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Aperture Summer 2018

Founded in 1952, Aperture is an essential guide to the world of contemporary photography that combines the finest writing with inspiring photographic portfolios. Each issue examines one theme explored in “Words,” focused on the best writing surrounding contemporary photography, and “Pictures,” featuring immersive portfolios and artist projects.

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Aperture Foundation
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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
agenda exhibitions to see

Icons of Style When telling the story of fashion photography, certain names dominate the field. Now Icons of Style, a new exhibition at the Getty Museum, which includes 160 photographs by more than ninety photographers, seeks to spotlight lesser-known contemporaries of Helmut Newton and Irving Penn, arranging photographs by decade so that changes—aesthetic, technological, and social—are visible. “I was excited to find great fashion photographs by practitioners who have been underrepresented in previous exhibitions and books,” says associate curator of photographs Paul Martineau. Sharing a sense of discovery, Martineau will place works by frequent Harper’s Bazaar photographer Gleb Derujinsky and innovative 1970s photographer Kourken Pakchanian alongside—and in conversation with—photographs by Richard Avedon and William Klein. Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911–2011 at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, June 26–October…

2 min.
backstory mo yi

Mo Yi is known by everyone in the Chinese photography world but by few outside of it. Born in 1958, in Tibet, to Chinese parents assigned there as Communist Party functionaries, Mo grew up wearing the red scarf of the Young Pioneers (the party youth organization) and diligently carrying the Little Red Book (Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong) everywhere. As a young man, Mo earned his living as a professional soccer player; after retiring from sports, in 1985, he took a job as a hospital photographer in Tianjin, a coastal city about ninety miles from Beijing, and began to explore that bleak industrial port with his camera. When his early, documentary-style images of street scenes and city dwellers were criticized as too gloomy, Mo devised a number of unorthodox techniques…

3 min.
redux rediscovered books and writings

When Bunny Yeager appeared in a lace-bodiced gown, her blonde curls puffed up like fresh popcorn, on the popular game show What’s My Line?, in 1957, her given profession—disclosed only to the viewing audience at home—was cheesecake photographer. Her glamour and her gender stumped the panel, which declared after the reveal that she was on the wrong side of the camera. Yeager, in fact, got her start posing on the beach for newspaper pinups. But she soon determined that she wanted to be behind the camera too. After taking some photography classes at night, Yeager became the first woman to be both glamour model and glamour photographer. Yeager made many iconic pictures of other women, including over a thousand shots of Bettie Page, most famously with two live cheetahs. But she…

4 min.

At first sight, Thomas Demand’s images of office interiors and middle-class homes appear to be mundane records of modern life. But for the German artist, who turned to photography in 1993, reality is about reconstruction. Demand creates meticulous paper models based on pictures circulating in the media, such as the vacant control room of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant or Whitney Houston’s last meal. His photographs of these scenes, like 3-D renderings, are all the more unsettling for their clarity and detachment. “It’s not about history,” Demand says of his work, “it’s about memory and how we share mediated experiences to construct our identities with images.” Achille Castiglioni, Gruppo Rionale Fascista, 1940 As a student of architecture in 1940, Achille Castiglioni submitted for his exam some aged bricks of provolone cheese…

3 min.
film & foto

In the mid-1960s, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up offered an indelible portrait of a suave fashion photographer in swinging London. The fantasy depicted in the film—where a swaggering photographer-protagonist manhandles his models at will—feels woefully anachronistic in the era of #MeToo, when gender dynamics in the film and photography industries are under intense scrutiny. A better mirror for our troubled times might be Antonioni’s Red Desert, a film that captured the physical and mental strain of modern life in toxic color. For Luigi Ghirri, the postwar Italian photographer, it offered a model for seeing the present. As Maria Antonella Pelizzari notes in this issue, Red Desert—enduring for both its style and story—continues to influence generations of photographers. The 1929 German exhibition Film und Foto also projects a long legacy onto the present, including…

10 min.
sofia coppola on pictures

“I never thought I would be a filmmaker. It wasn’t something I ever planned,” Sofia Coppola recently told the Guardian. “I felt frustrated at art school. I had so many interests—design, photography, music.” By turning to film she no longer had to choose. The form allowed Coppola to engage all her passions, especially photography, which has been central to shaping her cinematic language. From Coppola’s debut with The Virgin Suicides (1999) to Lost in Translation (2003) to Marie Antoinette (2006), the filmmaker has turned to the history of photography for inspiration for the interiors, costumes, and atmosphere of her films. Storyboards, replete with photographic references, were key to Coppola’s most recent—and controversial—film, the Civil War–era The Beguiled (2017), for which she won the Best Director Award at last year’s Cannes…