Week-11-Contextual Research

Took a look at a documentary on the painter Lucian Freud, grandson of famed psychologist Sigmund Freud.  I have seen some of his work at the Getty Museum here in Los Angeles. I like the way he paints the human figure, and it interested me why he interpreted the human body in the way her did. Interests me what the thoughts are that create the image. I like looking at the work of painters, but since this course module, I am looking at their work in a different way. I’m looking from the psychological aspect of image making: from thought to image. Researching why they paint what they do.

Interesting to find out that he represented them honestly, and un compromisingly and the longer he worked with the sitter the more abstract they became.  Even when commissioned to paint the portrait of the queen, he did not paint her any differently than anyone else. He remained true to his feelings.

He worked 364 days a year, and felt he was rallying against time, interesting that as one grows older the sense of urgency seems to be the fuel for the output of work. Never had the urge to retire myself so always interested to find out what fuels these individuals that can give them the energy to work till the end.

Lucian Freud: Painting of Queen Elizabeth.


Week-10-Contextual Research

This week I have been looking into primary and secondary markets in selling one’s art works. As I am primarily interested in fine art photography exclusively. As a photographer, this is very important to me. The eternal question pervades: How does one make the leap from making art to selling it, and selling it in auction houses, museums, galleries and collectors. This is a question that has been on my mind for a very long time. In other words how does once create a work of value. Value not only in terms of monetary terms, but in terms of some-one wanting to own it.

In this weeks reading introduction, talks about the primary and secondary markets. Photographers and artists work is “driven” In others words the value of the work is forced or energized to a position of value and desirability. So in other words, most works start out small or insignificant then a momentum must be built up around it to energize it. I disagree with the statement that the secondary market may be considered second hand, because this is how provenance of the art piece is constructed.

I love watching  videos on Youtube about art and selling it, and am amazed that: Firstly; a painting can command prices upwards of 80 million. Secondly: that so many people have that kind of money available.  Auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s are packed to the brim. People even standing outside, and remote-bid on the telephone. Over half the room is populated by buyers in another country. Thirdly: what is the reason that some works of art are sold, and others rejected.

I have come to the conclusion, that its all about branding. That branding is determined by who wants the works of art, and what they are prepared to pay for it. So, maybe it is all about stimulating interest.

Was looking at a video recently, where a Winslow Homer ‘Children under a palm tree.”  was found at a rubbish dump, a fisherman found it, kept it for 20 years, finally gave it to his daughter, discovered it was worth a fortune, at antiques roadshow, and tried to auction it at Sotheby’s. They seized it, saying that the rightful owner had surfaced and has to be returned to the owner. A legal battle still rages, between the peasantry and the aristocracy.

‘Children under a palm tree” Winslow Homer.

Now all of a sudden, something that’s was worthless, became worth a fortune because the name Winslow Homer was attached to it. If this had been signed by Luie, an unknown, it would have been worthless.

Somehow, the name of the artist must to rise to prominence, over all the others. Is it pure talent alone that causes this, or are there unseen forces at play. There have been many others artists, as talented and prolific as Winslow Homer, who passed on into obscurity and their works with themes over the next few weeks I will be looking into this arena a little more, and hope to find some answers.

Fake or Fortune: Winslow Homer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An36Rni5LU4

Children under a Palm Tree image: https://hubpages.com/art/Children-under-a-Palm-Tree-Fake-or-Fortune-A-Mothers-Quest

Week-9 Contextual Research.

This week, I looked at the work of Eikoh Hosoe, a contemporary Japanese photographer and film-maker. Interested in making work about death and irrationality. This is what caught my eye. Especially the subject of death, because no one can experience it, and I find that very interesting.   Especially that he wanted to make imagery around that subject.

His work is stark and contrasty black and white, he shoots medium format, so his images are not quite as grainy as Fukase’s, however they still have that specific analogue look, which I find to be very beautiful.

Kamaitachi – 8 © Eikoh Hosoe.

He positioned himself against “real” photography, and was more interested in self  and personal expression. So, even though commercial photography is important, I place, or have a greater tendency to pace my interest in photographers who are interested in more creative image making ways.

