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Sergio Larrain was born in Chile and only worked as a photographer for a few decades, abandoning it to teach yoga and study eastern religions. During his short career he took some very seminal images, his pictures inspired many people including film-director Michelangelo Antonioni and poet Pablo Neruda (who collaborated with Larrain on a book), he also worked for Magnum along side Henri Cartier-Bresson. To read about Mr. Larrain click HERE for info on his upcoming exhibition in Paris click HERE.

Sergio Larrain

I have been been working on a new film about Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita , this film is all about Nabokov’s immersion into the world of nature, butterflies specifically. I have been thinking a lot about the connection between art and nature because Nabokov was so heavily inspired by nature.  Lolita’s Butterfly has brought me to looking into the other artists I know of that have a special connection with nature. The first one that came to mind is Karl Blossfeldt (German 1865-1932). I made this little film (below his breathtaking images) to show off his photographs and to (very,very,very briefly) explain a few facts about him. To learn more about Blossfedlt visit his archive’s website .

by Karl Blossfeldt

SWiM cinema:

New Episode from ‘Day at Night’ series – this one is with actor Vincent Price who discusses his interest in art history.

Originally posted on SWiMs Blog:

James Day (1918-2008) was an American broadcaster and network executive. He worked for PBS and was instrumental in setting up San Francisco’s KQED (the PBS affiliate).

Mr. Day was also a wonderful talk show host, during the 1970s he hosted a nightly interview show called Day at Night.  A 1974 article in The New York Times about Day at Night said that Mr. Day’s objective was “to create a record of the person.”  It added:  “He does not want to argue with them or publicize them. He simply wants them to talk about themselves. In the course of an uninterrupted half-hour, he succeeds frequently and impressively.”

Those quotes say it all about Mr. Day. In my opinion he conducted some of America’s most honest and interesting television interviews of the 1970s. I am partial to the shows with artists and writers, I will post one here today then…

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James Day (1918-2008) was an American broadcaster and network executive. He worked for PBS and was instrumental in setting up San Francisco’s KQED (the PBS affiliate).

Mr. Day was also a wonderful talk show host, during the 1970s he hosted a nightly interview show called Day at Night.  A 1974 article in The New York Times about Day at Night said that Mr. Day’s objective was “to create a record of the person.”  It added:  “He does not want to argue with them or publicize them. He simply wants them to talk about themselves. In the course of an uninterrupted half-hour, he succeeds frequently and impressively.”

Those quotes say it all about Mr. Day. In my opinion he conducted some of America’s most honest and interesting television interviews of the 1970s. I am partial to the shows with artists and writers, I will post one here today then add more episodes during the weeks to come.

The first episode I am posting here is with author Ray Bradbury, he talks about Blackstone the Magician, Charles Laughton, the overrated intellect, children’s books, growing up poor, creativity and writing – just tons of fascinating things.

Here is another great episode with actor Vincent Price. The discussion is mostly about Price’s interest in art history.

One of the most inspiring writers of the 20th century – Mr. Christopher Isherwood. This interview is so wonderful, the camera is zoomed on his face in a way that invites honest intimacy, I just really admire this one because I felt as though I spent 30 mins with Isherwood – face to face, not as though I watched a film of him. I feel that Isherwood is a special person, his life is so interesting and his spirit inspires. I love his thoughts on academia and his comments about eastern spirituality. I also greatly admire his honesty about being a gay man, in the 1970s that was not something many people announced about themselves on broadcast T.V. – but he did. Isherwood is a true beacon for any creative person.

James Day

James Day

SWiM cinema:

New Film on Nabokov’s Butterflies.

Originally posted on SWiMs Blog:

January 2014 – My crusade to get this film continues. I have a new campaign on Indiegogo  to help fund the project. Please lend your support and pass around the campaign.

Last fall I went to Saint Petersburg to research & film, that was my first visit to Russia and I was entranced by this city and the people. It is by far the most colorful metropolis I’ve ever visited. The buildings are painted vibrant colors and they reminded me of the colors on the wings of the butterflies I saw at Nabokov’s family house (now the Nabokov Museum). I am going back in a few months to film more and I am really looking forward to it, I met some wonderful ‘Nabokovians’ it was inspiring learning about Russia and Nabokov’s roots there.

Machaon Swallowtail

Machaon Swallowtail

Saint Petersburg Yellow

Saint Petersburg Yellow

Nabokov's Butterfly Net

Nabokov’s Butterfly Net

Saint Petersburg Pistachio Orange

Saint Petersburg Pistachio Orange

a few of Nabokov's Personal Butterflies a few of…

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By chance, while reading another blog on art I stumbled onto these beautiful images of Paris taken on the eve of World War I. I find the colours in them incredible. These images are from the wonderful Musée et Jardins de Albert-Kahn . If you ever are in Paris a visit out to this museum is a great treat. Albert Kahn (3 March 1860 – 14 November 1940) was a French banker and philanthropist, known for initiating The Archives of the Planet, a vast photographical project. Spanning 22 years, it resulted in a collection of 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film.

I just spent two weeks in Montréal, Canada watching dozens and dozens of films about art. I was asked by the FIFA international film festival to be on the jury this year which meant I sat with four other jurors watching 4 or 5 films a day for 12 days! Although my eyes grew tired and my back sore from sitting in theatres all day I had a lovely time.

Me and the Fellow FIFA Jurist (kidding)

Me and the Fellow FIFA Jurist (kidding)

FIFA is really the date in which the Art Film world year revolves, it is the oldest and largest festival of its kind in the world and screens such a variety of subjects that one is really spoiled for choice. I watched 38 films for the competition and also saw a dozen or so outside of the competition, some were amazing, some good, others OK.

