1]



Margaretta Peale, Strawberries and
Cherries, n.d. Oil on canvas, 10-1/16 
x 12-1/8 in. Pennsylvania Academy
Margaretta’s father, James Peale (1749-1831), was the younger brother of Charles Willson Peale. He was taught how to paint by his older brother and also worked in his studio. James Peale is most notable for his still lifes and miniature paintings. [2] He had six children, most famously Margaretta and her sisters Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878) and Sarah Miriam Peale (1800-1885). Margaretta’s sisters were acclaimed female painters of their time and became the first women members of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), which was the first arts academy in America. They were also among the first women to professionally paint for a living. [3] While Margaretta was not a member of PAFA, she still had the honor of exhibiting her work at the academy. Today Margaretta’s legacy is still overshadowed by that of her sisters, however this is most likely due to the fact that many of her paintings no longer exist.

Margaretta Peale, William Staughton, D.D., n.d.
Oil on canvas. The George Washington University
Permanent Collection.
Although Margaretta Peale was most known for her still life paintings, George Washington University owns five of her portrait paintings - possibly the only ones that are still in existence. The portraits are of William Staughton, Stephen Chapin, William Ruggles and Joseph Getchell Binney (the fifth portrait is an unidentified sitter). These four men all were presidents of the Columbian College, known today as George Washington University.

William Staughton was the first president of the college from 1821-1827. Margaretta was commissioned in 1866 to paint this portrait from her cousin Rembrandt’s portrait of Staughton (Staughton’s portrait by Margaretta is currently in the General Counsel’s office). Staughton had close ties with the Peale family presumably because he knew the Peale family while he lived in Philadelphia as a Baptist Minister, and later he became Margaretta’s brother-in-law. Anna Claypoole Peale was the second wife of Staughton and married him in August 1829, unfortunately that same year he died. [4] A portrait of William Staughton painted by James Peale in 1811 is also owned by GWU and can be found next to Margaretta’s portrait of Stephen Chapin in a small gallery in Gelman Library on the first floor.

Margaretta Peale, Stephen Chapin, D.D., c.1868. 
Oil on canvas. The George Washington 
University Permanent Collection.

Stephen Chapin was the second President of the Columbian College from 1828-1841. This portrait, painted around 1868, was commissioned by the Board of Trustees for the University. The board asked Margaretta to paint the portrait of Dr. Chapin from a likeness of his portrait owned by William Ruggles.

William Ruggles was never officially a president of the University, but served as an acting president three times from 1822-1877 during his years as a GWU faculty member. [5] Ruggles was a very influential person at the University, and holds the record of the longest consecutive period of teaching at GWU. Ruggles's portrait is currently in the Lenthall Townhouses.

Margaretta Peale, William Ruggles, n.d. Oil on 
canvas. The George Washington University 
PermanentCollection.

Margaretta Peale, Joseph Getchell Binney, D.D.
(Doctor of Divinity), n.d. Oil on canvas. The George
Washington University Permanent Collection.
Margaretta Peale, Unidentified sitter, ca. 1868. 
Oil on canvas. The George Washington University
Permanent Collection.























Joseph Getchell Binney was the fourth President of GWU from 1855-1858, and his portrait can be found in the the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. His portrait was recently on view in our exhibition The Other 90%.

By Maria Gorbaty, Gallery Assistant

To learn more about the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and the George Washington University’s Permanent Collection, please
visit our website.
_________________________________
[1] http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/
[2] http://americanart.si.edu/
[3] https://nmwa.org
[4] https://library.gwu.edu/ead/ms0311.xml
[5] http://library.gwu.edu/ead/rg0002.xml#ref1109

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Glenn Goldberg Variations


Glenn Goldberg, a New York City based artist, creates paintings that are full of dots, layers, and delicately applied paint. While they are incredible images, his paintings have to be seen in person to truly understand the physicality and energy that he is expressing.

