Originally appeared in TANK MAGAZINE
Every summer, Tank asks three of the world’s most important people in publishing to select with us a series of the new season’s best books. This year we approached the estimable Barbara Epler of New Directions, New York; Michael Mack of MACK, London; and Nesrine Malik. Their photobook selection ranged across genres from the theoretical works of Allan Sekula to the astonishing paintings of Alice Neel. Here is their selection of the best photobooks of this summer.
The Players by Mark Steinmetz
“Steinmetz brings us a collection of empathetic photographic portraits of young boys aged 6 to 13 (with the exception of a few older teens) learning how to play baseball. The kids stumble through the awkward beginnings of their craft, while family and peers watch carefully or distractedly from the sidelines. Some photographers have the capacity to make classic photographs in the simplest vein and Steinmetz is someone who has done this throughout his career, largely focusing on the world close to home. His black-and-white photographs and his simple books suggest a masterful control of the medium.”—Michael Mack
Originally published at Magic Hour | By Jordan Weitzman & Cristal Duhaime
Recorded in Athens, GA
Episode Length: 41:00
Air Date: May 4, 2017
Produced by: Jordan Weitzman
Edited by by: Cristal Duhaime
When I went to visit Alec Soth, he told me is that he often thinks about photography like he does about music. Sometimes you’re in the mood for soul, sometimes jazz, but everyone usually goes back most often to what they love the most. For him, our guest Mark Steinmetz is the ultimate singer / songwriter.
Many of the photographers that I’ve gone to speak with for this show have talked to me about the influence of Mark Steinmetz’ work, especially in the ways he photographs people. Look through any one of his books, from Summertime to South Central, and you’ll see why. He is the author of 12 monographs, he’s a Guggenheim fellow and his work is held in almost every major collection including the Met, Moma and The Whitney. Currently, a show of his work called South is up at Yancey Richardson in New York through May 13.
Originally appeared in The Guardian
From Mississippi lightning to balloons in Georgia, Steinmetz captures stories of longing, despondency and mystery in his photos of the southern states
The American south glows with romance and poignancy in the photography of Mark Steinmetz, whose show South is at Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, until 13 May.
Steinmetz lives in Athens, Georgia, but was born in New York and raised in the Boston area. He studied at Yale’s School of Art.
He cut his teeth working with the acclaimed street photographer Garry Winogrand, cruising around Los Angeles in Steinmetz’s Fiat. ‘Garry’s cheerful, practical manner and advice probably helped me shave off years of worrying how to be,’ Steinmetz has written.
His work has since taken him from Little League baseball to Cleveland classrooms, Paris fashion houses and sheep farms. The South exhibition focuses on work taken mostly in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
He works in black and white, explaining to Vogue: ‘There are emotional notes that black and white can deliver that colour cannot. It is a different medium. It’s like silent film. You know, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin delivered some moments where they killed you. They just absolutely killed you. It’s not going to happen like that again with sound’.
Steinmetz photographs serendipitous moments of beauty, rarely knowing his subjects of his photos – he sometimes asks them to repeat a gesture he saw them making .
In another interview, he argues: ‘Black-and-white has more stillness to it, you can be absorbed into it in a different way. You have to employ your poetic imagination. With colour, I just have an argument! Is the green really this green, or is that the green of Kodak? I’m more interested in the narrative, the human, the interior depth of what I’m photographing – I don’t want to be distracted by bright red outerwear’
He also prizes film over digital. ‘With digital, people take pictures endlessly without being selective, and don’t learn to discipline their minds. It’s important to take an internal pause while you photograph. Time is actually malleable … Be aware of how many frames you have left and stay conscious. That’s how you’ll walk away with the photo in hand.
Steinmetz works in a darkroom in his home. ‘The darkroom is where I really confront what I’ve been doing, whether I have been successful or not and whether making a print is worth the effort. Doing darkroom work yourself helps you to become a better editor of your work, which helps you be a better photographer.
'Today’s world is so fast-paced … that in comparison, darkroom work seems to be an alien relic from an ancient world’
I don’t begin a project with an agenda,’ he has said. ‘It begins with a faint vision – one of those whispers on a breeze – that somehow gets a grip on me.'
