Posts Tagged ‘Diego Rivera’

Mexico City And Oaxaca Travel Log

December 20th, 2010

Mexico City And Oaxaca 1990 Travel Log

Excerpts From Ardis Hyde’s 1990 Mexican Travel Log

Men Of Oaxaca Waiting For The Train, City Of Oaxaca, State Of Oaxaca, Mexico, 1990 by Philip Hyde. When I first discovered this photograph in Dad's files, it did not have a name or description but it was in the Oaxaca section. I called it "Men of Oaxaca." I didn't even know where it was in Oaxaca. However, I found it in the Travel Logs called, "Waiting For The Train, Oaxaca Train Station." This is what it is now called on the website. However, I have been referring to it on the blog as, "Men Of Oaxaca Waiting For The Train" so that people know it is the same photograph. Eventually I will drop "Men of Oaxaca" because we don't really know if they are from Oaxaca or not. They are just waiting in the train station.

(To see the photograph full-screen Click Here.)

Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico) is the Federal District (Distrito Federal) capital, largest city in the Americas, and the third largest city in the world after Seoul and Tokyo. My mother Ardis Hyde abbreviated the Mexico City airport as “Mex DF”, short for Mexico Distrito Federal. My father landscape photographer Philip Hyde was 68 years old and my mother was 64 when they boarded a Continental flight from Reno to Houston via Denver on January 4,1990. My mother wrote:

Clear skies on takeoff from Denver. The Airbus to Houston left more than half an hour late. The wide body plane had seats seven and eight abreast at intervals. We had two seats, one by a window. We could see the front range of the Rockies, pure white with fresh snow. Despite a tail wind, we arrived late in Houston. It was very slow deplaning. We hurried through the huge terminal searching for our gate. We inquired of a courtesy car and the driver told us to hop aboard. We would never have made it without his help. It was a long way to the gate. We were the last to board and almost missed our flight. Clouds covered Mexico City solidly. On the ground in Mexico City, where we arrived on time, we groped around finding our way. We bought pesos and finally exited customs after filling out many forms but moving quickly past the officials. Dusk brought heavy traffic negotiated by taxi to the Ritz Hotel at Madera 30: $43.50 a night with senior discount. Room 510 was quiet and appointed well but not fancy. We were exhausted from the trip and went to bed early.

Future blog posts and eventual releases of new photographs will illustrate the activities of the following days in Mexico City. My mother wrote, “Philip was happily snapping 35 mm pictures” in the city center of street life, of El Sagrario, the old Cathedral, of the bustle and of the art in the city center. At the Palacio National, the Mexican seat of government since the Aztec Empire, many of the palace’s building materials originally belonged to Montezuma. My mother continued, “Philip made a fascinating study of the Diego Rivera Murals on the second floor, in the back courtyard and in the Hall of the Constitution.”

The Hydes attended the Epiphany, 12th Day of Christmas and Dia de Reyes, gift giving to children. They explored the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico and many other museums. They tried staying in different hotels. They saw the “beautiful glass ceiling of the Gran Hotel,” and visited the Universidad to make photographs of the Diego Rivera murals on the library exterior. They took the autobus to the Teotihuacan Pyramids.

On January 15, the Hydes took a taxi to the train station bound for the City of Oaxaca in the State of Oaxaca:

At the train station we visited in line with two Americans Philip recognized from our hotel, as well as Earl and Shirley Binin, our friends from Connecticut, all boarding the same train to Oaxaca. The train to Oaxaca pulled out promptly at 7:00 pm. We had a neat ‘Alcoba,’ sleeper room and dinner included with our ticket. The diner car was neat and clean. After a visit in the diner car with the Binins we went off to our Alcoba to go to bed early. It was a bumpy ride all night. The train never went very fast. I was in the upper bunk and Philip took the lower. We slept OK. We woke up early and watched the daylight appear through the train windows. Outside we saw mountains, a river gorge and flowing streams through a forest of Kaypok trees. We had breakfast at 7:15 am as the train progressed out onto cultivated flatter terrain. We arrived in Oaxaca at 9:30 am. Philip made photographs in the Oaxaca train station. One was of three men waiting for the train. They were as weathered and tired-looking as the old worn wall of the train station behind them.

