Page 1

Newspaper Diary



Ne w s p a p e r D ia ry Tromp e-l’Oe il Photo graphs



The University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities

Wendy Kozol Professor, Department of Comparative American Studies, Oberlin College

Amanda Krugliak Curator, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan


April 5 – May 31, 2012

Curator’s Statemen t Amanda Krugliak


oanne Leonard is an artist who has

art professor at the time (most were men)

past and present, real and imagined. (fig. 1)

that spoke of empowerment, feminism, the

The materiality of her photographic collages

cataloguing the small details, the countertop,

strength and potential impact of our own

juxtaposes the flat, two-dimensional surface

toys strewn about the floor, a lover asleep on

stories, ideas, and imaginations. It wasn’t until

with the luridness of unexpected combinations.

the bed, the dream of a window, and the house

years later that I recognized her tremendous

A hint of color, texture, pattern, a passage of

not quite ready for company. Both the act of

influence on my own artistic practice. I had

text ignites the images, alluding to that place

photographing and the resulting images of this

carried her with me. She taught me that value

of seismic instability, where all breaks away.

inner world serve as record of the human trace

is inherent in one’s life and work, but it is also

and the value of our own human experiences.

dependent on a constant vigil and endurance…

Leonard continues the conversation. The

Her photographs are as much about what

a commitment to the process of becoming.

significance of our books and correspondence,

always offered a view into the room,

matters as the mattering, profoundly personal and conversely startling in their entirety.

our histories, our love letters, our rituals are in

or complacent, rather in a state of response.

doubt. These brave new works initially reside in

Her own narratives and the reign of the world’s

the present. They are modern and unaffected,

was her student at the University of Michigan,

events are in overlay, deeply relevant to the

somehow reassuring. We can almost picture

just beginning to explore my own voice as a

collective shifts of society.

the artist herself drinking her coffee, reading

I first met Joanne Leonard in the 1980s. I

young woman and an artist. She was perhaps the first person I’d ever known and the only


Joanne Leonard’s work has never been static

In Newspaper Diary: Trompe l’Oeil Photographs,

Newspaper Diary

Leonard’s use of collage reiterates this back and forth between public and private,

the Times, placing cuttings of the newspaper against the pages of her favorite art book.

Before long, through a carefully considered

themselves become object. The uncanny

sleight of hand, these trompe-l’oeil

relationship between visual representations

photographs defy all presumptions and

decades apart suggests that our uniqueness

constructs of time, upending any notion we

is more likely and predictable than we

have about history and our place in it, or

think, like a roll of sixes in a game of dice,

some record left for posterity’s sake. These

or the Jack of Spades in a deck of cards…

compositions exist only in the photographs;

noteworthy, but not beyond replication.

they are props, mise-en-scènes. And in this

We live in a world full of black holes,

discovery comes the wrenching acceptance

twitters and texts, and the big bang. Perhaps

of what we desperately try to save and what

in some alternate universe there exists

we inevitably brace ourselves to lose in the

another version of us, with a different end.

midst of it all.

fig. 1

Newspaper Diary offers no absolutes but

harsh realities of the times in which we live,

some measure alluding to continuity…what

and the inevitability of a tomorrow that may

complex conceptually. Each photograph

came before, “it is what it is” and a life after

not remember what mattered. Yet, in the

captures the translation from idea to volition.

this one.

deliberateness of these photographs that are

The works in Newspaper Diary are highly

The gravity of the book, the image, and the

Joanne Leonard matter-of-factly catalogs

paper succumb to the impermanence of

this time line, capturing for a moment the

things. As a final record, the photographs

poignant immediacy of the everyday, the

already recollections, Leonard also embraces humanity and a certain resilience.



Encounters with the Everyday: Joanne Leonard’s Newspaper Diary: Trompe-l’Oeil Photographs Wendy Kozol


n aerial view of the Japanese coastline

stages “momentary collages” that exist

devastated by the 2011 tsunami

only temporarily for her trompe-l’oeil prints.

uncannily resembles a color woodblock

Headlines appear across pages of books as

print of the Great Edo Earthquake of 1855.

if to catalogue the growing obsolescence

(fig. 2) Compositional similarities between a

of newspapers while the dirty or damaged

Gainsborough painting of two young girls and a

edges of public library books that signal both

news photo of an African mother and her two

age and heavy usage resist the temporal

young children from Antananarivo, Madagascar,

specificity provided by newspaper datelines.

