California Literary Review


Book Review: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan


October 15th, 2012

The course of Curtis’ campaign to document the lives and life style of the Native American peoples is related by Egan with considerable detail and page-turning élan. There were plenty of incidents of physical ordeal and, in some cases, real danger. An Apache medicine man who divulged secrets of his tribe’s religious practices died under suspicious circumstances shortly after Curtis left the reservation. That fate might well have befallen Curtis…

Art Review: Garry Winogrand: Women are Beautiful, Denver Art Museum


March 22nd, 2012

The pair make their way through a crowded New York park. At the woman’s neck, a whistle such as a lifeguard might use dangles like a pendant from a choker. Why is she wearing such a thing? Is it a form of DIY fashion, or an early version of a rape whistle, emblem of an increasing fear of street crime, as well as the greater sense of vulnerability felt by women in public? It’s impossible to know – Winogrand snapped the picture quickly, and the tilted framing of the subjects betrays its spontaneity.

Art Review: Robert Adams: The Place We Live, Denver Art Museum


November 10th, 2011

The photographs in the retrospective are animated by the yearning for a sense of place, of belonging and by regret at seeing that place forever slipping out of reach, as a consequence of environmental heedlessness and of the inevitable passage of time.

Badlands Revisited


May 11th, 2011

Badlands was filmed on location in southern Colorado, and recently I finally made it to Pueblo, Colorado’s Rosemount House Museum, aka the interior of the “rich man’s house.” Fans of Malick’s offbeat, lyrical American aesthetic should find plenty to like there.

Denver’s Camera Obscura Gallery Closes


May 9th, 2011

In dramatic contrast to the wide-open, sleekly minimalist aesthetic of most modern art galleries, Camera Obscura’s displays rambled through a series of rooms whose uniform coat of white paint barely obscured their past as a Victorian home. It was in this casual, intimate, even cluttered environment that I encountered many of the luminaries of modern photography, such as Edward Weston, Eliot Porter, Imogen Cunningham…

A New Take on “Primitivism”? Man Ray, African Art, and The Modernist Lens


March 21st, 2011

There are other questions to ask as well. Can this be anything other than two white men reducing the artifacts of a nonwhite culture to the status of props in their cerebral games? In my years as a graduate student, the academic word on artistic primitivism seemed unambiguous. It was straight-up cultural imperialism…

Badlands and Lost Edens: The Photography of Robert Adams


January 26th, 2011

Adams recorded the ever-expanding suburban sprawl of the 1960s and 1970s, and his haunting, classically composed photos of tract houses and shopping centers engulfing what had been farmland helped define what was dubbed the New Topographics movement after the landmark 1975 exhibition.

The Life and Work of Eadweard Muybridge


May 7th, 2010

Muybridge had married his young assistant, in 1871. After a while, he began to suspect that she was having an affair with theater critic, Harry Larkyns. In 1874, Muybridge found a photograph of the couple’s baby son, on the back of which, his wife had scralled “Little Harry.” Enraged, he tracked down Larkyns and shot him dead. The jury deemed Muybridge’s vengeance justifiable and he was acquitted. The couple’s young son was deposited in an orphanage.

I Myself Have Seen It: Photography & Kiki Smith at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle


March 18th, 2010

Contemporary sculptor and print maker Kiki Smith has been photographing and exhibiting her work for three decades. Smith grew up in a family where “life wasn’t worth living if you didn’t make art.” As the daughter of minimalist sculptor Tony Smith, Kiki assisted her father with his large-scale sculptures by folding and gluing together geometric cardboard models.

X-ray Photographs of David Arky


January 12th, 2009

Duane Michals expressed it well when he said, “Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.” An inner life is uncovered in the nature of x-ray photography and in the nature of the subjects.

Black River Falls, Wisconsin, 1893: News Reports and Photos from Wisconsin Death Trip


January 5th, 2009

Tramps who were refused food at the home of John Ovenbeck in the town of Friendship, Winnebego County, entered the barn at night and cut the throats of 3 cows, which bled to death. A card attached to the horns of one bore the following message: ‘Remember us when we call for something to eat again’

Battle for Falluja: Photos from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


January 28th, 2008

The captured fighter claimed to be a student who had gotten stuck in Falluja. A Marine responded, “Yeah, right, University of Jihad, motherfucker.”

Photographs from Havana Deco


December 18th, 2007

A photographic essay: Art Deco in Havana, Cuba.

Images from How To Photograph an Atomic Bomb


October 22nd, 2007

Between 1945 and 1962, the United States conducted over 300 atmospheric nuclear tests above the ground, in the ocean or in outer space.

A Chance Meeting: by Rachel Cohen


April 10th, 2007

In this, her debut book, Harvard graduate Rachel Cohen weaves a literary tapestry encompassing the lives of 30 of America’s great writers, photographers and artists, into 36 distinct chapters. Part biography, part flight-of-fancy speculation, Cohen’s final product, complete with references, source material, and footnotes was 10 years in the making.

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