More to come…

Photography’s Golden Era 8

October 25th, 2010

The California School Of Fine Arts Makes Art History

Continued from the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 7.”

Snags And Tree Reflections In Lake In Ritter Range, now Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, 1950 by Philip Hyde. This photograph almost made the "Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-1955" book. It was the next runner up.

(See the photograph full screen, Click Here.)

The California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, since 1930 has occupied the same campus buildings at 800 Chestnut Street between Jones and Leavenworth on San Francisco’s vibrant Russian Hill. The Russian Hill neighborhood “offers some of the best views of the city, a park at its summit and Lombard, the ‘crookedest’ street in the world,” explains the San Francisco Art Institute’s website:

Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is one of the U.S.’s oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art.… At SFAI we focus on educating artists who will become the creative leaders of their generation.… SFAI has been central to the development of many of this country’s most notable art movements. During its first sixty years, influential artists associated with the school included Eadweard Muybridge, photographer and pioneer of motion graphics; Maynard Dixon, painter of San Francisco’s labor movement and of the landscape of the West; Henry Kiyama, whose Four Immigrants Manga was the first graphic novel published in the US; Louise Dahl-Wolf, an innovative photographer whose work for Harper’s Bazaar defined a new American style of “environmental” fashion photography in the 1930s; John Gutzon Borglum, the creator of the large-scale public sculpture known as Mt. Rushmore; and numerous others.

In 1930 Mexican muralist Diego Rivera arrived in San Francisco…to paint a fresco at the school’s new campus on Chestnut Street. Many of the school’s faculty had visited Rivera in Mexico, and the school had a distinguished program in fresco painting.… After 1945, the school became a nucleus for Abstract Expressionism. New York artists Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko taught here, along with David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Nathan Oliveira, and others… The first film course at CSFA was taught by Sydney Peterson in 1947. Jordan Belson, who had enrolled as a painting student in 1944, showed his first abstract film, Transmutations, in 1947 at the second “Art in Cinema” program, co-sponsored by CSFA and the San Francisco Museum of Art. In 1949, an international conference, The Western Roundtable on Modern Art, was organized by CSFA Director Douglas McAgy, and included Marcel Duchamp, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Gregory Bateson, among others. The object of the roundtable was to expose “hidden assumptions” and to frame new questions about art.

Renamed the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961, SFAI refuted the distinction between fine and applied arts, and expanded the definition of art to include performance, conceptual art, graphic arts, typography, and political and social documentary. The year 1968 was, as elsewhere in the world, a pivotal year in the history of the San Francisco Art Institute. Among the students at SFAI that year were Annie Liebovitz, who had just begun photographing for Rolling Stone magazine; Paul McCarthy, well-known for his gross but hilarious performance videos; and Charles Bigelow, who would be among the first typographers to design fonts for computers. Alumni Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones (also faculty) were documenting the early days of the Black Panther Party in Northern California, and the photographs were exhibited at the de Young Museum.

CSFA Students In Other Art Departments Reject Photography As An Art

Pirkle Jones was a classmate of Philip Hyde and Benjamen Chinn in the second class of Ansel Adam’s photography department that started in Fall 1947. All three photographers went on to full-time photography careers throughout their lives. Benjamen Chinn continued to work for the Navy as a civilian in charge of the photo lab in San Francisco and on his own made fine art photographs of China Town for many years. Pirkle Jones developed an illustrious publishing career including projects with documentary photography pioneer Dorothea Lange. Philip Hyde’s photographs were central to the development of the modern environmental movement and helped introduce color to landscape photography. These photographers and the others who attended Ansel Adam’s photography program in its early years began their careers when photography was still becoming recognized as an art form and when little market for stock photography existed. Many California School of Fine Arts students became instrumental in the development of the medium. For more information on the work of the many talented CSFA photography students see the blog post, “The Golden Decade: California School of Fine Arts Photography,” or the blog post, “Over 500 People Attend Golden Decade Opening.”