(p.8) seem at first to promote fantasies about

Beyond a record of current events, Leonard’s

childhood innocence. Until, that is, one

fig. 2

reads the newspaper caption about the abuse


assemblages provoke emotional, aesthetic, and political encounters between public and private

of the five-year-old girl by an uncle. A publicity

of sorts as a similar throng gazes up at Christ

worlds, and between historical and present

shot of Pope Benedict XVI with Rabbi Arthur

hovering in the sky. (fig. 3)

time, that underlie the quotidian experiences of

Shneier in front of a throng of rabbis taking

Catching the eye through unexpected,

their picture emerges out of the decorative

sometimes witty or disturbing, and often

borders from a facsimile medieval manuscript

poignant juxtapositions in Newspaper Diary:

has used photography, collage, and other

whose facing page provides an ancient mirror

Trompe-l’Oeil Photographs, Joanne Leonard

mixed media to create visual narratives of

Newspaper Diary

reading the newspaper. For the past four decades, Joanne Leonard

female subjectivity that explore the joys and

artistic vision as she utilizes autobiography to

pains of domestic intimacies. This “intimate

explore the layered twists of intimate desires,

documentary approach” provides multi-layered

daily life, and painful loss. In this way, Leonard

studies of the social, emotional, and sensual

consistently explores feminist concerns about

pulls and pushes of motherhood and family life.

embodiment, power, desire, and inequality.

Relentlessly self-reflexive, Leonard explores the

Newspaper Diary pushes the boundaries

politics of the private sphere through close-up

of Leonard’s previous interests in public

images of bodies and faces that accompany

and private spheres. The tug and pull of

written memories of hopes, struggles, and

temporalities locates the immediacy of news

disappointments. In the past decade, Leonard’s

events within a historical gaze that contrasts

work has increasingly moved towards

ephemerality with durability. At the same time,

explorations of the intersections of memoir and

color, composition, and other aesthetic features

Rather than attempt to document “the real,”

public histories. She uses collages of drawings,

reveal historical influences on contemporary

Leonard’s trompe-l’oeil pictures re-present

photographs, and print material to visualize a

ways of seeing. The swirls of smoky red and

reproductions, facsimiles, and copies. Visual

fragmented and non-linear family history that

orange colors in a 2010 news photo of a fire

witnessing in Joanne Leonard’s world, then, is

is anything but singular or private. Visually

in northern Arizona parallel those in J. M. W.

always a mediated experience in which history

lyrical, Leonard’s art typically has an edge that

Turner’s famous 1835 painting The Burning of

and the present do not so much clash

catches your breath. Memory is crucial to her

the House of Lords and Commons. (p. 11)

as mingle.

fig. 3



Amid Leonard’s meticulous cataloging of the intersections of the local and global,


and the Haitian earthquake. Similarities in composition, lighting, or

The emphasis in Newspaper Diary on the aesthetic politics of looking becomes starkly

one trompe-l’oeil photograph features a

other formal elements speak across historical

evident in the picture of a Haitian man covered

news picture of a barn fire in which the

particularities. Through such dialogues,

in gray ash lying dead on a stretcher in the

exposed black frames of the structure signal

Newspaper Diary raises questions by means

aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake that

its imminent collapse. (fig.4) Opposite, the

of aesthetic pleasure to draw out empathetic

killed thousands. (p. 9) What startles the eye,

spidery limbs of an abstract black sculpture by

engagement with social struggles. The rhythmic

and the imagination, though, is the similarity

Venezuelan artist Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt)

beauty of linear structures in the picture of

in the pose of the earthquake victim to that

resonates with the fragility of the barn’s

Chinese child gymnasts (cover and p. 10) at first

of the brightly colored painting of a crucified

blackened frame. Moreover, the many

glance seems intent simply to be a visual echo

Charlemagne Masséna Péralte, a Haitian

shadows created by the wire sculpture give

of the musical notations on the page behind.

nationalist who opposed the US invasion in

the appearance in the reproduction of a blur.

Leonard’s push here towards abstraction

1915. In works like this one, Leonard uses the

Throughout the exhibition, such references

produces an aesthetic encounter that

language of visuality to provoke an emotional

to the transitory nature of human existence

disconcertingly aligns the pleasures of the gaze

as well as political encounter with histories

remind us of local moments of change and

with the jolt of recognition that these young

that stretch well beyond the immediacy of

loss that occur alongside more monumental

children are hanging upside down in physically

contemporary natural disasters or social crises.

global events like the Japanese tsunami

demanding, if not painful, positions.

