Vince Aletti

  • William Eggleston, Untitled, 1966–71.

    William Eggleston

    Easily the most influential color photographer in the US, Eggleston was also one of the first to make something out of nothing.

    Easily the most influential color photographer in the US, Eggleston was also one of the first to make something out of nothing. Though Walker Evans staked a major claim in the territory of vernacular Americana, Eggleston digs deeper into the inconsequential and the commonplace. His photos, which look as casual as snapshots but pack an unexpected punch (emotional as well as formal), turn a trash-strewn yard, flaming barbecue grill, and countless isolated Southerners into emblems of the way we live now. That may be why his pictures have been touchstones for everyone from Nan Goldin to Andreas

  • Elizabeth Peyton, Luing (Tony), 2001.

    Elizabeth Peyton

    If Dufy and Manet had collaborated on pinups for Melody Maker, the results might look like Elizabeth Peyton’s meltingly romantic, dead cool portraits of red-lipped youngish men. Whether drawing or painting, Peyton has a deft, loose, and loving touch. Full of creamy flesh tones and atmospheric buzz, her pictures are a fan’s notes, and her subjects—Liam Gallagher, Lord Alfred Douglas, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince Harry—are vividly idealized, if disconcertingly effeminate heartthrobs. For the artist’s first retrospective, curator Zdenek Felix has rounded up some 120 works, the earliest a 1990 drawing


    WHEN SOUTH AFRICAN-BORN, New York-based photographer Gary Schneider began making portraits of friends and acquaintances in 1989, he took as his model Julia Margaret Cameron's soulful, sepia-toned albumen prints and other nineteenth-century photographs that required sitters to remain still for up to eight minutes while the open lens absorbed their image. Schneider, who has no interest in the “decisive moment,” liked the idea of recording a subject over time, and, in effect, making time his subject: “I wanted to get away from the whole nature of modern technology, which allows a photographer to

  • Ansel Adams, Yosemite, 1948, black-and-white photograph, 91/4 x 75/16".

    Ansel Adams at 100

    Though Ansel Adams seemed a largely historical, irredeemably old-school character long before his death in 1984, the centennial of his birth occasions the rigorous reevaluation of one of the twentieth century’s most popular and influential photographers. Curator John Szarkowski, director emeritus of the photo department at New York’s moma, promises to focus on Adams’s early contributions to a distinctly American brand of modernism. Trust Szarkowski to get past the magnificent clichés to a new appreciation of what he calls Adams’s “profound and mystical experience of the natural world.”


    "I THINK THAT THE BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT, in a way, is to be of your time, because you cannot program timelessness,” Wolfgang Tillmans told the Art Newspaper shortly before he won Britain’s Turner Prize three months ago. “I was never afraid of being contemporary.” From the moment his deceptively effortless photographs first began appearing in i-D, in the early ’90s, the 32-year-old, German-born, London-based Tillmans has been the very model of the cool yet engaged contemporary artist, with an appetite for visual stimulation so voracious it gobbles up everything from Kate Moss to armed soldiers,

  • Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries

    Picabia called Alfred Stieglitz “the man best informed in this whole revolution in the arts,” and the founder of the Photo-Secession often supplied the historical staging grounds for that sweeping turnover. Beginning with “291” in 1908 and continuing at the Intimate Gallery and An American Place, Stieglitz gave the avant-garde a New York home mounting Picasso’s first US exhibition and early shows of Matisse, Brancusi, and Cézanne, as well as Americans Arthur Dove, Paul Strand, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O’Keeffe. With almost 200 works by these and others, the National Gallery places Stieglitz

  • Vince Aletti

    I MISSED THE PERFORMANCE THAT ENDED WITH Hiroshi Sunairi pissing into a prop toilet at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in January 1999. I skipped the songs and outbursts at the February 2000 opening of his P.S. 1 studio space. I never listened to any of his cassette tapes. I did see his spread in the April 1999 issue of Playguy, in which the naked “young artist” (he claimed to be nineteen when he was in fact twenty-seven) photographed himself in the shower with a plump hard-on, though that’s probably beside the point, too.

    But not entirely, because Sunairi’s photographs—or, more accurately, his

  • Vince Aletti


    1 Saul Fletcher (Anton Kern Gallery, New York) Fletcher’s third show of unfashionably small color photos was his knottiest, most personal, and most resolved yet. Working within the very real confines of a parlor room in his London house, the artist imagines another, stranger world and peoples it with members of his family, theatrically transformed into black-comic figures. Fletcher himself appears as a hunchbacked ogre whose left leg ends in a long piece of shattered wood—a character in a fairy tale too frightening to tell. No less ominous were the still ides, arranged against


    FOREVER TORN BETWEEN ITS AMBITIONS as art and its allegiance to commerce, fashion photography is so confident right now that for all intents the distinction has dissolved. Serious fashion types call the genre's most accomplished image makers “auteurs,” and the conceit seems more apt than ever. If the fashion photograph has traditionally been calculated to seduce, to startle, and, of course, to sell, today it often simply sells itself. Forget the clothes; forget the model; vision is all. Take twenty-seven-year-old Alexei Hay: Lifted out of the editorial context, his pictures rarely betray their

  • Edward Steichen

    Edward Steichen's work might look musty and overrefined these days, but there's no denying the influence of his switch from impressionist Pictorialism to crisp modernism, or the definitive elegance of his work in both styles, or his crusading, entrepreneurial spirit. By the time Steichen put down his camera in 1947 to become the first head of MoMA's department of photography, he'd cofounded 291, New York's inaugural photo and art gallery (with mentor Alfred Stieglitz) and landed a lucrative contract with Condé Nast. Much of the vintage work curator Barbara Haskell has gathered for this retrospective

  • Pierre et Gilles

    In the decade since this French collaborative team last showed in America, the artifice, theatricality, and narrative pizzazz that mark their hand-painted photographs have found a sympathetic echo in work by a slew of artists, including David LaChapelle, Mariko Mori, and even Gregory Crewdson. But viewers of this twenty-two-year survey may still be unprepared for Pierre et Gilles's seductively gaudy, frankly homoerotic utopia, where saints, sailors, and movie stars inhabit the same candy-colored never-never land. Curator Dan Cameron emphasizes the team's work of the '90s, which has taken a

  • Art and the Camera

    F. Holland Day (1864–1933), monied Boston aesthete and eccentric, took up Pictorialist photography in his twenties and became one of its most artful and popular proponents. Working in an allegorical style that recalled Julia Margaret Cameron, he turned out moody portraits and vaguely homoerotic male nudes, most in rich, warm-toned platinum prints. For his most famous and controversial series, Day starved himself for weeks, grew his hair long, and posed on the cross in little but a crown of thorns. Nearly all of Day's work was lost in a 1904 fire, but what survives retains a heady perfume of