Fern, Fungi, Fun: “What a Wonderful World”

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), Luna Moth, ca. 1950 (2354.2005)

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), Wild Larkspur, ca. 1955 (2009.89.5)

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), Trout Lily, from the “Woodland Portraits” series, ca. 1950 (2345.2005)

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), Jack in the Pulpit, ca. 1950 (2349.2005)

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), Pitcher-plant, from the “Woodland Portraits” series, ca. 1950 (2359.2005)

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), “Woodland Portraits, Plate 4,” ca. 1955 (2009.86.2)

Rochester born Jeannette Klute attended the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics (predecessor to the Rochester Institute of Technology) and the University of Rochester. While still a student the trailblazing Klute began her long career at the Eastman Kodak Company. At Kodak she worked in the Research Laboratories, was head of the Visual Research Studio of the Color Control Division, and managed the Photographic Technology Studio.

“The first month they were sending people out for job interviews, but not me,” she recalled in a speech at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984. “I asked how come? The head of the department said, ‘Oh, there are no jobs for women in photography.’ My world fell apart.”

Ms. Klute took it upon herself to go out for interviews, and every week on her day off, she walked to the offices of Eastman Kodak Co. to ask for a job. For a long time, she never made it past the personnel office. Then, one day, in the pouring rain, decked in her finest navy blue suit, she stalked to the offices and was sent straight to the sixth floor for an interview.
“The man took a look at me with the rain dripping off my hat and said, ‘If you want a job that bad, you’ve got it,’” she recalled. “There was a celebration in the neighborhood that night.”…

“She was really like my college education,” said Barbara Erbland, who assisted Ms. Klute in the lab at Kodak for many years. “She taught me everything — about light, color, about people … how to live well.”… “Her lab consisted of all women,” she said. “I think it was by intention. She believed women had brains. We worked very well together.”…

Lugging a 4-by-5 Graflex single-lens reflex camera wherever they went, Erbland ventured into swamps and tide pools… “She taught me you don’t make do, you make things happen,” said Erbland. “You’re not a victim.”

Back in Rochester, the two sought out swamps and woodland for Ms. Klute to take her photographs — or, as she put it, to “make pictures.”
PHOTO GALLERY: In memory of Jeannette Klute, a ‘Renaissance woman,’ by Philip Anselmo, August 2009

In the early 1950s Klute had photos in three exhibitions (including Color Photography, 1950, and Abstraction in Photography, 1951) at MoMA. In 1954 a colorful portfolio of plant photos were published by Little Brown and Co. in a book called “Woodland Portraits.” (Photographic portraits of plants in their natural environment, a kind of wildlife.) Klute’s artistry, technical expertise, and love of nature can be seen in these large, beautiful dye transfer prints.

Sources, citations, and further reading:
PHOTO GALLERY: In memory of Jeannette Klute, a ‘Renaissance woman,’” by Philip Anselmo, August 2009.

Guide to the Jeannette Klute collection at RIT.

Jeannette Klute (1918-2009), Spinulose Wood-Fern, from the “Woodland Portraits” series, ca. 1950 (2353.2005)

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September 11, 2001

Jeff Mermelstein, Red cube, September 11, 2001, (80.2002.10)

Jeff Mermelstein, Statue, September 11, 2001 (80.2002.8)

Jeff Mermelstein, Frame, September 11, 2001 (80.2002.11)

Browse ICP’s complete September 11 Archive here or here.

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A Walk Up Fifth Avenue: Martin Munkacsi’s New York Street Shots

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [Empire State Building, New York], ca. 1934 (2007.10.171)

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [National Recovery Administration flags and pedestrians on Fifth Avenue, New York], ca. 1934 (2007.110.178)

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [Singer sewing machines in storefront window, Fifth Avenue, New York], ca. 1934 (2010.110.174)

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [New York Public Library and 500 Fifth Avenue, New York], ca. 1934, (2007.110.170)

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [Fifth Avenue and flag pole at 42nd St., New York], ca. 1934 (2007.110.175)

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, New York], ca. 1934 (2007.110.177)

Martin Munkacsi’s photos of a bustling midtown Manhattan were made along the west side of Fifth Avenue, and presented, perhaps in the order that they were made, as a walk uptown. This eight block walk is book-ended by two buildings that were designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and completed in 1931. (Therefore they were only a few years old when these photos were made.) Beginning at the Empire State Building, walking north past the Best & Co children’s clothing company, 372 Fifth Ave. and their National Recovery Administration (the short lived, 1933-35, New Deal Federal agency, “We Do Our Part”) member flags; past Singer sewing machines in the Singer store window at 396 Fifth Ave.; past a Dutch angled New York Public Library and 500 Fifth Ave. (a mini Empire State Building, designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon); past a crowd of mostly men in the middle of midtown at midday around the beautiful base of a flag pole, a monument to the short lived (anti-corruption and gun-carrying reformist) New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel (1879-1918); and ending at the corner of Fifth and 42nd, facing upper Manhattan. There’s little evidence of the Great Depression, when these photos were made the unemployment rate in the United States was at it’s highest, along fashionable Fifth Avenue.

