Daniel Blau has assembled an outstanding collection of photographs bearing testimony to the attack
Kronos: Fire and Water
Strife and war are driving forces for mankind. Depictions of the hunt and scenes of war, of sword and spear, appear in our record even before recordkeeping, in the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux, the rock art of North Africa and Europe. We have, even from the earliest times, used our art to show our weapons at work exerting dominance over the natural world and our fellow man alike.
Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941: a grainy image shows Hawai’i from a bird’s-eye view. The island, the harbor, and a row of ships. Concentric waves. A torpedo has dropped into the water to leave those waves behind; in just a few moments it will hit one of those ships, and explode. The photo has captured the precise moment when the USA comes under direct attack by Japan. The attack on Pearl Harbor, more than any other single event, is what transformed a European war into a truly global one, a world war in all its senses and with its consequences.
Daniel Blau has assembled an outstanding collection of photographs bearing testimony to the attack. U.S. Navy photographers are found here alongside the much rarer work of their counterparts within the Imperial Japanese Army. This contrast and compliment permits a vivid, haunting insight into this brief instant in history, this era-defining attack, and forms the basis for a deeper engagement with war photography at large and the artistic considerations and aspects involved.
Nearly 81 years ago, Japan’s surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor brought about World War II’s turning point: the entry of the world’s most powerful military might, the USA, into the war. The unanticipated act of war lasted only about two hours. It came in two waves, claiming the lives of over 2,000 American soldiers and civilians. The photographs from our present collection illustrate almost every single military step taken by the two sides. The first Japanese bombers flew over Pearl Harbor that day at 7:48 am Hawaiian time. Their targets included, among others, seven US Navy battleships anchored in the vicinity of the Ford Islands, along the so-called ‘Battleship Row.’ In the course of those two attack waves, each lasting only a few minutes, 353 Japanese fighter jets and 28 submarines destroyed three US battleships and inflicted considerable damage on the remainder. The Americans were able, all the same, to shoot down 29 enemy planes.
The progression of weapons at human disposal has been matched by the progression of our illustration of them, from the dawn of art down to today. Rocks for bludgeoning and hurling gave way to the sword and the spear; the spear turns to arrow, to bullet and bomb and torpedo, until ultimately, in our own age, the long destructive evolution culminates in Fat Boy and Little Man, the atomic bomb in use, something like a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The moment those first torpedoes dropped from Japanese planes above Hawai’i is also, then, the same decisive moment upon which the lives of hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki hung. It is also, though, the moment in which the USA decided to demand an end to German hubris and arrogance. In a sort of paradox, then, the most important event of the 20th century was not so much a world peace, but rather the world war which engendered it.
A deeply symbolic photograph, the earliest image from the attack, was shot from a Japanese warplane. The arial photograph clearly shows the torpedoes that hit the US Navy warships stationed along the coast. Our exhibition, however, begins with a photo taken from a Japanese newsreel, published much later in the war. Japanese fighter pilots can be seen being prepared for their mission on board an aircraft carrier. Pilots of the Shimpū Tokkōtai, the Japanese kamikaze unit, are given a symbolic sip of sake; they do not expect to survive their mission.
The most widely published of these photographs originates with photographers of the US Navy. It shows the USS Shaw, a small and fast warship of the class known as ‘destroyer,’ at the instant of its explosion in dry dock. The tragic moment, the exploding ship itself, all is framed by palm fronds and an otherwise idyllic scene. Holiday paradise and bloody conflict come directly face-to-face. Clouds, the fireworks of explosion, the bursting apart of the USS Shaw, all appears together like the elements of some old master’s oil painting.
It is here that the matter of artistic photography comes to the fore. The pictures made by both the Imperial Japanese Army Photographers and the US Navy photographers serve as valuable source material, chronologically documenting not only the attack on Pearl Harbor itself but also our very knowledge of it; through the visual language in use, through the spectacular motifs, through the thick swaths of smoke and formations of ocean cloud, in every shade and nuance of greyscale, these photographs also bring their enormous artistic and emotional worth before us, more than purely documentary evidence of the sinking wrecks, the uniformed young and old men alike on the docks and on doomed ships. These are artworks, showing their artists’ every effort in grasping towards a profound aesthetic in that hectic and instantly fleeting state of being which is war.
