One paragraph reviews on art, movies, books, and pop culture by a know-nothing who knows it all

Monday, July 23, 2007

Making Contact

"First Contact: A Photographer's Sketchbook" at Silverstein Photography gives group shows a good name. In fact, I would still rate this an excellent exhibit even if it weren't the summer and Chelsea galleries have basically gone on holiday. By displaying the contact sheets of some iconic photographers (Robert Frank, Robert Capa, Arnold Newman, Richard Avedon, and Diane Arbus), this show reveals that some photogs did capture the decisive moment, while others had to worked it. I was intrigued with a Robert Frank contact sheet from "The Americans" series. "Funeral--St. Helena, South Carolina" is of a man at a funeral with his hand on his chin. He looks dignified and pensive, and his hand on his face indicates that he's holding back emotion. The contact sheet for this photo reveals that in the two photos leading up to this image, the man is looking at his nails. I thought: is he actually just biting his nails? I had projected so much onto this photo, and perhaps all he was doing was fixing a cuticle. (Images via Silverstein Photography and

ROBERT CAPA Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot
ARNOLD NEWMAN Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe