GRACIELA ITURBIDE : “The camera is just a pretext for knowing the world. “


Mexican artist Graciela Iturbide is considered on of the most important and influential Latin American photographers of the past four decades. Born in 1942 in Mexico City to a wealthy, conservative Catholic family, Graciela Iturbide was the eldest of 13 children. Despite her ambitions to be a writer, family and societal pressure persuaded her to marry at the age of 20 and have three children.

In 1969, she decided to enroll at the Centro de Estudios Cinematográficos at the Universidad Nacional Autónama de México to become a film director. When she took a class with master photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo, she began concentrating her interests on photography. Bravo was greatly impressed with Iturbide’s talent and invited her to be his assistant. She worked closely with Bravo from 1970 to 1971 and was deeply influenced by his poetic style, however, Iturbide wanted to focus her efforts on what she described as “photo essays” as opposed to individual photographs as works of art. Continue reading GRACIELA ITURBIDE : “The camera is just a pretext for knowing the world. “


Kerry James Marshall challenges the marginalization of African-Americans through his formally rigorous paintings, drawings, videos, and installations, whose central protagonists are always, in his words, “unequivocally, emphatically black.” As he describes, his work is rooted in his life experience: “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it.” Marshall’s erudite knowledge of art history and black folk art structures his compositions; he mines black culture and stereotypes for his unflinching subject matter. In Black Star (2011), a nude black woman bursts through a Frank Stella-like canvas, commanding attention and daring viewers to consider how she has been (and how she should be) seen and portrayed. –


American, b. 1955, Birmingham, Alabama, based in Chicago, Illinois



Harold Krisel was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1920. He studied architecture in Chicago at the New Bauhaus from 1946-1949 on the G.I. Bill after he was discharged from the army where he served from 1942-1945. Just 26 at the time he had been interested in art since studying in New York in the 1930s with Carl Holty and Harry Holtzman. He became a member of American Abstract Artists in 1946, and retained this membership for the duration of his life. In 1942 he married Rose Breuer and the couple had three daughters.Krisel completed his graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1952.

His many influences there helped direct his course of study and his career path. Founder Lazlo-Nagy had just stepped down and the new director, Serge Chermayeff, recognized something special in this new student and committed to his education as an architect. Krises met famed artist Mondrian and developed friendships with Gyorgy Kepes, who founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT; Martin Rosenzweig, noted graphic designer; and Harold Cohen the distinguished designer and architect.



In 1959, photographer Bruce Davidson read about the teenage gangs of New York City. Connecting with a social worker to make initial contact with a gang in Brooklyn called The Jokers, Davidson became a daily observer and photographer of this alienated youth culture. The Fifties are often considered passive and pale by our standards of urban reality, but Davidson’s photographs prove otherwise. These photographs of Brooklyn gangs, Davidson’s first photographic project, were undertaken when he was not much older than the boys depicted in the work.

Davidson, a Magnum photographer, has recently published a monograph entitled Brooklyn Gang, containing 70 images from this documentary series and some interviews as well.  These images had never been published together as a whole until the recent publication of this book.

Ikenga figure, Nigeria, first half 20th century

Africa | Ikenga figure from the Igbo people of Nigeria | 1st half of the 20th century | Wood

“The Igbo peoples are known for their dedication to individual accomplishment and a system of titles based on earned status: ikenga are the sculptural concentration of this focus on achievement made into a figural shrine. Offerings to ikenga, altars to success, are meant to ensure accomplishment in many ventures: spiritual, economic, political, and military. The large size, complexity, and iconography of the Princeton work, created by a sculptor working in the Nteje area of eastern Nigeria, confirm its position as a communal ikenga as opposed to a personal one. As such, it belonged to a family, village, or age grade, and offerings made to it supported the group’s endeavors rather than the personal deeds of its members. Communal ikenga were ceremonially paraded at the annual ikenga festival in a show of community solidarity when all males born the previous year were brought before them. Continue reading Ikenga figure, Nigeria, first half 20th century




Bernhard “Bernd” Becher ( August 20, 1931 – June 22, 2007), and Hilla Becher,  (September 2, 1934 – October 10, 2015), were German conceptual artists and photographers working as a collaborative duo. They are best known for their extensive series of photographic images, or typologies, of industrial buildings and structures, often organised in grids. As the founders of what has come to be known as the ‘Becher school’ or the ‘Düsseldorf School’ they influenced generations of documentary photographers and artists. They have been awarded the Erasmus Prize and the Hasselblad Award. Continue reading BERND & HILLA BECHER