The timeline reasserts itself in another photo, taken May 24th, 1943: the slow and arduous salvage of the USS Oklahoma is underway. Throughout the 17 months following Japan’s surprise attack 16 of the 19 sunken ships were recovered by the Navy and put back into service. In the wake of such terrible events, a photograph like this can serve to grant man once again hope, a sense of security and faith in our capacity not only to survive but to rise up ever stronger.
Every single photo gathered here serves as an important document of its time. Most of these photographs also find elaboration through the original text or newspaper reports (slugs) included on the back; the word choice and the language of these texts opens the images up to us on yet another level, allowing each recipient to ‘read’ the image of the war again, as though through new eyes or with deeper understanding. Amongst all this abundance of art-historical objects and photographs, it remains the image itself, the reproductive depiction of an event – and this was as true then as it is today – which is taken as the ultimate proof of occurrence. We use words to name objects and occurrences, to give some meaning and purpose to them. But we also, in just the same way, rely upon the portrayal of history-laden events, whether in the form of something sketched or photographed, to bring us towards belief in the truthfulness of what has happened. Here we might look to the buried photographs of the Buchenwald concentration camp as an example. Images have enormous influence on the very way in which we see; they reflect political and military structures, can even be used, ultimately, as evidence in court proceedings, in investigation for instance of war crimes. The space always left for interpretation within a photograph’s frame, however, can also serve as space for propaganda. Photography always anchors itself, in our collective visual memory, as a genuine reproductive depiction of one moment. These different dimensions lead also to an understanding, though, that the recipient too must be held responsible: he must cast his thoughts to matters of seeing, of not-seeing and of not-wanting-to-see, and must pose to himself the question of what it is that in the last accounting remains as the real expressive significance of the photo. It is up to him to close the invisible hole in history that has opened up between the reproduced depiction and the real event itself.
“Kronos” is available for purchase as a set. Price upon request. For further information please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This offer is noncommital. We cannot guarantee the set is still available on request.
Paris Photo 2022
DANIEL BLAU is pleased to present a trio of outstanding exhibitions at this year’s PARIS PHOTO. The renowned Munich gallery has emphasized photography since its foundation, and takes pride in its international reach and reputation and the range of contacts it has earned. This year, its contribution to PARIS PHOTO encompasses nearly 80 photographs, a tripartite arch spanning from early, massive cityscapes of Rome to wartime photographs capturing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to the first, fascinating examples of photography from space. This is mankind at its most grandiose and monumental – but also at its most dangerous, and ominous.
The unbelievable happened in 1969. A spacecraft crewed by humans touched down on the moon. Even now, the moon landing, and the missions into space that led up to and succeeded it, retain their fascination for us. A curation of high-quality images, both in color and in black-and-white, are presented here as kaleidoscopic insight into the NASA missions of the late 1960s and ‘70s they document. It could be that even the photo-enthusiast public sees little special, today, in space photography, overwhelmed as it is by countless satellites sending back high-resolution glimpses into the cosmos. If we cast our thoughts back some 60 years, though, NASA’s photographs appear again in new light: the surface of the moon recorded by man, the earth photographed for the first time from that lunar surface, heavily historic and phenomenal images. From a scientific perspective, of course, these missions, of an era already receding into memory, gained mankind a wealth of new information and ways of understanding the universe around us. The stillness, though, the endless quiet of these photographs, the play of light and shadow on another world and beyond our ken, the colors glistening off the horizons of other planets and into boundless space – these are artworks, pure, and fascinating moments in the history of photography.
The exhibition “KRONOS” features photographs taken on December 7th, 1941, of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The photographic propaganda material that helped define perceptions of the surprise attack stemmed from unlikely sources, from snapshots and the corners of unintentionally well-timed holiday memories. An otherwise innocuous beach scene contains a massive explosion; a section of Pearl Harbor is found in a birds-eye overview. We see concentric waves making their way towards a row of ships – in only a moment the waves’ torpedo will strike one. Daniel Blau has assembled an important collection of photographs, from multiple origins and a wide variety of techniques, documenting the attack. U.S. Navy photographers and rarely represented Imperial Japanese Army photographers are displayed alongside one another for the first time. What results is a haunting window into one brief instant in time, the historic flash of an unanticipated, world-altering attack, into the very nature of war photography and propaganda, and into the artistry and philosophical perspectives at play between explosions and snapping shutters.
