Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, “Self Portrait, Black Mountain (1)”, 1952, Gelatin Silver Print, 14.3 x 8.3 cm, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

While studying at Black Mountain College in North Carolina between 1948 and 1952, Robert Rauschenberg focused his attention on mid-century experimental and abstract photography. His exploration of this medium was influenced by the works of photographer Aaron Siskind, whose detailed images created an innovation in abstract photography; Harry Callahan, a prolific photographer who rigorously curated his work; and educator and photographer Hazel Larson Archer, whose work captured life at Black Mountain.

Rauschenberg used a bold mixture of abstraction, double exposures, experiments with light and shadow, and used blueprint paper to produce photographs with a camera. Many of his earliest photographic experiments were portraits of close companions and people he met in conversations; these include artists such as choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham and painter Cy Twombly.

A recurring subject of his experimental work was the self portrait, of which the double-exposure image above, “Self Portrait, Black Mountain (1)”, is an example. Shot in 1952, it features Rauschenberg seated on a wooden chair with his hands folded. Ghostly images of weeds and chairs are superimposed over his body.This photograph is a singular work in a portfolio edition of seven related photographs taken during the summer of 1952 at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina.

Digby Mackworth Dolben: “For Should He Ever Pass. . .”

Photographers Unknown, For Should He Ever Pass

My sister Death! I pray thee come to me
 Of thy sweet charity,
And be my nurse but for a little while;
 I will indeed lie still,
And not detain thee long, when once is spread,
 Beneath the yew, my bed:
I will not ask for lilies or for roses;
 But when the evening closes,
Just take from any brook a single knot
 Of pale Forget-me-not,
And lay them in my hand, until I wake,
 For his dear sake;
(For should he ever pass and by me stand,
 He yet might understand—)
Then heal the passion and the fever
 With one cool kiss, for ever.

Digby Macworth Dolben, Sister Death

Born in Guernsey in February of 1848, Digby Augustus Stewart Mackworth Dolben was an English poet. His father, William Harcourt Isham Mackworth, was the younger son of the Third Baronet, Sir Digby Mackworth, and his mother Frances Dolben was the daughter and heiress of Sir John English Dolben, the Fourth Baronet. Digby Dolben was raised, under a strict and uncompromising Protestant discipline, at Finedon Hall, his mother’s family estate in Northamptonshire, England.

Digby Mackworth Dolben was educated at Cheam School, a mixed preparatory school in Hampshire, and, starting in 1862, at Eaton College, where he studied under Headmaster and poet William Johnson Cory. William Cory’s method of teaching and his collection of verses, “Ionica” were sources of inspiration for Dolben in his own poetic writings. While at Eaton in the early 1860s, Dolben met his distant older cousin, Robert Bridges, who became his mentor and introduced him to his circle of high church friends. During his school years, Dolben seemed abstracted and other-worldly to his college friends; by his activities, he appeared to his headmaster as an agitator who was dangerously misguided.

In 1863, Dolben started to cause considerable scandal at Eaton College with his eccentric and exhibitionist behavior. Defying his strict Protestant upbringing, he became a novice in the English Order of Saint Benedict and began to sign his letters ‘Dominic’. By associating with the new ritualistic, religious revival of that time and wearing a monk’s habit, Dolben would cause scandal by walking, often barefoot, through the streets of the city. He also began to mark his romantic attachment to fellow student Martin Le Merchant Gosselin, a year senior, with written love poems. It was during this period that Dolben destroyed by fire all his previous written poetic work.

In July of 1863, Robert Bridges left Eaton to attend Oxford College. Several weeks later on July 30th, Digby Dolben was dismissed from Eaton after engaging in secret meetings with Jesuit priests. He maintained his communication with Bridges through letters sent to Oxford; however, there is no evidence of any poems being written since the destruction of his earlier work. It was not until the Lenten season of 1864 that Dolben resumed his poetry writing. At the age of sixteen, he wrote his first mature poem “Homo Factus Est” and had six poems published in the Union Review.

On his seventeenth birthday in 1865, Digby Dolben was introduced by his cousin Robert Bridges to Gerald Manley Hopkins, a fellow poet who was attending Oxford’s Balliol College. In accounts to his biographer, Hopkins stated that meeting Dolben, who was four years his junior, was the most emotional event of his undergraduate years, and probably his entire life. After Hopkins was forbidden by his High Anglican confessor to have any contact with Dolben, Hopkins and Dolben maintained their communication through letters; Hopkins wrote, during this time, two poems about his love for Dolben, “Where Art Thou Friend” and “The Beginning of the End’.

In 1865, Dolben’s work began to mature as he turned from writing Christian themed poetry to poems portraying a more Greco or pagan ideal of beauty. By 1866, he had moved to the Welsh village of Boughrood and studied there under tutor Henry de Winton for his Oxford entrance exams. Dolben took his entrance exams on May 2nd of 1867; however, he fainted during the exams and received a failing score. Thirteen days later on June 28th, Digby Mackworth Dolben, at the age of nineteen, drowned in the River Welland.

In 1865, Dolben’s work began to mature as he turned from writing Christian themed poetry to poems portraying a more Greco or pagan ideal of beauty. By 1866, he had moved to the Welsh village of Boughrood and studied there under tutor Henry de Winton for his Oxford entrance exams. Dolben took his entrance exams on May 2nd of 1867; however, he fainted during the exams and received a failing score. Thirteen days later on June 28th, Digby Dolben, at the age of nineteen, drowned in the River Welland.

Digby Dolben had taken Walter, the ten year old son of his tutor, Reverend C. E. Pritchard, on his back across the deep river. Upon the return swim, Dolben sank within several yards of the shoreline. Walter Pritchard, only able to float on his back, made it to shore with the assistance of men who came to the rescue. Dolben’s body was found several hours later when it surfaced further down the river. He was buried under the altar at Finedon Estate on July 6th of 1867.

In 1911, Robert Bridges, who would become poet laureate of England two years later, published the poetry of his cousin Digby Dolben, all of which had been written in the last three years of Dolben’s life. Approached by Gerald Manley Hopkins as to whether the Dolben family would publish Dolben’s work, the independently wealthy Bridges decided he would finance the publishing of both Dolben’s and Hopkins’s collectibe poetry. Published in a single volume entitled “Poems”, Digby Dolben’s work is considered to be among the best poetry of the Oxford Movement.

In 1981, “The Poems and Letters of Digby Mackworth Dolben, 1848-1867”, compiled by Martin Cohen, was published by the Avebury press. In 2017, author Simon Edge published his historical fiction novel “The Hopkins Conundrum”, a story about Gerald Hopkins’s infatuation with Dolben.

Note: A journal article on the life of Digby Mackworth Dolben, written by Liam Brophy, can be found at the JSTOR site located at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20513622

An online copy of Robert Bridges’s 1911 “Poems of Digby Mackworth Dolben”, published by Oxford University Press, can be found on The Internet Archive located at: https://archive.org/details/poemsofdigbymack00dolb_0/page/n3/mode/2up

John Giorno

 

Photographers Unknown, Thirteen Men Who Traveled Here

An unemployed
machinist
An unemployed machinist
who travelled
here
who travelled here
from Georgia
from Georgia 10 days ago
10 days ago
and could not find
a job
and could not find a job
walked
into a police station
walking into a police station
yesterday and said
yesterday
and said:

“I’m tired
of being scared
I’m tired of being scared.”

—John Giorno, An Unemployed Machinist, Balling Buddha, 1970

Born in New York City in December of 1936, John Giorno was a poet and performance artist. Raised in both Brooklyn and Roslyn Heights, Long Island, he graduated from New York’s Columbia University in 1958. In his early life, Giorno was a muse to and entered into romantic relationships with other artists, among them Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, whom he met in 1963 during Warhol’s first solo exhibition at the Stable Gallery in New York City. Giorno starred in Warhol’s 1963 four-minute film entitled “John Washing” and also appeared in Warhol’s eight-hour 1964 silent film, “Sleep”, the plot of which entailed Giorno sleeping on camera.

Inspired by his associations with Rauschenberg, Warhol, and Jasper Johns, Giorno began to appropriate found textual imagery to his poetry. An example of this can be found in the1964 poem “The American Book of the Dead”. Portions of this poem were used in works contained in Giorno’s first full collection “Poems”, published in 1967. Later meetings with sound poet and performance artist Brion Gysin and writer William S. Burroughs led to Giorno applying cut-up and montage techniques to found texts, and, influenced by the work of Gysin, the recording of his first audio poem pieces.

