Today I went to the Lumiere Brothers photography centre with some of my friends and we stumbled upon a new exhibition. I must admit I love any black and white photographs, so perhaps that is the reason I was intrigued by this exhibition.
Nowadays, few people take black and white photographs and so many photos end up looking boring and mundane because everybody is used to the high quality and high definition: we are no longer surprised by them. Black and white photographs, however, always seem to contain some kind of mystery, beauty, something I can’t even put into words. It feels like since there is no colour, you can concentrate better on the mood of the photograph and perhaps even use your own imagination a little bit.
Sasha Gusov is a Russian photographer who moved to live in America, which I was surprised to read because the photos just looked so glamourous and satirically funny… I feel guilty saying this since I am half-Russian myself, but I thought there were very few talented Russian people around nowadays, at least in my opinion. Although this photographer made me rethink that statement 🙂
He depicted modern society in a funny and imaginative way so my friends and I started to wonder whether or not he actually composed his photographs carefully: were they thought out compositions or merely mistakes? Did he just seize the moment or ask somebody to pose?
We now live in an epoch of consumption. We have billboards instead of walls, tourists instead of travelers, customers instead of citizens, sales instead of feasts, money instead of moral guidelines.
The models did all look very natural, by the way, but I guess it’s their job to do that. However, some people he took photos of were clearly not models: just ordinary passers by in the street or people relaxing on the beach. All the photographs had a certain charm to them and made me stop and just look at them: it was simply wonderful!
There was an old woman from Kiev at the gallery who started chatting to me all of a sudden about how wonderful ‘our’ (Russian) artists are compared to modern American ones: she wasn’t very fond of modernism she told me, whilst Gusov’s photographs made her laugh. There was another exhibition of Arnold Newman, which she considered a little too abstract for her liking.
To be honest, I think the two photographers shouldn’t be compared because their styles are very different, although I must admit Gusov’s photographs were a touch more cheerful.
What I enjoyed about Newman’s photographs was that he had many different styles and he experimented a lot. Also, Newman met so many famous people: Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, Salvador Dali, Harry S. Truman, Audrey Hepburn, Pablo Picasso. It seems strange that this one person met all these famous people in his lifetime, the people I can only read about in history books and see in movies. Seeing their photographs made me realise again that these were real people, not just someone you read about from the past. Walking through Newman’s gallery I felt as though I had travelled through a time machine…