“James Dean”

I finally got to work again today on filing my photos from Tibet that I made last year. Rolls 11 through 19 were taken care of, so I’ve now filed more than half of the images from that trip. Once I finish off the rest, I can get to work on starting to develop my film from this year!

After finishing the filing, I decided to scan a couple of Tibet photos from an earlier part of the trip. The tour began with a couple of days spent in and around the town of Tsedang, and we then headed east into an area of Tibet that few westerners visit, due to the need to have a multitude of travel permits, some of which are hard to get. (As a matter of fact, I just checked the itinerary of this year’s departures of the trip I took and, for some reason, this part of Tibet is no longer included.)

Along the way, we traveled on a road above a deeply cut valley and eventually stopped to admire the view at a small, newly built village called Shar Chang. A number of the residents came out to meet us and pose for photos, and they looked much like the Tibetan people I’d already seen.

Then one fellow appeared who looked different. Up he rode on his motorcycle, a young man with a swept back shock of dark hair. Well, upon seeing the hair and the bike, I thought to myself, “This guy looks like James Dean!” To be perfectly honest, I’ve not seen any of three films in which Dean starred (East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant), but he is a pop culture figure and I have seen photos of him.

I think I would have taken some photos of this man had he not looked like Dean, but his appearance did make it more interesting – and I knew right then and there that I’d have to make a blog posting with him. Afterwards, I asked myself the question, “Is it a coincidence that he looks like James Dean, or had he seen some photos of Dean and decided to emulate him?”

I think I may have come up with an answer. Today I did a web search for a photo of Dean on a motorcycle to match my photos of the Tibetan guy. Until I scanned the Tibet photos there was no point in doing it earlier, but now I wanted to see how much he looked like Dean – or if he even looked like him at all. I figured a photo of the real Dean would look good on the blog, too, as a comparison.

Well, now you can see both photos, too. Looking at them, I find it hard to believe that the Tibetan’s appearance is a coincidence. It’s not just the hair. Notice how both men wear dark loafer shoes over white socks. Notice how each one wears a white T-shirt underneath a jacket. Of course, they’re both riding motorcycles, too – so in my mind, it’s no coincidence. There is one great big James Dean fan living now in Tibet!!!

Yesterday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York for the first time in quite a while. As it happens, an exhibit about the first 100 years of photography recently opened (titled “Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940”), so I made it a point to see it. I would have gone to the Met even without this exhibit, but a good photography show is always gratifying to see.

The exhibit isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but it does showcase the work of 13 very influential photographers, mostly European and from the 19th Century (William Henry Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton, Gustave Le Gray, Eugene Atget [photo left], Nadar, Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Marville and Edouard Baldus) plus some Americans and 20th Century Europeans (Carleton Watkins, Walker Evans, Brassai, Man Ray [photo below] and Henri Cartier-Bresson). Some of the earliest photographic images ever made are included here (two Fox Talbot prints from 1835) but the show should be seen not just for its historic significance but simply for the beauty of the prints themselves. If you’re interested in the history of photography – or just want to see some great photographs, period – I would highly recommend that you try to see this exhibit.

On the other hand, I was completely underwhelmed by the adjunct photo exhibit, ‘Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium Since 1960.” While there are some good images, I basically said to myself, “Is this the best that the Met could come up with for more recent photography? Even I could do better than this stuff!” I basically did a quick walk-through for this one as it was getting late, so maybe I’ll give it a closer look on my next visit. Regardless, the show to see is the one opposite it.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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3 Responses to “James Dean”

  1. Lin says:

    A Tibetan James Dean? Now that’s art.Thank you for also reviewing the Master Photographers exhibit. The subject is one I’m fascinated with at the moment. Wish I could go.

  2. I saw the “Photography on Photography” exhibit when I was in NYC in April. I too was amazed at how bad that exhibit is. That’s the second “contemporary” photography exhibit that I’ve seen at the Met that left me completely cold. I’ve begun to wonder if whoever is curating these shows has some deep hatred for more recent photography. The shows of earlier work are great, but in the past two instances of shows of more recent work the shows have been just awful and seem almost insulting to the medium and those of us who continue to work in it.

  3. Mirella says:

    This is great info to know.

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