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Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.

Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.

  • Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Eye on the Street: Garry Winogrand

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. A blond woman in a white dress with sparkly earrings dancingfrom Women are Beautiful,1969; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-6.

    Garry Winogrand produced thousands of images of fast-paced and ever-changing city life on the streets, in parks, and at protests, parties, parades, and even zoos. His obsession with observing modern society led him to produce far more photographs than he could develop and print. At the time of his death in 1984, he left 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film and an additional 6,500 developed, but unprinted, rolls. Winogrand created a multitude of frank and honest photographic studies that explore how people interact with their social environment. He is considered to be the preeminent street photographer of his generation.

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. A woman wearing white slacks and paisley shirt crossing the streetfrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1970; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-2.

    Intuition and spontaneity were of great importance to Winogrand’s working practice and photographic style. He most often used a hand-held 35mm camera so that he could take photographs quickly and freely without a tripod. Shooting photographs in this manner with a pre-focused wide angle lens granted him the freedom to capture as much of his subject’s surroundings as possible, often producing an unconventional and characteristic tilted-frame composition, as in Woman in a headscarf carrying a paisley suitcase(below).

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Woman in a headscarf carrying a paisley suitcasefrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1972; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-22.

    Published as a book in 1975 and as a portfolio of prints in 1981, Women are Beautifulis a series of eighty-five candid images of women in New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These photographs have been the subject of much critical debate because of their voyeurism, emphasis on the male perspective, and the objectification of their subjects. However, Women are Beautifulis fraught with contradictions. While many of the women appear to be unaware of the photographer’s presence, there are also women who make eye contact with an air of strength and independence. Winogrand employs photography as a way of understanding and reflecting a society full of such contradictions. As fellow photographer Joel Meyerowitz aptly describes them, “[Winogrand’s] pictures are both a slam and an embrace.”

    These and other photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand, andDanny Lyonare currently on view inEye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s Photographyat SCMA until October 13, 2013.

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Woman with headband and hoop earrings in a groupfrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1975; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-16.

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Two couples on the stairs of the Metropolitan Museumfrom Women are Beautiful,1971; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-10.

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  • Thursday, August 1, 2013

    James Turrell: Deep Sky

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolio Deep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-1.

    James Turrell’s installations – sky drawings, light projections, and “skyspaces” – are artworks made for both nature lovers and stargazers. A key member of Southern California’s Light and Space movement, Turrell began his artistic career in sunny Los Angeles in the 1960s and continues to explore the experiential qualities of light to this day. Turrell’s work is currently on view in several major museums throughout the country this summer – the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston,and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolioDeep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-2.

    Influenced by his studies in perceptual psychology as well as his Quaker faith, Turrell illuminates light’s natural and supernatural qualities. His work consists of light projections in interior spaces, architectural manipulations such as cutting a hole in a structure’s ceiling to allow natural light to seep into a room, or even a naked-eye observatory created out of an extinct volcano in the Arizona desert (as in Roden Crater,begun 1977). However, not all of his work is so ethereal or monumental. In the SCMA collection, his first print portfolio Deep Sky(1985) translates the experience of light into two dimensions, bringing a new level of tangibility to his work.

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolio Deep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-3.

    The seven prints in Deep Skyseem to undulate between renderings of natural landscapes and abstractions of pure light and shadow. While the first print in the portfolio (top) resembles the silhouette of a volcano below a vast night sky dotted with stars, each of the subsequent five prints takes a sharp turn toward the abstract. Turrell gives us suspended shapes which evoke rays of light cutting through complete darkness, combined in ways which defy concrete understanding. Perhaps these images are loosely related to the volcanic site of Roden Craterand its light-filled spaces which Turrell was still in the process of creating in 1985. What ultimately ties the images together is the subtle presence of tiny stars in each print. These images simultaneously resemble scientific renderings of such abstract visual phenomena in Turrell’s gallery pieces as well as evoke the awe-inspiring experience of observing the night sky in a vast, open landscape.

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolio Deep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-4.

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolio Deep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-5.

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolio Deep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-6.

    The final print in the Deep Skyportfolio (below) is an almost equally ambiguous image of what appears to be some sort of land surface set against that same dark sky with a bright white orb shape in the bottom right corner. It is unclear whether this image is meant to be the same desert environment viewers may associate with Turrell’s Roden Crateror whether this is some imaginary celestial body. This elusiveness is exactly what makes Turrell’s Deep Skyprints so intriguing and captivating.

    James Turrell. American, born 1943. Untitledfrom the portfolio Deep Sky,1985. Aquatint printed in black on BFK Rives paper. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:17-7.

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  • Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Fred Sandback

    Frederick Lane Sandback. American, 1943–2003. For Matthias Ignaz,1983. Lithograph printed in color on white wove paper. Gift of Carol Ann Osuchowski Selle, class of 1954. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1992:39-3.

               

     

                                                       “I’m full of thoughts (more or less). My work isn’t.

                                                       It’s not a demonstration of an idea either. It’s an actuality.”

                                                                                                          – Fred Sandback

     

     

     

    Minimalist artist Fred Sandback is known for his ephemeral sculptures made from acrylic yarn. The taut yarn strings – often stretching from floor to ceiling, ceiling to wall, or wall to floor – create delicate and playful forms that change the way a viewer sees, perceives, and moves about the space. Sandback’s yarn constructions are essentially drawings in space – free-floating lines which have jumped beyond the confines of paper.

     

    Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Sandback translated his spatial ideas from three to two dimensions using the visual and technical capabilities unique to printmaking. Apparent iterations of his sculptures, Sandback’s prints present floating lines which interact with the whole sheet of paper similarly to how his yarn lines interact with the space of an entire room. This can be seen in Sandback’s 1983 lithograph For Matthias Ignaz(made in honor of his then-newborn son), in which the artist printed the blue-green negative space right to the paper’s edge, leaving only the subtle white lines unprinted and exposed. This print confuses and challenges our notions of two-dimensional foreground and background. Here, both elements are of equal importance: the “space” of the paper’s colored expanse and the lithographic line.

     

    While the large scale of Sanback’s yarn sculptures subtly alter or interrupt the viewers’ space, the comparatively miniscule size (11 by 9 inches) of For Matthias Ignazcreates an incredibly intimate relationship between the work and the viewer. Drawn into the paper’s peculiar blue-green “space,” close looking reveals that the lithographic lines are not entirely crisp – in fact, their fuzzy character curiously alludes to the tactile quality of his three-dimensional yarn lines.

     

     

                                  Detail of Sandback’s For Matthias Ignazshowing lithographic line.

     

     

     

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