The Interaction with Nature

“Photography is a medium, a language, through which I might come to experience directly, live more closely with, the interaction between myself and nature.”

Paul Caponigro

 

Self-portrait, 1973

 

Paul Caponigro (born December 7, 1932), is an American photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. Caponigro started having an interest in photography at age 13. However, he also had a strong passion in music and began to study music at Boston University College of Music in 1950, before eventually deciding to focus on studying photography at the California School of Fine Art.

Caponigro studied with Minor White and has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and three grants from the NEA. His best known photographs are Running White Deer and Galaxy Apple. His subject matter includes landscape and still life, taking an interest in natural forms. He is best known for his landscape works and for the mystical and spiritual qualities of his work. He is often regarded as one of America’s foremost landscape photographers. Caponigro’s first one-man exhibition took place at the George Eastman House in 1958. In the 1960s Caponigro taught photography part-time at Boston University while consulting the Polaroid Corporation on various technical research. Caponigro lived in El Rancho de San Sebastian during his time in New Mexico from 1973-1993.

In 1971, his work was exhibited in group exhibition “Le Groupe Libre Expression : Expo 5”, presented by Jean-Claude Gautrand, at Les Rencontres d’Arles festival, France.

Caponigro’s work is included in the collections of the Guggenheim, Whitney, Norton Simon Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2001.

Caponigro is a dedicated pianist and considers his training with music to be essential to his photographic imagery.

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The Depiction of Two Movements

Nu [esquisse], jeune homme triste dans un train (Nude (Study), Sad Young Man on a Train), Marcel Duchamp, 1911–12. Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

 
 

This painting was identified as a self-portrait by the artist. Duchamp’s primary concern in this painting is the depiction of two movements; that of the train in which there is a young man smoking, and that of the lurching figure itself.

 
 

The Rude Descending the Staircase (Rush Hour at the Subway), by J. F. Griswold. Evening Sun, March 20, 1913

Lobster and Cat

Nature morte avec chat et homard (Still life with cat and lobster), Pablo Picasso, 1962

 
 

Le homard et le chat (Lobster and Cat), Pablo Picasso, 1965

 
 

Lobster and Cat attests to the artist’s unbreakable energy during the last few years of his life. The oil painting demonstrates Pablo Picasso’s skill at depicting apparently humorous subjects in a serious manner: both animals are, potentially, as innocent as they are dangerous. The cat looks threatening, and is confronted by a crustacean in attack mode. Some art critics point out that the subject’s predecessor was La Raie (The Skate, 1728, Musée du Louvre, Paris), by French artist Jean-Baptiste-Simeón Chardin.

The surprising thing about Picasso’s painting is that he is able to retain the humorous anecdote of an eighteenth-century painting while focussing on and highlighting the encounter between the cat and the lobster, in an effective metaphor of aggression and defence, both provoked by fear. Picasso worked a number of times on transforming the monumental to the miniature, the trifling to the significant, and vice versa.

Lobster and Cat became part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum collection in 1991 thanks to the legacy of Hilde Thannhauser, the second wife of Justin K. Thannhauser, who had worked with his father, Heinrich, at the famous Munich gallery that bore his name. Strong supporters of the Avant-garde art movement with their excellent and eclectic programme of exhibitions, the Thannhausers put on the first major Pablo Picasso retrospective in 1913, at their Moderne Galerie. This was the start of a close relationship between Justin K. Thannhauser and the artist which was to last until Picasso’s death in 1973. The top left-hand corner of Lobster and Cat carries a dedication, “Pour Justin”, signed by his “ami”, Picasso. Under the terms of the Thannhauser legacy, the holdings are to be on display almost permanently in the galleries devoted to the collection at the museum building in New York. This is why Lobster and Cat has very rarely been seen outside New York.

 
 

La Raie (The Skate), by Jean-Baptiste-Simeón Chardin, 1728

 
 

A renowned French artist of the 18th Century, Chardin was well known for his still-life works and genre paintings. His refined and realistic style had a lasting influence on some of the greatest artists of the 19th and 20th Centuries, including Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906), and of course, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). His depictions were of simple subjects, but masterful in their execution.

