Sarah Kennel Joins PEM
Sarah Kennel has been named the new curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum. Kennel was a curator for nine years at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Peabody Essex Museum has a collection of some 800,000 photographic objects from the 19th century to today. A Los Angeles native with a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, Kennel did a pre-doctoral fellowship at the National Gallery's Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, then joined the National Gallery.
— By Jean Dykstra 07/27/2015
From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Horacio Coppola, Avenida Corrientes desde Avenida Alem hacia el oeste, 1936. Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
Just after World War II there were two cities in the new world positioned to be global centers: New York and Buenos Aires. One of them fell off the table, through coups, cults of personality, corruption and currency devaluation. Buenos Aires never looked toward the United States to define itself culturally; instead, the Paris of the Palm Trees looked toward Europe, which further explains its total marginalization in the history of modern art, at least as written from New York. Over the last decade, that myopia has diminished, and MoMA has been one of the reasons. The most recent treatment is From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires (on view through October 4), the first major exhibition in this country to chart the careers of two key figures in pre- and post-World War II Argentina, the photographers Horacio Coppola (1906-2012) and Grete Stern (1904-99). Stern was born in Germany, and Coppola went there to study. The two met at the Bauhaus in 1932. They eventually fled from the Nazis back to Argentina, where they became a cultural power couple. In 1935 their joint photographic exhibition was called by one critic “the first serious manifestation of ‘photographic art’ seen in Argentina.” Behind this pronouncement lies a national sentiment about becoming modern, and Coppola’s photographs above all exemplify the desire and the reality.
Grete Stern, Dreams No. 1, 1949. Courtesy Museum of Modern Art
The heart of the MoMA exhibition was a wall of his images celebrating Buenos Aires as a metropolis, with its crowded intersections, skyscrapers, traffic, and night skyline as bright as New York or Paris. Nearby, Coppola’s silent film shows the construction of the obelisk that is the central monument of the city –an homage to national and urban pride. The whole suite makes a New Yorker want to get on a plane and head south. But there is a flip side, and it shows in the very different work of Grete Stern. Coppola inherited the mantle of Surrealism in a series called Sueños (dreams). These photo collages, published in the women’s magazine Idilio in the late 1940s and early 1950s, illustrated readers’ dreams. A fictitious psychologist “Richard Rest” (actually two editors of the magazine) purported to analyze them. To go along with prints of the images (most of the original collages were lost), copies of the magazine on display convey a tangible sense of just how anxious and therapeutically oriented Buenos Aires was – and still is. There is even a neighborhood nicknamed Villa Freud. As the curators Sarah Meister and Roxana Marcocci point out, many of the collages touch on the role of women in a modern urban setting, in particular under the schizophrenic progressive/repressive leadership of Juan Perón. They open a window on the transformation of a traditional society and its emerging discontents and desires. The argument is compelling, but it also tends to obscure the tongue-in-cheek humor of the sueños, a perfect antidote to the self-involved, overanalyzed Porteño (native of Buenos Aires) of legend.
The exhibition emphasizes work directly influenced by the couple’s time at the Bauhaus, including Stern’s graphic design work in England. Coppola’s last 70 years are dismissed as unworthy of documenting, and there is very little attention paid to Stern’s great preoccupation of the 1960s, the indigenous people of Argentina, particularly the Chaco region. In a country where the contrast between old and new was still vivid, such an interest, though formally unremarkable, was every bit as modern as a brightly lit skyscraper.
— By Lyle Rexer 07/24/2015
The Human Diorama: Bear Kirkpatrick
555 Gallery, Boston
©Bear Kirkpatrick, courtesy 555 Gallery
Viewing photographs and videos by Bear Kirkpatrick reminds me of a magic show. I know there are tricks behind each sleight of hand, but because the performance is so adroit, surrendering to the fantasy is easy. Kirkpatrick also has a family lineage that traces back to an amalgam of heretics, puritans, judges, and witches. Opposition and conflict are literally in his blood, and he’s made them an intrinsic part of his creative process.
The Human Diorama (2015) sets the stage for this show at 555 Gallery, on view through August 1. Two large female figures are head-locked to resemble a pair of fighting antelopes. With their heads hidden behind a single shock of blond hair, it looks as though it could be the id struggling with its superego. Similar psychological battles are at work in the series Hierophanies I and II. Kirkpatrick photographs female friends and acquaintances in remote, uncultivated locations. The addition of artificial light against a dark and moody landscape creates a heightened sense of theater, where figures morph into mythological versions of themselves struggling toward a more primal existence.
©Bear Kirkpatrick, courtesy 555 Gallery
For the largest group of portraits, titled The Old Ones, head coverings and thick layers of clay on naked torsos become a canvas on which Kirkpatrick embeds allegorical imagery around a pristine face. His post-production handiwork is so skillful the results are seamless. Most of the imagery comes from 16th- and 17th-century paintings, like saints and sinners from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch or a wintry Dutch landscape by Hendrick Avercamp. Recently, he began using his own landscape photographs – of barren trees surrounding a vernal pond, for example – rather than borrowing imagery from paintings. There is a lot to look at, and parsing through the iconography is part of the pleasure of this work, which invites viewers to get lost in a parallel reality.
— By Edie Bresler 07/19/2015
David Hartt: Interval
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
David Hartt, Interval V, 2014. ©David Hartt, Courtesy Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago, and David Nolan Gallery, New York
Who cares what happens on the island of Sakhalin, Russia (population 500,000), or in the Yukon Territory of Whitehorse, Canada (population 23,276)? It turns out a lot of people do (and did). David Hartt traveled to each northern locale in the footsteps of two influential predecessors: Anton Chekhov in 1890, and Glenn Gould in 1967. Interval at the Art Institute of Chicago (through October 11, 2015) combines Hartt’s new photo and video series with an architectural intervention and soundtrack.