Newspaper Diary

Along with confronting the emotional toll of

fig. 4

against a stormy sky. (p. 12) Leonard placed

daily news as those encounters are weighted

this delightfully clichéd photograph on top of

down by aesthetic and social histories.

a copy of Alice in Wonderland, open to a page

Contrasting the durability of books with

with an illustration of the Mad Hatter’s tea

the ephemeral qualities of the newspaper,

party. Visual wit compels political commentary

Leonard emphasizes both the impermanence

in works like this one, where the top ledges

and continuities that structure acts of visual

on the podiums appear like reverse or upside-

witnessing. As we move between historical

down top hats in an echo of the Mad Hatter’s.

documentation and ephemera, these trompe-

Having just lived through the first decade of

l’oeil photographs of no-longer-extant collages

the twenty-first century, this reminder of going

resonate with palimpsests of loss and pain as

down the rabbit hole may need little more

well as the joys of the everyday.

social change, humor also slyly inserts itself

commentary even as the affective impact once

into this exhibition. For instance, a trompe-l’oeil

again shifts us uneasily between the profound

photograph reproduces a 2008 news picture

and the quotidian.

of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and

Newspaper Diary forms a visual archive

President George W. Bush standing behind two

that mobilizes repetition, association, and

tall podiums, appearing small and insignificant

connotation to catalog visual encounters with




Newspaper Diary




Newspaper Diary




Newspaper Diary




Newspaper Diary




Newspaper Diary



Ph oto Ca pti on s All images: Joanne Leonard Newspaper Diary: trompe-l’oleil photographs, ink jet prints, 24” x 37” These images represent a selection from the Newspaper Diary exhibition in the Institute for the Humanities gallery in 2012. 8 Picture from Antanarivo and Gainsborough December 1, 2006, news photo: Mother and children in Madagascar, Lynsey Addario, New York Times. Book reproduction: The Painter’s Daughters Chasing a Butterfly, Thomas Gainsborough, ca. 1756 in The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood, 1730-1830, by James Christen Steward (University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley, in association with the University of Washington Press, 1995).


Newspaper Diary

9 Haiti crucifixes 10 Music and boys 11 Turner and fire 12 Bush and Angela Merkel (earthquake victim on bars (cover image) with top hats (lecterns) June 22, 2010, news and murdered Haitian June 12, 2008, news August 11, 2010, news photo:“Smoke and hero) photo: President Bush, photo: Gymnasts 4 to January 15, 2010, news photo: “A body in Port au Prince, Haiti, covered with dust from collapsed building,” Damon Winter, New York Times. Book reproduction: Crucifixion de Charlemagne Péralte Pour La Liberté, Philom Obin painting, 1948 in Peintures Haïtiennes by Warren E. Leon (Delroisse, 1978).

Flames in Northern

7 years old in Zheijiang

Arizona,” Matt York,

who met with German

Province, China testing

Associated Press.

Chancellor Angela

their talents at a sports

Book reproduction:

Merkel….responds to

school, Reuters.

The Burning of the

Tehran’s nuclear program,

Book reproduction:

House of Lords and

Johannes Eisele, Reuters.

Numbers: The Universal

Commons, J.M.W.

Book reproduction:

Language by Denis

Turner, 1835, in

The Nursery “Alice” by

Guedj (Harry N. Abrams,

Turner by Barry

Lewis Carroll and Sir


Venning (Phaedon,

John Tenniel (Mayflower


Books, 1979).

13 Madame Curie and women in science December 19, 2006, news photo: “Women in Science, the Battle Moves to the Trenches,” Max Whittaker, New York Times. Book reproduction: Madame Curie in her Laboratory, 1912, in Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie (Doubleday, 1937).

14 Anne Frank’s tree October 2, 2007, news photo: “A New Wave of Support for Anne Frank’s Ailing Tree,” Herman Wouters, New York Times. Book reproduction: Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary - A Photographic Remembrance by Ruud van der Rol and Rian Verhoeven (Viking, 1993).

Figures within Essays 15 Bronze baby and Julia from Joanne’s Being in Picutures

16 Diego Rivera and 17 Fork-making machine factory in Slovakia and Russian montage November 25,

December 30, 2011,

2006, news photo:

February 13, 2011,

news photo: Bronze

Trnava, Slovakia

news photo:“Worker

statue of Eros sleeping,

Peugeot factory,

at the Sherrill

3rd century B.C. to

Didier Mallac, New


early 1st century

York Times. Book

flatware factory in

A.D., Metropolitan


Sherrill, N.Y., which

Museum of Art Rogers

Detroit Industry,

closed its doors eight

Fund, 1943. Book

Diego Rivera mural,

months ago,” Dick

reproduction: “Julia,

1933, in Diego

Blume, Post Standard.

half asleep” in Being

Rivera: The Detroit

Book reproduction:

in Pictures by Joanne

Industry Murals by

Leonard (University of Michigan Press, 2008).

