Posts Tagged ‘Edward Hopper

12
Jul
20

European photographic research tour exhibition: ‘Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity’ at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam Part 2

Exhibition dates: 7th September – 1st December 2019

Visited September 2019 posted June 2020

Curator: Estrella de Diego, Professor of Modern Art at the Complutense University of Madrid

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Old New York, new New York

This was an impressive exhibition from this powerhouse of a photographer in that most beautiful of galleries, Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. While her debt to that French master photographer Eugène Atget (1857-1927) is acknowledged through Abbott’s statement that she planned “to do for New York what Atget did for Paris,” Abbott’s photographs and her ‘point of view’ differ significantly to that of her Parisian hero.

Inflections of the influence of the Parisian master are present in the work, but in the project Changing New York Abbott develops a unique visual language through her representation of city life. Her photographs of shop fronts are more static and formal than that of Atget, more interested in the multiplicities of form than they are of reflections in glass, or ghostly people standing in doorways. Further, Atget would never have taken a photograph such as Gunsmith and Police Department, 6 Centre Market Place, Manhattan (1937, below) because the angle of the composition looking upwards is too severe, too modernist. Similarly, the placement by Abbott of the lamppost and U.S. Mail box in Old Law Tenements, 35-47 East 1st Street (1937, below) as the focus of attention, make this photograph uniquely her own.

Abbott photographs the co-mingled elements of old New York and new New York – the crowded tenements, rushing people, and “grand canyons” lined with monolithic skyscrapers of the bustling metropolis – as a city caught in the shadows of a piercing New York light. If you have been to New York you know that the city has that light, a hard, clinical light that bounces off surfaces until it sinks into the deepening shadows and recesses of overshadowed buildings. In her vital, still, intense, renditions of the cityscape Abbott’s photographs capture this light.

But what really changes her attitude (or altitude you might say) to the city is Abbott’s depiction of those edifices of modernism that are the crowning glory of New York: the skyscraper. Paraphrasing Karen Chambers from her article, “Paris to New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott,” we can say that Abbott’s photographs of skyscrapers are different from the human scale of Atget’s photographs and of Abbott’s of a disappearing New York. Whether looking up from the bowls of the city (Canyon: Broadway and Exchange Place, 1936 below); across at the regimented forms of building (New York Telephone Company’s Lower Broadway Building, 1930-31 below); or down from a God-like perspective (Waterfront, from roof of Irving Trust Company Building, 1938 below), Abbott’s photographs of skyscrapers and the spaces they inhabit perfectly capture the layered forms and walls of isolation of the contemporary working metropolis, complete with Tempo of the City automatons.

Through the meritocracy of her talent, Abbott’s vision soars and plunges, meticulously, into the utopian / dystopian fabric of the city, Atget influences subsumed into American light, form and culture… the brooding hulks of towering skyscrapers; the skeletal form of bridges; and Abbott’s clear persistence of vision – seeing modernity clearly, with focus, in focus.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
All iPhone photographs by Dr Marcus Bunyan. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“When Abbott returned to New York in 1929, she planned “to do for New York what Atget did for Paris.” The project became known as ‘Changing New York’, and in her application for funding from the Federal Art Project (FAP), a part of the Farm Security Administration, best known for sending photographers, including Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, into the American heartland to document rural poverty, she wrote that the purpose of the project was “to preserve for the future an accurate and faithful chronicle in photographs of the changing aspect of the world’s greatest metropolis”.”

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Karen S. Chambers. ““Paris to New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott,” Taft Museum of Art, through January 20, 2019,” on the AEQAI website October 28th, 2018 [Online] Cited 08/06/2020

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam showing Abbott’s Gunsmith and Police Department Headquarters 1937
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Gunsmith and Police Department Headquarters'  February 4, 1937 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Gunsmith and Police Department Headquarters (installation view)
February 4, 1937
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Gunsmith and Police Department, 6 Centre Market Place, Manhattan'  February 4, 1937

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Gunsmith and Police Department, 6 Centre Market Place, Manhattan 
February 4, 1937
Gelatin silver print
Wikipedia Commons, Public domain

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation view of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'New York Harbour' 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
New York Harbour (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Waterfront, from roof of Irving Trust Company Building' 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Waterfront, from roof of Irving Trust Company Building (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Daily News Building, 42nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Daily News Building, 42nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Manhattan
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Daily News Building, 42nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Manhattan' 1935

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Daily News Building, 42nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Manhattan
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Wikipedia Commons, Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'New York Telephone Company’s Lower Broadway Building' 1930-31 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
New York Telephone Company’s Lower Broadway Building (installation view)
1930-31
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'New York Telephone Company Building, 140 West Street, Manhattan' 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
New York Telephone Company Building, 140 West Street, Manhattan (installation view)
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Canyon: Broadway and Exchange Place' July 16, 1936

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Canyon: Broadway and Exchange Place
July 16, 1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'R.C.A. building' c. 1932 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
R.C.A. building (installation view)
c. 1932 (printed before 1950)
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane' 1936 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane' 1936 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane' 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane (installation views)
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane' 1936

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Manhattan Skyline: I. South Street and Jones Lane
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Old Law Tenements, 35-47 East 1st Street' February 11, 1937 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Old Law Tenements, 35-47 East 1st Street (installation view)
February 11, 1937
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Old Law Tenements, 35-47 East 1st Street' February 11, 1937

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Old Law Tenements, 35-47 East 1st Street
February 11, 1937
Gelatin silver print
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Shelter on the Waterfront, Coenties Slip, Pier 5, East River, Manhattan' 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Shelter on the Waterfront, Coenties Slip, Pier 5, East River, Manhattan (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street, Manhattan' December 29, 1936 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street, Manhattan' December 29, 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street, Manhattan  (installation view)
December 29, 1936
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Country Store Interior' October 11, 1935 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Country Store Interior' October 11, 1935 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Country Store Interior (installation view)
October 11, 1935
Gelatin silver print
Gift of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1948
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Country Store Interior' October 11, 1935

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Country Store Interior
October 11, 1935
Gelatin silver print
Public domain

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Charles Lane, between West and Washington Street' September 20, 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Charles Lane, between West and Washington Street (installation view)
September 20, 1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Charles Lane, between West and Washington Street' September 20, 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Charles Lane, between West and Washington Street
September 20, 1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Newsstand, 32nd Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Newsstand, 32nd Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Newsstand, 32nd Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan' 1935

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Newsstand, 32nd Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Cheese Store, 276 Bleecker Street, Manhattan' 1937 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Cheese Store, 276 Bleecker Street, Manhattan (installation view)
1937
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

New York must have seem to Abbott extremely photogenic, with its skyscrapers and street vendors on Hester Street on the Lower East Side. It is a city of contrasts; of light and shade, and bustling squares; of all manner of shoes overflowing with bread, bric-a-brac, ricotta in Little Italy, rope, metal objects… Abbott depicts a city that heralds the consumer society and its abundance – its excess, even.

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Cheese Store, 276 Bleecker Street, Manhattan' 1937

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Cheese Store, 276 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
1937
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'A & P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.), 246 3rd Avenue, Manhattan' 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
A & P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.), 246 3rd Avenue, Manhattan (installation view)
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Hardware Store, 316-318 Bowery' 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Hardware Store, 316-318 Bowery (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Pingpank Barber Shop, 413 Bleecker Street, Manhattan' 1938 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Pingpank Barber Shop, 413 Bleecker Street, Manhattan (installation view)
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Pingpank Barber Shop, 413 Bleecker Street, Manhattan' 1938

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Pingpank Barber Shop, 413 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
1938
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Sumner Healey Antique Shop, 942 3rd Avenue and 57th Street, Manhattan' 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Sumner Healey Antique Shop, 942 3rd Avenue and 57th Street, Manhattan (installation view)
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Sumner Healey Antique Shop, 942 3rd Avenue and 57th Street, Manhattan' 1936

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Sumner Healey Antique Shop, 942 3rd Avenue and 57th Street, Manhattan
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Union Square, 14th Street and Broadway, Manhattan' 1936 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Union Square, 14th Street and Broadway, Manhattan (installation view)
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Union Square' July 16, 1936

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Union Square
July 16, 1936
Gelatin silver photograph
6 7/8 x 8 7/8 in. (17.5 x 22.5 cm)
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection
Public domain

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Lewis Hine' 1930 (Installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Lewis Hine (installation view)
1930
Gelatin silver photograph
International Centre of Photography
Purchase with funds provided by the Lois and Bruce Henkel purchase Fund, 1984
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Edward Hopper' 1949 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Edward Hopper (installation view)
1949
Gelatin silver photograph
International Centre of Photography
Gift of Jonathan A. Berg, 1984
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

Installation view of the exhibition 'Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity' at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

 

Installation views of the exhibition Berenice Abbott: Portraits of Modernity at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'Penn Station, Manhattan' 1935 (installation view)

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
Penn Station, Manhattan (installation view)
1935
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Photo: Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991) 'El': 2nd & 3rd Avenue lines, looking W. from Second & Pearl St., Manhattan' 1936

 

Berenice Abbott (American, 1898-1991)
El’: 2nd & 3rd Avenue lines, looking W. from Second & Pearl St., Manhattan
1936
Gelatin silver print
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Public domain

 

Yousuf Karsh (Armenian-Canadian, 1908-2002) 'Portrait of Berenice Abbott, Monson, Maine' August 1989 (installation view)

 

Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs
The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Gift of the photographer

 

 

Huis Marseille
Keizersgracht 401
1016 EK Amsterdam
Phone: +31 20 531 89 89

Opening hours
Tue – Sun, 11 – 18 h

Huis Marseille website

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03
Oct
17

Review: ‘Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines’ at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 23rd June – 8th October 2017

 

Gregory Crewsdon. 'The Haircut' 2014

 

Gregory Crewdson
The Haircut
2014
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian

 

 

End of days

I have written critically and glowingly of Crewdson’s work in the past (see my review of his exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 2012). With the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines the same elements are extant: life in the back woods of America, the tableaux beautifully staged and presented in large photographic prints throughout the three floors of the expansive spaces of the Photographers’ Gallery, London. And yet there is something particularly “icky”, if I can use that word, about this new body of work. What made me feel this way?

Firstly, I was uncomfortable with the number of naked or half-naked females (compared to men) in the photographs, all looking vulnerable, melancholic and isolated in small, rural town America. This is how Crewdson sees women in the microcosms he creates, women vulnerable in forest and cabin settings, but this incessant observation became/is objectionable to me. These are not powerful, strong, independent women, far from it. These are stateless women who peer endlessly out of windows, or sit on the end of beds looking downcast. It is almost degrading to females that these woman are so passive and objectified. Reinforcing the theme of isolation and desperation is the word “HELP!” painted on the bridge above a naked woman standing on a roadway; reinforcing the feeling of voyeurism is a woman’s bra hanging in a toilet being observed by a man on a pair of skis.

Secondly, compared to the earlier series, the spaces in these new photographs seem to be completely dead. The photographs look handsome enough but they have a very different feel from the previous work. While externally referencing a sense of space and uncertainty present in B grade movies, European and American 19th century landscape paintings (where the human figure is dwarfed by the supposed sublime), and the paintings of Edward Hopper – the spaces in these new works feel closed, locked down and a bit scary. Nothing is real (and never has been) in Crewdson’s work but this time everything seems to be over directed. As my friend Elizabeth Gertsakis observed, “The environmental context is chilling. The palette is extremely cold, there is no warmth at all. The viewer is not welcome, because there is nothing to be welcome to… even for curiosity’s sake. No one is real here – everything is silent.” Or dead. Or lifeless.