Hartt’s seemingly straightforward fieldwork is actually somewhat enigmatic: Was he inspired to travel to the remote towns simply because they were first approached by such unlikely documentarians? (Chekhov reported on the prison town of Sakhalin in his only work of non-fiction, and Gould, the pianist, produced broadcasts for Canadian radio for a decade.) While the original journalism is worth rediscovering on its own terms, viewers find in Hartt a tour guide who trusts in his own whimsy and revels in a cultural riddle: Don’t we like to go places where the famous have been?
David Hartt, Interval I, 2014. ©David Hartt, Courtesy Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago, and David Nolan Gallery, New York
It has been said that Chekhov conducted a door-to-door census in Sakhalin to extract information about the town’s secretive prison. Hartt seemingly replicates Chekhov’s method with slideshows of three- to five-second shots of dozens of sites, many of them remarkable only insofar as they exist. His camera is not disruptive, and he likes the look of documentation, so black-and-white video, but color photographs, comb the landscape for clues to the past and the present. The footage appears exhaustive, although it totals only a 15-minute loop. The concept is grounded in Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip, but an abstract jazz score by Mitchell Akiyama adds a layer of intellectual, even emotive mystique, a method borrowed from Gould’s radio program.
What happened in Sakhalin and Whitehorse? Well, there are weeds and Walmarts. There are parking lots, locals, and nightclubs. The prison Chekhov reported on is still there. In Hartt’s work, the photos and videos are not clearly differentiated between the two places, though Sakhalin and Whitehorse are thousands of miles apart. The confusion is a productive exercise in determining the value of place. Inexplicably, a glass curtain wall from a commercial skyscraper bisects the gallery space. It turns out it’s a nod to the postmodern Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, where the first iteration of Interval debuted as a site-specific installation in 2015. Will future iterations of the show bear the mark of its Chicago presentation, like strata of the Anthropocene or an overstuffed research file? Reference upon citation upon feeling upon observation—that is how Hartt likes to build his topics. It ends up being a kind of place-based formalism, more gorgeous than informational.
— By Jason Foumberg 07/16/2015
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Dru Donovan, Untitled, 2009. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery
Along with human subjects, books figure prominently in Katy Grannan’s curatorial effort at Fraenkel Gallery, on view through August 22. The show, which includes works by 18 artists, not all of them photographers, is an ecclectic bricolage held together by the literary specter of the Carson McCullers Southern Gothic novel after which the show is titled. Because Grannan’s own photographs – of edgy, isolated characters seen in harsh, preternatural light – have such a strong aesthetic, this exhibition serves as much to illuminate her approach, and thematic interests, as it does to introduce a group of emerging artists. Many of these are recent MFA grads, a welcome gesture in a gallery known for its tony roster, though the strategy also brings some unresolved works into the fold. While the show’s stated themes are rooted in pathos, a conviviality is expressed in abundance – there are 66 works on view, many installed to create unexpected relationships.
Elizabeth Bick, Ela in November, 2013. Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery
While there are works that reveal an explicit formal connection to Grannan’s own – Elizabeth Blick’s isolated blonde woman and Matthew Connors’s man in white tennis shorts, both of whom express an ambiguous anguish – the show is fleshed out with a wide range of material that suggests edgy interpersonal narratives. Photographs by Dru Donovan and Bryson Rand do this with off-kilter sensuality, while five quirky videos by Christopher Miner express discomfiting mergers of racial tension, religious influence, melodrama, cross dressing, hip hop, and Southern humidity. The tone of these works, spread throughout the exhibition, form a framework of longing that brings more elusive pieces into focus. Heather Rasmussen’s brightly colored, Elad Lassry-like still lifes express unlikely partnerships, while David Alekhuogie’s photographs bring together objects like album covers and darkroom equipment to construct identity through object relations. So do a series of snarky, socially conscious faux book covers by David M. Stein – one invented William F. Buckley cover is titled “White Slang.”
Another consistent note is the inclusion of five artists from Creative Growth, a revered workshop for the developmentally disabled. The paint on found photographs by Alice Wong segue from document to invented space. The late Judith Scott, perhaps the best-known artist in the exhibition, is represented here by a fiber-wrapped object the size of a small child resting on a pedestal. It’s a haunting abstract effigy that lends a very human soul to this absorbing, idiosyncratic exhibition.
— By Glen Helfand 07/13/2015
Burk Uzzle: American Puzzles
Steven Kasher Gallery, New York
Burk Uzzle, Tired, New Jersey, 1967. Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery
You may be forgiven for not having heard of Burk Uzzle, but once you’ve seen Steven Kasher Gallery's show of his black-and-white photographs from the 1960s through the 2000s (on view through July 31), you won't have any excuse for forgetting him.
Uzzle's career mirrors that of some of the best-known photographers of his generation, and yet his is not a household name. In 1962, at 23, he became LIFE's youngest ever contract photographer. Just five years later, he became a member of Magnum Photos. In the years since, he’s photographed some of the most important events of our times — the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Cambodian War — and built up an impressive collection of images that show America in all its splendor and strangeness.
Burk Uzzle, Upside Down Tree, Century City, California, 1975. Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery
Like the best observers of this country, Uzzle displays an intuitive sensitivity to our national incongruities and harmonies. His subjects are classic Americana: beaches and parades, small towns and highways, a mix of the impossibly vast and the deeply local that gets at the heart of life here. Uzzle’s perspective combines the best qualities of those who’ve undertaken similar enterprises — the wit of Garry Winogrand, and the stylistic approach of New Topographics photographers like Robert Adams — while maintaining a certain Uzzle-ness that makes him entirely original.
His sheer range of expression is striking. On one wall, you’ll find the dark irony of Football Team with Smokestacks, a wholesome scene complicated by a mysterious, looming darkness. Turn a corner and you’ll face the absurdity of Wow Cows, which fills the frame with fake cows standing in a field. Elsewhere, Uzzle’s images are a mix of melancholy, wonder, and pure aesthetic exploration.
