Exhibit This: The Photography Shows and Book Releases of the Month

by Libby Peterson

April 04, 2014

“My Florence”—A 67-Year-Old Love Story


Photos © Art Shay

Artist: Art Shay
Exhibit: "My Florence"
Venue: Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
Date: present-May 24, 2014

Art Shay, the Chicago-based photographer most famous for his contributions to such publications as Time, LIFE, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and many more, decided to put together a different type of exhibition of work that many haven’t seen before: one dedicated to his wife, Florence. Shay took his first photo of Florence the day they met as 20-year-old camp counselors in the Catskills back in 1942 (shown above); little did he know then that he would go on to take countless photos of her throughout their 67 years of marriage, from the beginning of their relationship after his return from the Air Force through their lives together with their five children.

 

Always an avid supporter of his photography career, Florence, a rare-book dealer who owned and operated her own store, even helped out with some of Shay’s shoots, most notably those in which they secretly shot mob bosses and mafia members conducting shady dealings with cameras hidden in briefcases and purses. Shay may have been taught objective documentation, but “My Florence” is a love story. As Shay wrote in one of his many “From the Vault of Art Shay” columns for The Chicagoist, “I learned long afterwards from one of my kids, that ‘Mom used to start your car in the morning before you did because she felt if the mafia blew you up, you wouldn’t be able to function without legs...but she would.’ ” The exhibition will be showing at Columbia College Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography and Library through May 24, 2014.

Smithsonian Exhibition Sums Up Concept of “Cool” with Iconic Portraits


Audrey Hepburn. © Philippe Halsman Archive/Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Artists: Various
Exhibit: "American Cool"
Venue: National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Date: present-September 7, 2014

What does it mean to be cool? We can probably agree that “cool” is fighting the norm, embracing rebelliousness, oozing individuality and inspiring new trends without intent, all the while remaining unfazed by the attitudes and opinions of others. “Cool” is likely not explaining what the word means, but showing it in photographs intrinsically is. Based on the photography book called American Cool by Joel Dinerstein and Frank H. Goodyear III (Prestel, January 2014), the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., is showing an exhibition by the same name. Iconic photos taken by the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Avedon of trendsetters, rebels and visionaries whom society has deemed worthy of the term “cool”—Miles Davis, Patti Smith, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Debbie Harry and more—are being featured in this exhibition, which runs through September 7, 2014.

Derek Ridgers Chronicles London’s Ever-Evolving Counterculture


© Derek Ridgers/Courtesy of Damiani Editore

Artist: Derek Ridgers
Book: Derek Ridgers: 78-87 London Youth
Price: $50

Between the years 1978 and 1987, British photographer Derek Ridgers devoted his lens to the documentation of the tumultuous subcultures ruminating on the streets and in the nooks and crannies of clubs and bars in London. The portrait shooter and cultural documentarian has come out with a book of this collection of work, titled Derek Ridgers: 78-87 London Youth (Damiani Editore). Having appeared in London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and style publications like The Face, Ridgers’ body of work delves into the early punk period and its slow metamorphosis into the skinhead revival, goth and the New Romantic movements, plus the development of Acid House and the new psychedelia scenes among the city’s youth. Having been in the industry for more than 30 years, Ridgers has shot celebrated artists and entertainers of all types, from Clint Eastwood and Johnny Depp to James Brown and The Spice Girls, but this book represents a slightly different collection of work, one of a less-explored creative spirit among the young rebels and innovators who sought an alternative form of artistic self expression.

Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers Debuts This Month


“Nathan and Robyn, 2012, Provincetown, MA” from Touching Strangers (Aperture, May 2014). © Richard Renaldi

Artist: Richard Renaldi
BookTouching Strangers
Price: $45

Having spent the past seven years traveling the country with his large-format 8 x 10 camera, Richard Renaldi’s unusual spin on the concept of a group portrait, in which he pairs complete strangers together, has become a book called Touching Strangers (Aperture). The name takes on a subtle double meaning, offering both the outside perspective of the viewer observing the touching strangers as well as that of one of the participants who is, quite literally, touching a stranger. From this dual view, the photographer aims to exemplify our competing reactions, between our innate reserve toward intimacy with the unfamiliar and the undeniable illusion of long-standing friendship and familiarity between Renaldi’s subjects. These portraits cause an inspiring, sometimes awing and occasionally humorous discord between what we see and the elements we’ve known essential for an intimate portrait of two people. A traveling exhibition of some of Renaldi’s work will also be showing until May 15, 2014.

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