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Preview: Photography :: The New York Sun

Photography :: The New York Sun



Photography :: Stories from The New York Sun



Last Build Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2008 01:32:40 -0400

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Rudy Burckhardt's Street-Scene Scrapbook

Thu, 25 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

How odd that Rudy Burckhardt and Weegee should have been wandering around New York taking pictures at the same time. Weegee (Arthur Fellig, 1899-1968), the foulmouthed, disheveled sensationalist, learned how to use a camera while working in the darkroom at Acme Newspictures, and swamped the tabloids with dark pictures of New York City corpses and fires, and assorted categories of mayhem. Rudy Burckhardt (1914-99) came to New York in 1935 from his native Basel, Switzerland, with a $20,000...



The Second Chapter in the Lives of Two: Alessandra Sanguinetti

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Alessandra Sanguinetti's exhibition "The Life that Came," currently at the Yossi Milo Gallery, is a continuation of a prior body of work, "The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams." For many years now, Ms. Sanguinetti, a Magnum photographer who divides her time between New York and Argentina, has been photographing Guillermina and Belinda, two cousins, as they grow up on their family's farm in Maipu, a rural backwater 300 kilometers from Buenos Aires. Of...



Shades of Red, Strange and Familiar

Thu, 11 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

Are you happy with the picture on your driver's license? Your passport? Your workplace ID? They must bear a close enough resemblance to what you actually look like to serve their purpose, but are they flattering or psychologically acute? Who among the great portrait photographers would you chose to take your picture: Julia Margaret Cameron, Yosef Karsh, Henri Cartier-Bresson? These questions were prompted by two current exhibitions of portraits, "A Rare Breed: A Portrait Series on Redheads...



Protests of Prague, Up Close and Intimate

Thu, 4 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EST

A middle-aged woman walks along the sidewalk with her left hand to her forehead and her face in a grimace of intense pain. To her right, flatbed trucks crammed with young people carrying Czech flags roll along the cobblestone street. The young people overflow the trucks, sitting on the roofs of the cabs, the hoods, and the fenders. A woman seen in profile stands at the curb watching them apprehensively and scratching her chin. The sky is overcast. The photograph is grainy. It is one of the...



Scott Davis's Deeper Shade of Black

Thu, 28 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EST

'Photograph" is the word that came to designate images made by the chemical and mechanical processes invented in the middle of the 19th century. There were several other possibilities, but "photograph" — a neologism compounded of the Greek words for light and for (something) drawn — seemed the most apt. All early photographs were made by the light of the sun, but soon enough the technology improved sufficiently for artificial light sources to be used; it was possible to take photographs indoors...



Everything Unbelievable Was Possible: Koudelka's Prague, 1968

Thu, 21 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EST

On the morning of August 21, 1968, as Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, a young photographer named Josef Koudelka began to take pictures, and he didn't stop for the next week, as the people of the city resisted the occupiers. Smuggled out of Czechoslovakia and published around the world — anonymously, in order to protect him and his family — Mr. Koudelka's photographs became indelible images of the invasion and the Czech people's bravery. Now, at a moment when the crisis in Georgia has drawn...



Out of the Books, Onto the Walls at Cohen Amador

Thu, 21 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EST

Photo books are Paul Amador's first love, so he organized the Cohen Amador Gallery's summertime group show to reflect his enthusiasm. "Original Books" features the prints of five contemporary photographers, taken from recent books of their work. The photographers come from five different countries, and in most cases they took their pictures in what for them were foreign countries. But one thing their books have in common is that all five are currently out of print, a testament to their success...



Putting the Walker Evans Archive in Order

Thu, 14 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EST

On December 18, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it had acquired the complete archive of photographer Diane Arbus (1923-71). The archive included "hundreds of early and unique photographs by Arbus, negatives and contact prints of 7,500 rolls of film, glassine print sleeves annotated by the artist, as well as her photography collection, library, and personal papers including appointment books, notebooks, correspondence, writings, and ephemera." In other words, a lot of stuff...



