Archive for March, 2008

Master Photographers

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

This image by Andreas Feininger was gifted to me on a memorable trip to New York when he and I had lunch at the restaurant on the top of the World Trade Centre. He surveyed Manhattan below us - his first experience of that view - and pointing to various locations related many stories from his life long love affair with the city.

The subject is photojournalist Dennis Stock winner of the Life "Young Photographer of the Year" contest, 1951. At the time Andreas was a staff photographer with Life magazine. The likely scenario is that he was assigned to make a portrait of the winner and being the man he was it was never going to be just any old snapshot.


As a tribute to the many photographers who have created the key images of the last 150 years, I have decided to create a list of my personal favourites. It is not intended to be academically definitive or to compete with the many sites dedicated to listing the 'masters of photography'. It is simply my list of favourites. Photographers, whom I believe, in one way or another, have defined the milestones of the evolution of our art and all of whom have made a lasting impression on my own thinking.

WordPress imposes limits on the size of such a large table so the results have been summarised as three 'pages' that are permanently available on the Pages section of this blog.

Here they are:

Favourite Photographers - p1 - born 1851 - 1900

Favourite Photographers - p2 - born 1901 - 1930

Favourite Photographers - p3 - born 1931 - 1960

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Celebrating Emergence

Friday, March 14th, 2008

A recent article in the London Guardian highlighted the difference between Spain and Italy’s architectural evolution over the last 30+ years.

Renaissances in architecture and design, occur when certain cultural and political fuses are lit; for a while these have gone out in Italy, although probably not forever. A week, as Harold Wilson once said, is a long time in politics (a very long time indeed in Italy) and anything can happen. In Spain, that fuse was lit when Franco died, and the cultural fireworks that have lit up Spanish towns and cities have yet to fall to Earth and into the mire of quixotic politics.

The article contains interesting facts like Franco’s personal dislike of Barcelona but basically celebrates Spain’s success at using design at many levels – from modest projects like a new school in a small town to huge urban renewals – to express the country’s new found democratic liberty and economic success.

The ultimate litmus test of good architecture is surely what it causes in the people who occupy, use and view the buildings in their daily lives. Build the right architecture and you end up with the desired process.

By way of reminding us that we now occupy two worlds, a virtual networked digital world as well as the bricks and mortar referred to above; Mitch Kapor co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explores the link between digital architecture and its role in renewing democratic process. A piece in BoingBoing summarises Kapor’s multi blog post titled ‘Politics is architecture and architecture is politics’.

Here are two shots from my series of trips to Barcelona in the 80s.



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Heart Break

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

“Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief — optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man.”

Arthur Miller

After the publication of Cowboy Kate my publishers wanted more of the same but the next book, November Girl, was a tribute to love, loss, beauty and heart break. While it had and still has its ardent fans, November Girl proved a lot less popular than Kate.


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