Vest Pocket Kodak / 16 x 16 / oil on canvas, a little video of my process. Swipe ➡️ to see some details and an old ad for the camera from a century ago, it’s being handed off to a WWI soldier.
Here’s a quick iPhone snapshot of what was on my easel one morning this past week.
These two paintings are works in progress for my upcoming October exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in New York City.
This will sound sentimental, but who cares. I like the thought of how exciting these cameras would have been to a kid who received it as a gift. Back when photography took time, it would have seemed magic. I like the thought that these lenses were the eyes on so many events.
And then there is the fact I can present these objects in such an orderly way. The four cameras are all 3/4 turned, facing to the right. These black cubes, such simple shapes, with the circular flash from the unique Spartus camera. The stack of ten cameras makes a small architectural structure, each with a different facade. The box cameras with their shining brass art deco designs, the different materials used. Composing the cameras this way adds a structure and order.
The materials, their designs, the history and story, their utility as image making tools, cameras are deserving of a portrait.
I have been painting cameras for well over a decade. You can see 40 paintings of cameras I’ve done on good old Flickr.
Kodak, Bencini, Leica, Yashica. USA, Italy, Germany, Japan.
Learning about these cameras is like a 20th century world history lesson. The makers of these cameras have all been affected by world events, the economy and changing technology. Even though they are obsolete, they still have avid collectors and enthusiasts.
With the Kodaks painting above, I composed an arch with the lenses and flashes, giving the painting an architectural feel.
We have had PHD (Push Here, Dummy) cameras in our pockets for a hundred years, but it’s the ones that look like they were pieced together by watchmakers that are fun to paint.
I like that they were all used to make art, to document holidays, travel, weddings and so many other happy events. What’s strange is that the photos from the cameras are all missing, lost or hidden. It really makes me wonder what will happen to the billions of photos we upload from the cameras on our phones now.
These elegant and finely detailed antique Kodak cameras are works of art on their own. They have a patina about them. Cameras are now and always have been ubiquitous – but some were made to stand out. These cameras have lost their function, but now exist as sculpture and ideals of craftsmanship.
These two paintings are part of my July 2015 exhibition at the Elliott Fouts Gallery.