Because I am working on my series ‘fences’, and missed an image of a boy sitting on a fence, I found this one, reminding me of what I could have had.

Citations: https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/89-eikoh-hosoe/overview/

Image above courtesy of: https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/89-eikoh-hosoe/overview/

Week 7&8 Contextual Research

This past two weeks I  attended the F-2-F. in Paris.  Being a long way from Los Angeles,  I decided to arrive a little early and stay a few days after the event. This rendezvous  basically ate up 12 days.  Well worth it on many levels. From a creative, technical and social perspective.

Paris photo was very informative and a little overwhelming. There where a lot of people and hundreds of booths. Very similar to the American Film Market I attend in Los Angeles where films, instead of photography is sold. They both have a sort of brothel quality to them.

I attended the first day with the cohorts, and the second day returned on my own.  I decided to brush by the booths slowly and see what caught my attention visually, in terms of form and content, as well as seek out the works of the old pro’s who have been around for a while, like Bill Eggleston. Eggleston’s Red Room, an image which I love (because of the redness, the composition and line that drags the eye to the center of the ceiling, to the bulb of illumination just waiting to be pulled. The image weirdness, it’s Americana-ness that one never sees anywhere else. I find these elements transforming.)

was on display, and a few of his other prints as well.

I thought it a good opportunity to look at the actual prints, which are Dye Transfers. I always imagined them to be very glossy and very saturated (as they appear in his book) so it was nice to have the opportunity to look at original prints.

I found the prints to be a tad dull, both in color and gloss, compared to modern Lightjet and Inkjet color printing techniques. The prints where not even as glossy or colorful as Ciba-Chrome prints, which are still available, and fortunately, by a lab close to me in Burbank called Ciba-Lab.  http://www.lab-ciba.com One of the few places left that can still do the process. The print did sell, I saw the tell tale little red sticker under the print. It went for €285,000.00 including the poster seen in the photograph at the bottom right.

I was in touch with a printer named Ctein (go figure) he looks like a Ctein as well, if one can imagine how a person with the name Ctein looks? well… he look exactly like that. http://ctein.com/howorder.htm  who still made Dye Transfer prints, but I think he has since ceased.  When I spoke to him many years back. A single print 20×24, cost in the region of $3200.00 with a 6 month waiting list.


I was glad to have the opportunity to see these actual prints, as I have some color work myself and it’s nice to see all the options available, and the professionals who have used these older formats.

Most of the work that interested me was abstract works, and images that were printed on analogue paper. I found the Inkjet prints to be so technically perfect, that it was difficult to differentiate different artists work by their use of form, where as the old school prints all seemed to have their own marks of uniqueness, which I like, because they stood out in terms of form, as well as content.

I discovered a new photographer, who has been around for a long time, however, I had never heard of, by the name of Chargesheimer.  (Karl Heinz Hargesheimer)  He did some very interesting work with photograms

by painting chemicals on the paper and processing it. Some of the work I found to be very intriguing and mysterious, and I liked the way that he uses highlight and shadow as well the the forms and shapes that he creates in his work. In this particular photogram above, one gets lured into the darkness and wonderers what is beyond the image.  I found something similar I did in Light and Shadow in my first module.


I stayed on after Paris Photo and the Portfolio review to go up to Amsterdam to FOAM, as suggested by Anna to take a look at the work of Masahisa Fukase. I did look at his book on “Solitude of Ravens” however, it was good to see original prints of his work, I like to see the actual work. I found the prints in the book and the actual prints to be very closely matched, in tone, contact, and surface, except much larger prints were displayed at the museum.  In addition, FOAM had dedicated one entire floor to his work, which included Ravens, his big 20×24 polaroid prints as well as other works that I have not seen. It was nice to see Ravens in context of his other works, which consisted mostly of series as well.

The museum was small and gave me the opportunity to focus on a single photographer, instead of trying to focus on hundreds of photographers like at Photo Paris.  So, the experience was different. At Photo Paris I concentrated mainly on the form of the works, ie, presentation and mediums used by current and photographers past. By comparing prints on analogue to those made on digital, as well as photographs made on film compared to those made using digital cameras, I had the opportunity to make some AB comparisons, which I found useful because digital and analogue have always been at odds, not that one is better of worse, what I like are the differences.

