Coleman, A.D., Light Readings

Coleman Index

Light readings: a photography critic’s writings 1968-1978

Coleman, A.D., (1979) Light readings: a photography critic’s writings 1968-1978, NY:OUP.


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QuotesContentsIndex


Quotes

Image from Coleman, Light Readings

from Les Krims: Four Photographs That Drove a Man to Crime pp.58-60 in which Coleman describes the kidnapping at gunpoint of a 13-year-old boy in order to force the removal of four Krims’ images from an exhibition at the Memphis Academy of Arts, one of which is shown right. Coleman discussed the case with Krims and the latter commented (prompting me to start a new Miscellaneous page, Rational ignorance: Wilful reticence .

I feel that those particular pictures are some of the strongest images I’ve ever made. But I can’t intellectualize about my photographs. I must persist in making the pictures I feel obliged to make-what else would I do if I didn’t?-but I don’t really understand them on any level I could describe verbally.

Les Krims, quoted by A.D. Coleman in Light Readings p.60.

All photographs are fictions, to a far greater extent than we are yet able or willing to acknowledge. Yet most of them still pretend to a high degree of verisimilitude and trans­parency, to the impersonal neutrality of windows on the world.

from Coleman’s introduction to Theater of the Mind, Arthur Tress

While the recognition is finally dawning on us all that photographs can (and usually do) lie at least as much as they tell the truth, they nevertheless remain the most factual fictions, the most credible pre­varications available within the parameters of graphic communication. Indeed, excepting film and videotape-wherein sound and motion create the illusion of even greater realism (and thus permit even more outrageous fabrications)-we have come to use photographs as our primary visual means of transmitting information. This is true to such an extent that the method immediately preceding it in our cultural history and outdated by only half a century-those sketches and draw­ings which illustrated newspapers up through the r92os-seems laugh­ably anachronistic and hopelessly unreliable on those rare occasions (such as significant court trials) when, as a last resource, they are em­ployed for informational purposes.

A.D. Coleman in Light Readings p.130, his introduction to First-Class Portraits by Robert Delford Brown,

I am unalterably opposed to the prevalent misconception that the ideal end result of creative struggle should be a self-contained and sealed system referring only to itself, communicating only with its maker, and permitting no dialogue with its audience. In creative terms that is an elaborate definition of failure, not of success. Art is not about itself, any more than a ladder is. A ladder is about climbing; art is about living.

A.D. Coleman in Light Readings p.111 in Not Seeing Atget for the Trees, a review of the 1972 MoMA exhibition

In one of the two pieces in the book on Ed Ruscha, Coleman describes the circumstances of the interview

It is early afternoon and we are in the bright, spacious, white-walled studio of Ed Ruscha (pronounced Rew-Shey, as his business card indicates) on North Western Avenue. A punching bag hangs on one wall; a motorcycle sits in another room; there are paintings on the wall, and a framed photo of Bela Lugosi with cigar. Several cowboy hats hang from the edge of an unframed mirror resting on an easel. From the radio comes a mixture of rock, jazz, and cowboy yodeling.

A.D. Coleman, Light Readings p.114
Edward Ruscha’s business card, 196-? from The Smithsonian.

Already aware of the pronunciation, I had not known about the business cards and this prompted a search. The image is from the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art. There is no black border on the other image found at https://fontsinuse.com/uses/3223/edward-ruscha-s-business-card.


from New Japanese Photography pp.174-77, reviewing the 1964 MoMA show of that name, of which Coleman largely disapproves because it is superficial,

Just where the show’s co-editor, Shoji Yamagichi of Camera Mainichi, a Japanese photography magazine, stands in this progression is hard to say. His introduction is at least less pontifical than that of John Szarkowski, MOMA’s curator, and raises one significant difference between Japanese and American photography. For a variety of reasons (primarily a lack of museum/ collector interest in original photographic prints and a shortage of private darkrooms), Japanese photographers have gravitated to book form as their main mode of presentation. This has affected their work in several ways. Inevitably, it has directed them toward serial imagery and/ or essay form. It has also generated a conceptualization of the original print as an intermediary stage, with a resulting interest in printing (i.e., mechanical reproduction) as a full step in the process of creating imagery.

Unfortunately, that is not clarified by this show. Nor is the intriguing fact that while occidental photographers (and Western artists in general) tend toward monogamy in their relationship to personal style, Japanese photographers appear to feel free to change styles drastically, not only from essay to essay but often within a single piece of work.

