While I was occupied with this series of posts I realized that the “private” photographs of photographer-artists always had a special attraction for me.
Like a groupie, I am trying to get a glimpse of their private lives.
Nan Goldins photographs have to be placed exactly on the crossing point between the private and the public. She works on the possibilities and impossibilities of matching men and women. She photographs private and intimate moments, moments you usually don´t get to see.
If Nan Goldins photographs are downgraded at times as being merely a documentation about a subculture of drug addicts, then this takes place, because her critics don’t want to know, don´t want to realize, that her protagonists bear more resamblance to them than they care to admit. For we all share some basic moments and patterns in life.
Jürgen Tellers works I always found remarkable. When he manages to take pictures of beauty queens in all their ugliness, when he takes pictures of models shaking their bones while warming up their bare asses with the help off a radiant heater, and when he is depicting the structures of power inherent to fashion industry and puts them in relation to the hopeless dreams of adolescent girls, he always frames interesting photographs.
This photograph by Teller I found in the web, as I found those flickr/photos, and it has more in common with them, than with any other photograph shown here. His image is fragmentary, the lighting used is cold and artificial, it´s composition is artless. I never would have guessed that the image is the product of a photographer well established on the market.
Jürgen Teller is not interested in beautified reproductions of reality. It might as well be, that his work is nothing but the expression of his protest against the conventions of the beautiful form. As fashion photographer he was looking or the blemishes in the world of illusions and artificial beauty.
He could be looking for the realism of ugliness, maybe believing in its utmost truth.
Jürgen Tellers photograph has one main center of interest: it is his dick, which has the appearance of an unfried sausage. No aspect of this dick has any similarity to Robert Mapplethorpes idialized male sexual organs.
Two curves are repeating themselves, the firm belly of his pregnant wife and his flaccid round one. The curve of his penis parallels the curve of her belly, her pubic hair is echoed by the shadow of his roundness. The imacculately white beadspread hints to the most ordinary place of shared nakedness.
This air of being a simple, authentic snapshot of an everyday intimate moment between husband and wife is just an illusion. The matrimonial bed this time is not a place to be shared. Jürgen Teller is standing close to his wife, and rests his dick and belly on her body. So the illusion of ordinary togetherness turns out to be a fake.
The topic is not his wife, but his love to her. The main character in this love-comedy is a penis.
I used up a lot of space and words for this photograph. The reason for it is simple. I don´t like this picture. I guess I don´t like photographs, where you have no chance to avoid a closer look on male or female genitals. I don´t really understand this dislike of mine, it might be an instinctive compliance to a taboo.
The black vw-beetle, a woman, a child, morning dawn.
This is the only photograph in “The Americans” by Robert Frank that refers to his private life. That gives a hint of the difficulties to combine an intense artistic process with family life.
For more than 15 years, Eleanor Callahan, wife of Harry Callahan, was omnipresent on his photographs. As a person, she wasn´t the main subject of his photographs. He used her as a model, subordinated to his formal intentions.
In this image, her body adapts to the rectangularity of the photographic frame, and here
Callahan inserts a black cloth between her and the camera lens, so to achieve abstraction.
Callahans photographs: always floating between the concrete representation of the real and its abstraction.
Lee Friedlander photographs his wife as a personality eaqual to him. She is not just a satellite, him being the center of her universe. In this respect Nicholas Nixon goes on a little further. For years now, he photographs his wife as one of the four Brown sisters. He puts her into a context that is completely independent of their relationship.
There is no marriage without a wedding photographer.
In Budapest I spent more than one Sunday observing in a big city park the efforts of countless wedding photographers, grooms and brides to produce an image of happiness. This procedure wasn´t relaxed at all, it was hard work for all who were involved in, and I was fascinated by the absurdity the process.
For me it is touching to see that Araki, this photographing maniac, knowing no limits in his world of images, is keeping on the day of his marriage to this very conventional ritual.
This, his wedding photograph, is visibly an act of representation. The props of the studio are depicted here, as to show it as a place, where usually the fiction of the happiest day in a womans life is produced.
Joel Meyerowitzs photographs of his wife/partner/girlfriend Vivian, were taken a long time ago, unce upon a time, in the sixties. These are photographs as if taken out of a light-handed movie about love. These are photographs that show him looking through the eyes of a man being very much in love, and she, lucky him, is returning his feelings. There is a lot of trust between the two of them.
The beginning of love is the dream of love.
A note in the web about Joel Meyerowitz starts with following words: “With his wife, Maggie Barrett… “ (Nov. 2003)
We see, how Helmut Newtons wife June, looking tired and maybe a bit sad, is watching her husband photographing one of those young, strong models that got to be known as his trademark.
This the only photography I know of, where an artist/photographer relates his partner to his profession, and gives her the oppurtinity to silently comment his work.