Uzzle’s talent is undeniable, so it’s hard to explain, at 76, his relative obscurity. Hopefully, solo shows at the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Ackland Art Museum and the Nasher Museum of Art next year will help put him in his proper place among the greats of American photography.
— By Jordan G. Teicher 06/28/2015
MoMA Expands its New Photography Series
Ilit Azoulay, Shifting Degrees of Certainty
The Museum of Modern Art’s longstanding New Photography series is having its 30th anniversary in November, and the museum is using the occasion to expand and revamp the series, now a biannual exhibition. This year’s exhibition, which goes on view November 7, will include 19 artists and artist collectives from 14 countries. Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015, organized by Quentin Bajac, the Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography; Roxana Marcoci, senior curator; and Lucy Gallun, assistant curator in the department of photography, will explore what the curators call a “post-Internet reality” through various kinds of works, including still and moving images, zines, and sculpture. The international slate of artists includes: Ilit Azoulay, Zbyněk Baladrán, Lucas Blalock, Edson Chagas, Natalie Czech, DIS Collective, Katharina Gaenssler, David Hartt, Mishka Henner, David Horvitz, John Houck, Yuki Kimura, Anouk Kruithof, Basim Magdy, Katja Novitskova, Marina Pinsky, Lele Saveri, Indrė Šerpytytė, Lieko Shiga.
— By Jean Dykstra 06/25/2015
In Appreciation of Anne Wilkes Tucker
Richard Avedon, Dovima with Elephants, 1955. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
In honor of Anne Wilkes Tucker’s 39-year career with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, collectors, dealers, and artists from around the country have donated more than 150 works to the museum or made promised gifts. From June 23 to October 11, a selection of those works will be on display in the exhibition In Appreciation: Gifts in Honor of Anne Wilkes Tucker. The works on view include Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a Man Ray photomontage from 1926, Richard Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants, and many others. Tucker, who retires June 30, has organized more than 40 exhibitions at the museum and written dozens of publications.
— By Jean Dykstra 06/18/2015
Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta
Lucinda Bunnen, Swing Set, 1964/2014. Courtesy Marcia Wood Gallery
Lucinda Bunnen has been a force on Atlanta’s art scene for decades—as both an artist and philanthropist. She is an avid collector of works by local and international artists, amassing a well-regarded collection and donating over 650 works to the High Museum of Art, where a gallery is named in her honor. Now 85, she is busier than ever. This show, titled Weathered Chromes and on view at Marcia Wood Gallery through June 20, is the third and final installment in a series called Lucinda’s World that has appeared in several Atlanta galleries this year.
Bunnen has embraced changes in photography over the years, moving from a straight documentary style in both black and white and color to near abstractions of color and pattern, and now these “weathered chromes,” vibrant images that seem artificially colored or digitally enhanced, but aren’t.
Weathered Chromes began as an accident, when two of Bunnen’s slides were affected by water damage that broke down the layers of emulsion while leaving a recognizable image. The intriguing results led Bunnen to experiment with intentional degradation of old chromes, leaving to the elements a selection of slides from six decades’ worth of work. Many of the photos were taken on Bunnen’s travels to Cuba, India, and Burkina Faso, as well as throughout the South.
Lucinda Bunnen, Steeple Chase in the Rain, 2015. Courtesy Marcia Wood Gallery
The photos are obfuscated to varying degrees. The slides of Cloud and Ice are so degraded that there is no discernible subject in the resulting prints. Some—such as Swing Set, with its frothy starburst patterns, or Mother and Child, with two glowing figures—take on an almost mystical air.
Bunnen’s deep reach into her personal archives must’ve provided a long walk down memory lane, and the results of her weathering process suggest the imperfection of memories, the hazy recollections that accumulate with time.
These works are about the physicality of photography—the physical, not digital, manipulation of images and photographic materials. Younger artists have made entire careers investigating these processes. Matthew Brandt, for one, shoots scenes and then uses materials from the site to process the images—a photo of a lake developed in water from that lake. Photojournalist Randy Taylor also began printing new images from negatives that were damaged when a storage facility housing decades of his work was flooded during Hurricane Sandy.
The ability to turn a mishap into an opportunity, to see potential in failure, is what propels us forward. It is Bunnen’s curious mind and photographic agility—to roll with the punches and change with the times—that keeps her at the forefront of contemporary photography.
— By Stephanie Cash 06/17/2015
To Feel Less Alone: Gay Block, A Portrait
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
Gay Block, Untitled (Good Friends). Courtesy New Mexico Museum of Art
Text panels in the exhibition To Feel Less Alone: Gay Block, A Portrait -- on view at the New Mexico Museum of Art through July 26 – ask several questions, including: Can a portrait capture the essence of a complex person? Is a portrait a picture of the person in front of the camera or the person behind the camera? And, regarding Block’s diptychs: How does the presence of two different portraits change your interpretation of each image? Block has been asking such questions in her work for more than 40 years.
Gay Block, Trey in his Bedroom. Courtesy New Mexico Museum of Art
The nine diptychs and 33 single images on view provide a sampler of Block’s serial work over the decades. Among those are selections from Jews of Houston (1975), Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust (1980), Camp Girls (1981/2006), Clothed and Unclothed (1987), and Bertha Alyce: Mother exPosed (1987/1994). Most affecting are the Holocaust images portraying individuals sharing everlasting memories of a life-changing event. Block’s portraits never feel taken at the expense of her subjects; her sitters appear fully aware of the moment, willing to be themselves even in the most deliberately posed situations. Indeed, one wonders if Block’s subjects pose themselves, as in Mother and Daughter, Dede and Bertha (1975), wherein each sit at opposite ends of the sofa like bookends, legs crossed, hands in their laps, staring unsmiling at the camera. If Block had suggested the sofa as the staging area the two women surely fell into familiar habits, both stiff in demeanor and not relating to each other at all. In the diptych Trey in His Bedroom (1978/2012), Block recaptures the character of her subject more than 30 years later seen propped upright on his bed by pillows and dressed similarly then and now in striped polo shirt and tennis shoes. The deadpan directness of these images has a kinship to the work of Diane Arbus, whose work was clearly inspirational to Block in the early 1970s.
