Thursday, May 20, 2021

Magnum Photos gallery in Paris


Magnum Photos announces major new Paris gallery space

by Tom Seymour


Magnum Photos announces major new Paris gallery space

News comes as the agency prepares to reopen London space with a show of German fashion photographer Herbert List

Magnum new gallery in Paris
Magnum new gallery in Paris © Design Johnson Naylor / CGI - Anotherartist

Walk down Rue Léon Frot, the historic street in Paris’s 11th arrondissement, and look out for the grand doorway at number 68.

Located behind that doorway, off an enclosed paved street, is a pivotal development for the medium of contemporary photography—a major new gallery space from Magnum Photos.

Magnum Photos is now “developing as a credible art market player,” the agency’s chief executive officer Caitlin Hughes said as the agency revealed details of the new Parisian gallery.

The space is due to open this autumn following a renovation by the London-based architectural practice Johnson Naylor, who has overseen the development of new exhibition spaces, a library and a suite of offices and meeting spaces behind the doorway of Rue Léon Frot.

The space will open in October 2021 with inaugural exhibitions from the veteran New York photographer Bruce Davidson and his fellow New Yorker Khalik Allah, both chroniclers of Harlem, working 50 years apart.

The new Paris space will oversee both digital and physical programming, reflecting Magnum’s attempts to develop a more integrated approach between its cultural and digital teams.

Whilst Davidson and Allah will be the inaugural physical shows, the new Paris space will oversee a curated programme of digital exhibitions, beginning with There’s no place like home, a show orientated around the themes of domesticity and personal space in difficult times, including the work of more than eight Magnum photographers.

Herbert List, Greece, Athens,Young man with laurel over the eyes (1936)
Herbert List, Greece, Athens,Young man with laurel over the eyes (1936) © Herbert List / Magnum Photos

Back in London, Magnum is due to reopen its gallery space on 63 Gee Street, Clerkenwell, in time for London Gallery Weekend (4-6 June), with an exhibition of works by Herbert List, the German fashion photographer who imbued Surrealism into his highly classical practice. The show, titled Metamorphoses (4-30 June), is List’s first UK show for more than five years.

The show explores, with pressing modern relevance, how List—an Athens resident after escaping Nazi Germany as a refugee—used the the details of Greek sculptures as a way to explore the bodies of men.

The images “reflect List’s quest for freedom at a time when the world was going through intensely violent political turmoil,” says Nicolas Smirnoff, Magnum Gallery Director said.

cope with Stendhal syndrome



How to cope with Stendhal syndrome when it strikes

7 MAY 2021

When the time comes, newly reopened museums would be well advised to equip gallery assistants with smelling salts. Soft seats should be placed near paintings and sculptures. And visitors: be careful not to look too hard – at least, not until you have reaccustomed yourselves to being in the presence of a work of art. Glance, don’t stare. Check its image on your phone. And when you do raise your eyes for a really good look, watch out for the following symptoms: feelings of anxiety, alienation, disorientation or euphoria; a racing heart; the sensation of rising panic. If you experience any of these, you may be suffering from Stendhal syndrome.

Identified as a phenomenon in 1989 by the Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, the syndrome was named after an episode recorded in 1817 by the French novelist Stendhal when travelling around Italy. Newly arrived in Florence, he headed straight for Santa Croce where, contemplating the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo, he felt overwhelmed by what he described as a ‘tide of emotion’ that ‘flowed so deep that it scarce was to be distinguished from religious awe’. He asked a monk to unlock the Niccolini Chapel for him, and once inside he perched on a hassock and rested the back of his head on a desk in order to gaze up at the fresco of sibyls painted by Baldassare Franceschini in the 1650s. His soul, he recalled, ‘affected by the very notion of being in Florence, and by the proximity of those great men whose tombs [he] had just beheld, was already in a state of trance’ and he abandoned himself to ‘the contemplation of sublime beauty’. As he gazed, Stendhal’s experience grew more vivid still:

I could, as it were, feel the stuff of it beneath my fingertips. I had attained to that supreme degree of sensibility where the divine intimations of art merge with the impassioned sensuality of emotion. As I emerged from the porch of Santa Croce, I was seized with a fierce palpitation of the heart… the well-spring of life was dried up within me, and I walked in constant fear of falling to the ground. [Stendhal, Rome, Naples and Florence, trans. Richard N. Coe]

If this extreme reaction to beauty and historical atmosphere were going to happen to anyone, it was going to happen to Stendhal, touring Europe at the height of the Romantic movement with Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther in his luggage. It was an era in which powerful emotions were cultivated and savoured. Remarkably similar psychosomatic experiences, however, have been recorded in more recent times: throughout the 1970s and ’80s Magherini became aware of the large numbers of tourists presenting themselves at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Florence complaining of dizzy spells and feelings of disorientation brought on by seeing paintings or sculpture they knew well from reproduction in books. An encounter with a Botticelli, a Raphael or a Michelangelo in the flesh – so familiar, yet uncannily strange – proved all too often to be an uncomfortable or even traumatic experience. As recently as 2018 a visitor to the Uffizi suffered a heart attack in front of The Birth of Venus.

