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Storyteller | Duane Michals, Christopher Lyon, Linda Benedict-Jones, Jonas Cuénin, Allen Ellenzweig, Martin Filler, Marvin Heiferman, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz | An Art Book Series Event


FREE - South Court Auditorium doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Artist Duane Michals, editor Christopher Lyon, curator and author Linda Benedict-Jones photographer and writer Jonas Cuénin, arts critic Allen Ellenzweig, architecture critic Martin Filler, curator and writer Marvin Heiferman and curator Cay Sophie Rabinowitz converse about the two new books, ABCDuane (Monacelli Press) and Storyteller (Prestel Publishing), published in conjunction with the exhibitions Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals and Duane Michals: Collector opening at Carnegie Museum of Art in November. The discussion is moderated by Christopher Lyon.

Intimate, funny and unguarded, ABCDuane is a kaleidoscopic introduction to the life and work of the beloved artist Duane Michals. He is the foremost visual storyteller of our time, famed for breaking with photographic conventions through the exploration of narrative sequences and multiple exposures, and for combining handwritten texts to his images. In ABCDuane, the alphabet explodes into a biographical system in the artist’s hands, careening through his personal artistic and literary influences, as well as personal notes and themes that are key to his practice. Abundantly illustrated with Michals’s own works as well as those from his private collection, these entries reveal the intersection of the artist’s creative process, autobiographical narrative, and off-kilter wit.

Balthus and Setsuko, from ABCDuane. Courtesy of The Monacelli Press.
Balthus and Setsuko, from ABCDuane. Courtesy of The Monacelli Press.

Accompanying a retrospective of the pioneering photographer, Storyteller a volume of more than 75 original works thrills Duane Michals aficionados, while introducing younger viewers to an innovative artist who redefined the role of the photograph in artistic expression. A self-taught photographer, Duane Michals broke away from established traditions of the medium during the 1960s. His messages and poems inscribed on the photographs, and his visual stories created through multiple images, defied the principles of the reigning practitioners of the form. Indeed, Michals considers himself as much a storyteller as a photographer. Accompanying a major traveling retrospective of his work, this book features Michals’s best-known early sequences, The Spirit Leaves the Body, Paradise Regained, and Chance Meeting  as well as works from later in his career such as The Bewitched Bee and Who is Sidney Sherman? Penetrating essays situate Michals within the history of twentieth-century photography, explore the artist’s images of sexual identity and sensuality, examine his legacy today, and address the childlike aspects of his work a theme that has never been widely examined. An annotated timeline of Michals’s biography includes rare archival materials and provides a unique glimpse into his life. Wide-ranging and timely, this volume offers a fresh appraisal of a popular artist who continues to create moving and experimental works that speak to a broad and ever-growing audience.

A Letter from My Father, 1960/1975, gelatin silver print with hand-applied text. The Henry L. Hillman Fund, Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
A Letter from My Father, 1960/1975, gelatin silver print with hand-applied text, The Henry L. Hillman Fund. Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Copies of ABCDuane (Monacelli Press, 2014) and Storyteller (Prestel Publishing, 2014) are available for purchase and signing at the end of the event.

Duane Michals (b. 1932, McKeesport, PA) is one of the great photographic innovators of the last  century, widely known for his work with series, multiple exposures, and text. Michals first made significant, creative strides in the field of photography during the 1960s. In an era heavily influenced by photojournalism, Michals manipulated the medium to communicate narratives. The sequences, for which he is widely known, appropriate cinema’s frame-by-frame format. Michals has also incorporated text as a key component in his works. Rather than serving a didactic or explanatory function, his handwritten text adds another dimension to the images’ meaning and gives voice to Michals’s singular musings, which are poetic, tragic, and humorous, often all at once. Over the past five decades, Michals’s work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, hosted Michals’s first solo exhibition (1970). More recently, he has had one-person shows at the Odakyu Museum, Tokyo (1999), and at the International Center of Photography, New York (2005). In 2008, Michals celebrated his 50th anniversary as a photographer with a retrospective exhibition at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Greece and the Scavi Scaligeri in Verona, Italy. In recognition of his contributions to photography, Michals has been honored with a CAPS Grant (1975), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1976), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Art (1989), the Foto España International Award (2001), and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Mass. (2005). Michals's work belongs to numerous permanent collections in the U.S. and abroad, including the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Michals's archive is housed at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Monographs of Michals's work include Homage to Cavafy (1978); Nature of Desire (1989); Duane Michals: Now Becoming Then (1990); Salute, Walt Whitman (1996); The Essential Duane Michals (1997); Questions Without Answers (2001); The House I Once Called Home (2003) and Foto Follies / How Photography Lost Its Virginity on the Way to the Bank (2006). Michals received a BA from the University of Denver in 1953 and worked as a graphic designer until his involvement with photography deepened in the late 1950s. He currently lives and works in New York City, and is represented by DC Moore Gallery.

Capote, from ABCDuane. Courtesy of The Monacelli Press.
Capote, from ABCDuane. Courtesy of The Monacelli Press.