A.D. Coleman, Light Readings pp.174-78, New Japanese Photography

Contents

1968
Latent Image 3
Paul Strand (I) 5
Jerry Uelsmann (I) 7
Christmas Gift: “Harlem On My Mind” 9
Richard Kirstel (I): “Pas de Deux” 12
Critique 13

1970
James Van DerZee 16
Roy DeCarava: ‘Thru Black Eyes” 18
“Photography into Sculpture”: Sheer Anarchy, or a Step Forward? 28
Inside the Museum, Infinity Goes Up On Trial 31
Holography: A Prophecy 36
The Horrors of Hiroshima 37
Roger Minick: Delta West 39
Robert Heinecken: A Man for All Dimensions 41
Bruce Davidson: East I oath Street 45
Duane Michals (I): Sequences 48
Richard Kirstel (II): Is This the Scopes Trial of Photography? 50

1971
Jerry Uelsmann (II): He Captures Dreams, Visions, Hallucinations 55
Les Krims: Four Photographs That Drove a Man to Crime 58
Fundi: The Nuances of the Moment 60
Peter Bunnell: Money, Space, and Time, or the Curator as Juggler 63
Jan Van Raay: The Crest of a Tidal Wave 68
Photography and Conceptual Art 72
Harvey Stromberg: The Sneakiest Show in Town 73
Diane Arbus (I): The Mirror Is Broken 77
“I Have a Blind Spot About Color Photographs” 78
Larry Clark: Tulsa 79
Danny Seymour: A Loud Song 81
Michael Abramson: Palante 82
More on Color: Readers Speak Out 85
A Manifesto for Photography Education 88

1972
Danny Lyon and Geoff Winningham: Barred Doors, Bared Mats 93
Paul Strand (II) 96
Bernadette Mayer: “Memory” 98
Thomas Barrow and Charles Gatewood 99
Duane Michals (II): The Journey of the Spirit After Death 101 Who Will Be the Replacements? 103
Bea Nettles 105
Judy Dater 106
Beuford Smith: He Records the Texture of Black Life 107 Not Seeing Atget for the Trees 110
Robert Frank: The Lines of My Hand 112
Ed Ruscha (I): “My Books End Up in the Trash” 113
Ed Ruscha (II): “I’m Not Really a Photographer” 116 Van Deren Coke: The Painter and the Photograph 119 Ansel Adams: Let Me Make One Thing Perfectly Clear 122 Robert D’Alessandro: New York’s Funky Epiphanies 124 Diane Arbus (II): Her Portraits Are Self-Portraits 125
Bob Adelman and Susan Hall: Down Home 128

1973
Robert Delford Brown: An Introduction 130
Life May Have Died, But Photography Lives On 134
Ralph Gibson: Deja-Vu 137
Minor White: Octave of Prayer (I) 140
Minor White: Octave of Prayer (II) 143
Michael Lesy (I): Wisconsin Death Trip 150
Must They “Progress” So Fast? 153
Shouldn’t We Be More Concerned? 156
“Photography: Recent Acquisitions” 158
Clarence John Laughlin 160
Bill Dane 162
Emmet Gowin 163

1974
Julio Mitchel 167
W. Eugene Smith: “Minamata” 169
Michael Martone: Dark Light 171
New Japanese Photography 174
Paul Diamond 177
Abigail Heyman and Imagen Cunningham 178
“From Today, Painting Is Dead”: A Requiem 182
Art Critics: Our Weakest Link 188
Reinventing Photography 191

1975
My Camera in the Olive Grove: Prolegomena to the Legitimization of Photography by the Academy 195
Because It Feels So Good When I Stop: Concerning a Continuing Personal Encounter with Photography Criticism 203

1976
Where’s The Money? 215
The Indigenous Vision of Manuel Alvarez Bravo 221
On Plagiarism 229
“Violated” Instants: Lucas Samaras and Les Krims 238
Novel Pictures: The Photo£.ction of Wright Morris 242
The Directorial Mode: Notes Toward a Definition 246

1977
Humanizing History: Michael Lesy’s Real Life 258
Visual Recycling: Irving Penn’s “Street Material” 261 Lament for the Walking Wounded 265

1978
No Future for You? Speculations on the Next Decade in Photography Education 270


Index A-C

A

Abramson, Michael, 82-85, 135
Adams, Ansel, 122-24, 137,140, 189- 91, 255-56
Adelman,Bob, 128-29
Agnew, Spiro, 54
Alinder, Jim, 242
Alvarez Bravo, Manuel, 161, 221-28, 230, 241, 250
Arbus, Diane, 67, 77-78, 100, 125-27, 178
Arguelles, Jose, 260-61
Art, photography and, 182-94, 222-23. See also Coke, Van Deren; Con­ceptual art; Directorial mode
Atget, Eugene, 110-12, 159,223
Avedon, Richard, 78