The whole series seems apathetic. That is, apathy with extreme effort. While Crewdson observes that the darkness lifted, leading to a reconnection with his artistic process and a period of renewal and intense creativity, this work is clearly at the end of something. As Elizabeth comments, “An invisible wall has come down here…. and there is absolutely no entry. This body of work is so much more pervy because it is so obvious and wooden. The camera here is well and truly in the mortuary and the photographer is the undertaker as well as the man who makes dead faces look ‘human’.” But he doesn’t make them human, and there’s the rub. Which all begs the question: where is this work going?

While Crewdson continues to move down a referential and associative path, the work fails to progress conceptually even as the work ultimately stagnates, both visually and emotionally. These wooden mise en scène are based on a very tired conceptual methodology, that of the narrative of the B grade movie which, if you have the money, time and willingness to invest in, can seem sufficiently sophisticated. Of course, buyers want to keep buying a signatory technique or idea that is easily recognisable and this adds to the cachet of the art… but as a critic you have to ask where the work is going, if an artist keeps repeating the same thing over and over and over again in slightly different contexts. Imagine if Degas had kept painting ballet dancers using the same lighting, the same perspective, the same colour palette, the same psychological investigation painting after painting… what we would be saying about the resulting work. Sure, there is great technical proficiency contained in Crewdson’s work, but is he pushing the work anywhere more interesting? And the simple answer to that question is, no he isn’t. No wonder he has been having a tough time reconnecting with his artistic process.

Marcus

.
All installation photographs © Dr Marcus Bunyan, The Photographers’ Gallery and the artist. Please observe that there are reflections in the installation photographs of the surrounding gallery.

 

 

“It was deep in the forests of Becket, Massachusetts that I finally felt darkness lift, experienced a reconnection with my artistic process, and moved into a period of renewal and intense creativity.”

.
Gregory Crewdson

 

 

Room 1

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Woman at Sink 2014

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Woman in Parked Car 2014

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 1 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

 

Installation views of Room 1 of Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'The Basement' 2014

 

Gregory Crewdson
The Basement
2014
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian

 

 

This is the first UK exhibition of Cathedral of the Pines, a new body of work by acclaimed American artist Gregory Crewdson, and it is also the first time The Photographers’ Gallery has devoted all three of its gallery spaces to one artist.

With this series, produced between 2013 and 2014, Crewdson departs from his interest in uncanny suburban subjects and explores human relations within more natural environments. In images that recall nineteenth-century American and European paintings, Crewdson photographs figures posing within the small rural town of Becket, Massachusetts, and its vast surrounding forests, including the actual trail from which the series takes its title. Interior scenes charged with ambiguous narratives probe tensions between human connection and separation, intimacy and isolation.

Crewdson describes this project as ‘his most personal’, venturing to retrieve in the remote setting of the forest, a reminiscence of his childhood. The images in Cathedral of the Pines, located in the dystopian landscape of the anxious American imagination, create atmospheric scenes, many featuring local residents, and for the first time in Crewdson’s work, friends and family. In Woman at Sink, a woman pauses from her domestic chores, lost in thought. In Pickup Truck, Crewdson shows a nude couple in the flatbed of a truck in a dense forest – the woman seated, the man turned away in repose. Crewdson situates his disconsolate subjects in familiar settings, yet their cryptic actions – standing still in the snow, or nude on a riverbank – hint at invisible challenges. Precisely what these challenges are, and what fate awaits these anonymous figures, are left to the viewer’s imagination.

Crewdson’s careful crafting of visual suspense conjures forebears such as Diane Arbus, Alfred Hitchcock, and Edward Hopper, as well as the influence of Hollywood cinema and directors such as David Lynch. In Cathedral of the Pines, Crewdson’s persistent psychological leitmotifs evolve into intimate figurative dramas. Visually alluring and often deeply disquieting, these tableaux are the result of an intricate production process: For more than twenty years, Crewdson has used the streets and interiors of small-town America as settings for photographic incarnations of the uncanny.

Maintaining his trademark elaborate production processes, Crewdson works with a large crew to produce meticulously staged images with an obsessive attention to detail. Situated between Hollywood cinema and nineteenth-century American and European Romantic landscape painting, these scenes are charged with ambiguous narratives, which prove tensions between human connection and separation, intimacy and isolation.

Text from The Photographers’ Gallery website and wall text

 

Room 2

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. The VW Bus 2013

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Pregnant Woman on Porch 2013

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Father and Son 2013

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. The Ice Hut 2014

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Sisters 2014

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Sisters 2014 (detail)

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. The Disturbance 2014 (detail below)

Installation view of Room 2 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

 

Installation views of Room 2 of Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'The Disturbance' 2014

 

Gregory Crewdson
The Disturbance
2014
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian

 

Room 3

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Gregory Crewdson. Woman on Road 2014

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

Installation view of Room 3 of 'Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines' at The Photographers' Gallery

 

Installation views of Room 3 of Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographers’ Gallery, London

 

 

The Photographers Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street
London
W1F 7LW

Opening hours:
Mon – Sat: 10.00 – 18.00
Thu: 10.00 – 20.00 during exhibitions
Sun: 11.00 – 18.00

The Photographers’ Gallery website

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21
Oct
16

Exhibition: ‘George Tice: Urban Landscapes’ at the Joseph Bellows Gallery, La Jolla, California

Exhibition dates: 10th September – 28th October 2016

 

An American iconography

George Tice is a master photographer and an exceptional artist. Using a large format 8 x 10 camera this craftsman has created a “deeply-penetrating” photographic record of the American urban landscape, mainly based around the city of New Jersey where he has lived for most of his life.

Tice’s ongoing epic visual poem is at its strongest in his early period, from 1973-74. While his later 1990s work is qualified by simplified imagery and semiotic statements (for example Dorn’s Photoshop, Red Bank, NJ, 1999 and Lakewood Manor Motel, Lakewood, NJ, 1998, below) it is this early work that produces “attentive and quotidian descriptions of the everyday structures and places that define the American cultural landscape.” There seems to be a greater personal investment in these earlier images. Tice’s recognition of subject matter that mere mortals pass by is translated into beautiful, serene, tonal and dare I say, sensual images, that belie the complexity of their previsualisation. You only have to look at two images, Houses and Water Towers, Moorestown, NJ, 1973 and Hudson’s Fish Market, Atlantic City, NJ, 1973 (below) to understand that these photographs are visually complex, slightly surreal, affectionate images of places he personally knows so well. They possess a totally different feeling from the conceptual photography of the German school of Bernd and Hilla Becher. As Sanford Schwartz in The New York Times, on December 3, 1972 noted: “Tice’s pictures… show a remarkable blend of intimacy, affection and clear-sightedness.”

The almost tragic, objective renditions of a post-industrial landscape evidence a poetic intensity that has deep roots in the history of photography. Vivien Raynor, writing in The New York Times, said, “Finding precedents for Mr. Tice’s photography is easier than defining the personal qualities that make it so special. As others have remarked, his tranquil towns, usually deserted, could sometimes be those of Walker Evans updated; his industrial views are not unrelated to Charles Sheeler’s, and, for good measure, the stillness and silence of his compositions link him to Atget, the first great urban reporter.” Tice builds upon the lineage of other great artists but then, as any good artist should, he forges his own path, not reliant on the signature of others. As he himself observes, “… if you learn to see what photography is through one person’s eyes you become fixed in that one way of seeing.”

When I first started taking photographs in 1990, my heroes were Atget, Strand, Evans and Minor White. Looking at art, and looking at photographers, trained my eye. But as an artist, looking at the world is the most valuable education that you can have, for eventually you have to forge your own style, not copy someone else … and the signature that you create becomes your own. You know it’s a Mapplethorpe, just as you know it’s an Evans, or a Tice. Each piece of handwriting is unique. Nobody can teach that and it only comes with time and experience. As Paul Strand said, it takes 10 years to become an artist, 10 years to learn your craft, 10 years to drop ego away and find your own style. This is what the work of George Tice speaks to. He approaches the world with a clear mind, focused on a objective narrative that flips! exposing us (like his film), to a subjective, visceral charm all of his own making.

Marcus

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

 

 

“As I progressed further with my project, it became obvious that it was really unimportant where I chose to photograph. The particular place simply provided an excuse to produce work… you can only see what you are ready to see – what mirrors your mind at that particular time.”

“Documenting the place is principally what I do. The bulk of my photographs are of New Jersey. It may have been a subject series, like ice or aquatic plants, that could have been anywhere, but it was done in New Jersey. Most of my pictures are about place. I would say the Urban Landscape work is what is most distinctive about me.”

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George Tice

 

 

George Tice. 'Jimmy's Bar and Grill and Conmar Zipper Company, Newark, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Jimmy’s Bar and Grill and Conmar Zipper Company, Newark, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Houses and Water Towers, Moorestown, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Houses and Water Towers, Moorestown, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Hudson's Fish Market, Atlantic City, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Hudson’s Fish Market, Atlantic City, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Dorn's Photoshop, Red Bank, NJ, 1999' 1999

 

George Tice
Dorn’s Photoshop, Red Bank, NJ, 1999
1999
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Lexington Avenue, Passaic, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Lexington Avenue, Passaic, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Palace Funhouse, Asbury Park, 1995' 1995

 

George Tice
Palace Funhouse, Asbury Park, 1995
1995
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Railroad Bridge, High Bridge, NJ, 1974' 1974

 

George Tice
Railroad Bridge, High Bridge, NJ, 1974
1974
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Route #440 Overpass, Perth Amboy, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Route #440 Overpass, Perth Amboy, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

 

“Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs by one of the medium’s master photographers, George Tice. George Tice: Urban Landscapes will open with a book signing and reception with the artist on Saturday September, 10th from 6-8pm. The exhibition will continue through October 28th, 2016.

The exhibition will present a remarkable selection of forty exceptionally rare vintage 8 x 10 inch gelatin silver contact prints from the early period (1973-74), of Tice’s ongoing epic visual poem of his native state of New Jersey. These unique vintage prints will be punctuated with larger photographs of some of artist’s most revered and significant images, as well as selections of more recent work from his extended New Jersey portrait.

Renowned for their attentive and quotidian descriptions of the everyday structures and places that define the American cultural landscape, Tice’s exquisitely printed photographs catalog a rich and layered journey that is both personal and universal. In the photographs that comprise Urban Landscapes, Tice defines a sense of America within a tradition rooted in the work of other American masters, namely Edward Hopper and Walker Evans. Tice’s photographs of New Jersey in the early to mid 1970’s describe a particular time and place; however, as the artist states, “It takes the passage of time before an image of a commonplace subject can be assessed. The great difficulty of what I attempt is seeing beyond the moment; the everydayness of life gets in the way of the eternal.” Now, with decades past, Tice’s observations have become even more poignant depictions, everlasting a specific era and landscape, as the artist intended.