Steinmetz’s work has appeared in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and Box Galerie in Brussels .
His books include The Players, Angel City West and last year’s 15 Miles to K-Ville; he has also written for Time magazine
His next project is a commission from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for its Picturing the South series, which will be exhibited this year.
A few hours before Mark Steinmetz's new exhibition opens at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, it's lashing rain. The biblical downpour has made this sequestered stretch of West 22nd Street even less populated. The only sign of life is a mail carrier's push cart, abandoned outside the Comme des Garçons store opposite the gallery. For a moment, I try to imagine how the scene might look through the photographer's lens. Steinmetz's black-and-white images — medium format and elegantly rendered in silver gelatin — have been described as intimate, quietly evocative, and often melancholic. Quickly, though, I decide this exercise feels wrong.
For one, Steinmetz's show is called South. It collects pictures he made throughout the 90s (and, in a few cases, the aughts) exclusively in the American South. Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina — landscapes with little in common with the west side of Manhattan. And, as he later tells me, he's "very interested in anticipation in photography." What happens before the rain, so to speak, or after.
Yet Steinmetz isn't a stranger to New York City. He was born here, but lived in Boston-area suburbs like Cambridge and Newton until he was 12. After attending high school in the midwest, he returned to New England at 21, to study photography at the Yale School of Arts. After one semester, Steinmetz dropped out of the MFA program, and in the summer of 1983, he journeyed to Los Angeles, where he heard the legendary Garry Winogrand was living. (He turned out to be correct, and last year, published a book of pictures he made while working alongside Winogrand, Angel City West.) So how did he end up in the South?
"I went to high school, weirdly, in Iowa City, Iowa. So there was some exposure to this kind of America outside of the urban areas," he explains. "I didn't go down to the South until I was doing freelance photography in Chicago. I got a last-minute job to teach at [the University of Tennessee] Knoxville, so that's when I moved. I loved it right away." He's been living and working in Athens, Georgia since 1999.
So often, images of young people are coded to communicate the hope of possibility, or the sorrow of its absence. In these pictures, and many of South's others (a woman leaning on her fence in Knoxville, a boy looking out a car window in Georgia, a goth on a front lawn in North Carolina) Steinmetz refuses the imposition, or even interpretation, of a single narrative or emotion. We don't have the information (and despite what many of us in the North may believe, the right) to make those judgements.
Steinmetz doesn't really either. His photographs are not documentary in a topical or newsworthy sense. Still, though they are often intimate, they are never staged. Steinmetz rarely knows his subjects. Sometimes, he asks them to repeat a gesture he's observed them making, but doesn't pose their movements. "I like pictures that have a sense of spontaneity and suddenness. Otherwise, it's just too dull for me."
That sense of spontaneity and suddenness tends to manifest subtly in Steinmetz's photographs. But in one of South's pictures — taken, fittingly, during a rainstorm — it arrives as literal lightning. In 1994, Steinmetz captured a car-less Mississippi highway. Framed by jet black trees, a towering crack of white emerges from the misty sky. Its reflection on the wet pavement stretches all the way to Steinmetz's vantage point. I ask him how this picture was even possible with medium format.
"Before this work, I did a lot of 35mm photography," he explains. When he saw lightning, he realized he only had two frames at the end of his roll. "There are lightning strikes in each picture, which is pretty good," he says with a smile. For Steinmetz, it's about "divining what the next moment will bring."
'South' is on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery through May 13, 2017.
Originally appeared in Time Lightbox
Looking through the early photographs of Diane Arbus, I am struck by the ones where Arbus goes unnoticed by her subjects. In Couple Arguing, Coney Island, NY, 1960, something is really happening. The man takes up the center of the frame while the woman floats a little behind and clings to him tightly. Without much by way of legs or arms, she could be an annoying apparition. Her mouth is wide-open in mid-yap; his is tightly shut. His face is turned away from her verbal onslaught as he tries to tune her out. His right arm is positioned as if carrying a shield (this gladiator has a cigarette instead of a sword), and his eyes seek an escape somewhere off in the distance and in the future.
