|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...