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MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – PAUL MCDONOUGHMASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – PAUL MCDONOUGH

Written and researched by Carlo Traina

PAUL MCDONOUGH

If I am standing in one place long enough, someone might say—‘Did you just take a picture of me?’, I would reply—‘What picture?’ There are no pictures, I am exposing film. When the film gets developed—that is when I discover pictures.”

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Paul McDonough began to take photos with the same aim a painter normally takes a quick pencil sketch to then paint that subject on a canvas. It’s toward painting that McDonough pointed initially his attention. But it is by the means of these first shots that he realized how difficult it would have been to represent in the closed space of a studio, such variety of situations and images and the huge potential of photography when it comes to represent reality. So he progressively left painting and engaged himself completely with photography.

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After various wanderings in other cities, McDonough arrived in New York in 1967. In a city as diverse and cosmopolitan, he got the confirmation that taking photos represented for him an act of liberation: “…to photograph has met my pulse … I have learned to bring with me a camera everywhere, at all times, loaded with film at ISO speed 400. ”

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Paul likes to seize the unique moments, the many oddities that New York offers, managing to mix in a single image both the public and the private. The captured scenes show the movement of New Yorkers who live in the concrete jungle.
Along with the usual crowd of workers and shoppers, there are more secondary characters highly  characteristic: the guy dressed as a Viking, complete with the helmet; “Rat Man,” with wide open eyes and a rubber mouse on his arm to scare people. There is the man dressed as Uncle Sam or the one who sings arias of Italian opera while walking down Fifth Avenue.
At every corner of the city there is the opportunity to capture a special photo, surely something can happen at any moment, worthy of being photographed. This is the spirit that pushes Paul McDonough to go out always with a camera with him.

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His first series of photos that had to relate to the Big Apple, “New York from 1968 to 1972”.
“People are in their own world when they walk”. “If I am standing in one place long enough, someone might say—‘Did you just take a picture of me?’, I would reply—‘What picture?’ There are no pictures, I am exposing film. When the film gets developed—that is when I discover pictures.”

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This concept was better expressed by McDonough, in a later interview: “I often live an unexpected joy in finding a detail within the frame that enhances the greater meaning of the image. One detail that I had not noticed at the time of shooting. ”

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In the first years of its activity the works of McDonough were not particularly appreciated: with the exception of three prints sold to the Museum of Modern Art in 1973, for his appreacition to grow we have to wait until 2007, when he met the art dealer Sasha Wolf, who published in a volume the work of McDonough and exhibited his.

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article-0-18D095A6000005DC-155_964x631Written and researched by Carlo Traina

PAUL MCDONOUGH

Se sto fermo in un posto abbastanza a lungo qualcuno mi chiederà – Hai scattato un’foto di me? , Io gli risponderei “Quale foto? Non c’è nessuna foto , sto solamente esponendo la pellicola alla luce. Quando sviluppo la la pellicola – allora scopro se ci sono delle foto”

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Paul McDonough inizia a fotografare con lo stesso scopo per cui i pittori tracciano degli schizzi veloci a matita per riportarli successivamente su tela. E’ verso la pittura infatti che McDonough rivolge i suoi primi interessi. Ma è proprio attraverso quegli scatti che si accorge di quanto sarebbe stato difficile rappresentare nel chiuso di uno studio immagini e situazioni così varie e presenti, e dell’enorme potenzialità rappresentativa che invece la fotografia racchiudeva. Abbandona così progressivamente la pittura e si dedica totalmente alla fotografia.

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Dopo vario peregrinare in altre città, McDonough arriva a New York nel 1967. In una città così varia e cosmopolita ha la conferma che fotografare rappresenta per lui un atto liberatorio: “… fotografare ha soddisfatto i miei impulsi … Ho imparato a portare una macchina fotografica ovunque, in ogni momento, caricata con pellicola a ISO 400.”

A Paul piace cogliere i momenti unici, le tante stranezze che New York offre, riuscendo a miscelare in una stessa immagine sia il pubblico che l’intimo.

Le scene catturate mostrano i movimenti di newyorkesi che abitano la giungla di cemento.

Insieme alla solita folla di lavoratori e acquirenti, ci sono sempre personaggi caratteristici secondari ma unici: quello vestito da vichingo, completo di elmo; “Rat Man”, con gli occhi sbarrati e un topo di gomma nel suo braccio per spaventare le persone. C’é un uomo vestito da Zio Sam oppure quello che canta arie dell’opera italiana mentre passeggia lungo la Quinta Avenue.