As well as being one of the 20th Century’s most prominent photographers, Tice is revered as a master printer, having printed limited-edition portfolios of some of his favorite photographers, among them Edward Steichen, Edward Weston and Frederick H. Evans, as well as other important photographers including Francis Bruguiere, Ralph Steiner and Lewis Hine.”

Press release from the Joseph Bellows Gallery

 

George Tice. 'Tenement Rooftops, Hoboken, NJ, 1974' 1974

 

George Tice
Tenement Rooftops, Hoboken, NJ, 1974
1974
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Steve's Diner, Route 130, North Brunswick, 1974' 1974

 

George Tice
Steve’s Diner, Route 130, North Brunswick, 1974
1974
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Ideal Diner, Perth Amboy, NJ, 1980' 1980

 

George Tice
Ideal Diner, Perth Amboy, NJ, 1980
1980
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'White Castle, Route #1, Rahway, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
White Castle, Route #1, Rahway, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Strand Theater, Keyport, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Strand Theater, Keyport, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Industrial Landscape, Kearny, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Industrial Landscape, Kearny, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

 

George Tice in conversation with Paul Caponigro

JPC You had said, “After a time you don’t want to have any photographic influences. It’s okay to be influenced by writers, poets, people in other fields but not okay by other photographers.”

GT You don’t want to be like anyone else. Like all those people who were influenced by Ansel Adams. I don’t think any of them will do better than he did.

JPC Not until they find their own voice. It’s impossible to successfully imitate someone else’s voice.

GT Right. And the natural landscape of the west, that’s not going to be better in the future, as the population increases and much of the wilderness gets erased. Timothy O’Sullivan probably had a better chance at it than Ansel Adams did. But you don’t want anyone to be too great an influence, like an apprenticeship. If I was to begin photography, study it, I wouldn’t want one teacher. I think one teacher is too great an influence. I’d rather have an education based on workshops. You draw some knowledge through every one of them. But if you learn to see what photography is through one person’s eyes you become fixed in that one way of seeing.

George Tice Conversations on the John Paul Caponigro “Illuminating Creativity” web page 07/01/1997 [Online] Cited 09/10/2016

 

George Tice. 'Jahos Brothers Clothing Store, Trenton, NJ, 1973' 1973

 

George Tice
Jahos Brothers Clothing Store, Trenton, NJ, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Minnie's Go-Go, Route 130, Merchantville, 1975' 1975

 

George Tice
Minnie’s Go-Go, Route 130, Merchantville, 1975
1975
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Lakewood Manor Motel, Lakewood, NJ, 1998' 1998

 

George Tice
Lakewood Manor Motel, Lakewood, NJ, 1998
1998
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Esso Station and Tenement House, Hoboken, NJ, 1972' 1972

 

George Tice
Esso Station and Tenement House, Hoboken, NJ, 1972
1972
Silver gelatin print

 

George Tice. 'Telephone Booth, 3 am, Railway, NJ, 1974' 1974

 

George Tice
Telephone Booth, 3 am, Railway, NJ, 1974
1974
Silver gelatin print

 

 

Joseph Bellows Gallery
7661 Girrard Avenue
La Jolla, California
Phone: 858 456 5620

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5pm, and Saturday by appointment

Joseph Bellows Gallery website

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26
Dec
13

Exhibition: ‘Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 1st October 1, 2013 – 5th January 2014

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The J. Paul Getty Museum puts on some amazing exhibitions, and this is no exception. For me the strength of this artist lies in his black and white work. I am not so enamoured with the camera obscura, unexpected juxtapositions of objects or tent-camera images. They seem prosaic and lack the magic of the black and white work.

The artist’s distinctive take on domestic interiors and family life is beguiling. Damp footprints on a bathroom floor with the most glorious light; the dark maw of a open paper bag; toy blocks ascending skywards; jumble of letters on a monolithic refrigerator door; the shadow of a house made into a house (amazing!); and the portents of darkness to come as Brady looks at his shadow. You cannot forget these images, they impinge on your consciousness. As for the colour images, they seem insignificant, superfluous when compared with these resonances.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the J. Paul Getty Museum 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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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Paper Bag' 1992

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Paper Bag
1992
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Curiouser and Curiouser' 1998

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Curiouser and Curiouser
1998
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Lisa and Brady Behind Glass' 1986

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Lisa and Brady Behind Glass
1986
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Toy Blocks' 1987

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Toy Blocks
1987
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Refrigerator' 1987

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Refrigerator
1987
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Footprints' 1987

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Footprints
1987
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchased with funds from the Friends of Photography, 2012.213
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Laura and Brady in the Shadow of Our House' 1994

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Laura and Brady in the Shadow of Our House
1994
Gelatin silver print
Image: 45.7 x 57.2 cm (18 x 22 1/2 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Abelardo Morell, 2004.139
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Book of Revolving Stars' 1994

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Book of Revolving Stars
1994
Inkjet print
Image: 45.7 x 57.2 cm (18 x 22 1/2 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Light Bulb' 1991

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Light Bulb
1991
Gelatin silver print
Image: 45.7 x 57.2 cm (18 x 22 1/2 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Comer Foundation Fund, 1994.40
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Camera Obscura: Houses Across the Street in Our Bedroom, Quincy, MA' 1991

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Camera Obscura: Houses Across the Street in Our Bedroom, Quincy, MA
1991
Gelatin silver print
Image: 79.2 x 103.2 cm (31 3/16 x 40 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, promised gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Two Forks Under Water' 1993

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Two Forks Under Water
1993
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Book with Wavy Pages' 2001

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Book with Wavy Pages
2001
Gelatin silver print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
Lent by the artist, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Motion Study of Falling Pitchers' 2004

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Motion Study of Falling Pitchers
2004
Gelatin silver print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, promised gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, obj. 210881
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Brady Looking at his Shadow' 1991

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Brady Looking at his Shadow
1991
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 45.7 cm (22 1/2 x 18 in.)
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchased with funds from Bert and Cathy Clark, 2012.214
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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“Over the past 25 years, Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) has become internationally renowned for photographs that push the boundaries of the medium while exploring visual surprise and wonder. Throughout his career, he has looked at things with a fresh vision and investigated simple optics in myriad forms. Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door, on view October 1, 2013 – January 5, 2014 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, traces the artist’s innovative work as he has continued to mine the essential strangeness and complexity of photography. The exhibition was organized by The Art Institute of Chicago, in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

“Abelardo Morell is one of this country’s great contemporary photographers whose very distinctive achievement is celebrated in this first major survey of his work,” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The exhibition also celebrates the growth of the holdings of Morell at three major museums, which have recently been augmented through the generosity of Dan Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, who have promised significant groups of works by the artist to each institution’s permanent collection.”

Morell came to the United States as a teenager. He attended Bowdoin College in Maine, and later completed an MFA in photography at Yale University. In 1986 he began creating large-format pictures around his home, examining common household objects with childlike curiosity. As a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, he experimented with optics in his teaching and initiated a series of images in which he turned entire rooms into camera obscuras, capturing the outside world as projected onto interior surfaces. These visual experiments and endless exploration of the medium are at the heart of the work on view in the exhibition.

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From a Child’s Perspective

The earliest photographs in the exhibition date from the mid-1980s, when the birth of his son, Brady, led Morell to a radical shift in his work. Looking inward at his own family life, Morell found novel subject matter in domestic interiors. He set aside his hand-held camera in favor of a large-format view camera that necessitated a more deliberate style and elicited a wealth of tactile detail from his subjects. Of this shift, Morell writes: “I started making photographs as if I were a child myself. This strategy got me to look at things around me more closely, more slowly, and from vantage points I hadn’t considered before.” This technique can be seen in Refrigerator (negative, 1987; print, 2012), where Morell portrays a common refrigerator as a giant monolith with jumbled letters on it, evoking the preverbal vision of a child. This concept recurs in Toy Blocks (negative, 1987; print, 2012), where toy blocks photographed from a steep perspective on the floor are made to seem like a mysterious Tower of Babel, as they might to a small child.

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Camera Obscura Experiments

The basis for all photography, the principle of the camera obscura (Latin for “dark chamber”) has been known since antiquity. In 1991, Morell began transforming entire rooms into cameras by covering the windows and inserting a small hole. He used a second camera to photograph the superimposition of the outside world as projected onto various interiors. Morell started by making black-and-white pictures in his own home before traveling before traveling in search of other compelling subjects for his uncanny, disorienting images. Morell made a pilgrimage to photograph Lacock Abbey, the country house of William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-1877), one of the inventors of photography. Talbot’s era was an ideal model for the camera obscura work, as the general interest in a variety of intersecting subject matter at that time mirrored Morell’s own interest in uniting science, art, philosophy, and religion.

In 2005, Morell turned to creating camera obscura works in color, eventually incorporating technical refinements that made his photographs less raw and immediate and more explicitly constructed. In View of the Brooklyn Bridge in the Bedroom (2009), bold red sheets serve as a reminder of the bed as a site of intimacy, contrasting with the public space of the Brooklyn Bridge. This strange juxtaposition also evokes a dreamlike state, as the outdoor image floats just above the bed.

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Tent Camera Images

In 2010, following the example of 19th century photographers such as Carleton Watkins (American, 1829-1916) and William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942), Morell set out to capture the grandeur of the American wilderness. At Big Bend National Park in Texas, he began experimenting with a portable tent camera featuring a periscope lens on top, which projected the scene outside onto the ground. Morell found it appealing that what was overlooked because it was underfoot – something so common and shared – formed the backdrop for these images. In Tent Camera Image on Ground: El Capitan from Cathedral Beach, Yosemite National Park, California (2012), Morell followed Carleton Watkins’s path into Yosemite, where he used the tent camera to create a landscape that is no longer fresh and pristine, but set against such modern visual disruptions as bike tracks in the dirt.

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Additional Experiments

Also on view in the exhibition are additional visual experiments employed by Morell, including a simulation of Eadweard Muybridge’s early use of stop-motion using a water pitcher and wine glass, as well as optical curiosities like dappled sunlight under trees, which Morell said results from hundreds of “tiny cameras” that form in the minute spaces between leaves. While in residence at two museums – the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1998, and the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven in 2008 – Morell created photographs that involve unexpected juxtapositions that explore how the presentation of art affects its meaning. By moving sculptures and paintings in close proximity to one another, he created what he called “an impossible conversation” between works of art. In Nadelman/Hopper (negative, 2008; print, 2012), he positioned a bust by Elie Nadelman (American, 1882-1946) in front of a painting by Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) for a composition in the vein of Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico (Italian, 1888-1978).

“Morell is driven by his unflagging intellectual curiosity and his love of the medium of photography,” said Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs and curator of the exhibition at the Getty Museum. “His work is grounded in the past, but it also contains an unexpected twist that causes us to reexamine what we think we know. I am delighted to be able to share this unique collection of photographs with our visitors.”

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Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door is on view October 1, 2013 – January 5, 2014 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center. The exhibition was on view at the the Art Institute of Chicago from June 1 – September 2, 2013, and will be on view at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta from February 22 – May 18, 2014. The exhibition is curated by Paul Martineau, associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Elizabeth Siegel, associate curator of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Brett Abbott, curator of photography at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, where it travels after the Getty. Funding for the exhibition catalogue was provided by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Generous in-kind support for the exhibition was provided by Tru Vue Inc. and Gemini Moulding Incc.”

