Nanny and self-taught photographer Vivian Maier (1926–2009) (previously here and here) kept nearly 150,000 photographic images, including street photography and self-portraits, hidden from the world until an estate sale in 2007 revealed a large bulk of her secretive hobby. Since 2010 her photographs have been widely exhibited in galleries and museums across the world, and were the subject of the 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier, which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Although her mostly Chicago and New York-based photographs have become infamous in the decade since their discovery, her color images have been less prevalent due to the technical challenges involved in their development and recovery. This month the largest monograph of her full-color photographs was published by Harper Collins, which includes images pulled from the roughly 40,000 Ektachrome color slides spanning the last 30 years of her life. Vivian Maier: The Color Work explores over 150 of her colorful images with details that have been gathered about her story and photographic process. The book also features a forward by photographer Joel Meyerowitz and text by Colin Westerbeck, a former curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Maier was a self-invented polymath of a photographer,” writes Westerbeck in the book. “The one advantage Maier gained from keeping her photography to herself was an exemption from contradiction and condescension. She didn’t have to worry about either the orthodoxy or the approval of her peers.”
Vivian Maier: The Color Work was created in partnership with Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City, who will be presenting an exhibition of the same title opening November 14, 2018 and running through January 5, 2019. Several of the color photographs included in the exhibition will be presented for the first time. You can see more of Maier’s black and white and color photography on this portfolio site dedicated to her collection, and you can purchase a copy of the new book on Amazon. (via Chicago Magazine)
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Oregon-based tattoo artist Dave, a.k.a. Winston the Whale, uses a wide spectrum of colors in his trippy tattoos. The works merge a 60s aesthetics with inspirations from Scandinavian folk art to Memphis design. Traditional floral and vine motifs border prismatic mouths and starry-eyed bats, while other pieces focus more on an 80s appeal with graphic grids and squiggly yellow lines. You can see more psychedelic compositions and brightly colored animals on Dave’s Instagram.
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Lagos-based photographer Medina Dugger documents colorful hair culture in the coastal Nigerian city with her ongoing series Chroma. The collection of portraits pays homage to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, a renowned African photographer who documented women’s hairstyles in Nigeria for over 50 years, starting in the mid-20th century.
Prior to decolinization, Dugger explains, wigs and straightening had replaced much of the indigenous hair culture, and ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s documentations sought to celebrate traditional hairdos. She continues, “African hair braiding methods date back thousands of years and Nigerian hair culture is a rich and often extensive process which begins in childhood. The methods and variations have been influenced by social/cultural patterns, historical events and globalization. Hairdos range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal/family traditions.”
While ‘Okhai Ojeikere’ images were in black and white, Dugger updates the documentary style with brightly colored backgrounds, a diverse array of vibrant contemporary fashion, and rainbow hues integrated into the hairstyles with thread, beads, and dyed extensions. You can see more of Dugger’s colorful editorial photography on her website and Instagram.
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Artist Hadieh Shafie uses carefully hand-dyed and rolled paper to form dense surfaces. In some works, each set of concentric circles is an equal depth, creating small planes in the topography of the finished piece. Her ‘Spike’ series features sharp spiraled cones that protrude toward the viewer. In addition to the colorful edging, calligraphy is also incorporated on the paper scrolls. Most recently, Shafie has been adding an additional dimension by dipping the finished scrolls into ink to create the appearance of shadows. The artist describes her process in an artist statement:
On the surface, what the viewer sees are the fore-edges of miniature scrolls made of strips of paper. Using a limited color palette, each strip of paper is dyed with acrylic pigments, and then rolled by hand, one upon another, to create a multitude of color combinations for each emerging scroll. The rolling process places razor thin edges of color closely together, creating a space for the viewer’s eye to blend adjoining colors.