Within the gallery space, you can feel the time and motion of the artist’s hand “stitching” dots onto the canvas. By standing in front of some paintings, you will encounter an undefined space in which Goldberg is searching for what he calls “thereness.” This space will pull you close, until the only thing in your vision is the world that Goldberg has created. As the “thereness” pulls you towards the canvas, you may start to notice the exciting disorder of the layers and the human quality of the imperfection of Goldberg’s brush strokes.

On the surface, Goldberg’s paintings are attractive and beautiful, but just as Goldberg creates layers in his paintings, they are layered with meaning and ideas. In an interview on the blog Gorky’s Granddaughter, Goldberg speaks about several different concepts that he is interested in exploring with his work. Below are some of Goldberg’s quotes from this interview in which he tells us his particular interests, but it is important to keep in mind one of Goldberg’s purposes, which is, “If I am doing it in the way I want to do it, I too can look at these with a very incomplete understanding of them.”

When looking at one of Goldberg’s paintings, it does not take long to begin contemplating what the painting is about, or to apply your own thoughts or emotions to its surface. His paintings naturally take you to another place, which is one of his goals:

“I am interested in things other than physical utility,
like the utility of the mind, or ideas."

He’s also interested in those moments when ideas become language and words bubble to the surface until you can’t help but say something or ask a question. In voicing your ideas, a conversation begins, which Goldberg finds important:

“I like that important conversations can happen around
works of art or actions - mine, yours, or anybody’s.
Hopefully that is what we are most interested in."
A conversation may arise about the feelings evoked by his paintings. There is a sense of calm created through the repetitiveness of the dots, but also by showing repetition, he shows action:

“I am interested in action… action is another way to say
that I am looking for quiet, maybe somewhat mysterious,
action in my work, that is the way it feels for me.”

With this action, there is an awareness of the hand placing the dots meticulously on the canvas, tediously filling it with texture and color. It is as if Goldberg is weaving or stitching, and in fact his wife was a weaver:

“A lot of my interests, we can say, is in the
in between zone of craft and art.”


With such a large and detailed canvas, it’s hard not to make a mistake. A dot may be out of place, or there might be some paint outside of an outline. Goldberg does not despair or find the flaws something to cover up, but instead asserts that:

“I am interested in precision and flaw, like working together...philosophically, I am interested in the union of clarity and imprecision. So within all our clarity is flaw.”




By Maria Gorbaty, Gallery Assistant

Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds is on view at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery through April 14, 2017. More information is available at www.gwu.edu/~bradyart
Media Advisory: https://mediarelations.gwu.edu/brooklyn-artist-glenn-goldberg-show-works-interpreting-nature-gw%E2%80%99s-luther-w-brady-art-gallery







Thursday, January 19, 2017

UPDATED: GLENN GOLDBERG Photo A Week Challenge



If you’re like us, you’re always looking for inspiration. Recently, we decided to relaunch our Instagram and what better place for inspiration than the walls of an art gallery? Seeing something in a painting or sculpture makes you notice the beauty of things that you come across in everyday life. And that’s why we decided to put the challenge out to you to capture that something with a photo challenge inspired by our latest exhibition, Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds.

Glenn Goldberg’s works have a common feature: his ever-present dots over light washes of color creating multiple layers within each composition. His signature marks not only structure the space, but also are a record of his concentrated attention, time and devotion. His work ethic is apparent in the extraordinary details of layered textures he achieves. He draws his inspiration from nature, jazz music, textile design, African and Asian art, and decorative arts.

So, how does this photo challenge thing work? It’s easy:
  • Each Monday, we’ll post a detail from one of Glenn Goldberg’s pieces that inspires us and give you a prompt based on that. [In case you want to plan ahead, there’s a graphic above that outlines the prompts for the next 12 weeks.]
  • Use our prompt, and the art that inspired it, to think creatively and snap your own photo.
  • Post your photo to your Instagram account with the hashtag #GGphotoaweek.
  • [UPDATE] Each Monday, we’ll look through all the photos you’ve posted with #GGphotoaweek from the previous week and choose a winner! We’ll repost that photo on our Instagram account instagram.com/bradygallery 
What do I need in order to do this? Just a phone with a camera and an Instagram account. No fancy photography skills required. (Although we’re interested in seeing what some of our professional photographer friends come up with!)  Keep the prompt in the back of your mind and when inspiration strikes, snap a pic and post it.

