We are honoured to have the brilliant Carrie Scott share a selection of her most coveted photographic images and prints this week. You can read all about her fascinating takeover selection below but don’t miss her highlights from this years Paris Photo Fair @odtakeovers.
Since 2004, I have been a curator, Art Historian and arts writer. In 2009, when the financial world was in total chaos, I decided to start a company that could exist beyond the walls of the traditional gallery and therefore not be beholden to huge overheads and could instead look after artists and collectors more unswervingly. Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of working with numerous artists, businesses and collectors under this umbrella and have executed some seriously exciting projects, including the largest ever independent photography show, A Shade of Pale, in 2018, and numerous other groundbreaking projects with the likes of Nick Knight, John Pawson, Walter & Zoniel, Marina Shacola, The Harold Feinstein Estate, and Federico Pestilli. In 2017, I also appeared as a presenter on The Art Show, an entirely new art series that interviews artists in their studios. The programmed aired on Sky Arts in the UK and then on Ovation TV in America.
The selection of images I pulled together for @odtakeovers are all compositions that have stuck with me from the first moment I saw them. Images I can’t forget. Images I learned about in Art History classes, or compositions I stumbled upon in studios or walking through art fairs. I stuck to photographs I’d like to own, that chart a very personal line though the history of photography that’s particular to me. I included some photographers I know and work with, and others that I’d love to exhibit or work with one day. These are the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I’d have liked to include Richter’s over-paintings on photographs, or any of Penn’s images. But I didn’t. This little group screams louder to me today. When I shut my eyes I can see them. Tomorrow I will feel differently.
Ptilotasericea by Anna Atkins
Anna Atkins is most often credited as being one of the first woman photographers, and one of the first people to establish photography as an accurate medium for scientific illustration. Trained as a botanist, Atkins developed an interest in photography as a way of recording botanical specimens. In 1843 she published a scientific reference book that is the first book on any subject to be illustrated with photographs. Forgetting that monumental achievement momentarily, her aesthetic was also dramatically ahead of its time. Just look at this image. It’s cool, postmodern aesthetic doesn’t really belong in the 1840s.
Kazumasa Ogawa, the Japanese pioneer of the multi-plate hand colouring process, is known for a heap of firsts in the photography world. He had the first photo studio in Tokyo, as well as the first collotype photo printing business. But what blows me away is that where most photographers could only archive 4-6 colors when hand coloring, Ogawa often incorporated up to 25 different colors at a time into his compositions of flowers and landscapes. Historians often try to categorize his works as either “artistic,” “scientific,” or “commercial”. But the brilliant Kelly McCormick @ucla got me to think about how Ogawa’s many photographic activities are so in line with contemporary attitudes toward photography as an open ended imaging technique. “What mattered most to Ogawa was not whether photography was an art or a technology, but, rather, that it was a malleable medium that should be used in as many contexts as possible. “ I think this resonates with most photographers working today.
Phoenix recumbent 1968, by Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham helped define the role of Modernism in photography. When she started taking photographs, pictorialism was the then-dominant style. Photographers used soft-focus lenses to make pictures look like etchings or drawings. Cunningham and her cohorts like Edward Weston, who made up the now famous San Francisco based Group f.64, believed in “pure photography: images made with sharp lenses, printed on glossy papers and employing extensive depth of field to allow sharpness across the entire picture plane.” Cunningham’s intimate portraits are characterised by evocative light, and line. They are studies of texture and tonal ranges.
Hyacinth, by Robert Mapplethorpe
I don’t really need to contextualise this giant. Robert Mapplethorpe was a portrait photographer best known for erotic nudes, who turned to flowers in an effort to alter his public perception, and went on to create the most evocative, provocative, sensual and sexual photographs of plants known today. Case and point, pictured above.
by Marina Shacola
In this otherworldly series, Sun scapes, Marina Shacola literally pictures a vanishing culture. Since 2010, the photographer has travelled to Turkana and watched as one of the most beautiful and oldest tribes struggle to survive while preserving their customs and traditions as they are faced with new political and economic interests. Her photographs are not limited to the realistic depiction of a tough reality, but they highlight a feeling that spreads subcutaneously. Shacola, with the sun as an ally and catalyst, “burns” all that compose the desert landscape, focusing on the vibrant figures that preserve a whole civilization.
Susie and Friends by Alex Prager
Alex Prager’s surreal compositions are meticulously and dramatically designed and staged. Each photograph illustrates a narrative, sets a scene, usually something mundane that then, through Prager’s lens, becomes eerily unfamiliar. She uses sets to do this, actresses and actors, but also friends and family. Paying homage to old Hollywood glamour, Prager’s images also blend together different cinematic traditions sometimes in one composition, from film noir to suspenseful thrillers. “I see a darkness running just beneath the surface of all the beauty and comedy,” she says.
Home 01 by John Pawson
Though better known for his architecture, John Pawson has been taking pictures longer than he has been making buildings. He is what I have coined “a new format” photographer. Like small format cameras gave birth to street photographers in 1950s America, the iPhone and rise of the camera phone has changed the very core of photography. Pawson is a pioneer in this shift, using his camera as a kind of visual aide memoire for years, amassing an archive of acutely observed and composed images that poetically capture detail in a new way.
by Lillian Bassman
Known for blurred silhouettes and embellished, uncommon compositions, Lillian Bassman is a seminal figure in fashion photography. Her first photograph was published in Bazaar in 1947 and her first editorial story in 1948, but in the early 1970s she became so disillusioned by the state of fashion photography, that she left the industry and destroyed most of her negatives and prints. Twenty years later, Bassman and a historian discovered a box of negatives. Using the darkroom, and later the computer, she would rework them, altering the original framing, accentuating the contrast and blurriness, or retouching the background. These singular, abstract and mysterious images are unmistakably Bassman and still feel so fresh today.
Identical twins, Roselle, N.J., 1966 by Diane Arbus
The photographs of Diane Arbus (1923-71) are among the most widely recognized in the history of photography. This image, Identical twins, Roselle, N.J., 1966, stands with her other work as a powerful allegory of post-war America. But her work has polarized audiences. Some question whether she exploited her subjects, who were often drawn from society’s margins, whereas she came from a world of privilege. Wherever you fall in opinion, Arbus found an uncompromising view of the world, stripped of sentimentality. Once seen, Arbus’ compositions are impossible to forget.
Untitled-film-still by Cindy Sherman
The series Untitled Film Stills (1977–1980), with which Cindy Sherman achieved international recognition, consists of 69 black-and-white photographs. The artist poses in different roles (librarian, hillbilly, seductress), and settings (streets, yards, pools, beaches, and interiors), producing a result reminiscent of stills typical of Italian neorealism or American film noir. Sherman avoided putting titles on the images to preserve their ambiguity.
Checkmate, by Pedro Correa
Pedro Correa is a new discovery for me. His beautifully still images are studies in color and form. Clearly influenced by his background in painting, his compositions are often softened and impressionistic. Often shooting through glass, or out of focus, his cityscapes have a dreamlike and poetic aesthetic that I like getting lost in at the moment (given current affairs at the moment).
Words by Carrie Scott
Art Historian & Curator