These glass plate negatives were stored in this box:

Martin Munkacsi (1898-1963), [Agfa glass plate negative box: New York Street Shots], ca. 1934 (2007.110.168)

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“And we both laughed. John laughed a lot.”

The large loft on West 18th Street that John Cage shared with Merce Cunningham was a simple, sunny, skylit living-working studio. It was divided into a sleeping area, a working space with a desk right off the kitchen [] and an area for playing chess that was literally overgrown with plants. There was a long row of south-facing windows and a large central skylight.

There was a cat in the loft that he and Merce named “Rimpoche Taxicab.” [] Everything was fun with John Cage – he was extremely serious without ever taking himself seriously. In his twilight years John was preserving his early work and making new work, drawings of smoke and river rocks and new compositions; receiving friends and pilgrims; and always cooking.

The chess board is one that he played at with Duchamp; the tool box photographed with all the little screws and nuts and bolts was from his first prepared piano piece in 1937. It was a magical day for me: the guru and his disciple. I said to him: “You know John, reading your book Silence at eighteen had a profound effect on me. And your encouragement over the years has meant more to me than you can imagine.”

Without hesitation, he answered in his even high-pitched voice, “Yes, many people tell me that.” And we both laughed. John laughed a lot. He was goodness and generosity personified.
He wasted nothing. Everything was grist for his extraordinary mill and he was appreciative of everything.

He took nothing for granted. He talked about how fortunate he and Merce were to have the space, how much he appreciated any kind of recognition. He was gentle, serious, hard-working, brilliant. He was also endlessly quotable: “Avant-garde is a consumptional necessity as we’ve used up all the rest.” and “Anything can be art, all you have to do is change your mind.”

Photographs and words by David Seidner (1957-1999). Artists at Work: Inside the Studios of Today’s Most Celebrated Artists. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1999. pp. 42-49

John Cage, was born September 5, 1912.


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Water is Work

Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940), [Worker soaking silk skeins in boiled water to free it of gum, Madison Silk Company in Barnert Mills, Paterson, New Jersey], March 1937, (856.1975)

Henry Ries (1917-2004), Restoration of Ancient Books, September 1948 (354.1990)

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), Ahmedabad, India, 1967 (265.1994)

Hiroshi Hamaya (1915-1999), Diving for seaweed, Fukui, Japan, 1958 (icp.1986)

Wu Yinxian (1900-1994), Picking Agar, Guangdong, China, 1978 (171.1988)

Wu Yinxian (1900-1994), Fruit Growers, Guangxi, China, 1973 (168.1988)

This is a Labor Day blog post featuring photos of water and work. “The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City…”(dol.gov).

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Labor Day

Sol LibsohnIron Worker Rigging a Section of Standpipe, New Jersey, 1948 (240.1983)

Esther BubleyPainters on the Brooklyn Bridge, 1943-50 (244.1983)

Harold CorsiniWelder Joins a Pipe During Construction of Refinery, 1943-50 (246.1983)

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August 31, 1941

In broad daylight, in the Bronx, in at least two photos, Weegee artfully captured a crushed and precariously balanced car and a covered corpse. PM published on the Sunday of a Labor Day weekend, one of the photos and called attention to deadly driving during the holiday weekend.

Weegee, [Holiday accident in the Bronx], August 31, 1941 (14140.1993)

Holiday accidents took their toll as motorists started on their Labor Day week end. Early yesterday Joseph Morris and his brother’s wife, Charlotte, were killed when this car overturned in Bronx Park. The driver, Anthony Morris, Navy purchasing agent, was injured. Three other auto deaths had been listed last night, the Motor Vehicle Bureau says about 40 will die before Tuesday in New York State. PM, August 31, 1941, p. 18

PM, August 31, 1941, p. 18

Elsewhere in the news: World War Two was turning two.

