Faye Dunaway won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in the 1976 film Network at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. This is her at the Beverley Hills Hotel at 6.30 in the morning of 29th March 1977, the day after the ceremony. With a doleful, faraway look of world-weary ennui, in silk gown and heels, she is breakfasting alone on fruit juice and Earl Grey tea, slouched poolside in the hazy Southern Californian dawn light. The morning papers are strewn about her and the Oscar is not far out of reach. She has recently risen from bed, or maybe she never went to sleep at all. This classic shot manages to capture the allure and loneliness of celebrity. Continue reading
A photograph of a dead boy, face down, lifeless on the edge of the surf on a beach*. An image that has circulated the globe.
This image has, in the last few days, changed the policy of Her Majesty’s Government. The newspapers immediately called on the Prime Minister to show more compassion, more humanity. The Government, it is said, has been shamed by the image into altering its Syrian immigration policy. President Hollande has declared that the photograph has made a call upon Europe’s conscience. If rhetoric is the art of persuasion, then this image proves that photographs can be a type of rhetoric. It is, in this instance, a powerful but problematic form of rhetoric. This photograph has for the moment de-politicised the cause of the movement of refugees across national borders. Humanity, shame, conscience, compassion – this picture has instead raised what should be political to the level of the human condition. It accuses nobody and everybody. We are required to respond to the situation not politically but emotionally. By demanding a powerful emotional response this photograph decreases our understanding of the cause of the problem. Continue reading
“I thought it was very derivative. To me it looked like it was straight out of Diane Arbus, but with none of the wit.”
In a hellish world of anxiety, phobia and suffering why would anyone actually want to be funny? If a film director was aware he had a talent for comedy but a overwhelming sense of the misery and meaninglessness of life, what kind of film should he shoot? Stardust Memories, 1980, is the forgotten film of Woody Allen’s great period, but to me one of his best.
This photograph, of the raising of the flag of the USSR over the Reichstag in Berlin after the Red Army took the building on 2nd May 1945, was shot by the soviet photo-journalist Yevgeny Khaldei. He used his Leica camera to capture the moment of triumph. Stalin himself had urged a flag to be mounted on the building, seen as a key symbol at the heart of the fascist beast, to indicate the victory of the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin.
An exhibition opened in London this weekend featuring fifty artists showing work under the title What Marcel Duchamp taught me.*
Marcel Duchamp was a chess player who also turned his hand to cigar smoking. As a young man, between 1913 and 1917, he invented conceptual art and is regarded as the most influential artist of the twentieth century. However if art was for him a diversion, chess was a lifelong preoccupation.
Here is a photograph of a woman washing in a bathtub. Her big black boots are on a bathmat made dirty by them, and her clothes are discarded on a chair under her wristwatch. She is scrubbing her neck with a flannel and there is a framed photograph of Adolf Hitler on the lip of the tub. It was taken on the evening of 30th April1945 in the bathroom of Hitler’s residence in Munich, the night Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in their bunker in Berlin. Continue reading
The photograph that I love the most is a black and white image of two male boxers dancing arm in arm, in graceful harmony, one having discarded his gloves. It was taken by the French photographer Raymond Cauchetier in a gymnasium in Paris in 1962 on the set of Francois Truffaut’s film Jules et Jim. It shows two actors from the film, Oskar Werner (left, Jules) and Henry Serre (right, Jim). Cauchetier was the photographer of the French New Wave and had been with the press corps in Indochina before returning to Paris and befriending film critics and filmmakers. He was on the sets of these films as a photojournalist as his interest was in the film process, rather than taking stills for publicity.