In my own practice form and content are equally important. At FOAM I had the opportunity to focus on the content and form of the work of a single artist, where all his tools and worksheets were displayed, making it easier for me to figure his method of working. I am pretty proficient when it comes to the image making process and can pretty much figure out most ways images are made, but once in a while it is nice to have ones mental process confirmed with evidence, which was the case with the exhibition at FOAM. They had his camera, lens, film stock, contact sheet for all to see.

What I gleaned from Fukase in this module, is how to put a series together (poetically, as Anna called it. ) as opposed to technically. This is a nice break for me. I feel that Fukase has helped me understand how to put a series together in a creative way, instead of in a technical way, which I am so familiar with, but dislike intensely.

Fukase makes one ponder about the image, as in the one of the girls above. Why is this one of three young girls at the beach doing in a series of ravens? Answer:  It makes one think. And, my thoughts are: The girls hair looks like ruffled feathers, and the fact that their hair is black, also helps. The shape of a flying Raven protrudes out from the middle girls ear. On the left, at her ear, the hair is formed in such a way, that I can see it’s beak and claws. So when I see an image like this, I look intensely for those minute particulars. Now, I don’t know if I’m correct or not, but it gives me search and discovery satisfaction to see things that aren’t actually there?

I like form to play a part in my image making process, I like using different cameras, film, processing techniques. I use digital as well as analogue printing to give my images mood, and the setting for the content, if you will.  For me, Fukase is the ideal photographer to look at, both for form and content. I like the way his images look, they are not perfect as far as exposure, contrast, tones, grain, or even composition for that matter, in fact these technicalities are rather weak. However, I have always found imperfection attractive, and he gives me the affirmation that it’s okay to be imperfect, because liking it is one thing, doing it is another.

Paris Photo helped me concretize the medium I am going to work in for this module and hopefully for my FMP, which is analogue 35mm and 6×6 medium format B+W film which I will  hand develop myself and scan as well as make prints in my darkroom. There may be a slight chance that I may incorporate color into my FMP later on, but not sure yet. I will explore this possibility as I move along the course.



Masahisa Fukase:https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/162-masahisa-fukase/overview/

Chargesheimer image: http://nonfigurativephoto.blogspot.com/2018/02/why-is-chargesheimer-so-overlooked.html

Red Room Eggleston: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-what-you-need-to-know-about-william-eggleston

Week 6 Contextual Research.

This week I took a look at the work photo editor Akira Hasegawa. He edited the work of Masahisa Fukase’s  “Solitude of Ravens.”  I really liked Fukase’s images. Dirty, grainy, soft focus. The images evoked pleasure in me. I like that he had an emotional attachment to ravens and what that means in Japanese culture. That emotional link is what I look for in my work. I have achieved it with a single image, but this module, I have been able to achieve that in a series.

Back to Akira. When Anna told me to look at the work of Masahisa, I was a little reluctant, but decided on this MA that everything I resist, for what ever reason, I will turn around and embrace, no matter how hard it is. So, I did it went on line and looked at “Ravens”  the dirty, non technical images spoke to me, I really liked them, but what bothered me was: Oh well, it’s just gonna be another boring series on ravens. We have em here in California (Blackbirds, and they mean son of a bitches) However, when I looked at the series, I saw they were punctuated every 4 images or so with an image that was not Ravenesk.  His fat wife rolling on the bed. Three girls at the beach with their hair blowing in their faces, and ocean shot. I thought, wait a minute, what’s going on here? As I looked at the images I suddenly felt that the period (full stop fro the Brits) kind of gave me a breather, before moving on to the next set of Ravens. I really was impressed by this, and knew that no photographer is that smart…

I could barely read the afterward in the book but managed to discover who Akira Hasegawa is from an internet search. I figured he was the brains behind the editing. I pulled up an article on him and liked what I read off the bat. “Photo Editor Akira Hasegawa on self-expression, photo manipulation and fake photos.”