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Nadelman/Hopper, Yale University Art Gallery' 2008

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Nadelman/Hopper, Yale University Art Gallery
2008
Inkjet print
Image: 61 x 76.2 cm (24 x 30 in.)
Courtesy of Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Tent-Camera Image On Ground: Rooftop View Of The Brooklyn Bridge' 2010

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Tent-Camera Image On Ground: Rooftop View Of The Brooklyn Bridge
2010
Inkjet print
Image: 76.2 x 101.6 cm (30 x 40 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Yates' 2012

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Yates
2012
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 76.2 cm (22 1/2 x 30 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of the Grand Canyon from Trailview Overlook' 2012

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of the Grand Canyon from Trailview Overlook
2012
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 76.2 cm (22 1/2 x 30 in.)
Courtesy of Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of the Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View' 2012

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of the Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View
2012
Inkjet print
Image: 57.2 x 76.2 cm (22 1/2 x 30 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Upright Camera Obscura Image of the Piazzeta San Marco Looking Southeast in Office' 2007

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Upright Camera Obscura Image of the Piazzeta San Marco Looking Southeast in Office
2007
Inkjet print
Image: 61 x 76.2 cm (24 x 30 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of the artist in memory of David Feingold, 2013.1
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Camera Obscura: View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom' 2009

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Camera Obscura: View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom
2009
Inkjet print
Image: 79 x 101.6 cm (31 1/8 x 40 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by Richard and Alison Crowell, Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser and anonymous donors in honor of James N. Wood
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948) 'Camera Obscura Image of Santa Maria della Salute in Palazzo Bedroom, Venice, Italy' 2006

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Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)
Camera Obscura Image of Santa Maria della Salute in Palazzo Bedroom, Venice, Italy
2006
Inkjet print
Image: 101.6 x 76.2 cm (40 x 30 in.)
Lent by the artist, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
© Abelardo Morell, courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

Opening hours:
Tues – Friday 10 am – 5.30 pm
Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday 10 am – 9 pm
Monday closed

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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20
Oct
12

Review: ‘Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th September – 11th November 2012

 

Installation photographs the series 'Beneath the Roses' (2003-2008) from the exhibition 'Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place' at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs the series 'Beneath the Roses' (2003-2008) from the exhibition 'Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place' at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs of the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Blue Period)' 2003-2005

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Blue Period)
2003-2005
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

 

 

 

Details of one of Gregory Crewdson’s works from the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

 

 

“The American middle-class nightmare: nothing is clean, orderly, idyllic, or romantic. In his perfectly staged, hyperrealistic tableaux, photographer Gregory Crewdson reveals the claustrophobic limbo and abyss of spiritual repression that is the typical suburb. Here, hushed-up violence, alienation, isolation, and emptiness are nothing new or unfamiliar, but rather part of the everyday neighbourhood experience.”

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Gregory Crewdson, ‘In a Lonely Place’, Abrams Publishing, New York, 2011

 

“I have always been fascinated by the poetic condition of twilight. By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something magical and otherworldly. My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me.”

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Gregory Crewdson

 

 

Downfall of a dream: (n)framing the enigma in Gregory Crewdson’s

Beneath the Roses

After the excoriating, unreasonably subjective diatribe by Robert Nelson in The Age newspaper (“Unreal stills, unmoving images” Wednesday October 17 2012) I hope this piece of writing will offer greater insight into the work of this internationally renowned artist. With some reservations, I like Crewsdon’s work, I like it a lot – as do the crowds of people flocking to the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy to see the exhibition. Never have I seen so many people at the CCP looking at contemporary photography before and that can only be a good thing.

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. The early series Fireflies are small silver gelatin photographs that capture “the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night.” These are minor works that fail to transcend the ephemeral nature of photography, fail to light the imagination of the viewer when looking at these scenes of dusky desire and discontinuous lives. The series of beautiful photographs titled Sanctuary (2010) evidence the “ruin of the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini.” Wonderful photographs of doorways, temples, dilapidated stage sets with excellent use of soft miasmic light creating an atmosphere of de/generation (as though a half-remembered version of Rome had passed down through the generations) interfaced with contemporary Rome as backdrop. The digital prints show no strong specular highlights, no deep blacks but a series of transmutable grey and mid tones that add to the overall feeling of romantic ruin. It is a pity that these photographs are not printed as silver gelatin photographs, for they would have had much more depth of feeling than they presently possess. They just feel a little “thin” to me to sustain the weight of atmosphere required of them.

But it is the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) that has made Crewdson truly famous. Shot using a large format camera, Crewdson makes large-scale photographs of elaborate and meticulously staged tableaux, which have been described as “micro-epics” that probe the dark corners of the psyche. Working in the manner of a film director, he leads a production crew, which includes a director of photography, special effects and lighting teams, casting director and actors. He typically makes several exposures that he later digitally combines to produce the final image. Photographs in the series of “brief encounters” include external dioramas (shot in a down at heel Western Massachusetts town), where Crewdson shuts down streets and lights the whole scene; to interior dialogues where houses are built on sound stages and the artist can control every detail of the production. Influences on these works include, but are not limited to:

David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo), Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters), the paintings of Edward Hopper, Diane Arbus (the detritus of her photographic interiors), film noir, psychoanalysis, American suburbia, the American dream, the photographs of Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and surrealism. Concepts that you could link to the work include loneliness, alienation, apathy, resignation, mystery, contemplation and confusion, identity, desire, memory and imagination.

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Now to the nuts and bolts of the matter.

Another major influence that I will add is that of the great Italian director Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita – The Sweet Life) who shot most of that film on the sets at Cinecittà studios in Rome. It is perhaps no coincidence that Crewdson, on his first overseas film shoot, shot the series Sanctuary at the very same location. Crewdson’s photographs in the series Beneath the Roses are an American form of  “The Sweet Life.” In 1961, the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther praised Fellini’s “brilliantly graphic estimation of a whole swath of society in sad decay and, eventually, a withering commentary on the tragedy of the over-civilized… Fellini is nothing if not fertile, fierce and urbane in calculating the social scene around him and packing it onto the screen. He has an uncanny eye for finding the offbeat and grotesque incident, the gross and bizarre occurrence that exposes a glaring irony. He has, too, a splendid sense of balance and a deliciously sardonic wit that not only guided his cameras but also affected the writing of the script. In sum, it is an awesome picture, licentious in content but moral and vastly sophisticated in its attitude and what it says.”1 The same could equally be said of the Crewdson and his masterpieces in Beneath the Roses. Crewdson is in love with Fellini’s gesture – of the uplifting of the characters and their simultaneous descent into “sweet” hedonism, debauchery and decadence using the metaphor of downfall (downfall links each scene in La Dolce Vita, that of a “downward spiral that Marcello sets in motion when descending the first of several staircases (including ladders) that open and close each major episode.”)2 Crewdson’s “spectacular apocalypses of social enervation”3 mimic Fellini’s gestural flourishes becoming Crewdson’s theme of America’s downfall, America as a moral wasteland. Crewdson’s is “an aesthetic of disparity” that builds up a cumulative impression on the viewer that finds resolution in an “overpowering sense of the disparity between what life has been or could be, and what it actually is.”4

Crewdson’s cinematic encounters are vast and pin sharp when seen in the flesh. No reproduction on the web can do their physical presence justice; it is the details that delight in these productions. You have to get up close and personal with the work. His dystopic landscapes are not narratives as such, not stills taken from a movie (for that implies an ongoing story) but open-ended constructions that allow the viewer to imagine the story for themselves. They do not so much evoke a narrative as invite the viewer to create one for themselves – they are an “invitation” to a narrative, one that explores the anxiety of the (American) imagination, an invitation to empathise with the dramas at play within contemporary environments. For me, Crewdson’s extra ordinary photographs are a form of enigma (a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation), the picture as master puzzle (where all the pieces fit perfectly together in stillness) that contains a riddle or hidden meaning. Clues to this reading can be found in one of the photographs from the series (Blue Period, see detail image, above) where Crewdson deliberately leaves the door of a bedside cupboard open to reveal a “Perfect PICTURE PUZZLE” box inside. The viewer has to really look into the image and understand the significance of this artefact.

Another reading that I have formulated is of the transience of space and time within Crewdson’s series. In the disquieting, anonymous townscapes people look out from their porches (or the verandas are lit and empty), they abandon their cars or walk down desolate streets hardly ever looking directly out at the viewer. The photographs become sites of mystery and wonder hardly anchored (still precisely anchored?) in time and space. This disparity is emphasised in the interior dialogues. The viewer (exterior) looks at a framed doorway or window (exterior) looking into an scene (interior) where the walls are usually covered with floral wallpaper (interior / exterior) upon which hangs a framed image of a Monet-like landscape (exterior) (see detail image, above). Exterior, exterior, interior, interior / exterior, exterior. The trees of the landscape invade the home but are framed; exterior/framed, interior/mind. There is something mysterious going on here, some reflection of an inner state of mind.

In his visual mosaics Crewdson engages our relationship with time and space to challenge the trace of experience. His tableaux act as a kind of threshold or hinge of experience – between interior and exterior, viewer and photograph. His photographs are a form of monism in which two forces (interior / exterior) try to absorb each other but ultimately lead to a state of equilibrium. It is through this “play” that the context of the photographs and their relationship to each other and the viewer are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic as much as information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the body, the world of which it is part and the dream-reason of time.5 This intertextual (n)framing (n meaning unspecified number in mathematics) encourages the viewer to explore the inbetween spaces in the non-narrative / meta-narrative,”and by leaps (intuitive leaps, poetic leaps, leaps of faith)”6 encourage escapism in the imagination of the viewer. It is up to us as viewers to seek the multiple, disparate significances of what is concealed in each photograph as “felt knowledge” (Walter Benjamin), recalling to mind the sensory data placed before our eyes, something that can be experienced but cannot be explained by man: “the single moment of the present amidst the transience of life and searching for some kind of eternal truth.”7

Finally, in a more adverse reading of the photographs from the series Beneath the Roses, I must acknowledge the physically (not mentally) static nature of the images where every detail of the mise-en-scène is fully articulated and locked down: from the perfect trickle of blood running from the woman’s vagina in Blue Period, to the reflections in mirrors, the detritus of living scattered on the bedroom floor, the dirty telephone, packed suitcases and keys in locks to the desolate looks of the participants that never engage with the viewer. Despite allusions of despair, in their efficacy (their static and certain world order), there is no real chthonic madness here, no real messiness of the capture of death, murder and the wastage of human life (famine, AIDS, cancer or the blood running over the pavement in one of Weegee’s murder scenes for example). This is Fellini’s gross and bizarre LITE. Americurbana “is being addressed with the same reserve and elegance that ensures that the institution – artistic, political, what you will – is upheld and never threatened. It is pre-eminently legible, it elicits guilt but not so much as to cause offence.”8 I must also acknowledge the male-orientated viewpoint of the photographs, where men are seated, clothed, lazy or absent and all too often women are doing the washing or cooking, are naked and vulnerable. In their portrayal of (usually) half dressed or naked females the photographs evidence a particularly male view of the world, one that his little empathy or understanding of how a female actually lives in the world. For me this portrait of the feminine simply does not work. The male photographer maintains control (and power) by remaining resolutely (in)visible.