Magherini noticed that a crisis of identity was experienced by most patients presenting with Stendhal syndrome. She describes the case of a young Czech painter, Kamil, who had hitchhiked from Prague to Italy: ‘when he went to see Masaccio’s work in the Cappella Brancacci, upon exiting he had an experience that was at once aesthetic and ecstatic, a feeling he was exiting from himself, dissolving away. He collapsed on the steps.’ In each case it was as though an encounter with the real thing made the spectator feel correspondingly less real.

Stendhal syndrome tends to strike in Florence because of the city’s sheer density of exceptional works of art and its profound historical significance. Elsewhere there are many galleries that even now I suspect most of us would be able to endure with unruffled composure. But what effect have museum closures and enhanced digital experiences – each more innovative than the last – had on our capacity to experience great art in the wild? What if our faculties of perception have grown pale, flabby and vulnerable? When we come face to face with oil paint, marble and sculpted wood again, will we find them bristling with beauty and emitting a dangerous aura of authenticity? We must be on our guard.

On the other hand, surely it would be equally strange to remain impassive and unemotional before works of great beauty, depth and humanity. ‘The uneasy silence of a man faced by a work of art,’ Lucian Freud once wrote, ‘is unlike any other. What do I ask of a painting? I ask it to astonish, disturb, seduce, convince.’ It is that mysterious, visceral exchange that many of us have been missing. Worth risking it, I’d say.

summer reading


Credit...Red Nose Studios

Did the Pandemic Change Summer Reading for Good? I Hope So.

With our calendars cleared last year, many of us found more time to lose ourselves in books. Let’s hold onto that vibe this year.

Credit...Red Nose Studios

The summer of 2020 was a dud when it came to barbecues, vacations, family reunions, pedicures and swiping a lick from someone else’s ice cream cone. But there was one mainstay Covid couldn’t wreck: reading. For me, those empty, quiet nights were a reminder of the boredom that pushed me into the arms of books in the first place. They were also a much-needed reset on the high season of literary escape, which had become unnecessarily uncomplicated.

My devotion to summer reading started when I was 11 or 12 — too old to stage another production of “Annie” in my garage, too young to act on my dream of becoming a lifeguard. June, July and August were an endless procession of white-hot afternoons capped by humid nights when my sister and I crept into each others’ rooms to steal the fan we were supposed to share. (I was in my 20s when I learned that fans aren’t a luxury item.)

Every day, I went to the town pool, arriving around lunchtime and leaving when fireflies lit up the grassy knoll overlooking a Buick dealership next door. One afternoon during the 20-minute purgatory of adult swim, I wandered from the snack bar to a rusty yellow book rack outside the women’s locker room. You know the type: take a book, leave a book — the literary equivalent of a tray of discarded pennies beside a cash register.

Shuffling my bare feet like a boxer on the sizzling pavement, I grabbed a paperback. It was freckled with pool water and missing a stack of pages where the binding had surrendered to the elements. It might have been “Go Ask Alice” or “Valley of the Dolls”; it might have been “The Clan of the Cave Bear,” “Forever” or “The Great Santini.”

What stays with me — what is as ingrained in my DNA as being a cat person, or being from New Jersey — is the feeling of turning that first page and instantly becoming a suburban, braces-wearing, feathered-hair Alice clad in a stretched-out Speedo. Down the rabbit hole I went.

When I looked up hours later, my dad was standing in front of me with a damp copy of John le Carré’s “Little Drummer Girl” — or James Michener’s “Poland” or Helen MacInnes’s “Cloak of Darkness” — tucked under his arm, ready to go home. Suddenly I knew where he went every morning when he cracked open a new book.

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From that day forward, I became an obsessive seeker of the spell that glues sticky flesh to a lounge chair. Of course I had a library card; of course I was a member of the club where you earned a “Really Rosie” bookmark if you logged enough titles on a clipboard in the library’s children’s room. The poolside lending library (such as it was) became my passport to a world of yachts and mansions, to the louche and the inappropriate, to the problems, passions and freedoms of adults. Mary Higgins ClarkBelva Plain, Colleen McCulloughJudith Krantz — I devoured them all.

But there was one ratty, middle-grade book I kept coming back to: “Tall and Proud,” by Vian Smith, a British novel about a sick girl and a horse. I loved books about people in tragic situations, and I read this one through Charleston Chews and push-up pops, from the dog days until closing day, when the lifeguards let kids ride dirt bikes off the diving board. Just before the pool manager pulled down the metal gate and locked up for the season — an event that seemed as momentous as the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve — I slipped “Tall and Proud” into my bag. How could I leave it to molder in a storage closet with broken lane lines and forgotten goggles? I did not leave another book in its place.

