11/05/2010

Last weekend I went to see a couple of exhibits. One of them was of Lisette Model at Jeu de Paume who was an Austrian-born American photographer. She became known for photographing subjects from both ends of the spectrum of society. Her famous series was “Promenade des Anglais” conducted in Nice in 1934. In the late 30s, she moved to New York and became prolific with her series done in popular bars and nightclubs in the Lower East Side and in the Bowery. She definitely developed a style in street photography where her cropped portraits devoid of superfluity can generate a wide range of emotions. Her photos were not staged or with an artistic composition in mind; the social aspect behind her subjects was what mattered. The fact the entire exhibit was in black and white reinforced her style. Lisette influenced a few through her teachings, such as Diane Arbus, who was one ofher pupils in 1957. In the same vein of photography with a humanistic style, I saw Willy Ronis’ exhibit 'Poetic of Engagement' at the Monnaie de Paris. This exhibit displayed about 150 black and white prints. His works varied from straight street shots of post-war life in Paris to travels, work, family, and friends. A portrait of his wife Marie-Anne Lansiaux ‘Provençal Nude (1949)’, turned out quite unexpectedly, as one of his most successful. Willy truly composed his images beautifully including backgrounds which added shape and form to the final image. I loved how he took several photographs peering through windows, for which I admired his acute sense of observation.