Working Again

I don't know about you but making art has been a challenge for the past couple of months. However, I am working again and it feels very good.

Let's see: I'm not telling you anything you don't already know but Caronavirus 19 has killed almost 91,000 people in the US alone. Staggering.

On a more personal note, my older sister died in February, just before all this took place. Looking back at her death it seems like a kindness she went when she did. My daughter, granddaughter, two dogs, and I have left our two apartments and are now living together in a new home in Acton, MA; me in an apartment over the garage and them in the main house across an atrium. Moving during this pandemic has been difficult but we are healthy and happy with a large backyard, spring is sprouting up all around us, there are many boxes to unpack, yard work to do, lawn to mow, on and on.

I wrote earlier about the Mannequins work, here. Back when things were moving faster and I had much to do, the Mannequin pictures got left behind, as shows loomed and a new book was in design. But since my forced "retirement" the past two months, it is this work that has been on my mind. So, for no reason other than needing to get work printed and seen, I have been working on the Mannequin project.

Let me state at the outset, that all the old rules no longer apply. I'll explain. I was taught that there were protocols and systems for the presentation of photographs as art. This was art at the highest of levels, to be shown and collected in the best museums. Work that raised the level of consciousness of the medium of photography to new heights. Stieglitz, Walker Evans, Bernice Abbott, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Friedlander and Winogrand, Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Callahan Siskind, to name a few. Usually, a small photograph, most often in black and white, mounted on museum board with an over matt in a simple black frame or stacked in a portfolio. But with digital tools coming online earlier this century all this started to break down. 43 inch print with white surround and pink background? Sure, easy. An image as a poster?

Why not? If you can think it, you can make it.  What a tremendous concept.

Those old rules were valid at a time when photography itself still was relatively new, discoveries in photographic imagery were frequent and exciting. Now we have far more maturity, there is really little that presents as "never seen before". Yes, even true when digital is added in. So, therefore freedoms unheard of just a few years ago are prevalent now. As they should be.

The two mannequin pictures above are now being mounted and will hang on either side of a large TV in my new place. What a pleasure. A new place to live and a blank slate for an artist to make and show his art. All while social distancing and trying his damndest not to get sick.

Be careful and be well.

BTW: I will be speaking this Thursday, May 21at 5 pm about my Monsters work for the Gallery Upstairs, sponsored by Bob Korn Imaging on the Cape.

Topics: New Work,New Way

Permalink | Posted May 20, 2020

RePublish

In this oddest and most terrible of times we find ourselves in I will publish a few past posts. To say I am being less productive these days is an understatement. I have a hunch you feel the same way.

At any rate, it might be a good thing to go back to a few earlier posts. I will start with this one, the third of three articles on making and showing a portfolio, from 2013.

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/portfolios-take-3

If you like, here are # 1:

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/portfolios

and #2:

https://nealrantoul.com/posts/portfolios-take-2

I wonder if portfolios are still required. I still make them and in fact, have two new ones made during the disastrous winter of 2020. I may be a dinosaur but I believe they are essential.

As always, feel free to contact me via email: here

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted May 1, 2020

Top 75


The blog has just received recognition from Feedspot as #11 in the list of 75 best fine art photography blogs worldwide. 

Go here:  Feedspot

The blog? Oh, just something I've been writing weekly since November 2012. That would be almost 8 years! I don't know if some of you have been with me since then but I am thankful for all my followers. I hope my thoughts and experiences have been helpful over the years. Mine is a long career in one discipline. I have sought to be open, to present my work and the work of others in a positive but also critical point of view and to share my perceptions and to place work in perspective.

Always good to be recognized for an effort and I am honored to be selected.

Reminder: all eight years of the blog are searchable and also archived so you can read all of what I have written. Talk about binging! 

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted April 30, 2020

Mannequins Revisited

Those of you that follow the site and blog probably know I have done some work photographing mannequins. The work has not been shown and, to be honest, was never edited and coalesced into a definite body of work, until now.

Now here is a new edit of the mannequins on the site: here.

I categorize the Mannequin pictures as fitting squarely into other bizzaro work of mine from the past. Work like:

Cabela's, made in the early 2000s, from17 stores across the midwest. 

Or the photographs of forensic specimens such as:

the Mutter Museum photographs from Philadephia from 2004-2006,

 

or the pictures from the town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy which included human and animal remains. Or the photographs of the amazing collection at the National Museum of Health and Medicine outside Washington, DC:

All of these are covered in greater depth on the site: www.nealrantoul.com

Last, perhaps the oddest of all the work, made in 2014 and 2015, of a single costume store in Fitchburg, MA that are called Monsters:

All this is by way of an introduction to the newer work called Mannequins.

which are from close to Boston, Oakland, CA, and New York City.

If I were reading this and I was so firmly shut down by the pandemic we are in, the question would form as to why the photographer Neal Rantoul would go this way. What is there in the makeup of this one individual that would cause him to range so far from the track? Now, you might not care, but have you ever acted out any of your more odd ideas? I am not talking about your sexual fantasies particularly (I'd just as soon you keep those to yourself), but ideas for projects or new work you've wanted to do but never acted on?

Let me try this challenge: take a look at the gallery page of the site. Open a few bodies of work from this century and the previous one at random, then open the ones that I've cited here. Let me know your thoughts (Neal's email) about why someone who is primarily a landscape photographer would make these kinds of photographs. I will read your answers over, choose the best, publish it and then add my two cents worth. The winner gets the poster of his/her choice. One submission, please, and send it in within the next two weeks, by April 14.

What have you go to lose and BTW you can't argue that you don't have the time, right?

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted April 7, 2020

New Normal


Egg Rock, Concord, MA


Got gloves? Check

Got Masks? Check

Got Purell? Check

Heading out to photograph, definitely some new things to bring along in the world of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

As I wrote last week, I have been going to the confluence of the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers in Concord, MA to photograph.

This feels like going to a retreat of some kind. Outdoors right now is very good; to be outside, to breath fresh air, to feel the sun on your face. With no people nearby. We can escape the dreadful reality for a little while, get a break. Are the photographs I make going to shake the world with their quality? No. Are they getting repetitive as I go back and back? Yes. Does it matter? No.

Seeking peace, stillness, tranquility, serenity? Find your Concord River. Could be your backyard as the season changes, the trail along the shore, the hike up the hills outside of town. It doesn't matter. Do it for your mental health.

BTW: Concord is loaded with historical importance. Think Paul Revere and this country's Revolutionary War, his famous ride, the assembly of the troops at Concord and Lexington, "the British are Coming, the British are coming".

I am writing this on April 3  in Massachusetts, a state that has not peaked yet and that has not enacted a stay-at-home order. Considering how very dire the forecasts are, I expect one any day, if not in the state then in the whole country.

Stay safe, please.

Topics: Commentary

Permalink | Posted April 3, 2020