The Environmentalist & the Traditionalist

Thu, 31 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EST

The bulb for the headlight in the steam locomotive of my Lionel O-gauge model railroad set had a dimple in it. You dropped a special pellet down the locomotive's smokestack, it was cradled in the dimple, and when the bulb became hot enough the pellet turned to smoke. And the train choo-chooed its way around and around the plaster of paris mountains, through the plywood tunnels and the sponge tree woods to the plastic towns. So I think I understand the passions that drive the subjects of Sage...



Dream Weavers Captured in Print

Thu, 24 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EST

The Sasha Wolf Gallery has organized its current exhibition around dreams. "In Our Dreams" is a group show of 20 pictures — some black-and-white, some in color, ranging in size from 8 by 10 inches to 30 by 40 inches, taken between 1940 and this year — embracing several technologies and the different visions of the 19 photographers represented. The show was curated by Ms. Wolf and the photographer Peter Kayafas, one of whose pictures is included, and has pictures of people dreaming, pictures...



Looking at Home From Out of Town: Photography at Yale

Thu, 17 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EST

One reason to live in New York City is so that you can get out of town in the summer. I went to New Haven on the Metro-North Railroad — nearly a two-hour trip — to see two exhibitions at the Yale University Art Gallery, "From Any Angle: Photographs from the Collection of Doris Bry" and "Everyday Monuments: The Photographs of Jerome Liebling." Both exhibitions had wonderful photographs of New York City, so relief was available before homesickness set in. As a young woman living in Cambridge...



New York Stories: 'Eminent Domain' at NYPL

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EST

Romana Javitz was a great librarian. Javitz (1903-80) served as head of the New York Public Library's Picture Collection from 1929 until her mandated retirement in 1968. Her two major accomplishments at NYPL were the development of protocols for cataloging images so they could conveniently be located (these were widely adopted by other libraries), and realizing the importance of collecting and preserving photographs of New York City. Among other things, "Eminent Domain: Contemporary Photography...



The Flawed Beauty of Folk Photos

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EST

Until my loved ones convinced me I was insane, I used to troll eBay for families' collections of 35-millimeter slides. Cleaning out attics or basements, people would auction off hundreds or thousands of slides from family vacations or other important events. I was especially interested in family travel slides from the 1950s and 1960s. Unsurprisingly, I seldom got into an intense bidding war, and could score a thousand slides for $10. I justified the practice by saying that I'd sometimes find an...



W. Eugene Smith's Risky Business

Thu, 3 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EST

Ten or 12 years ago, my wife and I drove north through New York State for our summer vacation. When we got to Rochester, we visited the George Eastman House, the world's oldest museum of photography, and one of the best. The Eastman House will let you examine any of its holdings if you call in advance, so I asked to see the prints they held by W. Eugene Smith. I had recently read Jim Hughes's moving biography, "W. Eugene Smith: Shadow & Substance," and both Smith's photographs and his...



Beauty Among the Ruins

Thu, 26 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EST

The skyline of New York, like that of most other major cities in the contemporary world, is strewn with cranes hauling up bits and pieces of new construction. These new works command our attention as we go about our daily business, but when we are on vacation — when we travel to have experiences, to broaden our understanding of the world — we are as likely to spend time contemplating ruins as we are these cutting-edge marvels. "There is no more ironical and yet more soothing comment on human...



Alexandra Boulat's Graphic Brilliance

Thu, 19 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EST

The definitions I use to differentiate between photojournalism and art photography are that in photojournalism the picture is meant to illustrate a story, and that in art photography the picture is the story. For instance, Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Rue Mouffetard, Paris" (1954), his image of a young boy carrying two magnums of wine that was discussed in this space last week, is complete in itself. The title tells us it was shot in a certain colorful neighborhood in Paris's fifth arrondissement...