Established as an active presence in New York’s art scene, John Giorno collaborated with Brion Gysin on “Subway Sound” in 1965, and with Robert Rauschenberg in 1966 on “Nine Evenings of Theater and Engineering”. From 1967 to 1969, John Giorno presented his “Electronic Sensory Poetry Environments”, a series produced in collaboration with synthesizer creator Robert Moog and other artists. These psychedelic happenings and poetry installations were shown at St. Marks Church in Manhattan. In 1965, Giorno founded Giorno Poetry Systems, a non-profit production company that connected new audiences to poetry by the use of new technologies, engaged in political organizing, and created new artworks.

Giorno organized the first Dial-A-Poem event in 1968 at the non-profit Architectural League of New York. This poetic event was repeated at the Museum of Modern Art from 1969 to 1970, and resulted in a series of long-playing records issued by Giorno Poetry Systems. Poets who participated in these events included Patti Smith, William Burroughs, Eldridge Cleaver, and Bobby Seale. John Giorno was unapologetic in his use of politically-charged and sexually salacious content; he used his work to draw attention to his own status as a gay man, police violence in America, and the countless deaths caused by the war in Vietnam.

In the late 1960s, John Giorno’s work evolved to include the appropriation of entire texts from newspapers, the development of double-column poems, montages of diverse and often radically different texts, and the extensive use of repetition both across and down the page.This use of repetitive words and phrases reproduced textually the echos and distortions which occurred in Giorno’s vocal performances. Several of these poems were included in his 1970 “Balling Buddha”.

After traveling to India in 1971 and meeting His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Giorno became one of the early Western students of Tibetan Buddhism, a practice in which he participated for several decades. His early poetic works occasionally reflect Asian religious themes; but those after the 1970 collection, “Cancer in My Left Ball”, are a mixture of Buddhist and Western practices and poetic techniques seen through Giorno’s original interpretation. For instance in his 1970-72 poem “Guru Rinpoche”, Giorno mixed pop imagery with sacred sutras and portrayed gay eroticism as a form of spiritual devotion.

In 1972, John Giorno began releasing compilation records under the newly incorporated Giorno Poetry Systems media label. Presented through cassettes, long-playing records and compact discs, these audio works included new wave and punk music, and an assortment of vocal artists, musicians, and poets. Giorno Poetry Systems expanded in 1984 with the establishment of the AIDS Treatment Project, an emergency response to the impacts of the epidemic on artists’ lives. This project provided funds for artists living with AIDS through the early 2000s, when it was officially transformed into the Poets and Artists Fund.

Retired from performing in 2017, Giorno spent the last two years of his life in meditation, composing his poetry, and editing his memoir “Great Demon Kings”. John Giorno died of a heart attack at age eighty-two in October of 2019 at his home in Lower Manhattan. At the time of his death, he was married to Swiss-born Ugo Rondinone, a mixed-media artist known for his paintings and large-scale land-art sculptures.

Notes:
The john Giorno Foundation can be found at: https://www.giornofoundation.org/the-foundation
There are two interesting reads for those interested in John Giorno and his work. The first is an interview between journalist and essayist Marcus Boon and John Giorno, which is presented by Bomb Magazine, It can be found at: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/john-giorno-1/

The second is an article, written in 1994, by journalist and author Robert Coe and entitled “Becoming Buddha: John Giorno”. This more extensive biographical piece can be found at The Buddhist Review, Tricycle, located at: https://tricycle.org/magazine/becoming-buddha/

Küçük İskender: “You Should Have a Macedonian Name: Nicola”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Four

you decerebrate the rose, don’t do this
verses, cannot find the poems they deserted
you become a humiliated evening
your hair wet to your waist
your eyes
turned away and fixed on a couple of cracked glasses
left on a claret, velvet coverlet
almost exploded. Soon to blow
before the storm
closely shielding your face, poor and lonely child
storyless, bashful and amicable
you should have a macedonian name: nicola
I sat on your balcony, drank Choπcko beer,
over the way were
grand men wounded by the earth
grand women are sleeping
grand women wounded on account of grand men
turned into tramps by grand men
a pen knife, holds its blade inside like a secret
the pen knife I put on the table on leaving
a perfect portrayal
if it were nicola what would appear
somehow, not far away
was a beautiful graveyard where songs are laid

Küçük İskender, Nicola, Ascaracus Journal of Gay Poetry, February 2016, Translation by Caroline Stockford

Born Derman İskender Över in Istanbul in May of 1964, Küçük İskender was a Turkish critic, actor, and one of Turkey’s few openly gay poets. He studied at Istanbul University’s Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine, where he left in his last year. İskender later studied for three years at the university’s Department of Sociology. After leaving, he pursued his passions: cinema, theater and poetry.

Starting from the 1980s, İskender published poems, essays, and criticisms in various literary magazines, including the National Young Art Magazine where they appeared under the name Alexander Över. His first poem, “Milliyet Genç Sanat (National Young Art)”, was published under the name İskender Över. His poetry began to be published professionally in 1985 when Adam Sanat Magazine accepted his work.

Küçük İskender was one of the top ten poets in Italy’s 2000 European Young Poets Competition, and in the same year, was awarded at the annual poetry, film, and photography competition held in honor of Turkish poet Orhon Murat Ariburnu. Between 2001 and 2002, he was a speaker at poetry performances in Germany and the Netherlands, and at Berlin’s 2003 First Gay Turkish Congress. In 2004,  İskender lectured and read poetry at universities in New York and North Carolina; he also joined panels and workshops at various educational facilities in Turkey.

Reminiscent of the poems of García Lorca and Arthur Rimbaud in their urgency, İskender’s work is close to the clarity of expression found in the works of Spanish poet Luis Cernuda. His poems contain many sensual affirmations of gay life, but they also contain political and cultural commentaries. Many of his poems, written outside the traditional style of Turkish poetry, were polemic and abrasive in their language and spoke of injustice, the arrogance of those who plunder others, and intolerance in regard to sexual identity.

In additional to his poems and poetry collections, İskender wrote three novels: the 1998 “Flu’es”, “Cehenneme Gitmo Yöntemleri (Gitmo: Methods in Hell)” published in 1999, and the 2000 “Zatülcenp”. He also acted in two of director Mustafa Altioklar’s movies, the 1997 “Agir Roman” and the 2002 “O Simdi Asker”. 

Küçük İskender was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2018. His last year was spent in the intensive care unit of the state hospital in Istanbul. He died on July 2nd in 2019 and is buried in Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in Istanbul.

Étienne-Jules Marey

Motion-Analyses by Étienne-Jules Marey

Born in March of 1830 in Beaune, Étienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist, physiologist, and chronophotographer. The results of his work were significant for the development of aviation, cardiology, laboratory photography, cinematography, and instruments for precise measurement.

Étienne-Jules Marey traveled to Paris in 1849 and enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine to study surgery and physiology. After qualifying as a doctor in 1859, he established a small Parisian laboratory in 1864 where he studied the circulation of blood in the human body. From these studies, Marey published the 1868 “Le Mouvement dans les Fonctions de la Vie”. This book discussed the importance of recording devices in biology, Marey’s graphic method, the origin of movement, muscle contractility and elasticity, artificial stimulations of movement, and descriptions of many medical recording devices.

Beginning in 1862, Marey perfected the first elements of his graph methodology, which studied movement using recording instruments and graphs. He succeeded in analyzing through diagrams the walk of man and a horse, and the flight of birds and insects. The published results of this work, the 1873 “La Machine Animals”, led Eadweard Muybridge and Leland Stanford to pursue their own photographic researches into animal movement. 

Although Étienne-Jules Marey admired the results of Muybridge’s work done at the Palo Alto studio, he was dissatisfied with the lack of precision in Muybridge’s bird movement images. Inspired by previous photographic work done by astronomer Jules Janssen, Marey, in 1882, perfected the ‘photographic gun’ with a revolving cylinder containing photographic plates that was capable of taking twelve exposures in one second. Using this instrument, he was able to shoot multiple images of a subject quickly from different angles. Later in the same year, Muray invented the chronophotographic fixed-plate camera which was equipped with a timed shutter. 

Unlike the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge, who depicted movement as a series of discrete moments on separate, sequential negatives, Marey’s analyses of motion, captured by his chronophotographic camera, are characterized by multiple exposures on a single photographic glass plate. He made improvements to his invention in 1888 by replacing the glass plate with a long strip of sensitized paper. Marey’s first multiple-exposure “film” on paper, produced by moving the strip intermittently in the camera by an electromagnet at the speed of twenty images a second, was presented at the Academy des Science on October 29th in 1888. 

Two years later, Étienne-Jules Marey replaced the paper strip with a transparent celluloid film ninety millimeters wide with a length of one meter or more. A pressure-plate immobilized the film; a spring restarted the film when the pressure was released. All following cameras produced were based on the principles first applied by Marey: the intermittent movement of a sensitive film behind an objective lens  and the film’s static moments corresponding with the opening of the shutter. 