— By Douglas Fairfield 06/15/2015
David Armstrong, Mark Morrisroe, and Nan Goldin / Boston to New York
ClampArt, New York
Nan Goldin, Nan and Brian in Bed, NYC. Courtesy ClampArt
Regionalism remains the easiest narrative we have to parse out our polyglot creative expression, despite the globalism of contemporary art. Culling three photographers, David Armstrong, Nan Goldin, and Mark Morrisroe, from that generation informally known as the Boston School--they all went to art school and met in Boston during the Seventies before relocating to New York in the late Seventies and early Eighties – this show at ClampArt through June 20 helps locate the shared sensibilities by which their diversities have found a degree of collectivity.
Mark Morrisroe, Fascination (Jonathan). Courtesy ClampArt
At ClampArt, we can see how these constructs are basically reductive (excluded from the usual list are Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jack Pierson, and Stephen Tashjian, the latter two likely far too diverse in their practices to fit any such formula) and ultimately problematic when the similarities of the formative years are extended to describe longer careers. Morrisroe’s career was cut short by his untimely death at 30, and his wild proto-punk life and art is iconic and emblematic of the group. But holding this center is increasingly tenuous in the case of Goldin, whose peripatetic oeuvre has been largely hit and miss since I’ll Be Your Mirror, her signature compilation of photographs from the early years, and Armstrong, who practiced ever greater visual restraint and high style as he moved on to fashion photography before his death last year. Seen collectively, not every photo makes sense as the Boston School, but surely that lack of sense and symmetry is where we can enjoy a greater poetics.
David Armstrong, George in Water, Provincetown. Courtesy ClampArt
The picture that emerges here speaks of place, not simply as the conjunction of Boston and New York, but of myriad scenes that made up that moment that deeply informed the creative communities of both cities in that time. Rife with portraits of recognizable personages-- artists like Pierson, Tabboo! (Tashjian), Greer Lankton, and Pat Hearn, then an artist before she transformed the art world as a dealer-- and lots of sexy men, these portraits speak of the affinities within this outsider community and these artists’ need to capture that, yet there are also many self-portraits, speaking to the self-reflexivity within all the work. As a form of documentation, there is great power in these photographs of a subculture that time, drugs, and AIDS has long since extinguished, but the real potency is in how these artists see and feel their world--an emphatically direct photography so in situ that we’re reminded of how posed, staged and mediated this medium often is. It’s a diaristic paean to the ways that love, sexuality, gender, and lifestyle can exist within a group yet manifest a deeply personal expression within the artist.
— By Carlo McCormick 06/04/2015
Emi Anrakuji: 1800 Millimetre
Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, New York
Emi Anrakuji, Untitled 082, 2015. Courtesy Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery
Unlike most photographers, Emi Anrakuji isn't content to use the camera simply as a tool to convey her own, subjective view of the world; instead, in her hands, the camera becomes a strident, and at times less than cooperative, witness to the very tenuousness of perception itself. Such a metaphysical, and ultimately compelling, approach to making art comes honestly to the Tokyo-based artist, who suffered a debilitating brain illness when she was in her 20s that left her blind in one eye. Today the 51-year-old artist can see, though her vision there is severely impaired. Fortunately, accurate vision is less a prerequisite for making good self-portraiture than having the courage to look.
These simple, pleasing pictures, on view at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery through May 30, achieve a great deal of dynamic motion (and convey more than a little sexual tension) via a few basic formal and compositional conceits: the use of disorienting diagonals; overexposed and washed-out back-lighting; starkly printed contrasts; and a slew of reflections in both mirrors and polished surfaces. Objects become indistinct -- forcing us to look, and look again. In one image, Anrakuji holds a huge pair of scissors in one hand, balances her weight on one leg, and raises the other -- we presume she's about to trim her own pubic hair, albeit rather precariously. It would be nice if we could read her facial expression while she's poised in this act, but, alas, her own ample hair blocks her face almost completely from the camera's view. In another image, we see the same scissors reflected in what seems to be a circular shaving mirror. The scissors appear smaller this time, yet somehow more menacing. Anrakuji shot all these scenes in two locations -- a hotel room, and friend's borrowed New York apartment -- and the highly confined domestic spaces add a frisson of both lived-in familiarity and indistinct foreboding.
Emi Anrakuji, Untitled 370, 2015. Courtesy Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery
The shot that distills Arakuji's potent ability to fuse larger social imagination and private space (read: what the media likes us to think women do when they’re alone, and what they really do when they're alone) is a single, vertical shot of Anrakuji's naked body seen from the breasts down. She kneels on a bed, dangling a series of ball-shaped objects before her torso, and, at the point where her thighs meet, or rather, don't (the artist is quite thin), a small shaft of shadow appears that, believe it or not, reads just like the glinting blade of an unsheathed sword. After blinking once or twice, we can convince ourselves that this shiny, phallic mirage is of course the object of our imagination, but too late -- a “transgression” has already stuck in our minds: A woman, left alone, in a hotel room, has been allowed to see her own body however she chooses. Good thing the camera was there, to play along.
— By Sarah Schmerler 05/29/2015
Frédéric Brenner: An Archaeology of Fear and Desire
Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Frédéric Brenner, Ben Gurion Airport, 2010. Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery
Few photographers capture the complexities and diversities of the Jewish experience like Frédéric Brenner. Surely, none do so with greater scope or greater sensitivity.
An Archaeology of Fear and Desire, on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery until July 3, is a study of modern Israel, a place, in Brenner's view, where Jewish history lives in the stories, expressions, and environments of its modern inhabitants.
