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Im back for the fall and this newsletter is full of little goodies, so take your time and savor it...I hope. How are you? Hit reply and fill me in.

A photograph is static because it has stopped time. A painting or drawing is static because it encompasses time -- John Berger, Writer and Critic

Painting and photography have always had an interesting relationship. In the earliest years of the camera, there was a debate about whether photography was an art form or merely a tool for recording the real world.  That debate centered around the fact that paintings are created by people and represent their expression of humanity.  Photography is from a machine, capturing real things devoid of that human and artistic expression.

Tom Wolff, the writer, once noted “It was the unspoken curse of the medium, which went: “Photography is not really creative.” Naturally no painter would be so gauche as to say publicly that photography was not an art form. Nevertheless, there was an unuttered axiom: “Painters create, photographers select.”   While many painters were critics of photography, at the same time, they were using photographs as the basis for creating their paintings.

On the other side of the story, when photography was invented in Paris in the 1830s, the artist Paul Delaroche stated that the invention of the camera meant painting was dead.   While painting has never died, it certainly has moved away from realism and created new ways to look at the world, such as impressionism, cubism, surrealism, abstraction and more.

Pictorialism: As a part of this debate, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the photographic movement of pictorialism emerged. Pictorialism placed beauty, tonality, and composition above creating an accurate visual record.  Proponents used a range of camera and darkroom techniques to produce images that allowed them to express their creativity, utilizing it to tell stories, replicate mythological or biblical scenes, and to produce dream-like landscapes. Through their creations, the movement strove to elevate photography to the same level as painting and have it recognized as such by galleries. 

An example of pictorialism with its soft focus, "Spring Showers, the Coach", by Alfred Stieglitz, 1899-1900

Photorealism: In the 1960s and 1970s the tables flipped with the painters moving towards photography.  The artistic movement photorealism -- a genre of art that encompasses painting, drawing and other graphic media, in which an artist studies a photograph and then attempts to reproduce the image as realistically as possible in another medium.  It evolved from PopArt and as a counter to abstract expressionism.

John's Diner with John's Chevelle, 2007, John Baeder, oil on canvas, 30×48 inches.

Hand Coloring Along the way there was also handcoloring or Painted photography.  It began in the 19th century as a way to infuse life and reality into banal black-and-white images before the advent of color photography. The so-called golden age of hand-coloured photography occurred between 1900 and 1940 due to increased demand for hand-coloured landscape photographs.  When it’s used today, the process actually makes photographs less realistic, in the sense that the image drifts further and further away from the idea of the photograph as an objective document. The paint imparts tactility and subjectivity onto the fixed image, while altering notions of time and narrative.

Paint by Photographs:  I thought about all of this ebbing and flowing between painters and photography when I ran across Paint Your Life– an online service where you upload your photograph, choose a style (oil, charcoal, water color, etc) and an artist and end up with a painting of your photograph. It is especially promoted for portraits.   I then googledturn photo into paintingonly to find more than a dozen such services, some as free apps for your phone. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised since photoshop has filters that can change a photo into a painting like image...and sometimes you can just take a photo that looks like a painting (click images to see full screen and examine effects more fully).

It is interesting how these iterations of artistic categories and distinctions ebb and flow and merge over time.  It’s another story about how categories can be helpful but limiting. It's also a story about how the arts and the various disciplines share and grow though their connections with each other.

Photography, not soft gutless painting, is best equipped to bore into the spirit of today – Edward Weston, Photographer

The Blues

"If you had to pick one single spot as the birthplace of the blues, you might say it all started right here," said the late and great B.B. King standing at the Dockery 

Like painting and photography, with their exchange of ideas/processes, blues music is rooted in several musical genres and then it spins off as the roots of rock and roll.  Blues Music originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and religious spirituals. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to the end of slavery and, later, the development of juke joints. It is often associated with the acquired freedom of the former slaves and their challenges. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908.

The main features of blues include: specific chord progressions, a walking bass, call and response, dissonant harmonies, syncopation, melisma and flattened 'blue' notes. Blues is known for being microtonal, using pitches between the semitones defined by a piano keyboard. This is often achieved on electric guitar using a metal slide for a whining effect. As a result, blues can be heavily chromatic. Originally the lyrics utilized a call and response component.

Note: Click the images to see them larger...and/or click the video (at the bottom) so the music runs in the background of the images.

Dockery Farms: The Dockery plantation at its peak in the mid 1930s consisted of 18,000 acres and extended over 28 square miles of rich fertile lowland along the Sunflower River. It had its own currency and general store, a physician, a railroad depot, a dairy, a seed house, cotton gin, sawmill, and three churches. There was also a school for the 1,000 to 3,000 men, women, and children who worked during the farm's busiest times as either day laborers or as sharecroppers. The workers’ quarters included boarding-houses, where they lived, socialized and played music.  Farm workers often sang while working the fields and their music became their basic entertainment.  

In the 1900s a young Charlie Patton’s parents took up residence at the Dockery Farms. Charlie took to following around guitarist Henry Sloan to musicals performances.  Charlie would become his own musician, and considered the father of the Delta Blues.