Overall this is a outstanding exhibition that thoroughly deserves that accolades it is receiving. Sitting in the gallery space for an hour and a half and soaking up the atmosphere of these magnificent works has been for me one of the art experiences of 2012. Make sure that you do not miss these mesmerising prophecies.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

  1. Crowther’s review first published in The New York Times, April 20, 1961. In Fava and Vigano, 105 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita
  2. Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita
  3. Sultanik, Aaron. Film, a Modern Art. Cranbury, N.J: Cornwall Books, 1986, p. 408
  4. Richardson, Robert. “Waste Lands: The Breakdown of Order,” in Bondanella (ed.), Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism, p. 111 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita
  5. Bacon, Julie Louise. “Liquid Archive: On Ambivalence,” in Liquid Archive. Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), 2012, p. 119
  6. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. “The Museum – A Refuge for Utopian Thought,” in Rüsen, Jörn; Fehr Michael, and Ramsbrock, Annelie (eds.). Die Unruhe der Kultur: Potentiale des Utopischen. Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2004. In German.
  7. Kataoka, Mami commenting on the work of Allan Kaprow. “Transient Encounters,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p. 174
  8. Geczy, Adam. “A dish served lukewarm,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p. 177

 

Many thankx to the artist, Gagosian Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Photography for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Special thankx to Director of the CCP Naomi Cass and Ms. James McKee from Gagosian Gallery for facilitating the availability of the media images. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

All photographs © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Installation and detail photographs © Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Maple Street)' 2003-2005

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Maple Street)’ 2003-2005
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Shane)' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Shane)
2006
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Brief Encounter)' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Brief Encounter)
2006
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Railway Children)' 2003-05

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Railway Children)
2003-05
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

 

In a Lonely Place presents selections from three major series by Gregory Crewdson, Fireflies (1996), Beneath the Roses (2003-2008), Sanctuary (2010) and, presented for the first time, the video Field Notes (2009). The exhibition title comes from Nicholas Ray’s 1950s film noir of the same name, one of many films that inspired Crewdson. In a Lonely Place is evocative of an underlying mood-a quiet feeling of alienation and loneliness that links the three series selected by curators Estelle Af Malmborg, Jens Erdman Rasmussen and Felix Hoffmann. In a Lonely Place presents the first comprehensive exhibition of Crewdson’s work in Australia.

In Beneath the Roses, anonymous townscapes, forest clearings and broad, desolate streets are revealed as sites of mystery and wonder; similarly, ostensibly banal interiors become the staging grounds for strange human scenarios. Crewdson’s scenes are tangibly atmospheric: visually alluring and often deeply disquieting. Never anchored precisely in time or place, these and the other narratives of Beneath the Roses are located in the dystopic landscape of the anxious American imagination. Crewdson explores the American psyche and the dramas at play within quotidian environments.

In his most recent series, Sanctuary (2010), Crewdson has taken a new direction, shooting for the first time outside the US. During a trip to Rome, he visited the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini. Crewdson discovered fragments of a past glory, with occasional unexpected views of the surrounding contemporary Roman suburbia. Cinecittà is a lonely place deserted by the film crews who once used the site to recreate settings of ancient Rome, medieval Italy and nineteenth-century New York.

In the intimate photographs of Fireflies, Crewdson portrays the mating ritual of fireflies at dusk, capturing the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night. Unlike the theatrical scale of the Beneath the Roses and Sanctuary series, Fireflies is a quiet meditation on the nature of light and desire, as the images reflect not only upon the fleeting movements of the insects in their intricate mating ritual, but upon the notion of photography itself, in capturing a single ephemeral moment.

Gregory Crewdson received a BA from the State University of New York, Purchase, New York in 1985 and an MFA in Photography from Yale School of Art, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut in 1988. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. He is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at the Yale School of Art, Yale University. Gregory Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery and White Cube Gallery.

Press release from the Gagosian Gallery website

 

Installation photographs the series 'Sanctuary' (2010) from the exhibition 'Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place' at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs the series 'Sanctuary' (2010) from the exhibition 'Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place' at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

 

Installation photographs the series Sanctuary (2010) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (1)' 2009

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (1)
2009
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (17)' 2009

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (17)
2009
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (8)' 2009

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (8)
2009
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (2)' 2009

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (2)
2009
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled' 1996

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled
1996
© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

 

 

 

Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
Phone: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Sunday, 1pm – 5pm

Gagosian Gallery website

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06
Oct
12

Exhibition: ‘George Bellows’ at the National Gallery of Art, Washington

Exhibition dates: 10th June – 8th October 2012

 

George Bellows. 'Stag at Sharkey's' 1909

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Stag at Sharkey’s
1909
Oil on canvas
92 x 122.6cm (36 1/4 x 48 1/4 in.)
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection

 

 

What a joy it is to be able to post this work!

Bellows is one of my favourite artists. The energy and vigour of his work is outstanding, whether it be crashing waves on a rocky shore, the straining musculature of the male body in the boxing paintings and drawings or the more subtle renditions of colour and atmosphere in his portraits and cityscapes. There are hints of the darkness of Goya (especially in the painting The Barricade, 1918 / Francisco Goya, The Third of May 1808, 1814), the frontality of the portraits of Bronzino (with an added air of vulnerability) and, towards the end of his life, portends of what might have been had he lived – the simplification of line, form and colour in works such as Dempsey and Firpo (1924, below), reminiscent of, but distinct from, the work of his friend Edward Hopper.

Bellows use of colour, light and form is extra ordinary. His use of chiaroscuro is infused with colour and movement, the volume of his modelling of the subjects depicted transcending their impressionistic base. The “shading” of his work is as much psychological as physical: the looming darkness of the buildings in Pennsylvania Station Excavation (1909, below), the churning foam of the desolate sea shore or the pensive look of Emma in the Purple Dress (1919, below). His understanding of the construction of the picture plane is exemplary. Note the use of diagonals and horizontals used in the construction of most of his paintings and drawings, especially the upraised hands, extended feet in his boxing portraits.

One can only wonder what this incredible artist would have achieved had he lived into the 1960s like his friend Edward Hopper. For me he remains an absolute hero of mine. From the first time I ever saw his work (and I have only ever seen it in reproduction, imagine seeing it in the flesh!) I fell in love with his sensibility, his love of the world and the people in it. I cannot explain it more fundamentally than that. A love affair where his work touched my heart and that, really, is the greatest compliment that you can give an artist. That their art moves you.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the National Gallery of Art, Washington for allowing me to publish the reproductions of the paintings in this posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

George Bellows. 'Both Members of This Club' 1909

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Both Members of This Club
1909
Oil on canvas
133 x 177.8cm (52 3/8 x 70 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection

 

George Bellows. 'The White Hope' 1921

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The White Hope
1921
Lithograph
37.4 x 47.6cm (14 3/4 x 18 3/4 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Andrew W. Mellon Fund

 

George Bellows. 'Counted Out, No.1' 1921

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Counted Out, No.1
1921
Lithograph
31.8 x 28.5cm (12 1/2 x 11 1/4 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Andrew W. Mellon Fund

 

George Bellows. 'Dempsey through the Ropes' 1923

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Dempsey through the Ropes
1923
Black crayon
54.61 x 49.85cm (21 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.)
Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1925

 

George Bellows. 'Dempsey and Firpo' 1924

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Dempsey and Firpo
1924
Oil on canvas
129.5 x 160.7cm (51 x 63 1/4 in.)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Purchase, with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
© Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins

 

 

When George Bellows died at the age of forty-two in 1925, he was hailed as one of the greatest artists America had yet produced. In 2012, the National Gallery of Art will present the first comprehensive exhibition of Bellows’ career in more than three decades. Including some 130 paintings, drawings, and lithographs, George Bellows will be on view in Washington from June 10 through October 8, 2012, then travel to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 15, 2012, through February 18, 2013, and close at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, March 16 through June 9, 2013. The accompanying catalogue will document and define Bellows’ unique place in the history of American art and in the annals of modernism.

“George Bellows is arguably the most important figure in the generation of artists who negotiated the transition from the Victorian to the modern era in American culture,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “This exhibition will provide the most complete account of his achievements to date and will introduce Bellows to new generations.”

 

Works in the exhibition

Mentored by Robert Henri, leader of the Ashcan School in New York in the early part of the 20th century, George Bellows (1882-1925) painted the world around him. He was also an accomplished graphic artist whose illustrations and lithographs addressed a wide array of social, religious, and political subjects. The full range of his remarkable artistic achievement is presented thematically and chronologically throughout nine rooms in the West Building.

The exhibition begins with Bellows’ renowned paintings and drawings of tenement children and New York street scenes. These iconic images of the modern city were made during an extraordinary period of creativity for the artist that began shortly after he left his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, for New York in 1904. Encouraged by Henri, his teacher at the New York School of Art, Bellows sought out contemporary subjects that would challenge prevailing standards of taste, depicting the city’s impoverished immigrant population in River Rats (1906, private collection) and Forty-Two Kids (1907, Corcoran Gallery of Art).

In addition to street scenes, Bellows painted more formal studio portraits of New York’s working poor. These startling, frank subjects – such as Paddy Flannigan (1908, Erving and Joyce Wolf) – reflect the artist’s profound understanding of the realist tradition of portraiture practiced by such masters as Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals, Edouard Manet, and James McNeill Whistler.

Bellows’ early boxing paintings chronicle brutal fights; to circumvent a state ban on public boxing, they were organised by private clubs in New York at that time. In his three acclaimed boxing masterpieces – Club Night (1907, National Gallery of Art), Stag at Sharkey’s (1909, Cleveland Museum of Art), and Both Members of This Club (1909, National Gallery of Art) – Bellows’ energetic, slashing brushwork matched the intensity and action of the fighters. These works will be on view together for the first time since 1982.

The series of four paintings Bellows devoted to the Manhattan excavation site for the Pennsylvania Railroad Station – a massive construction project that entailed razing two city blocks – focuses mainly on the subterranean pit in which workmen toiled. Never before exhibited together, these works range from a scene of the early construction site covered in snow in Pennsylvania Station Excavation (1909, Brooklyn Museum) to a view of the monumental station designed by McKim, Mead, and White coming to life in Blue Morning (1909, National Gallery of Art).

Bellows was fascinated with the full spectrum of life of the working and leisure classes in New York. From dock workers to Easter fashions paraded in the park, he chronicled a variety of subjects and used an array of palettes and painting techniques, from the cool grays and thin strokes of Docks in Winter (1911, private collection) to the jewel-like, encrusted surfaces of Snow-Capped River (1911, Telfair Museum of Art). While Bellows portrayed the bustling downtown commercial district of Manhattan in his encyclopaedic overview New York (1911, National Gallery of Art), he more often depicted the edges of the city near the shorelines of the Hudson and East Rivers in works such as The Lone Tenement (1909, National Gallery of Art) and Blue Snow, The Battery (1910, Columbus Museum of Art).

The artist visited Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine for the first time in 1911 and returned to Maine every summer from 1913 to 1916. In 1913 alone he created more than 100 outdoor studies. His seascapes account for half his entire output as a painter, with the majority done after the 1913 Armory Show. Shore House (1911, private collection) and The Big Dory (1913, New Britain Museum of American Art) are among Bellows’ most important seascapes and pay homage to his great American predecessor, Winslow Homer (1836-1910).

