Charles Hagen

  • Tina Barney

    Tina Barney photographs life in WASP heaven—sprawling seaside estates in Rhode Island, a lavish Upper East Side apartment, and the like. Most of the people in her scenes have a languid, self-assured attractiveness, as if they’d just stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad. East Beach, 1984, for example, could be used in a lifestyle ad with virtually no changes: a tousled-haired guy in torn jeans and polo shin, sweater tied around his waist, roughhouses with a giggling young girl in the golden glow of sunset. Barney heightens the cloying sweetness of this idyllic picture-perfection through her technique:

  • Good Morning America

    WITH MEDIA INFLUENCE RAMPANT throughout this year’s exhibition, the Whitney Biennial’s continuing commitment to including recent work in film and video seemed particularly prescient. Not that all the works shown refer to mass-market models; some seemed to be there simply to represent broad aspects of the current scenes—for example, a film animation segment offered the limp whimsies of Jane Aaron, a somewhat generic Robert Breer piece, and a short-short and multiscreen projection/performance by Sandy Moore, while the diary form was represented by Peter Hutton’s New York Portrait Part II, 1983,

  • Peter Campus

    At the center of half a dozen of Peter Campus new landscape photographs sits a boulder—huge, impassive, unmoving and unmovable. The boulder in one of these pictures appears in sunlight filtered through the pines around it; a whale-shaped boulder, in another picture, broods in shadow. This is a tremendously rich symbol, one that I read as Campus’ own view of the process of making art: the artist tries to get to the heart of the world but inevitably ends up describing the mystery, not solving it. It’s not irrelevant to this interpretation that the boulders all look like brains.

    The fact that the

  • Larry Burrows

    Even when they were made, Larry Burrows’ photographs of the Vietnam War seemed anachronistic. Burrows, who photographed in Vietnam on assignment for Life magazine from 1961 until his death in 1971, worked in the heroic mode that photojournalism had borrowed from painting and periodically updated. This style, in which war is hell but of a noble, macho sort, received perhaps its fullest expression in David Douglas Duncan’s gung ho photographs of the Korean War, but it can be found equally in official historical painting of World War II; a more recent example is Frederick Hart’s statuary group of

  • The Work of Atget

    The Work of Atget.

    By John Szarkowski and Maria Morris Hambourg, New York: the Museum of Modern Art, 1981–85 (distributed by the New York Graphic Society). Volume 1, Old France: 204 black and white photographs, 180 pp.; Volume 2, The Art of Old Paris: 212 black and white photographs, 192 pp.; Volume 3, The Ancien Regime: 167 black and white photographs, 185 pp.; Volume 4, Modern Times: 205 black and white photographs, 186 pages.

    Paralleling and complementing the Museum of Modern Art’s four-exhibition survey of the work of Eugène Atget, shown over the past three years, has been one of the most

  • Art and Photography: Forerunners And Influences

    Art and Photography: Forerunners And Influences.

    By Heinrich Schwarz, edited by William E. Parker, Rochester, N.Y., and Layton, Utah: Visual Studies Workshop and Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1985, 158 pp., 64 black and white photographs.

    Heinrich Schwarz’s pioneering research into the prehistory of photography has long had almost legendary status among photography historians— in part due to its prescience and in part to its physical inaccessibility. As his thoughts were presented for the most part in papers prepared for symposia or in articles for small scholarly journals, which have long since fallen

  • A Man With A Camera

    A Man With A Camera.

    By Nestor Almendros, trans. Rachel Phillips Belash, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984, 306 pp., 37 black and white photographs.

    In this engrossing memoir Nestor Almendros, a cinematographer renowned for his work with movie directors ranging from Francois Truffaut and Eric Rohmer to Terrence Malick, Robert Benton, and Alan J. Pakula, reveals his job to be as much one of creative visual problem-solving as of working out lighting schemes and knowing which lenses and film stocks to use. Here, for example, is part of his description of how a scene in Malick’s Days of Heaven

  • Deans Keppel

    In both substance and structure Deans Keppel’s “Phoenix: Portrait of the Keppel Family” is reminiscent of the almost embarrassingly revealing documentary An American Family, the 1973 PBS series that made the Loud family as familiar as the Carringtons or the Bunkers, though far less reassuring. Her remarkable hour-long tape, shot between 1979 and 1983, examines her own family from the distancing perspective of documentary production. In interviews and candid footage, mostly taken around the family’s Richmond, Va., home, she examines each of the other members of the family, and their interactions.

  • James Friedman

    By going to the sites of various Nazi concentration camps—Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, and others—and photographing them as they appear today, James Friedman opens issues of memory and narrative, as well as of the real horrors of the Holocaust. These pictures show not so much the banality of evil, in Hannah Arendt’s phrase, as the banality of ’’the past”—the set of stories, necessarily semifictional and self-justifying, that we as a culture construct from historical events, no matter how horrendous, to explain how we got where we are today. Predictably, these sites have been turned into


    TWO PHANTOMS HAUNT video art’s uneasy dreams—television and art. For over 20 years the conflicting models offered by these fields have pulled at video artists, simultaneously attracting and repelling them. They have found themselves trapped between these opposing positions—in most cases relegated to the fringes of the art world while dreaming of (or dreading) TV’s mass audience, political influence, and budgets which would allow them to do their work. By and large rejecting and rejected by both fields (though frequently yearning for the rewards each offers), video artists have formed their own

