Posts Tagged ‘Canadian artist

12
Mar
17

Exhibition: ‘Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath’ at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Exhibition dates: 19th November 2016 – 19th March 2017

Curator: Keith F. Davis, Senior Curator, Photograph

 

 

This will be short and sweet because of my hands… love this artist’s work.

 

Triumph of the spirit

Abandoned by both parents at age 4, he grew up in foster homes and an orphanage in Philadelphia.

High contrast images – burnt in backgrounds and then bleached back faces.

Raw, loneliness, love, sadness, homesick, Christ figure (Carl Dean Kipper) bringing out emotion.

Establishment of relationships contrasted with isolation and loneliness.

Sense of inner self – faces and forms. Sensitivity. Unpretentious.

A deeply humane approach to being witness to the human condition.

The condition of becoming.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Heath has always, and instinctively, understood the power of sympathetic vision. His photographs of people are infused with a special emotional directness and power. They reflect a fundamental, and almost tactile, need to connect.

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Keith F. Davis, Senior Curator, Photography at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

 

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Carl Dean Kipper, Korea' 1953-1954

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Carl Dean Kipper, Korea
1953-1954
Gelatin silver print
6 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Central Park, New York City' 1957

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Central Park, New York City
1957
Gelatin silver print
6 3/8 x 9 1/2 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Rochester, New York' 1958

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Rochester, New York
1958
Gelatin silver print
6 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Washington Square, New York City' 1958

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Washington Square, New York City
1958
Gelatin silver print
12 1/2 x 8 3/8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Seven Arts Coffee Gallery, New York City' 1958

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Seven Arts Coffee Gallery, New York City
1958
Gelatin silver print
9 3/4 x 6 5/8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'New York City' c. 1960

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
New York City
c. 1960
Gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 7 3/8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'New York City' 1962

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
New York City
1962
Gelatin silver print
11 1/16 x 8 1/2 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Erin Freed, New York City' 1963

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Erin Freed, New York City
1963
Gelatin silver print
7 1/4 x 8 3/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

A major exhibition showcasing the work of Dave Heath, one of the most original photographers of the last half of the 20th century, opened at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City on Nov. 19. Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath is curated by Keith F. Davis, Senior Curator, Photography, who wrote a widely acclaimed catalogue of the same title to accompany the exhibition. The Nelson-Atkins has the largest holding of Heath’s work in the United States, and the exhibition was entirely assembled from the museum’s collection. A smaller version of the show opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in September 2015 to critical praise.

“Dave Heath has had one of the most important careers in modern photography,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO and Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “With little formal training, he applied his determination and curiosity to learning about photography and the history of art. And we see the result in this exhibition: the flowering of one of the greatest talents of his generation.”

The exhibition spans the full breadth of Heath’s creative career, from the late 1940s into the 21st- century. It begins with his earliest pictures, his first book prototypes, his first audio-visual artistic work (“Beyond the Gates of Eden,” 1969), and concludes with his colour street pictures of 2001-2007. The exhibition centres on Heath’s 1965 photo-book A Dialogue with Solitude, a sequence of 82 photographs widely considered his defining achievement.

Heath’s photographs are a powerful expression of his emotional life, his concern for interpersonal contact and communion. Abandoned by both parents at age 4, he grew up in foster homes and an orphanage in Philadelphia. This experience shaped his creative vision, an expression of a profound sense of pain, loneliness, alienation, longing, joy, and hope. Guided by an entirely personal expressive need, Heath used the camera to understand himself and the society around him.

“Heath has always, and instinctively, understood the power of sympathetic vision,” said Davis. “His photographs of people are infused with a special emotional directness and power. They reflect a fundamental, and almost tactile, need to connect.”

Heath’s interest in photography was sparked in 1947, when he saw Ralph Crane’s photo-essay “Bad Boy’s Story”, about an alienated boy in an orphanage, in Life magazine. He identified with Crane’s subject and grasped the power of the photograph to transcend simple reportage. Largely self-taught, Heath studied for a year at the Philadelphia College of Art before working for a commercial photo studio in Chicago. He came to national attention after his move to New York City in 1957. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1963 and his work was included in major exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and elsewhere. He taught from 1965 to 1996, with 36 of those years spent at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario.

Heath died on his 85th birthday, June 27, 2016, knowing that his work had reached wider audiences and recognised for his individual and powerful voice.

Press release from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Vengeful Sister, Chicago' 1956

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Vengeful Sister, Chicago
1956
Gelatin silver print
7 3/16 x 8 7/8 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Chicago' 1956

 

Dave Heath (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Chicago
1956
Gelatin silver print
12 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Greenwich Village, New York City' 1957

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Greenwich Village, New York City
1957
Gelatin silver print
12 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Santa Barbara, California' 1964

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Santa Barbara, California
1964
Gelatin silver print
5 x 7 9/16 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Berkeley, California' 1964

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Berkeley, California
1964
Gelatin silver print
4 5/8 x 6 13/16 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of Elizabeth and Jeffrey Klotz and family

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Kansas City, Kansas' 1967

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Kansas City, Kansas
1967
Gelatin silver print
7 3/8 x 10 3/4 inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'New York City' September 19, 2004

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
New York City
September 19, 2004
Inkjet print (printed January 25, 2008)
11 7/8 × 18 1/16 inches
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'New York City' October 5, 2005