Between 1890 and 1900, assisted by inventor and photographer  Georges Demenÿ, and later by photographers Lucien Bull and Pierre Nogues, Marey made a large number of motion analysis filmstrips of high aesthetic and technical quality. These filmstrips were subsequently  processed and archived by the Cinématheque Francaise, the French non-profit film organization founded in 1936, and totaled over four- hundred original negatives, a collection which included the recording of a moving hand, self-portraits of Demenÿ and Marey, and the now-famous falling cat filmstrip, taken in 1894. 

In 1894, Étienne-Jules Marey published his collective research work under the title “Le Mouvement”. Towards the end of his life, he returned to studying the movement of more abstract forms. Marey’s  last great work was the observation and photography of smoke trails, partially funded by American astronomer and inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institute. In 1901 Marey built a smoke machine with fifty-eight smoke trails; this machine became one of the first aerodynamic wind tunnels. 

The founding father of technical cinematic photography, Étienne-Jules Marey died on May 15th of 1904 in Paris. His research was continued by his assistants Lucien Bull and Pierre Nogues at the Marey Institute, built at the request of the International Society of Physiology by Marey to house a commission for the control of graphic instruments dedicated to physiology.  At this institute, Bull and Nogues made microscopic, X-Ray and high-speed analysis films.

Christoper Soden: “Dionysus”

Photographers Unknown, Dionysus

i am wielder of chaos
bearer of cozy poison
hidden son of jupiter
gestated from his thigh
supple strapping boy
follow the crooked
steps of spontaneous
capering i will soothe
your terrified gaze
summon frantic defiant
nymphs to slake
your thumping skull
with tender anarchy
my fierce priestesses
in robes of moonlight
diaphanous cobweb
will sing lilting implacable
spells to wreck
planets in their courses
wine and feral milk spouting
from tap of hyssop branch
i will swaddle you
in mother night caress
you with snake tongue
drizzle silky
secret language
of the rapacious
in your ear nudge
succulent fissure
yearning for arc
of scalding bliss
sap of brief
delectable death

Christopher Soden, Dionysus

Born in Texas, Christopher Soden is a poet, playwright, and a critic of film, literature and theater. He attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he received in January of 2005 his Masters of Fine Art in Poetry. Soden has taught classes on the craft and theory of poetry, English literature, and the process of publication; he currently teaches literature in the Continuing Education Program at the Dallas College Richland Campus.

Soden’s first full-length poetry collection, “Closer” was published by Rebel Satori Press in June of 2011. While realizing that one can get only so close to another being, the works in this collection, written mostly in free verse, display the persistent sense of longing that one has for another. Soden’s collection of confessional narratives present an honest look at same-gender sexuality, maleness, loss and regret, and the complexity of the human condition.

Christopher Soden’s “Queer Anarchy”, a collection of short plays, monologues and performance pieces, dealt with gay and lesbian life in America; it received the Best Stage Performance award from The Dallas Voice, the first newspaper to represent Dallas’ LBGTQ community. Two of his plays, “Water” and “A Christmas Wish” were staged at Dallas’ Bishop Arts Theater Center. Other plays written by Soden include “All That Glitters Ain’t Goldie”, “Lizards Need Love Too”, and “Space Cowboy, Aunt Velma and the Macaroon”.

Soden received a Full Fellowship to Lambda Literary’s Retreat for Emerging LBGT Voices. He is a member of the Distinguished Poets of Dallas, the Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion Series, and is a Founding Member and President Emeritus of the Dallas Poets Community. Soden’s poetry has appeared in many print and online magazines, including G&L Review and Chelsea Station; he currently writes for the Dallas Art Beat, the Examiner.com, and the online theater review, sharpcritic.com.

“I remember the first time I heard Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ in a writer’s workshop I was taking. Our teacher, Jack, read it aloud, and I was unacquainted with Plath and her poetry. Didn’t even know she was dead. As anyone who knows the poem can tell you, it gathers steam and just continues to escalate by way of rage and audacity. Plath just keeps pushing and pushing until you think she couldn’t possibly go any further, and yet she does. By the time Jack finished with those three lines, ‘Herr God, Herr Lucifer, Beware. Beware. / Out of the ash I rise with my red hair, / and I eat men, like air,’ I could feel deep shudders traveling up my back. My scalp was ablaze. Until that moment I didn’t even know such poetry was possible. That was when I knew I wanted to be a poet.”

– Christopher Soden

Herbert List

Photography by Herbert List

Herbert List was a classically educated artist who combined his fascination with  Surrealism and Classicism with his love for photography. His austere, classically posed black and white compositions, particularly his Greek and Italian homoerotic nudes, became a prominent influence on both fashion and contemporary photography. 

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in October of 1903 to a wealthy business family, Herbert List  studied art and literature between 1921 and 1923 at the University of Heidelberg. In 1923, he began to travel for the family’s coffee business, Kaffee-Import Firma List & Heineken. List made contacts and visited plantations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and El Salvador; during this four year period, he began to record his travels photographically.  

Through his connections to the European avant-garde, List became associated with  American photographer Andreas Bernhard, known for his dynamic black and white city scenes and natural structures. Bernhard  introduced him to the Rolleiflex camera which allowed for more sophisticated compositions. Beginning in 1930, influenced by the Bauhaus artists and  the emerging surrealist movement, List began photographing still life and portraits of friends, often employing draped fabrics, masks, and double exposures. 

Once the National Socialist Party was in control of Germany, the Gestapo began to pay attention to Herbert List’s openly gay lifestyle and Jewish heritage. In 1936, he left Germany for Paris and decided to begin a professional career as a photographer. During 1937 List maintained a studio in London and held his first solo show at Galerie du Chasseur d’Images, the first Paris gallery dedicated to photography.  Starting in 1936 with a reference from fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, List began a three year period working as a fashion photographer for various magazines, including Verve, Vogue, and Life.

Dissatisfied  with fashion photography, List returned to his still life and portraiture  work. He traveled throughout Greece from 1937 to 1939 where he took photographs of ancient temples, sculptures and landscapes; two hundred of these photographs would be published in his 1953 “Licht Über Hellas: Eine Symphonie in Bildern”. During this time, List supported himself with work for magazines and the press, and by doing portraiture work. 

Working in Athens, Herbert List hoped to escape World War II; however, when troops invaded Greece, he was forced in 1941 to return to Germany, where, due to a grandparent’s Jewish heritage, he was denied the ability to work or publish professionally. Near the end of the war in 1944, despite his Jewish heritage, he was drafted into the German military and served in Norway as a map designer. A trip to Paris during his military service allowed him the opportunity to photograph images of Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Arp, Joan Miró, and other artists.

After the war, List continued to live in Munich until 1960, where he photographed its ruins and produced freelance photo essays for newspapers and magazines such as Look, Picture Post, Heute, and Harper’s Bazaar. List was made art editor in 1948 for the Swiss-German language, daily free newspaper Heute, which was published by the Allied Forces. In 1951 through an invitation by photojournalist Robert Capa, he started contributing photographs to Magnum, an international photographic cooperative. 

Through the next decade Herbert List focused his interest on photographing life in Italy. where he shot photo essays, street scenes, architectural views, and portraits using a 35 mm camera and a telephoto lens. His work became more spontaneous and was influenced by the Italian neorealist film movement and the work of his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson. List ’s travels for his photographic work was extensive, including trips to Spain, France, Mexico, and the Caribbean. 

List’s publications include “Rom”, a collection of his work in Rome, published in Munich in 1950:“Caribia”, his Caribbean Island series published in 1958: “Nigeria”, published in 1963; and “Napoli”,  a 1962  collaboration with Italian director Vittorio de Sica. List is best known for his  1988 book “Junge Männer”, a collection of seventy images of young men lounging in the sun, wrestling, or gazing at the camera. The introduction of the book was written by English novelist Stephen Spender, who fictionalized List as Joachim Lenz in his novel “The Temple”. 

Herbert List passed away in Munich on the 4th of April in 1975. His archive of photographs, originally part of the Ratjen Collection, is now housed in the National Gallery in Washington DC. His work is held in many private and public collections, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, Kunsthaus Zürich, Cologne’s Museum Ludwig, Munich;s Stadtmaueum, and the Musée Picasso in Paris.

Insert Images:

Herbert List, “Self Portrait, Herrsching”, 1947, Silver Gelatin Print

Herbert List, “Man and Dog”, 1939, Gelatin Silver Print

Photographer Unknown, “Herbert List and Max Scheler, Venice”, 1952, Silver Gelatin Print, Mas Scheler Estate

Herbert List, “Young Man Under Reed Roof, Torremolinos”, 1951, Gelatin Silver Print

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander, Photographs from the “The Little Screens” Series

Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in July of 1934, Lee Friedlander is an artist and photographer known for his innovative images depicting America’s city streets. His candid street photography captured the light and content in the country’s urban landscapes.