Brenner's opus is Diaspora, a 25-year record of Jews in 40 countries; selections from this body of work are on display in an adjacent room at Howard Greenberg. Archaeology is a narrower project by comparison — the earliest photos date back just six years, and they're all taken in the New Jersey-sized country — and yet its reach feels comparably wide. Israel, here, is both urban and rural, modern and ancient, moving forward and looking back.
Frédéric Brenner, Palace Hotel, 2009. Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery
These images, though straightforward in their approach, embody many of the contradictions and contrasts in Israel, a place Brenner has described as "un-understandable." One photo shows three ultra Orthodox men at Ben Gurion Airport, all wearing black hoods over their eyes to block out the so-called immodesties of modern life. And yet, they have all consented to be photographed — that is, to be seen by the very people who they refuse to see themselves.
Unlike Diaspora and another people-centric work on display here, Exile at Home, Brenner lets the landscape itself do the talking to a larger degree in Archaeology. In one wide shot of a schoolyard, for instance, children play amongst white cubes we know to be bomb shelters, a simple scene that speaks to the everyday possibility of violence here. Other views are more open to interpretation, like the one depicting a tree blossoming from rubble on a dusty, brown plain, or the one that shows the Palace Hotel gutted amid construction.
Brenner's focus, frequently, is on family. In one portrait, we see three generations of women, the oldest a survivor of the Holocaust, staring straight into the camera. One is left to ponder the profound differences in their individual experiences, as well as the strong ties that unite them. In another, we see the Orthodox Weinfeld family, its brood of nine children seated at a long dining table bookended by the stoic matriarch and patriarch, the latter looking much like the old paintings of Orthodox men hanging on the wall behind them. In this context, the image seems like a sign of timeless rigidity in a land marked by so much change. Israel may be un-understandable, but in Archaeology, Brenner reinforces his case that it is an enigma worth exploring.
— By Jordan G. Teicher 05/19/2015
Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography
Getty Center, Los Angeles
Lisa Oppenheim, Lunagrams #5, 2010. ©Lisa Oppenheim, courtesy J. Paul Getty Museum
When asked how he started experimenting with photography, Belgian artist Pierre Cordier described a scrappily romantic experience: he was in the military, in Germany, in 1956, and he was writing a love note to a girl named Erika, using nail polish on light-sensitive paper. Once developed, the painted portions of the paper became colored while the rest of the paper turned dark. Cordier proclaimed himself the inventor of the camera-less chemigram process, essentially a painting-photography hybrid, and he became quite good at extracting strange colors and eccentric compositions. A few of these hang in the first gallery of the Getty’s exhibition, Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography, on view through September 6, including such sensual images as Chemigram II, 1976, in which the reddish squares in an uneven grid look like slabs of excavated earth. Work by Man Ray and Robert Heinecken hangs in that gallery, too, early experiments with photo process that still read as surprising, raw discoveries.
Chris McCaw, Sunburned GSP #609 (San Francisco Bay), 2012. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Museum
The subsequent galleries feature the contemporary “reinventions” at the core of the exhibition. The seven artists on view have rejected the smooth predictability of the digital, but their analogue experiments feel more calculated, less risky than their historical predecessors. Alison Rossiter makes her elegant, intentionally flawed washes by exposing expired photo paper, mostly made before the 1950s. The results are gray, brown, or off-white expanses, nostalgia pared down to its barest elements. Lisa Oppenheim adds silver toner to her developer, so that her Heliograms and Lunagrams, made by exposing photo-paper to the sun and moon, shimmer subtly. Chris McCaw photographs the sun, loading enlarger paper rather than film into his camera so that the lens acts like a magnifying glass, and the light literally burns the paper. Tastefully positioned burn holes or gashes dash across his paper negatives. John Chiara is more dramatic, and some of his vibrant landscapes, processed as negatives, are super-saturated inversions of nature. Matthew Brandt works with landscape too, sometimes mixing ashes or debris -- or chocolate cake, in the case of one silkscreen -- into the ink he uses to print his intensely stylized images.
But even these experiments are hard to read as radical. Perhaps this is because they arrive in the wake of a generation of conceptual photographers who put critical content front and center, even when experimenting with process (Brian Weil, Cindy Sherman, David Wojnarowicz). Perhaps it’s also because some of the images are suspiciously close in look and feel to the formalism dominating the painting market at the moment. Israel Lund’s approach to color can be compared to Brandt’s, Jacob Kassay’s to Oppenheim’s. Overlaps like these make the work in the exhibition feel in line with the zeitgeist, a savvy, safe approach to reinvention.
— By Catherine Wagley 05/17/2015
Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera
Grey Art Gallery, New York
Tseng Kwong Chi, New York, New York, 1979
A fixture in the downtown art scene of the 1980s, Tseng Kwong Chi also skillfully embraced the role of the outsider. In his best-known body of work, East Meets West, he cast himself as an inscrutable Chinese tourist in dark glasses and a Mao suit taking a Grand Tour of America. He took poker-faced selfies, before there were selfies, in front of the Twin Towers, Niagara Falls, and the Hollywood sign, among other sites, an exotic, unknowable Other, posing with monuments and places worshipped by Americans. Deadpan and dry, his photographs were about identity and “values.”
But in an era of earnest identity politics, Tseng’s work skewed toward the playful, as this illuminating exhibition, on view at NYU's Grey Art Gallery through July 11, makes clear. The Grey is the first stop for this retrospective, which was organized by Amy Brandt, a curator at the Chrysler Museum, where it will be on view in August, and it gives a rich sense of Tseng’s influence as an artist, social diarist, and cultural gadfly.
Tseng, who died in 1990, was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Vancouver, and studied photography in Paris before moving to New York, and his knowledge of art history was extensive. East Meets West gave way to The Expeditionary Series, in which an assistant photographed him as a tiny figure dwarfed by a vast landscape, a photographic version of a 19th-century European Romantic painting.
