It's been a long time -- too long a time -- since I updated this blog. And I'm pretty sure that my regular readers (all three or four of them) have departed for more entertaining pastures. To them I say, please come back.
Why have I been so silent? In part it's because I've been busy. It's also true that it's hard to keep a blog's momentum going year after year. (This blog is over six years old.) Finally, I've been publishing elsewhere online. And that brings me to the updates.
* * *
See the Photos That Gave Americans Their First Glimpse of Apartheid in 1950
South African Miners: Margaret Bourke-White/Life, 1950.
A photograph of two muscular young black men dominated the page. Their faces and shirtless torsos, drenched with sweat, filled the frame, giving them an almost palpable physical presence. Hard hats, tilted back to expose their faces, encircled their heads like halos. Lanterns on the hats and the dark rock behind the men told LIFE's readers that they were miners.
The two men averted their eyes from the camera, their expressions composed but inscrutable. Who were these men behind their enigmatic masks?
You can read the rest, here.
* * *
Celebrating Photographers of Color and the Collectives That Have Nurtured Them
John Pinderhughes, "Charles Madison" (1982), from the series Older Black Americans.
I reviewed an important joint exhibition of two photographers' collectives for Hyperallergic in March. For over five decades, these collectives -- Kamoinge and En Foco -- have been the foundations on which dozens of important photographers of color have built their careers -- often in the face of overt discrimination.
Here's how the review opened:
"And who else is there?" A staff member at a well-known photo festival and I were nearing the end of an awkward conversation. A number of us had publicly criticized the festival for its failure to include photographers of Latin American, African, Asian, and Native American descent in its programming. Because the festival was heavily weighted toward photojournalism and documentary photography, images of black and brown bodies, usually in distress, filled the festival's galleries and projection screens. The contrast between the color of the bodies on display and of the photographers who made the images only emphasized the absence of competing voices and visions.
I went on to talk about the way Kamoinge and En Foco nurtured those voices and visions and to assess the many photographic works that were on view at the exhibition. Read more, here.
* * *
Ingrid Bergman: How a Photograph Never Made Led to Her Most Memorable Portrait
Ingrid Bergman: Gordon Parks/Life, 1949.
Finally, and just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a fun piece for the Life website about the time Gordon Parks traveled to the island of Stromboli to photograph Ingrid Bergman, who was shooting a movie under the direction of her then-lover and soon-to-be-husband Roberto Rossellini. The story revolves around the moment when Parks put down his camera and let a photograph slip away. He lost a picture that would have made his editors very happy. But he earned Bergman's trust and was later able to make the magnificent portrait that you see above.
Here's a teaser:
Gordon Parks had been a member of LIFE Magazine's staff for no more than a month when a tantalizing assignment dropped into his lap. His editors sent him to the small volcanic island of Stromboli, not far off the coast of Sicily, where the Italian neo-realist director Roberto Rossellini was making a film with the actress Ingrid Bergman. Parks' mission had little to do with the film and everything to do with the love affair between the director and his star, who had left her husband and child for him. It was an international scandal. Bergman's fans, who perhaps took her recent roles as a nun in The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) and the virgin saint in Joan of Arc too seriously, had turned on her. Knowing that a good scandal can drive sales, magazines and newspapers throughout Europe and the United States were locked in a fierce competition to get the first photographs of the couple in an embrace.
It's a fabulous story. The rest is here.
* * *
Here's hoping that another seven months don't go by before my next post.