March 28, 2020
“There is a sense of freedom to me in the hours between two and four in the morning… I feel like anything can happen.”
Michael Massaia finds solace in the creation of photography, and in the dark cloak of the night. The short documentary The Twilight World of Michael Massaia follows the solitary fine art photographer treading through the quiet, unpopulated streets of the New York City metro area and Central Park while describing his often uniquely poetic and complicated photographic process. Michael Massaia’s large-format camera photographic procedure of working only in the night captures the viewer’s attention and provides a glimpse into the hushed, luminous environments of Massaia’s nocturnal dreams. Massaia’s whispery, confidential narration, has a sense of immediacy that draws the viewer closer to the story and creates an attentive listening experience. Objective, intimate, and minimal, the short documentary makes a case for the beauty of stillness and precision, for the necessity to work with a specific vision and goal as he painstakingly produces his hand-crafted photographs. For Michael, as for most artists with his degree of perfection, dealing with failure is all part of the organic process of his work.
“The only real job of an artist is to find things that people don’t think are special and make them… special.”
Michael Massaia was born in 1978 and grew up in New Jersey, remaining around the New York City metro area in New Jersey throughout his life. His involvement in photography started in high school, and he has remained consumed by a calling to create fine pictures ever since. He is self-taught in the science of photography and the specific chemical and material process he uses, merging his superb craftsmanship with thoroughly planned compositional skills. He specializes in large format black and white film image captures and large format platinum and silver gelatin printing.
Massaia’s single-minded objective vision compels him to control all aspects of his practice, allowing for his captivating images to be possible. As with Ansel Adams, the taking of the negative is only half of the creative process – equally important is the printing of that negative onto the photographic paper. Massaia is enamored with the medium and the potential expressive power of various photographic processes. The complex procedure of hand-making platinum and silver prints demonstrates the photographer’s dedication and mastery of making extraordinary photography.
“Black and white large format film has a quality, an organic quality, a dimension that is so superior to anything that can be done digitally.”
The documentary sheds light on the passionate and personal relationship between the artist and their process, a love story between the photographer and the large format camera. It taps into the necessity of being with oneself. The video engages with the romantic and solitary nature of being an artist, totally consumed by ideas and of giving their life to the spirit of art, in this case, quietly and soft-spoken into the night.
Meet Our Artists is a recurring virtual series that presents biographical content introducing photographers whose work and journey is compelling and engaging. The content is intended for informative and viewing pleasure.
March 25, 2020
Chronicling the illustrious career of renowned photographer Harry Benson, the biographical movie Shoot First details Harry’s life and work and provides insight into the man responsible for some of history’s most iconic photographs.
Share this email with friends to watch Harry Benson – Shoot First, a film by Justin Bare and Matthew Miele. (Viewable at home from Netflix and Amazon prime and a variety of other sources by following this link http://www.magpictures.com/harrybenson/watch-at-home)
With Harry’s humorous and captivating storytelling as narrative, the film offers anecdotal tales while following Harry throughout his career. The first to record The Beatles landing in America and their meteoric rise to popularity followed by decades of incredible shots capturing everything from Winston Churchill, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Dr. Martin Luther King, every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the emergence of Muhammad Ali.
“I’ve always said: a great photograph can never happen again. I have always tried to be first on a story or the last one out because the story keeps changing. You try to photograph everything that you see; fleeting moments, final moments. Joy, regret; each a glimpse and gone forever.”
The documentary’s breadth of personal references from Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, journalist Dan Rather, and designer Ralph Lauren (to name a few) attest to Harry Benson’s versatility. Moving effortlessly from magazine cover shoots to on the ground war reportage, and with a relentless and remarkable work ethic, Benson’s photographs feel as though he has captured everyone and everything.
“If I don’t take a photograph, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I photograph what I see, and what I see should inform.”
In 2009, Benson was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire by HRH Queen Elizabeth for his service to photography. He was twice named NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year and was twice awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence. Benson’s photographs are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, and the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. His 60-year career as a photojournalist included magazines like LIFE, Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, G.Q., Esquire, Vogue, and Architectural Digest. He has enjoyed over 40 solo exhibitions and published 17 books.
Watch Benson’s movie trailer >
March 21, 2020
At Holden Luntz Gallery, we value the relationships we have fostered with our clients, artists, and friends. Our love for photography has created a community in South Florida and beyond that thrives on the enthusiasm for fine art photography. The community we have built over the past 20 years has become as vital to us as the pictures we hang in the gallery.