Are there prizes for the winners? Yes! We’ll announce the prize each Monday and contact the winner after we choose the winning photo.

Of course the best way to gain inspiration from these pieces is to see them in person. Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds is on view through April 14, 2017. We’re open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Tuesday - Friday.
Visit https://www.gwu.edu/~bradyart/brady/exhibitions.html for more information.

Still have questions? Ask us in the comments or email lutherbradyart@gmail.com


About the Blog

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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Howard Hodgkin: Paintings - May 16, 2012

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflections on a World After War

“Using my camera helped me understand my roots and the times in which I lived.”[1]
- N. Jay Jaffee

GW’s Collection includes a strong selection of numerous postwar American photographers of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, including Louis Faurer (1916-2001), N. Jay Jaffee (1921-1999), Louis Stettner (1922-2016), and Todd Webb (1905-2000). The four were contemporaries and their photographs share many of the same characteristics: capturing the everyday life of urban dwellers in New York, Philadelphia, London, and Paris. While researching these artists for our current exhibition, REFLECT: Photography Looking Forward, Looking Back, we found that, like most Americans, each served in some capacity – whether military or civilian – during World War II. In honor of Blue Star Museums and Memorial Day, we decided to put these photographers and their photographs in the context of their war and postwar experiences.

These four photographers were nearly the same age and grew up in the same era, along with a number of other postwar American photographers and visual artists. As Lisa Hostetler has noted, this group bridged the gap between the sentimental, documentary photography of the 1930s and the abstract photography that would become popular in later decades.[2] Each one used techniques and strategies made popular by photojournalists during the war for their own means.[3] While the Spanish Civil War was the first conflict in Europe to attract the attention of skilled photographers to document it, the destruction of the Second World War was unprecedented.[4] Images of liberated concentration camps, terrifying images of the new atomic weapon and its power, as well as the rising tensions with Russia contributed to the trauma and anxiety in the postwar America that these veterans and photographers returned to.[5] As co-founder of the Photo League in New York, Sid Grossman told his students there to practice “photography as an act of living.”[6] Indeed Jaffee, Faurer, Stettner, and Webb all imbued their photographs with something of the personal, even while documenting the everyday lives of other people.

Louis Stettner, The Reading Wall, Paris, 1951.
Gelatin silver print. 12 x 10 inches. GW Collection.
Gift of Lawrence Benenson, 1983.
Primarily known for his photographs of New York and Paris, Louis Stettner spent the better part of his life moving back and forth between the two cities, documenting ordinary people in their everyday activities, focusing on the middle class. During the war, he served as an Army combat photographer in New Guinea, the Philippines, and Japan. Stettner used the camera, he once wrote, as “my personal language for telling people what I was discovering, suffering or immensely joyous about.”[7] While his photographs reflect his own feelings about his subjects, today they also serve as a reflection of these places in a time gone by. The Reading Wall, Paris (1951) shows an elderly man, a bit hunched over, reading the pages of a newspaper posted to a wall in Paris. Upon closer inspection, these pages appear to be from the Communist-affiliated newspaper L’Humanité. A decade earlier, he would not have been openly reading this paper, as the French government had taken steps to ban its publication as a result of the non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union just prior to World War II.[8] Published secretly by the party until the liberation of Paris in 1944, the newspaper was at the height of its popularity in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, when this photo was taken and the French Communist Party was the dominant party of the left.[9]

N. Jay Jaffee, Man with Sun Reflector (East New York),
1952 (print date unknown). Gelatin silver print, ed. 
18/25, 10 x 8 inches. GW Collection. Gift of Lawrence 
Benenson, 1982.
Like Stettner, N. Jay Jaffee had also served during the war, but he only took up photography in 1947, after he had returned, as a way of dealing with the things he had experienced and the post-war climate: “I was one of those veterans who, after three years of army duty that included six months of combat in the European theater, came home with the naïve impression that the world was going to have a more peaceful future.”[10] His photographs also tend to capture people in their everyday activities, such as Man with Sun Reflector (1952), of which he remarked: “I was startled when I saw this man sunning himself with a metal reflector. This was the first I saw this contraption being used. Also, it was not often that I came across a person whom I wanted to photograph that just happened to be in a perfect design pattern… I made this exposure in a matter of seconds and quickly walked away, hoping that I did not interfere with his dreams.”[11]


