Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Where Are They Now?

Photos: Grant Mudford




I was more than fortunate in catching so many good photographers in the pre-internet, NYC galleries of the '70s, '80s and '90s. And yet for a handful of names, how much of that top notch work is readily available for viewing today- especially in a time so dominated by digital and color, which is often of such similar style? No knock on either, the same could've been (and was) said of B&W back in the day. It would just be nice to have a broader balance of old and new, color and B&W, film and digital, etc, etc... How I only wish that I had simply written down the names of all the photographers whose work I saw and admired.

I've recently tried to find work by James Hamilton (portrait photographer extraordinaire for The Village Voice in the '70s) and Robert (Glory) D'Alessandro, all much to no avail. I had more success with Charles Gatewood, but could find precious few examples of Grant Mudford's work from that era. I originally caught the latter's work at Light Gallery in NYC, the premier photo gallery in heaven and earth at the time- ascending the elevator unto its hallowed white halls at 724 5th Ave was nothing short of catchin' some serious religion. And Mudford's prints (above) did not disappoint- they were the largest 35mm prints I had ever seen! The grain was absolute pointillism, but the tonal values held up and the resolution remained tack sharp. I didn't think it technically possible at the time- and two decades later I would see 35mm prints twice their size at James Nachtwey's exhibit at ICP.

Anyway, I think the two samples above hold up just fine. Anyone really serious about resurrecting a "B&W Revival," would do well to seek out and research just how varied and diverse monochrome had become pre-Eggleston and Shore, and take it from there...

4 comments:

Nick Kirkpatrick said...

Funny you should say that, i read in an article in, i believe it was PDN, maybe it was something else, It was a few years old. It mentioned that contemporary photography will eventually no longer be dominated by color and that Black and White work will be what is "hip". I don't know how much i believe that.

Stan B. said...

Every once in a great while a certain ad campaign or video will come out in B&W and gain attention for its "striking" visuals. But, alas, I seriously doubt if the percentage of B&W in the "fine art" photo market presently approaches double figures. Personally, I don't care how "hip" it is (not saying you do, Nick), I just believe B&W a more than viable component of the photographic language. I don't know when it will resurrect, and certainly proclaiming its "Revival" despite any actual movement to that effect is oddly ludicrous. Color certainly took its time getting here, and it's having its deserved run- I continue to enjoy it much as anyone else. Just anxious to see how today's, or tomorrow's, practitioners will handle the inevitable B&W resurgence.

Tom White said...

for some of us, black & white never went away. I consistently shoot with B&W film. I also teach classes in the process to teenagers through the ICP's program at The Point community centre in the Bronx. The joy the students get from processing and printing their own film in today's digital world tells me that it will never truly disappear - whether the art market thinks it is fashionable or not..

Anyway, if you're interested here are some of my photos:

http://tomwhitephotography.blogspot.com/2008/02/new-york-streets.html

http://tomwhitephotography.blogspot.com/2007/12/travel-photographer-of-year.html

http://tomwhitephotography.blogspot.com/2007/11/new-jersey-streets.html

Stan B. said...

Thanks for your community service, Tom. You also bring to mind another point that needs to be addressed more often everywhere- photography has always been expensive, but now with all the computer hardware, software and other necessary digital paraphernalia- it takes a hell of a lot more of an initial investment to be able to shoot "for pennies." And I fear it will become more and more an "art form" solely for those that can afford it.