In 1945 when word passed around the California School of Fine Arts that Ansel Adams was starting a photography department, the other departments flew into an uproar. Ansel Adams described it in his Autobiography:

The painters, sculptors, printmakers, and ceramicists arose in wrath and protest; photography is not an art, they claimed, and had no place in an art school. Besides, the other artists insisted they had insufficient space as it was. Ted Spencer (Previous CSFA President, Head of the Board, and President of the San Francisco Art Association) was really provoked but he stood fast. He knew photography is an art form and he was determined that it become part of the school curriculum. I was very unpopular around the school until it became obvious that my basic teaching in that medium, in both craft and aesthetic direction, was agreeable and progressive.

However, even then objection sometimes bubbled just beneath the surface, particularly in the painting department, where both students and faculty continued to conspire against the new department. These objections and malicious undermining finally softened as talented photography students began to take courses in other departments and excel. The students became acquainted and the ice began to melt. Besides, the photography students were bringing the school new recognition in exhibitions around San Francisco at some of the best museums and galleries.

Ansel Adams Plans “The Best Photo School In The U.S.”

Ted Spencer, besides being president of the San Francisco Arts Association, was a renowned architect. He helped Ansel Adams brainstorm and lay out the photography department. Ansel Adams had many other allies including the influential art barron, Albert Bender. Albert Bender helped some of the students and graduates with what became a prestigious Grant In Aid. Philip Hyde was one of the first two recipients of the Bender Grant. More on the Bender Grant in future blog posts. In Jeff Gunderson’s essay on the beginnings of the phtography program in The Moment of Seeing: Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts, he said that Ansel Adams “did not want to repeat the mistakes he had witnessed while teaching at the Art Center in Los Angeles” in developing the California School of Fine Arts photography department and curriculum. Jeff Gunderson wrote about and quoted Ansel Adams describing his plans:

He stressed “personal contact with the instructor,” which he thought “more effective and stimulating than continuous, routine, group instruction.” Consequently he strongly recommended that the department “be based…on a music conservatory plan…with lectures, demonstrations and exhibits,…required reading, and personal instruction and assignments.” These lectures would serve to “orient the entire school” not just the photography students, “toward understanding…good photography as an important element of contemporary life.” Adams stressed that the history of photography needed to be incorporated into the “general course of art history offered to all students” and that the photography faculty would be prepared to contribute the necessary lectures and illustrations.” To increase income and publicize the department, he proposed “evening classes for amateurs” that could be offered “as an interesting inducement to the general public.” Adams recognized that the venture would consume much of his time, and he was driven to complete other extracurricular projects, including a “series of 6 books on technique for Morgan & Lester” that would eventually include Camera and Lens, The Negative and The Print.

In 1945 as the first of the G.I. Bill students began to pour in recently liberated from World War II, CSFA finances boosted enough that the CSFA Board gave Ansel Adams the go-ahead to teach one eight week course and two four week sessions. By January 1946, a full-time session “for advanced amateurs and professionals” began with a maximum capacity enrollment of 36 students that continued in the Fall as the first full-time class in the department.

Philip Hyde, who was scheduled to begin the full-time class in the Fall of 1947, attended the Summer Session in 1946. Students anticipated this Summer Session because Ansel Adams had written that it would be a special class that would allow the school to “clear up various ‘bugs’ in the studio, lab and general operation.” It would also serve as a “screening course” for the next entering class and should be “very intensive and…reveal with its 6 weeks’ span the abilities—or lack of them in the students.”

