27 November 2008

Passings (2)

Two photographers whose work, again, I know next to nothing about have died recently. Both were involved in politics: Stoughton as White House photographer in the Kennedy administration, Bissinger, having given up photography, as a peace activist.

Karl Bissinger (1914-2008) The notice in The New York Times is here.

Cecil Stoughton (1920 -2008) The notice from The Guardian is here and from The Times here.


Tanaquil LeClercq, Donald Windham, a server named Virginia Reed,
Buffie Johnson, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal
, 1949 ~
Photograph © Karl Bissinger.

Gore Vidal recently published a pointed essay about the way Bissinger captured fleeting - indeed squandered - possibility in this image :
So there we sat one day in the Manhattan garden of the Café Nicholson: Tanaquil Le Clercq of Balanchine's ballet company; Buffie Johnson, a painter; writers Donald Windham, Tennessee Williams and me. For me, Karl Bissinger's picture is literally historic, so evocative of a golden moment when we were neither at war—our usual condition, it now appears—nor in a depression. Look at the civilization we could have created! . . .
Vidal characteristically and rightly criticizes our leaders (what of ourselves?) for the various wars that followed and the possibilities he laments. Here, arguably, is Stoughton's most famous image of LBJ assuming the presidency and who, of course, was consumed by war.

Lyndon Johnson takes the presidential oath of office as Jacqueline
Kennedy looks on aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963 ~
Photograph © Cecil Stoughton/The White House.



Blogger JLB said...

I very much enjoy your blog- sincere thanks. Beyond being a fairly astonishing photo of Williams and Vidal, that last photo has opened my mind to the possibility of finding a woman named Tanaquil. Think of it! Unless I'm wholly mistaken, they (sadly) don't make names like that anymore... That Balanchine was a pretty deft fellow, me thinks.

Regards and all fine thing to you,


02 December, 2008 01:03  
Blogger John Hastings said...

regarding the Bissinger photo. Please let me know your source for the attribution of,"the food server Virginia Reed". I can find nothing that buttresses that identification. I thought that figure was Edna Lewis, who was part owner of Cafe' Nicholson. For various and sundry reason this is important.

22 April, 2010 10:48  

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