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The Photographer and the Painting (5)

Instead of securing licenses for all these replications of other photographers’ works, Sandro Miller relied instead on a legal opinion interpreting the “fair use” exception to the copyright law as covering these restagings. I don’t see how simply replicating a scenario with John Malkovich substituting for the original subject comments in any significant way on the image from which its iconography derives. With all other elements of each image duplicated as faithfully as possible, is Malkovich’s presence in and of itself “transformative”? […]

The Photographer and the Painting (4)

Photographers’ commonplace practice of basing photographs on works of graphic art, often in detail and faithful to the originals, is celebrated, not condemned, by the very same community that objects, vociferously, when painters and other graphic artists imitate or derive iconography from photographic images. What inexplicable double standard operates here? […]

Cabin Fever 2015: Bits & Pieces (2)

I confess, with a shudder but of my own volition, that I agree with the Fox News decision to publish “Healing the Believers’ Chests,” the complete 22:34-minute ISIS video of the burning alive of captured Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh. I watched it there — not for thrills, but because (a) as a citizen of the country that ISIS has declared its mortal enemy I want to know the threat that confronts us, and (b) I feel obligated as a critic to actually experience work in its entirety, no matter how difficult its content, before considering and commenting on it. […]

Forgotten Laurels: John Szarkowski and Cornell Capa (1995)

Looking at John Szarkowski’s photographs and Cornell Capa’s, asking myself — based on that early evidence of personal tendency and taste — which of the two had surprised me most as advocates for photography by transcending the narrow-mindedness to which performers in any medium are prone in order to create an institutional environment with an atmosphere of tolerance and encouragement for all, the unequivocal answer that came was Cornell Capa. […]

Alternate History: Robert Capa on D-Day, 21

It’s at once sad and comical to watch Morris and his coterie scrambling to find rationales, no matter how unlikely and absurd, for the impossibilities and contradictions in the various versions of Capa’s D-Day actions and the fate of his negatives that they’ve peddled over the past seven decades. Right now they’re making it up as they go along — and making fools of themselves as they do so. […]