Miriam Rosen

  • Gilles Ehrmann

    Gilles Ehrmann is certainly not an unknown photographer—witness this retrospective, which was first presented at the prestigious “Rencontres internationales de la photographie” in Arles last summer. But it is no exaggeration to call him low profile. During the 1950s and ’60s, it is true, he worked for two quality magazines, Architecture d’aujourd’hui (Today’s architecture) and Réalités, and he does exhibit from time to time, but for some forty years, he has clearly preferred to pursue a personal imperative, a kind of photophilosophical quest that has most often left its traces in the form of

  • William Klein

    After 45 years as an American in Paris, photographer William Klein speaks an effortless, nearly accentless French, but he still expresses himself with the brashness, the humor, and the ironic edge of a native New Yorker. There is something of the same incongruous mix in his photographs. For all that has been made of his iconoclastic subjects and shooting style—the wide-angle distortions, the grainy images, the multiple exposures, the camera movement that have always been his trademark—the image itself is communicated with the elegant formalism of a painter.

    Klein himself makes no secret

  • Shimon Attie

    “Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows,” wrote Maxim Gorky nearly a hundred years ago in his celebrated account of an early Lumière brothers film projection at the Nizhni-Novgorod Fair. If the image comes to mind in connection with Shimon Attie’s exhibit of 15 color photographs from his “Finstere Medine” project, 1991–93, there is more than a metaphor at work. In fact, the project began as a series of outdoor projections in a run-down Berlin neighborhood that once housed poor, unassimilated Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. (Finstere Medine means “disreputable quarter” in Yiddish.)

  • Yves Trémorin

    It was the model rather than the photographer who came to the opening of this exhibit. She was there from the very beginning, alone, studying the images—her images—from a distance, with a mix of intensity and apparent satisfaction. Her hair was slightly longer now, and her body, so very naked and vulnerable on the wall, was enveloped, protected literally from neck to toe. But the face was the same, and her presence only served to confirm (if such a confirmation was necessary) that these photographs are the result of no ordinary collaboration.

    The model, we are told, is a friend of the photographer,

  • Françoise Quardon

    With its constellations of tentacled playpens, prophylactic umbrellas, sacred-heart menorahs, and levitating bathtubs suspended under the dome of a 19th-century chapel-turned-gallery, Françoise Quardon’s Take me to the river (all works 1993) does not simply mirror our fin-demillenium, but ultimately lures us into taking a hard look at our own reflections.

    Like her earlier works, the seven pieces that make up Take me to the river are assembled from found objects, but with this installation Quardon has begun to combine her collectibles with forms that she herself fabricates out of fiberglass, resin,

  • Jean-Paul Berger

    “You saw nothing at Hiroshima, nothing.” The phrase from Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, mon amour, 1959, filters back almost subliminally. And at first glance, the black and white photographs that make up Jean-Paul Berger’s Autobiographie, 1988–93, could almost be film stills—a series of oneiric tableaux in a curiously shallow space, seemingly lit from behind. The visual stream of consciousness is, like the space it inhabits, impenetrable: a man’s nude body, nearly always decapitated by the frame, women’s faces, nearly always without bodies, a few hands, eyes, locks of hair, an emblematic bird,

  • Michel Séméniako

    Time in Michel Séméniako’s black and white photographs measures itself not in 60ths of a second but in millennia. “Les Dieux de la Nuit” (The gods of the night), who have lent their name to this exhibition, inhabit the sacred trees of Senegal, the prehistoric menhirs of Brittany, the cliffs of Normandy, the amphitheaters of Naples, the palaces of China, the temples of India. For more than a decade, Séméniako has been seeking out those deities with a large-format camera and an assortment of flashlights. The technique, he points out, could not be more “antitechnological”: he poses the camera on

  • Corinne Mercadier

    Corinne Mercadier’s photographs are like memories: they evoke places, times, and moods that the mind’s eye fuses into slightly faded compositions. The 20 works in this series—uniformly small, square, and untitled—offer fragmentary glimpses of a seaside town in southeastern France (the same one where Jean-Jacques Beineix filmed Betty Blue, 1986). In these unassuming views of beaches, boats, jetties, and rows of wood-frame houses, Mercadier explores and reconstitutes the private face of public space. There are no people to serve as markers of space or scale, only the ambiguous play of surface and

  • Agustín Victor Casasola

    Agustín Victor Casasola (1874–1938) may not have been “the photographer of the Mexican Revolution,” as he is popularly known, but he was the founder of Mexico’s first photo archive, and as such, not only preserved but shaped a vision of history encompassing the whole of Mexico’s political and social life during the first third of this century. In 1921, drawing on the thousands of photographs in his archive, he published the first edition of the now-classic Album Histórico Gráfico de la Revolucíon (Illustrated historical album of the revolution, 1921), which traces the history of the revolutionary

  • Jephan de Villiers

    Jephan de Villiers’ antidote to the end of history is the continuity of nature. Working with the random findings of the forest—branches, twigs, bark, leaves, feathers, dirt—he creates a private world of figures and forms that hovers between memory and premonition. His tiny tree-creatures consist of no more (and no less) than masklike faces perched on limbless bodies of scrap wood or bark; garbed in dried leaves and/or winged with a pair of feathers, they cluster together in wall reliefs and shallow boxes, in mysterious coffers, and in an enormous processional entitled Mille et trois souffles