Shafie was born in Tehran, Iran and is currently based in Brooklyn. The artist shares with Colossal that her work is “a visual response to the emancipating effect [of] books and poetry” that she has experienced. Shafie holds two MFA degrees and her work is in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among others. You can see more of her intricate paper work on her website and Instagram. (via #WOMENSART)
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Colorful Installations of Spray Paint and Mesh Form Connections Between the Analog and Digital Worlds
Hanover and Berlin-based art duo Quintessenz recently completed a large-scale installation for the newly funded Paxos Contemporary Art Project, which is currently taking place on the island of Paxos in the Adriatic sea. Although designed to be appreciated and enjoyed in person, the images of their intervention created inside of a 400-year-old ruin are quickly becoming viral due to the work’s strong contrast against the historic setting.
With roots in both graffiti and chromatics, Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic of Quintessenz combine aspects of spray paint, textiles, installation, and the digital image in their work. Their large site-specific works and facade murals often uses shape as the main inspiration, while also borrowing aesthetic elements found on location.
The duo transform spaces into frameworks for presenting their abstract creations and challenging the spectator’s perception. These ideas are present in their recent installation Flickering Lights, which was was created for Fashion Week Berlin back in January 2018, and Pardis Perdus installed in Les Baux-de-Provence, France in 2017. In both of those installations, and their latest piece in Paxos, the artists use dyed or spray painted fabric in a range of layers as a way to interact with light conditions and points of view. The one-ton construction Flickering Lights was suspended in a large hall of Panorama Berlin from over 32,000 square feet of fabric and dyed with over 200 gallons of paint.
Similar to the Paradis Perdus piece, their latest intervention in Greece used the architectural structure to emphasize the effect of their creation. Like digital abstract images somehow transferring into the real world, both these pieces employ color shades and different size layers to create depth and perspective illusion. Appearing bigger and smaller depending on the observer’s movement, they leave room for individual experiences of these interfaces between analog and digital worlds. Although exceptionally photogenic, the artists’ idea is to enjoy these works in person. “We hope that the visitors of our work leave their mobile phone cameras in their pockets for a moment and simply enjoy the light and the translation of the wind in the material,” Quintessenz explains.
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Self-taught Gabonese photographer Yannis Davy Guibinga is known for portraits that highlight the diversity of cultures and identities in the African diaspora. His works are often richly hued, with subjects positioned against bright gradient backgrounds or adorned in warm tones.
In his project The Darkest Colour however, Guibinga moves away from his multi-colored photo shoots to focus entirely on the color black and its relationship to darkness, mourning, and death. The series is set in front of a matte black background and features two nude models whose skin has also been painted black. The works seek to unpack the negative aspects of the both the color and its symbolism.
“Black is generally the colour associated with tragedy, death, and mourning, and the act of passing away is considered to be a tragedy in many cultures,” Guibinga tells Colossal. “‘The Darkest Colour’ seeks to redefine association of black and death with tragedy and sadness by representing the act of passing away as more of a relaxing experience.”
The 22-year-old photographer is currently a student in professional photography at Marsan College in Montreal. You can see more of his portraits, like his series 2050 which explores the future of fashion from a black woman’s perspective, on his website and Instagram. (via WideWalls)
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First published in the pre-photographic age, Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours was the preeminent guide to color and its classification for artists, scientists, naturalists, and anthropologists in the 19th-century. Without an image for reference, the book provided immense handwritten detail describing where each specific shade could be found on an animal, plant, or mineral. Prussian Blue for instance could be located in the beauty spot of a mallard’s wing, on the stamina of a bluish-purple anemone, or in a piece of blue copper ore.
The system of classification was first devised by German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner in the late 18th-century. Shortly after Scottish painter Patrick Syme updated Werner’s guide, matching color swatches and his own list of examples to the provided nomenclature.
The book’s poetic names, such as Arterial Blood Red, Berlin Blue, and Verdigris Green, added flourish to the writings of many researchers, allowing vivid descriptions for prose which had previously been limited to a more elementary color palette. Charles Darwin even used the guide during his voyage to the Madeira, Canary, and Cape Verde islands on the H.M.S. Beagle.
The 1814 book has now been republished by Smithsonian Books as a pocket-sized guide, providing a historic connection to vivid colors found in the field for a future generation of artists, scientists, and curious naturalists. You can preorder the 2018 hardcover for its release date on February 6, 2018. (via Co.Design)
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Editor's Picks: Photography
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