This immediately grabbed my attention, here is an old school dude, working through the ranks of time… seen it ALL!  Now in retirement, it just made me realize that one cannot go it alone, a good editor can save a bad story and create a good one from images. (I had that happen once, where I sent the local newspaper a photograph, and the editor cropped it, and made a whole story out of it) Front Page.

With that said, I think it is Akira’s editing that finally pulled me off the fence into the Japanese photography camp. Anna said they are very poetic in their style, without poetry an image becomes just another image. and I have plenty of those.


Week 5 Contextual Research.

This week, I have been doing some more research on Japanese photographers. This time I looked at the work of Daido Moriyama again from a contextual standpoint.  I saw some work of his before, I think it was at the Tate, could have been Pompidou,  it’s all a blur. I was impressed by the grainy, contrasty, mood of his images.  As I looked at the work of Masahisa Fukase, I noticed a very similar kind of feel to the mood of his work. Could it be a cultural thing, or lack of technical mastery?  What ever it is, I like it!

© Daido Moriyama


© Masahisa Fukase

I have always been attracted to this kind of look, maybe it’s a mirror of my own imperfection, and I refer to it as ‘dirty photography’ (no pun regarding images shown intended) Dirty, has more than one meaning depending on whether one reads it as a noun or a verb!

Somehow this look or mood evokes a type of emotion to the forefront of the work,  which I like.  I am working in B+W analogue for this module (and may do it for the rest of the MA, again, have learned to use the word may, with caution, because I’ve run the gamut so far) and have decided to implement more dirt into my work. . . Time to get dirty – very dirty!

© Pierre Chemaly; Title: ‘Whatever comes to mind’

Somehow, by looking at the work of these artists, I feel it is okay to be ‘dirty’ that they have paved the way in this arena already. Their way of being dirty and my way are different for sure, so I am not concerned about appropriation as I once was, because there is not only one kind of dirty.  There is for example by playing in the sand, or by playing in the oil fields, two ways in a hundred. Figuring where to get dirty is the creative part of form, as is it’s opposite, getting clean, and again, both have their merits, it’s just that I feel like playing in the dirt right now, maybe it’s a pang for my childhood days of art in the sand box, but that is a whole other issue.

In the US, everything is sterile and clean, or cleaned up, like some other places in the world as well, the US is not mutually exclusive in this regard, but let’s just use it for illustrative purposes, because I reside here and am experienced with it’s cultural cleanliness.  For example, even the pulp is removed from orange juice here. Think: Sunny Delight. It’s so sterile it’s like drinking embalming fluid. This is the way I feel  about photography in the digital age.  Everything  good about (analogue) has been removed in digital. Grain, scratches, silver clumping, the list goes on. Funnily enough, it can be put back, in digital form, but it’s a pale horse compared to the real thing.  Like actual meat compared to vegetarian “fake” meat. It looks somewhat the same, but it’s not, and with every bite, you know it, and feel cheated, that I’m paying $20 for some glued together, dyed brown mushed up soy-beans, which costs less than a nickel on the open market. In the same vane, analogue photography to digital photography is like being with an actual woman compared to a blow up doll. Blow up doll people have no idea what they are missing.

Form is part of the image making process, content is what makes the photographer unique, well. . . maybe it’s form and content.  Personally, I like one of a kind. Unique, the novel, or however one defines it.  For me it is one of the elements that adds ‘value’ to an image, something I work for, whatever emotion the term ‘value’ invokes, which are many.


Dido Moriyama image: https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/53-daido-moriyama/overview/#/artworks/10446

Masahisa Fukase image: http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1169-Ravens.html

Week-4-Contextual Research.

© Masahisa Fukase https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/exhibitions/127/overview/#/artworks_standalone/10109

This week, I looked at the work of Masahisa Fukase, (suggested by Anna) a Japanese photographer who lived from 1934 to 2012 with a current exhibition in Amsterdam.  Most well known for his work “Ravens”

A copy of the book can be seen here. http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1169-Ravens.html Before looking through the book, I thought it would be all about ravens, or images of ravens. However, to my surprise, there was an image of a naked woman, maybe his wife, and one of the ocean, another of a factory, and still another of a cat. I was quite surprised, to see these other images in the series, but realized that they are images that represent a raven. The cat, may just have eaten one, the factory has a tiny image of a raven in a tree, the light behind his wife in the window looks like a light raven, and a fold in the wave at the ocean casts a shadow of a raven.

