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The New York Public Library’s Photographer’s Identities Catalog (PIC) website PIC – Photographers’ Identities Catalog states:

“Photographers’ Identities Catalog is an experimental interface to a collection of biographical data describing photographers, studios, manufacturers, and others involved in the production of photographic images. Consisting of names, nationalities, dates, locations and more, PIC is a vast and growing resource for the historian, student, genealogist, or any lover of photography’s history. The information has been culled from trusted biographical dictionaries, catalogs and databases, and from extensive original research by NYPL Photography Collection staff.”

Some problems with the PIC entry for Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon:

As stated, the PIC relies on “trusted” information from a number of published sources, but the source about Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon, The Union List of Artist’s Names (ULAN) published online by the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, has a number of factual errors in need of correction, and lacks bibliographic entries of substance about their photography.

Alice Dixon Le Plongeon- ULAN Full Record Display (Getty Research)

Augustus Le Plongeon- ULAN Full Record Display (Getty Research)

The biographical “Note” in the ULAN entry is used for both Alice and Augustus Le Plongeon: “British, of French origins; later lived in America. Augustus worked with his wife Alice, photographing local people and archeological sites, including St.Thomas, Tiahuanaco, and Chichén Itzá.”

An update and corrections to the ULAN biographical note:

1) Alice Dixon Le Plongeon (1851-1910) was born in London, and had no French origins. Augustus Le Plongeon (1826-1908) was born on the Island of Jersey to French parents.

2) Both Augustus and Alice were trained photographers. Alice learned photography from her father Henry Dixon, a noted London photographer, and Augustus learned photography from the English photographer Fox Talbot. He began practicing photography in the 1850s in San Francisco, California.

3) Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon first met in London in 1871, and were married in New York City before leaving for Yucatán in 1873 to carry out archaeological and photographic projects. Alice did not accompany Augustus on photographic expeditions to the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean or Tiahuanaco, Peru in the 1860s.

4) From 1873 to 1884, the Le Plongeons photographed Maya archaeological sites, ethnographic subjects, made portraits of native peoples and colonialists, landscapes, flora and fauna, and Colonial architecture in Yucatán, Mexico, and British Honduras (Belize).

5) Recently accessed archival materials indicate Alice was behind the camera as much as Augustus, if not more, and was responsible for the processing of their wet collodion glass negatives, and prints.

6) More than 2,500 negatives and prints made by the Le Plongeons are currently archived in public institutions, and private collections.

It should be noted about two years ago the administrator of Getty’s ULAN stated they planned to correct the entry for the Le Plongeons. It was to be based on the Getty Research Institute’s short biographical entry for Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon that can be found in its Finding Aid. The update has yet to be made to the web page, so it was thought prudent to publish this post until corrections are made.

In the meanwhile, for an excellent biographical summary of the Le Plongeons’ lives and work in archaeology and photography consult the Getty Research Institute’s Finding Aid for the Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon collection of photographs and other archival materials. Getty Research Institute: INVENTORY OF THE AUGUSTUS AND ALICE DIXON LE PLONGEON PAPERS, circa 1840-1937, bulk 1860-1910 Le Plongeon (Augustus and Alice Dixon) papers

Additionally, the Wikipedia entries for Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon are also an excellent summary.

Alice Dixon Le Plongeon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Augustus Le Plongeon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For addition background on the Le Plongeon just enter the ArchaeoPlanet Le Plongeon Archive by clicking on the sidebar.

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I agree, this has little or nothing to do with archaeology, but I wanted to share an amusing moment as we drove through a downpour, windshield wipers on full blast, on the way to SFO a couple days ago. Give us more…

Sign on Interstate 280 during an unexpected rain storm near the San Francisco Airport.

Sign on Interstate 280 during an unexpected rain storm near the San Francisco International Airport.

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Mexico- As it was Cover 1            The photographs in Mexico- As it was were taken in the early 1970s during days off from classes at the University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico. We traveled to cities and villages in the mountainous dry highlands, and to the humid tropical lowlands of Mexico. The photos show life before the rapid social and economic changes of the final two decades of the 20th century.

The color and black-and-white photos are grouped into separate sections, even though there is some overlap in subject matter. Both sections begin with rural farming, fishing, and village life. Next, in contrast to that way of life, are the middle class on Sunday outings, the urban professionals such as a Puebla doctor and his family, a Puebla supermarket, and my teachers who were university-trained archaeologists. Then come the young women of important Puebla families, dressed in traditional sombreros and flowing yellow dresses, who showed their astonishing synchronized horse riding skill–sidesaddle. I am still amazed at how they stayed on their horses when coming to a sudden stop from a gallop. Not to be left out are the one percent who own large farms, ex-haciendas, cattle and bull breeding ranches, and live a life with an international flavor, yet remain very Mexican.