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
New York City
October 5, 2005
Inkjet print (printed January 25, 2008)
11 7/8 × 18 1/16 inches
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016) 'Toronto' October 20, 2007

 

Dave Heath, (Canadian, born United States, 1931-2016)
Toronto
October 20, 2007
Inkjet print (printed December 18, 2007)
11 7/8 × 18 1/16 inches
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Opening hours:
Wed, 10 am – 5 pm
Thurs, Fri, 10 am – 9 pm
Sat, 10 am – 5 pm
Sun, 10 am – 5 pm

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

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13
Jan
14

Exhibition: ‘Edward Burtynsky: Water’ presented by The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Contemporary Arts Center

Exhibition dates: 5th October 2013 – 19th January  2014

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“Now with the assistance of the web and being able to look at things in a bit more depth before I go there, I can actually predetermine my pictures…”

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Edward Burtynsky

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Predetermined weather music

The geometric images such as Navajo Reservation / Suburb (2011), Pivot Irrigation #11 (2011) and Pivot Irrigation / Suburb (2011) are of more interest here, with their juxtaposition of irrigation/habitation/nature. I especially like the Andreas Gursky-esque patterning of Benidorm #2 (2010) but I’m really over the abstract pattern of rivers, rice terraces and greenhouses covering the plane of view, mainly because so many photographers have done it and all in the same way. You only have to type in ‘Australian aerial landscape photographer’ into Google Images to see what I mean. Australia even has its own version in the West Australian photographer Richard Woldendorp. Bet you can’t tell the difference between the two photographers in a blind taste test!

These images are a bit like elevator music (also known as Muzak, piped music, weather music or lift music). Quite a nice analogy, weather music, as these photographs are generic, middle of the road easy listening abstraction, beauty, and formality – images with a simple melody that constantly loop back to the beginning, commonly played through speakers (in this case the institutions that laud such repetitive work).

While Burtynsky’s work seeks to explore the relationship between art and environment, “focusing on all the facets of people’s relationship with water, including ritual and leisure,” he offers evidence without argument. And there is the crux of the problem. When an artist promulgates an objective point of view without comment, they run the risk of saying very little with the work for they have nothing to say themselves. It’s like being part of Adolf Hitler’s exhibition in answer to the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition of 1937, the photographs seemingly “officially sanctioned” by the earth and the artist with gravitas added through contemplation (muzak encourages you to slow down and browse!) Personally, I’m not buying what Burtynsky is selling.

There is nothing passionate, weak, decadent and impure here. Perhaps the artist needs to change the angle of attack for me to sit up and take notice. Otherwise the motion of the train has a somewhat soporific effect.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Contemporary Arts Center for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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NOMA CAC 

NOMA CAC is an ongoing exhibition and programming partnership between two of the most significant cultural institutions of New Orleans: the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Contemporary Arts Center. Edward Burtynsky: Water is the second initiative of this unique collaboration, which will draw on the strengths of both institutions to provide thought-provoking exhibitions and programming for a cross section of the community. The exhibition is presented in the second floor Lupin Foundation Gallery of the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).

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Where I Stand: A Behind the Scenes Look at Edward Burtynsky’s Photographic Essay, Water

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Xiaolangdi Dam #1, Yellow River, Henan Province, China' 2011

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Edward Burtynsky
Xiaolangdi Dam #1, Yellow River, Henan Province, China
2011

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station, Baja, Mexico' 2012

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Edward Burtynsky
Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station, Baja, Mexico
2012

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Marine Aquaculture #1, Luoyuan Bay, Fujian Province, China' 2012

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Edward Burtynsky
Marine Aquaculture #1, Luoyuan Bay, Fujian Province, China
2012

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Rice Terraces #2, Western Yunnan Province, China' 2012

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Edward Burtynsky
Rice Terraces #2, Western Yunnan Province, China
2012

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Verona Walk, Naples, Florida, USA' 2012

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Edward Burtynsky
Verona Walk, Naples, Florida, USA
2012

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Thjorsá River #1, Iceland' 2012

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Edward Burtynsky
Thjorsá River #1, Iceland
2012

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Stepwell #4, Sagar Kund Baori, Bundi, Rajasthan, India' 2010

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Edward Burtynsky
Stepwell #4, Sagar Kund Baori, Bundi, Rajasthan, India
2010

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“NOMA CAC is proud to present Edward Burtynsky: Water, the world premiere of the latest body of work by internationally renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, opening Saturday, October 5 in the second floor Lupin Foundation Gallery of the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). This second initiative of the ongoing NOMA CAC programming partnership includes over 50 large-scale color photographs that form a global portrait of humanity’s relationship to water. Burtynsky’s images address several facets of the world’s vital resource, exploring the source, collection, control, displacement, and depletion of water. The exhibition opens on October 5, 2013 and runs through January 19, 2014.

Edward Burtynsky (born 1955, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada) has long been recognized for his ability to combine vast and serious subject matter with a rigorous, formal approach to picture making. The results are images that are part abstraction, part architecture, and part raw data. In producing Water, Burtynsky has worked across the globe – from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of the Ganges – weaving together an ambitious representation of water’s increasingly fragmented lifecycle.

“The CAC is thrilled to be able to premiere an exhibition of this scale and quality through our partnership with NOMA,” said Neil Barclay, Executive Director of the Contemporary Arts Center. “Burtynsky’s work has long served as a commentary on the relationship between art and environment, and I believe the subject of these works will be of keen interest to anyone who has experienced life in New Orleans over the past decade.”