This is a time that requires all of us to stay close to our loved ones and to remain updated on how to keep our community safe. We wish everybody the best during these challenging times and hope everybody is doing well and staying safe. We are all available to help in any way we can. Following safety guidelines, we are presently open by appointment only.
As part of our continuing efforts to be a source of knowledge for all content related to photography as well as to share something enriching , we are launching an online program introducing artists that have a close relationship with the gallery and who we consider to be a part of our extended Holden Luntz Gallery family. In place of our Saturday Morning Coffee & Conversation series, where we invite you into our gallery, we want to extend an invitation to join us on our new virtual series, “Meet our Artists.” This email series aims to introduce you to new photographers and learn more about other photographers you might already enjoy. We hope that by having access to this content, we can provide enjoyable information about these artists as well as creating a space to escape into the life of iconic photographers and take a respite from our present reality.
March 18, 2020
To our friends and clients: Holden Luntz Gallery & JL Modern Gallery will be open by appointment only until the present health situation has been resolved.
Visit us online at holdenluntz.com and jlmoderngallery.com
For information please call 561-632-3999 or click on the link below to schedule an appointment.
CLICK TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH US
February 15, 2020
“A great photograph seems to arrest time. It permits the view to be ‘born to the instant’—the Now. In a great photograph the image is never static, whether it be a leaf, a child’s head, a dancer in motion—it is all vibrant with Life….
This seems to me to be the essential greatness of Barbara Morgan’s photographic images—initial honestly, tireless skill, and reverence for life makes her essential greatness.”—Martha Graham
Barbara Morgan’s Letter to the World illustrates photography’s ability to preserve a moment in history, with all its drama and intensity, which might have otherwise been lost forever. Morgan’s photograph presents physical evidence of Martha Graham’s Letter to the Word, and has carried on the spirit of Graham long after her passing. Morgan’s genius in pinpointing the most dramatic and pivotal moments within a ballet has enabled her to capture the essence of this dance, which is based on the love life of the American Poet, Emily Dickinson.
Morgan transcends the intrinsically static medium of photography in her ability to convey the drama of mobility in Graham’s dance. Morgan felt stage performances to be inadequate when documenting and isolating the pivotal themes and key gestures of a dance. She relocated Graham to her studio so that she was able to redirect, relight and photographically synthesize what she felt to be the core of the total dance. Morgan went beyond purely documenting Graham’s artistic expression and developed a symbiotic relationship between the artist and her subject. This relationship enabled powerful movements charged with emotion and drama to be immortalized through the artist’s lens.
As a study of black and white and mid-tone range, this photograph is a beacon of what pure expressive powers photography allows. As a study of composition it is one of the most graceful images ever captured on film. It has served as a model for other photographers and artists for the last 75 years and has never been bettered. This picture offers a collector a chance to own one of the most lyrically beautiful photographs ever created. It is in countless museum collections.
February 5, 2020
“To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy…
As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It is a way of life.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Seville exemplifies his extraordinary skill at capturing the spontaneity, the mystery, the humor and the universality of the events that passed before him. In a career spanning more than sixty years, Cartier-Bresson’s camera served as his third eye, with which he captured the nuances of humanity and produced some of the most striking and insightful photographs ever published. Seville demonstrates the photographer’s ability to seek out and capture a fleeting moment in time that would have otherwise never bene documented. This photograph was later chosen by Andre Breton to illustrate an imaginary episode of the Spanish Civil War in his book L’Amour fou (Mad Love).
Born in 1908, Cartier-Bresson’s innate artistic ability was clear from a very young age. By his mid-twenties, he had already begun to shape and establish modern photography through his wildly imaginative photographs. After World War II, his talent for capturing lasting images from a world in perpetual motion made him a leading figure in professional photojournalism. He was one of the original founders of the influential agency, Magnum. By the end of his photographic career, he had created a comprehensive body of work completely unique in both its geographical scope and in its historical overview of the vast transformations of the modern century.
The photograph Seville was taken during Franco’s Civil War in Spain in an environment of partially destroyed, war-torn buildings. In this bleak theatre, Cartier-Bresson focuses on the joy and energy of children playing. He highlights the optimism of the human spirit as it transcends the pessimism of war. Cartier-Bresson is among the most important image makers with dozens and dozens of great photographers all looking back to his work for inspiration. His photographs have become icons of both great photography and the 20th-century cultural history.
