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Quote of Note | Annie Leibovitz

chaplin“My background as a photographer is as an observer. I’m a terrible director. The performers I have the most rapport with are comedians, who make up a very special group. They’re sort of like manic depressives. I sympathize with them. They are usually also very intelligent. For me, the classic photograph of a comedian is Charlie Chaplin just leaning. That is such an extraordinarily funny picture. It’s as perfect a photograph as you could ever have of a comedian. Chaplin came from silent films. The challenge for a photographer is to create a visually funny picture without it being stupid. It’s difficult to take a funny picture.”

-Annie Leibovitz, whose images—from the black-and-white photograph of Richard Nixon’s helicopter lifting off from the White House lawn after he resigned as president in 1974 to the formal color portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken in a drawing room of Buckingham Palace in 2007—are collected in a new SUMO-sized, limited-edition book from Taschen

Photographer Michael Schmidt Wins Prix Pictet

(Michael Schmidt)Berlin-based photographer Michael Schmidt is the winner of the third Prix Pictet. Sponsored by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie and with a purse of 100,000 Swiss francs (approximately $112,000, at current exchange), the entry-by-nomination international photography competition seeks to promote sustainability. This year’s theme was “Consumption.” Schmidt’s monumental “Lebensmittel” (food stuff) project, made between 2006 and 2010, was chosen by a jury that included Whitney curator Elisabeth Sussman and photographer Luc Delahaye, who won the Prix Pictet in 2012.

“There were many potential winners but, after much debate, we finally agreed to award the Prix Pictet to Michael Schmidt whose ‘Lebensmittel‘ is an epic and hugely topical investigation into the ways in which we feed ourselves,” said jury chair Sir David King yesterday evening at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where Kofi Annan was on hand to announce the winner. Schmidt, 68, was not present due to severe illness. The twelve photographers shortlisted for the Prix Pictet included Rineke Dijkstra, Boris Mikhailov, Allan Sekula (who passed away last August at the age of 62), and Laurie Simmons. An exhibition of work shortlisted for Prix Pictet is on view through June 14 at the V&A.

Quote of Note | Elliott Erwitt

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“I was traveling, doing interviews for the Macallan project. In each place, we had an exhibition with photos from the book. The receptions were very nice. Some of the questions [from reporters] were rather stupid. In Moscow, there were 500 journalists—supposed journalists. Three or four of them were intelligent. One asked if I was there when the pictures were taken. I replied, ‘Probably.’”

-Photographer Elliott Erwitt in American Photo magazine

Documentary Focuses on NYC Cab Driver-Turned-Street Photographer Matt Weber

(Matt Weber)
Van Gogh (1989) by Matt Weber, the subject of More Than a Rainbow.

Matt Weber got his start in photography with one hand on a camera and the other on the wheel of a New York City taxi cab. He soon went from being a taxi driver with a camera to a photographer with a taxi, eventually making photography a full-time pursuit. Weber—and the fate of photography in a digital age—is the subject of More Than the Rainbow, a new documentary that opens today at New York’s Quad Cinema and heads to Los Angeles later this month. Set to the twisting melodies of Thelonious Monk, the film combines live action with still photography and interviews with Weber and fellow photographers such as Ralph Gibson and Zoe Strauss.

“For me the essential thing was to create something that would have its own feel,” says director and producer Dan Wechsler. “We interspers[ed] musically driven montage sequences—some in color, some in black and white—where the audience could feel itself moving along the sidewalks and through the subways of the city that our main subject has been roving for the past quarter century, with a camera around his neck at almost all times.”
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Noguchi Museum to Honor Norman Foster, Hiroshi Sugimoto

noguchiThe Noguchi Museum in NYC’s Long Island City will honor architect Norman Foster and artist Hiroshi Sugimoto with the Isamu Noguchi award. The new honor was created to recognize “like-minded spirits who share Noguchi’s commitment to innovation, global consciousness, and Japanese/American exchange,” according to the museum. Motohide Yoshikawa, ambassador of Japan to the United Nations, will present the awards at the museum’s annual spring benefit on Tuesday, May 13. Helping to clinch the win for Foster? His Hearst building uses the tensegrity systems beloved and developed by Noguchi and Buckminster Fuller.