1 Cat’s tongue November 12, 2010,

2 Tsunami and fire 1899 and 2011

3 Haggadah with Pope and Rabbi

4 Burned barn and Gego sculpture

news photo: A Study of

March 12, 2011, news

April 19, 2008, news

April 14, 2011, news

Cat Lapping, NewYork

photo: Natori, Japan,

photo: Pope Benedict

photo: Barn blaze

Times photos from

“House swallowed by

XVI met with Rabbi Arthur

in Salem Township,

video by Reis, Stocker

a tsunami set off by an

Schneier at the Park East

Michigan, Salem

et al, courtesy, MIT

earthquake,” Kyodo News

Synagogue in Manhattan,

Township Fire

and Science. Book

via Associated Press.

Chang W. Lee, New

Department. Book

reproduction: Kitten’s

Book reproduction:

York Times. Book

reproduction: plate

First Full Moon by Kevin

Japanese kawaraban (tile-

reproduction: Sarajevo

6, wire drawing, 1977

Henkes (Greenwillow

block printed newspaper)

Haggadah by Eugene

(untitled) by Gego

Books, 2004).

showing the Great Edo

Werber (Prosveta,1983).

in Gego: Between

Earthquake, 1855 in

Transparency and the

Electrification of

Divine Wind: The History

Invisible (Museum of

Linda Bank Downs

the Entire Country,

and Science of Hurricanes

Fine Arts, Houston, 2006).

(WW Norton, 1999).

Gustav Klutsis, 1920,

by Kerry A. Emanuel

in “Soviet Practice

(Oxford University Press,

1919-1937,” by M.


Tupitsyn in Montage and Modern Life 19191942 (M.I.T. Press, 1992).



Joanne Leonard Joanne Leonard is a photographer, photo-

From an early point in her years of

collage artist, teacher, writer, and feminist

image making, Leonard used photo collage

whose work has contributed to a wide variety

to (con)textualize her own photo images,

of fields from fine art to autobiography

combining them with news photos as in

studies. Her work has been included in the

the 1970s collage Red Triptych. Journal of a

San Francisco Museum of Art’s Women of

Miscarriage (1973), a wordless journal made

Photography (1975), Lippard’s From the Center

entirely in photo-collage, and Julia and the

(1976), Janson’s History of Art (1986), Gardner’s

Window of Vulnerability, a 1980s photo collage

Art Through the Ages (1991), Hirsch’s The

expressing anxieties about the threat of nuclear

Familial Gaze (1996), and Chaney’s Graphic

war, are works that furthered her explorations

Subjects (2011). In 2008, her gorgeously

of photos from everyday life and images from

produced visual memoir Being In Pictures:

world news in television and print. Sixty works

Joanne Leonard’s studio at 1250 Main Street, Ann Arbor

An Intimate Photo Memoir, with foreword by

created from 1990-92 make up Not Losing her

Now her Newspaper Diary, a series begun in

Lucy R. Lippard, was published by University

Memory. These works overlaid photographs of

2005 and continuing, suggests her expansive

of Michigan Press. In the 1960s and ‘70s she

women in Leonard’s family with dialogue from

engagement with the daily newspaper and a

taught in the San Francisco Bay area including

broadcasts of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas

vast archive of images in books.

at San Francisco Art Institute and Mills College.

hearings. A small cache of news clippings from

She is Distinguished University Professor

1877 play a central role in Leonard’s film-like

Emeritus at the University of Michigan, where

Reel Family, a twenty-two-foot-long translucent

she taught for thirty-one years.

collage made in the year 2000.

Ne w s p a p e r D ia ry CURATOR Amanda Krugliak PUBLICITY Stephanie Harrell CATALOG DESIGN Savitski Design Š 2012, Regents of the University of Michigan



Newspaper Diary: Trompe l'Oeil Photographs by Joanne Leonard  
Newspaper Diary: Trompe l'Oeil Photographs by Joanne Leonard  

Joanne Leonard's "Newspaper Diary: Trompe l'Oeil Photographs" exhibit at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities April 5-May...