“Five years in the making, Water is at once Burtynsky’s most detailed and expansive project to date, with images of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, step wells in India, dam construction in China, aquaculture, farming, and pivot irrigation systems,” said Susan M. Taylor, Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art. In addition Water includes some of the first pure landscapes that Burtynsky has made since the early 1980s. These archaic, almost primordial looking images of British Columbia place the structures of water control in a historical context – tracing the story of water from the ancient to the modern, and back again.

While the story of water is certainly an ecological one, Burtynsky is more interested in presenting the facts on the ground than in declaring society’s motives good or bad. In focusing on all the facets of people’s relationship with water, including ritual and leisure, Burtynsky offers evidence without an argument. “Burtynsky’s work functions as an open ended question about humanity’s past, present, and future,” said Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art. “The big question is: do these pictures represent the achievement of humanity or one of its greatest faults, or both? Each visitor might find a different answer in this exhibition, depending upon what they bring to it.”

The exhibition, organized by Russell Lord, is accompanied by a catalogue published by Steidl with over 100 color plates from Burtynsky’s water series. It includes essays by Lord and Wade Davis, renowned anthropologist and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society.”

Press release from NOMA CAC

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Navajo Reservation / Suburb, Phoenix, Arizona, USA' 2011

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Edward Burtynsky
Navajo Reservation / Suburb, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
2011

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Pivot Irrigation #11, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA' 2011

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Edward Burtynsky
Pivot Irrigation #11, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA
2011

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Pivot Irrigation / Suburb, South of Yuma, Arizona, USA' 2011

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Edward Burtynsky
Pivot Irrigation / Suburb, South of Yuma, Arizona, USA
2011

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Benidorm #2, Spain' 2010

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Edward Burtynsky
Benidorm #2, Spain
2010

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Dryland Farming #2, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain' 2010

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Edward Burtynsky
Dryland Farming #2, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain
2010

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain' 2010

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Edward Burtynsky
Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain
2010

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Edward Burtynsky. 'Greenhouses, Almira Peninsula, Spain' 2010

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Edward Burtynsky
Greenhouses, Almira Peninsula, Spain
2010

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Contemporary Arts Center
900 Camp Street
New Orleans, LA 70130-3908

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Monday 11am – 5pm

Contemporary Arts Center website

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05
Mar
13

Review: ‘Jeff Wall Photographs’ at The Ian Potter Centre: NGVA, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th November 2012 – 17th March 2013

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“My work is a reconstruction and reconstruction is a philosophical activity. If I can create a drama that has philosophical meaning, that’s fine, or sometimes, it is not from meaning but a reconstruction of a feeling. It is best to capture in a photograph a feeling, an emotion, a look, a memory, a perception or a relationship.”

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Jeff Wall

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Stressed at the seams

The excruciating “conversation” between Jeff Wall and Thomas Demand in The Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria on November 28th 2012 seemed to run on interminably, yielding a couple of tiny gems but also a lot of leaden debate. I had higher hopes of the solo exhibition by Jeff Wall at NGV Australia. In some ways I was not disappointed, in other ways Wall’s calculating fields of existence certainly didn’t move my soul with any great conviction.

Initially, I was impressed perhaps even a little overwhelmed by the spacious hang, the placement of the mainly large, light box illuminated photographs and non light box photographs dotted amongst the galleries emphasising the inter-relationship between the images. The work in the exhibition includes large set-piece constructions, outdoor photographs of found environments, small, intimate conceptual works full of angles and colour and more recent ink jet print work. These “installations that happen to have photos in them” (Wall’s description) reflect the gigantism prevalent in much contemporary photography. In these large mise-en-scène you cannot fail to be impressed by the control the artist displays in the formal nature of their construction, the still-life tableaux representing the artist’s intention in a rather cold and remote way. As can be seen from the structural analysis of Polishing (1988) by Dr James McArdle and J.S.B. below, Wall is very clever in how he structures his shape-shifting photographs, how he seduces the eye into believing that everything is plausible within the formalist pictorial plane. But as McArdle observes,

“[His] formalism remains empty of connection to the subject, Wall denying any narrative representation… His distancing of the subject, his leaning on typecast (such as in the chicken plucking image) can be summed up in his method: staging, directing, controlling that sucks the real life out of the imagery and re-inflates it with bombast.”1

From his early, prissy double self-portrait to his laughing at, not with, the menial labourers in Dressing poultry (2007, below), the set-piece work does seem full of bombast (possessing a pompous and grandiloquent language; an obsolete material used for padding), but perhaps bombast is related to that standard postmodern language, irony. It certainly is a language where Wall denies any inherent narrative, where there is a “dis-identification of the figures in the pictures which becomes part of the aesthetic of the picture.”2 Wall says he is just depicting the figures, that they just become an effect of depiction (or representation, in other words). In this way Wall conditions our awareness of [this particular] space due only in part to their scale (McArdle). This grandiloquence, coupled with the luminance of the light box which creates the luminescence of the image, dazzles the eye but on closer inspection is a perhaps a psychological hall of mirrors. The shattering of this constructed illusion can be seen in the “seaminess” of the photographs. The media image of A view from an apartment (2004-05, below) gives it away: all trace of the join that is present in most of Wall’s large transparencies has been removed, when compared to my detail photograph of the image in the actual exhibition. The join gives lie, line, to the truth that here are photographs that we can believe in. The illusion becomes stressed at the seams but again, perhaps this join is just a trope that Wall has developed to compliment his visual language. Certainly, there is no reason why such large transparencies could not be printed in one piece and at a million dollars a pop he could surely talk to the manufacturer.

Scholars have noted that the phrase ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ has become a standard metaphor for anything that smacks of pretentiousness, pomposity, social hypocrisy, or hollow ostentatiousness and this is the case here. These photographs are like the Emperor’s new clothes, so caught up are we in the brilliance of their display we fail to notice that there is not much going on in terms of the actual “life” of the image (other than subsuming the life of up to 70 digital images to make one still, cold image). Wall’s photographs as performance, his theatre of disruption where the artist seeks to upset the veneer of the ordinary to blur the boundaries between what is probable or improbable, are undone by their existential isolation. I felt little empathy for any of the people in Wall’s tableaux vivants or for their imagined, non-narrative realities as Wall would have it. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to or, to be kinder, perhaps this is the strategy.

There was one exception: Untangling (1994, below) which is a cracker of an image. All the psychological and existential meaning comes pouring out here: an underground cave (Jung’s cave archetype, symbol of the unconscious), the male sitters profound mood of introspection, the skein of tangled rope which may represent the source of the Gordian Knot, used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (disentangling an “impossible” knot) – although I prefer the analogy of the Ouroboros, the snake devouring its own tail which often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, which emphasises the relationship between a person’s mind and their experience of reality, how the psyche shapes the environment in which they act, and the untangling of consciousness.

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While his work was cutting edge in the late 1980s – 1990s, containing something in the work that brought him to notice, today it evidences a cultural and visual aesthetic that already seems completely outdated (the Pet Shop Boys on a bad hair day). Through staring at a constructed atemporal reality – like a man dreaming, caught in a no-time – Wall has created a form of look but don’t touch voyeurism, a slightly bombastic narcissism based on the photographers’ own power. But perhaps this is the point. Perhaps the qualities that I have criticized in the artist’s work are the very qualities the he is pursuing. Wall might want a don’t touch voyeurism for example – possibly deny it even exists or give it another name – so that the work interrogates some aspect of alienation without ever naming it. This can be seen in his construction of the photograph Polishing where he represents a mundane act in a cheap hotel room, raising the performance up to the altar of high art while hiding its anomalous philosophical and physical distortions.

I think Wall is a clever person wanting to be contradictory and clever.

To some people the qualities evidenced in Wall’s photographs can be seen to be quite admirable: today we shouldn’t (always) have to seek resolution or meaning. But when Wall says in the quote at the top of this posting that his work is a “reconstruction of a feeling” then I wonder where this feeling has gone, or whether it existed in the first place, for reconstruction is a very strange word to use with regard to feelings.

While the artist can control the uniqueness of a particular image seen from the point of view of production, intention and encounter3 what he cannot control is the interpretation of his images by the viewer. With this in mind (very apt) this is what I don’t get from these images: they lack for me is the quality of being lyrical, an artist’s expression of emotion in an imaginative and beautiful way. The stress seams present in his photographs, be they physical (the actual print) or psychological (photographs like Doorpusher or A view from an apartment) don’t allow me emotional access to the work. Aiming for an investigation into the existential nature of being and the philosophical reconstruction of a feeling, Wall ends up stressed at the seams (even un/seamed, un/scene, un/seen) and leaves me spatially and emotionally unmoved.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'A view from an apartment' 2004-05

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
A view from an apartment
2004-05
Transparency in light box 1/2
167.0 x 244.0 cm
Tate, London Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members, 2006
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'A view from an apartment' 2004-05 (detail)

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
A view from an apartment (detail)
2004-05
Photograph: Marcus Bunyan

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Polishing' 1998

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Polishing
1998
Transparency in light box, 1/2
162.0 x 207.0 cm State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 1999
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall 'Polishing' skewing

Image Dr James McArdle

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Jeff Wall 'Polishing' skewing

Image J.S.B.

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Structural analysis of Jeff Wall’s Polishing (1998)

“There is a perceptual discomfort in viewing this image on the wall that is not apparent in the desk-top experience of it. I’m referring to a weird skewing of the perspective of the room. Wall has tilted the monorail of his 8×10 camera down toward the corner of the room, making the left hand wall of the bathroom lean uncomfortably, more than does the patched join of the wall panels to the right. He has then shifted the lens left, thus positioning the one vertical (right behind the figure) to the right of centre. The bathroom door, draped with a towel, looks as if it is hanging off its hinges, at variance with the top of the entrance door which remains horizontal. Conventionally, an architectural photographer would square everything and Wall does that in Doorpusher which though shot from an extremely oblique angle employs a radical drop-front to correct the verticals.”

Dr James McArdle

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“”Firstly, the floor is not straight in the image. You can see how in my edit, I have rotated the image a little to make the floor straight: (you can see how much by the break in the picture rail see red arrow). JW being tricky and skilled. Now the amount of lean in wall could almost be achieved just by a camera pointing down. No weird camera movements – this is almost familiar. But the door leans more than the wall! Next, note the degree of convergence in blue lines compared to green lines. Therefore the blue angle is emphasized – somehow. Note different hang of towel in magenta compared to blue – therefore edited ~ somehow!

The grid is good because as an initial observation it shows how much distortion we are viewing. But it makes it difficult to see that the floor is not level. When the floor is straightened the lean on the left wall is not as much as it seemed. Wait! Things do splay out when the camera is pointed down – so maybe there is no Photoshop in this at all? But there is – the angles have been emphasised a bit (I believe digitally) and there are puns in the angle of the towel (sloping at a different angle) and the buttons on the couch (not sloping out at all).

Lets play with this a bit more. So just tilt the camera to slope the floor and emphasise the lean by using the tilt to straighten the verticals on one side – and now make this a bit stronger in Photoshop. And by judicious use of the furniture placement the slope of the floor can be partly hidden. I can imagine Jeff Wall saying to a crowd that there is no Photoshop in this – it’s just camera placement (including a tilt in the whole camera) and without duplicating the scene I can’t be sure – but I think he has stressed in Photoshop some things that are already there. Digital enhancement.

Finally we can say that the formal qualities of this image are a play upon what has been initially offered by the camera. Initially: The walls are sloping! So is it just optics, or camera angle or Photoshop? It’s all three but not as much Photoshop as initially thought. The floor is not straight, the camera angle has been changed and there has been some digital emphasis.”

J.S.B. (author of The Well Tempered View Camera)

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Many thankx to Dr James McArdle for the initial gridded image from the posting “Perspective blow up,” on his Camera/Eye blog (January 21st, 2013) where he argues that the skewing is all done with tilting and shifting of an 8 x 10 image view camera to the analysis by J.S.B in which he argues that the skewing is partially done through the architecture (the set), the camera and some Photoshop tweeking.

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Double Self-Portrait' 1979

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Double Self-Portrait
1979
Transparency in light box AP
172.0 x 229.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Untangling' 1994, printed 2006

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Untangling
1994, printed 2006
Transparency in light box, AP
189.0 x 223.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased NGV Foundation and with the assistance of NGV Contemporary, 2006
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Dressing poultry' 2007

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Dressing poultry
2007
Transparency in light box, 1/2
201.5 x 252.0 cm
Cranford Collection, London
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Adrian Walker, artist, drawing from a specimen in a laboratory in the Dept. of Anatomy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver' 1992

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Adrian Walker, artist, drawing from a specimen in a laboratory in the Dept. of Anatomy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver
1992
Transparency in light box, AP
119.0 x 164.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai)' 1993

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai)
1993
Transparency in light box, unique state
229.0 x 377.0 cm
Tate, London Purchased with the assistance from the Patrons of New Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation and from the National Art Collections Fund, 1995
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue' 1999-2000

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue
1999-2000
Transparency in light box, AP
174.0 x 250.5 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Knife throw' 2008

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Knife throw
2008
Colour photograph, AP
184.0 x 256.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'The Destroyed Room' 1978

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
The Destroyed Room
1978
Transparency in light box, AP
159.0 x 234.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Clipped branches, East Cordova St., Vancouver' 1999

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Clipped branches, East Cordova St., Vancouver
1999
Transparency in light box, AP
72.0 x 89.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Diagonal Composition' 1993

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946-
Diagonal Composition
1993
Transparency in light box, AP
40.0 x 46.0 cm
Collection of the artist
© Jeff Wall

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1. McArdle, James. Email to the author 22-01-2013

2. Wall, Jeff and Crombie, Isobel. “Jeff Wall Photographs: Knife Throw,” video on ArtDaily.org [Online] Cited 03-03-2013

3. Howarth, Sophie. “Introduction,” in Singular Images: essays on Remarkable Photographs. New York: Aperture, 2006, p.7.

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The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

National Gallery of Victoria website

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30
Nov
12

Exhibition: ‘Jeff Wall Photographs’ at The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th November 2012 – 17th March 2013

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Installation shots of the new Jeff Wall exhibition at NGV Australia. Review to follow in due course.

Many thankx to Jemma Altmeier and all the media team at NGV for all their wonderful help and congratulations to the curators, Susan van Wyk and Dr Isobel Crombie, for their restrained yet contemporary installations and for getting the exhibitions to Melbourne. They look magnificent. Well done!

Many thankx to the NGV for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Marcus Bunyan © National Gallery of Victoria. May not be reproduced without permission.

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at right, 'The Destroyed Room' 1978

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at right, The Destroyed Room 1978

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'The Destroyed Room' (detail) 1978

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
The Destroyed Room (detail)
1978
Transparency in light box, AP
159.0 x 234.0 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at left, 'The Destroyed Room' 1978, and at right, 'Double Self-Portrait' 1979

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at left, The Destroyed Room 1978, and at right, Double Self-Portrait 1979

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at right, 'Double Self-Portrait' 1979

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at right, Double Self-Portrait 1979

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at left, 'Doorpusher' 1984, and at right, 'Polishing' 1998

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at left, Doorpusher 1984, and at right, Polishing 1998

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Polishing' (detail) 1998

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
Polishing (detail)
1998
Transparency in light box, 1/2
162.0 x 207.0 cm
State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 1999
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall. 'Doorpusher' (detail) 1984

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Jeff Wall 
Doorpusher
(detail)
1984
Transparency in lightbox
2490 x 1220 mm
© Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at centre, 'Doorpusher' 1984, and at right, 'Polishing' 1998

