Chim (David Seymour), November 20, 1911

Born in Warsaw, Poland on November 20th, 1911 Chim, Dawid Szymin, would have turned 114th, today. Known for his sympathetic and compassionate portraits of children and many outstanding photographic photo-essays, Chim build up a thriving career in photography and traveled extensively. In 1947 he co-founded Magnum Photos with his friends and fellow photographers Robert Capa, Henri-Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and William Vandivert. After Capa’s death in 1954, Chim became the new president of Magnum Photos. A position he fulfilled until his death on November 10, 1956 when an Egyptian machine-gunner killed him in the Suez.

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Chim (David Seymour)
, [Actress Audrey Hepburn holding balloons on the set of Funny Face, Tuileries, Paris, France], 1956 (42.1990)

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Chim (David Seymour), [Crowd listening to a speech by Socialist Pietro Nenni, Basilica di Massenzio, Rome], March 11, 1948 (2012.110.2)

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Chim (David Seymour), [Children dancing, including a boy wearing a U.S. Navy sailors suit, Achusam, Israel], 1954 (698.1986)

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Simian shutterbugs

Vu, magazine, periodical
Vu, (The Monkey and the Magic Box), photograph by André Kertész, November 13, 1929 (2007.84.8)

With all the hoopla surrounding monkey selfies, let’s not forget that long before “a female Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra)” borrowed David Slater’s camera in North Sulawesi, Indonesia and started shooting, there have been monkeys behind the camera for many years. The cover of this Vu magazine, from 1929, featured a photograph by André Kertész of his colleague Bubu, who was not only an extraordinary juggler and performer, but a very prominent and accomplished French portraitist, pointillist, Dadaist, Surrealist, Futurist, optimist, pacifist, atheist, environmentalist, activist, absurdist, accordionist, acupuncturist, alarmist, alchemist, animist, archivist, balloonist, bio-ethicist, botanist, cartoonist, cellist, climatologist, colorist, constructivist, feminist, etc., etc. He photographed Babar and was better than Nadar. In fact, there’s a rumor that Bubu was an assistant of Eugène Atget. And when Eugène was under the weather, he would send Bubu in his place, many of Atget’s famous photos might have been made by a monkey! (There’s another great photo of Bubu on juggle.org, the official publication of the International Jugglers’ Association: “The most famous of all ‘juggling’ animals was Bubu, the incredible performing chimpanzee of the 1920’s and 30’s.” That page on eJuggle can be found here.)

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Weegee, [Weegee and Hypo], ca. 1952 (20645.1993)

Hypo was Weegee’s assistant in the 1950s and 60s, (although some bloggers believe that the chimp was was behind the lens when “The Critic” was made). Hypo did much of Weegee’s printing from the mid 1950s to late 60s. Weegee would give Hypo some negatives and a bunch of bananas and let him, well, go bananas in the dark room. This is the principle reason Weegee made so many “distortions” during this period. The “distortions” were made by a chimpanzee!

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Weegee, ‘Hypo’ my assistant, ca. 1952 (9934.1993)

(Of course orangutans would and/or will make the best photographers. From a great piece on smart simians from the New Yorker by Ferris Jabr: “’They say that if you give a chimpanzee a screwdriver, he’ll break it; if you give a gorilla a screwdriver, he’ll toss it over his shoulder; but if you give an orangutan a screwdriver, he’ll open up his cage and walk away.’” Give an orangutan a Hasselblad H5D-200c Multi-Shot 50MP CMOS sensor, with 8272 x 6200 pixels, medium format DSLR camera, or just a Speed Graphic, and you have the next Weegee.)

(Nonja, an orangutan, is also a very skilled shutterbug. Her facebook timeline is here.)

According to the OED, “Orangutan” comes from the Malay term “orang huan,” which means “forest person.”

With all the monkey selfie brouhaha let’s not forget about Bubu and Hypo… Our closest ancestors have been photographing (what is a photograph but a two dimensional aping of “reality”) for many years, and as photography has evolved, so have our simian shutterbugs…

A few monkey selfie links:
New Yorker
Daily Mail
The Gaurdian
Arstechnica
Wikimedia

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Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Darwin, July – August, 1868 (323.1983)

The world’s first film shot entirely by chimpanzees is to be broadcast by the BBC as part of a natural history documentary.
The apes created the movie using a specially designed chimp-proof camera given to them by primatologists.
The film-making exercise is part of a scientific study into how chimpanzees perceive the world and each other…
Making the movie was the brainchild of primatologist Ms Betsy Herrelko, who is studying for a PhD in primate behaviour at the University of Stirling, UK.
Over 18 months, she introduced video technology to a group of 11 chimpanzees living in a newly built enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, UK.
The enclosure, which contains three large interlinked outdoor arenas, as well as a series of smaller rooms in which the apes can be studied by researchers, is the largest of its kind in the world.
Despite the fact that the chimps had never taken part in a research project before, they soon displayed an interest in film-making.

From the BBC, January 2010.

More information about the Chimpcam research (and the presently unidentified primate photography artists) is here.

Although this post is a bit silly, the situation of orangutans and the plight of many primates, is very serious. Sumatran orangutans are currently “critically endangered” with less than 7,000 in the wild treetops of Sumatra. And the number of Bornean orangutans in the wild treetops of Borneo are decreasing rapidly, the population is now less than 55,000. (Philadelphia Zoo.) Interestingly, “Conservation drones,” small, inexpensive aerial vehicles with cameras are being used to monitor and collect data on wildlife areas. (ConservationDrones.org) (Google maps of conservation drone projects.)