Cartier-Bresson and Levitt: Modern Masters, Old Friends

Thu, 12 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EST

'Ah, friends" was my reaction as I stepped out of the elevator and into the Laurence Miller Gallery to see its current show, "Henri Cartier-Bresson | Helen Levitt: Side by Side." One of the pleasures of visiting galleries and museums is the possibility of discovering new photographers and expanding your understanding of the medium's capabilities. Another pleasure is revisiting works with which you are familiar — sometimes long familiar — and reaffirming your initial appreciation; after all, the...



Aaron Siskind's Romantic Notions of Decay

Thu, 5 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EST

In his essay "Aesthetics and Judaism, Art and Revelation," Zachary Braiterman notes that, "From Plato's cave to Freud's interpretation of dreams, the verbal conventions provided by narrative and theory are required to create, identify, and make sense of visual images." In other words, when we see a picture we first try to figure out what's going on, and then try to decipher what it means. The Abstract Expressionist painters of mid-century caused such a hubbub because their works defied this way...



In Photographs, Capturing an Eternal Italy

Thu, 29 May 2008 00:00:00 EST

Gallery owner Keith de Lellis made repeated visits to Italy between 1980 and 1984, each time buying 30 to 40 photographs until he had an archive of more than 1,000 images. Since then, he has periodically culled his collection and presented themed exhibitions such as "Paesaggio: Italian Landscape Photography," which was reviewed in these pages three years ago. Now the Keith de Lellis Gallery has "La Strada: Vintage Italian Street Photography," a show of 44 black-and-white pictures taken between...



Leiter's Lovely Ladies

Thu, 22 May 2008 00:00:00 EST

An article I once read about detecting painting forgeries said that even the best forgers have contemporary painting mannerisms that get incorporated in their work. The forgery may initially be impossible to detect, but over time, as painting techniques change, the differences between the forged paintings and authentic ones become increasingly evident. Something similar but in reverse happens when time separates out the unique talents among a group of artists who at first seem homogeneous...



The Chelsea of Brooklyn

Thu, 15 May 2008 00:00:00 EST

Photograph, the bimonthly guide to gallery and museum exhibitions of photography, has 112 listings for New York City in its May/June issue. The Manhattan listings are grouped geographically — Downtown (17), Chelsea (50), Midtown & Uptown (32) — and the outer boroughs are grouped together. The latter section has 13 listings for this period, more than 10% of the whole, with 11 in Brooklyn and one each in Bronx and Queens. Of the Brooklyn listings, seven are located in 111 Front St., a building in...



A Meeting of the Minds

Tue, 13 May 2008 00:00:00 EST

One evening two summers ago, the photographer Klaus Lucka set up his tripod on Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, intending to photograph the crowd of dancers gathered for Midsummer Night Swing. After a few minutes, a security guard approached and told him that he couldn't shoot with a tripod without Lincoln Center's permission. Frustrated but compliant, he packed up his equipment and went home. That evening's aborted mission has an unlikely result in an exhibit of...



Bits and Pieces of a Lavish Palace

Thu, 8 May 2008 00:00:00 EST

The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination recently hosted a roundtable discussion on "The Psycho-Neurology of the Photographic Arts" in its space at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute on East 82nd Street. An Ivy League professor of Modern art who was smarter than necessary began the discussion by averring that there were no intrinsic characteristics of a photograph, that photography is an entirely cultural construct. Robert Polidori, the token photographer among...



Marvin E. Newman at Silverstein

Thu, 1 May 2008 00:00:00 EST

Photographers have to earn a living, and one of the tests of their commitment to their art is how far they will stray from their ideals to pay the rent. "Marvin E. Newman: The Color Series," at Silverstein Photography through May 24, presents the work of an artist who was fortunate to have studied early on with some of the great photographers of the mid-century, who absorbed their aesthetic and social ideals, and who has drawn on their teachings throughout a long and successful career...



