Vince Aletti

  • HELEN LEVITT

    Although Helen Levitt’s photographs of people on the streets of New York are often described as “lyrical,” they’re as plainspoken and witty as she was. Asked about her work in an interview on NPR in 2009, the last year of her life, the famously terse artist said, “If it were easy to talk about, I’d be a writer. Since I’m inarticulate, I express myself with images.” More than 130 of those images, many newly released by Levitt’s estate, have been gathered for a retrospective and catalogue that will span her career, from the late 1930s through the 1980s. Emphasizing her

  • Vince Aletti

    1 “UPRISINGS” (JEU DE PAUME, PARIS; CURATED BY GEORGES DIDI-HUBERMAN) I saw this exhibition the day after the US elections, so its photographs, prints, posters, and videos on the theme of rebellion, protest, and disruption could not have seemed more urgent. But Didi-Huberman wasn’t just trying to agitate viewers; for all its provocations, his installation was shrewdly modulated, subtle, and surprising. From Goya to Tina Modotti, John Heartfield to Lorna Simpson, his choices resonated, and every passage of the show felt electric, invigorating. Although a history of insurrection—ongoing,

  • Wolfgang Tillmans

    From the beginning, Wolfgang Tillmans’s exhibitions have involved many photographs unconventionally installed: big and small, framed and tacked to the wall, ganged together and isolated, personal and reportorial. This approach characterized his sensational retrospective at Tate Britain in 2003, and is sure to define this follow-up show, which is slated to include slide projections, publications, and music, as well as a series of performances in the Tanks. Although the new show will pick up where the 2003 iteration left off, most of the work was made

  • “Ed van der Elsken: Camera in Love

    Curator Hripsimé Visser describes the Dutch photographer and filmmaker Ed van der Elsken (1925–1990) as “a child of his time: melancholy in the ’50s, rebellious in the ’60s, liberated in the ’70s, contemplative in the ’80s.” This sprawling retrospective promises to explore each of these phases through more than two hundred vintage prints, slide projections, film clips, and books—a mere fraction of the output of one of the twentieth century’s most driven, eccentric, and underappreciated image makers. Van der Elsken made his mark in 1956 with Love on the Left Bank,

  • Vince Aletti

    1 DIANE ARBUS (MET BREUER, NEW YORK; CURATED BY JEFF ROSENHEIM) This trove of more than one hundred small, often grainy photographs fills in a key gap in Arbus’s early history. Made between 1956 and 1962, the year she switched from 35-mm cameras to a more substantial Rolleiflex and the black-banded square image that became her signature, these pictures prove that Arbus found her subject long before she settled on a format. And it wasn’t just freaks and outsiders, it was the whole crazy world: rowdy teens, society ladies, a boy with a toy gun, a scrap of newspaper on the sidewalk. Rosenheim’s

  • “Roe Ethridge: Nearest Neighbor”

    Gathering more than sixty photographs (all but one made since 2000), a handful of sculptures, and a video making its debut, Roe Ethridge’s first US museum survey will provide a heady dose of the artist’s faux-generic, technically impeccable style—one of the post–Pictures generation’s most influential. Although his sleek, satiric take on advertorial-style fashion and still life is now pervasive, few imitators can match Ethridge’s witty mix of art and commerce, document and fiction. Even pictures that appear to be dumb documents help undermine antique notions of photographic

  • “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium”

    “SEX IS MAGIC,” Robert Mapplethorpe said. “If you channel it right, there’s more energy in sex than there is in art.” In the end, of course, he didn’t have to choose. He channeled sex into art: He released energy squared. There will be ample evidence of this explosive exchange in “The Perfect Medium,” a retrospective so big that, for its initial outing at least, it’s divided between two venues, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty. Mapplethorpe already provided an occasion for the two museums to join forces in 2011, when they pooled resources to purchase important art and archives

  • Vince Aletti

    1 “MODERN PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE THOMAS WALTHER COLLECTION, 1909–1949” (MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK; CURATED BY QUENTIN BAJAC AND SARAH HERMANSON MEISTER) It takes a sophisticated, headstrong collector—an eccentric connoisseur—to save a show of twentieth-century avant-garde photography from predictability. In the collection that he has built over almost half a century, Walther has not avoided the obvious icons; László Moholy-Nagy, André Kertész, Karl Blossfeldt, and Florence Henri were here, but they were hung alongside equally inventive and audacious work by a host of photographers

  • Vince Aletti

    1 GARRY WINOGRAND (METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK; CURATED BY LEO RUBINFIEN WITH ERIN O’TOOLE, SARAH GREENOUGH, AND JEFF L. ROSENHEIM) Most black-and-white street photography since the 1960s looks like Winogrand’s work: anxious, hectic, spontaneous as a snapshot, and open-ended yet somehow resolved. So his accomplishment and his influence were givens, but it wasn’t until this show that I realized how much I took the work for granted. Though hardly radical or revisionist, Rubinfien’s selection (including new images from the photographer’s archive) made me look again. Winogrand is still too

  • “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals”

    Maybe because Duane Michals never studied photography, he’s always felt free to take liberties with the medium, bending it to his will and his whim by staging scenes, building narrative sequences, creating multiple exposures, and writing and painting on and around his images. His pictures—dealing with death, dreams, love, beauty, friendship, and the imagination—are unfashionably sincere, subversively playful, and hard to resist. Curator Linda Benedict-Jones, drawing from the Carnegie’s broad holdings of Michals’s output, presents more than 160 pieces made

