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Sunday, 06 April 2008


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Having recently seen his earlier work at the Getty Museum I really connected to it. I even wrote a post about it on my blog here:

The show is only up at the Getty until April 13th. So anyone in LA may want to get up there before then.

While there are any number of photographers that i respect and whose photos have given me reason to think, feel and shoot, Andre Kertesz is my all-time favorite and my greatest source of inspiration. He had a wry sense of humor, was non-judgmental, made no political or social statements, just there, feeling and capturing his world. He was clearly trusted by his subjects and whether he was shooting a person, group or semi-abstract it seems he had great respect and empathy for his subject matter. His photographs are infused with warmth and love of his art without being unduly sentimental. He is a photographer i wish i had known personally. I think he must have been a very good man as well as artist.

and, whoops, Ken, thanks so much for bringing this book to my attention. I am very curious to see how he thought and felt with an instant color print at his fingertips.

Thanks, Ken, for bringing to notice this work. I've always admired Kertesz and I shall not hesitate to order this book.

The other notable work on Polaroids is by Manuel Alvarez Bravo.

I do lovr Kertesz and even his polaroids. Plenty of serious photographers fooled with these tiny images. Even Walker Evans did. Still, somehow, to me "true" polaroids are those taken by aficionados, unpretentious photographers. And one Brian Carter I found on photo.net excels at it, real polaroids with a very keen eye for the medium and its time.

I'm a big fan of Kertesz, but don't like his polaroids much. The polaroid work I really like is by Walker Evans & also Tarkovsky.


Thanks, Ken, for your informative write-up on this new book. And your comments regarding the current "large mania" in the photographic gallery world are in perfect context, and in my view, quite correct...

---Steve Gillette

Hi Mike,

I'm very fortunate to live in Toronto and have access to the fine Stephen Bulger Gallery. This gallery specializes in photography and often brings in outstanding exhibits for viewing pleasure and for sale.

Kertesz' polaroids were featured at the gallery last November/December and I was lucky enough to wander over from my office a couple of times and see these little jewels. You can see the images from the gallery exhibit here: http://www.bulgergallery.com/dynamic/fr_exhibit_artist.asp?ExhibitID=145

A few of these polaroids are still hanging in the back of the gallery and can probably be purchased for a reasonable sum.

My only concern would be the longevity of polaroid prints. I'm not sure how long they will last before fading.

If you live in the Toronto area, I would also highly recommend the current exhibit of photos by Susan Meiselas called Intimate Strangers. http://www.bulgergallery.com/dynamic/fr_exhibit_artist.asp?ExhibitID=166
There are two sets of photos, a series of black and white images from the seventies taken in the stripper tent of a travelling carnival and a series of more recent colour prints taken in Pandora's Box, a plush S & M parlour.

The interactions between the female strippers and doms(who have all the power) and the male customers is fascinating.


I just went to see the Annie Liebowitz exhibit here in San Francisco. Half of her celebrity portraits were b&w Polaroids printed "full frame" with the rebates and the mask of her 6x6 camera. What made those versions her preferred way of representing her work?

I think that the loss of Polaroid film will be a real loss for artists.

Thanks. I've just ordered it. And if it were only for the cover image, and if the the book otherwise contained only empty pages, it would still be worth it. Absolutely breathtaking and I can't wait to hold it in my hands.

Kertész was top dog.

And indeed, the super-size mania in art galleries is dumb.

I fell in love with SX-70 back about 1974. It was a quirky and often difficult material to work with, but its appeal was how it could transform reality.

Here is something more recent with the Polaroid 600 color and monochrome films (prints?).


Photobooks are generally better to have, then to collect (I'm assuming you meant as an investment), even in this case.

I don't know what "From My Window" cost in 1981, but let's assume it was $30. Even if it is now worth $250, at the top end of the range you mentioned, that represents a compound annual growth rate of only 8.17%. Better than leaving the money in your savings account, but nothing special. If the book were only worth $200, the CAGR drops to about 7.28% and even lower if the original price was higher than $30. Not to mention that this assumes you can pick the books that will appreciate in value rapidly enough to outperform other investments (you may be able to, but I certainly can't).

"Investing" in art may make sense for a very limited number of people and institutions who need to diversify their portfolio, but it generally makes little sense for the novice.

In buying art, I take a very pragmatic view. I am buying the artwork because I like it. Because I want to own it. Because looking at it will cause me joy. I'm not interested in what the resale price will be, because I don't want to sell it, I want to keep it. Similarly, when I buy, there is really only one price that matters: what is this artwork worth TO ME? Often, the value to me is far below the market value. I rarely mind. If someone else wants it more, they are welcome to buy it at that higher price. I don't consider the market value wrong. It is what it is. I'm just not willing to pay it.

But I am often surprised at how often I am willing to pay MORE for a piece of art than what is being charged. It is interesting how this relates to photography. In photography, many people feel the need to limit editions in order to raise prices. I don't begrudge photographers that, if that is what they need to do to earn a living. But given my approach to buying art, I'm not willing to pay more for a photograph that is one of a limited edition. Why should I care if 1,000 other people have the same picture and enjoy it as much as I do? Does that diminish my pleasure in viewing it? Of course not. As a result, I would often be willing to pay more than some photographers charge for pictures from unlimited editions. Why? Because the picture is worth it TO ME.

I like having my photobooks.


Thanks to Huw for telling me about that gallery. I just moved to Toronto, and it turns out I must have walked by it three or four times this weekend without noticing it.

Wow, good analysis, but I'm afraid I was thinking much more simplistically: if you don't buy what you want when it's new (i.e., collect it), the price goes up and it can be more expensive to purchase later. I wasn't thinking in terms of investments, honest--just, what's the cheapest way to get the most great books.

Mike J.

The great Polaroid stuff gone?
Digital age, I hate you!



A cool video of the SX-70:

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