The prophecy of the stars

Walker Evans, [“The Grand Man” Astrologer’s Sign, Georgia?], 1934-35 (31.2002)

Vu, December 27, 1933 (2009.61.61)

Vu, January 2, 1935 (2011.7.97)

Vu, April 11, 1934 (2009.61.73)

Vu, December 26, 1934 (2009.61.94)

More about astrology and horoscopes can be read in many, many, many places in “cyberspace” including this little constellation of webpages: 1, 2, 3.

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Hansel Mieth

Otto HagelHansel on the Golden Gate Ferry, shortly after she arrived from Germany, 1931 (369.1993)

Hansel MiethMen begging for jobs, San Francisco waterfront, 1932 (373.1993)

Hansel MiethTrapped Coyote, Montana, 1938 (388.1993)

Hansel MiethEmma, Hansel’s Sister. She was incurably ill with heart disease, brought on by a stroke suffered during a bombing attack on Stuttgart Railway Station while waiting for her soldier fiancé, 1948 (410.1993)

Peter StackpoleHansel and Otto selecting negatives at LIFE Magazine Lab with Peter Stackpole, 1948 (370.1993)

Hansel Mieth left her native Germany with her future husband, Otto Hagel, at the age of fifteen. She traveled through Eastern Europe, then arrived in the United States in 1930, in the midst of the Depression. She and Hagel found migrant agricultural work and photographed their experiences in a series eventually published as “The Great Hunger” in LIFE in 1934. In the mid-1930s, besides working as a seamstress for the Works Progress Administration in San Francisco, Mieth photographed several of the city’s ethnic neighborhoods, as well as waterfront and freight yard workers, for the West Coast Youth project. The appearance of her photographs in LIFE and Time led to her employment in 1937 as a staff photographer for LIFE’s New York office. Although she produced many important photo essays, including those on single motherhood, yellow fever, and animal experimentation, among other topics, she disliked the harried pace of photojournalism in New York. She and Hagel moved to a sheep ranch in California in 1941, and Mieth continued to publish photographs in LIFE. After the war, the couple returned to Germany to document the psychological and physical devastation there; the essay “We Return to Fellbach,” was published in LIFE in 1950. During the McCarthy era, Mieth and Hagel relied on raising livestock to survive. Toward the end of her life, Mieth’s photographs were the subject of a solo exhibition at ICP in 1994 and were included in several traveling exhibitions.

Mieth’s photographs are penetrating documents that evoke a striking range of emotional depth. The photographs she made on assignment for LIFE were often edited out of the magazine for being too graphic, or were published out of the context of their original intention. Despite such misrepresentation, however, her images are among the strongest and most successful works of photojournalism produced in the United States during the years surrounding World War II.

Lisa Hostetler

Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 222.

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Ruth Bernhard

Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Doll’s head, 1936 (357.1982)

Ruth Bernhard at ICP, October 17, 1981

Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Star shell, 1943 (358.1982)

Ruth Bernhard at ICP, October 17, 1981

Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Shell in silk, 1939 (304.1981)

Ruth Bernhard at ICP, October 17, 1981

Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Frederick Kiesler, 8th Street Theater, New York, ca. 1945 (359.1982)

Ruth Bernhard at ICP, October 17, 1981

Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Teapot, 1976 (370.1982)

Ruth Bernhard at ICP, October 17, 1981

Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Lifesavers, 1930 (355.1982)

“How I became a photographer, against my better judgement, is one of the miracles of my life…” Ruth Bernhard. Audio was recorded on October 17, 1981, during a Master Seminar at ICP:

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“Perhaps to live I needed to know there is beauty.” Sonja Bullaty

Sonja Bullaty (1923-2000), Sudek on his 80th birthday, Prague, March 17, 1976 (117.1996)

Sonja Bullaty (1923-2000), Sudek, Prague, 1960s (118.1996)

Angelo Lomeo, A toast: Sonja Bullaty and Josef Sudek, 1972 (116.1996)

Sonja Bullaty (1923-2000), Women’s March, Tanzania, 1966

Sonja Bullaty (1923-2000), Summer Evening, 1976 (94.1982)

Born in Prague into a Jewish banking family, Ms. Bullaty received her first camera at 14, a consolation gift from her father for having to abandon school and normal teenage activities as their world darkened with the approach of war.