At the age of eighteen, Friedlander began his formal studies of photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he settled in New York City, where he photographed jazz musicians for record album covers. Friedlander’s early work was influenced by Swiss photographer and documentary film maker Robert Frank, best known for his 1958 book “The Americans”; Walker Evans, known for his Depression Era images taken with a large-format view camera; and the French pioneer of documentary photography Eugène Atget, known for his scenes of Paris’ streets and architecture. 

Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1960, Lee Friedlander was able to focus on his photography, which is primarily executed with hand-held Leica 35 mm cameras and black and white film. Friedlander’s street photography featured detached images of ordinary urban life, including structures framed by fences, gas stations, parking lots, store fronts, churches and commercial signs and posters. In his work, he cleverly used reflections and shadows, often shooting images at strange angles or through car windshields. Friedlander has also used car mirrors to frame an image within an image. 

Friedlander is constantly aware of the photographer’s relationship to the picture plane; and he places at least as much importance on it as on the image’s apparent subject which could be an empty street, a store window, or an unremarkable piece of town statuary. Friedlander’s photographs often contain his shadow and/or his reflection, a self-portrait which lends an odd edge to his observations.

Friedlander had his first solo exhibition in 1963 at the International Museum of Photography located at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Along with photographers Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand, he was a key figure at curator John Szarkowski’s 1967 “New Documents” exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, an influential exhibition which generated a new look in documentary photography. 

Lee Friedlander has published books regularly: the 1969 “Work from the Same House”, a collaborative effort with artist Jim Dine; “Self-Portrait” published in 1970; the 1981 “Flowers and Trees”; the 1985 retrospective “Lee Friedlander: Portraits”; “Nudes” published in 1991; and the 1992 “The Jazz People of New Orleans”. Friedlander has received a number of awards for his photography, including three Guggenheim Fellowships, five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a MacArthur Foundation Award. 

Friedlander is also responsible for rescuing and printing the negatives of early twentieth-century New Orleans photographer Ernest Joseph Bellocq, remembered for his haunting photographs taken in Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red-light district. These photographs were published in the 1996 “Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville”, with an introduction by photographer Susan Sontag.

Note: In the early 1960s, Lee Friedlander’s attention was drawn to television sets, a relatively recent luxury appliance. His series “The Little Screens” first appeared as a 1963 picture essay in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, with a commentary by photographer Walker Evans. Six untitled photographs showed television screens broadcasting glowing images of faces and figures into unoccupied rooms in homes and motels across America. 

Between 1963 and 1969, “The Little Screens” series grew and, in 2001, was exhibited in full at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. The series documented not only iconographic ghostly rooms filled with bland furnishings of the period; it also revealed an emerging future reality of omnipresent television screens, and droning television voices and personalities that filled space in an increasing isolationist culture.

Insert Images: Lee Friedlander, “Self Portraits”, 1960s, Gelatin Silver Prints

John Kingsley Orton

Photographers Unknown, Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Thirteen

Sir — As a playgoer of forty years standing, may I say that I heartily agree with Peter Pinnell in his condemnation of ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’. I myself was nauseated by this endless parade of mental and physical perversion. And to be told that such a disgusting piece of filth now passes for humor! Today’s young playwrights take it upon themselves to flaunt their contempt for ordinary decent people. I hope that the ordinary decent people of this country will shortly strike back! Yours truly, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)

—John Kingsley Orton, Letter Sent for Publication under the Alias of Edna Welthorpe

Born in Leicester, England in January of 1933, John Kingsley Orton, known under the pen name of Joe Orton, was a working-class, gay playwright whose outrageous black comedies shocked, outraged, and amused theatre audiences in the 1960s. 

After attending secretarial classes at Clark’s College in Leicester from 1945 to 1947, Joe Orton worked as a junior clerk for three pounds a week. He began performing in theater productions beginning in 1949 and joined several groups, including the Leicester Dramatic Society. Orton was accepted for a scholarship at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in November of 1950; however, due to appendicitis, his entrance was delayed until May of 1951. It was at the Royal Academy that Orton met the seven-year older Kenneth Leith Halliwell, who also was a struggling actor and writer. After moving into a West Hampstead flat, they quickly formed a strong relationship and became lovers.

After graduation, Orton and Halliwell collaborated on writing several novels, which were unsuccessful at  publishing. Due to a lack of serious work, they began to amuse themselves with pranks and hoaxes. From January 1959 to May of 1962, Orton and Halliwell removed books from several local public libraries and began to modify the blurbs and cover art. One volume of poetry by writer and broadcaster John Betjeman was found with a new dust jacket featuring a photograph of a nearly naked, tattooed middle-aged man. Discovered by the authorities in May of 1962 and later found guilty of five counts of theft and malicious damage to seventy books, the two men served six months in prison. A collection of these altered book covers are now housed in the Islington Local History Center.

In 1959, Joe Orton wrote his only novel, which was  posthumously published as “Head to Toe”, and soon began to have success in his plays’ productions. His first play “Fred and Madge” was written in 1959; and “The Visitors” followed two years later. In 1963 the BBC purchased Orton’s radio play “The Ruffian on the Stair”, which was broadcast on August 31st of 1964 and, later in 1966, adapted as a stage play. 

By the end of August, Orton had also completed his play “Entertaining Mr. Sloane”, which premiered on May 6th of 1964 to reviews which ranged from praise to outrage. Although it lost money on its short run, the play tied for first in the Variety Critics’ Poll for Best New Play, and Orton came second in the category for Most Promising Playwright. By 1965, “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” was being performed in Spain, Israel, Australia, and New York, as well as being adapted into both a film and television play.

Written between June and October of 1964, Joe Orton’s next play was “Loot”, a wild parody of detective fiction, which added the blackest farce and jabs at established ideas on death, the police, religion, and justice. It underwent sweeping rewrites before it was judged fit for the West End. “Loot” was first staged in London on September 27th of 1966 to rave reviews. In November the play moved to the Criterion Theater where it ran for three hundred forty-two performances, won several awards and firmly established Orton’s fame.

Orton, over the next ten months, revised his “The Ruffian on the Stair” and his “The Erpngham Camp” for the stage as a double play entitled “Crimes of Passion”. He also wrote his television play “Funeral Games”, the screenplay entitled “Up Against It” for the Beatles music group, and his final full-length play “What the Butler Saw”, a play of seduction, blackmail, and cross-dressing, which came to the West End stage in 1969, eighteen months after Orton’s death.

On the 9th of August of 1967, John Kingsley Orton was bludgeoned to death by Kenneth Halliwell at their home in Islington, London, killed by nine hammer blows to the head. Halliwell then committed suicide with an overdose of Nembutal. Later evidence showed that Orton had earlier confided to a friend that he wanted to end his relationship with Halliwell; and it also showed that Halliwell had spoken to his psychiatrist three times on the day of the murder. Halliwell had felt increasingly threatened and isolated by Orton’s success, and had come to rely on barbiturates and antidepressants. The bodies, along with Halliwell’s suicide note, were found on the morning of August 10th by a chauffeur who had arrived to transport Orton for a meeting in London. 

The body of Joe Orton was brought into the chapel of London’s Golders Green Crematorium to a recording of the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life”. Playwright and director Harold Pinter read the eulogy. After Orton’s cremation, his ashes and Halliwell’s ashes were mixed together and scattered in a section of the Garden of Remembrance at Golders Green; no marking memorial stone is erected there. A statue of Joe Orton was later installed in the city of Leicester and, in 1987, a film adaption of John Lahr’s 1978 biography of Orton was released under the title “Prick Up Your Ears”.

Note: For those interested in theater and gay history, an interesting article is Greg Buzwell’s 2019 “Homosexuality, Censorship, and British Drama During the 1950s and 1960s” located at the British Library site: https://www.bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/homosexuality-censorship-and-british-drama-during-the-1950s-and-1960s

Chris Plytas

Photography by Chris Plytas

Born in 1953 in London, Chris Plytas is an established contemporary visual artist whose work covers the psychology of self-image and identity. His photographic portraiture works have been admired often for their way of unearthing the primal and sensual core of their subjects, and the way they sometimes straddle the borderline between beatific innocence and animal rage.

From 1974 to 1977, Plytas studied fine art, painting and sculpture at St. Martins School of Art in London and earned a BFA with honors. After graduation, he developed his darkroom skills on landscape and portraiture photography.Plytas also  did reportage photography for publications, in which he covered  events such as night clubs, concerts, fashion shows, the Royal Wedding, and the Cannes Film Festival.

During the period form 1977 to 1985, Chris  Plytas did photographic printing, layouts, and personal design realization in London for Vivienne Westwood, the English fashion designer largely responsible for bringing punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. In 1982, he became Director of Berwick Universal Pictures, Limited, an award-winning documentary film company based in Soho, London.  Starting in 1985, Plytas began concentrating on his own personal, black and white, fine art photography, shot with Hasselblad cameras, for exhibition and personal archives. 