January 25, 2020
Creating the Iconic: “Pillow Fight” & “Mainbocher Corset”
Imagine the innumerable clicks of a camera during a fashion shoot. Envision the countless rolls of film a photojournalist exposes during an assignment. Over the course of a photographer’s career, the number of images a photographer produces is immense, but they are constantly in search of that perfect shot, or to capture “the decisive moment” as famed Humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson termed it. Having a prolific career and life come down to one or several, well-known photographs may seem reductive, but is often the case with many of the most famous of photographers. Legendary photojournalist Harry Benson who has captured decades of historical photographs believes, “Every photographer comes down to one photograph.” Given this belief from a renowned photographer with countless classic images, what contributes to that one, iconic photo that comes to define a photographer’s body of work?
Harry Benson’s self-described “one photograph” is Beatles’ Pillow Fight from 1964 at the Hotel George V in Paris. In this instance, Benson was not only privileged to be working with The Beatles, but lucky enough to be with the legendary band when they received the news that their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” went to number one on the charts in the United States. Before he knew it, Benson was artfully photographing a pillow fight. He was snapping away at their celebratory play fighting, catching the signature shot of Paul McCartney swinging a pillow at John Lennon while Ringo Starr jumps on top of George Harrison. Benson says about his work with The Beatles, “Some assignments I feel I could go back and improve on, but not The Beatles, I don’t think I could have bettered it.” He then says about Beatles’ Pillow Fight in particular, “With most of my pictures I think I could have done better, but this was the perfect moment, it won’t happen again. I got it.” This is a strong belief from a photographer known for producing such a highly regarded and beautifully composed body of work shooting intimate photos of the most recognized personalities of the 20th century. During this particular time in 1964, The Beatles were still fresh, new, and working well together creating the perfect chance for Benson to capture them at their height. Benson’s timing was impeccably placed to capture Paul McCartney’s swing after Benson’s subtle suggestion led the way for an intimate and playful portrayal of the legendary band. Benson recalls processing the negatives in the bathroom of the George V and putting the negatives in his suitcase, never realizing their historic and cultural importance.
On the other hand, renowned fashion photographers who come to be defined by a select few images may not depend on being at the right place at the right time as much, but more on their own composed settings and circumstances to achieve that special image. Take for example pioneering photographer Horst. P. Horst who has become recognized as one of the old masters of fashion photographers for his work mostly with Vogue starting in the 1930s. The image that has become most closely associated with the “master of dramatic light” is his iconic work, Mainbocher Corset from Paris in 1939. The timeless composition with its subtle elegance and astounding balance, not to mention the flattering light and dramatic shadows has become regarded by many as Horst’s best work. In great contrast to Benson, Horst utilized a large format camera mounted on a stand with a focusing screen using long exposures allowing him to manipulate his compositions down to the minutest detail. One wonders how long Horst spent adjusting the bands in the corset to achieve his most elegant image with the model holding her pose for prolonged periods given Horst’s long exposures. Mainbocher Corset was carefully composed with every detail planned; yet it is still the product of a special moment. Describing the context that the photograph was shot within, Horst says, “It was created by emotion…It was the last photo I took in Paris before the war. I left the studio at 4.00 a.m., went back to the house, picked up my bags and caught the 7.00 a.m. train to Le Havre to board the Normandie. The photograph is peculiar for me. While I was taking it, I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind.” Perhaps the impending departure from an adopted home and feelings of loss and anxiety allowed Horst to compose the image with an altered and perhaps more emotionally charged outlook. Although it is not outwardly obvious, this photograph too may be as much a result of a moment in time as Harry Benson’s “one photograph.”
Two very different, but equally iconic images embraced and were the products of a particular moment. They both captured singular examples of the 20th century experience. Even though fashion photography may rely much more heavily on careful composition and lighting than the more situational documentary photograph, each borrows from the other creating highly regarded and quintessential photographs the results of situational chance, composition, and of course the photographer’s eye. These emotionally charged photographs still have the same effect on viewers as they did when first created decades ago. The timelessness and continuing popularity of these images is a testament to the enduring talent of the artists and their advantageous use of the context and circumstances that they were a part of.
January 11, 2020
Beckwith and Fisher: Beyond Documentation
Rites of passage have persisted for thousands of years since the beginnings of human culture and remain an integral part of the human experience. “From Africa we have learned the value of rites of passage, which define what is required by a person in each stage of their life,” comments renowned photographers, artists, and travelers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher. For over 35 years they have devoted their lives to photographing and documenting as fully and artistically the traditional rituals of Africa that persist more or less unchanged. Beckwith and Fisher have gained unprecedented access photographing more than 90 distinct ceremonies in 36 countries traveling over 270,000 miles across Africa. Although their wide-reaching documentation of these ceremonies is impressive unto itself, Beckwith and Fisher truly excel in their photography by connecting with their subjects on a personal level coupled with artistically composed and creative imagery of African cultures in all of their forms.