  • Vince Aletti

    1 MIKE BRODIE (YOSSI MILO GALLERY, NEW YORK) Brodie’s photographs of young hobos riding the rails could not be better. Everything comes together here: slightly faded color, casually beautiful composition, grit, spontaneity, soul. Like Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, Brodie has an insider’s view of an outsider’s life (now twenty-eight, he started jumping trains at seventeen and made most of these pictures in his early twenties). His work combines you-are-there authenticity with just enough distance to see through youthful bravado to moments of confusion, tenderness, and pain. These are great American

  • Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows

    VIVIAN MAIER died on April 21, 2009, at eighty-three; she’d slipped and fallen on a patch of ice some months earlier and never quite recovered. She had spent much of her life as a governess with families in the Chicago suburbs, and one of those families arranged for her cremation and a brief obituary in the Chicago Tribune, which described her as “a free and kindred spirit who magically touched the lives of all who knew her.” By all accounts, Maier was not very warm and friendly; she was strict with her charges and kept to herself. In fact, she touched few lives in her lifetime, even fewer

  • Philip-Lorca DiCorcia

    More than most photographers, Philip-Lorca diCorcia has quite deliberately operated between fiction and fact, between the staged moment and the spontaneous one. As the title of his remarkably sustained and tantalizingly personal project “A Storybook Life” suggests, even pictures of family and friends can slip into make-believe. With some 120 images dating from the mid-1970s through the present, this survey gathers material from that and other key series; on view will be portraits of Hollywood hustlers, chaotic urban street scenes, and dramatically lit head shots of

  • Vince Aletti

    1 Paul Graham (Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York) The British photographer has been looking closely at the American social landscape for some time now, always alert to its funk and flux—its drifters, strangers, and loners. For “The Pres­ent,” he stalked the streets of New York, inviting comparison to precedents from Strand to Winogrand to diCorcia but staking his own solid claim. Printed from big to huge and hung as diptychs and triptychs, the work focuses on pedestrians passing through a location just seconds apart, incorporating time and incident but stopping to observe ordinary moments with

  • “More American Photographs”

    Adopting the sturdy New Deal model of the Farm Security Administration project that put Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, and others to work recording the impact of the Great Depression, the Wattis Institute has asked twelve contemporary photographers to fan out across the US and bring back images of America in its current period of economic uncertainty. Count on Walead Beshty, Larry Clark, Roe Ethridge, Katy Grannan, William E. Jones, Sharon Lockhart, Catherine Opie, Martha Rosler, Collier Schorr, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, and Hank Willis Thomas—a truly

  • From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America

    The title of this midcareer survey connects Alec Soth’s peripatetic process to his ambition: Like Walker Evans and Robert Frank, he hits the road in search of America and Americans.

    The title of this midcareer survey connects Alec Soth’s peripatetic process to his ambition: Like Walker Evans and Robert Frank, he hits the road in search of America and Americans. The material from his first book, Sleeping by the Mississippi, landed him in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and placed him in the company of pioneers of color photography such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld. With more than one hundred photographs, this exhibition showcases Soth’s trademark mix of portraits, landscapes, and interiors from his books and ongoing projects as

  • André Kertész

    André Kertész has hardly lacked for intelligent attention in recent years.

    André Kertész has hardly lacked for intelligent attention in recent years. (A wide-ranging retrospective toured in 2005.) But as his career was nearly as long and eventful as his life (he died at ninety-one in 1985), this exhibition of some three hundred photographs— from early work shot while he was serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army to his late New York Polaroids—nonetheless promises both new material and new perspectives. Organized chronologically and punctuated by self-portraits, the show follows Kertész’s parallel lives as a witty, poetic avant-gardist

  • Thomas Struth: Photographs 1979-2010

    Asked to pinpoint the essence of photography, Thomas Struth said it was “a communicative and analytical medium,” and his work is a prime example of that rigorous, intellectual approach.

    Asked to pinpoint the essence of photography, Thomas Struth said it was “a communicative and analytical medium,” and his work is a prime example of that rigorous, intellectual approach. One of the most successful graduates of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Düsseldorf School, Struth is also one of the strictest adherents to its influential version of Neue Sachlichkeit. This three-decade survey rounds up nearly one hundred works, from his earliest, modestly scaled and unpopulated black-and-white streetscapes to the massive color views of

  • “Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change”

    This retrospective, the first devoted to the full range of Eadweard Muybridge’s work, focuses new attention on his pioneering western landscapes as well as the devices Muybridge invented to capture and project motion.

    Eadweard Muybridge’s fame rests largely on the 1887 publication and popular dissemination of Animal Locomotion, in which marvelously matter-of-fact images of men, women, children, horses, elephants, birds, and anything else he could wrangle into his studio are arranged in 781 sequential grids like frames in a film. That project has nearly eclipsed a career of experimentation and innovation that began in San Francisco twenty years earlier and involved virtually every sort of photographic subject, process, and format. This retrospective, the first devoted to the full

  • Vince Aletti

    VINCE ALETTI

    1 Irving Penn (1917–2009) Penn’s death ends one of the most brilliant, productive, and celebrated careers of any magazine photographer. But even if there will be no more new Penns in Vogue, the Getty Museum publication and show of his “Small Trades” photographs from the early 1950s (curated by Virginia Heckert and Anne Lacoste) suggest there is extraordinary material in the archives still to be revealed. The two-hundred-plus photographs in the project are more than twice the number previously published or exhibited. It’s a generous parting gift: Penn at an early peak, combining