Landscape Photo Exhibit in Paris January 2014

A certain slant of light © 2013 Michael McCarthy

A certain slant of light © 2013 Michael McCarthy

In the digital and internet era the contemporary creations of Michael McCarthy are unique and unexpected and his approach is strikingly original. In 2012, Galerie Duboys presented a selection of Michael’s self-portraits during the Human Form exhibition. This work transgressed the traditions of photography techniques and surfaces as he sought images which went beyond the traditional frozen portraits. The photographer became painter as he explored the distance between subject and image and a confrontation between darkroom and artist studio. Materials were pushed and pulled, scratched and pierced to ultimately reveal finished works where subject, technique and material came together as one cohesive whole.

For this new exhibit, Michael McCarthy has turned his attention to the landscape while continuing his investigations of the intersection between the photography, painting and drawing worlds. Many of these latest photographic images were created during a two year stay in the Aegean Sea on a Greek island. The original photographs have been reworked and developed through numerous photographic and other processes to create disquieting landscapes from an undetermined past–or might they instead be images of the world at some future time?

A certain slant of light © 2013 Michael McCarthy

A certain slant of light © 2013 Michael McCarthy

These works seize and envelope the viewer. They are at once familiar and strange, a world we know but transformed into something unfamiliar and unsettling. The photographic medium has been transcended and forgotten. The images are at once real and imaginary, speaking of the concrete and the emotional.  Materiel, technique, memory and history coalesce within the paper. Landscapes from an undetermined past, perspectives from a forgotten world at a scale as surprising as it is unknown and in which the absence of the human takes on ominous qualities.

Surprising photographic work which, unlike so many still-born contemporary art discourses, addresses fundamental questions about the land, about nature, about human interaction with and dependence upon nature. There is restraint and secrecy in this work. No easy and tidy answers. Alternatively beautiful, troubling and disquieting.

A certain slant of light © 2013 Michael McCarthy

A certain slant of light © 2013 Michael McCarthy

History and photography major at Tyler School of Art (Philadelphia, USA), Michael McCarthy begins his career as a teacher and artist in Pennsylvania. His work has led him to take up residence in numerous countries, with extended stays in Italy (Florence, Cortona, Palermo and Rome), two years on a Greek island before returning to Paris. He has exhibited in galleries and museums in the U.S. and in Europe and has received numerous prizes for his work. His exhibition Human Form was selected as best gallery exhibition in 2012 on the blog Lunettes Rouges, written by Marc Lenot and hosted by Lemonde.fr.

Opening reception: Saturday, January 25, 2014 17h-20h, artist presentation at 18h at Galerie Duboys (6, rue des Coutures St. Gervais, Paris 3ème).  Exhibition continues through February 22, 2o14.

For more information: Galerie Duboys

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Sarah Moon Photo Exhibit at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Paon, Bagatelle Sarah Moon

Bagatelle, © 1989 Sarah Moon

Just one final week to catch the Sarah Moon Alchimies exhibit at the Muséum des sciences naturelles in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris (through December 1, 2013). Sarah Moon, a more than forty year long career that shuttled back and forth between the fashion and fine art worlds, presents approximately 100 different photographs of small to quite large scale along with moving image presentations. The photographs presented are some older classic images as well as many new ones created during a residency period she had this past August at the Jardin des Plantes. These include still and moving images of living animals in the Zoo along with the “embalmed” animals of the various exhibits in the museum.

Marée basse, © 1998, Sara Moon

Marée basse, © 1998, Sara Moon

I’ve long been a fan of Sarah Moon’s work for its creation of mysterious and magical worlds and her rich black and white images which venture beyond standard photographic images to include elements more normally found in paintings and drawings.  Moon has assembled a strong team that, working together, is able to help her create beautiful and powerful prints (Patrick Toussaint handles her black and white images).

One could almost say that Moon’s approach to her photographs is Instagram 25 years before its’ invention. Her regular use of the tell-tale polaroid “pull-apart” marks along the outer edges, the water-like patterns on her images from her irregular fixation of the polaroid negatives, her grainy and blurry images, the strange color saturations when she prints in color. So many effects that resemble different instagram filters one can apply to digital photos today. And yet, somehow, in spite of the continued use of the same effects, I don’t tire of the look and feel of her images–especially the  black and white photos.  While these effects clearly add a “decorative” quality to her images, the best of her images don’t stop at decoration (something that sadly happens too often with much fashion work in general).
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Photography Fairs in Paris 2013

Paris Photo 2013

Paris Photo 2013

This year I visited both Paris Photo (at the Grand Palais) and FotoFever (at the Carousel du Louvre) photography fairs in Paris with an eye toward trying to understand if there are any particular trends developing among photo galleries from around the world while also on the lookout for galleries I might be interested in approaching to show my own photographic work.