Charlie Patton and other bluesmen, drawn to Dockery by its central location and sizable population, used the plantation as their home base. When at the Dockery they often played on the porch of the commissary and at all-night picnics hosted by Will Dockery for residents. He and the others also traveled the network of state roads around Dockery Farms to communities large enough to support audiences that loved the blues. In the 1920s he could make about $25 for a performance at a party.  

It was Patton's live performances in the area that inspired and influenced fans such as Robert Johnson (who sold his soul to the devil to play blues), Bukka White, Ed "Son" House, Chester Burnett (also known as "Howlin' Wolf), and Roebuck "Pop" Staples (as in the father and inspiration behind the Staples Singers). These important artists in blues history either lived at or passed through Dockery Farms.

Bill “howlin mad” Perry at Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS, July 2022
singing about Mississippi where we drink whisky and play the blues all night
Binhammer Photographs Website

Photo Exhibits and News
Worth checking out on the Web

William Klein, who photographed the energy of cities, died at age 96.  He built his reputation with dreamlike images of New York, Rome, Moscow and Tokyo and cast a satirical eye on fashion in a decade of work for Vogue. From the New York Times obituary (link gifted). “One of his generation’s most celebrated photographers, represented in museums across Europe and the United States, Mr. Klein began his career as a restless postwar American in Paris who took a studio on the Left Bank, defied traditions and plunged into his anarchic visions of painting, sculpture, street and fashion photography, feature films and documentaries.”  Vince Aletti in reviewing the recent Klein retrospective at the International Center of Photography notes “William Klein’s pictures will still knock you out….Klein’s “tabloid gone berserk” approach to street photography in New York and beyond,” has some great images to look at.  Howard Greenberg Gallery also has some wonderful images to puruse.  Or check out the New York Times’ review (link gifted) of the ICP show.

William Klein, “Bikini, Moskva (River), Moscow,” 1959.
With his wide-angle lens, an elderly onlooker and an exuberant sunbather, Klein turned a park into a theatrical stage.
Credit...William Klein and Howard Greenberg Gallery

Wolfgang Tillmans has a major exhibit opening in New York at the Museum of Modern Art.  The website notes, "The viewer...should enter my work through their own eyes, and their own lives,” the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has said. An incisive observer and a creator of dazzling pictures, Tillmans has experimented for over three decades with what it means to engage the world through photography. Presenting the full breadth and depth of the artist’s career, Wolfgang Tillmans: To look without fear invites us to experience the artist’s vision of what it feels like to live today."  

The New Yorker has a review of the show and an interview with him, noting, “what one experiences walking through a Tillmans installation is relief from the usual manipulations of picture-making. His career is a lifelong inquiry into what gives an image meaning, including formalist experiments made without a camera... Tillman’s sincerity has not wavered....His evident commitment to the secular liberal consensus might seem wishful, if his freedoms, as a gay man whose life has transcended national boundaries, were not so contingent on politics.”

The New York Times review (article gifted) notes, “Wolfgang Tillmans: Older, Wiser, Cooler" -- the artist has concerned himself with “the poetry of looking,” blurring the line between party and protest. But, increasingly, it’s politics on his mind.” The Vulture review by Jerry Saltz notes “Wolfgang Tillmans Changed What Photos Look Like, A career retrospective becomes a cathedral of the mundane.” Art News calls the exhibit one of the best of the year. His gallery is David Zwirner. Related, exhibition book

Diane Arbus, known for her unrelenting direct photographs of people who are considered social deviates, was part of an exhibit 50 years ago at MOMA. That exhibit is recreated and gets a new look at at David Zwirner. They are also publishing a 500-page book of writings about Arbus called Documents.” A story about it in the New York Times (article gifted).

Southern Exposures: Nearly 40 years ago, photographer Baldwin Lee embarked on a 2,000-mile road trip throughout the American South from his home in Knoxville, TN, where he is a professor of art at the University of Tennessee. Over the subsequent seven years, he made several trips throughout the South, photographing Black Americans at home and at work, in urban and rural settings. Lee’s first solo show in New York opens September 22 at Howard Greenberg Gallery. The show, which presents 30 photographs from an archive of nearly 10,000 images, coincides with a monograph of Lee’s work, published by Hunters Point Press this month (Source:

“Working Together, The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop” has traveled from Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to the Whitney to now the J Paul Getty Museum.  Explore the exhibit here.  Check out the related videos

Photographer and professor Jeff Sedlik bought a framed photograph at an estate sale held last year at Schwenke Auctioneers in Woodbury, CT, for $2,200, but when he took the photograph out of its frame, he discovered a second photograph hidden behind the first: a rare 19th-century platinum print by Alfred Stieglitz. [artnet news]

American Silence.  The Photographs of Robert Adams.  For 50 years, Robert Adams (b. 1937) has made compelling, provocative, and highly influential photographs that show us the wonder and fragility of the American landscape, its inherent beauty, and the inadequacy of our response to it. This exhibit is currently at the National Gallery and moves on to the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, opening October 29, 202.


The crisp fall air came last night.  The light has changed.  Fall is here.
Hoping you are refreshed from the summer and that the fall holds interesting times.
Don't forget, if you saw images that caught your eye and want to talk about prints for your wall, just hit the reply and we will work together to find what you love. 

Photo of RB by: Geoff Livingston
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5807 Harbour Hill Place, Midlothian VA, 23112
Copyright © 2022 Binhammer Photographs, All rights reserved.

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