The Ends of Modern Art: Hans Namuth’s Photographs and Films of Painters Painting
American Art and Architecture | Art and Design | Contemporary Art | Fine Arts | Graphic Design | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Modern Art and Architecture | Photography | Theory and Criticism
This grant allowed both of us (Dr. Brian Winkenweder and Marit Berning) to conduct interviews and archival research in New York state and Massachusetts. While there, we were able to interview many of Hans Namuth’s colleagues, friends, and family. During this trip we had interviews with several luminaries in the various fields of the visual arts, including graphic and interior design, photography, and art criticism. We interviewed Jack Lenor Larsen (in his Upper East Side apartment), Judith Wechsler (at her residence on the Harvard campus, Cambridge, MA), Peter Namuth (at his Ghent, NY residence where he provided us unprecedented access to his father’s papers, photographic prints, and personal belongings), Phyllis Tuchman (art critic and Namuth’s administrative assistant in the 1960s), Joe Masheck (art critic, former editor of Artforum), Donald Kuspit (art critic), Barbara Rose (at her private residence at Rhinebeck, NY), and Jack Flam (director of the Dedalus Foundation). We also did archival research at the Pollock-Krasner House and enjoyed an opportunity to spend time alone in Pollock’s studio where Hans Namuth took the photos for which he is most well known. We were able to interview Helen Harrison, director of the Pollock-Krasner House. In addition to their archives, Harrison showed us archival footage taken by Namuth that has never been released to the public.
This research trip was beneficial in numerous ways, some of which exceeded the parameters of the grant proposal but had a tremendous impact on my teaching of modern and contemporary art. Moreover, many of the exhibitions I visited provide background context for the primary research project funded by the grant [to write a biography of Hans Namuth (1915-1990)]. During our time in New York City, we visited The Guggenheim Museum (exhibition on Italian Futurism), the Jewish Museum (exhibitions on Minimalism and Mel Bochner), Museum of Modern Art (retrospectives on Sigmar Polke, Lygia Clark, and Robert Heinecken), Neue Gallerie (exhibition on Degenerate Art), PS1 (retrospectives on Christof Schiesensief, Maria Lassnig, and James Lee Byars), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (retrospective on Garry Winogrand), New Museum (exhibit of “Here and Elsewhere”), Brooklyn Art Museum (retrospective on Ai Wei Wei, Swoon, and Judy Chicago), the Whitney (retrospective on Jeff Koons), Socrates Sculpture Park, and Guild Hall (exhibition on Robert Motherwell, and we attended a panel discussion on Robert Motherwell’s Romanticism).
The data collected on this trip will serve, primarily, for the writing of a biography of Hans Namuth. However, the information gathered and knowledge acquired will enable Marit and me to co-author an article about Namuth’s contribution to our understanding of abstract expressionism and how this influential movement was received by the general public in the 1950s and 1960s.
Winkenweder, Brian, "The Ends of Modern Art: Hans Namuth’s Photographs and Films of Painters Painting" (2015). Post-Grant Reports. Report. Submission 43.