Author Topic: State of the art, 1959 - 1962  (Read 215 times)

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mikec

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State of the art, 1959 - 1962
« on: December 18, 2017, 10:07:18 PM »
I first came across the work of Laird Scott on Flickr five years ago when I was researching the history of the Ansco Panda box camera.  What I found then was a Flickr album entitled Christmas 1947.  The album contained the pictures made by Laird as a child in Chicago from the first roll of film made with his first camera.  He was clearly a photo prodigy and I thought his pictures were astounding, both technically and artistically.

In the ensuing five years Laird has filled many more Flickr albums with new scans from his trove of negatives from a life-long career in photography.  His most recent project is the creation of an album of photographs made in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Chicago; it is entitled Chicago Mix II: 1959 - 1962.  In this work in progress my own favorites so far are Lipstick Touch-Up - Lincoln Park Zoo - Chicago IL - 1959 and Mamiyaflex C2 meets Mamiyaflex C2 on State St. Bridge - Chicago '59

So, Laird Scott was shooting on Chicago streets at the same time as Vivian Maier, and it seems to me his work is just as compelling as hers.  Furthermore, what you can see in the bus window selfie is that he was shooting with virtually the same big, ungainly tlr photo gear that Diane Arbus would later adopt.  Laird's style and choice of subjects is closer to Maier than to Arbus, but he also shows a lot of the same intense engagement that characterized Arbus' work.  Unlike those two contemporary artists, Scott also used his cameras to document the details of his own life including his interests in car racing, music and musicians, his travels and work in Africa, and the life of his big, close family.  It is a photo collection unique in its scope and intimacy.

02Pilot

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Re: State of the art, 1959 - 1962
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2017, 03:59:10 AM »
I've only had a chance to look at a few selections, but it's really quite a find. Great stuff.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


-Hunter S. Thompson
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http://filmosaur.wordpress.com/

mikec

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Re: State of the art, 1959 - 1962
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2017, 04:19:41 PM »
Looking at Laird Scott's work on Flickr brings forth a whole raft of thoughts for me about photography.  My overall impression is that it demonstrates that he came from a family perhaps much like Lartigue's that provided a nourishing environment that allowed him to develop his talents at an early age.  I think that is implied in his first roll of film from the Panda box camera.  It is interesting, for instance, to compare his photo of the girl and the boy with the bb gun with Arbus' picture, Teenage Couple which was used as a poster-sized entry piece for the 1967 MOMA exhibit.  Both pictures deal with issues of how family and society's values shape children's identities and futures.  The tone of the two pictures, however, is entirely different.  Arbus' picture has the grim edge to it that is characteristic of her work.  Scott's picture of his two young friends shows a couple no less influenced by family traditions, but the scene glows with childhood innocence and there is no implied threat of being locked into a dreary future.  I think Scott's first pictures also point to the fact that children are very perceptive of social relationships and can express that perceptive capacity artistically if given the opportunity.