Louis Faurer, Staten Island Ferry, 1946,
1946, (printed c. 1981). Gelatin silver print,
7-3/4 x 7-1/2 inches. GW Collection.
Gift of Gary Granoff, Esq., 1984.
Louis Faurer had already decided that he would pursue photography as a career before serving as a civilian photographic technician for the U. S. Army Signal Corps in his hometown of Philadelphia during the war.[12] In his photographs people are surrogates for himself, suggests Lisa Hostetler; he not only empathizes with them, but identifies with them.[13] His tendency to include his own reflection in a number of photographs belies the personal nature and projection of his own identity as seen through others in his photographs.[14] He often used reflections, double exposures, and sandwiched negatives to convey the complications of urban life in postwar America. Some images, however, existed without these interventions, such as Staten Island Ferry (1946).[15] Occasionally he gave this photograph the title I Once Dreamed About the Most Beautiful City in the World, Staten Island Ferry, which Anne Wilkes Tucker suggests refers to both the beauty of the New York skyline as reflected in the ferry window and to the anticipation of arriving in the city “on the part of an immigrant’s son.”[16] Although he is perhaps more well-known as a fashion photographer, the style that made his fashion photographs unique was cultivated during these explorations of New York and its people.[17]

Todd Webb, London, 1948. Gelatin silver
print, 8-1/2 x 6-1/2 inches. GW Collection. 
Gift of Lawrence Benenson, 1982.
Todd Webb served as a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy ­– just one in a long list of careers he had tried by that time, including working as a prospector for gold in California and for Chrysler in Detroit after having lost all his money in the 1929 stock market crash.[18] Just a year after he returned from the South Pacific, in 1945, however, he had his first exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York thanks in part to having sold three of his photographs at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, An American Place, in 1942 on his way to report for duty.[19] His return to New York brought new subjects to photograph, including the welcome-home messages greeting other veterans as they returned home. Signs were a favorite subject and he photographed numerous billboards, advertisements and shop windows.[20] In addition to photographing New York after the war, Webb also traveled to Paris and London. The GW Collection includes a number of photographs from his travels, including London (1948), which shows a soldier of The Queen’s Life Guard standing at attention with a crowd of people around him. The white plume and shiny cuirass that he wears are characteristic of the uniform and this breastplate also shows the reflection of another crowd of people across the street. As the highest rank of the British Army The Queen’s Life Guards also took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy. Though the location is not certain, it is possible that this was taken outside Buckingham Palace. While the Queen’s Foot Guards (those soldiers in red tunics and bear skin hats) typically guard the Palace, Webb notes that this photo was taken in August 1948 and during August, the protection of the Palace may be taken over by other regiments. In addition, the Summer Olympics (also nicknamed the “Austerity Games”) were held in London in 1948, the first games to be held since the 1936 games in Berlin. It is also possible that the guard in standing at attention in his ceremonial uniform for some event connected to the games.  

While some of the photographs here depict literal, physical reflections, others touch upon another meaning of the word “reflect” – to think deeply or carefully about, to consider, review, or mull over - and some represent both simultaneously. Placing these in the context of postwar America and Europe gives new appreciation to the reasons why these photographers turned their cameras to capture the everyday experiences of those that came through such a tumultuous time. Through their eyes, the ordinary became extraordinary.

By Michelle Mazzuchi, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator

REFLECT: Photography Looking Forward, Looking Back
is on view at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery through July 7, 2017. For more information, visit www.gwu.edu/~bradyart.