Chris Plytas’ first series, entitled “Australia”, was shot over a six month period mostly in the New South Wales and Victoria provinces of Australia. This large body of work, consisting of landscape and portraiture, was exhibited in 1987 at London’s Photographers Gallery and toured Europe for six years with support from Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, a public collection of France’s contemporary art. 

Starting in 1987, Plytas engaged in a six-year shoot for his series “Hadrian: The Violence and Sexuality of Adolescence” series, a coming of age story shot in real time. His next series “Le Corps Enjeux (The Body)” was shown as part of the Mois de la Photo exhibition, sponsored by Audiovisuel and Kodak,  held in Paris in 1988. Plytas spent a year from 1992 to 1993 in the Xi’an and the Yannan regions of China, where he shot his “China: Voyage to the East” portfolio, a series which he dedicated to Sun Wukong, the trickster Monkey King.

Known for his exhibited photographic series, Chris Plytas began to receive commissions for portraiture work. His “Family Portraits” series was commissioned by the De Ganay Archives and, at present, consists of forty-eight individual portraits of members of the French aristocratic family. He has also received portraiture commissions from various  other European  and American families 

After shooting his “Miami Beach” series in  1994.  Plytas  has continued working, throughout his career, on multiple personal portfolios, some of which have been exhibited and published. These include his “The Burden of Classicism”; “Nature and Nurture”; “Youth: A Retrospective” shot in Italy; “Beach-Scapes” shot in  Italy and Sicily; a series entitled “Allegorical Portraits”; and “Blood Ties”, a portfolio documenting family member connections.

In addition to his participation in numerous group exhibitions, Plytas  has shown his work in solo gallery exhibitions, including  Paris’ Galerie PONS in 1995, Paris’ Galerie Serge Aboukrat in 2000, a 2002 exhibition in Italy entitled “Frascati Doc”, an exhibition project at the Chateau de Courances in France in 2004, and in 2015 a Paris exhibition entitled “What is Erotic?”. 

Chris Plytas’ work is available in limited editions and custom portfolios. Private individual or family portraits can be commissioned. His website is located at: https://www.chrisplytas.com/index

Insert Images:

Chris Plytas,, Title Unknown (Slogan on Wall), 1992-93, China, Voyage to the East Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Chris Plytas,, “Boy and Girl Entwined”, 1986-2003, The Body Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Andreas Fux

Photography by Andreas Fux

Born in East Berlin of the German Democratic Republic in 1964, Andreas Fux is a photographer whose body of work focuses on how the human individual evolves into his own artistic creation. He belongs to the Prenzlauerberg photo artist scene, which documented the last decade of the German Democratic Republic. 

Andreas Fux initially trained from 1980 to 1982 as an electrician. In 1983, he began his own sstudy of  the process and techniques of photographic work. During the years between 1983 and 1988, Fux exhibited his photographs in private gallery spaces. His first published works appeared in a 1988 issue of Das Magazin, a monthly East Berlin magazine that focused on culture and lifestyle. Working as a freelancer, Fux provided the publication with black and white photographs covering Berlin’s punk and youth culture.

 In 1989, Fux worked on photo productions for Deutsche Film-Aldiengesellschaff, the state-owned film studio of East Germany. Since 1990, he has been working as a freelance photographer for various newspapers and magazines, as well as executing his own photographic projects. In 1992, Fux’s first solo photographic book was published entitled “The Russians”; it was a supplement to his solo exhibition, of the same name, at the Janssen Gallery in Berlin, a show which later traveled to Hamburg and Munich. 

Andreas Fux gained a wider audience for his work with the 2005 series “The Sweet Skin”, which covered a decade of works between 1995 and 2005. For this series of portraits which focused on tattoos and skin scarification; he followed the lives of his models, with daily documentation and night shoots in his studio. Against a mostly white background and in the silence of the photo studio, nude photographs of his models were taken, in which the contrast between intimacy of the body and clinical sterility of the room was exaggerated. In another series entitled “At the End of the Night”, whose topic was body culture, the nude, and sexuality, Fux posed his subjects against a black background with a selective light source that modeled and fragmented the models sculpturally. 

Fux’s 2001 series “The Horizonte” is reminiscent in its formality of the 1980s “Seascapes” series done by Japanese photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto, in which Sugimoto bifurcated the landscape images exactly in half by the horizon line. At the beginning of September 2001, Fux travelled across the North Sea on board a Ukrainian training sailboat. For this series, he celebrated the beauty of the horizon as an interaction between sea, clouds and light. The images of “The Horizonte” series were seen by the critics as an expression of calm and innocence. For his 2010 series “Kerberos and Chimaira”, Fux staged his motifs in a wind tunnel at Berlin-Adlershot. Using the strict compositions of expressionism and the aesthetic codes of the latex and fetish scene, his series examined  a dangerous and often not considered proximity between the erotic picture codes of fetishism and the aesthetics of National Socialism.

For his 2016 exhibition “Shame and Beauty”,  Andreas Fux opposed new portraits with a selection of older works, a combination which showed the development of his oeuvre over the years. His new work preserved the almost tender and respectful handling of his subjects found in his early works. The photographic sessions in which he bathed his models in soft light took an entire night, were meticulously planned, and took place in a highly sensitized atmosphere. This Berlin show contextualized the discussion on governmental and social repression and persecution; the works in this show had previously been exhibited by Fux in Moscow in September of 2015 under rather adverse conditions.

Andreas Fux has had solo exhibitions in Germany and abroad, including the Widmer and Theodoris Gallery in Zurich, the Photo Festival in New York, the Esther Woerdehoff Gallery in Paris and the Pasinger Fabrik Gallery in Munich.

A collection of Fux’s photo work from Berlin can be found at: https://andreas-fux.berlin

Maurice Sendak: “Where the Wild Things Are”

Photographers Unknown,  Where the Wild Things Are

Max stepped into his private boat
and waved goodbye
and sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day
and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot”

—Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Born to Polish Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York, in June of 1928, Maurice Bernard Sendak was an American writer and illustrator of children’s books. He was affected in his childhood by the deaths of many of his extended family who perished in the Holocaust. An early reader of books, Sendak decided at the age of twelve to become an illustrator after seeing Walt Disney’s film “Fantasia”.

Sendak started his professional career with the creation of window displays, one of which was in the toy store FAO Schwarz located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. His first published illustrations, a series of figures explaining the atom and its energy, were in the 1947 textbook “Atomics for the Millions” written by Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. In the 1950s, Sendak illustrated children’s books written by other authors, including two books written by his older brother, author Jack Sendak, and the “Little Bear” series of books written by Danish-American author Else Holmelund Minarik.

In 1956 Maurice Sendak published his first authored book, “Kenny’s Window”. and soon started working on second effort, for which he was inspired to use the Yiddish expression ‘vilde chaya”, or wild animals, to indicate overexcited children. Sendak’s authored and illustrated 1963 children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” received international acclaim. Initially banned for two years by libraries and critiqued negatively, the book won the annual Caldecott Medal in 1964 for recognition as the most distinguished American illustrated book for children. Since its publication, it has sold over nineteen million copies worldwide.

Sendak illustrated Isaac Bashevis Singer’s first children’s book “Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories, which was published in 1966 and received the Newbery Honor for children’s literature. He authored and illustrated the 1970 “In the Night Kitchen”, a young boy’s dream journey through a surreal baker’s kitchen, one of a trilogy of books which contains “Where the Wild Things Are” and the 1981 “Outside Over There”. Illustrated in a different style from his previous works, the book is mainly pictorial with few captions. “In the Night Kitchen”, with its depiction of the young protagonist’s nudity, was controversial upon its release and is still ranked as one of the most frequently challenged books. 

Maurice Sendak’s works included many in the fields of television and stage. He was active in the development of the “Sesame Street” series, and wrote and designed four stories for the series, including an adaption of his book “Bumble Ardy” into an animated film. Sendak adapted his “Where the Wild Things Are’ into a stage production in 1979, and also designed sets for many operas and ballets, including Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker:, Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”,  and Prokofiev’s “The Love for Three Oranges”.

In 1957, Maurice Sendak met his partner, psychoanalyst Eugene Glynn, with whom he remained for fifty years until Glynn’s death in May of 2007. After his partner’s death, he donated one million dollars to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in memory of Glynn, who had treated children and young adults there. While his sexuality was known among his friends, Sendak kept his sexuality from public view for almost his entire life. When the social climate regarding homosexuality began to change, he  came out, at the age of eighty years old, during a 2008 interview with the New York Times.

