Over the last ten years, Deana Lawson has created a landscape of found intimacy. Using medium- and large-format cameras, Lawson works with models she meets in the United States and on travels in the Caribbean and Africa to construct arresting, highly structured, and deliberately theatrical scenes animated by an exquisite range of color and surprising details: bedding and furniture in domestic interiors or lush plants in Edenic gardens. The body—often nude—is central. A selection of photographs from her first monograph is presented below.
Where do we go when we read? Are we in the room, or have we disappeared between the pages? In her new book, Voyagers, Melissa Catanese compiles anonymous black-and-white found photographs of people lost in that liminal space between this world and a fictional one. Their bodies are left behind, vulnerable to our gaze, while their minds travel to places we cannot imagine. A selection of these photographs appears below.
I always imagined that I would have a life very different than the one imagined for me, but I understood from a very early age that I would have to revolt in order to make that life.
Admirers of the Argentine Italian artist Leonor Fini have included Andy Warhol, Madonna, Kim Kardashian West, and more recently Maria Grazia Chiuri, the head of the fashion house Dior, whose spring 2018 collection was dedicated to the artist. Multitalented and fearlessly forward-thinking, Fini refused to be categorized in any way, especially through gender norms. Although Fini exhibited in major surrealist surveys throughout the thirties and forties and counted Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí as friends, she rejected the movement’s traditional view of woman as muse. Her art explores the masculine and feminine, dominance and submission, eroticism and humor. Fini’s practice went beyond the medium of painting to embrace theater, ballet, the illustrated book, and costume. Rejecting social convention, Fini insisted that identity, like artistic expression, is never fixed—it must constantly be open to inspiration and imagination. The powerful self-portraits she produced throughout her long career present woman as warrior, sphinx, dominatrix, and feline goddess, mastering landscapes and lovers alike. The first American survey of her work, “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire 1930–1990,” will open September 28 at the Museum of Sex and run through March 4, 2019. A selection of Fini’s work appears below.
Black trail-riding clubs have their roots in Creole culture, formed in South Louisiana in the eighteenth century. Today trail rides are an opportunity for generations of people to gather, celebrate, and ride horseback. The riders form a distinctive yet little-known subculture in Southwest Louisiana, one that exists in stark contrast to most depictions of cowboys and serves as a reminder that black equestrian culture stems from a time when the Louisiana Territory was in fact the American West.
In addition to sharing an important aspect of Louisiana’s cultural heritage, these photographs assert a counternarrative to historic representations of the cowboy and prevailing images of despair in black America. I embarked on this project around the fiftieth anniversary of many of the achievements of the civil rights era, and in the wake of the murder of Alton Sterling in 2016. In the context of this national backdrop, my photographs depict joy, pride, and familial intimacy, particularly between fathers and sons who are taught to care for and ride horses from an early age. The photographs reflect the Creole culture and the celebratory spirit of the rides while sharing one of the many histories in the American story that have largely remained untold.
An exhibition of the photographs is currently on view at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and runs through September 22. Louisiana Trail Riders is available for preorder and will be released on August 28 from UL Press. Read More
Everyone knows what sadism is, but few have actually read Marquis de Sade. Now you don’t have to. At the end of the eighteenth century, de Sade commissioned an anonymous artist to illustrate his collected writings. The resulting edition, originally published in 1797, contained 101 copper engravings of sex scenes, mostly set in dungeons. A compilation of these images was reprinted and published by Goliath Books this week. A selection is presented below.
The Romans were among the first to develop a written script, and their penmanship was round and even. In the Middle Ages, the price of parchment soared, and handwriting, accordingly, became small and condensed. Years later, in the eighteenth century, elegant handwriting became a sign of refinement. Later still, in the twentieth century, American schools taught a standardized cursive by encouraging students to draw loopy letters through horizontal lines. Now hardly anyone writes anything at all. Through September 16, the Morgan Library and Museum is showcasing the handwriting of more than a hundred major artists, authors, composers, and historical figures drawn from the Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection. A selection is presented below.