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Gary Brotmeyer, Lucy, 1987 (11.2004)

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Lucien Clergue, 1934 – 2014

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Lucien Clergue, Matador Antonio Ordonez, San Sebastian, Spain, 1966 (846.1984.d)


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Lucien Clergue
, Beach of Sablons, The Camargue, France, 1977 (846.1984.j)

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Lucien Clergue, Gypsy child and family, Cannes, France, 1956 (846.1984.b)

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Lucien Clergue, Picasso, l’antiquaire et Paco Munoz (les trois musiciens), Arles, 1959 (638.1983e)

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Lucien Clergue, Caco in the Quarries, les Baux de Provence, France, 1975 (846.1984.h)

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ICP: Forty Years Ago

The International Center of Photography opened its first exhibitions on November 16, 1974. Three presentations were organized at ICP’s first home on 5th Avenue at 94th Street: Apropos USSR (1954–1973): Henri Cartier-Bresson, Classics of Documentary Photography, and The Eye of the Beholder featuring contemporary color photography.

These inaugural exhibitions exemplified Cornell Capa’s interest in a range of documentary modes and particularly what he called “Concerned Photography” as seen in the work of Cartier-Bresson and others.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, French, 1908-2004  Fortress of Peter and Paul, Leningrad. 1973 Gift of Henri Cartier-Bresson, in memory of Robert Capa and David Seymour, 1994 277.1994

Henri Cartier-Bresson, French, 1908-2004
Fortress of Peter and Paul, Leningrad. 1973
Gift of Henri Cartier-Bresson, in memory of Robert Capa and David Seymour, 1994
277.1994

Below, a dye transfer color print by Pete Turner from The Eye of the Beholder, presented concurrently with the Cartier-Bresson exhibition,  November 16, 1974 through March 10, 1975

Pete Turner, American, b. 1934 Truck Stop, Utah, 1974 Dye transfer print Gift of Pete Turner, 1987

Pete Turner, American, b. 1934
Truck Stop- Utah, 1974
Dye transfer print
Gift of Pete Turner, 1987

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Studio Visit: Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera – Part 2 – Interior

Martin Munkasci, Glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Mexico City, 1934 (2007.110.209)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Diego Rivera's studio, Mexico City], 1934 (2007.110.224)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Diego Rivera's studio, Mexico City], 1934 (2007.110.220)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Interior of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's studio-house, Mexico City], 1934 (2007.110.223)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Interior of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's studio-house, Mexico City], 1934 (2007.110.222)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Interior of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's studio-house, Mexico City], 1934 (2007.110.221)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkacsi, [Agfa glass plate negative box: Diego Rivera], 1934

For the second of the first in a new series of weekly blog posts about studio visits we return to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s studio complex in San Ángel, Mexico.

These Agfa glass plate negatives were made, around 1934, soon, perhaps less than a year, after the completion of the buildings, designed by Juan O’Gorman, and perhaps only a few months after Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera moved in, around December 1933. Considering the empty, clean space, it appears they were not making full use of the studios yet.

Frida Kahlo spent only a few years working in her blue studio house, because of her ill health as well as the ill health of the relationship with Diego Rivera. Although her blue building was beautiful and avant-garde, it was impractical for a physically ill person to live and work in. She returned to her family home, the nearby Casa Azul, now the Museo Frida Kahlo, (Google Maps), where she died in 1954.

The large windowed empty spaces are populated sparsely with a few large paper-mâché Judas figures, other art, plenty of chairs, and an empty easel. The large widowed artist continued to work productively in his ferruginous studio house until his death in 1957.

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November 12, 1989

25 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee published a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.  While his idea of linking information together, creating a web of hypertext information (WorldWideWeb, W3, etc.) I doubt Mr. Berners-Lee could ever have predicted the image macros and cat jokes we enjoy online today. However, humans have been creating memes as long as we have been communicating with each other!

Here are a couple of early “tin-type memes”

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Unidentified Photographer, [Decapitated Man with Head on a Platter], ca. 1865 (2008.81.15)

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Unidentified Photographer, [Cartoon of Unidentified Drunk Man Sleeping], ca. 1880 (2013.55.1)

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Unidentified Photographer, [Child's drawing of Jefferson Davis in women's clothing], 1865 (2012.18.37)

Last but not least, this is one of my favorite pictures in the collection. It is a photograph of a children’s drawing poking fun of a popular rumor about Jefferson Davis. 

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Veterans Day 2014

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Irving Haberman, [Veteran Frank Raft selling poppies, New York], 1941 (2013.6.6)

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Ernst Haas, Poppies, New York, 1984 (2008.29.7)

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Lisa Larsen, A ready purse, which he reveals as he peels off a bill to buy a poppy from a Veteran’s of Foreign Wars auxiliary member, 1950 (2008.4.5)

Although the wearing of poppies is traditionally done on Memorial Day, it is often seen on Veterans Day as well as a way to pay respect to those who died in war. The symbolic reference of the flower comes from the poem In Flanders Field, written in 1915. In it Colonel John McCrae describes the sadness of rows of crosses with flowering poppies in between, blowing in the wind. Several years after the publication of the poem, the poppy became known as the “Flower of Remembrance”. During Veterans Day and Memorial Day  veterans organization in the United States distribute poppies in honor of all those who died in the war.

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