In 1912 Bellows started working more consistently as an illustrator for popular periodicals such as Collier’s and Harper’s Weekly, and in 1913 for the socialist magazine The Masses. These illustration assignments led him to record new aspects of American life ranging from sporting events to religious revival meetings, as seen in The Football Game (1912, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden) and Preaching (Billy Sunday) (1915, Boston Public Library). Along with Bellows’ more affordable and widely available lithographs (he installed a printing press in his studio in 1916), the published illustrations broadened the audience for his work.

Bellows supported the United States’ entry into World War I, resulting in an outpouring of paintings, lithographs, and drawings in 1918. For this extensive series, he relied on the published accounts of German atrocities in Belgium found in the 1915 Bryce Committee Report commissioned by the British government. The paintings evoke the tradition of grand public history paintings, as seen in Massacre at Dinant (1918, Greenville County Museum of Art), while the drawings and lithographs recall Francisco de Goya’s 18th-century print series The Disasters of War.

Bellows’ late works on paper survey modern American life, from the prisons of Georgia to the tennis courts of Newport, and highlight complex relationships between his various media. Taken from direct experience as well as fictional accounts, they range in tone from lightly satirical and humorous (Business-Men’s Bath, 1923, Boston Public Library) to profoundly disturbing and tragic (The Law Is Too Slow, 1922-1923, Boston Public Library).

In Emma at the Piano (1914, Chrysler Museum of Art), Bellows depicts his wife and lifelong artistic muse. His portraits of women constitute a larger body of work than his more famous boxing paintings. They cover all stages of life and include both the naive, youthful Madeline Davis (1914, Lowell and Sandra Mintz) and the more refined, matronly Mrs. T in Wine Silk (1919, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts).

The show will end with paintings in a variety of styles made in 1924, the year before the artist’s sudden death from appendicitis. Painted in Bellows’ studio in rural Woodstock, New York, these last works, including Dempsey and Firpo (1924, Whitney Museum of American Art), Mr. and Mrs. Philip Wase (1924, Smithsonian American Art Museum), and The White Horse (1922, Worcester Art Museum), will prompt visitors to contemplate the artist Bellows might have become had he lived into the 1960s, as did his friend and contemporary Edward Hopper (1882-1967).

Press release from the National Gallery of Art website

 

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'River Rats' 1906

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
River Rats
1906
Oil on canvas

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Forty-two Kids' 1907

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Forty-two Kids
1907
Oil on canvas
106.7 × 153cm (42 × 60 1/4 in.)
Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, William A. Clark Fund)
National Gallery of Arts, Washington
Open access

 

George Bellows. 'Beach at Coney Island' 1908

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Beach at Coney Island
1908
Oil on canvas
106.7 x 152.4cm (42 x 60 in.)
Private collection

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Blue Morning' 1909

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Blue Morning
1909
Oil on canvas
86.3cm (33.9 in) x 111.7cm (43.9 in)
National Gallery of Art
Chester Dale Collection

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'New York' 1911

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
New York
1911
Oil on canvas
106.7 x 152.4cm (42 x 60 in.)
National Gallery of Art
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) Bellows. 'Shore House' 1911

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Bellows Shore House
1911
Oil on canvas
Private collection

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'The Big Dory' 1913

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The Big Dory
1913
Oil on panel
18 in (45.7cm) x 22 in (55.8cm)
New Britain Museum of American Art
Harriet Russell Stanley Fund

 

George Bellows. 'Riverfront, No. 1' 1914

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Riverfront, No. 1
1914
Oil on canvas
115.3 x 160.3cm (45 3/8 x 63 1/8 in.)
Columbus Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, Howald Fund
Public domain

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Preaching (Billy Sunday)' c. 1915-1923

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Preaching (Billy Sunday)
c. 1915-1923
Crayon, ink, and wash on paper
Boston Public Library
Public domain

 

 

“I like to paint Billy Sunday, not because I like him, but because I want to show the world what I do think of him. Do you know, I believe Billy Sunday is the worst thing that ever happened to America? He is Prussianism personified. His whole purpose is to force authority against beauty. He is against freedom, he wants a religious autocracy, he is such a reactionary that he makes me an anarchist.” – GB, in “Touchstone,” p. 270. The artist’s intent to satirise Billy Sunday was evident to almost everyone but the evangelist himself. An earlier depiction of Billy Sunday in action is seen in “The Sawdust Trail” (M. 48) done in 1916 (below). (Mason)

Text from the Digital Commonwealth website

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'The Saw Dust Trail' 1916

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The Saw Dust Trail
1916
Oil on canvas
Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection

 

 

The catalog quotes Bellows: “I paint Billy Sunday… to show the world what I do think of him. Do you know, I think Billy Sunday is the worst thing that ever happened to America? He is death to imagination, to spirituality, to art.”

 

George Bellows. 'Tennis at Newport' 1920

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Tennis at Newport
1920
Oil on canvas
109.2 x 137.2cm (43 x 54 in.)
James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin

 

George Bellows. 'Return of the Useless' 1918

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Return of the Useless
1918
Oil on canvas
149.9 x 167.6cm (59 x 66 in.)
Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

 

George Bellows. 'The Barricade' 1918

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The Barricade
1918
oil on canvas
124.8 x 211.5cm (49 1/8 x 83 1/4 in.)
Birmingham Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Harold and Regina Simon Fund, the Friends of American Art, Margaret Gresham Livingston, and Crawford L. Taylor, Jr.

 

 

George Bellows

American, 1882-1925

Throughout his childhood in Columbus, Ohio, George Bellows divided much of his time between sports and art. While attending Ohio State University, he created illustrations for the school yearbook and played varsity baseball and basketball. After college Bellows rejected an offer for a professional athletic career with the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, instead pursuing a career as an artist.

In opposition to his father’s wishes, Bellows enrolled in the New York School of Art in 1904. There Bellows elected to study not with the popular and flamboyant William Merritt Chase, but rather with the unorthodox realist Robert Henri. Henri led a radical group of artists, including John Sloan and William Glackens, who exhibited under the name “The Eight.” Although Bellows was elected to the National Academy of Design, he rejected the superficial portrayal of everyday life promoted by the academies. Instead he and his colleagues emphasised the existing social conditions of the early twentieth century, especially in New York. Because their subjects were considered crude and at times even vulgar, critics dubbed them the Ashcan school. Bellows never became an official member of The Eight, but his choice of subjects – docks, street scenes, and prizefights – were typical of the group. Unlike the members of The Eight, Bellows’ enjoyed popular success during his lifetime, particularly with the boxing images that demonstrate his passionate interest in sports and a bold understanding of the human figure.

 

George Bellows. 'Pennsylvania Station Excavation' 1909

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Pennsylvania Station Excavation
1909
Oil on canvas
79.38 x 97.16cm (31 1/4 x 38 1/4 in.)
Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund

 

George Bellows. 'The Lone Tenement' 1909

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The Lone Tenement
1909
Oil on canvas
123.2 x 153.4 x 12.7cm (48 1/2 x 60 3/8 x 5 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Chester Dale Collection

 

George Bellows. 'Rain on the River' 1908

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Rain on the River
1908
Oil on canvas
81.3 x 96.5cm (32 x 38 in.)
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Jesse Metcalf Fund
© Photography by Erik Gould, courtesy of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

 

George Bellows. 'Blue Snow, The Battery' 1910

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Blue Snow, The Battery
1910
Oil on canvas
86.4 x 111.8cm (34 x 44 in.)
Columbus Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, Howald Fund

 

George Bellows. 'Shore House' 1911

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Shore House
1911
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 106.7cm (40 x 42 in.)
Private collection

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Men of the Docks' 1912

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Men of the Docks
1912
Oil on canvas
Randolph College, founded as Randolph-Macon Women’s College, 1891, Lynchburg

 

George Bellows. 'Summer Surf' 1914

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Summer Surf
1914
Oil on board
62.6 x 72.7 x 4.8cm (24 5/8 x 28 5/8 x 1 7/8 in.)
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington

 

George Bellows. 'Forth and Back' 1913

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Forth and Back
1913
Oil on panel
38.1 x 49.5cm (15 x 19 1/2 in.)
Private collection

 

George Bellows. 'Churn and Break' 1913

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Churn and Break
1913
Oil on panel
45.7 x 55.9cm (18 x 22 in.)
Columbus Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Edward Powell

 

George Bellows. 'An Island in the Sea' 1911

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
An Island in the Sea
1911
Oil on canvas
87 x 112.7cm (34 1/4 x 44 3/8 in.)
Columbus Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, Howald Fund

 

George Bellows. 'Emma in the Purple Dress' 1919

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Emma in the Purple Dress
1919
Oil on panel
128.27 x 107.95 x 8.89cm (50 1/2 x 42 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz
© Digital Image (C) 2009 Museum Associates / LACMA / Art Resource, NY

 

George Bellows. 'Emma in the Black Print' 1919

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Emma in the Black Print
1919
Oil on canvas
101.9 x 81.9cm (40 1/8 x 32 1/4 in.)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of John T. Spaulding
© Photograph (C) 2012 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 

George Bellows. 'Mrs. T in Wine Silk' 1919

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Mrs. T in Wine Silk
1919
Oil on canvas
121.9 x 96.5cm (48 x 38 in.)
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt. Vernon, Gift of John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell, 1973

 

George Bellows. 'Margarite' 1919

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Margarite
1919
Oil on panel
81.28 x 66.04cm (32 x 26 in.)
Private collection

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Emma at the Piano' 1914

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Emma at the Piano
1914
Oil on panel
73cm (28.7 in) x 94cm (37 in)
Chrysler Museum of Art Blue
Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

 

George Bellows. 'Paddy Flannigan' 1908

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Paddy Flannigan
1908
Oil on canvas
76.8 x 63.5cm (30 1/4 x 25 in.)
Erving and Joyce Wolf

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Frankie, The Organ Boy' 1907

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Frankie, The Organ Boy
1907
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
Purchase, acquired through the bequest of Ben and Clara Shlyen

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Little Girl in White (Queenie Burnett)' 1907

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Little Girl in White (Queenie Burnett)
1907
158 x 87cm (62 3/16 x 34 1/4 in.)
National Gallery of Arts, Washington
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
Open access

 

 

Advised by his friend and teacher Robert Henri to select subjects that reflected the realism of modern urban life, George Bellows portrayed the recreational activities of New York City’s lower-class children in such paintings as River Rats (1906, private collection), and Forty-two Kids (1907). In 1907 he painted two full-length portraits of individual children: Little Girl in White and Frankie the Organ Boy (both now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO). Unlike his late 19th-century predecessors, who popularised the street urchin genre by representing well-scrubbed, idealised children playing with pets or engaged in entrepreneurial activities, Bellows portrayed his subjects in a bluntly realistic manner. The subject of this painting, Queenie Burnett, was the artist’s laundry delivery girl. Her underprivileged background is evident in her gaunt face, exaggeratedly large eyes, unkempt hair, and ungainly figure.

This was Bellows’s first figural work to be exhibited around the country – it was included in 15 public exhibitions during his lifetime – and he was awarded the first Hallgarten Prize when the painting was shown at the National Academy of Design in 1913.

