Photos by Peter Stackpole, April 1959
Teaching The Camera To See My Skin – Some aspects of photography are racist. I did not know that.
AnOther Loves Tattoos.
Kurt Cobain died twenty years ago yesterday. His vigil was a covert suicide prevention rally as well as a memorial.
Karl Lagerfeld has the be the most quotable fashion designer alive.
A 6,000 word dissection of 10 Things I Hate About You. You’re welcome.
My Dad sent me this review of the new Lydia Davis book, unaware that I already had a copy. Paternal synchronicity (seriously though, it’s a good book). Super short stories that cut to the bone and experiences that are so specific but so common that you think Davis could be writing just for you and your weird little brain.
An Oral History of Heathers, one of the best teen movies ever made. Bonus points for Winona Ryder trying to sell Heathers 2 to Meryl Streep (co-starring Meryl as the First Lady) while filming in an rural Portugal, where Ryder knew Streep would have no escape.
Lest we forget though, Heathers was a biting satire with a serious amount of disgust for its characters.
Sex Ed for Boys. Communication, communication and more communication.
Kesh Angels, the work of Moroccan-born, UK-based photographer Hassan Hajjaj is a hallucinatory look into a young subculture that most people aren’t privy to – the Moroccan motorcycle girl gang. Women on scooters with Nike djellabas, knockoff designer slippers, heart-shaped shades and a flagrant disregard for perceived speed limits. They’re got the attitude and unblinking, unwavering stares of Russ Meyer film heroines, but the only killing these ladies are doing are with their threads.
It’s only a matter of time before this gets co-opted into an M.I.A music video – or maybe that’s kinda happened already…
P.S – If you like this, you might like this old post on the Hell’s Angels and the women who rode with them.
Kesh Angels is running at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York until March 8th
More photos at The Guardian.
In her day, Leen was better known as a photographer of animals. Perhaps it’s her ability to capture the small, unusual, honest details which make what should be slightly humdrum shots of feet so very special. Some of these pictures are posed, some are not. None of them look stiff or forced.
Only one of them makes me want to stash a comb in my socks or, at the very least, start to wear socks.
It’s getting cold out there, kids.
I make no pretensions of being a Cool Person, so it’s OK to tell you that the first I ever saw of Kim Gordon was in jaundiced two-dimensional form, stealing sandwiches from Peter Frampton in that episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes a human cannonball.
Like little red bicycles or people wearing Uggs outside in the rain, once you see her for the first time, she pops up everywhere. Of course Kim Gordon isn’t just remarkable for her music or her not-giving-a-shit attitude towards miniskirts over fifty, she’s a legitimate style icon (and I really hate that phrase) – someone to draw unquestioned inspiration from.
Hedi Slimane may have drawn a muted response for his first collection for the interestingly-rebranded Saint Laurent Paris (I haven’t looked at it yet – bad blogger, bad!) but his campaign images are quite striking. They feature Gordon, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson and Ariel Pink – Pink doing that thumb thing that my uncle used to do at parties to scare the bejaysus out of us children. It’s very reminiscent of Slimane’s previous efforts in his Rock Diary, which show what a skilled imagemaker he really is.
British Photographer Lacey was an assistant to Tim Walker – and it really shows. Her inventive use of props (by design pair Craig and Karl) and collaboration with make-up artist Andrew Gallimore have made the pages of Vogue Nippon even more mind-bending this month. Styled by Beth Fenton, it’s part Pop, a little Op and a big, glam wheelbarrow of weird brilliance.
Muses: Women Who Inspire is a lavish coffee table book, published by Flammarion, all about the romantic muse. ‘Romance’ is definitely the watchword – almost all of the muses in this book were engaged sexually with their masters (for want of a much better word). The modern muse is disregarded – Edie Sedgewick for her drug use, Grace Jones for her perceived lack of longevity and Kate Miss for, well, just being Kate Moss. The woman in this book cover a period of roughly 100 years, from about 1850 to 1950, from the Countess Castiglioni (who, both hearteningly and pathetically, was her own muse) to Giulietta Masina, the sprite-like wife of Federico Fellini.
This rather large hardback is stuffed to the gills with women, some you have heard of, some who are a whisker away from relegation to the purgatory of obscurity. The selections are wide-ranging from art to literature to film to photography and often quite illuminating, but the treatment of said muses is interesting.
In quite a lot of the profiles, we don’t learn how the women directly influenced the artists – unless it is quite obvious (Salvador Dali using his wife Gala as a model, for example). The women are related to in terms of their influence and not their personality, which is unfortunate. Photographer Lee Miller’s life after her affair with Man Ray is referred to only in a cursory way, which is surprising as that period of her life was the one in which she would make the biggest impact on the world. Rather worryingly, Lewis Carroll’s disputed paedophilia is treated in almost apologetic terms in Alice Liddell’s profile, saying in one breath that his behaviour was dubious and in the next that “one should steer clear of judging a personality that was undeniably complex, paradoxical and disarming”.
