Eerie time-and-space travel by photographer George LeGrady

Featured · Visual arts

This intriguing work based upon nostalgic family snapshots from the ’30s and ’40s allows photographer George LeGrady to activate his personal past by use of a lenticular imaging process. It essentially culls a kinetic experience from static photographic imagery, activated by the viewer’s vantage point. Known for ambitious interactive installations, photography and data visualization projects, Legrady’s artwork has focused on the exploration of photography, computational technologies and their potentials in developing new forms of visual expression.

Day & Night, soon to open at Edward Cella Gallery, features two new series of lenticular prints by the Budapest-born LeGrady who moved to North America as a child.

The first part of this series, entitled Transylvania, consists of images taken in the late 1930’s, showing a small party of weekenders in Transylvania, a mountainous region in Romania, east of Hungary. The images depict a leisured class informally lingering with peasants at a cookout and wild boar hunt. Legrady interrupts this historical sequence of images with contemporary photographs of a full moon. The juxtaposition creates an eerie and unsettling disjuncture, offering a suggestion of the occult or preternatural.


The second part of this series, entitled Frolic, is based on family images from the early 1940’s that playfully depict young women and children frolicking in a resort village, north of Budapest. The historical shots, reminiscent of French photographer Henri Lartigue’s candid images of his family at leisure, are superimposed with contemporary images of foliage and trees, evoking the bucolic and idyllic tradition of landscape photography.

Day & Night, photography by George Legrady | Edward Cella Gallery | opens Dec 12

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Jack Cole’s “Down to Earth” recast as Kenny Ortega’s “Xanadu”

Dance · Film

I like this freewheeling, highly cinematic dance number for nine women, “I’m Alive,” choreographed by Kenny Ortega for Xanadu (1980). Its hyper-realism, fresh swapping of perspective, and other charming trickery prove what the camera can do with dance that’s not possible on stage. Smooth editing and special effects enhance the number.

“I’m Alive” and the film it is part of, occupy an interesting tree branch of Hollywood movie-musical history.

From Wikipedia: The plot of the 1947 film Down to Earth was loosely used as the basis for Xanadu. In the film, Rita Hayworth played Terpsichore, opposite male lead Larry Parks, who played a producer of stage plays.

Down to Earth, of course, tells of the Goddess Terpsichore (Hayworth)  descending from the heavens to oversee her image in a Broadway show, a show-bizzy remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). Jack Cole choreographed the Columbia Pictures movie musical, and we see, below, Cole’s version of the Nine Goddesses in the “People Have More Fun” number.

Down to Earth is one of the 18 films we will screen as part of ALL THAT JACK (COLE) a full film retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art Jan 20 – Feb 4, 2016.

Rita Hayworth was never lovelier than clad in costume designer Jean-Louis’  white toga in the closing moments of Down to Earth.

rita-2 rita-one
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Art to accompany your Metro descent, by George LeGrady

Visual arts

You’d think a leaning 18′ x 24′ concrete wall above a staircase and escalator unit at a subway station would be a pretty challenging place to envision art, much less install it. And yet, George LeGrady responded to a 2006 commission from Metrorail with this vivid piece of public art at the entrance of the Vermont/Santa Monica subway station, adjacent to the campus of Los Angeles City College.

The design concept derived from the kinetic experience of the downward movement on both escalator and staircase.

legrady[The artist, in project notes, characterizes one downward-movement experience as “smooth,” the second as “sequential.”]

The abstract visual rendition uses statistical data sampled from LA metro traffic circulation to seed the image generating equation.

The tilted concrete wall above the escalator and staircase, according to the artist, conveys a dramatic presence and is suggestive of kinetic and cinematic motion. The experience of movement down the stairs is a reminder of the 19th century scientist Jules-Etienne Marey’s photographic recordings of movement experiments that eventually influenced Duchamp and the Futurists. Some of the design metaphors that came to mind include descriptions such as kinetic, downwards dynamic flow, vibrations, energy, electronic, etc. resulting in modulated sinewaves generating visualization to signify movement.

Kinetic Flow, 2006 | Los Angeles MetroRail Vermont/Santa Monica Station Entrance

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