Chess games of the rich and famous: Bob Dylan, by Daniel Kramer

July 3, 2010

Bob Dylan at the chessboard, Woodstock, New York, 1964 - photo copyright Daniel Kramer

Bob Dylan at the chessboard, Woodstock, New York, 1964 – low resolution version of the original photo, copyright by Daniel Kramer – Barbara Archer Galleries

A good decade before I got to Woodstock.

Daniel Kramer began photographing Bob Dylan early in Dylan’s career, making many of the best shots available.

This 1964 photo of Dylan playing chess in Woodstock, New York, featured in an exhibition of Kramer’s photographs put on by Barbara Archer Galleries in 2005.

From the exhibit’s biography of Kramer:

Daniel Kramer is a New York-based photographer and film director who is long recognized for his portraits and picture stories in national and international magazines and books. Shortly after opening his first studio in New York City, Daniel Kramer saw Bob Dylan perform The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll on television in 1964. Even after the show ended, Kramer couldn’t shake the image of Dylan from his mind. “I was completely taken by what this man had done and how he had done it. His performance was perfect. With simple, basic tools – his voice, a guitar, and a harmonica, he drove his message deep into my mind. I was aware that I was seeing a very important talent.”

In August 1964, after months of phone calls and letters to Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, Kramer was given the opportunity to arrange a portrait sitting in Woodstock, New York with the twenty-three-year old performer who was by then in the process of becoming an international star. The two men quickly developed a warm and trusting professional relationship that allowed for many extraordinary photographic sessions. “Photography has brought me into contact with many notable people, including Presidents of the United States, and I have happily had the opportunity to meet and talk with prominent people in all walks of life,” comments Kramer. “Although many of these encounters were memorable, my association with Dylan has a special meaning.”

Many of these photographs were first published in Kramer’s 1967 book bob dylan, the first major work about the performer-songwriter (reprinted as Bob Dylan: A Portrait of the Artist’s Early Years, 2001). They were also used on the album covers for Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Biograph (1985) and Bringing It All Back Home (1965), which was nominated for a Grammy and selected by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Greatest Album Covers of All Time.” A number of rare and previously unpublished pictures by Kramer also appear in the 52-page booklet and packaging that accompanies Bob Dylan’s two-CD set, Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall – The Bootleg Series, Volume 6 (2004) and on the cover of a three-CD boxed set BOB DYLAN the collection (2004).

Daniel Kramer’s photographs have also been exhibited or collected by such museums as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The International Center of Photography in New York, The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., The Experience Music Project in Seattle, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, and in numerous national and international galleries.

An interesting three-way marriage of the young Bob Dylan, a great photographer in Daniel Kramer, and one of the world’s oldest and most respected games of skill, chess. Go see all the photos.

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Quote of the moment: Books as lighthouses in the dark sea of time

July 3, 2010

Jeffrey Robbins, a human character in the animated cartoon series,

Jeffrey Robbins, a human character in the animated cartoon series, “The Gargoyles”

The written word is all that stands between memory and oblivion. Without books as our anchors, we are cast adrift, neither teaching nor learning. They are windows on the past, mirrors on the present, and prisms reflecting all possible futures. Books are lighthouses, erected in the dark sea of time.

Jeffrey Robbins, a character in the cartoon series, “The Gargoyles”

Now available on Youtube.  To get the quote above, to go to 21:30 in this video:

Tip of the old scrub brush to James Kessler.


Great tribute to Mike Mansfield

July 3, 2010

If you come here often you may remember my views of my first real boss, Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Montana.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

For Memorial Day, author James Grady (Six Days of the Condor) wrote a tribute to Mansfield for Politics Daily.  Grady makes the history sing nicely, I think — and he included a key photo taken by his son.  You should go read the piece, and maybe save it, if you have any tributes to veterans coming up in your future.

But, particularly, it’s interesting to read about the Majority Leader under whom the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-West Virginia, rose to power.  Both men were great in their own right.  Mansfield opened the doors and knocked down a few barriers so that Byrd could succeed.  Without Mansfield’s gentle handling of Byrd, especially through the crush of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, could Byrd have so masterfully crafted his life?

Thanks for the Mansfield history contribution, Mr. Grady.

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