[1] N. Jay Jaffee, “Reflections: My Early Photographs,” September 17, 1996. <http://njayjaffee.com> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[2] Lisa Hostetler, Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959. Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photography, 1940-1959, held at the Milwaukee Art Museum, January 30 – April 25, 2010. (New York: Prestel, 2010) 21.
[3] Hostetler, 25.
[4] Hostetler, 53.
[5] Hostetler, 60.
[6] Quoted in Hostetler, 63.
[7] Grimes, William. “Louis Stettner, Who Photographed the Everyday New York and Paris, Dies at 93,” The New York Times, October 14, 2016. <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/arts/design/louis-stettner-dead.html?_r=0> Accessed 13 April 2017.
[8] “Historical development of the media in France” (PDF). McGraw-Hill Education, from The Media in Contemporary France by Raymond Kuhn, 2011, Open University Press, Berkshire, England. <http://www.mheducation.co.uk/openup/chap­ters/9780335236220.pdf> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[9] “L'Humanité,” Wikipedia. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L’Humanit%C3%A9> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[10] N. Jay Jaffee. “The Photo League: A Memoir,” August, 1994. <http://njayjaffee.com> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[11] Jaffee, “Reflections: My Early Photographs.”
[12] “Faurer, Louis.” Museum of Contemporary Photography. Website. <http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?type=related&kv=7100&t=people> Accessed 12 April 2017.
[13] Hostetler, 83.
[14] Hostetler, 83.
[15] Anne Wilkes Tucker; Lisa Hostetler; Kathleen V. Jameson. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Louis Faurer. Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Louis Faurer Retrospective, held at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, January 13 – April 14, 2002 and at four other museums through Sept. 7, 2003. (New York: Rizzoli, 2002) 27.
[16] Tucker, 27.
[17] Hostetler, p. 75, footnote 55.
[18] Justin Porter. “Signs of Life in Todd Webb’s New York,” The New York Times, April 14, 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/nyregion/todd-webb-photographer.html> Accessed 2 May 2017.
[19] Porter.
[20] Porter.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Joyce Tenneson

“As a portraitist, I’m the opposite of the kind of photographer who stands back and says, ‘Let the person reveal himself.’ When I know there’s something inside, I try to bring it out. People tell me incredible secrets.” – Joyce Tenneson [1]


Joyce Tenneson was born in Boston in 1945, and grew up with her two sisters in Weston, Massachusetts where both of her parents worked on the grounds of a convent. In speaking about her early life and its influence on her as an artist, Tenneson said,


There is no question that the convent where my parents worked was the greatest inspiration. For me as a child, it was a mysterious environment...filled with symbolism, ritual, and beauty, and also a disturbing kind of surreal imagery…[The nuns] lived in a mysterious world of secrets that I longed to penetrate and uncover. So I watched. In a way, I became a voyeur, and this desire to observe everything has stayed with me.


As a child, her favorite book was The Secret Garden, which is very telling of her interests of finding the hidden inner self and their “incredible secrets” from early on, because to Tenneson, The Secret Garden is “the story of a hidden place where you could make things be the way you want them, if you could only find the key to get inside.”[2]


In high school, Tenneson was hired as a part-time model by Polaroid, which provided her an opportunity to become familiar with the photography business. After college, with a major in literature and a minor in art, she continued on to graduate school at George Washington University where she obtained a master’s degree with a concentration in photography and art history. Immediately after graduating, she began teaching at a community college in Washington D.C., and later as a professor at the Corcoran School of Art and the Smithsonian Institution.[3] During this time in the 1960s and 1970s, Tenneson took black-and-white photographs, and focused her camera on herself.[4] Part of what motivated Tenneson to take self-portraits was that, “It was the 1970s, a time of social upheaval and reevaluation. I was very much an activist. It was a time when the image of women was changing a lot … this sense of claiming your own identity was very new.” [5]


Joyce Tenneson, Self-Portrait with Mask, 1977. Gelatin 
silver print, 11 x 14 inches. GW Collection, Purchase.

