Ordinary and/or Extraordinary - Places

The similarities and/or difference between one place and another could offer an interesting focus. For example the exterior and interior of a place.
Nick Gleis

The above image is from a series of photographs by Nick Gleis which reveal the interior opulence of the private jets owned by African dictators in the 1960s and 70s.

The photos, which belong to the Archive of Modern Conflict, were on show as part of an installation of vernacular photography at Fabrica art gallery in Brighton. Gleis has declined to reveal who's jet these photos are taken in, and the interior designer is also unknown, but the images all scream 70s glamour at its most extreme.
The photographs were shown in an installation at the Fabrica gallery. The former church had been converted into separate rooms for the 'House of Vernicular' exhibition as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial 2010(curated by Martin Parr). One section looked like a living room, another looked like it was made out of concrete - the aeroplane photographs were displayed in a mock up of an aeroplane.

Alastair Thain first visited Sarajevo in 1996, just after the end of the brutal three and a half year siege by Bosnia Serbs that left thousands dead. He found a city in ruins, the scars of war visible wherever he pointed his lens. He retraced his steps after the country rebuilt itself and re-took the same photographs. Thain, who is best known as a portrait photographer, rarely shows people in this body of work.

Martin Parr 'Parking Spaces Mexico La Paz', 2003
Martin Parr 'The Last parking Space' series 2002 and 2007

Between 2002 and 2007, Martin Parr photographed 'the last parking space' available in 41 countries - somewhere you could have parked your car, had you been there at the time. Using a compact camera, and driven by wanting to express "the individual frustration of finding somewhere to park, but on a global level". The desire for a precious parking space has been a banal unifier of the middle classes the world over.

This series also does something else - it shows how the same piece of space can go from being the most sought after to being worthless. On a Saturday afternoon a parking space precious. That same space at 3am during the night is just another space in an empty car park. All that has changed is time and demand - the space itself has stayed the same.
Eugène Atget's 'Le Cirque' (1924)
Eugène Atget's 'Saint Cloud' (1921-1922)
These images by Eugene Atget show Paris caught at night and in the early hours of the morning. These city shots have no people in them - a world built by people for people but empty. The same space that during the day would be full of people take on a new life at night - they become deserted and eerie. The images have a still, quite quality about them and their subtle sepia tone give the sense of looking at a forgotten world.
Eugene Atget 'Magasin, avenue des Gobelins' 1925
Atget spent his career documenting Paris often combining the old with the modern. This image, from his later period, shows the height of French fashion with the reflection of the three hundred year old Gobelins complex. People rarely appear in his images - only the traces of people remain. He would document Paris's grandest building and most humble corners. Advertising and shop windows were unusual themes for Photography - his images were mainly taken as reference for other artists and illustrators. He was relatively unknown in his time but Man Ray, who lived only a few doors away from Atget, had been the first to celebrate his work. Man Ray saw Atget's work as a kind of naive proto-surrealism. Atget's unique eye and straightforward approach can be seen in the objective look of future generations like Walker EvansStephen Shore, Lee Friedlander.
Rene Magritte - 'Empire of Lights' 1953-54 

Rene Magritte explores the relationship between night and day in one image. The sky is blue and scattered with cloud but the ground is dark apart from a single street light illuminating the scene.

With these images Michael Hughes has taken the tacky souvenirs found at tourist attractions and held them in front of the real thing. They create funny juxtapositions and play around with our sense of scale.
Casper David Friedrich 'Sea of Ice' 1824
Physical collisions, whether intentional or accidental, can provide artists with spectacular visual reference material. Casper David Friedrich exploits the incredible forms created by masses of ice colliding.
The triangular forms of the ice are reminiscent of the the forms used in Supremacist painting by Malevich.
Casper David Friedrich 'Monk by the Sea' 1808 - 1810
Friedrich often looked to nature. In this work The sea collides with the land and a lone figure gazes out at an expanse of sea. Most of us have gazed out to sea and gained a sense of the vastness of the world, of the universe - this is the sublime. Casper David Friedrich breaks the whole world down to three elements - the blank foreground of land (earth), the blackish murky sea (water) and the vast empty bruise like sky (Air). It is almost abstract if seen through half closed eyes. It could be a late period Rothko with the same elements of bleakness and emptiness.
This is a late period Rothko, created a year before the artist committed suicide. It displays the dark colour palette the artist primarily used during his last years of life, a period that was said to be increasingly lonely and isolating for the artist. Rothko's earlier work is much more colourful - the colours affect you on a visceral level.

Clifford Ross - from the 'Hurricane' series
Clifford Ross also explores where land collides with the sea. Water is transformed into a stationary solid form and has been frozen in time. The rich black obliterates the sea and sky creating a solid area of negative space to contrast with the white textured area. Ross' images seem to be a heightened form of the real world - these are waves but they seem to be perfect solid waves.

Claude Monet’s haystack series
A group of Monet's Haystacks
As an impressionist painter Monet was fascinated by light. The warmth of the early morning light, the strong contrast of midday, the golden hour when the sun begins to set, twilight or the diffused light on a cloudy day. When he visited London he didn't see dullness, instead he was amazed by all the different shades of grey and white. During the harvest season of 1890 -91 he returned to the same hay stacks and painted them on site. The same ordinary subject is transformed by observing how the light changes at different times of day and year. Although technically a series of images there is a sense of time passing and the images seem to follow a natural sequence.

Wim Wenders

Keld Helmer Petersen

Early sunday Morning

Gregory Crewdson
Gregory Crewdson uses Hollywood techniques to create glossy Edward Hopper-esque portraits of American life. He works like a Film Director with an enormous crew and artificial lighting. But where Hopper stripped life bare, Credson's images offer an overabundance of detail.