Alexey Titarenko's Venetian Style

Thu, 24 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EST

In her essay on Josef Koudelka in "Light Matters," Vicki Goldberg has a crystalline paragraph in which she distinguishes between style and vision. Any clever photographer willing to make the effort, she says, can develop a style. "Style depends largely on surface components such as composition and contrast, on aesthetics, on a consistent eye, sometimes on gimmicks. Vision probably draws as much from life as from the eye, from the heart as well as the brain, from the complexities of personality...



Planning the Perfect Impromptu Picture

Thu, 17 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EST

There is no such thing as a candid self-portrait. Candid photography, by definition, requires that the subject be unaware that his picture is being taken, and there is no way a person as subject can be unconscious of himself as photographer. In spite of this, five of the 19 apparently impromptu pictures in "Jessica Todd Harper: Interior Exposure" currently at the Cohen Amador Gallery include the term "self-portrait" as the first part of their titles. So these images are only apparently...



Appreciating Nature Through Abstraction

Thu, 10 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EST

A cartoon yellowing on my refrigerator door is captioned, "He didn't know how to appreciate nature." It shows a middle-aged man sitting in a stuffed armchair improbably set down in an open field. There are mountains in the background, trees to the right, and an attentive rabbit to the left. A balloon above the man's head shows what he is thinking: "There's no plot." The cartoon, by Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK), came to mind as I looked at the 13 pictures in "Jem Southam: The Rockfalls of Normandy"...



Baby Pictures Turned Portraiture

Thu, 3 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EST

Peter Hujar (1934–1987) was a maker of compelling images. By "compelling," I mean that they cannot be absorbed with a glance, and that once you engage with them, they require that you stay with them to work through the relationships of their various parts. This is the case even though the overall compositions of the 29 black-and-white pictures on display in "Peter Hujar: Second Avenue" at the Matthew Marks Gallery are extremely simple. It is the case, for example, of the two baby pictures...



Heroic & Hopeful

Thu, 20 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EST

Political rhetoric aside, hope in the face of tragedy or against tremendous odds is an undoubtedly audacious notion. Many of the early Zionists who made their way to the British Mandate of Palestine embraced that bold notion as they boarded ships bound for an arid, unfamiliar land, where they risked detention and deportation. Among them was Paul Goldman, who fled Hungary in 1940, and captured on film the labor pains that preceded the creation of the modern Jewish state in 1948. A selection of...



Stylishly Modest

Thu, 13 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EST

"Warwick, New York" (1982) can serve as the exemplum for much of the work in "Philip Perkis: The Sadness of Men," currently at the Alan Klotz Gallery. The exhibition consists of 32 black-and-white photographs from a recently published book of the same name, and 16 more taken this year and last. Although these include several shots in New York City, and some from Jerusalem, Cairo, Mexico City, and other points abroad, the 1982 picture from Warwick is a classic instance of Mr. Perkis's landscapes...



Poetry in the Branches

Thu, 6 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EST

In their classic textbook "Understanding Poetry," Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren begin their discussion of Joyce Kilmer's "Trees" by writing: "This poem has been very greatly admired by a large number of people. The fact that it has been popular does not necessarily condemn it as a bad poem. But it is a bad poem." It is so, they conclude, because, "[T]he tree, as opposed to the poem, is lacking in meaning and expressiveness; it has those things only insofar as man can give them to it."...



Dark Alleys & Bright Lights

Thu, 28 Feb 2008 00:00:00 EST

Harry Callahan always had his eyes open. He had to have had his eyes open to find so many serendipitous photographs so unlike each other, and some so altogether unlikely he could not have set out beforehand to find them. Callahan (1912–99) was one of those rare individuals who apparently see all there is to see in any given situation, not just what they expect to see, and he leveraged odd happenstances into significant pictures. The three black-and-white photographs by him included in "City...



The Protégé From Paris

Thu, 21 Feb 2008 00:00:00 EST

Only Paris can compete with New York as a center of photography. In the middle years of the 20th century, many photographers came to Paris from abroad — Man Ray, Brassaï, Lee Miller, Robert Capa — but a remarkable cohort of native Frenchmen added to a tradition that went back to Louis Daguerre's discovery of photography in 1839. One of the loci of photographic activity in Paris was Magnum, the cooperative agency of photojournalists founded after World War II, which Marc Riboud (born 1923 in...



