Armenian-Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh (1908–2002) is celebrated for photographing the most influential people of the Twentieth Century. With a wide range of subjects such as Winston Churchill, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, Joan Baez, Jacques Cousteau, and Albert Einstein, Karsh considered the face as the most interesting and the greatest challenge to photograph. Photographing more than 17,000 heroes of our time and over 150,000 negatives in six decades, this exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art La Mirada encompasses over fifty international icons.
Considered a master of studio lighting, Karsh became fascinated with theater techniques. By manipulating light, the artist enjoyed having a command of mood and expression, which allowed him to create a new world of interpretation. With a fascination to record the intrinsic nature behind the facade of the individual, Karsh unveiled through the lens the moment he captured the spirit and innate truth of his subjects, and forever transformed portraiture.
Image: Muhammad Ali, 1970, gelatin silver print, ©Estate of Yousuf Karsh
January 16–March 31, 2014
MMA La Mirada
As one of the most legendary California photographers and conservationists, Ansel Adams (1902-1984) captured the rugged Western landscape with intense sharp focus, harmony, and balance, championing black and white photography with a new modernist style. These photographs exhibited and generously donated to the Museum by Virginia Adams in honor of Margaret W. Weston, come from the Museum Set, a project he initiated in his last five years with the help of Maggi Weston and the Weston Gallery in Carmel, California. Together they selected images from the early 1920s through the 1960s in an effort to assess his life’s greatest work and make them available to collectors with the intent that they would be donated to museums for exhibition and education.
This exhibition celebrates Bob Kolbrener’s expansive fifty-year adventure with photography, and includes both iconic images and some rarely seen works from all five decades of his career. Still using the time-honored methods of film and gelatin silver darkroom printing, Kolbrener explores the Western United States with his cameras, in pursuit of that exceptional moment and extraordinary vista.
Image: Bob Kolbrener, Desert Fantasy, 2013, gelatin silver print, collection of the artist ©2013 Bob Kolbrener.
David Ligare is one of California’s most preeminent contemporary realist painters. His work is celebrated for its delicate luminescence and heightened attention to detail in his depictions of nature. He describes himself as a neo-classic artist, saying, “I believe in the value of recognizing the integrity of the thing seen, that is, in representing every element of nature as carefully and reverently as I can.”
This Monterey Now exhibition will center on the artist’s large-scale panoramic work depicting three of Monterey’s geographical highlights: its major river, mountain, and the ocean. These new works, created especially for the exhibition, will be displayed in a contemplative setting to highlight their historical and cultural significance and to emphasize their spiritual impact. The exhibition will also include a selection of his small scale preparatory studies.
In conjunction with his exhibition, Monterey Now: David Ligare, River/Mountain/Sea, the artist will present a free lecture titled “Scenic Philosophy: The Landscape of Monterey County” at the Carmel Women’s Club, 9th and San Carlos in Carmel. The event will take place on Sunday, November 24 at 3 pm. Admission is free.
Image: David Ligare, River, 2012, oil on panel, courtesy of the artist ©David Ligare, 2012
Portraits of Meiji Japan features hand-painted Japanese albumen photography from the Museum’s permanent collection. Approximately ten years prior to the rule of Emperor Meiji (1868-1912), known as the Meiji restoration, Japan re-established diplomatic and trading relations with the rest of the world, marking a dramatic departure from the many years of isolation. Not only did Japan adopt a new government and foreign policies, which made them a member of the international community, but their art and cultural traditions were revolutionized.
Under Meiji, artists were encouraged to study abroad and return with new insights, skills and techniques. For the next half of the century, westernization ensued and Japanese, European, and American artists inspired each other, further developing Japanese art towards the emerging modernist styles of the time. Although hand-painted photography was introduced in Europe in the mid-19th century, by the 1880’s the process had become a common practice in Japan for tourism. European and Japanese photographers, such as Baron Raimund Von Stillfried-Ratenicz (1839-1911) and Kimbei Kusakabe (1841-1934) worked together and set up studios, similar to theater sets, to make and sell portraits. Tinting and coloring the black and white photographs made them seem more realistic and brought to life the vivid colors seen on the intricately embroidered silk kimonos, the delicate flower-adorned fans and lush gardenlike backdrops, rendering them so exotic to foreigners. Though the color may seem artificial to our eyes today, many of these images deliver a romanticized glimpse into what appeared to be the traditional Japanese life in the past.
Portraits of Meiji Japan—Photography from the 1880s include portraits of high ranking individuals as well as views of ordinary daily life, and provide some historical insight into how foreigners viewed Japan. The individual photographers are generally unknown today, but several prints are by Kimbei Kusakabe, one of Japan’s first and most well-known early studio photographers.
Image: Artist Unknown, Dancers, circa 1880, hand-colored albumen print, MMA Acquisition Fund purchase
MMA La Mirada
Gottardo Piazzoni (1872-1945) moved from Switzerland to his family’s ranch in Carmel Valley in 1887. Subsequent study in Paris and San Francisco exposed the young Piazzoni to the revolutionary artistic developments of modernism and the muted symbolic pallet of tonalism which infuses his paintings of the California landscape. Piazzoni’s most ambitious project was a series of fourteen monumental murals commissioned for the San Francisco public library—now the Asian Art Museum. The murals were removed and conserved when the building was renovated in 1999. Ten murals are on permanent display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The final four—entitled Dawn, The Forest, The Mountain and Night—were completed the year of the artist’s death in 1945. These magnificent murals have been generously lent from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to the Monterey Museum of Art.
Sponsored by Peppy Garner and Darnell Whitt, Carver + Schicketanz Architects, The S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Eric J. Del Piero, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Osterkamp, Mr. and Mrs. John Wilkinson, Janelle and Johnny Apodaca, Sherrie and Tom McCullough, Alyce Nunes, Tom and Margo Nunes and Dee Sala.
Image: Gottardo Piazzoni, The Forest from the Mural Suite, 1945, oil on canvas mounted to aluminum honeycomb panel, collection of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Transfer from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Asian Art Museum through the joint Committee to Site the Piazzoni Murals