(18/55) Marie Cosindas - photographer





We all enjoy looking at photographs.  Whether we're interested in the art of photography or more interested in the technical craft of photography, photography provides a seemingly endless source of inspiration. However much invested we are in making or simply just looking at photographs, photographic images have become (especially in the our digital age) an ever present largely unmediated flow from which we can browse and reflect on at our leisure. 

However it's important to note that the what we're looking at is often a reflection of changes in technology, including evolution & innovation in products & materials.
In previous decades, conventional photographic companies and suppliers of film products had provided the raw material for photographers in generations past to create new work.
In the present day the innovation in tools and media is being driven by hardware and software companies (including but not limited to conventional  photography companies) who provide a 24/7 365 day cycle of 'innovation' involving both software and hardware re-engineering.

It's often been the case that photographers who rush in to capitalize on new innovations often run the risk of producing work that is emblematic of new processes but devoid of a personal imprint.
If you're a photographer who finds inspiration or monetary motivation in tracking the latest 'big thing' you're most probably not going to be the kind of photography worker who places a premium on developing a personal voice. 
But that's OK. Photography is a diverse activity. A business, a profession and also an art form. 

Which brings us to the curious case of the photographer Marie Cosindas. A name many photographers under 40 will find hard to place, which personally I find hard to fathom.

Mainly it's for this reason. There's a school of thought, bolstered by 'some' recent histories of photography that modern colour photography began in 1976 with a show of William Eggleston's dye transfer prints at the Museum of Modern in New York.
Historically this view is this factually incorrect. Since the introduction of commercially available colour materials, major photographers across the globe have been working in both the commercial and fine art field creating extensive bodies of colour work.
In fact Cosindas was honoured with a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966. 10 years before Eggleston's show.

My own developing interest in photography (as a teenager) was piqued by early introductions to the range of colour work produced by Eliot Porter, Helen Levitt, Edward Weston, Ernest Haas, Larry Burrows, Paul Outerbridge and Marie Cosindas among many others. 

I do wonder if critics were over-reacting to then current perceptions & prejudices about colour photography (e.g. it's use by amateurs and in the commercial sector) and so alighted on Eggleston's example & colour palette as some kind of post-modern panacea to previous concerns or issues around the use of colour photography by 'serious' workers.

Whatever the reasons for this view, Cosindas work provides a fascinating example of someone who developed a body of work using a range of what was then, new colour technology. In Cosindas case, her use of Polaroid print technology exclusively was a rare case of an artist finding voice through a very specific technology. Notice I use the word technology and not technique.

Cosindas colour palette uses the muted colour palette and what seems to be reflected light sources to present a compelling and very individual vision.
Its also very much the work of an artist, consciously modelled on traditions in western painting - and specifically portrait painting.

It's damn subtle. Look at the use of the colour red in the images below and also the use of white. Sometimes creamy white (see Julie and John-1976) sometimes blown out (see Sailors, Key West (1966.)

I find them beautiful. More like a form of cameo image. But beautifully realised. 

Another reason her pictures are so unusual , or at least the ones previewed below, is that the way she's chosen to photograph these people, grounded in traditions of portrait painting often sponsored by rich patrons, is how these same traditions are effectively subverted to show present a contemporary human vision.

Look at Fernando (1966) or any of the men featured in the Dandies series and as a viewer you can't help but feel Cosinda's warm sympathetic but direct non-judgmental vision.
Ditto the couples and single women show below.

Barbara (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Vivian (1966)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Julie and John (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Barbara and Fred (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Viva and family (1973)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Louise Nevelson (1970)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Princess with Doves (1966)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Sailors, Key West (1966)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Tom Wolfe (1967) from the Dandies series
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Sven Lambert, Christmas in Mexico (1966) from the Dandies series
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Fernando (1966)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder

Still life


Memories II (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder

Baby's Breath Bouquet (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Tulips and snapdragons (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Datura (1966)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Asparagus Still Life II (1976)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Masks (1966)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder
Miniature Floral II (1962)
copyright Marie Cosindas/respective copyright holder




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