Bonnie McCurry has shared many long-distance phone calls with her brother Steve without knowing when they’d next speak. She saw him grow up in the wake of their mother’s death, and she remembers things about their childhood he was too young to understand. More than once, as he was busy documenting life on the other side of the world, she worried he’d been killed in the field. Now, Bonnie McCurry helps tell the story of one of the world’s most influential photographers in their new book Steve McCurry: A Life in Pictures, out now by Laurence King.
With words by Bonnie, 350-plus pictures by Steve, and contributions from colleagues and friends, A Life in Pictures spans four decades of work behind the camera. The detailed chapters trace Steve’s journeys around the globe to locations where he’s covered conflict, disaster, and daily life. From war in Afghanistan and Kuwait to the fall of the Berlin Wall to the attacks of 9/11 in Manhattan, McCurry has immortalized some of the most significant events of our time, and Bonnie, now the President of the McCurry Foundation, was there every step of the way, even if they were separated by thousands of miles. This book is about human history, but it’s also about the ties that bind us together.
This was the fourth and final exhibition I visited. According to the Center’s website:
On June 8, 1968, thousands of people lined the train tracks from New York to Washington, DC, paying their last respects and expressing bewilderment and sorrow at the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Photographer Paul Fusco documented the funeral train’s journey and his images have become emblematic of the loss of idealism during a period of political upheaval in the United States. Dutch visual artist, photographer, and filmmaker Rein Jelle Terpstra has been tracking down the bystanders’ views of this day. He has collected more than two hundred images, including snapshots and home movies of the train. In RFK Funeral Train: The People’s View, Terpstra combines a multiscreen video projection that stitches together this collection of vernacular photographs and audio and video remembrances of these mourners with prints by Fusco. Through this project, Terpstra adds a new chapter to a collective memory that is slowly disappearing. This exhibition is organized by Erin Barnett, Director of Exhibitions and Collections.
An interesting concept, but once again I didn’t spend much time on it – although I did sit through the entire multiscreen video presentation.
This exhibition features an intergenerational group of women artists whose work explores representations of identity. Working in photography, video, and film, through assemblage, collage, multipart portraiture, and the use of avatars both analogue and digital, these artists reckon with the complex and changeable elements that inform who we are. These selves emerge from intersecting confrontations: with the artist’s own image, with the weight of personal and social stereotypes of race, class, gender, and age, and with the ambivalent promises of technology. These hybrid and multiple selves are depicted through mirroring and cloning, repetition and transfiguration.
Made between the late 1990s and today, the work on view has roots in feminist art historical discussions of the ways artists have visualized selfhood as manifold, presenting portraits that in their multiplicity and radicality challenge patriarchal ways of looking that define narrowly while presuming broadly. Featuring work ranging from cut-photograph collage to an exploration of life-extending artificial intelligence, the exhibition considers our enduring impulse to push against the limits of the discrete human body—from stretching the boundaries of representation to anticipating a future in which our consciousness is not bound to a physical body at all.
Transcending the singular, unified self is a psychological and political aspiration—to appear in all the disparate ways that we are—as well as a future, technology-enabled reality. The artists brought together here create a space in which the feeling of longing for other possibilities of being and being seen is made palpable.
I’m afraid this exhibition didn’t really appeal to me – maybe just a bit to avant-garde for my tastes (for example a series of photographs seemed to portray a nude figure with internal organs overlaid and titled “What You Are Not Supposed to Look At”. So I didn’t spend a lot of time there. Maybe I should have? Maybe I would have understood more?
In 1950 Elliott Erwitt, then just twenty-two years old, set out to capture Pittsburgh’s transformation from an industrial city into a modern metropolis. Commissioned by Roy Stryker, the mastermind behind the large-scale documentary photography projects launched by the US government during the Great Depression, Erwitt shot hundreds of frames. His images recorded the city’s communities against the backdrop of urban change, highlighting his quiet observations with the playful wit that has defined his style for over five decades. After only four months, Erwitt was drafted into the army and sent to Germany, leaving his negatives behind in Stryker’s Pittsburgh Photographic Library. The negatives remained at the Pennsylvania Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for decades. This exhibition, organized by Assistant Curator Claartje van Dijk in association with the photographer, will present these images in the United States for the first time.
This exhibition is right next to “The Decisive Moment” – so close in fact that I didn’t immediately realize that I was no longer seeing works by Cartier-Bresson. I’m something of a fan of Erwitt too (particularly for the humor he brings to his work), but seeing it right next to Cartier-Bresson I couldn’t help be feel it was a step down. I did try to bear in mind, however, that this is very early Erwitt (he was only 22 at the time where Cartier-Bresson was 44 when “The Decisive Moment” was published) and I’m such a fan of Cartier-Bresson that, to me, almost anything would suffer by comparison.
The exhibition runs until September 2, 2018.
For more on the story behind these pictures see the video below: “What Were You Thinking?” with Legendary Magnum Photographer Elliott Erwitt