Makeshift Memories

Thu, 14 Feb 2008 00:00:00 EST

Edward Grazda's exhibition of 50 black-and-white photographs currently at Sepia International is titled "Recuerdo, a Memory of Latin America 1972–1979" in part because of the happenstance that two of the images contain parts of the word "recuerdo," but more because the body of work as a whole has the dreamlike quality of memory. At any rate, Mr. Grazda wants to indicate with his title that this is not a documentary, National Geographic-like record of the seven trips he took to Latin America in...



American Aesthetic, by Default

Thu, 7 Feb 2008 00:00:00 EST

Sasha Wolf characterizes the work of the photographers she represents as "post-documentary." What is this? Ms. Wolf explains the neologism as work inspired by the great 20th-century documentarians — Walker Evans, W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, et al. — but shot in an era when the great venues and sponsors of documentary photography no longer exist. There is no weekly Life magazine being delivered to millions of American homes. There is no successor to Roy Stryker, the head of the Farm...



Fashion's High-Tech Flâneur

Thu, 31 Jan 2008 00:00:00 EST

You can tell they're from out of town because they walk around with their necks craned looking up at the tops of the tall buildings, and block the sidewalks to take smiley pictures of themselves with teeny digital cameras. The real New Yorkers keep their eyes at street level, in part to see where they're going, and in part to enjoy the real sights: other New Yorkers. One amongst us, however, Scott Schuman, also carries a camera. Mr. Schuman wanted "to share photos of people that I saw on the...



Patient Care

Thu, 24 Jan 2008 00:00:00 EST

Nicholas Nixon is a family man. Mr. Nixon (b. 1947) was an only child who married into a large family and determined to record its intricate and changing relationships. Every year there is an addition to his series of photographs of his wife and her three sisters, the Brown sisters, that now includes, in the book by that name just released by the Museum of Modern Art, 33 pictures. His determination to document his family extended to photographing his father-in-law when Mr. Brown became...



Natural Feeling

Thu, 3 Jan 2008 00:00:00 EST

In 2005, the photographer Rena Bass Forman traveled to Sri Lanka with the intention of helping with the relief efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami that had struck the island in 2004. Ms. Forman had previously spent time in remote parts of the Arctic, Africa, Indonesia, Iceland, Greenland, the Middle East, Europe, and South America, where she lived in villages with indigenous people to better understand their cultures and especially to absorb their feelings for the landscapes in which they...



The Other City of Lights

Thu, 27 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

The poet Don Marquis, best known for "archy and mehitabel," has an apostrophe in his poem "New York" to "My passionate city, my quivering town." Anyone who spends time here comes to feel a proprietary relationship with the city, so Marquis's use of the possessive pronoun is not extraordinary; "quivering," however, is a singularly apt adjective. But is the quivering a result of animal excitement or spiritual ecstasy? Two collections of photographs of the city make me think it is probably both...



A Belief in Beauty

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

Michael Kenna takes beautiful photographs; this is not meant pejoratively. When Adam Kirsch reviewed the book "On Ugliness," edited by Umberto Eco, in last Wednesday's New York Sun, he concluded that "The frightening thing about modernity … is the way it makes … ugliness … no longer beauty's necessary negative, but the only true mirror of our age." Mr. Kenna's work as a landscape photographer over the last three decades has sought to reintroduce beauty as an acceptable aesthetic criterion. A...



The Gift of Inspiration

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

About 16,000 books are cataloged in the International Center of Photography (ICP) library, and Deirdre Donohue, the librarian, says there will be about 20,000 when all the library's holdings are entered. The books are a source of inspiration for the thousands of students who take courses at the center's school, and an important tool for the curatorial staff at the ICP museum. Most new books come into the library as donations, but Ms. Donohue also purchases between 20 and 25 books a month with...