Benjamen Chinn Talks Skills And Photographic Prints

Benjamen Chinn later remarked that Philip Hyde had been much more experienced as a photographer than he was when they started together in the Fall of 1947. This is surprising and possibly part of Benjamen Chinn’s modest nature to describe Philip Hyde that way because Benjamen Chinn had taken photography when he attended Galileo High School, which today is known as Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. Benjamen Chinn knew Bill Quandt from his high school photography classes. Later, beginning in 1947, Bill Quandt assisted Minor White as instructor of photography at the California School of Fine Arts. Benjamen Chinn had also taken photography at San Francisco City College and had been a photographer for the Navy during World War II. Philip Hyde took photography at Polytechnic High School and at San Francisco City College before the War but never met Benjamen Chinn until Fall 1947 in class at the California School of Fine Arts.

The Summer 1946 course, besides Ansel Adams, had two established Bay Area photographers on faculty, both Group f64 members, Imogen Cunningham and Alma Lavenson. Minor White first joined the class as a student on July 5. Ansel Adams had hired Minor White to take his place as lead instructor. “The whole muddled business of exposure and development fell into place,” Minor White wrote of his experience in the first class he sat in on. “Sitting up in class my problems…cleared up pronto!… The theory was crystalline clear…and I was out in the afternoon helping kids trying to do it. I think they probably knew more about it than I did; but some of them knew less, so I talked to those.” To read more about Minor White’s teaching and how he and Philip Hyde inspired each other see the blog post, “Minor White Letters 1.”

“Ansel was interested in good fine prints like his own,” Benjamen Chinn said. “He was a fine pianist. I always maintained that his piano playing was even better than his photography.” Benjamen Chinn’s print collection included those by Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston but not Ansel Adams. “I wasn’t collecting then,” Ben said. “I didn’t realize his prints would go up in price that much. Of course now all photographs are going up.” Benjamen Chinn pointed out in 2005 that many collectors are now collecting prints from the first ten years of Ansel Adams’ photography program. Richard Gadd, Director of the Weston Gallery in Carmel, said in 2009 that the late 1940s and early 1950s have been overlooked by collectors and are now getting more attention. A well-known Bay Area photography collector specializes in collecting photographs by California School of Fine Arts students. Benjamen Chinn said that this collector published a catalog of the work of most of the early California School Of Fine Arts students.

“They priced each small print at $3,000 or $2,500 and up,” Benjamen Chinn said. They usually collect from estate sales. They got three or four of my prints from a classmate’s collection. When she was moved to a home they cleaned out her place and found some of the exchange prints. A lot of people had Bill Quandt’s prints and they got his originals too. I’m sure they didn’t pay much for them. After they found out who I was they asked me to go up to where they lived in the Mission Street area in San Francisco and sign their prints with them. They showed me some prints of mine, and many others. They probably got the whole estate for $500. The people didn’t know what they had. They just wanted to get rid of the stuff quickly.”

In future blog posts in this series look forward to reading about student gatherings and print exchanges in various homes, at Ansel Adam’s house and at Vesuvio’s in vibrant North Beach, about the unusual questions on the California School of Fine Arts photography school application, more about Ansel Adam’s Zone System, how students would wonder what Benjamen Chinn was doing for his assignment as he worked at home, classes with Minor White, a field trip with Edward Weston, how the Bay Area art culture began to blossom and much more. For more about Edward Weston not in this series see the blog post, “Edward Weston’s Landscape Philosophy Part 1.”

Continued in the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 9.”

The Hidden Brett Weston

February 6th, 2010

Which photographers or influences inspired your interest in photography?

Philip Hyde with Edward Weston at Hill, Carmel, California, 1949, by John Rogers, a classmate of Philip Hyde's.

Philip Hyde with Edward Weston at Wildcat Hill, Carmel, California, 1948, by Al Richter, CSFA classmate of Philip Hyde. Edward Weston, who many consider "the most influential photographer of the 20th Century," lived a simple lifestyle and rarely manipulated his images in the darkroom. He produced mainly contact prints. He is listed as one of Ansel Adam's influences and credited with leading the development of Straight Photography on the West Coast.

Edward And Brett Weston In Mexico

Pioneer abstract and landscape photographer Brett Weston was the son of Edward Weston, who many say was one of the greatest photographers to ever live.  However, what most people do not know is that of the subjects both men photographed, Brett Weston did many of them first.