As National Geographic writer Robert Morton asserts, “No artists of any era have captured so many images of authentic and ancient ritual practices,” but Beckwith and Fisher move beyond the prolific documentation of African rites of passage. Each of their individual images offers new perspectives, and the images, as a whole, offer a group portrait of the African spirit in all of its varieties. Beckwith and Fisher comment on their photography as focusing on the individual rather than just documentation, saying, “Our photography goes beyond classic portraiture to embrace the poetry of nuance, gesture, hints of presence, and the unique stamp of an individual in time and place.” The personal aspects of their work are revealed through such instances as a knowing glance of a Karo dancer, or smiles on the faces of Surma children that Beckwith and Fisher managed to elicit through their warmth and personable touch. Their mission to also photograph their subjects artistically moves beyond strict documentation as well. For instance, when photographing the Surma people of southwestern Ethiopia they decided to photograph close-up sections of the painted nude bodies as beautiful abstractions unto themselves, and they often digitally remove backgrounds in order to focus exclusively on Surma body painting to avoid distractions.
Beckwith and Fisher’s far reaching and isolated journeys have meant their contact with African cultures has often been for extended periods of time. They believe in fully engaging with these people and creating personal connections with them. In order to achieve their prolific, yet personal and artistic record of traditional African rituals, Beckwith and Fisher have endured some of the most challenging conditions and have put their own safety in peril. Utilizing all manners of travel on foot, by mule train, on camelback or horses, in vehicles, and by boat, Beckwith and Fisher’s quest to access and photograph these isolated people reached the pinnacle of endurance and persistence. In one trip to find and photograph the Wodabe nomads in central Niger, they traveled 700 miles on the back of mules and then trekked in 120 degree heat for six weeks surviving on a daily calabash of milk all in order to reach the elusive Wodabe who were preparing for a weeklong courtship festival. The photographers possess remarkable modesty, humanity and acceptance through everything they have endured the last 35 years. “We could tell many stories about our adventures, but we rarely comment on the often challenging conditions of our travels, for one simple reason: time after time, the African people have demonstrated how they not only survive the planet’s harshest climates, but draw their identity and strength – their powerful sense of being – from their surroundings.
Beckwith and Fisher have developed close relationships with their subjects, some of whom have become lifelong friends and are included repeatedly in their poignant images over decades. These surprising relationships that were formed between wholly different people in what would be extreme conditions for Westerners shows the incredibly amiable nature of these ambassadors. It also reinforces their idea of all people being ultimately the same with core needs and wants with individuals from drastically different environments still being able to create strong connections. In taking so much from Africa and having formed such close relationships, Beckwith and Fisher have given back in the truest sense of reciprocity. The photographers have contributed to a variety of humanitarian projects such as building schools and wells, while also contributing proceeds from their numerous books and publications. Perhaps best of all, they have left to the world a personal and artistic documentation of the spirit of Africa for all of time.
January 1, 2020
Jim Lee – “Arrested” Photographs
London based photographer and film director Jim Lee has developed a fresh and unique photographic style. His ‘auteurship’ developed from the late 1960’s to the present. He has shot campaigns for Ossie Clark, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Zandra Rhodes, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Valentino among others.
Jim Lee’s work has appeared in Elle, Vogue, the London Sunday Times, Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy as well as numerous other fashion publications. He has directed commercials for Esso, Lindt, the Royal Mail, Johnnie Walker, Saab, British Airways and many other major corporations.
Lee has directed several feature films in addition to his other work. Jim Lee has exhibited his photography at Hamilton’s Gallery in London as well as the Sommerset House. He is currently scheduled for international museum exhibitions in Moscow and Beijing. His photographic style is cinematic – with close angular cropping and narrative constructions. The pictures generally have a dynamic quality and show subjects in motion. The work intrigues us and is often enigmatic and slightly cryptic. The use of color and often times the multiple sequencing of his photographs pushes the narratives in unique and interesting directions. The pictures are inventive and reference impressionist and contemporary painting as well as classic works of cinema. His work challenges the viewer with its immediacy, inventiveness, graininess, and motion. Jim Lee has experimented with special film stocks, filters, and film processing techniques. He’s very demanding and specific about the look of his final prints.