Over the next three decades, I sprawled and read and sweated with abandon: on a towel or at a picnic table, on a deck or at a lake, usually outside but sometimes in a sunny room with a gurgling window unit as my soundtrack.

I read eight or nine books during a two-week vacation to Long Beach Island — Rosamunde Pilcher followed by Robert Fulghum, chased with Amy Tan and Margaret Atwood.

The summer I had mono, I drained dozens of AA batteries listening to John Updike’s Rabbit books on my Coby (knockoff of a Sony) Walkman.

There was the Fourth of July when I boarded a Greyhound for an 18-hour ride to Cleveland. Why not? I had just discovered Maeve Binchy.

One Labor Day, I was in the middle of Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” when my husband proposed to me in an Istanbul hotel room. Later, on a balcony overlooking the Bosporus Sea, I jotted a preliminary list of wedding guests on the title page.

The summer after my dad died, my sister, my mom and I sat on a beach, each of us with a book in our lap. I don’t remember the title of mine, just the heat of its spine under my palm.

There was the summer of “The Namesake,” the summer of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the summer of “Gone Girl,” the summer of “An American Marriage.” There was the summer my niece wrapped my Kindle in a wet towel and no amount of rice could revive it. This fortuitous death inspired me to pick up a real-life copy of “The Goldfinch,” which became my ticket out of a beach house where nine toothbrushes balanced on the lip of a single bathroom sink.

So when did summer reading start to sour?

Was it when my kids were little, during those busy years when I yearned to lose myself in a novel only to find a spare hour and lack the concentration? Was it when I started curating lists of “10 Hottest Reads” and “Must-Have Beach Books” for my old job as a magazine editor, then waffled about which ones to recommend to friends? Was it the year I tweeted about a different book every morning, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, expending more energy on clever descriptions and pithy hash tags than I did on what was between the covers?

I still looked forward to the season’s bumper crop of books the way a baseball fan looks forward to Opening Day. But it had become stressful; I had taken a simple pleasure and turned it into sport.

Last year, I gathered warm-weather reading, the same way I always do. Then I swept the front porch, lugged waterproof throw pillows from the basement and located my bifocal sunglasses. But, in the first quarter of the pandemic, I had trouble dragging myself through a paragraph, let alone a novel; I’d just sit there, looking at the dark school across the street and listening to empty commuter trains hurtling toward New York City. One day I disinfected the mailbox. By the end of spring, I’d plodded through a few books with the air of an exhausted hiker, eyes trained on the trail instead of the view.

I knew I wasn’t alone. When I talked with fellow readers, we traded stories of skimming and scrolling, harking back to those awful, deeply distracted weeks after 9/11. I still remember the book that brought me back to the fold 20 years ago: “Look at Me,” by Jennifer Egan (no relation, unfortunately) — a novel about a woman returning to Manhattan after a car accident leaves her with 80 titanium screws in her face.

One night last July, while my daughters baked chocolate chip cookies, I settled onto the love seat on our baggy-screened back porch and started reading Lacy Crawford’s memoir, “Notes on a Silencing.” This is a harrowing exploration of sexual assault; it is not escapist reading, but I still inhaled it in one sitting. When I looked up, the neighborhood was dark. The baking trays had run through the dishwasher’s longest cycle (for cooks who don’t rinse) and the cookies were mostly gone. I slept well for the first time in weeks, my mind full of heartbreak, but also courage and peace.

The next night I read another book. And another one the night after that. Eventually I got in the habit of bringing my reading to the pool where my son works as a lifeguard. Sinking my toes into the AstroTurf lawn, I lost myself in a novel until the snack bar closed and the sun set behind the graveyard across the street. I felt like a teenager again: distracted and transported, entertained and entranced. When I came up for air, it took me a second to remember why I was wearing a mask.

One night, as I watched my son supervising daredevils on the diving board, I remembered “Tall and Proud.” I hadn’t thought of this book in years; it isn’t one of the many I foist on my teenagers, asking “Do you love it?” before they have a chance to finish the first page.

When I looked it up, I discovered something I’m not sure I grasped in the mid-1980s: The main character, Gail Fleming, was recovering from polio. She was afraid to walk, so her father bought her an injured racehorse and the two of them recuperated together.

When I first met Gail, polio seemed as extinct as a slide rule or a party line. I vaguely remember my parents talking about iron lungs and pools that remained closed for entire summers, but these were curiosities from another time — like Laura Ingalls Wilder slipping a hot potato in her pocket to keep her hands warm, or Beth March dying of scarlet fever.

Now, we’re all a version of Gail. We’re stepping back into the fray, weary and leery, not the same people we were before we had masks and vaccine cards. What if we let books be our horses this summer? What if we let them carry us through the season, holding on to reading time even as “regular” life resumes? What if we stopped looking for the “it” book and instead reached for the one that speaks to us and takes us where we want to go?

I’m willing to give it a whirl if yo are.