B

Baraka, Imamu Amiri (LeRoi Jones), 60-63
Barrow, Thomas, 99-100
Bengston, Billy Al, 118-19
Black photographers, 9-12. See also Fundi; DeCarava, Roy; Smith, Beuford; Van DerZee, James
Blow-Up, 136, 199
Brassai, 223-24, 233
Breil, Ruth, 143-44
Breton, Andre, 221, 245
Bullard, E. John, 216-18
Bullock, Wynn, 55, 189
Bunnell, Peter, 30, 43, 69-70, 76, 119, 195, 197, 199, 216-20, 242; inter­view, 63-68; Princeton appointment, 103-4, 195
Burrows, Larry, 92,135,137
Byers, Paul, 190

C

Camera Craft, 208, 255
Camera Work. See Stieglitz, Alfred Cameron, Julia Margaret, 254
Cartier-Bresson, Henri, 23, 62, 176, 221, 223
Castaneda, Carlos, 1 5 1
Caufield and Shook Collection (Univ. of Louisville), 259
Censorship of photography. See Vision,
freedom of
Cesnola, General Luigi Palma de, 32 Clagdon, Peter, 86-87
Clark, Larry, 79-81, 135, 138
Coke, Van Deren, 104-5, 119-22, 206-7, 236-38
Coleman, Ornette, 1 7
Collecting and collectors, 4, 184, 215-20
Color photography, 78-79, 85-88 Conceptual art, photography and, 72-73, 183-84, 188, 192-94, 257
Consilvio, Thomas, 164
Cornell, Joseph, 121, 133
Criticism, photography, 78-79, 203-14; art critics and, 188-94, 253, 265-69
Culture, photography’s impact on, 3-4, 58-60, 68-72, 82-85, 88-92, l 30- 32, 270-79
Cunningham, lmogen, 181
Cutforth, Roger, 193


D-H

D

D’Alessandro, Robert, 124-25
Dane, Bill (William Zulpo-Dane), 141,
162-163
Dater, Judy, 106-7
Davidson, Bruce, 45-48, 82-83, 149

DeCarava, Roy, 17, 18-28, 60-63,
107-9
DeJasu, Lee, 88
Delford Brown, Robert, 130-34
Diamond, Paul, 1 77-78
Directorial mode, 246-57
Documentary photography, 39-41, 45-
48, 79-81, 167-68, 249-50. See also Photojournalism
Dornon, Ken, 176
Dylan, Bob, 58, 127

E

Education, photography, 88-92, 153-
55, 195-202, 270-79
Enos, Chris, 142
Evans, Walker, 159. See also Farm Security Administration

F

Farm Security Administration (FSA),
33, 40, 124
Fink, Larry, 140
Frank, Robert, 82, 112-13, 124, 230 Friedlander, Lee, 67, 178, 257
Fuller, Buckminster, 252
Fundi (Billy Abernathy), 60-63, 108, 137

G

Gardner, Alexander, 251
Gardner, George, 100-101
Gatewood, Charles, 99-101
Geldzahler, Henry, 261-65
George Eastman House, r 04-5
Gernsheim, Helmut and Alison, 206-7,
266
Gibson, Ralph, 13 7-40, 193, 230
Goings, Ralph, 186
Coro, Herb, 82-84
Gowin, Emmet, 137, 163-66, 206, 236-38

H

Hall, Edward, 177
Hall, Susan, 128-29
“Harlem on My Mind,” 9-12, r6, 27 Hattersley, Ralph, r 3, 67, 206
Heinecken, Robert, 31, 41-45, 59-60 Heyman, Abigail, 178-81
Hinton, James, 22-23
Hiroshima, exhibits on, 37-39, r 75-76 Holography, 36, 272
Hosoe, Eikoh, 176, 193
Hoving, Thomas, 9-11
Hughes, Jim, 170
Hughes, Langston, 25-26
Hyde, Scott, 29


I-P

I

International Museum of Photography
at George Eastman House, ro4-5
Ishimoto, Yasuhiro, r 76
Israel, Marvin, 77, r 27
Ivins, William, 32, 203, 248

J

Jachna, Joseph, 257
Janis, Eugenia Parry, 198-202
Japanese photographers, r 74-77
Jenkins, William, 1 r 1, 200-20 r
John, L. R., 237-38
Jones, Leroi. See Baraka, Imamu Amiri Joplin, Janis, 127
Josephson, Ken, 193, 257

K

Kamoinge Workshop. See DeCarava,
Roy; Smith, Beuford
Karsh, Yousuf, 213
Kawada, Kikuji, 176
Kirstel, Richard, 12-13, 50-54, 193
Krims, Les, 58-60, 137, 193, 218, 236,
237, 238-42, 252-57
Language, photography and, 98-99,
177, 214,222,242-46
Laughlin, Clarence John, 160-62, 256,
273

L

Lennon, John, 135
Lesy, Michael, r 50-52, 258-61
Leverant, Robert, r 26
Life magazine, 134-37, r 69-70
Lunn, Harry, 216-20
Lyon, Danny, 93-94
Lyons, Nathan, 104, 216-20

