Tyler Green
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Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

The MAN Podcast: Clyfford Still & Pre-Photoshop

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This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features two art historians: David Anfam on Clyfford Still and Mia Fineman on her new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition “Faking It: Manipulating Photography Before Photoshop.”

Anfam is one of the leading scholars of abstract expressionism and has compiled the catalogue raisonnes of Mark Rothko and Conrad Marca-Relli. He’s the adjunct curator at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, where he has worked with director Dean Sobel on the museum’s installations. The CSM is currently showing selections from its collection along side “Vincent/Clyfford,” an installation that demonstrates how Still looked closely at van Gogh. The museum has also just published “Clyfford Still: The Artist’s Museum,” which features a major essay by Anfam on Still’s life and work. (Amazon offers the book for $25 off.)

Among the topics we discuss are:

  • How Anfam got started on Clyfford Still while a PhD student at the Courtauld;
  • How his access to the entirety of the Still estate has impacted his view of the artist’s oeuvre;
  • The Barnett Newman-Clyfford Still rivalry over the origin of the dominant vertical; and
  • Why a California-based painter named Maynard Dixon was important to Still.

Fineman a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her new show, “Faking It, Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop,” goes back to nearly the beginning of photography to reveal how artists have been manipulating their pictures since nearly the start of photography. (You can see a JPEG of just about every picture in the exhibition here.) The exhibition is accompanied by a terrific book, one of the best art history books of the season. It’s published by the Met and is distributed by the Yale University Press. It’s also almost $25 off via Amazon.

Fineman and I discuss:

  • The surprising story of how Fineman became interested in her subject;
  • The little-known histories behind manipulation in famous prints by Paul Strand and Ansel Adams [Image: Jim Alinder, Ansel Adams with Straight and Fine Print of “Moonrise,” 1981];
  • What artists’ manipulation of photographs reveals about the medium’s relationship to painting; and
  • Why headlessness was such the rage!

How to listen: To download the program to your PC/mobile device, click here. Subscribe to The Modern Art Notes Podcast via iTunes or RSS. Stream the program at MANPodcast.com.

The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. The MAN Podcast is released under this Creative Commons license. For images of the works discussed on this week’s show, click through to the jump.

Clyfford Still, Untitled, 1956. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Clyfford Still, 1944-N No. 1, 1944. Collection of the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver.

Clyfford Still, Row of Elevators, ca. 1928-29. Collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington.

Clyfford Still, PH-782, 1927. Collection of the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver.

Clyfford Still, PH-623, 1929-30. Collection of the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver.

Clyfford Still, PH-247, 1951. Collection of the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver.

Barnett Newman, Cathedra, 1951. Collection of Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh, Sorrow, ca. 1881-83. The Garman Ryan Collection, The New Art Gallery Walsall, London.

Jean-Francois Millet, The Gleaners, 1857. Collection of the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

Vincent Van Gogh, Two Peasants Digging, 1889. Collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Clyfford Still, PH-77, 1937. Collection of the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver.

William Kurelek, The Ukranian Pioneer No. 6, 1971-76. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Maynard Dixon, Earth Knower, 1935. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California.

Ernest-Eugene Appert, Crimes de la Commune, 1871. Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Saint Thomas de Aquin, [Man Juggling His Own Head], ca. 1880.

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