Quick-Change Artists

Thu, 29 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

Many years ago, I saw a stunning coup de théâtre in the performance of a Kabuki play. One of the characters was chased from a house, ran out onto the veranda, leapt onto the top railing, and did a somersault to the ground; while he was spinning in the air the actor somehow completely changed his costume and makeup so that when he landed he had been transformed from a human being into a fox. The audience gasped and applauded. Metamorphoses are an important part of many cultures, but particularly...



A Medium's Holy Grail

Thu, 15 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

"By and large, photography operates as a secular medium," a New York critic and teacher of photography, Max Kozloff, wrote in an article about the role of photography in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Mr. Kozloff's statement is true. The medium does not seem to lend itself to religious expression the way music and poetry do, perhaps because music is so apt for dealing with the ineffable, and poetry for discussing abstractions and elevated thoughts. The other...



The Sacred & the Profound

Thu, 8 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

An influential mid-20th-century historian and critic of architecture, Siegfried Gideon, speculates in one of his books that religion developed originally as a response to certain uncanny sites. Primitive men, he argues, felt a sense of awe in the presence of particular caves, or glens, or springs, or mountaintops, and came to regard these places as sacred. Their responses to these sacred spaces were elaborated into ceremonies, ritual dance, music, and art, and into the whole panoply of...



Capturing the Discordant

Thu, 8 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

Among the first works one encounters in "Atair," the new show at Andrea Rosen Gallery by the German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans (b. 1968), is a large C-print depicting a newspaper's front page, below the fold. An article about the "dark side of gold" appears next to an ad for the jeweler Bulgari; beyond that pairing, it's difficult to see what attracted him to the page. And yet, the page's sheer size heightens the presence of the newspaper, the sense of it as an object — and it is strangely...



London Calling

Thu, 1 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

Roger Mayne (born 1929) is one of the few important British photographers of the last half of the 20th century. In several ways, he is the second coming of Bill Brandt (1904–1983), arguably the most important British photographer of the century. They share a preference for contrasting black-and-white prints, overcast weather (maybe unavoidable in Britain), and many of the same subjects: working-class urban districts, dramatic landscapes, portraits of writers and artists, etc. A broadly...



Beautiful Misfortune

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EST

How beautifully should misery be rendered? This is a fundamental question confronting photographers who document the world's abundant miseries. Against the charge that aestheticizing misfortune deprives it of its full significance — that it prettifies suffering to make it palatable — the great artists reply that only a beautifully rendered presentation commands the viewer's attention long enough and deeply enough to make true witness possible. The 36 black-and-white prints in "Fazal Sheikh...



Feininger's Functional Elegance

Thu, 18 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EST

When I first walked into the "Andreas Feininger: New York" exhibition at the Alan Klotz Gallery, my initial reaction was, "This man came to America to make love to New York with his camera." Of course, Feininger (1906–1999) arrived here in 1939, a fugitive from the war in Europe, and so he saw New York as a city of refuge. But he also saw it with the eyes of a trained architect. Unlike the contemporaneous photographers referred to collectively as the New York School, Feininger rarely shot the...



Profiles in Combat

Thu, 11 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EST

"An old literary accusation against liberals is that they cannot comprehend tragedy, in which a hero is divided against himself, or two rights contend against each other, but prefer melodrama, the simplistic struggle of good guys versus bad guys." — Edward Alexander, Midstream, September/October 2007 When my wife began research 35 years ago for her book on the history of Yiddish theater, she spent long days at YIVO, the Institute for Jewish Research, at that time still located in the old...



Guided by the Light

Thu, 4 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EST

The Metropolitan Museum doesn't do things by halves. "Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840–1860," the first major exhibition to survey British calotypes, fills three sizable galleries and spills into a corridor. The exhibition presents work by 40 artists — some well-known, some littleknown, and several previously unknown — and 118 images. The contemporary British photographer Martin Parr noted ruefully at a recent New York forum that it was hard to understand why...