Father as a child in Leipzig

I am leaving for California soon. I hope to see the paintings of the Bay Area artists at the John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, and to visit some other galleries while there. I have begun a painting of my father, and will be adding a slightly menacing figure who will be measuring his head. I had the pleasure of cataloging some books on phrenology a short time ago, and wanted to use that quack science because it was later manipulated by racists to justify their ideas of a master race. Whenever one group of people decide they are better than another horrible things can happen and they certainly did during my father’s childhood. I really like the photograph of my father that I am working from, because he is caught in the middle of laughing; a seemingly true and robust laugh that I haven’t seen often enough.

Source material surrounding painting of my father

Source material surrounding painting of my father

Big Mothers

Yesterday I spent hours looking at the facsimile of The Big Book by W. Eugene Smith. I could relate to the darkness he found in the world and his devotion to its depiction. I could also relate to John Berger’s words about Smith’s mother: “How did the moral drama, which is so integral a part of his photography, first begin for him? Unquestionably, profoundly, and until the end, it began with his mother.”* A detailed review of Smith’s Big Book can be found here.
















*Berger, John. Pieta: W. Eugene Smith, The Big Book, Volume 3 Essays and Texts. Austin, University of Texas Press; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. 2013.