The real strength of this book is the layout as well as the selection of muses. A rich and diverse amount of photographs and artworks as well as a rich and diverse group of women are masterfully showcased. The scandals, the heartbreaks, the subtle manipulation – it’s all here. If you like a shot of scandal with your history, you’ll enjoy this book.
Muses: Women Who Inspire is published by Flammarion and is available in all good bookshops.
… Pinup Photography’s Golden Era.
The gentle art of pinup photography has been interpreted in a few different ways, first as enjoyable smut, then as kitsch, finally as a postfeminist emancipation proclamation. Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom aims to be all three as well as a fairly enjoyable look back at the career of a very modern woman – both as subject and photographer, usually at the same time.
Pinup fans will know Bunny Yeager as the woman who partnered with the legendarily versatile, befringed model Bettie Page in the short-lived, but very productive series of pictures that made both their professional reputations. As well as a jobbing photographer, Yeager herself was a model. She would often take self portraits in the pinup style. You can see her looking demure in a bikini, auburn pigtails on each shoulder. A few years later she’s buxom and brazen in black negligee, platinum blonde hair solidifying the contrast. Her ability to transform herself for the camera is remarkable. It’s not hard to agree with the theory that Cindy Sherman was influenced by Yeager’s self portraits. Here’s a fun fact – Yeager reportedly took those famous photographs of Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in Dr.No. No better woman for the job.
Bunny Yeager has had a greater impact on the world at large than just nude photographs (of which there are absolute truckloads in this book). In the forward, Dita von Teese hit the pro-sex nail on the head when she says “By her (Bunny’s) actions, she is challenging what it actually means to be feminist, to let the last taboos about sexuality and nudity go and at the same time to be in control of it all. This is what it means to be truly liberated”.
The reader may agree or disagree with this sentiment. However, it is difficult for the reader to spot anything unsavoury about Yeager’s work – all her subjects are ridiculously fresh and healthy looking, whether sunbathing or riding horses or monkeying around (in some cases literally; Yeager loved using animals in pictures). No-one is inflicting or in pain. No-one is uncomfortably contorted. In fact, no-one is engaging in anything particularly sexual. It is all very innocent.
The photographs, which are split into categories (cheesecake, self-portraits, photo stories and so on) are accompanied with either analysis by Petra Mason or excerpts from the many photography books that Yeager published in her lifetime. Carefully chosen, these snippets are all about women celebrating and not subjecting themselves. It’s interesting that, over the fifty to sixty years since these photos were taken, pinups have gone from fodder for titillation to a legitimate (if not highbrow) art form. Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom reflects that change, as it is a book primarily written by women for women – although like-minded men will certainly enjoy it too.
Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom by Petra Mason is published by Rizzoli and is out now.
Actually, a few words.
I’m so frazzled that I absentmindedly tried to drink from a candle this evening – and a lit, lavender-smelling one at that.
With that in mind, I present to you Nick Knight’s Flora series. Photographs of pretty flowers, but not as we know it.
You can find out more over on the SHOWSTUDIO website.
Tim Walker is known for his fantastical, props-based, Photoshop-free fashion photography and portraiture. In the publishing world, he’s known for arm-achingly heavy coffee table books. Tim Walker: Storyteller is no exception.
The book accompanies an exhibition of Walker’s work held in Somerset House. The exhibition closes on the 27th of January and if you’re in London at all, it is well worth a look. Original props and video are on display alongside photographs, which gives more context to essentially context-free photographs. It’s a visual feast, with photographs on display in packing cases, artfully arranged. It’s fashion photography at its best.
The book is a continuation of the ideas presented in the exhibition, in gargantuan form. It is huge, tome-ish even, and printed on glossy paper. I left the book open in a room for a few hours and, on re-entering, was struck by the fragrance of paper and ink. This is an important aspect of reading for any self-respecting bibliophile or book fetishist.
The book is low in words. In fact, save for Kate Bush’s short forward and a sprinkling of Walker quotes, the book is all gorgeous pictures. Walker is a bit like fashion Marmite, except in this case you either love him or you REALLY love him. Paired with the pictures are pages from personal scrapbooks, not unlike those found in his earlier book, Tim Walker: Pictures. Photos are culled mostly from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar fashion shoots as well as Walker’s stock of portraits; here Helena Bonham Carter and Polly Mellen (wrapped in a bin liner) rub shoulders with anonymous and interesting people picked off the street.
High quality but a little bit style over substance, this is still an ideal book for a Tim Walker fan.
Tim Walker: Storyteller is published by Thames & Hudson and is out now.