  • Michael Klier

    It takes a while to get the central metaphor in Michael Klier’s 82-minute-long videotape Der Riese (The giant, 1983). The opening scene, a high-angle shot of planes landing and taxiing around an airport in a misty gray dawn, could lead equally to a familiar narrative—cut to the arrival area, where someone is waiting to meet someone—or to a series of shots celebrating the diversity of urban life, as in the city symphonies of ’20s film. The swollen, melodramatic mood music seems to promise one or the other. The only thing out of place is the camera movement: crabbing, mechanical pans, never anything

  • Berenice Abbott

    This small show included only a sampling of Berenice Abbott’s photographs from the ’20s and ’30s, and only a few pictures from after 1940; nevertheless it managed to suggest the work’s importance in the development of Modernist photography. It was only after returning to New York from Paris in 1930 that Abbott turned to the documentary cityscapes for which she is best known. Although she was a successful portrait photographer in France, the examples of this work here show that despite a good sense of gesture she was fairly conventional as a portraitist; these pictures are distinguished largely

  • Michele Zalopany

    Michele Zalopany’s large charcoal-and-pastel drawings on paper fall into two distinct groups. One—renderings of formal gardens, villas, and fountains—recalls a host of similar pre-Oedipal ancien régime fantasies, including Alain Resnais’ and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year at Marienbad, 1961, Kenneth Anger’s Eaux d’Artifice, 1953, and Jennifer Bartlett’s recent paintings. The other deals more overtly with notions of childhood, through pictures based on photographs. Most of the figures in these images are small girls, which suggests that the pictures might be directly autobiographical. But in

  • Nicholas Nixon

    Among other things, photographs offer a license to stare. Nicholas Nixon’s recent photographs of very old people in nursing homes, made with an 8-by-10-inch-format camera, invite a cruel scrutiny. The details of the physical deterioration caused by age are given up to us to examine at our leisure. In the aseptic presence of the photographs, we are free to speculate on visual correspondences suggested by the facts of the scenes, qualities drained of human meaning: to notice, for example, that the skin of very old people can resemble (in a photograph) the crispy, translucent skin of a roast turkey;

  • “The Territory of Art”

    “The Territory of Art,” a series of 16 half-hour radio programs about contemporary art, has impressive packaging. (Produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the series is being broadcast by public radio stations around the country; check your local listings.) The intro theme, by John Adams, is a sharp electronic ululating pulse. The credits for many of the shows are announced by the up-and-coming Whoopi Goldberg. The trailers for succeeding shows are provocative, tantalizing.

    All of which is good. Packaging is important in any attempt to put art on the air—or anywhere else, for

  • “The Golden Age Of British Photography, 1839–1900”

    Predictably, this wonderful show—which opened last fall at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and will travel in this country till mid 1986—includes its full share of major-exhibition goodies. First, there are substantial selections of work from a long roster of canonized 19th-century pioneers and masters: Henry Fox Talbot, D. O. Hill and Robert Adamson, Roger Fenton, P. H. Emerson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Frederick Evans, etc., etc. Then there are the famous old-chestnut images, familiar to anyone who’s ever taken a history of photography course: O. G. Rejlander’s The Two Ways of Life,

  • Irving Penn

    Irving Penn’s glacial photographs command respect, but try as I might I can’t bring myself to like them. Perfectly crafted, they’re by the same token bloodless and sour. Penn is indeed a virtuoso of composition and gesture—a quality made that much more impressive by the fact that he pares away all extraneities from his pictures, leaving his subjects unambiguously pinnned on a stark ground. Composition can be raised to the level of a moral principle, as it has been in the work of photographers as diverse as Edward Weston and Garry Winogrand. In Penn’s photos, though, it never becomes more

  • Wendy MacNeil

    Wendy MacNeil’s portraits have an eerie verisimilitude, of the sort associated (paradoxically) with funerary art—death masks, say, or the encaustic portraits painted on Roman-Egyptian mummy cases. Both the illusionism and the ritualistic quality of her photographs are heightened by her technique: she prints her pictures, mostly frontal headshots, in platinum and palladium (with the delicate chiaroscuro these metals give), on skinlike veils of vellum.

    This striking combination of subject and process accentuates the intimacy of many of MacNeil’s portraits, especially those in “Ronald,” an ongoing

  • William Wegman

    William Wegman without his weimaraner Man Ray is like Dean Martin without Jerry Lewis, or Edgar Bergen without Charlie McCarthy. Wegman wrote the scripts for the skits the two put on, but much of their success derived from the dog’s personality. He was the perfect naif, hilarious and touching because emotionally transparent, incapable of dissembling, endlessly patient no matter what folderol Wegman put him through: an alter ego any self-deprecating artist would willingly accept.

    No doubt Ray’s spirit will hover around Wegman’s work for a good while longer. But in the 20-by-24-inch Polaroids shown

  • James Casebere

    James Casebere’s photographs seem to aspire to the condition of language—or at least to its generality. Stripped of detail and reduced to simple white forms, the objects he carves out of wood and arranges in his setups are carefully unspecific. They aren’t even themselves; instead they allude to recognizable generic forms—flower pots, detergent bottles, teddy bears. His constructions, several of which were shown at Sonnabend, are doll-sized, like architectural models for the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but in themselves they’re fairly uninteresting. It’s only when he photographs them, choosing emotionally