Tseng Kwong Chi, Yves Saint Laurent and Tseng Kwong Chi, 1980. Costumes at the Met series
But he also documented friends and fellow artists such as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, the actress Ann Magnuson, Jean-Michel Basquiat and the dancer Bill T. Jones. He’s part of the party in these pictures, which convey a sense of boisterous belonging. But Tseng seemed to relish being an outsider, and he made his way again and again into odd pockets of society at every cultural and socioeconomic strata, drawing back a curtain on American culture high and low. Here he is grinning behind a trio of buff blond lifeguards at the Lifeguard Ball in Wildwood, NJ, and there he is with Nancy Kissinger, having famously crashed the Costume Institute Ball at the Met for the opening of The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of the Ch’ing Dynasty, 1644-1912.
Tseng was a sharp observer and satirist, and his photographs of his friends and fellow artists, many published in the SoHo Weekly News, brim with energy. Tseng, Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat died within two years of each other, and this show at the Grey, together with a Brooklyn Museum show of Basquiat’s notebooks on through August, are reminders of all they had left to do.
— By Jean Dykstra 05/14/2015
at Museum of Modern Art, New YorkThe Human Diorama: Bear Kirkpatrick
at 555 Gallery, BostonDavid Hartt: Interval
at Art Institute of Chicago, ChicagoThe Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
at Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
at Steven Kasher Gallery, New YorkMoMA Expands its New Photography SeriesIn Appreciation of Anne Wilkes TuckerLucinda Bunnen
at Marcia Wood Gallery, AtlantaTo Feel Less Alone: Gay Block, A Portrait
at New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa FeDavid Armstrong, Mark Morrisroe, and Nan Goldin / Boston to New York
at ClampArt, New York
at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, New YorkFrédéric Brenner: An Archaeology of Fear and Desire
at Howard Greenberg Gallery, New YorkLight, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography
at Getty Center, Los AngelesTseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera
at Grey Art Gallery, New YorkMarion Gray: Within the Light
at Oakland Museum of California, OaklandMargaret Bourke-White: Pioneering Photojournalist
at Monroe Gallery of Photography, Santa FeAward Presented at Paris Photo
at Rena Bransten Projects, San FranciscoCourt Rules in Favor of Arne Svenson2015 Guggenheim Fellows AnnouncedAperture Portfolio Prize Winner AnnouncedAssaf Evron: The Sea Was Smooth, Perfectly Mirroring the Sky
at Andrea Meislin Gallery, New YorkJoy Episalla: Street View Rear Window
at Participant Inc, New YorkLibrary of Congress Acquires Civil War StereographsBrian Weil, 1979-95: Being in the World
at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkYale Acquires Large 19th-Century Photography CollectionToshio Shibata: Water Colors
at Laurence Miller Gallery, New YorkDan Leers Appointed Photo Curator at Carnegie MuseumDeborah Luster Is 2015 Gardner Fellow in PhotographyRyerson Acquires Berenice Abbott ArchiveAlec Soth: Songbook
at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York
at Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.ICP Announces Infitity AwardsHal Fischer: Gay Semiotics
at Cherry and Martin, Los AngelesSimone Lueck: American Movie
at Kopeikin Gallery, Los AngelesBrian Wallis Leaving ICPEsko Männikkö: Time Flies
at Yancey Richardson, New YorkNew Director for Paris PhotoVisibility Machines: Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen
at Gallery 400, Chicago
at Pace/MacGill Gallery, New YorkThe Return to Reason
at Gallery Wendi Norris, San FranciscoGordon Parks: Segregation Story, High Museum of Art and Jackson Fine Art; Gordon Parks: American Champion, Arnika Dawkins Gallery
at High Museum of Art, AtlantaEdmund Teske
at Gitterman Gallery, New YorkClassic Photographs Los AngelesLibrary of Congress Acquires Camilo José Vergara ArchivePhoto LA's 24th EditionThe Maine Photo Project Debuts this MonthEastman House on YouTubeSotheby's Denise Bethel Is Stepping Down
at Photo-Eye Gallery, Santa FePhil Stern, 1919-2014Arthur Leipzig, 1918-2014Eva Respini Moves to Boston's ICAMoMA Shows Thomas Walther CollectionArt Fairs in MiamiLorenzo Vitturi: Dalston Anatomy
at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
at LACMA, Los AngelesLewis Baltz, 1945-2014Fahey/Klein Opens New SpaceRISC Benefit Auction Open NowOrit Raff: Priming
at Julie Saul Gallery, New YorkLucien Clergue, 1934-2014Sandro Miller: Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to Photographic Masters
at Catherine Edelman Gallery, ChicagoParis Photo-Aperture PhotoBook AwardsSunil Gupta: Out and About: New York and New Delhi
at sepiaEYE, New YorkBuilder Levy: Photographer
at Arnika Dawkins Gallery, AtlantaMayumi Lake: Latent Heat
at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, New YorkSpecial Sale of Magnum PhotosNew Space for Foley GalleryJuan Fernando Herrán Win Prix Pictet CommissionMaurice Ortega to Head Curatorial Assistance
at Gitterman Gallery, New YorkHoward Greenberg / SteidlMagic on Earth: Jean-Claude Moschetti
at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, SeattleBlind Spot | Griffin Editions Project SpaceShannon Ebner: Public Surface Pattern
at Altman Siegel Gallery, San FranciscoRuud van Empel: New Work
at Jackson Fine Art, AtlantaGetty Acquires Chris Killip PhotographsSamuel Fosso
at Walther Collection Project Space, New York
at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa MonicaGuarapuava: Valdir Cruz
at Throckmorton Fine Art, New YorkICP to BoweryWhitney Museum Gets Major Photography GiftAmon Carter Museum Digitizes Trove of ArtworksClimate Week NYC at ICPFilter Photo FestivalRichard Mosse at Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary ArtErnest Cole: Photographer
at Grey Art Gallery, New YorkAugust Sander: Just Women / Jess T. Dugan: Every Breath We Drew
at Gallery Kayafas, Boston
at High Museum of Art, AtlantaWhere There's Smoke. John Gossage: Who Do You Love
at Fraenkel Gallery, San FranciscoAllan Sekula: Ship of Fools
at Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa MonicaCantor Art Center Receives Warhol ArchiveJack Leigh: Full Circle, Low Country Photographs, 1972-2004
at SCAD Museum of Art, SavannahJosef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful
at Art Institute of Chicago, ChicagoStephen Wirtz Gallery ClosingJustin Kimball: Where We Find Ourselves
at Carroll And Sons, BostonJacques Sonck: Archetypes
at L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New YorkThe Invisible PhotographGetty Acquires Robert McElroy ArchiveOresick Joins Silver Eye CenterLiz Deschenes Awarded Rappaport PrizeNew Avedon AppBonjour Arles!Doug Hall: Bodies in Space
at Benrubi Gallery, New YorkCahiers d'Art Devoted to SugimotoPhoto Espana Prize Goes to Aitor Lara
at de Young Museum, San Francisco2014 Prix HSBC Awarded to Two PhotographersRudolf Kicken, 1947-2014"Biggest Photography Class in History"Puppies and PicturesDomesticated: Photographs by Amy Stein
at National Academy of Sciences, WashingtonSteel Stillman: Incidents, 1969-2014
at Show Room Gowanus, BrooklynCallahan Collection Donated to Vancouver Art GalleryBrandon Thibodeaux Wins Michael P. Smith GrantRoger Mayne, 1929-2014The Fence Goes on View in BrooklynKa-Man Tse Wins Robert Giard FellowshipMultiple Exposures: Jewelry and Photography / The Embroidered Image
at Museum of Arts and Design / Robert Mann Gallery, New YorkTim Barber: Relations
at Boite Noire Gallery, West HollywoodSze Tsung Leong: Horizons
at Yossi Milo Gallery, New YorkPortland Art Museum Acquires Robert Adams PhotographsMichael Schmidt, 1945-2014Paul Anthony Smith: Mangos and Crab
at Carrie Secrist Gallery, ChicagoMichael Schmidt Wins Prix PictetJaimie Warren
at SF Camerawork, San FranciscoSymposium at Getty Celebrates 175th Anniversary of PhotographyZoe Leonard Receives Buckbaum AwardAndre Serrano Creates Public Art ProjectLuigi Ghirri: La Città
at Matthew Marks Gallery (LA), Los AngelesRichard Mosse Wins Deutsche Börse PrizePoetics of Light: Pinhole Photography
at New Mexico History Museum, Santa FePrix Pictet Finalists On View at V&ARichard Renaldi: Touching Strangers / This Grand ShowHillman Photography Initiative Explores Future of PhotographyWalking in Their ShoesMark Ruwedel Wins Scotiabank Photography Award
at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery, New YorkA New Space for Photo-EyeMaroesjka Lavigne: Island
at Robert Mann Gallery, New YorkGeorge Dureau, 1931-2014More AIPAD Picks from Elisabeth BiondiElisabeth Biondi's AIPAD PicksSarah Schmerler's Picks from AIPAD2014 Guggenheim FellowshipsLisa Sette RelocatingPhoto Eye: Avant-Garde Photography in EuropeLower East Side Photo WalkRoe Ethridge: Sacrifice Your Body
at Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
at Salon 94 Bowery, New YorkGetty Museum Acquires Tress PhotographsAmy Elkins Wins Aperture Portfolio PrizeMoutoussamy-Ashe Photos Go to SmithsonianWalead Beshty: Selected Bodies of Work
at Regen Projects, Los AngelesPublic Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San FranciscoPrince/Cariou Case SettledDaniel Gordon Wins Paul Huf AwardNew Photo Gallery in WilliamsburgICP on the MoveNational Gallery of Art Receives Gift of PhotographsJamie Warren Wins Baum AwardChloe Dewe Mathews Wins Gardner FellowshipMatthew Pillsbury: Nate and Me
at Sasha Wolf Gallery, New YorkGetty Images Opens Up LibraryPaula McCartney: A Field Guide to Snow and Ice
at Klompching Gallery, BrooklynAmerican Cool
at National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
at Block Museum of Art, EvanstonICP Announces Infinity Award WinnersOnward in PhillySamuel Fosso Photographs RescuedJ. Shimon & J. Lindemann: We Go From Where We Know
at John Michael Kohler Art Center, SheboyganJohn Stanmeyer Wins World Press Photo AwardNot Your Grandmother's LibrarianPatrick Nagatani: Outer and Inner: Contemplations on the Physical and the Spiritual
at Andrew Smith Gallery (annex), Santa FeNew Photo Gallery in BostonFred McDarrah: Save the Village
at Steven Kasher Gallery, New YorkJ.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, 1930-2014Kevin Cooley and Phillip Andrew Lewis: Unexplored Territory
at Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
at Guggenheim Museum, New YorkGetty Acquires Pictorialist PhotographsPeter Hujar: Love & Lust
at Fraenkel Gallery, San FranciscoChild Identified in 1908 Lewis Hine PhotoHeather Snider Joins SF CameraworkThe Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus
at DePaul Art Museum, ChicagoPhillip Prodger Joins London's National Portrait GalleryTanya Marcuse: Fallen
at Julie Saul Gallery, New YorkJoshua Chuang Joins CCPSophie Calle: Last Seen
at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, BostonDanielle Durchslag: Relative Unknowns
at Denny Gallery, New YorkCarnegie Museum Founds Hillman Photography InitiativeSoo Kim Awarded Gutmann FellowshipSymposium on March on Washington
at Nailya Alexander Gallery, New YorkNelson Mandela, 1918 - 2013Sylvie Pénichon New Photo Conservator at Art InstituteICP Awarded Ford Foundation Grant for "Rise and Fall of Apartheid"Carson Fisk-Vittori
at Carrie Secrist Gallery, ChicagoAttention Photographers: Interested in the South of France this Summer?API Launches Online ExhibitionVivian Maier: Self-Portrait
at Howard Greenberg Gallery, New YorkDavid Vestal, 1924-2013Danny Custodio: Trees
at Gallery Kayafas, BostonBarry Friedman RetiringMeet Me in MiamiThomas Demand: Dailies
at Matthew Marks Gallery (526), New YorkChuck Mobley Leaving SF CameraworkCatherine Evans Named Chief Curator of the Carnegie Museum of Art
at Gagosian Gallery (Mad Ave), New YorkSaul Leiter, 1923-2013Maine Philanthropists Give Collection to Portland Museum of ArtDaniel Morel Wins Suit Against Getty Images/AFPSean McFarland: Glass Mountains
at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San FranciscoJohn Divola: As Far As I Could get
at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, LACMA, Pomona Museum of Art,Eileen Quinlan: Curtains
at Miguel Abreu Gallery, New YorkICP Names New Executive DirectorClarence John Laughlin Award AnnouncedPrix Pictet Shortlist AnnouncedAnd the Winner Is ....Libération's Powerful Homage to PhotographyTanja Hollander: The Landscapes of Are You Really My Friend?