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In ogni angolo della città c’é l’opportunità di cogliere una foto unica, sicuramente in ogni momento può accadere qualcosa degni di essere fotografato. E’questo lo spirito che spinge Paul McDonough ad uscire sempre con la macchina fotografica.

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La sua prima serie di fotografie non può che riguardare la Grande Mela: “New York 1968-1972.

“Le persone sono nel loro mondo quando camminano. Se qualcuno mi chiedesse: Mi hai appena scattato una foto?” Io risponderei: Che foto? Non ci sono foto, io sto facendo prendere luce ad una pellicola. Solo quando la pellicola verrà sviluppata io scoprirò che immagine c’è.”

Questo concetto Paul McDonough lo esprime meglio in una successiva intervista: “Spesso vivo una gioia inaspettata nel trovare un dettaglio all’interno del fotogramma che amplifica il significato più grande dell’immagine. Un dettaglio che non avevo notato al momento dello scatto”.

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Nei primi anni della sua attività le opere di McDonough non sono state particolarmente apprezzate: a parte tre stampe vendute Museum of Modern Art nel 1973, per la sua valorizzazione si è dovuto aspettare il 2007, quando cioè ha incontrato il gallerista Sasha Wolf, che ha pubblicato in un volume l’opera di McDonough ed esposto le sue foto.

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Bruce Davidson Time of Change: 1961-1965Bruce Davidson Time of Change: 1961-1965

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The Robert Koch Gallery is holding an exhibition of Davidson’s earlier work from between 1961 and 1965, the “Time of Change,” which marked the end of segregation. While Time of Change is hopeful, Harlem, East 100th Street asks, “What changet?” During those years, Bruce Davidson documented history as it happened, including Martin Luther King’s famous march in Montgomery, Alabama, where he appears surrounded by a crowd, their arms locked together, and the American flag flying behind them. The image is so iconic that one of its variations was exhibited at Paris Photo in a different (gigantic) format and at the Rolf Art gallery covered with hand-written captions by the Argentinian artist Marcelo Brodsky. 

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The Robert Koch gallery made selections from Davidson’s series, including social scenes, gatherings and arrests, but above all the living conditions, the uncertainty of a woman in her 40s leaning on her elbow at the window, a marcher being accosted by police, the scorn in certain looks, the excitement in others, the mouths wide open in surprise, the power of the contrasting blacks and whites when these two colors are at the heart of the protests. “I’m not interested in the history of art, but in the art of history. I see photography as a cultural good,” said Davidson in 2010 interview with Marco Bischof, shortly after the publication of Outside Inside (Steidl), a three-volume collection of 800 photographs covering Davidson’s fifty-year career.

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EXHIBITION
Bruce Davidson 
Time of Change: 1961-1965
May 1st – July 3rd 2014
Robert Koch Gallery 
49 Geary Street 
CA 94108 San Francisco 
USA

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http://www.kochgallery.com/exhibitions/index.html
http://www.kochgallery.com/exhibitions/davidson_2014/01.html
http://www.magnumphotos.com
http://www.marcelobrodsky.com
http://magnumfoundation.org

INTERVIEW WITH … Ando Fuchs

Researched by Raffaele Montepaone

ANDO FUCHS

When did start a passion for the photography?

My first contact with photography was in the middle of the 80s.

What was your first camera ?

My first camera was a gift of a friend, a NIKON FT that I still use sometimes.

Digital Camera

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What is photography to you ? And what should not be instead ?

Photography let me see the world with different eyes. The most important hings for mee in my pictures are expression, atmosphere, content.. and less the technical quality. I target on making the audience “feel” the picture. If I am able to reych this, it’s a personal success and satisfaction for my work.

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Which masters of photography inspires you ?

I’m not inspired from masters of photography because I have my own style. But I like to see pictures of S. Salgado, A.Adams and H.Newton

What is the photo that struck you the most of a great photographer of the story ?

The series of photos of S.Salgado with the title “Genesis ”

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What is your favorite technique ? 

Usually I make digital photos but sometimes also analog.

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Why do street photography ?

I like the atmosphere of streets with or without people and the relationship between city/streets and people.

What is your best shot and what does it represent for you ?

I don’t have a photo of mine that I prefer because every picture has his own story and his own feeling.

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What is relationship with the street and the people who are in your shots ? 

I wouldn’t speak about a relationship with street/people and me. I like to catch people totally free and naturaly, to moments of their life and to catch life in the city/streets.