Latest News From the Steinmetz Studio
- 15 Miles to K-ville signed books are now available from photo-eye Bookstore
- Milwaukee Art Museum is showing some Mark's photos in their permanent collection in their upcoming exhibition The Lives of Others: Portraits from the Photography Collection
- A large selection of Mark Steinmetz's color photographs will be published this month in the upcoming issue of True Photo Journal (London).
PAYSAGES AMERICAINS : LA PRATIQUE EDITORIALE DE MARK STEINMETZ 17h00-19h00 Signature des livres et discussion avec Mark Steinmetz. Taking place at Le Monte en L'air at 71, rue de Ménilmontant / 2, rue de la Mare, 75020 Paris
Saturday 12th November
Paris Photo, Grand Palais, 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008 Paris, France
Yancey Richardson, Main Sector
Saturday 12th November
6:30-7:30 Yvon Lambert Gallery and Bookshop, 108 rue Vieille du Temple 75003 Paris
We hope to see you there!
Sep 3, 2016 - Dec 3, 2016
11am - 5pm
Curated by Chip Simone
Exhibition supported by Massey Charitable Trust
This fall The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia will exhibit “Edge to Edge”, the first ever state-wide survey of contemporary Georgia photography. The work that has been selected for “Edge to Edge” was chosen for its visual strength, expressive sophistication, and technical artistry. As such the exhibition will serve as a testament to the power of photography itself.
Photography has taken a prominent place in the artistic culture of the contemporary South. Once limited to the traditional themes of the rural and historic south; of rustic barns and rusted trucks; of simple living and country ways, the photographs in this exhibition are modern and reflect a more diverse and complicated world. The pictures were made between the final days of the 20th century and the birth of the 21st. They mirror modern concerns and coincide with the transition from traditional wet process photography to the technical wonders of the digital age. The photographs reveal a more diverse, vibrant and unsettled south which is part of a new demographic that finds most southerners living in urban and suburban centers. The work in this exhibit will reflect many of the changes that are redefining the modern south.
The works by Georgia’s photographers span an eccentric range from familiar and comfortable themes to poetic and provocative evocations, to images that are disquieting and disturbing. These pictures will challenge the viewer who is expecting southern stereotypes with mysterious narratives, poetic revelations, and complex abstractions. The exhibition will present a richly diverse array of the many varied ways contemporary photography is being used artistically and expressively by photographers from across our state, corner to corner and edge to edge.
Edge to Edge is being dedicated to Georgia born photographer Paul Kwilecki (1928-2009), who has been described as “the greatest documentary photographer you’ve never heard of”. Kwilecki was born in the small southwestern town of Bainbridge, Georgia and ran his family’s hardware store for decades. A self-taught photographer, Kwilecki passionately documented life in Decatur County Georgia for more than 40 years. Over time he became a masterful printmaker with an elegant eye. He never photographed elsewhere. Kwilecki eventually received a coveted Guggenheim Fellowship for his work. His photographs are archived at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. We honor Paul for his dedication and commitment to photography. And we honor him because he is one of our own.
Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2016 – JANUARY 8. 2017
Opening Reception August 31 7-10pm
Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art questions and explores the complex and contested space of the American South. One needs to look no further than literature, cuisine and music to see evidence of the South’s profound influence on American culture, and consequently much of the world. This unprecedented exhibition addresses and complicates the many realities, fantasies and myths that have long captured the public’s imagination about the American South. Presenting a wide range of perspectives, from both within and outside of the region, the exhibition creates a composite portrait of southern identity through the work of 60 artists. The art reflects upon and pulls apart the dynamic nature of the South’s social, political and cultural landscape.
“Southern Accent is an extensive exploration of southern identity through contemporary art,” said Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art, and co-curator of the exhibition. “The exhibition has been four years in the making, but the timing of Southern Accent is especially meaningful now – in the wake of Charleston, Orlando, Baton Rouge and countless other tragedies, and given the tense social and racial climate during this presidential election year. We’re an art museum, so exhibitions are our platform for starting conversations. I hope Southern Accent can create a space to reimagine the South in new ways and reframe the way we think about the South in contemporary art. At its best, art can help give shape to cultural and social change, promote needed discourse and even help build community.”