at Carroll And Sons, BostonWar/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and its Aftermath
at Brooklyn Museum of Art, BrooklynLisa Hostetler to Eastman HouseDispatched to TexasFinding Vivian MaierQueens Museum Reopens with Photos by Jeff Chien-Hsing LiaoNew E-Book from Library of CongressHello, Goodbye
at Leila Heller Gallery, New YorkDeborah Turbeville, 1932-2013ICP Celebrates Robert Capa's CentenaryOf Walking
at Museum of Contemporary Photography, ChicagoHere is New YorkPolly Borland: You
at PK Shop, New YorkExhibition Showcases Martin Weinstein's CollectionThey Are Us: Animal Identity and the Anthropomorphic Urge
at Rick Wester Fine Art, New YorkRoxana Marcoci Named Senior Curator at MoMAMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston, Acquires Manfred Heiting Photo Book CollectionDocumerica Looks BackMatthew Porter: Greet the Dust
at M+B Gallery, Los AngelesGeorge Tice: 60 Years of Photography
at Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York
at Edwynn Houk Gallery, New YorkCarrie Mae Weems Is a MacArthur GeniusWe Shall: Photographs by Paul D'Amato
at DePaul Art Museum, ChicagoShe Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab WorldMalcolm Daniel Heading to TexasRyan McGinley: Yearbook
at Ratio 3, San FranciscoBrian Sholis Joins Cincinnati Art MuseumPieter Hugo: Kin
at Yossi Milo Gallery, New YorkAdieu to Le Journal de la PhotographieNadia Sablin Wins Firecracker Photography AwardGetty Acquires Baltz Archive
at Hosfelt Gallery, San FranciscoParty Picks: Estate of Jimmy DeSana
at Salon 94 Bowery, New YorkIn The Studio
at John Messinger, East HamptonThat Which Is: Marcia Lippman
at KMR Arts, Washington DepotBen Lifson, 1941-2013Jan Banning: Down and Out in the South
at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, AtlantaTom Wood: Men and Women
at Thomas Erben Gallery, New YorkFrom the Ground Up: The Tent Camera Photographs of Abelardo Morell
at Stephen Daiter Gallery, ChicagoPortion Control: Chrisopher Boffoli
at Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York
at James Harris Gallery, SeattleA Different Kind of Order: The International Center of Photography Triennial
at International Center of Photography, New YorkJR / Jose Parla, Wrinkles of the City, Havana Cuba
at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York
at Carroll And Sons, BostonJapan's Modern Divide: Photographs by Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto
at Getty Center, Los AngelesMichael Jang: The Jangs
at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San FranciscoDavid Levinthal: War Games
at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Mike Brodie's Period of Juvenile ProsperitySpectator Sports
at Museum of Contemporary Photography, ChicagoJoshua Lutz: Hesitating Beauty
at ClampArt, New York
at Museum of Modern Art, New YorkIwan Baan: The Way We Live
at Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los AngelesSuburbia
at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, AtlantaJulie Weitz
at The Suburban, Oak ParkArmory Show 2013
at Armory Show, New YorkScope New York 2013
at SCOPE New York, New YorkADAA Art Show 2013
at ADAA Art Show, New YorkShooting Stars: Publicity Stills from Early Hollywood and Portraits by Andy Warhol
at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
at G. Gibson Gallery, SeattleMiles Barth Joins ArtnetThe Unphotographable
at Fraenkel Gallery, San FranciscoKatrina del Mar: Girls Girls Girls
at Participant Inc, New YorkRobin Rhode: Take Your Mind off the Street
at Lehmann Maupin (Chelsea), New YorkArne Svenson: The Neighbors
at Western Project, Culver City
at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New YorkBeat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg
at Grey Art Gallery, New YorkKatherine Bussard Named Curator at
Princeton Art MuseumCatherine Wagner: trans/literate.
at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San FranciscoKarl Baden: Roadside Attractions
at Miller Yezerski Gallery, BostonViviane Sassen on ViewJanuary is for Hot ShotsRichard Pare: The Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922–32
at Graham Foundation, Chicago
at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkIdris Khan: New Photographs
at Fraenkel Gallery, San FranciscoJessica Eaton: Polytopes
at M+B Gallery, Los AngelesNadav Kander: Yangtze: The Long River
at Flowers, New YorkOri Gersht: History Repeating
at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, BostonAttachments
at The Hole, New York1979:1—2012:21: Jan Tichy Works with the MoCP Collection
at Museum of Contemporary Photography, ChicagoBonni Benrubi, 1953-2012