One more highlight of this year’s presentation brings us into the classical past and before a different sort of grandeur, a monumental modern image of an antique monument. The largest enclosed building of the ancient world, the Roman Colosseum, was captured in photography by the Roman urban photographers Tommaso Cuccioni (1790-1864) and Giuseppe Ninci (1823-1890). The building itself dates to AD 79; the print is the earliest dated work our gallery is showing at Paris Photo, and one of the earliest large-format architectural photographs of any kind. It is an unusual piece of art, an albumen print almost 1.5 meters wide and executed in three parts. Ninci learned the craft of photography in Cuccioni’s studio, opening his own around 1866 not far from the Spanish Steps. Both photographers were known for their oversized topographic images of the Eternal City, as spectacular in their own right as the ancient edifices themselves are.
Grand Palais Éphémère
Vernissage (by invitation only):
November 9, 2022
3 pm – 9 pm
November 10 – 12, 2022
1 pm – 8 pm
November 13, 2022
1 pm – 7 pm
DANIEL BLAU is pleased to present “TONDO,” a truly unique exhibition of vintage pictures connected by their unusually well-rounded focus, for the PhotoSaintGermain Festival 2022.
The 23 photographs featured in the Anthony Meyer rooms, stretching in origin all the way back to the earliest days of the artform in the early nineteenth century, range from cityscape to portraiture, from images of far-off lunar craters to the architectural gems around us. What unifies them all is, of course, roundness, whether in their subject matter, in the technology behind them, or in the framing of the very photograph itself.
Tondi have an age-old place in art history, and with the advent of photography took a step into the modern world as well. Experimentation in roundness has been present from the first lens down through the innovation of the fisheye in the 1960s and ‘70s, reflecting the zeitgeist and aesthetic impulses of every generation from Voigtländer to Nikon. Here, DANIEL BLAU, together with SERGE PLANTUREUX, has brought together an extraordinary curation of roundness through the decades, outstanding work that encompasses historic milestones and natural timelessness, anonymous faces and monumental profiles. Lightning watchers at the Empire State are frozen in time by John Alger, beside Alvin Landon Coburn’s view of colleague Alfred Stieglitz.
“What is the aesthetic beauty of a circle? – or of a turning, curving movement,” DANIEL BLAU asks, in a recently published discussion between the two experts behind the exhibit. “Isn’t it something that is quite natural to us? Beginning with the iris being round, and the eye being round like a sphere, and the head being roundish, the sun and the moon being round… we are surrounded by all these spherical, and seemingly circular objects.” The reflection on and consideration of roundness is itself an endless one, always circling back upon itself, wherever we begin – the possibility, the potential, the resources, the subjects, the history, the technology, the very shape itself. Unusual as it can seem at first, the circle in photography is there at every turn.
The exhibition “TONDO” will be held in the Anthony Meyer Rooms at PhotoSaintGermain between November 3rd and 19th, 2022.
November 3rd – 19th, 2022
tuesday to friday
2:30 pm – 6:00 pm
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
exhibition at Galerie Meyer:
17, rue des Beaux-Arts
75006 Paris – France
Birds have been revered in many cultures throughout history
Birds or “Der Traum vom Fliegen”
Humans across the ages have dreamed of flight, inspired by the movements of birds and the passage of clouds. The history of aviation goes back more than two thousand years – to early kite flying in China that can be traced to several hundred years BC. The tradition of flying a kite spread around the globe and is considered to be the earliest form of human flight. Kites represent a meeting place of man and elements, similar to the way in which sailboats harness the power of the wind to propel their motion.
In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci’s fascination with flight accompanied him from his youth throughout his entire life. He was devoted to finding ways to allow man to fly, making numerous studies and observations of birds, analysing their flight technique and the structure of their wings. He created countless sketches, drawings and models in the attempt to create a flying machine that could be propelled by a human, but he came to understand that a solitary person wouldn’t be capable of producing enough energy to move the wings, so another form of mechanical flight would be necessary.