Linda Benedict-Jones is the first Curator of Photography at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh where she has held the position since 2008 when the department was formed. Prior to this she served for 10 years as Executive Director of Silver Eye Center for Photography, a small non-profit arts organization on Pittsburgh’s historic South Side. She was also Curator of The Polaroid Collection in Cambridge, Massachusetts before moving to Pittsburgh in 1993. Benedict-Jones received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse and a Master of Science in Visual Studies degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to working at the museum, she teaches courses in the history of photography at Carnegie Mellon University. Benedict-Jones is curator of Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals, a major retrospective that opens in Pittsburgh in November 2014 before traveling to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Both a writer and photographer, Jonas Cuénin splits his time between Camera magazine, as Editor in Chief, the French website The Eye of Photography, as a photo critic in New York, and contributions to the French press as a photographer. Born in 1984 in Castres, France and a graduate of the School of Journalism of Tours, Jonas Cuénin mostly learned about photography through his mentor, specialist Jean-Jacques Naudet. Recently, Jonas Cuénin dedicated an issue of Camera magazine to surrealist influence in photography and featured Duane Michals’s work. To talk about Duane Michals, he especially likes to quote his finest message, recorded by writer/photographer Hervé Guibert in 1978 in a Le Monde article headed The Necessity of Contact, “We must touch each other to stay human. Touch is the only thing that can save us. Usually the most important sentences have only two words or less: I want, I love, excuse me, touch me, I need, thank you.” 

Allen Ellenzweig is an arts critic and cultural journalist whose writing has appeared in Art in America, The Village Voice, American Photographer, PASSION: The Magazine of Paris, and the online journals Tablet and The Forward. He is the author of The Homoerotic Photograph (Columbia University Press, 1992) and has contributed an essay to Storyteller: Duane Michals. He is a Part-time Lecturer in the Writing Program at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Ellenzweig is currently working on a biography of the American celebrity, ballet, fashion, and male figure photographer George Platt Lynes (1907-1955) for Oxford University Press. 

Martin Filler is an architecture critic, editor, lecturer, and documentary film writer who has been a contributor to The New York Review of Books since 1985. He is the author of more than 1,000 essays on architecture, art, photography, and design, as well as two critically acclaimed books, Makers of Modern Architecture (2007) and Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II (2013). He has been a guest curator for modern design exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum, a frequent contributor to exhibition catalogs, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Magritte with Hat, 1965, gelatin silver print with hand applied text, The Henry L. Hillman Fund. Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Magritte with Hat, 1965, gelatin silver print with hand applied text,
The Henry L. Hillman Fund. Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Curator and writer Marvin Heiferman organizes projects about photography and visual culture for institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, International Center of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. A contributing editor to Art in America, Heiferman has written for numerous museum publications, trade monographs, magazines and blogs, including The New York Times, CNN, Artforum, Design Observer, Mousse, Aperture, and BOMB. His most recent book is Photography Changes Everything (Aperture, 2012), and new entries to WHY WE LOOK, his Twitter-based project (@whywelook) about visual culture are posted daily.

Christopher Lyon publishes art books in digital and print editions under the imprint Lyon Artbooks. He is the author of Nancy Spero: The Work (2010), a co-author and the editor of The Art and Spirit of Paris (2003), and writes regularly on art and art publishing. His "Artful Volumes" column appears in Bookforum. Lyon was a writer and editor at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, for ten years, and subsequently held senior editorial positions at publishers including Abbeville Press, Bulfinch/Little, Brown, The Monacelli Press, Prestel Publishing, and Rizzoli International Publications. He received his BA from the University of Chicago and pursued graduate studio at the University of California at Los Angeles and the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. He lives in Brooklyn.

Cay Sophie Rabinowitz is the Founding Director and Publisher of OSMOS, a project space in an East Village storefront that was once a saloon frequented by Emma Goldman and other radicals. Rabinowitz has been on the fine art faculty of Columbia University and Parsons, and she was formerly Senior Editor of Parkett and Artistic Director of Art Basel. A longstanding contributor to independent art magazines such as Art Papers and X-TRA as well as mainstream glossies such as PinUP and V.  Rabinowitz has published extensively on artists, including monographs on Julie Mehretu, Marcelo Krasilcic, Nilbar Gures, and Ivan Navarro. She curated in 2009 the Athens Biennial HEAVEN and Art Production Fund LAB projects with Ryan McNamara and Adrian Williams. More recently, she curated Let’s Have Lunch: Artists Books from the ACA Library in Atlanta (2014) and Duane Michals: OPEN BOOK in New York (2013). After co-founding and editing FANTOM from 2008 to 2011, Rabinowitz launched OSMOS Magazine to be an art magazine “about the use and abuse of photography” wherein established artists are featured alongside the next generation, with essays by art historians, curators, directors, and art dealers.

In its sixth year the program series An Art Book, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations and discussions by world renowned artists, critics, curators, gallerists, historians and writers.