Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Columbus Day discovery

I don't know how I'd never heard of Harold Feinstein before Mike Johnston clued me in Monday. Call it an oversight. Fortunately the natural corollary to discovering someone like that is it's not likely to be an isolated case. It can be reminder that others await.

While those other discoveries bide their sweet time, I've been digging through Feinstein's Panopticon portfolio. Generally I'd lump his photos with the mid-century concerned photographers: Sharply seen B/W documentary with feeling. But while most Photo Leaguers gave up the ghost long ago, Feinstein just kept going, developing a playful street edge that for me puts his work a notch above typical humanist photography. This one is from 1995:

Feinstein's street portfolio has several such shots, some of which seem to be direct antecedents of today's street scene. When I saw this one I felt a sense of Déjà Vu.

It took me a moment to realize I'd seen the same man before in a David Solomons photo:

Of course it's not the same man, but the similarity is a bit unnerving. Then I found this one,

Which reminded me very much of a Gus Powell photo:

Now the hunt was on. I started matching Feinstein with some of my favorite In-Public photos.

Jesse Marlow

Nils Jorgensen

Nils Jorgensen

David Gibson

What's my point exactly? That great minds think alike? That classic subject matter never goes out of style? No. I wouldn't read anything too deep into these pairings. I just enjoy matching things up. I can't help myself. I think my tombstone will probably be designed to match those nearby. Until that happens, other discoveries await.


Jeremy K said...

It's a good thing your reputation came out unscathed by this little diversionary activity! It's a different story for those you made comparisons to however. They are painted as just mindless copycats. Tee Hee this amuses us.
This web Log treatise is a nice little surreptitious plug for your own work, is it not?

microcord said...

There's a lot to be said for typical humanist photography. Of course it was tarnished by the sappiness of the "human interest" news-oid stories in which it was used, but that (and worse) was hardly the photographer's fault: there's quite a bit about this in the introduction to a book about the work of Dan Weiner that I can't name because it's lying in some pile somewhere on my floor.

But when I can locate that book by Weiner, I'll happily go through it again.

Contrast that with the masterpieces of what swept tired old humanist photography out of the way. For example, America by Car (published only a year or so ago but already out of print and only available for around four times its list price). I looked into it. As I'd expected: everything off-kilter, intersections, mirrors, angles: all very fascinating. But as I turned the pages, the fascination diminished and was replaced by a specific admiration: How did he illuminate the insides of the cars so that both the interiors and what's outside were exposed right? Also, how had he avoided the perils of extreme small aperture while yet getting so much in focus? But this admiration too evaporated after about five more pages, and thereafter it was just one damn collage of plastic, steel, concrete, roadside (non) attractions and wing-mirrors after another. I yawned and put the book back on the shelf. Clearly it has thousands of admirers, but I'll take Weiner instead. And Feinstein too. Yes, I'll be paying my $60+ within the next 24 hours.

Zisis Kardianos said...

Speaking abour similarities, what about this...

with this by Sid Grossman

I think here is more than a coincidence since Sid Grossman, a very influenttial figure among Photo Leaguers, had exhaustively covered Coney Island producing his very wiry and busy frames.

jacques philippe said...

Blake, there is one shot from your Family Album which I find is a very good match with a Bill Owens photograph from his book Suburbia.



Blake Andrews said...

Curious to see other pairings if people find them.

I have a book by Weiner which is pretty good. I don't have America by Car, nor any other books of his 6 x 6 work. They're fun photos but like you Microcord I feel a bit saturated. I hear Friedlander's recently published New Car 1964 is very good. Photos dug up from old negs.

Jeremy, you saw right through me. This blog is an elaborate marketing scheme to plug my own photos and create a customer base to buy them. But I'm afraid that's all ruined now. You've crippled my empire.

jacques philippe said...

There are so many pairings... Finding them is a fascinating activity on its own right.

Concerning your shot Blake, I find this one:

... a very good pairing for the one on Suburbia page 109 (new edition), with the caption starting by "Every year I go to my Mother-in-law..." (can't find it with google image)

microcord said...

Well, Blake, in the last, sad days of this blog -- and before Chateau B is foreclosed and the Blakettes are auctioned off to the highest Saudi bidder -- and while we're on the subject of Kickstarter [what? we weren't? OK, so I hijacked this], do have a glance at this appeal. It's alarming to note one possible implication: that certain obviously batshit US wannabe-presidents might be only 98% and not 100% batshit; but don't be squeamish, sit back and enjoy its video.

SR said...

Nothing wrong with B&W photos with fact preferred... only 5 days left to help fund retrospective book with signed gift in return....... in 1986 Photography Annual noted that Feinstein planned Coney Island book but never materialized.... maybe time to correct a wrong.... see: