19
Oct
14

Exhibition: ‘Ray K. Metzker: One and Only: Unique photographs and works on paper’ at the Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 4th September – 25th October 2014

 

Vale Ray K. Metzker. An artist who made difference.

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The one and only Ray K. Metzker has made his last photograph, passing away recently at the age of 83.

RESPECT. That is the word that springs to mind when I think of this artist. I utterly respect this man’s work for its integrity, vision, experimentation and intensity. He was committed to discovering the potential of black and white photography. In images that challenge our perception of what photography is, what photography can do, and what realities it can depict, Metzker produced sublimely beautiful and evocative images that were distinctly his own. They are formidable photographs. You cannot mistake his work for that of any other artist.

His handling of line and light is that of a master. His understanding of angle, camera placement, composition, composites, multiple-exposure, superimposition of negatives, juxtapositions of two images, solarization and other formal elements AS A MEANS TO AN END are all superlative. He does not use these elements because they are gimmicky or fashionable but because they are an inherent part of his vocabulary as an artist. They help him produce avant-garde images that talk about the things he wants to talk about. Nothing is superfluous. Everything is focused, intense and passionate. A passionate engagement with reality.

Metzker’s drawing with light surely comes from an enlightened mind. Magical. Wonderful. And so another light passes…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

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Many thankx to the Laurence Miller Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery.

 

“It is with great sadness that Laurence Miller Gallery announces the death of Ray K. Metzker. Ray passed away early this morning at the age of 83, after a long illness.

Ray K. Metzker had quietly been making extraordinary photographs for the better part of six decades. Today, he is recognized as one of the great masters of American photography, a virtuoso who has pursued his chosen medium passionately for fifty years. Metzker was born in 1931 in Milwaukee and attended the Institute of Design, Chicago – a renowned school that had a few years earlier been dubbed the New Bauhaus – from 1956 to 1959. He was thus an heir to the avant-garde photography that had developed in Europe in the 1920’s. Early in his career, his work was marked by unusual intensity. Composites, multiple-exposure, superimposition of negatives, juxtapositions of two images, solarization and other formal means were part and parcel of his vocabulary. He was committed to discovering the potential of black and white photography during the shooting and the printing, and has shown consummate skill in each stage of the photographic process. Ray Metzker’s unique and continually evolving mastery of light, shadow and line transform the ordinary in the realm of pure visual delight.”

Text from the Laurence Miller Gallery

 

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Untitled, family home outside Milwaukee, 1957 (#1)' 1957

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled, family home outside Milwaukee, 1957 (#1)
1957
Multiple exposure gelatin silver print
7 ¾ x 9 5/8”
Stamp Signature on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Untitled, Chicago, February 1959 (#1)' 1959

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled, Chicago, February 1959 (#1)
1959
Multiple exposure gelatin silver print,
7 ¾ x 9 5/8”
Stamp Signature on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. MetzkeR. 'Untitled multiple print, 69 KC-MX' 1969

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled multiple print, 69 KC-MX
1969
Gelatin silver print,
6 ¾ x 8 5/8”
Signed on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Chicago, Multiple exposure' 1958

 

Ray K. Metzker
Chicago, Multiple exposure
1958
Gelatin silver print,
7 3/8 x 7 ½”
Signed and inscribed “Unique” on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Strip Tease #11' c. 1968

 

Ray K. Metzker
Strip Tease #11
c. 1968
Gelatin silver print,
2 ½ x 20 ½”
Stamp signature on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Atlantic City, 1966 (66 FD-2)' 1966

 

Ray K. Metzker
Atlantic City, 1966 (66 FD-2)
1966
Gelatin silver print,
6 x 6”
Signed on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

 

“Esteemed as a photographer, Ray Metzker’s creative practice was nevertheless unbounded by the conventional borders of the medium. Metzker sought out methods that allowed him access to the full potential of photography as an art form. He continually explored the medium’s untapped possibilities; at various times embracing the roll of film as a single picture, using the prints as building blocks for composite works, and even setting aside the camera to explore the expressive potential of the developing process itself.

Nowhere is his spirit of creative curiosity more evident than in the unique, non-editioned works that he crafted at every stage in his career. These one of a kind pieces are the focus of our new exhibition, many of them shown here for the first time.

A broad range of techniques and sensibilities are on display in this group of pictures. Even in some of the earliest pictures, dating from 1957, objects have been dissolved past the point of recognition leaving form and light as the subject. The world that comes back into focus later in the exhibition is often the natural one, as in his photograms from the 1990s where ghosts of leaves are traced onto the paper itself. Towards the end of the show’s chronology there are light-drawn “landscapes” where wind whipped clouds and darkened horizons rise up not out of a camera’s aperture but from light and the darkroom’s chemicals alone. There is an elemental quality to these later works: they seem to be striving to depict an essence more than an image.

Some of the most revealing works included are the pieces that employ only cut and folded paper. Metzker was always a very material photographer, as his darkroom manipulations attest, and in these works it is as if concerns of photographic exposure have fallen away and he is directly arranging light and shade in this most tactile of ways.

It is notable that the spirit of playful invention is unflagging across the six decades of work collected for this exhibition. There is an impassioned curiosity on display that seems continually refreshed by the act of making. It tells us a great deal about his conception of photography that, in a medium known for reproduction, Metzker never stopped making unique, non-reproducible works. An edition of one if you will, like the man himself.

On the occasion of Ray’s 83rd birthday, Laurence Miller Gallery invites you to experience more than three dozen of his one of a kind works, showing us that seeing is a unique act of creation.”

Jacob Cartwright

Text from the Laurence Miller Gallery website

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Untitled light drawing' 1996

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled light drawing
1996
Gelatin silver print,
4 x 5”
Signed on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Untitled light drawing' 1996

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled light drawing
1996
Gelatin silver print,
10 ¾ x 13 ¼”
Signed on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Untitled light drawing' 2007

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled light drawing
2007
Gelatin silver print,
11 x 13 ½”, mounted
Signed and dated on mount recto
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

 

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Untitled light drawing' 1996

 

Ray K. Metzker
Untitled light drawing
1996
Gelatin silver print,
15 x 19 ½”
Signed on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

Ray K. Metzker. 'Strip Tease #68' c. 1966

 

Ray K. Metzker
Strip Tease #68
c. 1966
Gelatin silver contact print,
30 ¾ x 1 1/8”
Stamp signature on verso
Copyright the Estate of Ray K. Metzker, Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery

 

 

Laurence Miller Gallery
20 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
T: 212.397.3930

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sat 11 am – 5.30 pm

Laurence Millery Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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