Exhibition: ‘A Few Frames: Photography and the Contact Sheet’ at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 25th September – 3rd January 2010


David Wojnarowicz. 'Untitled' 1988


David Wojnarowicz (American, 1954-1992)
Synthetic polymer on two chromogenic prints
11 x 13 1/4 in. (27.9 x 33.7 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Purchase with funds from the Photography Committee
Courtesy of The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York, NY



I gently massaged more photographs of work in the exhibition from the Whitney press office after initially only being able to download one press image! Many thankx to the Whitney for supplying three more images.

As the press release mentions them by name, presumably there will be some of the Robert Frank contact sheets which you can see at the posting Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans and the water towers of Bernd and Hilla Becher two photographs of which can be seen at the posting Notes on a conversation with Mari Funaki.

In case you don’t know the work of artist David Wojnarowicz he was a gay man who died of HIV/AIDS aged 37 in 1992: I believe he was one of the most talented and subversive artists of his generation and his powerful images of identity, sexuality, power and death remain seared in my memory. Unfortunately there are not many good images to be found online but there is an excellent Aperture book, Aperture 137 Fall 1994 (David Wojnarowicz: Brush Fires in the Social Landscape) available from Amazon.

Please click on the photographs in the posting for a larger version of the image.




Rachel Harrison (American, b. 1966)
Contact Sheet (should home windows…)
Chromogenic print on fibreboard
20 x 16 in
Collection of the artist 
courtesy Greene Naftali, New York
© 2009 Rachel Harrison



“In this selection of works drawn principally from the Whitney’s permanent collection, the repetitive image of the proof sheet is the leitmotif in a variety of works spanning the range of the museum’s photography collection, including the works of Paul McCarthy, Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition is co-curated by Elisabeth Sussman, Whitney Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, and Tina Kukielski, Senior Curatorial Assistant. A Few Frames opens on September 25, 2009 in the Sondra Gilman Gallery and runs through January 3, 2010.

Decisions about which photograph to exhibit or print are frequently the end result of an editing process in which the artist views all of the exposures he or she has made on a contact sheet – a photographic proof showing strips or series of film negatives – and then selects individual frames to print or enlarge. Repetition, seriality, and sequencing – inherited from the contact sheet – are evident in all of the works on view. As co-curator Tina Kukielski notes, “this presentation includes a variety of photographs that build on the formal, thematic, and technical logic of the editing process.”

The exhibition includes photo-based works from sixteen featured artists in the Whitney’s collection. The work of David Wojnarowicz and Paul McCarthy present the contact sheet as a work of art, while those of artists such as Andy Warhol, Harold Edgerton, and Robert Frank play with its repeating forms. Other works call to mind the format of the contact sheet, such as Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typological study of industrial water towers and Silvia Kolbowski’s grid of appropriated images of female fashion models.

Works by contemporary artists such as Rachel Harrison and Collier Schorr in their continued interest in the contact sheet, despite perhaps growing trends toward digital photography, reveal the residual and sustained effects of this process.”

Press release from the Whitney Museum of American Art website [Online] Cited 01/11/2009 no longer available online




Collier Schorr (American, b. 1963)
Day Dream (Sky)
48 x 43 in. (121.9 x 109.2 cm)
Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York




Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Untitled (Cyclist)
c. 1976
Four gelatin silver prints stitched with thread
27 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. (69.5 x 54.9 cm) overall
Unique Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and purchase with funds from the Photography Committee
© 2009 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
General Information: (212) 570-3600

Opening Hours:
Sunday – Monday, Wednesday – Thursday 10.30am – 6pm
Friday and Saturday 10.30am – 10pm
Closed Tuesday

Whitney Museum of American Art website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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