Alan Taylor runs In Focus, a special section of The Atlantic which looks at topics and events through large, beautiful photos. Last week he had a special feature on modernist architect Eero Saarinen, who helped bring a sense of futurism to a world of cookie cutter buildings. The feature is a series of 44 images which shows the range and talent of Saarinen, from his work on the Saint Louis Gateway Arch to the Trans World Airlines Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport.
I’m a big fan of Hilda Grahnat’s work. The Swedish photographer, stylist and designer keeps a beautiful blog which is filled with the types of images that make you want to quit your job, run away to Sweden and simply spend your days surrounded by beautiful vintage furniture and retro antiques.
Her portfolio is also home to many wonderful pieces of work; one such project is this fantastic series called ‘Vintage by Colour’. Here she brings together a selection of interesting items and groups them together to create wonderful color groupings. It’s a simple idea, but the resulting work is just a joy to see.
It’s something special when a photographer can take a typically dull object and turn it into something beautiful. That’s exactly what photographer Daniel Evans has done here with a series of photographs of everyday plastic bags. For me, Evans’ work is simple and uncomplicated but it’s also utterly brilliant.
Taking the bag and shooting it against a plain colored background, he manages to find beauty simply with the use of light and color. It’s almost magical how he turns something so mundane into something that looks so special. The use of pinks and powder blues are just perfect and the finished work is minimal but visually arresting. I love it!
Anothermountainman (Stanley Wong) is a Hong Kong artist, photographer and designer. He is best known for his redwhiteblue series which are installations, 3D pieces, or posters made out of the common red, white and blue plastic bags people in Hong Kong typically use to hold cargo. Coming from a background in advertising and television, Wong has become known as a fine artist over the past ten years and is now recognized as one of Hong Kong’s best.
Wong has all the hallmarks of a successful artist—shows in international galleries, numerous awards and inclusion in museum collections—yet he describes what he does as primarily being about connecting with people. In an interview with Time Out HK he says, “I’m attempting to communicate with the public through the platform of art. I see myself as both a social worker and a missionary; I don’t see myself as an artist.” To further these goals, he is involved in design education, gives guest lectures, and, as a scholar of Buddhism, seeks to share his hope for world harmony. What I think is apparent in his work without any prior knowledge of his motivations is a desire to record compelling aspects of society and to comment on human nature.
One of his projects that strikes me as particularly powerful is Lanwei. The first character of “lanwei” means broken and the second means tail. Together they mean unfinished; something that has fallen short of completion; started and couldn’t be brought to an end. It is a personal photography series that documents abandoned residences, offices, theme parks and other half-built projects across Asia. The properties he chose to photograph were not just incomplete architectural structures but came with stories of sudden disruption. Most of the commercial buildings were begun in the 1980’s when Asia hit an economic boom before companies realized that there wasn’t enough money to finish what they’d started. The amusement park in Beijing that features in a large portion of the series was abandoned when the child who it was built for died.
Lanwei itself almost became a story of lanwei. Wong had the concept in his head for 5 years before starting it in 2006. He then worked on it infrequently for the next 6 years and completed it in 2012 with a show at Blindspot galleries. He has said that the realization of this project came about shortly before the Chinese government started removing unused property. The evidence of incompletion was about to disappear before he could document its presence.
Much of his past work is on his website and is well worth exploring and diving into. Most projects come with a short poetic description written by Wong (originally in Cantonese with English translation). Besides having frequent exhibitions, I like that he also makes time to pursue ideas that interest him outside of his regular work. Wong most recently had an installation called Show Flat 04 at the Singapore Biennale.
New York based photographer Kevin Tadge has started a lovely, minimal photo series of still lifes taken at various museums. Oftentimes when you see photos of museum pieces its of the taxidermy animals, but Kevin has found the beauty in all kinds of objects ranging from rocks to flowers to pieces of ancient sculptures.
You can see the series by clicking here.
The Nakagin Capsule Tower, designed by Kisho Kurokawa, opened in March of 1972 as an ideal for architecture, allowing for a flexible capsule based system that would change and grow over time. Unfortunately the idea never really stuck and these capsules, meant to last around 25 years, are still in use to this day. Photographer Noritaka Minami has created a photo series titled 1972 which explores the Capsule Tower, giving insight into the decaying building.
This prototype for a new lifestyle for the 21st Century ultimately proved to be an exception rather than the rule. The Nakagin Capsule Tower in fact became the last of its kind completed in the world. Furthermore, the building has never undergone the process of regeneration during the 40 years of existence. None of the original capsules have ever been replaced, even though Kurokawa intended them to sustain a lifespan of only 25 years. As the capsules accumulate patina on their shells through the passage of time, they exist as a reminder of a future imagined to be possible at that moment in Japan as well as a future that never came.
Harper’s Bazaar published an interview with Takashi Murakami yesterday, one that involves some backstory into his new monster movie Jellyfish Eyes. The interview is fine, kind of short to be honest, but what’s really remarkable is the photo shoot that accompanies the story.
Entitled Murakami’s Monster Magic, the photos were shot by Jason Schmidt and feature model Angela Lindvall as well as Murakami’s cast of movie monsters. The series is pretty fantastic and surreal, a beautiful woman walking around with these bizarre creatures in a variety of random Los Angeles locations – wandering through In-N-Out, lounging at the pool at The Standard Hollywood, or walking through Beverly Hills.
The photos also remind me of Charlie White’s old photo series Understanding Joshua which did a nice job of mixing surreal monsters with idyllic, Hollywood-esque situations. If you’re into these photos you absolutely need to click that link.
Jean-Yves Lemoigne is a French photographer who’s pushing the boundaries of what photography. Using a Red EPIC Camera he’s created these intriguing photoloops which feel like an evolution of Andy Warhol’s screen tests.
Because of the expert styling and lighting these definitely feel like works of art, and the subtlety of each movement is just so that it takes a second to figure out that something is happening. It’ll be cool to see how Jean-Yves continues to evolve this sort of technique and what the practical applications would be for a technique like this.
Robin Friend’s Belly of the Whale is a moody and atmospheric collection of photographs. His ongoing series is shot in-and-around Dartmoor in England’s West Country and it presents a body of work that embraces exploration, chance encounters, adventure and discovery. It’s a fantastic series and Friend’s lens captures both nature and man at their most beautiful and their most raw.
If there’s two things I love it’s good whiskey, and obviously, beautiful photography. So it’s pretty awesome that I was asked to take over the Instagram handle for The Macallan tonight at a special event celebrating the launch of the brand’s Masters of Photography series. For the fourth edition of its series, The Macallan has commissioned renowned photographer Elliott Erwitt to capture the spirit of Scotland (where Macallan is made) through a collection of 58 images; each pair with a never before released single cask whisky from The Macallan.
If you love fine whisky and photography as much as I do, follow my photographic journey on Instagram at @The_Macallan and on Twitter at @USMacallan.
(The Elliott Erwitt photograph that accompanies Cask Number 0004112. The Macallan, Easter Elchies House in Craigellachie, Moray – © Elliott ErwittMagnum Photos)