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Eve Arnold, one of the greatest photographers passes aged 99

6 Jan

Once one sees a photograph by Eve Arnold is surely aware that this is not any random photo journalist. She had a unique tenderness and the very femininity of her gaze is rare and therefore precious. Through the pages of the Sunday Times her shots animated events and important people for decades. Her beautifully curated books allowed us to flick through her stunning imagery from the comfort of our armchairs.

I will for ever be in love with her Marilyn Monroe book that she published in 1987 and then reissued with 28 never before seen photographs in 2005. It is an elegy to a true legend of the screen, letting her guard down, knowing that Arnold was not there to embarrass her but to capture her day-to-day reality and create photo stories for newspapers and magazines. It was an extraordinary collaboration between the two women that lasted from 1952 to 1961. Arnold’s gaze is if nothing else a protective cocoon through the difficult shoots of The Prince and the Showgirl and The Misfits. Her Marilyn is having her hair done, her make up retouched, chatting with her co-stars, having conversations with Henry Miller, reading books, changing outfits, rolling around in bed and meadows naked. Her Marilyn is a creature fragile but also assertive and intelligent. A world apart from the desperate filmic courtesan of Hollywood myth. One reporter asked her what was it like to photograph Marilyn, her answer is typical Arnold:

It was like watching a print come up in the developer. The latent image was there – it needed just her time and temperature controls to bring it into being. It was a stroboscopic display and all the photographer had to do was to stop time at any given instant and Marilyn would bring forth a new image

(quote from Marilyn Monroe – Eve Arnold page 155)

If you have a copy handy, open it up and revel in the beauty or look out for one. It is one of my most treasured books that never fails to enthrall and fascinate. Arnold was one of the finest photographers at capturing the human spirit on celluloid, a true technician full of humanity and empathy. She will hopefully be referenced as one of the great photographers of people,  alongside Cartier-Bresson, Brassai and Richard Avedon.

Read More

Her page on her agency’s website, Magnum

The Guardian’s obituary

A selection of her photographs on The Guardian’s website

The last edition of the Marilyn book was this one

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Death of a Conductor / Dimitri(s) Mitropoulos

29 Dec

Have just started reading the Dimitri(s) Mitropoulos biography Santa brought me for Christmas and being my usual non linear biography slut, I picked a few chapters to start with. The most startling fact was that when he collapsed on the stage of La Scala, he was carrying a letter giving instructions for his funeral. I think it is worth quoting the whole letter here as seen in the book.

It is my irrevocable desire that in the event of my death a notice should be published to the effect that flowers should not be sent. If anybody wants to remember me, then he can make a contribution, in my name, and any capital that accrues thereby should be used to support American Composers, under the aegis of the New York Philharmonic Society. My mortal remains should not be put on public view; they should be cremated without any ceremony and in a manner which does not give rise to excessive cost. My ashes should be given to Mr. James Dixon, resident of the state of Iowa. They are to be placed in an amphora or some other suitable container, which shall be purchased for a nominal sum. The aforementioned James Dixon may, if he wishes, donate this amphora in order that burial can take place in Greece.

Page 441-442  Priest of Music: Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos by William R Trotter published in 1995 by Amadeus Press.

It is remarkable how a man known for his ascetic lifestyle remained humble and true to himself to the end. One of music’s great heroes and a totally uncharacteristic personality that rose to the ranks of legendary Conductors.  Maybe not exactly be a jolly blog post to end 2011, but a quietly inspirational subject for reflection amongst the noise of the fireworks and the tail end of the party season. Integrity and humility are maybe old fashioned values but they can never be underestimated.

Apologies for the ugly brackets but I’d rather use his proper Greek name Dimitris, as in this day and age we are more adept to cultural differences and don’t have to approximate to the nearest Anglicised form.

Alexander the great

14 Apr

Was terribly surprised, to find by chance today that the retrospective exhibition is about to open in New York! To say I’ve always have been a huge fan of his ideas and mix of art and fashion would be an understatement. I truly envy the visitors to the Met that will enjoy such beauty…let’s hope it gets a transfer the V&A a place that inspired him greatly.

I’ve already pre-ordered my catalogue as there is such penury of decent literature on his career, this catalogue will be a wonderful tome to have and to flick through for inspiration. Hopefully a worthy tribute to his intellectual curiosity and true pioneering spirit. I unfortunately never had the chance to meet him but will be eternally inspired by a lot of his creations and more importantly his ideas of what fashion can become. In my mind he was the designer that really did not go after the market, he was much closer to an installation artist with a particular love for the darker coves of the human soul. As twee as it sounds a true visual art visionary.

The boring bits:

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

May 4, 2011–July 31, 2011

Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, 2nd floor

Here’s the link to the catalogue: http://store.metmuseum.org/met-publications/alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/invt/80011804/

Here’s the link to the exhibition blog:  http://blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/

A little bit of poetry, goes a long way on Mondays

17 Jan

Argonauts (excerpt)

Our country is closed in, all mountains
that day and night have the low sky as their roof.
We have no rivers, we have no wells, we have no springs,
only a few cisterns -­ and these empty -­ that echo, and that we worship.
A stagnant hollow sound, the same as our loneliness
the same as our love, the same as our bodies.
We find it strange that once we were able to build
our houses, huts and sheepfolds.
And our marriages, the cool coronals and the fingers,
become enigmas inexplicable to our soul.
How were our children born, how did they grow strong?

Our country is closed in. The two black Symplegades
close it in. When we go down
to the harbours on Sunday to breathe freely
we see, lit in the sunset,
the broken planks from voyages that never ended,
bodies that no longer know how to love.

 

Poem by George Seferis, winner of Nobel Prize for literature 1963.

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