Friday, October 10, 2014

Paris Night & Day: Masterworks of Photography from Atget to Man Rey…

to Neil.  Or so Eric says

     We wanted to see the Kehinde Wiley show at the Taft Museum of Art before it left.  It just so happened that there was a major exhibit of early 20th century photography in its premiere week there also.  Paris, during that time, has always been a fascination for me.  So much so that it was an influence
for some of our home decorating.  Several years ago, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company did a reading of Paris Tables, based around the fictional conversations at a Parisian cafe between the likes of Picasso, Stein, Hemingway, and more.  We've often wondered what happened to that intriguing play as it still resounds in our memories.  This exhibit takes the major photo journalists and heavy hitters around that same time period and presents their best images of the day (and night).

Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Anna la Pradvina with Chichi and Gogo
     The turning point in photography at the time was the introduction of the Leica camera in 1925.  At only 5 inches wide, it allowed photographers to easily and quickly take "snapshots".  Their journals of the City of Light allowed them to capture images as they were happening, and that is the crux of this exhibition. 

Ilse Bing, Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower (detail)
     I asked Eric if he was planning on doing a review of the exhibit and he said, "Why should I? Your Paris photos are better than any of them."  "Thank you, Eric."  What else could I say?  I'm flattered, but I have to say I had a similar thought when going through the 8 rooms at the Taft recently.  
Eugène Atget, Corsets
Many of the subjects had the same, or similar, themes as some of my photos from our visit in 2006.  Of course, those photographers all had the inspiration of hundreds of creative talents from all walks of the art world surrounding them 24/7.  I took my creative energy from the city and its people, not to mention being in the middle of the trip of a lifetime.  I'm positive we all appreciated everyday life in Paris and the beauty of our surroundings.

Neil's Paris

Madame Ile de la 'Cité with Coco
Night Sky
from the Eiffel Tower

Kehinde Wiley: Memling at the Taft
     It's a shame the museum didn't do a better job of promoting Kehinde Wiley: Memling.  He's one of the hottest modern American painters so it's hard to imagine that someone of that caliber wouldn't elicit a huge draw to the Taft.  The premise of the exhibit was juxtaposing eight 15th century Hans Memling paintings against similar settings of young African-American males.  Although these paintings were smaller than the typical canvases by Wiley, they none-the-less packed a huge punch.  We thought the curator's notes were a bit of a yawn and perhaps missed the point of the collection all together.  Wiley's gig is taking street-wise guys and reinterpreting them in a
After Memling's
Portrait of Saint Benedict
setting from a classic painting.  In so doing, he also conveys the message of who and what his subjects are in their lives.  He does that through their choice of clothing, interaction with the viewer, and body language.  What appears to be all good is sometimes deceptive as in the one painting in this exhibit with the subject subtly giving the viewer "the finger".  We hope you had the chance to see these great works.

Paris Night & Day runs through January 11, 2015.

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