War’s Second Anniversary: Axis Enemies Consolidating
First Year Went All Hitler’s Way But Not the Second
The Second World War is two years old tomorrow.
Twelve months ago, for Hitler’s foes, the situation was one of dark discouragement. France had been crushed. Britain’s position was precarious. The first year was Hitler’s.
The last twelve months cannot be said to have been the Allies’. But they weren’t Hitler’s either. The Nazi attack on Russia had proved far more costly than Hitler anticipated. In the Soviet Union, the Nazis have already met their Marne. Circumstances are forging a world-wide alliance to match the world-wide Axis at last. The initiative is beginning to pass the anti-Axis bloc.
By The General. PM, August, 31, 1941, p.5

Two years after the Second World War began and about three months before the United Stated entered the war, the last-Sunday-in-August edition of PM was full of news about the war and a wide array of advertisement-free, labor and immigration friendly, information and stories. Some of the noteworthy elements in the end-of-August edition were: a few pages on Hitler’s atrocities, a Dr. Suess cartoon, three pages of photos celebrating the Cossacks, a five page photo-portrait of Hartford, Connecticut, a photo by Martin Harris of Vivian Cherry dancing with Ferdinand the bull at the camp of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, a lengthy and favorable review of a WPA art exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum with photos by Gene Badger, advice on where and how to shop for lamps on the Bowery, and Ralph Steiner’s “Photography” section featured three pages of animal photos made by Ylla, the Hungarian, single named, nom-de-photography of Camilla Koffler (1911-1955).

PM continued its advocacy of increasing the pay of soldiers, featuring a page of photos by the great Gene Badger. 20,000 underpaid soldiers were excepted to come to New York City for the Labor Day weekend. Scores of soldiers were staying at the Soldiers and Sailors Club at 39th and Lexington Avenue.

PM, August 31, 1941, p. 14

This Photographer’s Studio Is Open Only to Animals
By Ralph Steiner
Ylla – lens name for Camilla Koffler – is a good animal photographer. Her mother, who believes in reincarnation, says it’s because Ylla has invariably been an animal lover – never a human before this trip to earth. That’s an idea to have fun with. For instance: what were Goering and Gobbels? Porker and weasel? As for Ylla, however, we’re on safer ground if we attribute her success to a lifetime knowledge and love of animals. Ylla studied sculpture in Paris. To support herself while studying, she made photographs. Once, while working for a French movie company, she was ordered to make a series of portraits of Marlene Dietrich. They were so unflattering and unglamorous that Marlene was furious, and Ylla was black-listed by every movie company in France. That experience, plus the fact that she liked to make people look grotesque and funny, turned her to animal photography. When she discovered that she hadn’t the sculptor’s touch, she opened a portrait studio in Paris-but just for animals.
She photographed pet horses, cats, dogs, fish and anything in the animal line that her clients brought in. She has had to slow down some animals and pep up others. She once starved a carp to stop its whizzing by. One old lady ordered more than $1000 worth of pictures of her cheetah. The cheetah was so fat and lazy that the pictures were dull. Ylla sent the owner away, and brought in stray dogs. The cheetah, hating dogs, became wild -and photographable.
The pictures on these pages are from Ylla’s latest hook, Big and Little.

These white oxen look beautiful, wise and calm like old Chines philosophers. This picture makes it easy to see why oxen are held sacred in India.

A smart Japanese once said that a Pekingese was half dog and half insect. Baby looks like a stuffed toy – cute but likely to scare sensitive children. Mama looks disgusted – the imported bob-bons have just run out, and a dumb servant has offered her candy made in Hoboken.

Snapping Old and Young Together Was a 4-Year Job
Ylla spent four years traveling to the zoological parks of France and England to complete her collection of pictures of old and young animals together. Besides Big and Little, Ylla has published a book on dogs, one on cats, and one made with Julian Huxley in England, on animal noises. War ruined her animal-portrait business in Paris, so Ylla came to New York last March. She is planning to establish a similar animal-portrait studio. Strangely enough, the only accident that has happened all Yalla’s dealings with animals came when three dachshunds, unattended for a moment, spoiled a studio.

Some animals have children that look older than the parents. This baby orangutan looks like an ancient Tammany politician who has smoked too many cheap cigars and downed too many rye whiskies.

Tapirs look like dull animals -the kind that stay a month when you invite them for only a week end.

Young elephants also look old. This pair, though they look like mother and child, are not related.

Despite this zebra’s savagery when anyone came near her child, she looks more decorative than exciting.

Though “baboon” is used derisively, these two look like fine people. Mama is a statue to motherhood

It’s wonderful how a few years will make this dopey dachshund puppy as intelligent as its mother.

PM, August 31, 1941, pp. 47-49

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