Considered one of the most important children’s book artists of the twentieth century, Maurice Sendak died on May 8th of 2012 at the Danbury Hospital in Conneticutt from stroke complications. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered at an unconfirmed location. Under an agreement with, and supported by a grant from, the Maurice Sendak Foundation, his original artwork, sketches, books, and other materials, totaling close to ten thousand items, are housed at the University of Conneticutt’s Archives and Special Collections in the Thomas J Dodd Research Center.

Virgilio Pinera: “The Waves of Music We Made”

Photographers Unknown, The Waves of Music We Made

Can it be they are going to kill?
Will they pierce the heart with a huge knife?
And with the sharpest scalpel empty the eyes?
And with the steeliest chisel break the skull?
And with the most hammer of hammers crush the bones?

Can it be that on the exotic table
–table of sex, table of love–
my love, you and I,
being startled one night
your heart spoke
when you were under my blood?
Can it be the same as it was
when it was an oath, and even more so,
your work, your word bled,
soaked by the soft perfume of kisses,
so as not to deny, to be one indivisible?
And can it be so blindly believed,
so blindly, that all the suns go dark forever
while the soul travels in darkness?
Can it be there never was a soul despite the waves of music
we made?
Soul that never was though you might be for an instant?

Renenber that instant when you were a soul and adored
me,
and then your own monster came suddenly
to take you to the place where being you were?

Can it be that after you are no longer,
when not being is merely a mound of dried out kisses,
you wil be by not being, instead of being love?

Virgilio Pinera, Poem to be Said in the Midst of a Great Silence, The Weight of the Island, 1967

Born in Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba in 1912, Virgilio Piñera was an author, playwright, poet, and essayist known for his avant-garde work, caustic wit, acid tongue, and bohemian lifestyle. He lived under the dual repression of the Catholic church and reactionary government leaders such as Argentina’s Juan Perón and Cuba’s Fulgencio Batista. Piñera’s homosexuality and non-conformism led to his marginalization during a well-documented period of Cuban history when homophobia and petty bureaucracy stifled creative freedom

An avid reader from an early age, which included works by Marcel Proust and Herman Melville, Piñera drew his inspiration from different genres, a foundation which became fundamental to his distinctive work with its combination of Cuban vernacular and more refined language.At the age of thirteen, Piñera’s family moved to Camagüey, a municipality located in central Cuba, where he earned his high school diploma. After settling in Havana in 1938,  he received his Doctoral Degree in philosophy from the University of Havana in 1949. 

Piñera published in his poems in Havana’s literary magazine “Espuela de Plata” and, in 1941. wrote his first poetry collection, “Las Furias (The Furies)” and  his most famous play “Electra Garrigó”, which featured the choral structure of a Greek tragedy alongside distinctive Cuban elements. Staged both before and after the revolution of Castro and Guevara, this play later became a powerful symbol of the Revolution and was consciously performed before foreign and  notable public figures as  being emblematic of the transformed nation.

Following his founding of the magazine “Poeta” in 1942, Piñera wrote his collection of poems entitled “La Isla en Peso (The Weight of the Island)”. Drawing upon episodes in his personal life as well as the social interactions occurring inside Cuba, he explored the nebulous regions between sadness and beauty, and disillusion and reality. Published posthumously after Piñera’ death in 1979, “The Weight of the Island” was initially scorned by some poets and critics; however, the collection is now regarded as one of the classics of Cuban literature.

In 1944, Virgilio Piñera, along with writer José Lezama Lima and editor and critic José Rodríguez Feo, founded the prestigious literary and arts review “Origenes”, which provided a focal point for promising poets and critics in Cuba during the 1940s and 1950s. The journal published short stories, poetry, and critical essays on art, literature, music and philosophy. Among Piñera’s contributions were several poems, an essay on Argentinian literature, and an 1945 essay entitled “El Secreto de Kafka”, a work in which Piñera developed his theory on the creation of images into a literary surprise. 

Piñera lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a twelve year period from 1946 to 1958; it was  during this stay that he developed his voice as a writer. He worked as a translator and proofreader at the Cuban Embassy and became friends with writers Jorge Luis Borges and essayist José Bianco, who would write the forward to Piñera’s collection of short stories “El que Vina a Salvarme (The One Who Came to Save Me)”. Along with other writers, Piñera worked on the translation of Polish author Witold Gombrowicz’s 1937 controversial novel “Ferdydurke” into Spanish. 

Virgilio Piñera wrote two plays in Buenos Aires,  “Jesús” and “Falsa Alarma”, a fast paced, absurdist play of humor and anguish, to which he lengthened with dialogue for a later 1957 staging. His first novel, entitled “La Carne de René (René’s Flesh)”, was published in 1952 and told the dark story of a twenty-year old protagonist forced into a merciless life. After the closure of his literary review “Origenes” and the founding of his final magazine “Ciclón (Cyclone)”, Piñera left Argentina in 1958 to settle permanently in Cuba, where he arrived shortly before the Revolution. His work appeared in the newspaper “Revolución” and other numerous journals. In 1962, with the Cuban revolution in full motion, Piñera’s  most autobiographical play, “Airo Frio (Cold Air)”, a very personal celebratory work supporting the ouster of dictator Batista’s police and army, opened in Havana. 

Shortly after the opening of “Airo Frio”, Fidel Castro’s government made the decision that there was no room for any views other than those completely sympathetic to the Revolution. Intellectuals and other luminaries, as well as the religious and those youths not conforming to the revolution, were to face persecution. Virgilio Piñera, although never public about his homosexuality, was arrested under the revolutionary government’s clampdown on the prostitutes, pimps and homosexuals. By 1971, he was ostracized by the Cuban government and the literary establishment. As his career declined into obscurity. Piñera continued to write at n increased rate; however, his plays were no longer performed. 

In 1968, Piñera received Latin America’s most prestigious literary prize, the Premio Casa de las Américas, for his play “Dos Viejos Pánicos (Two Old Panics)”. Despite the award and acclaim, the play would not have its first performance in Cuba until the 1990s.  Leaving behind more than twenty plays, three novels, volumes of short stories and a vast number of poems, Virgilio Piñera, who lived the last years of his life in poverty, died of a cardiac arrest on the 18th of August in 1979, without any official recognition of his death. He is buried in his native town of Cárdenas.

As a way to redress some of the wrongs committed against Piñera in the past, Cuba declared the year 2012 as “El Añ0 Virgiliano”. In the month of June, a group of thirty researchers from countries, such as the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain and the United States, came together in Havana to discuss the life, work and legacy of Virgilio Pañera, one of Latin America’s prominent writers. His two best known plays, “Airo Frio” and “Dos Viejos Pánicos”, were performed and a new ballet by choreographer Iván Tenorio, entitled “Virgiliando”, had its premiere. 

Note: The University of Miami Libraries contains the digital Cuban Heritage Collection which includes material on Virgilio Piñera. Included in the material are correspondence exchanged between Piñera and Adolfo de Obieta during the 1940s and 1950s, as well as a typescript of Piñera’s play “Una Caja de Zapatos Vacía” that he sent to his friend Luis F. González-Cruz, who published it in Miami in 1986. This material can be found at: https://merrick.library.miami.edu/cdm/search?collection=chc5278

Leonardo Corredor

The Black and White Photography of Leonardo Corredor

Born in Mérida, Venezuela, and based in New York City, Leonardo Corredor is a photographer and art film director. Before his photography career, he was professional model, named Best Venezuelan Model in 2007. Since his first appearance as an actor in 2010, Corredor has appearred in several acting roles on television series, including “Control Remoto”, “Dum Dum”, and “La Merienda”. He has also hosted Telemundo’s show “Invasion Casera”.

In 2012 Corredor became a creative director and fashion photographer for webzines, print magazines and fashion advertisers, including Essential Homme, Man About Town, Rollercoaster Magazine, Portrait, Fashionably Male, and Solar Magazine, among others. He is represented by The Industry MGMT, a artist and model management agency, focused on still and motion photography,  with offices in New York and Los Angeles.

Examples of Leonardo Corredor’s photographic and video work can be found at his site located at: https://www.leonardocorredor.com

Paul Monette: “Everything Extraneous Has Burned Away”

Photographers Unknown, Everything Extraneous Has Burned Away

everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skies were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war in not all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you hold onto refugees and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-A-Days KINGSIZE was
the worst I’d think will you still be here
when the bus is empty Rog Rog who will
play boy with me now that I bucket with tears
through it all when I’d cling beside you sobbing
you’d shrug it off with the quietest I’m still
here
I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don’t dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps men spotless but it doesn’t
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it and all
there is now is burning dark the only green
is up by the grave and this little thing
of telling the hill I’m here oh I’m here

Paul Monette, Here, Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog 

Born in October of 1945 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Paul Monette was n poet, author, and gay rights activist, best known for his essays about gay relationships. He graduated from the Phillips Academy, a university-preparatory school, in 1963 and earned his Bachelor of Arts at Yale University in 1967.  

