The Frame

Stravinsky, photographed by Arnold Newman (1946)
Original Negative

In this portrait of the The Composer Igor Stravinsky for Harpers Bazaar, Newman has created a simple stark image. The bold black form of the piano lid is reminiscent of the symbol for a b flat. The negative space (the walls in corner of a room) add a subtle addition to the composition. One wall takes up two thirds of the composition creating a stark white, while the last section add a simple grey tone behind Stravinsky's head. Some photographers believe you should not crop your photographs - all the decisions should be made when taking the photograph. Newman cropped this image from the original negative, creating a bolder, simpler and more iconic image.
Sir Frederick Ashton - Arnold Newman 1978

I.M. Pei, New York, NY, 1967 - Arnold Newman
In this portrait Arnold Newman uses negative space dramatically. It is mainly made up of negative space - it is dominated by black. Three circles hover above while a narrow slit at the bottom reveals the subject -The Architect I.M.Pei.  If this area had more happening in it the image would loose its graphic strength. The minimalist qualities of Pei's architecture is mirrored in Newman composition. Newman placed his subjects in a way that represented what they did.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Valencia, Spain, 1933
Cartier-Bresson used the rectangle frame of the camera to capture 'The Decisive Moment' This is the moment when all the key elements come together to create the perfect image. Unlike Newman, Cartier-Bresson only framed his pictures on his camera and never cropped them. He would often print his images with a black boarder to prove it. He would use a negative holder slightly larger than his negative so light would escape just at the edge to create the 'Burnt Edge' effect. He also used the rule of thirds to compose his images.
'The echoing rings of the mismatched spectacle lenses and the half-target on the door, set against––in deep space––that slightly twisted, ambiguous figure in the doors behind. How can someone see this way? How can someone find such an enigmatic moment in the world and bring it back as a photograph? I began to sense something about perception, about the moment, about space, and about the unique possibilities of the photograph.' ––Alex Webb

Robert Frank
Photographers have often used the frame of the photograph to mirror square and rectangles in the real world. This creates a frame within a frame - a miniature stage taken out of the world. In this above image Robert Frank uses the squares of the windows to break the frame up into a grid. Beneath this abstract structure we can see something else. The front of the Bus is for whites only - this is 1950's America and segregation is the norm. The figures in this image are separated again by the squares of the windows. Robert Frank was a immigrant and it took a foreigner to America to themselves (see The Americans). 

Morris Engel 'Harlem Merchant' 1937

Morris Engel 'Rebecca and Family at Window' 1947

Eliot Elisofon 'Shoeshine Man' 1936
Martin Parr 'Home Sweet Home' 1974
Martin Parr 'Home Sweet Home' 1974
In this series of work Martin Parr photographs private and shop windows and presents them in kitsch frames. Early morning or late evening light is used and reflections add extra layers to the images. The have a quaint sense of 'Englishness' about them - a characteristic that runs through Parr's work.
William Eggleston 'Freezer interior' 1980

Barthel Bruyn the Elder (1493-1555) Vanitas still life on the back of the portrait of Jane-Loyse Tissier
Robert Doisneau 'The Tenement Building Montage' 1962
Harry Callahan 'Eleanor' 1947
Olivia Parker 'Pods of Chance' 1977
Olivia Parker would often use the frame of the photograph to mirror the frame of a box. In this image Parker has used a tight composition to capture a row of peas in a pod. There is a rhythm to the way the peas have grown inside the pod, a natural order. Parker has laid the pods horizontally above one another creating a sense of repetition. The third pod from the bottom tries to break free disruption the composition but also adding a twist - a kink in the order of things.

Olivia Parker 'Moonsnails' 1980
Olivia Parker has placed natural forms in boxes and mirrored the frame of the box by the frame of the photograph. In 'Moonsnails' shells occasionally pour out of their contained squares. This Breaks up their individual square frame in the same way that Chardin would have an object hanging over the edge of a table. Notice how the knife comes out at diagonal breaking up the horizontal line of the table.
Chardin, Basket of Peaches 1768
'Hotel Eden' by Joseph Cornell
'Soap Bubble Set' by Joseph Cornell
Joseph Cornell collected objects and placed them inside boxes - creating strange juxtapositions and narratives. A Map, a pipe, an egg, a glass combined using a grid system as a compositional device. These strange assemblages and collages give new meanings to discarded objects.
Len Shelley 'It's just like paradise she said'
The artist Len Shelley was as much a maker of fables as he was a maker of boxed tableaux. His art consisted of the creation of anthropomorphic characters acting out roles in scenes that seem to echo real life but which, at the same time, are rooted in theatre and fairytales. All of this was bound within the physical confines of exquisitely constructed boxes.

The results are highly accomplished and surreal films that owe a debt to Beatrix Potter and Lewis Carroll as well as animators such as Jan Švankmajer and the Brothers Quay.

Arman 'Accumulation of electric razors embedded in plexiglas' 1968
These objects have been contained in a glass cabinet. Arman was a European pop artist who collected the same type of object and placed them inside glass containers. This act of taking what seems to be rubbish is exactly what is do in Museums - by taking an object out of its original context and placing it in a cabinet the viewer sees that object in a new way. Arman's objects seem to be relic's from another age and as we get further away (in time) from Arman's work the objects seem stranger and more unusual. The second world war had still left scars on Europe and Arman started by going through the ruble of derelict building to collect these everyday objects. In many ways they are both relics but also an example of the everyday amassed and becoming strange.

Carrot Long Red c.1900 Charles Jones

English gardener Charles Jones (1866-1959) worked on several private estates, including Ote Hall in Sussex. He had a hobby which not even his family knew about: photographing the fruits (and vegetables) of his labors. It wasn't until 1981 at an antique market that his beautiful work came to light: several hundred gelatin silver prints in a trunk, most of them vegetables, a quarter of them fruits and flowers. All had been exposed on glass negatives, each noted the name of the plant and were inscribed with the photographer's name or initials, and few were duplicates. Never shown during his lifetime, they have now been exhibited in London, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Lausanne, Switzerland, and are the subject of abook, Plant Kingdoms: The Photographs of Charles Jones, published in 1998 by Sean Sexton - the man who accidentally found the photos. About the image at the top, the Victoria and Albert Museum writes, "His photographs of apples, photographed against a neutral background to capture each specimen's individuality, show his deep understanding of their plain beauty, brought about by tending them daily." The same can be said of his beets (above), beans, plums, onions, andmangel-wurzels. Charles Jones left no notes or diaries, so the photographs have to speak for themselves.