Watch: William S. Burroughs Has a Gun

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) was not inclined to share the frame. He made exceptions for things he adored, including cigarettes, cats, guns, and pretty much anything that connoted or denoted danger. Artist Kate Simon photographed the Beat writer over two decades, from 1975 to 1995, and an exhibition of her portraits is on view through May 9 at the London shop of Nick Knight‘s Showstudio. The below video focuses on one shot of Burroughs, with gun, as part of a series of interviews with Simon by SHOWstudio Shop’s associate director Niamh White.

Mark Your Calendar: Pinhole Photography Day

pinholeOn Sunday, April 27th, take a break from your digital devices to spread the unusual beauty of a historical photographic process as the world celebrates Pinhole Photography Day. Now in its fourteenth year, the event celebrates and promotes the lenless method that dates from the 10th century. Join thousands of people (pinheads?) from around the globe in the simple act of making a pinhole photograph by adapting an existing camera or making your own out of a light-tight container, such as a box or a can, with a tiny hole in one side. Leave your perfectionist tendencies at home with your digital camera, because, according to Pinhole Photography Day organizers, “This is the photography of patience, of meditation, no more anguish for a ‘badly turned out’ photo.”

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Daniel Arsham Rocks (and Minerals)

arshamArtist Daniel Arsham has a knack for transforming familiar objects into fossils of the future: petrified payphones, eroded basketballs, a calcified McDonalds sign. His latest solo exhibition, “Kick the Tires and Light the Fires,” opens Saturday at OHWOW in Los Angeles—and then it’s onto Paris for a summertime show at Perrotin—but in the meantime, his Steel Eroded Hasselblad Camera (2014, pictured), a shimmering relic of steel fragments, shattered glass, and hydrostone, is now up for grabs in the MTV RE:DEFINE Auction on Paddle8.

Eight Years B.C.: Bill Cunningham Exhibit Opens at NY Historical Society

Intrepid blue-smocked street photographer Bill Cunningham turned 85 yesterday, and the New York Historical Society marked the occasion with a press preview of an exhibit of his photographs. We dispatched writer Nancy Lazarus—via bicycle, of course—to take in the architectural riches and fashion history of New York through Cunningham’s lens. The show opens to the public today.

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(All photos courtesy New York Historical Society)

billWhile his images don’t depict biblical times, Bill Cunningham did delve back to the Civil War, Victorian era, and Gilded Age for his eight-year-long project, Facades. From 1968-1976, the New York Times photographer who documented social, architecture, and fashion trends collected over 500 outfits and shot more than 1,800 locations around New York City. Editta Sherman, his friend, neighbor and fellow photographer, served as project collaborator and frequent subject.

Cunningham donated 88 black-and-white images from his photo essay to the New York Historical Society in 1976, and 80 gelatin silver prints and enlarged images are on display through June 15. Valerie Paley, NYHS historian and vice president for scholarly programs, curated the exhibit, and she said assistant curator Lilly Tuttle, found the photos in the museum’s archives. “We have so many undiscovered treasures, and we’re delighted to rediscover them,” said Paley.

Although Cunningham wasn’t on hand for yesterday’s preview, Paley said he was enthusiastic about the exhibit and had pitched in to locate details of specific photos. Many of his quotes accompany the exhibit highlights. The display is arranged by historic era, and additional photos in the collection are projected onto the walls of the museum’s side entrance rotunda.
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Leica Loses Its Mind, Collaborates with Hello Kitty and Playboy

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Does it get any better than Leica? The company, synonymous with German engineering at its finest, is in the midst of its jubilee year: founded in 1849, Leica debuted Oskar Barnack‘s 35-millimeter marvel in 1914. In the century since, it has kept its brand pristine by focusing on optical excellence and joining forces with the likes of likeminded Hermès for a few limited-edition models. Which is why we did a double-take when we learned that the esteemed company had been roped into Colette’s latest collaboration, in which Hello Kitty teams up with—wait for it—Playboy. This strange duo is then plastered across products such as Bic pens, a Charvet tie, and, yes, a Leica camera. The limited-edition Hello Kity x Playboy Leica C, on which Sanrio’s famous character sports Playboy bunny ears and wields a camera, was available for purchase on the Colette website for €920 (approximately $1280) but today has mysteriously disappeared: perhaps all ten of the cameras sold or a Leica executive came to his to her senses.

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