”I have loved the camera ever since, because it gave me joy and it gave me a life,” she said. “In the following difficult years I had no camera but often saw things indelibly etched on my mind. Perhaps to this day I search for some of those missing images.”

She was deported to Poland on her 18th birthday and spent the next four years in captivity, first in the Lodz Ghetto, then in the Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen concentration camps. Toward the end of the war, she escaped a death march near Dresden, which was then in flames, by hiding with a girlfriend in a haystack in the barn where the prisoners had been held for the night. Although Nazi soldiers, armed with pitchforks, were sent back to roust the women, they remained undetected, and Ms. Bullaty managed by stay alive until liberation allowed her to return to Prague.

There, she discovered that none of her family had survived.

Eventually, she sought out the well-known Czech photographer Josef Sudek and over time became what he called his “apprentice-martyr,” mixing chemicals for the darkroom, filing negatives and absorbing the unwritten rules of composition as she watched him print his dark, moody, almost abstract works. Master and pupil, they shared an affinity for the simplicity of windows and the mystery of reflections, and a fondness for patriotic kitsch and the seemingly banal. Ms. Bullaty wrote about her mentor in a 1978 book, “Sudek.”

“I want to express with it what I see, experience and feel, a world real or surreal, sad or funny, but a world uniquely my own,” Ms. Bullaty said of the guiding force behind her work. “Perhaps to live I needed to know there is beauty.”
Source: New York Times, Sonja Bullaty, 76, a Photographer of Lyricism, October 13, 2000

Sonja Bullaty and Angelo Lomeo, Stonehenge Sunset, England, 1969 (676.1982)

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Nurse-midwife Maude Callen

W. Eugene Smith, [Nurse-midwife Maude Callen examining throat glands of young boy], 1951 (1003.2005)

W. Eugene Smith, [Maude and doctor examining emaciated woman-side view], 1951 (984.2005)

W. Eugene Smith, [Maude wiping head of young boy with distended belly, older boy watching], 1951 (980.2005)

Maude Callen was a nurse and midwife who set up a small clinic from her home after graduating from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1923. She served the poorest people in the community of Pineville, South Carolina where she lived. In 1951 W. Eugene Smith, on assignment for Life magazine, photographed Ms. Callen and followed her for several weeks during her work at the clinic and on her rounds to see patients. The story was published in a 12-page story in Life magazine.

Smith was deeply moved by the work of Ms. Callen and her endless dedication to her patients. In his research for the story the photographer wrote:

No story could translate justly the life depth of this wonderful, patient, directional woman who is my subject — and I love her, do love her with a respect I hold for almost no one. Humble, I am in the presence of this simple, complex, positive, greatness; on end on in herself appointed rounds beyond paid-for duty.

It had been Ms. Callen’s deep wish to some day open her own clinic in a separate brick building. After the Life article was published readers donated thousands of dollars in support of her work. With the money she was able to open her own clinic.

W. Eugene Smith, [Maude gesturing, husband holding blue print, clinic under construction], 1953 (979.2005)

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“A garden of memories.”

Vivian June Vollbracht, [Trufoto Photo Album], 1935-37 (2009.32.52)

From a S.S. Kresge Co. 5-10-25 cent store (later renamed Kmart), 526 Maine Street, in Quincy, Illinois, a small (6 x 5 inches) and beautiful Trufoto album from the late 1930s.

Kresege Building, Quincy, Illinois (screenshot from Google street view)

Vivian June Vollbracht, [Trufoto Photo Album], 1935-37 (2009.32.52)

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“Hey, Stella!”

Cristina García Rodero, “La Tabua,” Zarza de Montanchez, Spain, 1985 (2007.21.7)

Marion Post Wolcott, Post Office in blizzard, Aspen, Colorado, 1941 (749.1984)

Barbara Morgan, Spring on Madison Square, 1938 (532.1986)

Unidentified Photographer, 20-Foot Snow Sculpture of Amelia Earhart, 1938 (2006.18.4)

Charlotte Brooks, Stowe, Vermont, (1943-50) (172.1983)

Madoka Takagi, Central Park West/73rd St., 1990 (2009.103.35)

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