The Man Who Would Be Gatsby

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

 
 

While a teenager, Francis Scott Fitzgerald was collecting ideas about the goings on in West Egg and not just those of the community but those of a specific man: W. Gould Brokaw, a now-forgotten Long Island socialite, playboy and gentleman automobile racer. He literally could not escape his shadow.

 
 

W. Gould Brokaw

 
 

Brokaw was the son of hugely successful New York clothier Vail Brokaw of Brokaw Brothers, and grandson of a railroad tycoon; he inherited a fortune of around $4.5 million and never needed to do anything in particular for work. His circle of friends was the cream of New York society: Astors, Whitneys, Guggenheims, Vanderbilts, Goulds, Morgans, all of them interested in speed, whether horses, greyhounds, yachts or cars. Brokaw was an elder statesman for that set of young millionaires, having been born a decade or more before most, in 1863. In later legal proceedings–of which there were oh so many, he was described as “a rich and fashionable clubman.”
 

According to Some Sort of Grandeur, Matthew Bruccoli’s biography of Francis Scott Fitzgerald, the character Jay Gatsby is based on the bootlegger and earlier World War I officer Max Gerlach. In the 1920s, when Gerlach knew the Fitzgeralds, he operated as a bootlegger and allegedly kept Fitzgerald topped off with booze. Born in Yonkers as Max A. Stark (or possibly Max A. Stork), he claimed direct German ancestry and went by the names of Max Stark Gerlach and Max von Gerlach later in life (his gravestone reads Max Stork Gerlach). Nevertheless, Gatsby is a composite, as are all Fitzgerald’s characters, and there’s a certain amount of Scottie himself in Jay.

 
 

Robert Evans and Ali MacGraw

 
 

About the filming adaption of The Great Gatsby directed by Jack Clayton in 1974, it was originally conceived and developed as a wedding present vehicle for Ali MacGraw (formerly Diana Vreeland’s assistant at Harper’s Bazaar magazine) from her then-husband Robert Evans. The project was derailed from its initial purpose when MacGraw fell in love with her The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah, 1972) co-star Steve McQueen and divorced Evans.

 
 

Evans in his home Woodland, built by architect John Woolf

 
 

The producer with Tatjiana Shoan. Harper’s Bazaar, 2004

 
 

Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw

 
 

Stills from The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton, 1974)

 
 

Automobiles are almost treated as a character in the plot of Fitzgerald’s book. Myrtle Wilson was knocked down by a car and this sad event unchains the climax of the story. Plus, Fitzgerald to his editor Maxwell Perkins that the name of Jordan Baker (a character based on the golfer Edith Cumming) is a combination between the two then-popular automobile brands, the Jordan Motor Car Company and the Baker Motor Vehicle, as an allusion to Jordan’s “fast” reputation and the freedom now presented to Americans, especially women of 1920s.

 
 

Ralph Lauren

 
 

Ralph Lauren who (as we know) made the costumes for Jack Clayton’s The Great Gastby, has a penchant for cars. His collection of classic automobiles is another dimension of his own persona. An amazing lineup of 50-plus dream machines that have all been restored to glory, the convoy is a portal to the past, when men like Brokaw drove their race cars home from the track at the end of the day and manufacters were the manifestations of their designers: Jean Bugatti, Enzo Ferrari, Ferdinand Porsche… RL’s gateway drug was a white ’61 Morgan convertible with red leather seats, which he bought in 1963- back when he was a travelling salesman for the Boston-based tie company A. Rivetz & Co.- and was later forced to sell when he couldn’t afford a garage in Manhattan.

 
 

Steve McQueen

 
 

And it’s a little bit curious and probably not coincidental that one of Ralph Lauren’s cottages is adorned with black-and-white photos of Greta Garbo, Johnny Depp and Steve McQueen, a man who also loved engines and made himself just like Jay Gatsby and Lauren did.