If you would like to Preview the book on the Blurb web site click on this link:

MEXICO – As it was. Photographs of Life in the 1970s. by Lawrence G. Desmond:| Blurb Books

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The Absent Stone posterThe Absent Stone

A documentary film by Sandra Carla Rozental and Jesse Lerner

35mm, 80 minutes

Showings: Scheduled for 14 cities in Mexico and later in the US.

For photos, trailer, animation and current news (Spanish): The film: La piedra ausente – The Absent Stone

The documentary film The Absent Stone has just been released. It tells the story of the removal of the enormous monolithic stone sculpture of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc in the 1960s from the village of Coatlinchan to adorn the entrance to Mexico’s just completed National Museum of Anthropology and History. The taking of the stone was not without serious village resistance, but with help from the Mexican Army, and large moving rigs, in the end it was hauled to the entrance of the museum where it stands today. The large theater crowd that viewed the film’s first screening a few weeks ago at the Cineteca in Mexico City gave it rave reviews as did the people of Coatlinchan at an outdoor showing in the village. And while it’s been more than 40 years since the stone was taken, the pain of the loss remains. One village woman commented to the filmmakers: “it’s great that you made the film, now can you help us get our stone back.”

Filmmakers Jesse Lerner and Sandra Rozental add–

            In 1964, the largest carved stone of the Americas was moved from the town of San Miguel Coatlinchan in the municipality of Texcoco to the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City in an impressive feat of engineering.  The extraction of the monolith, which represents the pre-Hispanic water deity Tlaloc, set off a rebellion in the town and led to the intervention of the army.  Today, the enormous stone, now upright, is an urban monument; it has been transformed into one of the principal icons of Mexican national identity. The inhabitants of Coatlinchan insist that the removal of the stone has caused droughts. Representations and replicas of the absent stone appear in the village and the memories of the inhabitants.  Using animations, archival materials and contemporary encounters with the protagonists of the transport of the stone, this documentary film explores the relevance of the ruins of the past in the present day.”

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Mysteries of the Maya Calender Museum by Leanna Carrasco and Davíd Carrasco. 2012

  Mysteries of the Maya Calendar Museum

By Leanna Carrasco and Davíd Carrasco

Illustrations by Mario Garnsworthy and photographs

This is the book we have been waiting for. Leanna and her father David Carrasco have just published a children’s book about the ancient Maya, and it looks to be a great read. To whet your appetite, here is the blurb from the Amazon posting… LGD

“Did Maya peoples and their calendar predict the end of the world? Will the world end soon? This book has an answer to these questions and more in language and pictures that kids are sure to enjoy. Come join Carlos, Lucia, and their new friend Julia as they learn about the Maya calendar and go on a dream journey to find the truth about the end of the world! Along the way, they meet a talking macaw named Octavio, discover the secret of the Maya glyph for the end of time, fly down a portal to the ancient city of Chichén Itzá, hear the song of the daykeeper Smoking Parrot, and learn the magic of the phrase “the beginning is in the end.” Authors Laanna and Davíd Carrasco are a father-and-daughter team with ethnic roots in Mexico who descend from generations of schoolteachers and an artist from the United States-Mexico borderlands. Illustrated with drawings by Marlo Garnsworthy and photographs.”

Paperback: 126 pages

Publisher: Cruce de Caminos

Date: November 9, 2012

ISBN-10: 0988539209

ISBN-13: 978-0988539204

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José Antonio Rodriguez’s exhibit titled Otras miradas. Fotógrafas en México 1832-1960 focuses on women photographers of Mexico. It opened recently in Madrid at the Casa de America. In the exhibit is an album of 101 photographic prints made by Alice Dixon Le Plongeon titled Yucatán ilustrado. Ruinas, Mexico, 1876. The subject matter of the prints is of the landscape of Yucatán, ethnographic subjects, city and country life, and the ancient Maya ruins. The album itself was probably constructed in 1876 by her husband Augustus Le Plongeon in Merida, Yucatán. In size, it is 17.7 x 13.1 cm.

The album is owned by the Fundación Cultural Televisa of Mexico. It may have been part of the Museo Yucateco collection in Merida prior to accession by Televisa. The prints in the album are exquisite, and add to our knowledge of the photographic output of the Le Plongeons during the 1870s and 1880s in Yucatán. An exact count has not yet been made of all the photographic prints made by the photographer and writer Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, but extant are more than 2,000 in private and public collections. We will provide additional information about the album as it becomes available.

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For more on this ground breaking exhibit at the Museum of Latin American Art read this review by Sharon Mizota. This is terrific!

  • Here is an extract from the review:

“MEX/LA” is not a show of art by Chicanos, and it is not a show about the Mexican avant-garde, although it includes works that fit both of those descriptions. Rather, it is a show about what the curators—artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres and scholar Jesse Lerner—call “Mexicanidad,” or “Mexican-ness.” To that end, it explores both the work of Mexican artists who made art in L.A. (not all of whom would identify as Chicano) and that of artists (Chicanos and others) who lived in Los Angeles and were influenced by Mexican culture or tried to interpret it for U.S. audiences.” September 27, 2011.

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