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Photographing with Abelardo Morell | Getty Voices

Eighth-grade students recently worked with photographer Abelardo Morell to explore their world through photography. Ali shares more of their work all this week on the Getty Voices Facebook page.

"How Tall Is It" - a photograph by Mark Twain Middle School 8th grader Ricki Todd

“How Tall Is It” – a photograph by Mark Twain Middle School 8th grader Ricki Todd

“[Abe] taught us a lot of really good tricks, like how you express the emotion of the picture…how you can make something as ordinary as a raindrop look like a flood.”

The phrase “out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems” seems apt to describe the observations—and photographs—of twenty-three 8th-grade students from Mark Twain Middle School. The Getty Museum’s Education Department teamed up with the school, along with 826LA and photographer Abelardo Morell for Community Photoworks, a Getty program that since 2006 has introduced students to the art of photography. This year, photographs the students created with the guidance of Morell (“Abe” to them) will be on view in a dedicated exhibition at Chalk design studio called The Awakening of the Ordinary, with an opening reception Thursday, December 5, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (And yes, the students created that awesome exhibition title.)

In one jam-packed month, the students met with Morell, who taught them about his photographic techniques such as the camera obscura, and walked them through his exhibition at the Getty. Then the students took their own pictures on assigned digital cameras, selected one photograph each to be printed and exhibited, and were mentored by 826LA and Getty volunteers and staff as they looked critically at their photographs and wrote their artist statements. At the exhibition, photographs will be curated and installed by the students themselves and accompanied by artist statements that further explain their intention and approach.

Mark Twain Middle School 8th graders viewing the Abelardo Morell exhibition at the Getty Center

Mark Twain Middle School 8th graders viewing the Abelardo Morell exhibition at the Getty Center

Mark Twain Middle School student taking a picture at the Getty Center

Mark Twain Middle School student taking a picture at the Getty Center

I was lucky to be a part of the program, accompanying the students through their workshops with Morell and seeing their creativity and talent flourish. Throughout the week, the Getty will be featuring student artwork from the program on Facebook, as well as remarks from students about their experience. There will even be a camera obscura tutorial for anyone who wants to recreate one of the earliest optical devices in their own home.

"The Darkened Illusion" - photograph by Mark Twain Middle School 8th-grader Corianna Johnson

“The Darkened Illusion” – photograph by Mark Twain Middle School 8th grader Corianna Johnson

For more information about resources used in this program for students and educators, visit the Getty’s Classroom Resources page.

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      #ProvenancePeek: Titian in Boston

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      Portrait of a Man Holding a Book, in the collection of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, is no exception. The MFA carefully details the painting’s Italian provenance on its collection page, but the path of this object even since then is complex.

      Between 1901 and 1907, Portrait of a Man Holding a Book entered the stock of no less than three galleries, purchased from the Italian family who owned it first by Agnew’s in London, then by Trotti in Paris, and then by Cottier in New York (marking its movement from the Old World to the New). A collector purchased it from Cottier, and the painting was held privately for 36 years.

      That collector was Frederick Bayley Pratt (1865–1945), son of Charles Pratt, oil magnate and founder of the Brooklyn Institute that bears his family’s name (incidentally, this writer’s alma mater!). 

      The Knoedler Gallery dealt frequently with members of the Pratt family. A quick peek into the searchable database of Knoedler’s stock books turns up nine instances in which a Pratt (Charles and Mary, Frederick’s parents, or Herbert and John, his brothers) bought works, as well as five instances where they sold works. This Titian portrait is one of those instances. Frederick Pratt sold the work to Knoedler in early April of 1943, and by the 10th, it had been snapped up by the Museum of Fine Arts.

      Knoedler shared the sale with Pinakos, an art-dealing concern owned and operated by Rudolf J. Heinemann. Purchasing works in tandem with other dealers was a widespread practice amongst powerful art galleries of the time; nearly 6,000 records in the Knoedler database had joint ownership.

      The stock books of the Knoedler Gallery have recently been transformed into a searchable database that anyone can query for free. You can find this Titian under stock number A2555.

      Portrait of a Man Holding a Book, about 1540, Titian (Tiziano Vecellio). Oil on canvas. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Charles Potter Kling Fund. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; stock and sales books documenting the painting’s sale by M. Knoedler & Co.


      ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archive at the Getty Research Institute.


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