Text from the National Gallery of Art website

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Business-Men's Bath' 1923

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Business-Men’s Bath
1923
Lithograph
16 1/2 × 11 3/4in. (41.9 × 29.8cm)
Boston Public Library

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'The Law Is Too Slow' 1922-1923

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The Law Is Too Slow
1922-1923
Boston Public Library
Print Department, Albert H. Wiggin Collection

 

Based upon a 1903 newspaper story, dateline Wilmington, Delaware, about a black man who burns at the stake while a mob of perpetrators stand and watch.

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'The White Horse' 1922

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
The White Horse
1922
Oil on canvas
86.6cm (34.1 in) x 111.7cm (44 in)
Worcester Art Museum

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925) 'Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase' 1924

 

George Bellows (American, 1882-1925)
Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Wase
1924
Oil on canvas
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Paul Mellon

 

 

George Bellows spent summers in Woodstock, New York, where Mrs. Wase worked as a cleaning woman and her husband was a gardener. Bellows chose to show the couple stiffly posed and strangely detached from one another. Mrs. Wase’s face shows the worries of a lifetime, and Mr. Wase stares off into the distance, as if thinking of another time or place. Between them, a portrait, perhaps of Mrs. Wase as a bride, hangs on the wall. Their clothes match the shadowy gray of the parlour. Bellows painted suggestions of a brilliantly green summer day beyond the closed shutters, as if to emphasise the distance between youthful optimism and the resignation of old age. The artist experimented with new ways to paint portraits throughout his career, and from 1915 to 1920 he exhibited with the National Association of Portrait Painters, whose mission was to separate from ​”the tiresomely conventional and perfunctory portrait.” (Myers, “‘The Most Searching Place in the World’: Bellows and Portraiture,” in Quick et al., The Paintings of George Bellows1992)

Text from the Smithsonian American Art Museum website

 

 

National Gallery of Art
National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets
Constitution Avenue NW, Washington

Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday 11.00am – 6.00pm

National Gallery of Art website

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17
Feb
12

Exhibition: ‘Color Correction’ by Ernst Haas at Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 20th January – 25th February 2012

 

Many thankx to Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Ernst Haas (1921 - 1986) 
'New York' 1980

 

Ernst Haas (American, 1921-1986)

New York
1980
C-print, later print
76.2 x 101.6 (30 x 40 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

 

Ernst Haas (1921–1986) '
New Orleans' 1957

 

Ernst Haas (American, 1921-1986)

New Orleans
1957
C-print, later print
76.2 x 101.6 (30 x 40 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

 

Ernst Haas (1921–1986)
 'Western Skies Motel' 1978

 

Ernst Haas (American, 1921-1986)
Western Skies Motel
1978
C-Print, later print
76.2 x 101.6 (30 x 40 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

 

 

Bored with obvious reality, I find my fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view. Without touching my subject I want to come to the moment when, through pure concentration of seeing, the composed picture becomes more made than taken. Without a descriptive caption to justify its existence, it will speak for itself – less descriptive, more creative; less informative, more suggestive – less prose, more poetry.

.
Ernst Haas from ‘About Color Photography’, in DU, 1961

 

 

Christophe Guye Galerie is proud to present Color Correction: by one of the most important and influential artists in the development of colour photography and the history of the medium on a whole, this exhibition spotlights a body of work that poignantly describes the complex ways in which an artist’s ‘career’ took form. Ernst Haas belonged to the best known, most productive and widely published photographers of the twentieth century. Most commonly associated with vibrant colour photography, Haas was famed for his commercial work. It is undoubtedly however his other, private work that really illuminates the power of his sensibility and his true mastery. Unfortunately this side of his creative output has been kept private and thus escaped posthumous appreciation. It is only now, with the efforts and belief in Haas’ ability of a few, such as William Ewing, former Director of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, that this body of work is finally revealed and justly let’s this artist’s aptitude shine. The exhibition Color Correction, and Ewing’s corresponding book published by Steidl, uncovers, with an exciting and novel view, the “other” side of Ernst Haas’ visionary.

Color Correction is the first exhibition in Switzerland to present the to-date little known, non-commission work by the late Austrian-born photographer. Uncovering a new side to a much celebrated body of work, the show will include fifteen new and mostly never before seen large format works, alongside a handpicked selection of rare, vintage dye-transfer prints from the 1950s and ’60s. These astoundingly complex and ultimately enveloping pieces form a group exhibited under the title Colour Correction to coincide with the recent Steidl publication Color Correction, by William Ewing.”These images are of great sophistication, and rival (and sometimes surpass) the best of his colleagues”, says Ewing, revealing works “far more edgy, loose, enigmatic, and ambiguous than his celebrated work.”

“Color correction” is a term used in printing, through which the inked proofs are brought into as close equivalence as possible with the original photograph. Ewing has chosen to use the term metaphorically, to suggest “we owe it to Ernst Haas and our understanding of the history of colour photography, to reevaluate his importance in light of this marvellous imagery, kept under wraps for so many years.” It was in 1962 that the first ever colour photography exhibition, Ernst Haas Color Photography, was held at the prestigious MoMA in New York, and not until fourteen years later would colour photography be given another show at the museum with Color Photography by William Eggleston. Though introducing Haas’ work to a large audience and a major milestone in the history of the medium it would not come to have the same effect on the development of the artist’s career. On the contrary: an exhibition planned by Edward Steichen, renowned photographer and curator of MoMA at the time, it was in the end his predecessor John Szakowski who would actually see it realised. With this shift in curatorial visionary, Szakowski would enforce a different taste. Having the duty to complete Steichen’s idea, but keen to champion his own and dissimilar ideas, Szakowski’s enthusiasm regarding the artist and the exhibition Ernst Haas Color Photography was meek, the praise in his accompanying texts all but faint. Steichen, once in favour of pictorialism, thus a subjective photography, valued Haas’ profound use of the camera, while Szakowski on the other hand chose to favour a less embellished sentiment; a more hardedge modernist inspired American approach. It was this disregard and clashing of personal agendas that would ultimately and erroneously see Haas excluded from the canon of colour photography; his indisputable talent became the victim of the cyclical debate of what art photography should be.

Making his first colour photographs in 1949, Haas was a member of the prestigious Magnum agency. Known mainly for his commissioned work, whereby he created influential imagery such as iconic Marlboro Man advertisements long before other artists were commissioned to do so, Haas’ work would come to have great influence on later artists, such as Richard Prince, Marc Quinn or Robert Longo. Using colour also for his personal work, with a pictorial language recalling at times the works by painter Edward Hopper, Haas has been described as a poet photographer. By no means the first to use the medium in colour, he was said to be “the first to do it masterfully.” Visionary, Haas early on cropped and abstracted, photographing against the light and out of focus, using reflections, close-up to mystify the visible, abstraction of colour and texture. Interested in the everyday, his photographs remind of the likes of Lee Friedlander or Stephan Shore, but rather than documents his works are “vignettes of personal experience.” The works on display in Color Correction reveal this more abstract side of the artist’s oeuvre.

Haas’ work never received the recognition it deserved. The works presented at Christophe Guye Galerie are based upon this dispute, attempting to reveal the true ability of Haas’ work and restore his rightful place in the medium’s canon.

Haas’ formal language echoes decades past while being extremely contemporary at once. Often shooting inches away from the subject at acute and unexpected angles, Haas work was visionary. Lyrical, evocative, and expressive, while at the same time exact, the artist moved away from obvious reality, finding fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view. The works on view are to be understood not as informative but as creative; description gives way to suggestion. Color Correction – the exhibition as well as the book – show works that are rich, vibrant, and intelligent alike. With this new view on the body of work of one of the medium’s most important advocates, Color Correction hopes to evoke the excitement Steichen expressed when he first came across Haas imaginarium of seeing: “In my estimation we have experienced an epoch in photography. Here is a free spirit, untrammelled by tradition and theory, who has gone out and found beauty unparalleled in photography.”

Press release from the Christophe Guye Galerie website

 

Ernst Haas (1921–1986)
 'Bronco Rider, California' 1957

 

Ernst Haas (American, 1921-1986)
Bronco Rider, California
1957
C-print, later print
101.6 x 76.2 cm (40 x 30 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

 

Ernst Haas (1921 - 1986)
 'California, USA' 1976

 

Ernst Haas (American, 1921-1986)
California, USA
1976
C-print, later print
101.6 x 76.2 cm (40 x 30 in.)
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

 

 

Christophe Guye Galerie
Dufourstrasse 31
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Phone: +41 44 252 01 11

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am – 6pm
Saturday 11am – 4pm

Christophe Guye Galerie website

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16
Feb
12

Exhibition: ‘The Prints of Martin Lewis: From the Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly’ at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT

Exhibition dates: 2nd October 2011 – 26th February 2012

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962) 'Glow of the City' 1929

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Glow of the City
1929 
Drypoint, 11 ¼ x 14 ¼ in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

 

One of the great pleasures of presenting this blog is introducing myself and my readers to forgotten artists. Here we have a dazzling Australian artist who died largely forgotten, especially, it seems, in his native country. He does not deserve this fate!

.
How many works does the National Gallery of Australia hold in its collection?

6

Count them … 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

(and none displayed online)

.
AGNSW 5, NGV 0

(and none displayed online)

.
Tell me, is there something wrong with this picture?

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Bruce Museum for allowing me to publish the images in the posting. Please click on the images for a larger version.

 

 

Martin Lewis (1881-1962) was born in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia on June 7, 1881. He was the second of eight children and had a passion for drawing. At the age of 15, he left home and traveled in New South Wales, Australia, and in New Zealand, working as a pothole digger and a merchant seaman. He returned to Sydney and settled into a Bohemian community outside Sydney. Two of his drawings were published in the radical Sydney newspaper, The Bulletin. He studied with Julian Ashton at the Art Society’s School in Sydney. Ashton, a famous painter, was also one of the first Australian artists to take up printmaking.

In 1900, Lewis left Australia for the United States. His first job was in San Francisco, painting stage decorations for William McKinley’s presidential campaign of 1900. By 1909, Lewis was living in New York, where he found work in commercial illustration. His earliest known etching is dated 1915. However, the level of skill in this piece suggests he had been working in the medium for some time previously. It was during this period that he helped Edward Hopper learn the basics of etching. In 1920, after the break up of a romance, Lewis traveled to Japan, where for two years he drew and painted and studied Japanese art. The influence of Japanese prints is very evident in Lewis’s prints after that period. In 1925, he returned to etching and produced most of his well-known works between 1925 and 1935 Lewis’s first solo exhibition in 1929 was successful enough for him to give up commercial work and concentrate entirely on printmaking. Lewis is most famous for his black and white prints, mostly of night scenes of non tourist, real life street scenes of New York City. During the Depression, however, he was forced to leave the city for four years between 1932 and 1936 and move to Connecticut. When Lewis was able to return to the New York City in 1936, there was no longer a market interested in his work. He died largely forgotten.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Late Traveler' 1949

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Late Traveler
1949 
Drypoint, 9 7/8 x 11 7/8 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Fifth Ave Bridge' 1928

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Fifth Ave Bridge
1928
Drypoint , 9 7/8 x 12 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Grandpa Takes a Walk' 1935

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Grandpa Takes a Walk
1935 
Drypoint and sand ground, 8 7/8 x 11 ¾ in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Quarter of Nine, Saturday's Children' 1929

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Quarter of Nine, Saturday’s Children
1929 
Drypoint, 9 7/8 x 12 7/8 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Shadow Dance' 1930

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Shadow Dance
1930 
Drypoint and sandpaper ground, 9 ½ x 10 7/8 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

 

The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, presents the new exhibition The Prints of Martin Lewis: From the Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly from October 2, 2011, through February 19, 2012. Recognised as one of the premier American printmakers of the first half of the 20th-century, Martin Lewis (1881-1962) left an indelible mark on the landscape of the art world. Although not as publicly well known as some of his contemporaries such as Edward Hopper, Lewis was a highly skilled printer who was greatly involved in the artistic scene of New York City during the 1920s and ’30s. This exhibition features more than thirty etchings and several canceled plates by the artist from the private collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly of West Redding, Connecticut.