Fortuny Fabric

Fortuny Fabric from the film ‘Fortuny & The Magic Lantern’

I saw films on varied subjects ranging from the avant-garde composer Lou Harrison to the writings of William Golding. I saw films on the designs of fabric guru Louis Fortuney, and the architecture of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

I really enjoyed a new film about composer John Cage. I learned exactly what Cage was about from this film. Only a film could of really explained to me the crazy yet brilliant things Cage did with sound. It was funny, very funny but also really powerful to learn how Cage used the I Ching to choose the notes in his compositions, thus negating any individualism in his art – heavy zen stuff but thanks to this film easy to get. Bravo!

I also LOVED the film on Dali, it showed what an amazing talent he had as a painter and as a showman, he was so over the top in his public statements even I was a little shocked, in the film he proclaims he can only masturbate dressed up as a King, a king like Louis XIV! that is just one of his many wild statements. I really admired how Dali knew as early as the 1920s that the media has one use – to gain wide exposure in order to sell his paintings. He shunned the official Surrealist Group and made no apologies for being himself. This film really appealed to my sense of rebel and I learned from this film that Dali deserves respect for being a sort of patron saint of freaky creatives, again Bravo!

Lou Harrison from the film 'LOU HARRISON: A World of Music'

Lou Harrison from the film ‘LOU HARRISON: A World of Music’

I would be lying if I said I saw loads and loads of GREAT films, I felt that most of the films were well-done but many were very, very long and assumed the viewer was already interested in the subject thus the films (generally) did not try very hard to engage the audience. Over and again I felt the films lasted forever and that universal elements such as humour, love, conflict were absent in these films. I got the feeling that many of the films were ‘preaching to the choir’ (again not all of them). I already knew that a film needed an story arc – even factual films – and without one the viewer is left with little but information, a film should not be purely ‘a love fest’ for the subject but a good story in which the subject is explored, otherwise it is hard to sit through them, one feels like your at a lecture with moving images not at a movie. Just my opinion, many might disagree but after my service on the festival Jury I have to say that there is nothing like a good story – brilliant photography and loads of facts are all well and fine but I’d go for a solid story over a polished film any day.

NYC High Line from the film 'Re-imagining Lincoln Center and the High Line'

NYC High Line from the film ‘Re-imagining Lincoln Center and the High Line’

Enough complaining, I did see some great films and I was inspired enough to add to SWiMs Film page trailers and links for films on art that I recommend – these are not sponsored links – I would like to build a nice selection of Artumentary films for people to discover, most films on art get zero PR budget so they simply disappear into the depths of the internet or on Amazon, maybe SWiMs Film page will help a few to be seen, I hope so.

SWiM cinema:

Fred Lyon and I are making a film about his life in photography – please visit the project and pass it around. – Thank you.

Originally posted on SWiMs Blog:

‘Fred Lyon – Living Through the Lens’ - Catch the WORLD PREMIERE of this film at the YBCA in San Francisco.

See the photos from the 13 July private screening of the film at the Dolby Theatre in San Francisco by clicking HERE .

-With a tight deadline for a magazine story on SF, I needed a fog shot, but fog failed to materialize day after day.  One evening in Sausalito my landlord was about to pour cocktails for me and my new bride when I spied wisps of fog sweeping through the Golden Gate.  “No time for drinks now!  Get in the car. I’ll buy drinks as soon as I get a picture.”  The romantic couple are my wife, Anne, and my landlord:  “For God’s sake, Fred, hurry up and take the picture,  We’re freezing to death and dying of thirst.”

 

Foggy Night at Land's End 1953

Foggy Night at Land’s End 1953 by Fred Lyon

I…

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Moï Wer (a.k.a Moï Ver) was a Lithuanian-born photographer. He began his career in 1929 after studying at the Bauhaus. Settling in Paris he created a book aptly called ‘Paris’ in 1931.

'Paris' cover 1931

‘Paris’ cover 1931

‘Paris’ gained him recognition and led to the publication of his iconic ‘Ci-Contre’ (which in French means opposite)

Ci-Contre

Ci-Contre Cover by Moï Wer 1931

Moï Wer was very into what they called ‘sandwiching’, a technique where more than one negative is placed on top of other negatives creating a multiple image. He mixed very unexpected images and came up with some wonderful prints.

Moï Wer

from Ci-Contre by Moï Wer 1931

I went to the La Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson tonight and saw a wonderful exposition on Moï WerAnn et Jürgen Wilde are behind the exposition, they explain on one of the panels at the expositon how they searched all over trying to locate Moï Wer (this was in the early 1970s), finally they found him in a artist colony in northern Israel where Moï Wer had been living for deacades – his real name was Moses Vorobeichic but he’d been calling himself Moshe Raviv since 1934. Moï Wer told the Wildes he had given up photography years ago and had returned to his first love – painting.

another from Ci-contre by Moï Wer 1931

another from Ci-contre by Moï Wer 1931

Like so many 20th century European photographers, especially those who studied at the BauhausMoï Wer sense of composition is incredible, he also was very much inspired by the age of machines, using industrial imagery, made-man textures and urban landscapes in many of his beautiful images. (side note: Moï Wer studied painting with Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky).

from Ci-contre by Moï Wer Paris 1931

from Ci-contre by Moï Wer Paris 1931

Moï Wer obviously created dazzling modern images but after the exhibition I saw tonight I think he will be really remembered for the documentary images he created during the late 1920s and early 1930s in Vilnius the capital of Lithuania.These pitcures of the Jewish ghetto are beautiful, not to mention they capture a world long lost.

Vilnius, Lithuania by Moï Wer

Vorobeichi Ghetto by Moï Ver

Vorobeichi Ghetto by Moï Ver

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