  • Jiří Kolář

    Jiří Kolář’s collages, the artist explains in his Dictionary of Methods, “are made to be laid out flat, to be seen from all angles.” But, he adds with typical true-false naiveté, “they can also be hung.” The fifty-odd works in this exhibit are indeed hung, but they have been guaranteed a horizontal existence as well, figuring as they do among the 110 collages in the recently published French translation of the Dictionary of Methods (written in French in 1983 and already translated into English, German, and Italian) True to its title, the Dictionary consists of 118 alphabetical entries, from “

  • Matej Kren

    Imagine a hollow tower of books in assorted shapes, sizes, and languages, stacked like bricks of knowledge from floor to ceiling. And when you peer inside, up and down, this latter-day Tower of Babel suddenly (thanks to two mirrors lining top and bottom) becomes an endless tunnel. Jorge Luis Borges could hardly have done better, but Idiom, 1991, is the creation of Slovak artist Matej Kren, a visual polyglot who works with drawing, painting, sculpture, silk screen, installation, photography, xerography, film, and, above all, his imagination.

    Typically, Idiom is as simple and unpretentious in form

  • Slavica Perkovic

    Slavica Perkovic’s “Morts Imaginaires” (Imaginary deaths, 1990) might also be called “Portraits of the Artist as Still Life.” Looking at these photographs—black-and-whites and Cibachromes of a woman variously lying, sitting, or standing in and among strewn flowers and floating fishes—I am struck by their impenetrability. The images are as elusive as “imaginary deaths” would suggest, not only in their meanings (is this really death, or afterlife, or some kind of a Jungian dream?), but in their very making. For these sturdily classical tableaux—frontal, centered compositions in shallow stage spaces

  • Hélène Delprat

    What’s missing, of course, from this exhibit of Hélène Delprat’s “Théâtres” (Theaters) are the actors. But if the costumes, the props, the drawings, the masks, the cardboard sets and tiny mannequins can’t move, breathe, or recite their lines, they are still somehow astonishingly animate. There is, for example, the unlikely amalgam of silk, bubble-wrap, leather, canvas, tulle, and plastic garbage bags that cascades down the height of a wall from a papier-mâché animal mask: this is the Beast’s costume from a two-person ballet adaptation of La Belle et la Bête (The beauty and the beast), choreographed

  • Michel Seuphor

    Some fifteen years ago, Michel Seuphor recalls, his dealer and friend Denise René described him in a biographical note for a catalogue as one of the rare pioneers still around from the ’20s, but who was “as unrecognized in the visual arts as in literature.” Today, at the age of 91, Seuphor remains quite proud of this distinction, even if, as René’s current homage demonstrates, it’s not exactly true any more.

    Born in Antwerp in 1901, he literally came of age with the members of the European avant-garde. At 17 he launched himself in amateur journalism with a magazine in defense of Flemish language

  • The Emperor's New Monument

    IN OCTOBER 1986, when there were still two Germanies and one Eastern bloc, a fairly unconventional public monument was inaugurated in the Harburg district of Hamburg. Jointly conceived by Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, Mahnmal gegen Faschismus (Monument against fascism) initially consisted of no more than a stark lead-coated column, nearly 40 feet high and just over 3 feet square. But as a temporary inscription explained (in German, French, English, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, and Hebrew), passersby were invited to sign their names in the lead in a common gesture of commitment “to remain

  • Gisèle Freund

    Every retrospective has its surprises, but in the case of photographer Gisèle Freund’s “Itinéraires” (Itineraries) at the Centre Pompidou, these have less to do with unknowns than with knowns. Like modern-day icons, her five-plus decades of writers’ and artists’ portraits are so familiar and so indissociable from their subjects that they have virtually eclipsed their creator. There is, for example, the classic image of André Malraux, eternalized at age 34 with a cigarette between his lips and hair blowing in the wind; or James Joyce at home in his plaid tie and velvet smoking jacket; or the (


    THE LAYERS OF MEANING in Asse’s paintings are as dense, and deliberate, as the layers of pigment, lime, wood stain, paper, cloth, and random objects that he works onto the canvas. Like his playing-card signature, with an A for Asse in the form of an ace (in French, as), it’s not a question of either-or but of everything-at-once: art as mass communication, autobiography, universal history, magic.

    You don’t need a lengthy explanation to get the basic idea. Take New York–New Jersey, 1991, for example: between the blocky brown background that is Manhattan and the jagged brown foreground of New Jersey

  • Jürgen Klauke

    The first question that Jürgen Klauke’s “Pro Securitas” exhibit raises is, quite simply, what are we looking at? For the uninitiated, these shadow plays of semi-familiar forms are rather more compelling than comprehensible. Hybrid compositions that hover between description and design, they combine the oneiric style of the drawings Klauke entitled “Griffe ins Leere” (Grasping into emptiness, 1987) with a patently mechanical precision of detail. In fact, they are X-ray images photographed from the security equipment (as in “Pro Securitas”) at the Cologne airport, which Klauke has recombined and


    AS CARLOS FUENTES TELLS the story, he was traveling in a remote part of Mexico when he came upon a village and asked an old man its name. “In troubled times, we call it Zapata,” the old man answered, “and in peace time, we call it Santa Maria.”1

    I was reminded of this anecdote—cited by Fuentes in the thick of the American hostage crisis in Iran as a warning against the one-dimensional mentality of his neighbors to the north—because the medieval French church in Bar-le-Duc where Michèle Blondel has done her project for Artforum is alternately known as Saint Pierre or Saint Étienne (and also, on