The first hot air balloon flights took place in the 18th century, a time of rapid developments and discoveries that contributed to our understanding of aerodynamics. Balloons were also deployed for military purposes from the end of the 18th century. From the earliest days of aviation, flight has been associated with both adventure and war. The dream of flight led to modern aeronautics, with the Wright brothers’ first successful aeroplane flight in 1903.
This swiftly led to record-breaking moments in history and technological innovations that played a huge role in the conflicts and connections that have shaped our contemporary world.
Birds have been revered in many cultures throughout history Around the world, birds have been revered and considered symbols of life, death and fate. They have appeared in folklore and popular culture, from prehistoric cave paintings to national flags. They’ve been the focus of superstition, myth and worship in many indigenous cultures and were regarded as expressions of God in early African and Egyptian cultures. As a theme they have inspired many artists, manifesting as motifs and signs. Birds have represented freedom, pride, the afterlife. They have been portrayed as mystical and mundane. They’ve made countless appearances in stories and films.
All photographs are available for purchase. Prices upon request. For further information please send an email to: email@example.com
All offers are noncommital. We cannot guarantee the items are still available on request.
Today they are disappearing, for they have no place in digital photography
Caligari, Golem & Co. – Glass Negatives
The photographic record exposed in the camera, so called because it renders light values as dark and vice versa. Negatives have ranged widely in the materials of their support, from paper to glass to flexible film. Today they are disappearing, for they have no place in digital photography.
Richard Benson, The Printed Picture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008, p. 324
The first fully practical process for negatives on glass was introduced by F. Scott Archer in 1851. A sheet of glass was handcoated with a thin film of collodion (guncotton dissolved in ether) containing potassium iodide, and was sensitised on the spot with silver nitrate. The plate had to be exposed while still wet, and developed immediately.
Brian Coe, Mark Haworth-Booth, A Guide to Early Photographic Processes, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983, p. 18
The use of a film of sensitised albumen on glass was first proposed by Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor; the albumen plate gave very high resolution of detail but was very slow, requiring long exposures. In the 1850s it was employed in combination with collodion or gelatin in the preparation of dry plates. Albumen negatives are not commonly met with, and in any case, are almost impossible to distinguish from collodion negatives, at least not without complex chemical tests.
Brian Coe, Mark Haworth-Booth, A Guide to Early Photographic Processes, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983, p. 17
Baghdad, 9th century: Sumurun, the sheikh’s favorite wife, is fed up with life in the harem. When her love for a cloth dealer is exposed, the sheikh finds a replacement in the beautiful dancer of a traveling juggling troupe. But he is not her only admirer. His son and a hunchbacked juggler both have their eyes on the dancer as well, all competing for her attention. Intrigue and murder ensue. Sumurun is based on one an ‘oriental fairy tale’ by Friedrich Freksa, who produced it as a pantomime filmed by Max Reinhardt in 1910. The director and star of Sumurun, Ernst Lubitsch, had begun his acting career with Reinhardt, and so Lubitsch’s 1920 remake of the pantomime original serves simultaneously as an homage to the artistry and imagination of his old teacher.
Ernst Lubitsch was born in Berlin in 1892. After attending high school he began an apprenticeship in a fabric store and worked as an accountant for his father, a tailor. In 1910 he began acting lessons at Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater. After a number of smaller roles, he made his true film debut in 1913, in The Ideal Wife. From 1917 he worked with a small staff as a director at the recently-founded Universum Film AG (Ufa). In 1923, after a run of successful period films like Madame Du Barry he moved to the United States, where he worked as a director for various Hollywood studios. A host of sophisticated social comedies resulted, including The Marriage Circle and So This Is Paris, with subjects drawn mainly from European literature. Keeping an eye on the strict censorship regime of the time, Lubitsch developed an ironic technique full of allusions and hidden meanings, indirect commentary and elegant whispers. All this became known, and has gone down in film history, as the “Lubitsch touch,” an approach to filmmaking which deeply influenced the development of American film comedy from that point on. His first sound film, The Love Parade, represented an even further leap forward in genre and technical capability than in its use of sound alone; it is one of the first true film musicals, not merely a filmed version of the earlier stage operetta it was based on but a true adaptation for the cinematic medium, using the possibilities of film (montage, moving camera, and so on) to unprecedented effect, and achieving a true union of image and sound on screen. Ernst Lubitsch died in 1947, in Hollywood.
