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Proud Flesh

by Kate Wolf
For people of a certain age, much of the imagery of photographer Herb Ritts is ubiquitous, if not iconic. From album covers (Madonna, with her head thrown back in rapture on 1986’s True Blue) to music videos (Chris Isaak crooning into a smoky cloud abyss and embracing a mermaid-like, sand-specked Helena Christensen as the waves wash over them in Wicked Game) to celebrity portraiture (k.d. lang in a barber’s chair being mounted by a negligee-clad Cindy Crawford, playing the dom) to countless print ads and magazine spreads—for a while in the late 80s and early 90s it seemed that Ritts was the go-... [more]
Posted by Kate Wolf on 5/14/12
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The Photo Essay as Art at the Getty

by Kate Wolf
Ezra Pound once wrote, “poetry is news that stays new.” Art photography was once used as a pejorative for pictures of things that were based on composition rather than content, while real photography was the result of an adventurer and war-chaser setting out to document the truth. Now, after a long century of shifting photographic mores, the question is: when does reporting slip into reportage and once it does, what makes it art? Currently on view at the Getty, Engaged Observers compiles nine post-war photographers, marked for an extensive body of work on a particular group or topic th... [more]
Posted by Kate Wolf on 10/26/10
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Spectacular Spectacles

by Ed Schad
The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme is uneven, full of fluff, and annoyingly open to the bad historical and curatorial habit of reviving an artist, trumping up why they are important in the first part of a show, only to critique the artist over their inappropriate beliefs in the last few sections. However, at points, perhaps due to Gérôme’s ability to let his allegories hang loose and open to various interpretations, some of the paintings feel current and relevant to many of the world’s current problems. His faults become virtues because his faults are our faults – commercialism,... [more]
Posted by Ed Schad on 9/7/10
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A Look at Rudofsky

by Nico Machida
The small, architecturally-awkward exhibition space at the Getty Research Institute has a singular legacy of putting on shows at once whimsical and genuinely edifying, obtuse and seemingly inevitable. Often its contents unfold with the unceremonious, time-demanding spatial logic of a study room, rather than the easeful legibility of a traditional gallery: Vitrines are packed with ephemera and conceptual studies; descriptive plaques are heavy on didactic-speak. The result is a viewing experience concerned more with factual comprehension than aesthetic pageantry, and a welcome respite from a... [more]
Posted by Nico Machida on 5/18/08