In our current exhibition REFLECT, the photograph Self-Portrait with Mask (1977), comes from this period of her life when she was taking self-portraits while working in Washington, D.C. Her portrait appears three times throughout this photograph, but all three are secondary images of her face, while her real face is hidden. The photograph shows Tenneson with her back to the camera looking into a mirror, revealing her face to the viewer through a reflection. The second image is the painted white mask on the back of Tenneson’s head, which presumably is a mold of her own face. Collaged onto this mask is the third image, which is a small photograph of Tenneson. Why is she hiding? Which image is the more authentic Tenneson? She creates a need to see who she is, an impulse to touch her shoulder and turn her around, as if seeing her face may reveal more of a truth about her.


Although the subject and photographic techniques are different during this early period, what Tenneson calls her materials, “the fabric, the skin, and the light, and then the inner person I’m trying to reveal,” remain consistent throughout her career.[6] In Self-Portrait with Mask, these materials are very present, including the invisible “material” of her own inner person. She often uses veils or transparent materials in her portraits and self-portraits. Her interest in self-discovery continues even when she is taking portraits of others and revealing their inner selves, because as she observed, “I look like my work, I take that as a compliment. Metaphorically, I look like my work.”[7]


In 1983, after 15 years of living in Washington, D.C. and recently divorced, Tenneson moved to New York City where she began focusing more intently on her photography and also began photographing other people. She shot her photographs primarily using the Polaroid 20x24 camera, and started using color as well. Her first big success was her photograph of Suzanne in Chair, which first appeared on the cover of American Photo in 1986, and later was in her 1994 book Transformations.[8]


Throughout Tenneson’s career, her photographs have appeared on the covers of many magazines, including Time, Life, and Entertainment Weekly. Her portraits include notable figures such as Nancy Reagan and Sandra Day O’Connor, as well as the New York Yankees baseball team. She has published over 16 books of photography, and her 2002 book Wise Women was the New York Times best-selling photography book of the year.[9] Tenneson currently resides in Maine, and continues to give lectures and teach workshops.

By Maria Gorbaty, Gallery Assistant


See Self-Portrait with Mask (1977) in REFLECT: Photography Looking Forward, Looking Back at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery through July 7, 2017.

_____________
[1]  https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/style/1983/10/30/tenneson-portrait-of-the-photographer/e78dc5cc-affa-45d2-a75c-ec4fad2e0c10/?utm_term=.953eab7f7793
[2] http://www.tenneson.com/sites/default/files/press/Intro-Interview-Transformations-JT.pdf
[3] http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/tenneson/interview6.html
[4] http://www.bandwmag.com/articles/joyce-tenneson-spiritual-warrior
[5] Ibid.
[6] http://www.photoworkshop.com/artman/publish/interview_with_joyce_tenneson.shtml
[7] Ibid.
[8] http://www.nehomemag.com/the-insider/
[9] http://www.tenneson.com/content/bio

Friday, March 31, 2017

Margaretta Peale

James Peale, Anna and Margaretta Peale, ca. 1805. 
Oil on canvas, 29 x 24 in. Pennsylvania Academy 
Margaretta Peale (1785-1882) comes from a prominent family of painters. Her uncle, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), is probably the most famous in the Peale family. Charles Willson Peale is known for his portraiture of prominent figures, and also establishing the Philadelphia Museum, one of the first museums in America. Some of Charles Willson Peale’s sons (Margaretta’s cousins) continued in the family business of painting. They are notable for their still lifes and portraits, as well as their unusual names - Rembrandt, Raphaelle, and Titian - names of some of Charles Willson Peale’s favorite artists. [1]



Margaretta Peale, Strawberries and
Cherries, n.d. Oil on canvas, 10-1/16 
x 12-1/8 in. Pennsylvania Academy
Margaretta’s father, James Peale (1749-1831), was the younger brother of Charles Willson Peale. He was taught how to paint by his older brother and also worked in his studio. James Peale is most notable for his still lifes and miniature paintings. [2] He had six children, most famously Margaretta and her sisters Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878) and Sarah Miriam Peale (1800-1885). Margaretta’s sisters were acclaimed female painters of their time and became the first women members of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), which was the first arts academy in America. They were also among the first women to professionally paint for a living. [3] While Margaretta was not a member of PAFA, she still had the honor of exhibiting her work at the academy. Today Margaretta’s legacy is still overshadowed by that of her sisters, however this is most likely due to the fact that many of her paintings no longer exist.