M

Mailer, Norman, 258
Martone, Michael, 171-74
Mayer, Bernadette, 98-99
McKendry, John, 33-35
McMillan, Jerry, 30-31, r r 5
Meatyard, Ralph Eugene, 193, 256
Michals, Duane, 48-50, ror-2, 193,257 Minick, Roger, 39-41
Mitchel, Julio, 167-68
Mixed-media imagery, 28-31. See also
Heinecken, Robert; Nettles, Bea
Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo, 88
Moriyama, Daidoh, 174-76
Morris, Wright, 82, 242-46
Mortensen, William, 255-56
Museums, relationship of photography to, 9-12, 31-35, 47-48, 157, 263-65.
See also Bullard, E. John; Bunnell, Peter; Coke, Van Deren; Interna­
tional Museum of Photography;
Szarkowski, John
Music and photography. 61-62

N

Naef, Weston, 216-17
Naitoh, Masatoshi, 177
Nauman, Bruce, 36, 117
Nettles, Bea, 105-6
Newhall, Beaumont, 5, 65, 67, 104,
206-7, 256n, 266
Nixon, Richard, 73, 156-57

O

Ohara, Ken, 177

P

Palfi, Marion, 1 28
Parker, William E., 8
Parks, Gordon, 21
Penn, Irving, 261-65
Perrault, John, 183-84, 192-93 Pfahl, John, 257
Photographers, older, neglect of, 265-
69
Photojournalism, 21, 82-85, 128-29,
134-37, 169-71
Photo-Realist painting, 182-88, 235 Photo-Secession. See Stieglitz, Alfred Pictorialism, 254-56
Pirone, Joe, 30-31
Plagiarism, 229-38
Polaroid, 134, 191-92, 238-42
Polk, Brigit, 191-92
Pollack, Peter, 39, 222, 266 Portraiture, 107, 126, 131, 177-78 Princeton University. See Bunnell, Peter Purism, 5, 7, 96-97, 189-91, 246-57


Q-Z

Q

R

Racial issues, photography and, 9-12, 45-48, 128-29. See also Black pho­tographers

Rauschenberg, Robert, 29, 183, 234-35 Ray,Man, 111,237-38
Rejlander, 0. G., 56, 254
Robinson, H. P., 7-8, 56, 254 Rothstein, Arthur, 251. See also Farm
Security Administration
Ruscha, Ed, 113-19

S

Samaras, Lucas, 238-42, 256
Sander, August, 77, 127, 279 Schjeldahl, Peter, 153
Schwartz, Marvin, 87
Sequential imagery, 48-50, 101-2,
137-40, 175,193
Seymour, Danny, 81-82, 99, 112 Sheeler, Charles, 35
Shipman, Dru, 219
Shore, Stephen, 264
Smith, Beuford, I 07-9
Smith, W. Eugene, 14, 169-71
Snapshot aesthetic, 98-99, 130-32,

162-63, 163-66
Society for Photographic Education,

270-79
Sontag, Susan, 178-79, 205-6, 233-4 Stella, Frank, 153
Stereopticon and stereographs, 253 Stieglitz, Alfred, 3, 32, 67, 96, 144-45,
195, 241-42, 246-47
Strand, Paul, 5-7, 96-98, 1 89-91, 228,
247-48, 251
Stromberg, Harvey, 73-77
Szarkowski, John, 200, 206-7, 263; curatorial policies, 64-66, 103-4, II0-12, 158-60, 162-63, 174-75, 216-19; on Diane Arbus, 126-27

T

Tamura, Shigera, 177
Technology and materials, changes in,
271-73
Television, photography and, 13-15,
136-37, 273
Teske, Edmund, 256
Thornton, Gene, 97, 134-37 Tomatsu, Shomei, 174-76 Trentacoste, Susan, 87
Tsuchida, Hiromi, 176
Turner, Alwyn Scott, 135-36

U

Uelsmann, Jerry, 7-8, 55-58, 68, 256

V

Van DerZee, James, 16-18
Van Raay, Jan, 68-72
Vision, freedom of, 13, 50-54, 58-60,
156-58, 278-79
Visual Studies Workshop, 216-18 Von Schaick, Charles, I 50-52

W

Walker, Todd, 190
Ward, John, 55, 57, 205
Warhol, Andy, 76-77, 234-35 Weegee, 124
Wells, Lyn, 29-30
Weston, Edward, 62, 70,111,154,
189-94, 223, 232-33, 251
White, Minor, 67, 80, 176, 189, 206, 213-14; Light7, 13-14; Octave of Prayer, 140-50

Winningham, Geoff, 93-95 Winogrand, Garry, 230
Witkin, Lee, 178
Worth, Robert, 87-88

XYZ

Yevtushenko, Yevgeny, 143-44
Zulpo-Dane, William. See Dane, Bill