The final photo of my week of tributes is @19syllables helping me out with a Francesca Woodman shot. Woodman took her first self portrait aged 13 and by the time she committed suicide in January 1981, aged just 22, she had a body of some 800 images, many of them nude self-portraits.
As an artist who died young and without having given hundreds of interviews about her life and influences, there is much speculation about who the ‘real Francesca Woodman‘ is. She however is said to have influenced Nan Goldin, who in turn is said to have influenced Tillmans. I personally do not see the similarities between Woodman’s delicate other-worldly black and whites and Goldin’s harsh and gritty captures but I can see echoes of Goldin in some of Tillmans’s work.
Those linkages weren’t intentional in my choosing of the photographers to focus on this week – I just chose my favourites who I knew had a big back catalogue of nudes I could rifle through! I hope you’ve enjoyed my week of tributes and the little mini essays. It’s felt completely self-indulgent and I’ve loved every minute of it!
For me, there’s is so much to love about Bill Brandt. Read that long profile on the V&A site and anyone who knows me well will see that every subheading ticks another one of my personal or professional interests. Peaking into people’s lives, social storytelling, London, literary Britain, war, nude portraiture… it’s all there!
I’ve drawn on Brandt’s nude style in self-portraits in the past and I’m still desperate to get down to the pebbly beaches of East Sussex. But a trip to the seaside in February seemed a bit extreme so I’ll have to see if this is finally the summer I get those shots done. In the meantime here is one shot in the warmer surrounding of my lounge!
CW: Nan Goldin’s work deals with issues of domestic violence and drug addiction. The articles I link to in this post are really interesting reads but include references to and photographs of these things and also discuss the suicide of her sister.
My photo today bears so little resemblance to the inspiration shot that it’s not really possible to call it a true tribute. But the lives and locations of the people in Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency are so removed from the lives of me and the people I photograph that I had to do more of an interpretation today.
Shot between 1979 and 1986, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was first shown in 1985 as a 45 minute 700 image slide show set to music and then published as a book in 1986. These are not easy photos to look at. In fact you frequently have to turn away. She photographs her and her friends fucking in squalid settings, shooting up heroin, fighting. She captures herself as a victim of domestic violence in a self portrait called ‘Nan One Month After Being Battered’. Her friend who died of AIDS is photographed in an open coffin.
In this review in the New York Times says: “Her “Ballad” is open to charges of narcissism, exhibitionism, voyeurism and the glamorization of bad behavior, qualities that are partly what make it so riveting.”
The first photographer to shoot in the casual confessional diaristic style that we see now at every turn, Sean O’Hagan said in The Guardian: “We are now living to a degree in a world that Nan Goldin created long before the digital camera and Instagram made it ubiquitous: a self-absorbed, often revelatory world where the everyday and the exotic exist in uneasy cohabitation.”
The New York Times and Guardian links above are both interesting reads, but if you’ve got the appetite for more, Dazed magazine has an A-Z of Nan Goldin.
As I mentioned in my first post of this ‘tribute’ week, Guy Bourdin was the first photographer I used to influence one of my photos, way back in April 2015.
Today I have chosen one of his more ridiculous images to copy. I didn’t get a whole fresh fish though. I got some peppered herring out of the freezer! After finishing my photo I zizzed it up with some natural yoghurt and horseradish sauce to make a very tasty pate!
Oh, how I love Wolfgang Tillmans. His pro-EU poster campaign was a cherry on the cake but he already had my heart. He won it with his photos of men. Men sucking cocks, men pissing, men wanking in the woods, men writhing naked in the sand dunes, men with their hands disappearing up other men’s running shorts. They are filthy and they are hot as fuck. I put two of Tillmans’s photos in this round-up of my favourite male nudes.
Today we have Exhibit A as ‘Dan’, a photo that is ten years old this year. Art critic Maura Callahan, appraised the shot saying: “The photograph is erotic though not pornographic, potent though not overtly sexual...It’s not that we’re blocked from seeing his genitalia; it’s that we’re spatially in motion but physically static. It’s some kind of tease.”
I first pinged the photo to him about three years ago when I started this blog. At the time he was unconvinced about his ability to hold the position. This week I asked again! For someone who’s not a yogi he had mighty fine balance (although we already know that!). The light in his back garden wasn’t on our side, with all the walls in bright sunlight and him dipped down into the shadows. The biggest impact of that is he looks much less of a red head than usual and doesn’t touch the original Dan’s gingerness! But even though I am being fussy about the light I am still really happy we got this shot for my tributes week.
If you don’t already know the work of Sally Mann then I urge you to lose yourself in her site for a while – her work is really very beautiful.
She is best known for her Family Pictures series, which features her children playing in the family’s remote summer cabin. It caused controversy at the time as her children are naked in many of the photos and she was accused of promoting child pornography and reneging on her parental responsibilities. She has said that when her daughter saw her own photograph with modest stickers applied without Mann’s consent she asked her Mum what was wrong with her. I also really love her Proud Flesh series which captures the changes in her husband’s body as his muscular dystrophy progresses.
The photo I have chosen to pay tribute to today is at the bottom of this post and is from her haunting Faces series. This was actually a pretty quick and dirty shot, lipstick hastily applied and the photo snapped on my phone before I hopped in the bath and edited it using the Snapseed app. I deleted my features using the ‘healing’ function. I couldn’t get the shadow of my nose right so I decided to lose it altogether and create the definition and shading with my jawline instead. I then used the Lens Blur function to create the out of focus look.
It’s the third Throwback Thursday of this year’s February Photofest which means it’s time for the start of a new theme. This week’s theme is tributes. I am a fan of a tribute! My first one was back in April 2015 with this Bourdin-inspired shot and various ones have appeared along the way, right up to this homage last month. So, for seven days I will present my interpretation of an image by seven of my favourite photographers.
Today’s inspiration is Mapplethorpe (again!) and for Throwback Thursday I am not going very far back – just to day nine of Exhibit A’s recent December Dick Fest. All I have done to modify the below from December’s post is flip the photo so the leg is facing in the same direction as the inspiration shot above. This was an accidental tribute; I only noticed the similarity when I was flicking through images to prepare for this week’s theme. But I am glad I spotted it as it allows me to use the photo of this chap on his birthday.
Happy Birthday! Xxx