Chandler, Brett Weston’s older brother, wrote to Brett at home in California, while Chandler visited Edward Weston in Mexico. Chandler told Brett Weston they were having a glorious adventure south of the border. Under his dad’s lax or non-existent supervision, Chandler Weston was drinking and playing with guns and having a wild time. Brett Weston kept pressing his father to have his turn in Mexico. Finally after Brett Weston had a few run-ins with the police in California, Edward Weston gave in and the boys traded places in 1925 when Brett was 14 years old.

While in Mexico, Brett Weston made his first photographs that were more than snapshots. He printed with his dad and whiled away the days. Family photographs show the Westons relaxing with Diego Rivera and other artists. After 15 months in Mexico, Brett Weston returned to the U.S. and made his first abstract photograph, “Drive Shaft, Locomotive.”

Edward Weston Is Known For Some Subjects Brett Weston Photographed First

“People look at Edward’s photographs and say, ‘Oh Edward did the locomotive, so Brett did the locomotive,’” said Jon Burris, Director of the Brett Weston Archive. “But the fact is that Brett made his in 1927, and Edward did not make his until 1941. Sonya Noskowiak, who was an assistant of Edward’s—and who became a member of the Group f.64 (with Edward Weston)—made a similar image in 1937. But Brett was the first—and he made his when he was just 16 years old.”

Some of Edward Weston’s most acclaimed photographs of his last wife, model Charis Wilson, who passed on in November 2009 at age 95, were made in the Oceano sand dunes. Edward Weston’s photographs of sand dunes are “so prominent in the history of Twentieth Century photography, that most people believe he made them first and that Brett followed,” Burris said. “But that’s not the case. Brett began to photograph the dunes in 1932—two years before his father.”

Brett Weston also photographed a series of four surf scenes in 1939, looking down from the cliffs above Baker Beach in San Francisco. “Edward had photographed similar scenes a year or so earlier on the coast, north of San Francisco,” Scott Nichols said while talking to Black and White Magazine about his collection, the world’s largest of Brett Weston’s prints and portfolios. “Then Ansel Adams had done his famous surf series in 1940,” Scott Nichols said. “Brett’s predates Ansel’s by about a year.”

Brett Weston Influenced Edward Weston Who Inspired Philip Hyde

Many people see my father landscape photographer Philip Hyde’s cactus photographs and images of trees in Glen Canyon and suggest he was influenced by Brett Weston. This may be, but Dad saw little of Brett Weston’s work before he made his own cactus images and river trips through Glen Canyon with David Brower and the Sierra Club. Dad did make photographs that exhibit Edward Weston’s influence because he and his California School of Fine Arts classmates photographed with Edward Weston on Point Lobos on a number of occasions in 1948 and 1949. Dad and his classmates also visited Edward Weston at his home on Wildcat Hill in Carmel, California where they may have seen some Brett Weston photographs. Future blog posts will detail visits to Wildcat Hill and how Dad and several others from the class, camped in tents on Edward Weston’s lawn. Edward Weston reviewed student prints and showed his own. The print viewings often led to lively discussions. For more on Edward Weston see the blog post, “Edward Weston’s Landscape Philosophy Part 1.”

Edward Weston is said to have impacted all of photography. However, with the knowledge that Brett Weston preceded his father to various locations and subject matter, it has become accepted that not only did father influence son, but son also influenced father. Edward Weston on several occasions suggested as much. Brett Weston, through his father, Edward Weston, indirectly impacted Philip Hyde’s photography, and made an even larger contribution to the entire medium than is commonly known. For the story on how Brett Weston impacted Philip Hyde and his travels by selling him his Chevy Pickup see the blog post, “Covered Wagon Journal 1.”

Which photographers or influences inspired your interest in photography? Please share your thoughts in comments…

Black and White Magazine interview of Jon Burris, Issue 8.
Black and White Magazine interview of Scott Nichols, Issue 11.
Brett Weston Archive Website
Photography West Gallery Website