THE magazine Dec 2013 - Jan 2014
THE magazine is Santa Fe New Mexico's magazine of international art, photography, culture, and restaurant dining.
F E AT U R E Autophotography exposed to Modernism, whether the work had a connection to New Mexico or not. Although only twenty artists are represented in this beautifully designed book, some of them are extensively covered, like Hartley and Davis; it would be a work by the latter, acquired in Santa Fe, which would constitute the beginning of the Vilcek’s commitment to American Modernism. The book also includes a brilliant in-depth essay by William Agee, “Perspectives on Modern Art in America,” that provides a thoughtful analysis of the evolution of Modernism and its impact on twentieth-century art. —D.A. guest lectures by Albert Einstein, Clement Greenberg, and William Carlos Williams. Musician John Cage, dancer Merce Cunningham, and artist Robert Rauschenberg collaborated, while the last was a student there, on what many call the first “happening.” Poets abounded, husbands and wives fought, and Buckminster Fuller created the first geodesic dome at Black Mountain. Tracing its inception as a very liberal arts college to its closure—due to debt—Black Mountain College: Experiment in Art (MIT Press, $40) contains essays by Martin Brody, Robert Creeley, Vincent Katz, and Kevin Power, and ends, fittingly, with three poems about the college’s demise. Here is the last line of Creeley’s ode: “And what the hell else to say but run.” —K.M.D. Axle Contemporary Kodak stopped production of Kodachrome—considered to be the best color slide film ever made—in 2009. Since the fifteenth century, artists from painters to sculptors to photographers have modeled for themselves in their own works of art. Whatever the reason, nearly every artist in every medium has attempted this explanation of self. Since 2010, Axle Contemporary—a moveable art gallery in a retrofitted 1970 step van—has exhibited drawings, paintings, installations, and photography. This year Axle invited more than eighty photographers working in New Mexico to submit self-portraits for an exhibition. The resulting book Autophotography (Axle Contemporary, $25) is designed with photographs on the right-hand pages and the photographer’s name on the facing page. Many of New Mexico’s best-known photographers are included: William Clift, Gay Block, Willis F . Lee, Nic Nicosia, Baron Wolman, Zoe Zimmerman, Will Wilson, Janet Russek, Herb Lotz, Anne Staveley, Meridel Rubenstein, and David Michael Kennedy. The stimulating images showcase the many possibilities of self-portraiture. Some photographers posed in costume, some in the nude, some against unusual backgrounds, and some in other imaginative ways. Self-portraiture does come with a thorny set of questions. Who will see the photograph? Why does that matter? And what does the photographer hope to get out of the process? In fifty or a hundred years, the visual journey in Autophotography will be seen as a time capsule of this specific time in New Mexico.—G.C. The heart of this splendid book Masterpieces of American Modernism From the Vilcek Collection (Merrell, $85) is embedded in the art done in America in the first four decades of the twentieth century. There is some later work represented in the Vilcek Collection but the sum and substance of it was culled from the first waves of modern art done by iconic practitioners such as Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Georgia O’Keeffe. A fascinating aspect of the art that Jan and Marcia Vilcek acquired is that they were inspired to begin collecting by repeated visits to Santa Fe and becoming continued on page 42 When making photographs with the film, there was one exact exposure—all others made the slides too light or too dark. As the story goes, Kodachrome was the film of choice of National Geographic photographers, who exposed for the highlights, while shooting at a third of a stop down in order to achieve greater saturation, giving their photographs added presence. Enter Nathan Benn. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at Black Mountain College in its heyday! A Bauhausian effort with a distinctly American rowdiness, the college was located in the mountains of North Carolina, east of Asheville. During its twenty-three years of existence, from 1933 to 1956, it served as a magnet for an incredible community of artists. Teachers included Josef Albers, Robert Motherwell, and Willem de Kooning. There were While on the job for National Geographic for twenty years, Benn made many personal photographs of America in the 1970s and ’80s. In Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990 (Powerhouse Books, $50) each and every photograph tells a story, while showcasing Benn’s visual intelligence. Benn’s choice of subject matter, paired with his exquisite sense of composition, is a treat for the eyes. Add an astute forward by Richard Buckley, an essay by Paul M. Farber—a scholar of American and Urban Studies—who discusses Benn’s life and photographs DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14 THE magazine |41