All photographs are available for purchase. Prices upon request. For further information please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
All offers are noncommital. We cannot guarantee the items are still available on request.
Originally settled in 1925, the fertile Belle Glade region is a major agricultural center and played an often-overlooked role in the development of South Florida. The geography, folklore and cultural expression of the American frontier are most often associated with the West. With Foreverglades, Valiente draws our attention to a watery, verdant Southern frontier and the pioneer spirit that made an uninhabitable land home. ‘We were never meant to live in Florida’ says Valiente. ‘It was said they were buying land by the gallon!’
Valiente’s artistic work is driven and distinguished by lengthy periods of rigorous field research in which she lives within the communities she photographs. She has a remarkable ability to forge relationships across differences, building trust and producing intimate, moving portraits of people and the places they live in. She has resided in the Belle Glade area for five years and Foreverglades has emerged from this period of personal experience and research.
Valiente’s vibrant photographs are sensitively interwoven with the pages of a local history book, ‘Swamp to Sugar Bowl: Pioneer Days in Belle Glade’.
This 1968 book by Lawrence E. Will considers the history of the region from the late 19th century to the 1960s. By embedding her pictures within this existing text the artist posits history as an unfolding story and highlights enduring cultural traditions – such as the Harvest Queen beauty pageant that started in the 1940s and continues to this day.
The talents and interests that informed Foreverglades were already notable in 2014, when Valiente became one of the winners of our 5 Under 30 competition for young photographers with her project Miracle Village. Miracle Village saw the artist living among registered sex offenders in a rural Florida community, getting to know them and producing a body of photographs and a publication that incorporates handwritten testimonies from the residents.
We were honored to exhibit Miracle Village in 2014, and 2015 and she went on to receive the World Press Photo award for this project in 2015, among other prizes and fellowships. Foreverglades was awarded a prestigious Knight Arts Challenge Grant of $75,000 to support its production.
The conceptually and aesthetically rich Foreverglades book will inspire reflection beyond their specific South Florida context. This is an important artwork by an artist whose open mindedness and anthropological approach to artmarking are deeply impressive.
Carrie Foulkes, 2020
Louis Alphonse Poitevin
Poitevin – The Rediscovery of an Alchemist
Daniel Blau is pleased to present Louis Alphonse Poitevin: outstanding inventor, chemist,
engineer, researcher, artist and photographer.
For more than 35 years Poitevin (1819-1882) experimented with chemical and mechanical processes to make photographic images printable and durable. Poitevin recognized early on
how important photography would be to illustrate printed books. He developed the first applicable methods, the implementation of which made the printing of photographically
illustrated books possible in the first place. Presenting 47 rare photographs, this exhibition of Alphonse Poitevin’s work offers the opportunity for an in-depth view into some of his most prescient inventions in photography.
Poitevin is remembered today most for establishing the fundamental principles of four nonsilver process families: photolithography, collotype, dichromate relief systems, and the carbon pigment process. His inventions refined existing techniques and made the mechanical reproduction of images and thus, the illustration of printed books, possible.
The publication offers the unique opportunity to take a comprehensive look at the life and work of the famous pioneer of photography using a large number of different photographs
and the latest cutting-edge-technology research results. The volume brings together photographs and the results of experiments that provide a comprehensive insight into Poitevin’s work and place his achievements in both a technical and an art-historical context.
Alphonse Poitevin here at last receives some of the attention he deserves.
Available to order!
Printed and bound by Pelo-Druck Lohner oHG
Paper content: Tauro 120 g/m2
Paper cover: Flexcover, Gardamatt 350g/m2
84 pages, 97 illustrations
Copyright: all illustrations © Daniel Blau, Munich
Text: Martin Jürgens, Katharina Rohmeder
Layout: Christiane Wunsch
Editor: Robert Isaf