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at centre, Doorpusher 1984, and at right, Polishing 1998

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at left, 'Diagonal Composition' 1993, and at right, 'Doorpusher' 1984

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at left, Diagonal Composition 1993, and at right, Doorpusher 1984

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Diagonal Composition' 1993

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
Diagonal Composition
1993
Transparency in light box, AP
40.0 x 46.0 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall. 'Pipe Opening' (detail) 2002

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Jeff Wall
Pipe Opening (detail)
2002
Transparency in light box, AP
40.0 x 46.0 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at right, 'A view from an apartment' 2004-05

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at right, A view from an apartment 2004-05

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing 'After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue' 1999-2000

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue 1999-2000

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue' 1999-2000 (detail)

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue (detail)
1999-2000
Transparency in light box, AP
174.0 x 250.5 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'A view from an apartment' 2004-05

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
A view from an apartment (detail)
2004-05
Transparency in light box, 1/2
167.0 x 244.0 cm Tate, London Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members, 2006
© Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing 'A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai)' 1993

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) 1993

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The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

National Gallery of Victoria website

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27
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘Songs of the Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 – Today’ at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada

Exhibition dates: 20th August 2011 – 29th April 2012

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Another eclectic photography exhibition. I do love them for their interesting subject matter. Much as Australian photography may seem slightly obscure to the rest of the world so Canadian photography is little known in Australia. One of the important briefs of this blog is to promote all photography in its many forms, including Australian, to the four corners of the globe.

Many thankx to the Art Gallery of Ontario for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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“Oh the song of the future has been sung / All the battles have been won
On the mountain tops we stand / All the world at our command
We have opened up her soil / With our teardrops and our toil”

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Gordon Lightfoot, “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”

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Isabelle Hayeur
Jade
2004
from the series Model Homes, 2004 – 2007
Chromogenic print
107 x 160 cm
Gift of Paul Bain, 2008
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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E. Haanel Cassidy
Man on Tower
1940
from the series Canadian Industry – Grain Elevator
Gelatin silver print
23.7 x 35.3 cm
Gift of Sylvia Platt, 2002
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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George Hunter
Dofasco and Stelco steel mills, Hamilton, Ontario
1954
Dye transfer print
31.2 x 42.1 cm
Gift of George Hunter, R.C.A, 2010
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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“The practice of photography in Canada closely parallels the development of its industries. As railroad tracks were laid and bridges were built to allow access to remote forests and mineral-rich territories, photographers followed, as they did when mining and lumber interests developed. These industrial activities have undeniably shaped the Canadian landscape – for better and for worse. And photographs of these activities – whether made on commission by those eager to document their contribution to national progress, or for the photographer’s own interest – continue to feed our imaginations, shape our opinions and make us aware of what is at stake.

Songs of Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 to Today includes more than 100 photographs – by such figures as William Notman, Alexander Henderson, Richard Maynard, J.C.M. Hayward, John Vanderpant, E. Haanel Cassidy, George Hunter, Bill Vazan, Ralph Greenhill, Geoffrey James, Edward Burtynsky, Peter MacCallum, Steven Evans, Jesse Boles, and Isabelle Hayeur – most drawn from the AGO’s permanent collection, and many of which have never been shown. Featuring sites from the west coast to the Maritimes, the exhibition showcases this other landscape tradition in Canadian art and the Canadian photographers who have described, evoked, celebrated, and cast a critical eye on our industrial landscapes for more than 150 years.

Depicting railway and bridge building, quarries and mines, and the lumber, pulp and paper, and concrete industries in Canada, Songs of the Future traces the shifting perspectives on industry and the Canadian landscape from the Industrial Revolution to today. The exhibition highlights the ways in which the photographers’ perspectives on industry have shifted along with those of society at large, as celebratory images of human domination over nature give way to more critical views of industrial impact.

The exhibition is curated by Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s assistant curator of photography, who integrates works from various periods into thematic concentrations, including images featuring: the construction of the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River in the late 1850s; the building of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, a pulp-and-paper mill located in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, in 1912; and the development of the railroad in Canada.

“The exhibition explores the history of Canadian photography through the topic of industrial imagery,” says Hackett. “Featuring sites from the Maritimes to the west coast, and rooted in the fundamentally Canadian genre of landscape, the photographs bear witness to the various aesthetic techniques and styles emphasized by Canadian photographers over the past 150 years.””

Press release from the AGO website

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Alexander Henderson
Miramichi Bridges: Southwest Branch, View of Pier G, completed September 15, 1873
1873
Albumen print
25.3 x 30.5 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Berger, 2008
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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Edward Burtynsky
C.N. Track, Thompson River #002, British Columbia
1985
from the series Railcuts
Chromogenic print
121.9 x 147.3 cm
Gift of Harry and Ann Malcolmson, 2008
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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Peter MacCallum
Finishing Mill Department, St. Marys Cement, Bowmanville, Ontario
1999
from the series Concrete Industries, 1998 – 2004
Gelatin silver print
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Purchase, funds donated by James Lahey and Pym Buitenhuis, 2008
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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Ralph Greenhill
Prince of Wales Bridge, Ottawa, Ontario
1977
Gelatin silver print
22.6 x 17.4 cm
Gift of Av Isaacs, 2008
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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John Vanderpant
No.2, Towers in White
around 1934
Gelatin silver print
34.4 x 27 cm
Purchase, donated funds in memory of Eric Steiner, 2002
Image courtesy the Art Gallery of Ontario / AGO Image Resources
© 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario

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Art Gallery of Ontario
Musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario

317 Dundas Street West
Toronto Ontario Canada M5T 1G4

Opening hours:
Tue – Sunday 10.30am – 5.30pm
Closed Mondays

Art Gallery of Ontario website

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27
Dec
11

Exhibition: ‘After the Gold Rush: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 22nd March, 2011 – 2nd January, 2012

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Many thankx to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Hans Haacke (German, born 1936)
Thank You, Paine Webber
1979
Gelatin silver print and chromogenic print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Vital Projects Fund Inc. Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2010
© Hans Haacke

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Since the early 1970s Haacke has taken on the intertwined political and corporate forces that use cultural patronage as a smokescreen to advance interests that are often antithetical to the vitality of free speech and expression in democracies. Haacke made this work just as the strategy of appropriation – lifting an image out of its original context and re-presenting it in critical fashion – began to make waves in the New York art world of the late 1970s. Like all effective appropriation, it exposes a prior instance of borrowing – in this case, how the investment firm Paine Webber used a documentary photograph to give its annual report the veneer of social concern. The artist then pointedly contrasted it with an image from the same annual report of a beaming trio of executives in a painting-lined gallery. As a counterpoint to the protestor’s signboard, Haacke dropped in text from a different Paine Webber ad campaign to show on whose backs the “risk management” is taking place – a biting indictment, the relevance of which has only increased since the recent economic downturn.
Wall text

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Jeff Wall (Canadian, born 1946)
The Storyteller
1986
Silver dye bleach transparency in light box
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Charlene and David Howe, Henry Nias Foundation Inc., Jennifer and Robert Yaffa, Harriet Ames Charitable Trust, and Gary and Sarah Wolkowitz Gifts, 2006
Image courtesy of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Wall’s staged tableaux straddle the worlds of the museum and the street. His subjects are scenes of urban and suburban disarray that he witnessed firsthand – the kinds of things anyone might see while wandering around a city and its outskirts. Working like a movie director, he restages the scene using nonprofessionals as actors and presents his photographs as color transparencies in light boxes such as those of large-scale public advertisements found at airports and bus stops. The scale and ambition of his pictures – scenes of everyday life shot through with larger intimations of political struggle – equally evoke the Salon paintings of nineteenth century French painters such as Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet, which were themselves brazen combinations of canonical and contemporary subjects.

The Storyteller is set in a barren, leftover slice of land next to a highway overpass in Vancouver, where the artist lives. Various groupings of modern urban castaways – perhaps descendants of the Native Americans who occupied the land before the arrival of Europeans – are dispersed around the hillside, a mini-catalogue of art-historical reference. Like the upside-down, half-submerged figure of Icarus in the background of Brueghel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, the woman speaking and gesticulating to the two men listening at the lower left becomes the key to unifying the fractured and alienating environment from which Wall’s picture is constructed.
Wall text

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Laurie Simmons (American, born 1949)
Walking Gun
1991
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1998
© Laurie Simmons

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The early 1990s marked the last moment when a wide swath of women artists responded to the sexism they saw as pervasive in the culture – from the rape trial of William Kennedy Smith to the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Clarence Thomas. A pioneer of set-up photography, Simmons dramatically expanded the scale of her constructed tableaux for a series of spotlighted puppet-like objects perched atop doll legs: revolvers, houses, cameras, and cakes. This armed and dangerous example refers to the old-movie cliché where a man carrying a gun is shown in shadow profile. Here, Simmons offers instead the death-dealing seductress – also familiar from film noir – in monumental miniature, a doll capable of turning on its master at a moment’s notice.
Wall text

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Philip-Lorca diCorcia (American, born 1953)
Todd M. Brooks, 22 Years Old, from Denver, Colorado, $40
1991
Chromogenic print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1991
Image courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York
© Philip-Lorca diCorcia

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“The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present After the Gold Rush: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection from March 22, 2011, through January 2, 2012, in the Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition features 25 photographs dating from 1979 to the present by 15 contemporary artists.

The exhibition’s title, After the Gold Rush, is taken from a classic 1970 song by Neil Young, whose verses contrast a romanticized past with a present of squandered plenty and an uncertain future. Inspired by the recent political and economic upheavals in America and abroad, this selection juxtaposes new photographs that take the long view of the world’s current condition with prescient works from the 1980s and 1990s that remain startlingly relevant today.

This is the first occasion for the Museum to present recently acquired works by: Gretchen Bender, James Casebere, Moyra Davey, Katy Grannan, Hans Haacke, An-My Lê, Curtis Mann, Trevor Paglen, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Also featured are photographs by: Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Robert Gober, Adrian Piper, Laurie Simmons, Jeff Wall, and Christopher Williams.

After the Gold Rush begins with Hans Haacke’s Thank You, Paine Webber (1979) – the first work by this legendary provocateur of Conceptual art to enter the Metropolitan’s collection. Haacke’s biting photo-diptych is so pertinent to the recent economic downturn that it seems as if it could have been made yesterday. In this work, the artist appropriated images from the investment firm’s annual report to convey his viewpoint that big business provides a veneer of social concern to mask the brutal effects of the “risk management” they offer their clients.