William Faulkner once suggested that the South is not so much a “geographical place” as an “emotional idea.” Southern Accent looks at the South as an open-ended question to be explored and expanded. The exhibition encompasses a broad spectrum of media and approaches, demonstrating that southernness is more of a shared sensibility than a consistent culture. The exhibition includes work dating back to the 1950s, but primarily focuses on art produced within the past 30 years. The exhibition also includes a curated music library since no region in the United States has contributed more to American music than the South. This music chronology that speaks to southern life provides an invaluable counterpoint to the artwork in the exhibition.
This exhibition is co-organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Chief Curator and Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and Miranda Lash, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.
Southern Accent will travel to the Speed Art Museum, where it will be on view April 29 – August 20, 2017.
AUGUST 30 – OCTOBER 6
Reception September 19
An expanded definition of photographic portraiture is explored in this exhibition of works by 27 renowned artists curated by Lynn Whitney, Andrew Hershberger & Jacqueline Nathan. It will be shown at Slocumb Gallery and the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University in October. A catalogue with an introduction by Andrew Hershberger will accompany the exhibition. Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery.
July 14- August 20, 2015
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 6pm
Yancey Richardson Gallery at 25 West 22nd Street
New York NY 10011.
Olivo Barbieri, Mary Ellen Bartley, Christopher Bucklow, Linda Connor, Tim Davis, Mitch Epstein, Roe Ethridge, Lee Friedlander, Bryan Graf, Jitka Hanzlová, CJ Heyliger, Matthew Jensen, Kenneth Josephson, Laura Letinsky, Ray Metzker, Orit Raff, Rinko Kawauchi, Tokihiro Sato, Lynn Saville, Mark Steinmetz, Yosuke Takeda, Wolfgang Tillmans, James Welling
For more information please visit Yancey Richardson Gallery
The Teen Years
July 9 - August 26, 2016
The Teen Years
July 9th – August 26th, 2016
Opening Reception: July 9th from 6-8pm.
Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, The Teen Years. This group exhibition will open on July 9th and continue through August 26th, 2016. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 9th, from 6-8 pm.
The Teen Years will feature a selection of both vintage and contemporary photographs that address the physical, social, and emotional aspects of adolescence, and the formation of identity. The photographs included in the exhibition present a collective portrait of youth: its awkwardness, innocence, fury, elation, beauty and trepidation.
Photographs by Joseph Sterling, Edward Sturr, Enrico Natali, Elaine Mayes, Bevan Davies, Nacio Jan Brown, Melissa Shook, Harry Ibach, Duncan McCosker, Christine Osinski, Joan Albert, Sage Sohier, Mark Steinmetz, John Myers, Andrea Modica, Bill Yates, Roger Vail and others will be included.
To request further information or high resolution images please contact Joseph Bellows Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org. Established in 1998, Joseph Bellows Gallery features rotating exhibitions of both historic and contemporary photography, with a special interest in American work from the 20th Century. More information can be found at www.josephbellows.com
For more information please visit the Joseph Bellows Gallery
Article originally appeared in Financial Times
©Mark Steinmetz, Jessica, Athens, GA, (1997)
In 1983, with a vague idea about working in film, Mark Steinmetz dropped out of Yale School of Art and headed to California. Poor and directionless, he was inspired by a brief friendship with the LA-based black-and-white street photographer Garry Winogrand. His work now features in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Like his mentor, Steinmetz’s monochrome photographs communicate sincerity, closeness and a sense of mystery. “Staged work often seems fairly lifeless,” he says. “There’s little surprise to it — it lacks that freshness, that rawness that comes from discovering something that’s out there in life.”
Travelling the nation, Steinmetz sought to capture the spirit of American adolescence. His work now forms part of the Joseph Bellows exhibition, The Teen Years; a collective portrait of the beauty and awkwardness, the sound and fury of youth.
‘The Teen Years’, Joseph Bellows Gallery, San Diego, California, until August 26; josephbellows.com