For your delectation this fine Friday, two links, two Charleses: One to a sampling of the work of one Charles ("Teenie") Harris, a.k.a. One-Shot Harris, at The Mail Online. From a show currently on view at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
I'm a sucker for this stuff. I love jazz, I'm very interested in African-American history, and I like working pj's and historical B&W.
The second, to another photographer seemingly in the vein of the recently discovered Fred Herzog, master of Kodachrome color: Charles Cushman, subject of a new book called The Day in Its Color: Charles Cushman's Photographic Journey Through a Vanishing America. This Charles's "meticulously catalogued" archive of 14,500 slides has its home at Indiana University.
I haven't seen the book, but from the 22-picture sampling at the Chicago Mag.com link then I'm...reserving judgement. If those are among the best shots out of 14,500, then it looks like Mr. Cushman might not have been, shall we say, the most talented of photographers. They charm with their historicity, of course, but they seem aesthetically haphazard to me, like overly-controlled snapshots (thus missing only the best thing about snapshots: their infrequently but dependably bizarre randomness). I'll reserve final judgement until I see the book, of course.
But see what you think.
(Thanks to MM and another tipster whose identity I have lost, alas)
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by kukkurovaca: "The thing about Cushman's archive is that it's very large and in its native state is just a lot of photos. My take from the last time Cushman was making the rounds of the blogosphere is that an editor picking and choosing from that archive (and in the absence of a published/edited/sequenced body of work from the photographer himself) could easily create the impression of a pioneering Cushman, or a lousy Cushman, or a clumsy Cushman, or a merely lecherous Cushman."
Featured Comment by Kenneth Tanaka: "Cushman was perhaps a rather above average amateur. His strengths were a) his family wealth which enabled him to hop through the US and around the world for years at a time snapping away, and b) his devotion to snapping lots of lost Chicago architecture stuff, like a junior Richard Nickel.
"No, Cushman did not have the eye or reflexes of Herzog but, at the end of the day, his body of work is perhaps more valuable for the breadth of its cultural documentary value.
"IU has the full archive online. What's striking is how much documentation Cushman recorded for each shot. Kinda like a manual EXIF obsession."
Mike replies: ...Or a touch of OCD.
Featured Comment by Mark Hobson: "Having lived in Pittsburgh, I 'discovered' the work of Teenie Harris over 20 years ago and was able to acquire several Harris prints. Unfortunately, at that time his archive was in the hands of an unscrupulous shyster who had essentially swindled Harris out of archive.
"Fortunately, as the result of a lawsuit, the Harris family was able to reacquire the archive and it was subsequently acquired by the Carnegie Museum of Art. The museum is meticulously cataloging and archiving the collection. The current Teenie Harris exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art is a monumental presentation—987 prints from the Harris collection are on display.
"There is also an 192 page exhibition catalog (hardcover or paperback) available online from the museum store. The catalog has 100 images and several interesting essays about Harris, his work, and its historical significance. It's a great addition to any photo book collection (I have the hardcover edition).
"It is also worth noting, the museum has also created a Teenie Harris microsite which is treasure trove of information with an in-depth gallery of exhibition images.
"Hopefully, as the exhibition travels around the country, the prolific Teenie Harris and his work will garner the recognition, appreciation, and respect he and it so justly deserve."