Jim Lee draws on his personal life with his photographic references. His mother and father were MI6 with the Secret Service in Britain; he moved around often as a child and was not cut out for the classic academic career his parents had planned for him. He attended a dramatic academy for several years, roamed the Outback of Australia, and narrowly escaped being drafted into the Vietnam War. His rebellious and free wheeling youth helped create the scenarios and original vitality of his photographic work. Lee’s early experience in photography was as a freelance photojournalist. He subsequently apprenticed with a fashion photographer and learned his craft from the ground up. His photography campaigns have been outrageous and daring in their inventiveness as well as their size. They have earned him comparisons to Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton in his ability to challenge the norms of formulaic, safe, and conservative fashion based photography.
December 23, 2019
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment
“The difference between a good picture and a mediocre picture is a millimeter,” said Henri Cartier-Breson in the documentary, “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment.” And he knew exactly how to achieve that difference.
The father of the photographic style described as the “decisive moment,” Cartier-Bresson’s method was straightforward and brilliant. He sought to almost instantly and instinctively detect a perfect geometry in what he saw, a “structure of sensuous and intellectual pleasure and recognition of an order that is in front of you.”
A decisive moment photographer works impulsively, with few rules. Cartier-Bresson explained, “How many pictures should you take a day? There is no rule, it’s an instinct.”
Though instinctive and decisive when shooting the world around him, Cartier-Bresson discussed the more difficult task of portrait photography, calling them “the most difficult thing for me.” In the documentary he recalls a portrait session with Ezra Pound in which the two sat for over an hour just looking at one another. Cartier-Bresson took only 6 shots of Pound. In a portrait he sought not just to capture the person’s expression, but the significance of that expression.
Despite a few challenges he faced with his art, Cartier-Bresson had a simple philosophy about the thing that consumed his life: “Photography is a physical pleasure, it doesn’t take much brains, it takes sensitivity a finger and two legs.”
Put simply, he was a natural.
April 4, 2018
Fine Art Photographs by Michael Massaia – Awaken From Your Dream
Are you curious to see New York City’s Central Park at night? The romance, mystery and beauty of nature at night? The lush photographs of Michael Massaia awaken us from our dreams and seduce us with their gorgeous blacks, greys, milky white surfaces.
Michael Massaia’s nocturnal studio becomes the park where from 4:00 – 6:00 he captures in half light the beauty that old growth trees, winding paths, leaves, and old lamp posts create. The body of Central Park photos is called, “Deep in a Dream.” Mr. Massaia is one of the most in demand contemporary photographers. He has been the subject of multiple fine art and photography magazine articles, featured on television interviews and has had many one man exhibitions at fine art galleries throughout the country. He works with a large format camera and spends dozens of hours printing out his pictures in a time consuming old world way with the precious metals of platinum and palladium.
Wherever the work is shows it enchants viewers with its dreamy, surreal beauty. While the world and the park slumbers Mr. Massaia is hard at work – like an alchemist conjuring up dream with light, dark and an old almost magical box. Just as photography in the 1860’s excited the world with its magical transformation of 3 dimensional life onto a 2 dimensional surface Massaia’s work leaves us with a sense of wonder and awe. As it turns out he often uses multiple exposure and instead of printing work in shades of grey paints the pictures with light through multiple exposures. He lights up walkways, brightens buildings and creates a shadow world of light that is sometimes soft and gentle and other times bright and brilliant.
After contemplating the joy of visually gazing on the park many of us have wonderful memories of amusement parks. Michael Massaia lept the fences of some of the most famous New Jersey amusement parks to survey the area – again with his wonderful large format camera, in the early hours of the morning. The rides are still, the food concessions are closed and only our spirits are left to roam in the half light. It is as if they have been frozen in time by their eerie and beautiful stillness. The architecture of the amusement parks and the beautiful signage are provide us with a playground where we can only imagine the whirling and energetic activities of the day, the cheering of voices, laughing of children and the simple joys of escaping into a world of thrills and pleasure. Michael’s camera captures the beautiful forms of the rides, signs and walkways of the park. The pictures are themselves luxurious playgrounds of blacks, whites and greys. The tonal ranges in the oversize brilliantly printed pictures are superb. He again works his magic and brings these amusement parks to life. They have a similar dreamy quality – but the architecture is all man made as opposed to the natural forms of the trees in Central Park. Now, post Hurricane Sandy, we can only remember them and dream about them. The amusement parks were victim of the Hurricane and they will never open their gates again. They belong to a life time that ended in the fall of 2012. If photography is about preserving our histories, places and dreams Michael Massaia’s pictures excel at this task. They are memories of joy, beauty and Americana.
Be sure to visit his work on our sight and wake up your imagination. The pictures are normally printed in two or three sizes – all by Michael himself, and are small editions. You will be enchanted by the mystery, beauty and seductive power of Michael Massaia’s pictures. These are truly pictures to spend time with, enjoy and dream about.