The History of Central Park’s Hooverville, the Great Depression Pop-Up Shanty Town

NOVEMBER 17, 2015 


In October of 1929, the stock market experienced a devastating crash resulting in an unprecedented number of people in the U.S. without homes or jobs, a period of history now known as the Clutch Plague. While homelessness was present prior to the crash, the group was relatively small and cities were able to provide adequate shelter through various municipal housing projects. However, as the Depression set in, demand grew and the overflow became far too overwhelming and unmanageable for government resources to keep up with. Homeless people in large cities began to build their own houses out of found materials, and some even built more permanent structures from brick. Small shanty towns—later named Hoovervilles after President Hoover—began to spring up in vacant lots, public land and empty alleys. Three of these pop-up villages were located in New York City; the largest of them was on what is now Central Park’s Great Lawn.

At the same time as the stock market crash, the reservoir in Central Park, north of Belvedere Castle, was drained and taken out of service leaving a large expanse of open land for what would become the Great Lawn. The construction planned for the area had been delayed due to the economic crisis.



Nkondi (plural varies minkondi, zinkondi, or ninkondi) are religious idols made by the Kongo people of the Congo region. Nkondi are a subclass of minkisi that are considered aggressive. The name nkondi derives from the verb -konda, meaning “to hunt” and thus nkondi means “hunter” because they can hunt down and attack wrong-doers, witches, or enemies.

The primary function of a nkondi is be the home of a spirit which can travel out from its base, hunt down and harm other people. Many nkondi were publicly held and were used to affirm oaths, or to protect villages and other locations from witches or evildoers. This is achieved by enlisting spiritual power through getting them to inhabit minkisi like nkondi.

The vocabulary of nkondi has connections with Kongo conceptions of witchcraft which are anchored in the belief that it is possible for humans to enroll spiritual forces to inflict harm on others through cursing them or causing them to have misfortune, accidents, or sickness. A frequently used expression for hammering in the nails into a nkondi is “koma nloka” (to attach or hammer in a curse) derives from two ancient Bantu roots *-kom- which includes hammering in its semantic field, and *-dog- which involves witchcraft and cursing. Kindoki“, a term derived from the same root is widely associated with witchcraft, or effecting curses against others, but in fact refers to any action intended to enlist spirits to harm others. If exercised privately for selfish reasons, the use of this power is condemned as witchcraft, but if the power is used publicly by a village, tribe, political leaders, or as a protective measure by innocent people, however, it is not considered witchcraft.


DIANE ARBUS: early & unseen works shown in the Met Breuer exhibition, 2016

early unseen diane arbus photographs arrive at the met

by Emily Manning, for I-D, July 12, 2016  *

Diane Arbus’ work drew her to Coney Island side shows, Times Square movie theaters, and smoky Lower East Side pool halls. But the enigmatic artist’s newest show opens today in the neighborhood she was born and raised in: the Upper East Side. For its inaugural season, the Met Breuer (the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new 75th and Madison outpost, and formerly the Whitney’s uptown digs) has created a landmark exhibition highlighting Arbus’ never-before-seen early work. Titled diane arbus: in the beginning, the show features photographs taken between 1956 and 1962 — the critical years in which Arbus developed her idiosyncratic approach to capturing New York City street scenes and their wildly eclectic cast of characters. Continue reading DIANE ARBUS: early & unseen works shown in the Met Breuer exhibition, 2016

Idoma Seated Female Figures, Africa Origin: Nigeria Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20th Century AD

left: Idoma Seated Female Figure, Africa Origin: Nigeria Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20th Century AD

right:  Africa | Female figure “anjenu” from the Idoma people of Nigeria | Wood, polychrome paint

Idoma figures, Nigeria:

In 1985, François Neyt identified the Idoma’s “Ekotame and Anjenu sitting figures” as a pre-eminent corpus. (Neyt, 1985, p. 101-116). As part of the deeply ingrained tradition of female representation in the Benue region – maternity figures, women sitting and standing – they offer the most striking of its expressions in their extolment of strength and dignity combined.  Continue reading Idoma Seated Female Figures, Africa Origin: Nigeria Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20th Century AD