Margaretta Peale, William Staughton, D.D., n.d.
Oil on canvas. The George Washington University
Permanent Collection.
Although Margaretta Peale was most known for her still life paintings, George Washington University owns five of her portrait paintings - possibly the only ones that are still in existence. The portraits are of William Staughton, Stephen Chapin, William Ruggles and Joseph Getchell Binney (the fifth portrait is an unidentified sitter). These four men all were presidents of the Columbian College, known today as George Washington University.

William Staughton was the first president of the college from 1821-1827. Margaretta was commissioned in 1866 to paint this portrait from her cousin Rembrandt’s portrait of Staughton (Staughton’s portrait by Margaretta is currently in the General Counsel’s office). Staughton had close ties with the Peale family presumably because he knew the Peale family while he lived in Philadelphia as a Baptist Minister, and later he became Margaretta’s brother-in-law. Anna Claypoole Peale was the second wife of Staughton and married him in August 1829, unfortunately that same year he died. [4] A portrait of William Staughton painted by James Peale in 1811 is also owned by GWU and can be found next to Margaretta’s portrait of Stephen Chapin in a small gallery in Gelman Library on the first floor.

Margaretta Peale, Stephen Chapin, D.D., c.1868. 
Oil on canvas. The George Washington 
University Permanent Collection.

Stephen Chapin was the second President of the Columbian College from 1828-1841. This portrait, painted around 1868, was commissioned by the Board of Trustees for the University. The board asked Margaretta to paint the portrait of Dr. Chapin from a likeness of his portrait owned by William Ruggles.

William Ruggles was never officially a president of the University, but served as an acting president three times from 1822-1877 during his years as a GWU faculty member. [5] Ruggles was a very influential person at the University, and holds the record of the longest consecutive period of teaching at GWU. Ruggles's portrait is currently in the Lenthall Townhouses.

Margaretta Peale, William Ruggles, n.d. Oil on 
canvas. The George Washington University 
PermanentCollection.

Margaretta Peale, Joseph Getchell Binney, D.D.
(Doctor of Divinity), n.d. Oil on canvas. The George
Washington University Permanent Collection.
Margaretta Peale, Unidentified sitter, ca. 1868. 
Oil on canvas. The George Washington University
Permanent Collection.























Joseph Getchell Binney was the fourth President of GWU from 1855-1858, and his portrait can be found in the the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. His portrait was recently on view in our exhibition The Other 90%.

By Maria Gorbaty, Gallery Assistant

To learn more about the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and the George Washington University’s Permanent Collection, please
visit our website.
_________________________________
[1] http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/
[2] http://americanart.si.edu/
[3] https://nmwa.org
[4] https://library.gwu.edu/ead/ms0311.xml
[5] http://library.gwu.edu/ead/rg0002.xml#ref1109

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Glenn Goldberg Variations


Glenn Goldberg, a New York City based artist, creates paintings that are full of dots, layers, and delicately applied paint. While they are incredible images, his paintings have to be seen in person to truly understand the physicality and energy that he is expressing.

Within the gallery space, you can feel the time and motion of the artist’s hand “stitching” dots onto the canvas. By standing in front of some paintings, you will encounter an undefined space in which Goldberg is searching for what he calls “thereness.” This space will pull you close, until the only thing in your vision is the world that Goldberg has created. As the “thereness” pulls you towards the canvas, you may start to notice the exciting disorder of the layers and the human quality of the imperfection of Goldberg’s brush strokes.

On the surface, Goldberg’s paintings are attractive and beautiful, but just as Goldberg creates layers in his paintings, they are layered with meaning and ideas. In an interview on the blog Gorky’s Granddaughter, Goldberg speaks about several different concepts that he is interested in exploring with his work. Below are some of Goldberg’s quotes from this interview in which he tells us his particular interests, but it is important to keep in mind one of Goldberg’s purposes, which is, “If I am doing it in the way I want to do it, I too can look at these with a very incomplete understanding of them.”