Monette’s formative years in the rigid social boundaries and strict religious atmosphere of his middle-class upbringing prompted him to not disclose his gay orientation. Questioning his sexual identity, he moved to Boston, where he taught writing and literature at Milton Academy and Pine Manor College. In 1974 in Boston, Monette met his longtime partner, lawyer Roger Horwitz, a graduate of Harvard Law School, with a Ph.D in comparative literature from Harvard University.

In November of 1977, Paul Monette and Roger Horwitz moved to Los Angeles, where they became strongly associated with the gay rights movement in the city. Monette wrote and published several novels during this period; his first novel, “Taking Care of Mrs Carroll”, featuring two male lovers and a legendary movie goddess, was published in 1978. In the period from 1977 to 1982, he wrote several more works of poetry, fiction and memoirs, including the 1979 “The Gold Diggers” and the 1981 murder mystery “The Long Shot”.

Monette’s more serious work began with the onslaught of the AIDS crisis, when his work focused on its occurring loss and heartbreak. In 1985, his partner, Roger Horwitz, was diagnosed with the AIDS virus and, after a long nineteen month fight against the virus, passed away in October of 1986. After Horwitz’s death, Monette continued his writing and remained active with many public speaking appearances.

In 1988, Paul Monette published his “Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog”, a collection of poems in remembrance of Horwitz. Using different fonts and no punctuation, the lines are interpreted by the reader’s determination when to begin and end a sentence. Through the poetry Monette described the events that occurred during Roger’s decline in health and his own transition through the various  emotions he experienced, which included denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. His description of his loss is particularly evident in the poem “The Very Same”, written on the day of Horwitz’a funeral.

Monette published his “Afterlife” in 1990 and “Halfway Home” in 1991, both which were centered around people with AIDS and their families’ experiences. His most acclaimed book, the 1988 “Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir”, chronicles his partner Roger Horwitz’s long fight, and eventual death, from the AIDS virus. Describing the devastating loneliness felt by AIDS patients and their loved ones, the memoir received both the PEN Center West and Lambda literary awards. Monette’s 1992 memoir “Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story”, an autobiography of his early closeted life, culminating with his meeting Roger, was written as a classical coming of age story and won the National Book Award in 1992. 

Monette’s life story, including the final years before his own death from AIDS in February of 1995, is documented in Monte Bramer and Lesli Klainberg’s 1996 film “Paul Monette” The Brink of Summer’s End”. Premiered at the 1996 Los Angeles Outfest, the film went on to win four awards for best documentary, including the GLAAD Media Award and the Sun Dance Film Festival. 

Paul Monette died in Los Angeles where he lived with his partner of five years, author and psychotherapist Winston Wilde. He is buried alongside Roger Horwitz at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills Los Angeles. Shortly before his death, Paul Monette established the Monette-Horwitz Trust to support future LBGT activism and scholarship.Trust Awards are given annually to individuals and organizations for their contribution to eradicating homophobia through literary, scholarly, archival, or activist work. 

Albert Russo: “Dramatis Personae”

Photographers Unknown, The Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Twelve

They call me Gianni
They call me Jim
But also Dominic
In both genders
In every guise

Whether it be Gianni, Jim or Dominic
In the present tense as in the past
First or third person
We’re talking of the same person
With the difference that each one
Speaks in another tongue
Confounding strangers
Claims the spiteful gossip

At time Gianni and Jim will be one and the same
At times they will oppose each other
Sometimes they might act as total strangers
And so it goes for both Dominics

The distance between them may be paper thin
Or else wide as the ocean
That which separates two languages
Or lies, mute, within the blood cells

Albert Russo, Dramatis Personae, The Crowded World of Solitude, Vol. 2

Born in February, 1943, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Albert Russo is a poet, short story writer, novelist and photographer. The son of a British mother and an Italian Sephardic father, he attended the high school in Bujumbura, a coastal city in Burundi, where he mastered four languages: French, English, Dutch, German, and vernacular Swahili. Russo earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at New York University in 1964  He traveled to Heidelberg in 1965, where he earned a degree in German culture and literature at the Collegium Palatinum. 

Russo first began writing poems in English in 1964 during his years at New York University. In 1965, he settled in Milan, Italy, where he  worked at the family firm and continued his writing. His first novel entitled “La Pointe du Diable”, written in French, was published in 1973 in Brussels. For this work, Russo won the Prix Colette in Cannes and the Prix de la Liberté in Paris. 

In 1975, Albert Russo returned to New York for three years. During this period, he taught language classes and published several poems and short stories in a variety of international magazines, including The Literary Review, Culture Française, La Libre Belgique, and Revue Zaire. Russo also worked with UNICEF translating scripts for children’s documentary films. He returned to Europe in 1978  and settled in Paris. 

Albert Russo has written more than twenty-five works, translated into twelve languages. His main themes are the defense of individual and collective rights, including ethnic, gender and religious, and the fight against racism. Many of his works are centered around life in Africa; two of which are“Mixed Blood” and “Eclipse over Lake Tanganyika”, both published in 2000. Russo wrote a large two-volume series entitled “The Crowded World of Solitude”, the first volume which includes short stories, essays, and fables: the second volume contains forty year collection of poems. 

During the 1980s, through their common Congolese experience and love for Africa, Russo met and befriended Italian artist and philosopher Joseph Pace. Later in the 2999s, he became friends with poet and photographer Adam Donaldson Powell. Together they authored the 2009 “Gaytude”, a volume of poetry, with photographs by Russo, which dealt with the gay experience of life on five continents.

As a professional photographer, Albert Russo has earned several prizes, including winning a National Indie-Excellence award and a silver medal from a Gallery Photografica competition. His photographic work has been shown at Switzerland’s Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. In 2019, Russo won a UNICEF Award for his poetry oeuvre and, in 2020, an Artavita Certificate for his photography.

Jonathan Williams: “Glittering Frostily”

Photographers Unknown, Glittering Frostily

There are more things to love
than we would dare to hope for.
–Richard of St. Victor

where the car hit him, fireweed sprang with
blossoms of fennel

and umbels
of dill fell
through the spokes of a wheel

on Whistun holiday to the sun, Denton
Welch spun a web in his crushed cycle,

sat in the seat, spine curled up like a spider–

and spied: “saw
the very drops of sweat glittering frostily
between the shouder blades”

of a lad

…on and on he spied and bled from the blades of his cycle
small as a spider,
hiding in the fireweed, getting
wet from the skins of many human suns aground
at the Kentish river near
Tunbridge Wells,

where the dill
lulls,

and all boys
spoil…

Jonathan Williams, The Wreck on the A-222 in Ravensbourne Valley, Jubilant Thicket: New & Selected Poems, 2995

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Jonathan Williams was a poet, photographer and graphic artist. He attended St. Albans School in Washington DC, and then Princeton University. After leaving Princeton to pursue the arts, Williams studied painting with Karl Knaths at the Phillips Gallery, and graphic arts and engraving under Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in New York City. He later studied photography at Black Mountain College with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.

In 1951, Williams, along with David Ruff, founded the book publishing company, The Jargon Society, with the goal of publishing obscure writers. This press, long associated with the Black Mountain Poets, an  post-modern group in North Carolina, launched a number of artists, both literary and visually artistic, who pioneered the 1980s avant-garde movement in United States. 

Jonathan Williams was a link between the experimental poets of the second generation of Modernists and the upcoming vernacular artists of Appalachia. Akin to a cultural anthropologist, he based his work on “found’ language, acquired through listening to others reminisce about their lives and experiences. Williams loved to reveal the poetic within the pedestrian, whether from commercial signs, such as “O’Nan’s Auto Service”, to amorous lavatory wall scribblings, such as “The Current Sexist Machismo in a Loo Along the River Kent”. He often infused light verse forms such as limericks, clerihews, and acrostics with his own ribald wit.Williams also invented a form of his own called the Meta-Four, which specified no length, only that every line contain four words. 

Jonathan Williams and his life-long partner, the poet Thomas Meyer, typically divided their year between Skywinding Farm, the property he owned in the Blue Ridge Mountains, outside Highlands, North Carolina, and a seventeenth-century stone cottage in  Cumbria, England. A longtime contributing editor of the photography journal Aperture, Jonathan Williams died from pneumonia on March 16, 2008 in his Blue Ridge Mountain home.

Insert Image: Guy Mendes, “Jonathan Williams and Thomas Meyer at Corn Close”, 1081, Silver Gelatin Print

William Morris Meredith: “Alive in Our Skins”

Photographers Unknown, Alive in Our Skins

Spared by a car or airplane crash or
cured of malignancy, people look
around with new eyes at a newly
praiseworthy world, blinking eyes like these.