Other works in After the Gold Rush use varying degrees of artifice and photographic realism to reflect on marginalized and repressed voices. Measuring over 14 feet long and presented as a backlit transparency in a light box, The Storyteller (1986) is Jeff Wall’s signature image and is typical of his method. Working from memory, the artist uses nonprofessional actors and real locations to meticulously restage a scene of urban blight that he witnessed in his native Vancouver. Wall plays this photographic verisimilitude against compositions and figural poses indebted to French painters such as Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, and Georges Seurat. A comparison of Wall’s Storyteller with Courbet’s Young Ladies of the Village (1852), on view in the Museum’s galleries for Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century European Paintings and Sculpture, reveals parallels: in both, a keenly observed moment of telling social interaction taking place on a sloping landscape. Each artist has combined a daringly modern subject with references to earlier art.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia is another key figure in the development of staged photography. In the early 1990s, the artist created a series of works in response to the political attacks on gays and federal funding of the arts in the U.S. DiCorcia hired male hustlers to pose for their portraits out on the streets – and paid them with grant money he received from the National Endowment for the Arts. At the same moment, a wide swath of women artists addressed issues of sexism and racism: examples of this politically pointed art are represented by Laurie Simmons’ Walking Gun (1991) – a spotlighted puppet of doll legs and a revolver that seems capable of turning on its master at a moment’s notice – and Adrian Pipers 1992 work Decide Who You Are #24 (A Moving Target), which includes a childhood image of Anita Hill as part of a blistering meditation in word and image on racial politics. Such works are missives from a time not so long ago when artists regularly commented on present-day politics and culture through their art. (Because of light sensitivity, this work by Adrian Piper will be on view through Sunday, September 26.)

Although the recently made photographs in After the Gold Rush seem at first glance to be less overtly political than their predecessors, they nevertheless address vital issues about contemporary society. James Casebere’s epic vision of America, Landscape with Houses (Dutchess County, NY) #1, (2009), is based on a tabletop model that the artist spent 18 months building. The photograph shows a suburban subdivision of the kind recently ravaged by the foreclosure crisis, and its sunny sense of “Morning in America” comments ironically on the country’s future prospects. An-My Lê’s similarly sweeping five-part photographic piece Suez Canal Transit, USS Dwight Eisenhower, Egypt (2009) will also be featured. Lê is interested in the way in which U.S. armed forces come into contact with the rest of the world. This major new work – which seems at first to be a straightforward panorama of military might overseas – subtly undercuts the viewer’s expectations to question the current position of the U.S. on the global stage.

Trevor Paglen is a young artist whose works plot the “black world” of covert military operations, from telephoto images of predator drones taken from miles away, to software that follows planes used for the extraordinary rendition of suspected terrorists. Paglen’s 2008 photograph KEYHOLE IMPROVED CRYSTAL from Glacier Point (Optical Reconnaissance Satellite; USA 186) shows the ghostly white streak of an American reconnaissance satellite bisecting star trails above Yosemite’s Half Dome, a rock formation photographed in the 1860s by artists including Carleton Watkins. To make these and other photographs, Paglen collaborated with amateur astronomers who were originally trained by the U.S. government to look out for Soviet satellites during the Cold War, but turned their attention to American surveillance in recent years.

The final piece in After the Gold Rush is a suite of five recently acquired photographs from 2007-2009 by the celebrated photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. The grouping shifts focus from macro to micro: from expansive aerial views of Shanghai and Dubai to close ups that suggest the smallest increments of sustenance and regeneration. Taken together, they evoke the interconnectedness of all things and a grounding of the political in the personal as a way for an engaged yet expressive art.”

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

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Adrian Piper (American, born 1948)
Decide Who You Are #24: A Moving Target
1992
Photo-mechanical processes on three panels
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1994
© Adrian Piper

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Piper is an artist and a philosophy professor who works in a variety of media, including performance, video, sound pieces, photography, drawing, and writing. She often explores issues of autobiography, racism, and stereotyping. For her 1992 series Decide Who You Are, the artist used a triptych format in which a different appropriated photograph is flanked by an image of the “three wise monkeys” maxim advocating “See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil” at left, and at right a photograph of a young girl who, though not identified, is Anita Hill – who had recently been thrust into the spotlight for accusing then-nominee for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harrassment. The verse in the left panel changes in each individual work in the series, while that on the right is unchanging – what the artist once described as “a comprehensive, textbook compendium of commonly invoked litanies of denial and intimidation, from the bland to the vaguely menacing” and “a must for novices and aspiring leaders in business, politics, and culture.”
Wall text

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Christopher Williams (American, born 1956)
3 White (DG’s Mr. Postman) Fourth Race, Phoenix Greyhound Park, Phoenix, Arizona, August 22, 1994
1994
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Charina Foundation Inc. and Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gifts, 2003
© Christopher Williams

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Robert Gober (American, born 1954)
Untitled (Detail from “1978 – 2000”)
2000
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2002
© Robert Gober

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James Casebere (American, born 1953)
Landscape with Houses (Dutchess County, NY) #1
2009
Chromogenic print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2011
© James Casebere

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Wolfgang Tillmans (German, born 1968)
Oriental Pearl
2009
Inkjet print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Vital Projects Fund Inc. Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2010
Image courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
© Wolfgang Tillmans

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
T: 212-535-7710

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.*
Friday and Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.*
Sunday: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.*
Closed Monday (except Met Holiday Mondays**), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 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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