The photography of Viviane Sassen (Amsterdam, 1972) is in a class of its own. The intuitive way in which Sasses approaches her subjects is entirely personal, independent of other examples or reference frameworks. She often seeds the body as a sculpture, and concepts of revelations and concealment help to create the riddles in her images. Sassen makes effective use of the mystery of shadow and the flamboyant expressivity of colour. She has also achieved a special intimacy with certain models, so that her photos can sometimes be erotic, but at the same time they can be open, rich in contrast, or explosive. Her images are invariably intriguing and remarkable, and they are, occassionally, somewhat surreal. Over the course of her career Viviane Sassen has produced a flood of marvellous images, many of which are of Africa, the continent in which she spent part of her youth.
Ola Kolehmainen (born 1964, Helsinki) studied photography at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. His photographs almost exclusively depict sections of building facades. They are organized according to strict principles of order, showing rows of repetitive basic patterns or symmetrical constructs. The austerity of these images is occasionally broken by elements that circumvent this formalism: trees or houses mirrored in the facades. The works are produced using the Diasec process, which means that the environment is reflected in the surface of the photos as well as in the images themselves – a calculated component of his work.
Nicole Davis interviewed John Baldessari in his studio in Santa Monica, Ca., on Apr. 12, 2004.
John Baldessari: So, fire away.
Nicole Davis: What led you to become an artist?
JB: I always had this idea that doing art was just a masturbatory activity, and didn’t really help anybody. I was teaching kids in the California Youth Authority, an honor camp where they send kids instead of sending them to prison. One kid came to me one day and asked if I would open up the arts and crafts building at night so they could work. I said, “If all of you guys will cool it in the classes, then I’ll baby-sit you.” Worked like a charm. Here were these kids that had no values I could embrace, that cared about art more than I. So, I said, “Well, I guess art has some function in society,” and I haven’t gotten beyond that yet, but it was enough to convince me that art did some good somehow. I just needed a reason that wasn’t all about myself. Read more
John Baldessari is an American conceptual artist. After studying art at San Diego State College (1949–57), he began to develop his painting style, soon incorporating letters, words and photographs in his works. By 1966 he was using photographs and text, or simply text, on canvas as in Semi-close-up of Girl by Geranium … (1966–8; Basle, Kstmus.). From 1970 he worked in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography. His work is characterized by a consciousness of language evident in his use of puns, semantics based on the structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss and by the incorporation of material drawn from popular culture. Both are apparent in Blasted Allegories (1978; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a series combining polaroids of television images captioned and arranged to suggest an unusual syntax. Baldessari differed from other conceptual artists in his humour and commitment to the visual image. He dramatized the ordinary, although beneath the apparent simplicity of his words and images lie multiple connotations. We LOVE him!
Elliott Erwitt (b. 26 July 1928 Paris, France) is an advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings a master of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment”. In 1939, at the age of ten, Erwitt’s family, of Russian origin, immigrated to the United States. Erwitt studied photography and filmmaking at Los Angeles City College and the New School for Social Research, finishing his education in 1950.
Born in Paris of Jewish-Russian immigrant parents, Erwitt served as a photographer’s assistant in the 1950s in the United States Army while stationed in France and Germany. Erwitt was influenced by his meeting the famous photographers, Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker. Stryker, the former Director of the Farm Security Administration’s photography department, hired Erwitt to work on a photography project for the Standard Oil Company. Erwitt then began a freelance photographer career and produced work for Collier’s, Look, Life and Holiday. Joining the Magnum Photos agency in 1953 allowed Erwitt to shoot photography projects around the world.
One of the subjects Erwitt has frequently photographed in his career is dogs: they have been the subject of four of his books, Son of Bitch (1974), Dog Dogs (1998), Woof (2005) and Elliott Erwitt’s Dogs (2008).
More recently, Erwitt has created an alter ego, the beret-wearing and pretentious André S. Solidor (which abbreviates to “ass”) “a contemporary artist, from one of the French colonies in the Caribbean, I forget which one”, in order to “satirise the kooky excesses of contemporary photography”. The work of said alter-ego was published in a book, The Art of André S. Solidor (2009), and exhibited in 2011 at the Paul Smith Gallery in London.
He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2002.
Gillian Wearing OBE RA (born 1963) is an English conceptual artist, one of the YBAs, and winner of the annual British fine arts award, The Turner Prize, in 1997. On 11 December 2007, Wearing was elected as lifetime member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
In the early 90s. Wearing started putting together photography exhibitions that were based around the idea of photographing anonymous strangers in the street who she had asked to hold up a piece of paper with a message on it. Of these “confessional” pieces, Wearing stated,”
“I decided that I wanted people to feel protected when they talked about certain things in their life that they wouldn’t want the public that knows them to know. I can understand that sort of holding on to things—it’s kind of part of British society to hold things in. I always think of Britain as being a place where you’re meant to keep your secrets—you should never tell your neighbors or tell anyone. Things are changing now, because the culture’s changed and the Internet has brought people out. We have Facebook and Twitter where people tell you small details of their life.”
Stefano Arienti (born 1961) is an Italian artist whose art is inspired by the Arte Povera and Conceptual movements. He lives and works in Milan, Italy.
His work is made of found materials such as magazines, postcards, newspapers and books. Source materials are transformed through minimal actions such as folding or puncturing done repeatedly and systematically. He has exhibited extensively and in 2005, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo per l’Arte held a retrospective of his work. In 2008, Francesco Bonami curated the monumental exhibition “Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008″ at the Palazzo Grassi that included Arienti’s Cassetto con strisce, 1987-1989. In 2009, the exhibition travelled to MCA Chicago.In 2007, Arienti was commissioned by Art Pace for their International Artist-In-Residence program. There he exhibited Library, a landscape of 400 bushels of wheat and 99 books that were buried within. In the Fall of 2010, Arienti showed his third solo exhibition, natura, natura, natura at greengrassi in London, UK.
Berlin-based Norwegian artist Øystein Aassan uses a combination of materials including paper, plywood, ink, adhesive letters, photography, and pop cultural imagery to create sculptural installations and wall pieces that explore issues around memory and duplication. Influenced by the presentation of works in Peggy Guggenheim’s early-20th-century gallery, Art of This Century, Aasan arranges images and reproduced texts on architectural grids, or what the artist calls “display units”, drawing attention to the construction of the pieces.