Archive for March, 2010

Jean Michel Folon by Sam Haskins

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Sam embarked on a multi-year slow cooking project of photographing artists from around the world. They were all personal favourites, colleagues that he had admired for years. Sadly the project came to a premature end because getting artists to commit to a day or two of shooting is like herding cats. Sam was not the type to spend ages persuading people to pose for him so, when the logistics became too much of a stress the project was abandoned.

However, along the way Sam was able to pay homage to creative minds and personalities that had provided him with much joy and inspiration through their work. One of the happiest of these encounters was with the brilliant Belgian illustrator and graphic artist Jean Michel Folon. From the late sixties Sam always had at least one giant Folon poster (which Sam framed himself), hanging prominently in his studio.

The photographs below were taken in the early eighties at Folon's studio outside Paris before he moved to Monaco.






The black 'T' shape in the two image layout above was a graphic mechanism that Sam used for his exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra in 2006.


Below is a selection of Folon's incredible work. Always, deeply thoughtful, tender hearted, delicately executed, highly graphic minimal line, super saturated colours and emotionally taught with a signature mix of humour and haunting sadness.

Further examples of Folon's work can be found here: Official Site, Folon Foundation, Wikipedia Entry.






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Sam on French Breakfast TV

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

A very charming team from the French breakfast TV show 'Tele Matin' interviewed Sam while we were hanging the show at Milk Gallery. The video they made aired twice, once in October 2009 and again in December 2009. The show's co-anchor Isabelle Chalençon is seen below wearing her Sam Haskins T-shirt while presenting the story.

This video along with others made by CNN and The New York Times form a precious record. They are the last recordings of Sam's voice prior to his stroke which happened just days after this footage was shot. The bruise clearly visible on his right cheek is as a result of a fall he took in Korea on his way to New York. Despite being in constant pain from a tripod fracture of his cheekbone, he kept to his schedule and met all his commitments to the press and the sponsor, Tommy Hilfiger.

France always had a special place in Sam's heart. Not just because from the moment his first book 'Five Girls' was published, the French warmly embraced his work and awarded his second book 'Cowboy Kate' with the coveted Prix Nadar but mainly because collectively the French seemed to be looking at the photography more than the nudity. Sam's work also appeared on two covers of French PHOTO. He had many fond memories of his trips to the city of light, starting in 1950 when he first travelled to the French capital as a student based in London through to presenting his slide show on the first level of the Eiffel Tower in the 80s and shooting for French Vogue in his late seventies.

Some of Sam's greatest contemporary colleague/heroes were also based in Paris; Guy Bourdin and Jean-Loup Sieff. Although Sam contributed to a book published by Sieff featuring the portraits and quotes of other photographers, and they certainly were an influence on one another, they sadly never met.

On this occasion, Paris came to Sam in New York and not only Paris, in five hectic days before the show he was interviewed by journalists from a dozen different countries and the book/exhibition was covered by over 100 magazines in 25 countries. The last interview was on Friday morning and the following morning, September 19th 2009, Sam had the tragic stroke that precipitated a rapid decline that led to his death two months later at home in Australia.






Get the Flash Player to see this video.

[posted by Ludwig]

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African Image – Celebrating sub-Saharan Africa

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

'African Image' was published in 1967 the last full calendar year that Sam and Alida were based in Johannesburg. This was his parting love letter to Africa. It was long before art books on Africa were popular and Sam's wife Alida had a tough time getting publishers to take the book. She twisted arms by saying they could have 'November Girl' (the book the followed 'Cowboy Kate') if they also took 'African Image'. It has in the meantime become a collectors piece both among lovers of photo books and collectors of African art. It’s the latter aspect of Africa, its indigenous art, that forms the core theme of a title that Sam affectionately referred to simply as 'Image'.

Although there were many workshops and lectures in subsequent years, Sam didn't return to shoot in Africa until he produced the 1999 Pentax Calendar in the Cape a very different celebration.

Sam had admired the pictures of Brodovitch dynamically editing the layout of a Richard Avedon book with loose prints spread out on on a carpeted floor high in a Manhattan skyscraper. In a slower and vertical version of that process he taped the entire book to the studio wall (see photo below). Almost daily for many weeks he made changes and additions, refining sequence, cropping, and shooting fresh material to fill gaps until the entire book rang like a bell.


Below are the cover and back cover from the African Image dust jacket.



The quarterly Bergdorf Goodman magazine (March 2010) published this week features an article about African Image that includes some of the following spreads.








[Ludwig - Sam's son]

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Keeping Voltaire Cosy…

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

...with an old towel. A bit of silly fun from Sam's studio in Johannesburg taken around 1962. This image, scanned from a print, is a perfect reminder of how serious Sam was about the photography itself, while having unashamed fun with his image making. Also present, the classic Sam Haskins signature duo of sex appeal and humour.


“To enjoy life, we must touch much of it lightly” - Voltaire

This shot was taken in Sam's studio in Johannesburg in about 1962 and appeared in Five Girls. [Ludwig].

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