The Finesse of The Individual Mark

“One could say that any child could make a drawing like Twombly only in the sense that any fool with a hammer could fragment sculptures as Rodin did, or any house painter could spatter paint as well as Pollock. In none of these cases would it be true. In each case the art lies not so much in the finesse of the individual mark, but in the orchestration of a previously uncodified set of personal “rules” about where to act and where not, how far to go and when to stop, in such a way as the cumulative courtship of seeming chaos defines an original, hybrid kind of order, which in turn illuminates a complex sense of human experience not voiced or left marginal in previous art.”

Kirk Varnedoe

 

Cyrus Alessandro Twombly and his pet posing in front of a large-scale painting by Cy Twombly. Photo: Horst P. Horst, 1966

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Penelope’s Hungry Eyes

Self-portrait, London, 1972

 

Abe Frajndlich was born in 1946 to in Frankfurt. At the age of ten he moved to the United States via Israel, France and Brazil. His role model and mentor was photographer Minor White, from whom he learnt “the art of seeing”.

It is with “hungry eyes”, but also with a tenacity and patience only equaled by Penelope’s firm belief in the return of her husband Odysseus, that over the last 30 years Abe Frajndlich has taken portraits of his famous fellow photographers. A selection of over 100 pictures from the ever growing portrait collection has been published in book form for the first time under the title Penelope’s Hungry Eyes. It features grand old masters of the art and photographic artists, contemporaries of the author and younger masters from the Düsseldorf School.

Abe Frajndlich has succeeded in luring the world’s most famous photographers out from behind their cameras and in front of his. With extraordinary skill, he has trained his lens on people used to hiding their own eyes behind a camera. For each of his portraits (some in color, some black and white) Frajndlich has conceived an individual setup that brings into focus in diverse ways the photographer’s primary organ, namely their eyes, which are as special as the voice of talented singers. Some of the photographers shy away by closing their eyes, wearing a mask or turning away (Cindy Sherman, Annie Leibovitz, Thomas Struth or Hans Namuth). Others use props such as glasses, mirrors or magnifying glasses to set their eyes in scene (Bill Brandt, Duane Michals, Andreas Feininger, Lillian Bassman) and still others draw attention to the vulnerability of their eyes using knives and scissors (Imogen Cunningham, Lucas Samaras). Yet many of the subjects respond to the unfamiliar “change of perspective” by looking directly into Frajndlich’s camera (Candida Höfer, Berenice Abbott, Gordon Parks).

Abe Frajndlich has presented a Who’s Who of recent photographic history, enriched with a highly subtle eye for humorous situations. In images and text (the photographer has added a personal note to each portrait) Frajndlich sets out to discover the ever enigmatic relationship between the real person and their own legend.

 

Lucas Samaras
 

Bill Brandt

 

Josef Koudelka

 

Arnold Newman

 

Robert Lebeck

 

Imogen Cunningham

 

Elliott Erwitt

 

William Wegman

 

Marc Riboud

 

Ruth Bernhard

 

Lillian Bassman

 

Louise Dalh-Wolfe

 

Ilse Bing

 

Dennis Hopper

 

David Hockney

 

Richard Avedon

 

Annie Leibovitz

 

Cindy Sherman

 

Andres Serrano

 

Harold Edgerton

 

Horst P. Horst

 

Norman Parkinson

 

Gordon Parks

 

Masahisa Fukase

 

Daidō Moriyama

 

Eikoh Hosoe

Lanvin on Stairs

Lanvin Gown posed beside stairs. Photo by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, December 1934

 
 

Photo by Arik Nepo, 1949

 
 

Coat and hat Lanvin; coat and hat Cardin; coat and fur Cardin; coat with belt and black hat, on stairs, Carven.  Photo by Jeanloup Sieff. Paris, Jardin des Modes, 1961

 
 

Robe longue Mikonos. Maison Lanvin. Collection Haute couture spring-summer 1970 by Jules-François Crahay

 
 

Prêt-à-Porter Fall 2010 Lanvin by Alber Elbaz. After each model walked the runway, she climbed a dramatic circular staircase at the end

 
 

Lanvin by Alber Elbaz, Pre-collection Spring-Summer 2012. Promotional picture by Max Berlinger

Orgiastic Inspiration

Salvador Dali’s costumes for the ballet Bacchanale, of which Dali designed the set, costumes and wrote the libretto based on Ricard Wagner‘s Tannhäuser and the myth of Leda and the Swan. A “bacchanale” is an orgiastic musical composition often depicting a drunken revel or bacchanal. Photo by Horst P. Horst, 1939

 

 

 

Alice Gibb and Olga Sherer, Photo by Tim Walker. Editorial A Magical World for Vogue Italia. January, 2008