I am just presuming here, as I do not have the book, or have done much more research into those images, however, it is nice to have a few images of “indirect” raven images in the series, some of which can be seen, and others imagined.

I find this work to be very interesting, and wonder if my assumptions about his ‘indirect raven’ images is correct.  If it is, great, if not, I can apply it to my own work, in my series. By looking deeper into shadows and light formations, of images that are a symbol, signifier or motif for the subject at hand.

So, the question arises? What gave Masahisa this idea, why did he make a series on ravens? Is this idea unique, or was it appropriated, modified, or based on someone else work? I decided to do a little research on the net, however was not able to find anything related prior to the work of Masahisa.So far it seems the idea and the series is an original..

Week-3-Contextual Research

This week I attended the webinar with artist Sissel Thastum. Took a look at her works 1.Theta. 2.No You without Mountains, and 3. I Am Here When You Are Here. I found her to be very gracious with her information. I liked the way she combined her still images and her video. Made me think about doing some small video’s of my work as well.

Also looked at the work of from Smash and Grab, gave some good info on photographers that he liked to work with. In particular Can Oba-Smith. So it was nice to be able to refer to a photographer who some-one hires and figure what it is that they like about their work. I really liked Cian’s website. It is very simple in design, easy to navigate and well categorized. All his work is artistic, so it’s easy to see that he is creative. I also looked at his Instagram page, and see that he listed his website under his name, so that anyone can reference it directly from Instagram.

I am new to instagram, so I linked my imdb cinematographer/directors website to my instagram, so hopefully if viewers like my photography it will drive them to my imdb page. http://www.imdb.me/pierrechemaly

Ordered some new reading material on Aaron Siskind. ‘Towards a personal vision.’ and  ‘Road Trip’ (A signed copy) can’t wait to hold it in my hands.  I discovered that he did some work in Corfu, Greece, so can’t wait to see the works.  Last year (2017) I travelled to Corfu, a long time dream from my childhood, after reading ‘My Family and other Animals’ by Gerald Durrell.

The Durrell’s at the Yellow Daffodil Villa, Corfu, 1930’s. Left to right – Margo,Nancy,Larry,Gerry and Louisa. Photo property of: The Daily Mail.
The Yellow Daffodil Villa today. I jumped the fence and made the image. No fence or gate was gonna keep me out. I waited 48 years to see it. The door and steps is the same as the B+W image but the railing is unfortunately gone.

So, always wanted to travel there because of that book. I finally made it there last year, and went to visit the ‘Yellow Daffodil Villa’ where the Durrell’s lived for a while, while on the island.

Waiting in line to pay homage to Saint Spyridon in Corfu.

I also visited St. Spyridon Church in old town Corfu.  Margo, Geralds’ sister kissed the hand of the dead saint on a family visit to the church, and became ill. This is only done once every year, on the feast day of the saint, when the sarcophagus of the saint is opened to pay homage. As fate would have it, on the day I arrived, the sarcophagus was opened in the church and one could to pay homage to the saint.  I remembered what happened to Margo and did not want to become ill, so I put my hand over the hand of the saint and kissed my own.  I guess everyone’s kissing, may have caused a spread of germs. This is what Louisa said, or maybe it was Larry?  Anyway, I remembered that, and took precaution.

I like going to, and photographing places that I have read about, or seen in books or on TV.  Especially of creatives, like writers, poets, painters, photographers and artists. It inspires me, and feel that I attract sparks of inspiration and connection while wandering around.

So, this week I’m going to do some reading, from a signed copy of Arron’s ‘Road Trip,’ which I purchased. (Cannot wait to run my fingers across his signature)

I pay special attention to his work in Corfu, as I have an emotional tie to it, on a creative level, as I do with every place I visit. Each place I go has a very good reason for my going there in the first place.

Towards a personal vision should be a good read.  I think, one’s personal expression is the most important thing to find for any artist, and probably the most difficult.