For I’ve been brought back again from the
fine silt, the mud where our atoms lie
down for long naps. And I’ve also been
pardoned miraculously for years
by the lava of chance which runs down
the world’s gullies, silting us back.
Here I am, brought back, set up, not yet
happened away.

But it’s not this random
life only, throwing its sensual
astonishments upside down on
the bloody membranes behind my eyeballs,
not just me being here again, old
needer, looking for someone to need,
but you, up from the clay yourself,
as luck would have it, and inching
over the same little segment of earth-
ball, in the same little eon, to
meet in a room, alive in our skins,
and the whole galaxy gaping there
and the centuries whining like gnats—
you, to teach me to see it, to see
it with you, and to offer somebody
uncomprehending, impudent thanks.

William Morris Meredith, Accidents of Birth, Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems, 1997

Born in January of 1919 in New York City, William Morris Meredith attended Lenox School in Massachusetts, graduating in 1936, and began writing poetry as a student at Princeton University. He graduated magna cum laude in 1940; his senior these was on the poet Robert Frost. After graduating, he worked for a year at the New York Times as a reporter before joining the army. Meredith transferred to the United States Navy in 1942 to become a pilot; he served on aircraft carriers in the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific Theater until the end of World War II.

Meredith’s first collection of poems, entitled “Love Letter from an Impossible Land”, was chosen by poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish for publication in the 1944 Yale Series of Younger Poets, an annual debut collection of promising U.S. poets. The poetry in this first collection were written while Meredith was still serving as a navy flier; many of the poems speak about the uncertainty of wartime life. His second collection of poems, “Ships and other Figures” was published in 1948. The volume contained twenty-nine brief poems, which included a trio of poems based on his wartime service.

William Meredith re-enlisted in 1952 to fly air missions in the Korean War, for which he received two Air Medals. In 1955 after his military service, he entered the academic field and taught English at the University of Hawaii, Connecticut College, and Princeton University until his retirement in 1983. In 1964, Meredith was elected as the Chancellor of the Academy of Poets, a position he held until 1987. From 1978 to 1980, he was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position which in 1985 became Poet Laureate Consultant. Meredith was the first gay poet to receive this honor.

During his academic career, Meredith published his 1958 “Open Sea and Other Poems”, a collection of poems previously published in journals, and his 1964 “The Wreck of the ‘Thresher’ and Other Poems”, of which the title poem is an elegy to the “Thresher”, an American submarine lost at sea with its crew in 1963. Meredith sustained a stroke in 1983, was immobilized for two years, and began to experience expressive aphasia, a condition which affected his ability to produce language. He retired early from teaching and endured a long period of  intensive rehabilitation to slowly regain his ability to speak.

A gathering of poems from Meredith’s career, entitled “Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems” was published in 1987. Crafted from sonnets, quatrains, and and other formal poetic structures, the collection won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and a Los Angeles Times Book Award. A compilation of new and previously published works, “Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems”, published in 1997, received the National Book Award for Poetry. Both these works, written during Meredith’s long rehabilitation, won poetry’s highest awards at a time in which he was without speech.

William Morris Meredith died in 2007 at the age of eighty-eight in New London, Connecticut. Throughout his long illness, he was nursed by his longtime partner of thirty-six years, the poet and fiction writer Richard Harteis. The William Meredith Foundation and the William Meredith Center for the Arts were established to continue his legacy through residency programs, poetry series, and other activities.

One of the most complete collections of William Meredith’s work can be found at Connecticut College. Acquired in 1994, the collection contains letters, drafts, speeches and papers from his time with the Library of Congress, government agencies, and many colleges.

August Sander

August Sander: Portraits from “People of the Twentieth Century”

Born in 1876 in Herdorf, a small village east of Cologne in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, August Sander was a photographer, now viewed as a forefather of conceptual art and a pioneering documentarian of human diversity. 

Sander spent his time, between 1897 and 1899, as a photographer’s assistant during his military service. In 1901, Sander started working for a photo studio in Linz, Austria, became a partner in 1902, and then the proprietor in 1904. By this time, he already had several exhibitions and purchases of his work by museums. After many successful exhibitions of his work, Sander relocated his studio to Cologne. 

In 1911, August Sander began the first series of portraits for what would be his monumental project, “People of the Twentieth Century”, an archived and sustained photographic enterprise of twentieth-century man, These emphatically objective photographs from the years of the Kaisers, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, and the early Federal Republic make up an unprecedented document of both the individual and the collective recent history of the German  people. 

In 1927, August Sander traveled through Sardinia for three months, where he took hundreds of photographs. A exhibition of his portraits at the Kölnische Kunstverein in 1927 received positive reviews from both critics and the public. This exhibition led to the 1929 publishing of Sander’s “Antlitz der Zeit (Faces of Our Time)”, which included the first sixty portraits from his twentieth-century series and an introduction by German novelist and essayist Alfred Döblin.

Under the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, Sander’s work and personal life were greatly restrained. In 1934, Sander’s son Erich, a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison, where he died shortly before the end of his sentence. The printing blocks for Sander’s “Antlitz der Zeit” were destroyed and unsold copies impounded in 1936 by the authorities, most likely due to the publication’s image of a heterogeneous German society of which the Nazi Party disapproved.

Despite the political situation in Germany between 1933 and 1945, August Sander continued working in his Cologne studio, portraying intellectuals, Jewish citizens, National Socialists, as well as regular people from the street. Many of these commercial portraits were included in his opus ”People of the Twentieth Century” where they became a political statement. Beginning in 1942, Sander started to relocate the most important parts of his negative archive to Kuchhausen, a small village in Westerwald, where he continued both his commercial photographic work and  his project wor

Although August Sander’s main studio in Cologne was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid, tens of thousands of his negatives, which he had left behind in the basement of a former apartment in Cologne, survived the war. In a later 1946 fire, approximately twenty-five thousand negatives were destroyed in the same apartment basement. In 1946, Sander continued his historical archive with  a post-war photographic documentation of the bombed city of Cologne in 1946. 

Sander sold a portfolio of four-hundred and eight photographs of Cologne, taken between 1920 and 1939, to the Kölnisches State Museum in 1953. These photos would form the 1988 book “Koõin wie es War (Cologne As It Was)””.  In 1962 an edition of eighty photographs from the “People of the Twentieth Century” was published as a book entitled “German Mirror: People of the Twentieth Century”. Still working on his project at the age of eighty-eight, August Sander died of a stroke on April 20th in 1964. His body was buried next to his son Erich in Cologne’s Melaten Cemetery.  

One of the most ambitious undertakings in the history of photography, the “People  of the Twentieth Century” project occupied Sander for some 40 years, from the early 1920s until his death, during which he took portraits of hundreds of German citizens and then categorized them by social type and occupation — from farm laborers to circus performers to prosperous businessmen and aristocrats. Remarkable for their unflinching realism and deft analysis of character and lifestyle, Sander’s individual images stand out as high points of photographic portraiture and collectively propose the idea of the archive as art. 

Although the Nazis confiscated the first publication of Sander’s work, and the majority of his negatives were later destroyed by fire, approximately eighteen hundred portrait negatives for “People of the Twentieth Century” survived, as well as Sander’s notes and plans. Together with the existing vintage prints, they have provided the basis for current reconstruction of Sander’s ambitious project in both book and exhibition form.

Middle Insert Image: August Sander, “Workmen in the Ruhr Region”, 1928, Silver Gelatin Print, August Sander Archive, VG, Bild-Kunst

Yukio Miishima: “Someone, Somewhere, Had Tied Up the Darkness”

Photographers Unknown, Someone, Somewhere, Had Tied Up the Darkness

“Someone, somewhere, had tied up the darkness, he thought as he went: the bag of darkness had been tied at the mouth, enclosing within it a host of smaller bags. The stars were tiny, almost imperceptible perforations; otherwise, there wasn’t a single hole through which light could pass.

The darkness in which he walked immersed was gradually pervading him. His own footfall was utterly remote, his presence barely rippled the air. His being had been compressed to the utmost – to the point where it had no need to forge a path for itself through the night, but could weave its way through the gaps between the particles of which the darkness was composed.” 

—Yukio Mishima, Acts of Worship: Seven Stories

When Yukio Mishima committed ritual suicide in November 1970, he was only forty-five. He had written over thirty novels, eighteen plays, and twenty volumes of short stories. During Mishima’s lifetime, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times and had seen almost all of his major novels appear in English. 

While the flamboyance of Yukio Mishima’s life and the apparent fanaticism of his death, through the ritual rite of seppuku,  have dominated the public’s perception of his achievement, Japanese and Western critics alike are in agreement that Mishima’s literary gifts were prodigious.

A short biography of Yukio Mishima can be found on this site. For a more extensive biography on Yukio Mishima: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20201124-yukio-mishima-the-strange-tale-of-japans-infamous-novelist