When looking at one of Goldberg’s paintings, it does not take long to begin contemplating what the painting is about, or to apply your own thoughts or emotions to its surface. His paintings naturally take you to another place, which is one of his goals:

“I am interested in things other than physical utility,
like the utility of the mind, or ideas."

He’s also interested in those moments when ideas become language and words bubble to the surface until you can’t help but say something or ask a question. In voicing your ideas, a conversation begins, which Goldberg finds important:

“I like that important conversations can happen around
works of art or actions - mine, yours, or anybody’s.
Hopefully that is what we are most interested in."
A conversation may arise about the feelings evoked by his paintings. There is a sense of calm created through the repetitiveness of the dots, but also by showing repetition, he shows action:

“I am interested in action… action is another way to say
that I am looking for quiet, maybe somewhat mysterious,
action in my work, that is the way it feels for me.”

With this action, there is an awareness of the hand placing the dots meticulously on the canvas, tediously filling it with texture and color. It is as if Goldberg is weaving or stitching, and in fact his wife was a weaver:

“A lot of my interests, we can say, is in the
in between zone of craft and art.”


With such a large and detailed canvas, it’s hard not to make a mistake. A dot may be out of place, or there might be some paint outside of an outline. Goldberg does not despair or find the flaws something to cover up, but instead asserts that:

“I am interested in precision and flaw, like working together...philosophically, I am interested in the union of clarity and imprecision. So within all our clarity is flaw.”




By Maria Gorbaty, Gallery Assistant

Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds is on view at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery through April 14, 2017. More information is available at www.gwu.edu/~bradyart
Media Advisory: https://mediarelations.gwu.edu/brooklyn-artist-glenn-goldberg-show-works-interpreting-nature-gw%E2%80%99s-luther-w-brady-art-gallery







Thursday, January 19, 2017

UPDATED: GLENN GOLDBERG Photo A Week Challenge



If you’re like us, you’re always looking for inspiration. Recently, we decided to relaunch our Instagram and what better place for inspiration than the walls of an art gallery? Seeing something in a painting or sculpture makes you notice the beauty of things that you come across in everyday life. And that’s why we decided to put the challenge out to you to capture that something with a photo challenge inspired by our latest exhibition, Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds.

Glenn Goldberg’s works have a common feature: his ever-present dots over light washes of color creating multiple layers within each composition. His signature marks not only structure the space, but also are a record of his concentrated attention, time and devotion. His work ethic is apparent in the extraordinary details of layered textures he achieves. He draws his inspiration from nature, jazz music, textile design, African and Asian art, and decorative arts.

So, how does this photo challenge thing work? It’s easy:
  • Each Monday, we’ll post a detail from one of Glenn Goldberg’s pieces that inspires us and give you a prompt based on that. [In case you want to plan ahead, there’s a graphic above that outlines the prompts for the next 12 weeks.]
  • Use our prompt, and the art that inspired it, to think creatively and snap your own photo.
  • Post your photo to your Instagram account with the hashtag #GGphotoaweek.
  • [UPDATE] Each Monday, we’ll look through all the photos you’ve posted with #GGphotoaweek from the previous week and choose a winner! We’ll repost that photo on our Instagram account instagram.com/bradygallery 
What do I need in order to do this? Just a phone with a camera and an Instagram account. No fancy photography skills required. (Although we’re interested in seeing what some of our professional photographer friends come up with!)  Keep the prompt in the back of your mind and when inspiration strikes, snap a pic and post it.

Are there prizes for the winners? Yes! We’ll announce the prize each Monday and contact the winner after we choose the winning photo.

Of course the best way to gain inspiration from these pieces is to see them in person. Glenn Goldberg: Of Leaves and Clouds is on view through April 14, 2017. We’re open 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, Tuesday - Friday.
Visit https://www.gwu.edu/~bradyart/brady/exhibitions.html for more information.

Still have questions? Ask us in the comments or email lutherbradyart@gmail.com


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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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