The last two or three Paris Photo events have moved to the Grand Palais in Paris which allows for much more space and a rather grandiose context to show work. Fotofever has moved into the Carousel du Louvre left empty when Paris Photo moved to the Grand Palais. A much smaller space, the number of galleries and editors is limited to 50 or 60 (Paris Photo had more than 135 presenters).
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The Passages of Paris, the First Shopping Malls

The passages of Paris were the first of the indoor shopping centers in Europe, developed in the first 50 years of the 19th century before being pushed aside by the development of larger department stores. At a time when Paris still had few sidewalks and on rainy days mud was ever-present, the passages offered respite from the noise and mess of city life. The early years of the passages saw luxury shops of all kinds take up residence in the various passages. However, already in 1838 the enemy that would ultimately signal the decline of the passages had appeared: the first department store of Paris, Le Bon Marché, was opened in the Latin Quarter of Paris, which, rather than being a specialized shop offered a wide range of objects for sale, making it one of the first “one stop shopping” destinations in Europe.  This was followed later in the century by La Samaritaine on the Right Bank. The development of the department stores led to the fall of the Passages which had reached their peak of 150 covered passages by the mid 19th century only to quickly dwindle during the remaining years of the 19th century. Today there are fewer than twenty passages which continue in some form as shopping centers. Among some of the more beautiful are the Passage Vivienne and the Passage du Grand Cerf.

Passage Vivienne, Paris

Passage Vivienne, Paris

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Sunset & Nighttime Photography of the Louvre, Paris

Last night I was out doing a photo tour of Paris at night. We started an hour before sunset near the Place de la Concorde and worked our way East, walking through the Tuileries Garden before setting up tripods to watch the magnificent light show in the Louvre courtyard around the I.M. Pei glass pyramid (which when I was in Paris as a student in the late 80s was derided by the locals as a terrible addition to the Louvre). Here’s a selection of the photos from around the Louvre.

Louvre at Sunset © 2013 Michael McCarthy

Louvre at Sunset © 2013 Michael McCarthy

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Antoine D’Agata Photography Exhibit in Paris 2013

© Antoine D'Agata

© Antoine D’Agata

There are currently two exhibitions of work by photographer Antoine D’Agata in Paris: Anticorps at the recently opened museum space Le Bal (6 Impasse de la Défense, Paris 18ème) and Nóia at Galerie Filles du Calvaire (17 rue des Filles du Calvaire, Paris 3ème). Anticorps ends after April 14, 2013 while Nóia continues through April 27. If at all possible, I strongly recommend trying to see the show at Le Bal as the installation is particularly powerful and it’s very interesting to see similar work in the two exhibits presented in completely different ways (which, for this reviewer, result in very different experiences of the work).

Anticorps exhibition installation © Antoine D'Agata

Anticorps exhibition installation © Antoine D’Agata

The photo above, taken from the Anticorps exhibit at Le Bal, shows the floor to ceiling installation style where D’Agata mixes top quality reproductions which are elegantly framed with lower quality printouts on sticker material which is adhered directly to the wall. By contrast the Nóia exhibition at Galerie Filles du Calvaire is much more classic with all works beautifully framed and given ample breathing space on the walls.
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Pinhole Photo Workshop in Paris 2013

pinhole photograph, Paros, Greece © Michael McCarthy

pinhole photograph, Paros, Greece © Michael McCarthy

I recently offered a Pinhole Photography workshop to a small group of photography enthusiasts in the Paris region.  At a time when we are surrounded by countless digital images, it seems that more and more people have grown tired of the sameness of digital images. We make and post images on Facebook and elsewhere so frequently that we have lost our connection to the images themselves.

pinhole photograph, Paros, Greece © Michael McCarthy

pinhole photograph, Paros, Greece © Michael McCarthy

Whether one has previous experience working in a traditional darkroom, has only taken digital photos or even for someone who has never touched any kind of camera, pinhole photography offers an immediate and simple antidote to the repetitive look of so many digital images. Working only with a simple coffee canister (the ideal can for easy transformation into a pinhole camera are the cylindrical metal cans made by the Illy coffee company from Italy). In no time at all we’ll transform the (empty) coffee canister into a functional pinhole camera, loaded it with black and white photo paper and gone outdoors to make our first trial exposures. By the end of the short workshop we’ll have made several different negative images–watching them appear magically in the chemistry baths–and gone on to make our first positive images. We won’t make as many images as quickly as with your iPhone telephones but they will look unlike anything you’ll ever see on an iPhone or other digital camera–and even after thirty years working with photography it still amazes me that a simple coffee canister with a small hole poked in the side is able to make perfectly valid photographic images (although with an interesting degree of distortion).

Learn more about the Paris Pinhole Photo Workshops offered by Atelier Vagabond. Or if you already know about pinhole photography, maybe you’d like to expand your knowledge with the 19th century Cyanotype Photo Process Workshop (I have used the two in combination for a number of recent photography exhibitions. Visit Michael McCarthy’s website to see more examples).

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