The exhibition The Prints of Martin Lewis: From the Collection of Dr. Dorrance Kelly provides a brief biographical account of Lewis and showcases some of the artist’s best technical prints. Lewis was an acknowledged master of the intaglio techniques of printmaking, experimenting with multiple processes including etching, aquatint, engraving, mezzotint, and dry point.

In 1915 he produced his first documented etching, Smoke Pillar, Weehawken. Images like this one documented the scenes of everyday life as they played out in the thriving metropolis around New York City. Lewis portrayed all aspects of city life including dockworkers, skyscrapers, tugboats, and pedestrians – mostly the ladies. He produced magnificent prints that captured the energy, bustle, and occasional solitude of New York. With his move to Connecticut in 1932, Lewis investigated another topic through his printmaking: country life. This firmly entrenched Lewis as a prominent American scene artist, as his prints captured the intersection between the urban and rural environments and shed light on the slowly emerging suburban culture.

Press release from the Bruce Museum website

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Windy Day' 1932

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Windy Day
1932 
Drypoint, 9 7/8 x 12 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Politics' 1936

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Politics
1936 
Drypoint and sand ground, 9 ¾ x 10 5/8 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Little Penthouse' 1931

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Little Penthouse
1931 
Drypoint, 9 7/8 x 6 ¾ in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Bay Windows' 1929

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Bay Windows
1929 
Drypoint and sandpaper ground, 11 ¾ x 7 7/8 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Chance Meeting' 1940-41

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Chance Meeting
1940-41 
Drypoint, 10 ½ x 7 ½ in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Relics (Speakeasy Corner)' 1928

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Relics (Speakeasy Corner)
1928 
Drypoint, 11 7/8 x 9 7/8 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962). 'Snow on the "El"' 1931

 

Martin Lewis (Australian, 1881-1962)
Snow on the “El”
1931 
Drypoint and sand ground, 14 x 9 in.
Collection of Dr. Dorrance T. Kelly
© Estate of Martin Lewis

 

 

Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT
Phone: 203.869.0376

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Sunday 1pm – 5pm
Closed Mondays

Bruce Museum website

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03
Mar
11

Exhibition: ‘Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities’ at Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden

Exhibition dates: 27th November 2010 – 6th March 2011

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities' at Museum Frieder Burda

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities at Museum Frieder Burda

 

 

A great double act! Inspired curating puts the work of these artist’s together – everyday Americans with ethereal, theatrical image bites. The mis en scène created in the exhibition space, the tension between sculpture, photograph, frame and space – is delicious. Crewdson is at his best when he resists the obvious narrative (for example, all the traffic lights stuck on yellow in the photograph ‘Untitled (Brief Encounter)’ (2006, see below). Personally I prefer his staged photographs with pairs or groups of people within the image, rather than a single figure. The storyline is more ambiguous and the photographs of people walking along railway tracks always remind me of the Stephen King story filmed as ‘Stand by Me’ (1986) with a young River Phoenix. Either way they are intoxicating, the viewer drawn into these wonderful, dark psychological dramas.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Museum Frieder Burda for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities' at Museum Frieder Burda with Duane Hanson 'Old Couple on a Bench' (1994) in the foreground and Gregory Crewdson 'Untitled (Worthington Street)' (2006) in the background

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Duane Hanson/Gregory Crewdson: Uncanny realities at Museum Frieder Burda with Duane Hanson Old Couple on a Bench (1994) in the foreground and Gregory Crewdson Untitled (Worthington Street) (2006) in the background

 

 

The works by the two American artists Duane Hanson (1925-1996) and Gregory Crewdson (born in 1962) confuse and touch the observer.

Both artists present people in their everyday lives, with hopes, yearnings and broken dreams. People we usually do not notice, aged and marked by reality, by life itself. While Hanson shapes his life-sized figures with a great deal of sympathy, Crewdson rather spreads a gloomy and depressing atmosphere in his pictures of lonely people in their houses, gardens and in streets.

With his realistic sculptures, the American artist Duane Hanson has become a synonym for contemporary realism in contemporary art. Typical motives are average people like  housewives, waitresses, car dealers, janitors. Posture and expression of these figures are very close to reality. The photographer Gregory Crewdson arranges his large format pictures with cineastic arrangements and lets the abyss behind every-day life scenes become visible.

The exhibition at the Frieder Burda Museum presents about 30 figures by Duane Hanson, mainly from the artist’s estate, in dialogue with 20 large format works from the series Beneath the Roses by the photographer Gregory Crewdson. The photographies are mainly owned by the artist himself.

The curators Götz Adriani and Patricia Kamp are not aiming at a direct confrontation. They are rather presenting two artists who work with different materials, but deal with very similar topics. Both artists, Hanson and Crewdson, are grand when it comes to arranging their art. Crewdson always puts very much effort into the arrangements of the scenes in his pictures, and Hanson always keeps an eye on his close surroundings.

The works of both artists impressively reflect the complexity of the human existence. …

 

Duane Hanson. 'Children Playing Game' 1979

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Children Playing Game
1979
Polyvinyl chloride, coloured with oil, mixed technique and accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Tourists II' 1988

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Tourists II
1988
polyvinyl chloride, coloured with oil, mixed technique, accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Self-Portrait with Model' 1979

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Self-Portrait with Model
1979
Polyvinyl chloride, coloured with oil, mixed technique and accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Housepainter I' 1984/1988

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Housepainter I
1984/1988
Epoxy resin, coloured with oil, mixed technique, accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

Duane Hanson. 'Queenie II' 1988

 

Duane Hanson (American, 1925-1996)
Queenie II
1988
Epoxy resin, coloured with oil, mixed technique, accessories
Collection Hanson, Davie, Florida
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010

 

 

Duane Hanson

Duane Hanson (1925-1996) is one of the most influential American sculptors of the 20th century committed to Realism.

The proximity to reality of his lifelike, detailed human figures make for perfect irritation. Despite all the seriousness hidden behind the socio-critical issue, which prompted Hanson to create his protagonists, the figures have a great deal of entertainment value, above all – and it is precisely this that makes them so appealing – due to their occasional gravitational bearing. Featuring twenty-five works, the exhibition presents a representative cross-section of the American’s extensive oeuvre, which comprises a total of only 114 works. The figures enter a dialogue with the large-format photographs by the American photo artist Gregory Crewdson, who has a flair for relating human abysses in a different and very subtle way.

In the early 1950s, after completing his study of sculpture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Hanson was initially guided by the abstract style of art that prevailed during this period. However, this would not lead to a satisfactory result. In 1953, he turned his back on his homeland and spent nearly ten years of his life earning a living as an art teacher at American schools in Germany. It was during this period that he discovered the materials polyester resin and fiberglass, which would become crucial for his future creative work. After returning to the United States, Hanson spent the ensuing years perfecting his artistic skills in the treatment of these materials in such a way that the boundaries between reality and artificial figure seem to blur – where Hanson was never concerned with the mere illusionistic reproduction of reality, but chose this veristic manner of representation as a medium for communicating his concern in terms of content, i.e., shedding light on the tragedy of human lives that hauntingly consolidates in his characters.

In the human figures produced in the early work phase in the late 1960s, Hanson responded to the sociopolitical tension and protest movements of the day. He created sculptures and ensembles that very directly take issue with social hardship, violence, or racism, and he took a stand for the victims of this system, for the people who never had a chance to successfully face the demands made by life.

Influenced by Pop Art, Hanson turned to thematising everyday American life, frequently switching his observations to a critically satirical attitude that was, however, always guided by compassion. Housewives, construction workers, car salesmen, or janitors – the models for his figures are people in the American middle and working classes in whose biographies the disappointment in the American dream has become entrenched. He often puts his people and all of their small insufficiencies into perspective with ironic kindness, such as, for example, the Tourists, in whom are combined all of the clichés associated with the typical Florida tourist.

Hanson’s participation in documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 gave rise to his international breakthrough. His figures became more lifelike; they more and more naturally blended into their surroundings. Their gestures, facial expressions, and postures related the emotional and physical burdens of life. The artist concentrated on older people in whose physiognomies one can read the traces of existence, the impact of loneliness, the problems that accompany being old, and their alienation. Hanson was struck by the isolation of this generation by society, a circumstance that has not lost any of its relevance.

Hanson’s interest in rendering the figures as lifelike as possible is surely not rooted in a desire to want to convince the viewer of their “authenticity”; rather, their lifelikeness was meant to move the viewer to experience empathy and concern, thus manifesting Hanson’s humanism. Human values and destinies comprise the focus of his art; he transforms the reality of life into the realism of art and in doing so sharpens our outlook and our view of the world, our fellow human beings, and our own life as well.

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Birth)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Birth)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Blue Period)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2005

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Blue Period)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2005
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Brief Encounter)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Brief Encounter)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Debutante)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Debutante)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Forest Clearing)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Forest Clearing)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (House Fire)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2004

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (House Fire)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2004
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Kent Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Kent Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Maple Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2004

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Maple Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Merchants Row)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2003

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Merchants Row)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

 

Gregory Crewdson

Born in 1962 in Brooklyn, New York, Gregory Crewdson is one of the best-known contemporary photographers internationally. In his most important series to date Beneath the Roses, which he created between 2003 and 2008, Crewdson explores the American psyche and the disturbing realities at play within quotidian environments. In his dramatically detailed and realistic photographs situated in America’s morbid, small-town milieu, the artist succeeds to stimulate the viewer’s subconscious on various levels. Twenty outstanding works from the series are being placed in a dialogue with sculptures by Duane Hanson. Gregory Crewdson does not spare either effort or expenses for the production of his visual inventions, which are reminiscent of film productions. The stagings are planned and arranged in advance down to the smallest detail and then elaborately implemented in a major logistical and human effort. The final photograph is the result of what is frequently work lasting several weeks, a circumstance that is substantiated by its depths in terms of content and its technical perfection.

Gregory Crewdson works in two distinct ways to create his photographs. On one hand, he works on location in real neighborhoods and townships. On the other hand, the artist works on the soundstage inventing his world from scratch. Before the photographic location productions start, Crewdson drives around upstate Massachusetts looking for interesting settings, which he then has prepared in an elaborate process. In most cases, local residents of the ramshackle towns also play the characters in his work. Crewdson works closely with the art department of the museum MASSMoCA, when shooting his pictures done on the soundstage. The results are much like stills from a movie and reflect his affinity with cinema. Filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, or Steven Spielberg are the inspiration for Crewdson’s uncanny stories, which he seems to freeze in a single snapshot in time.

The construction of this narrative instant demonstrates the artist’s extraordinary talent. Like sophisticated literature does the reader, his works pose a challenge to viewers, as they have to mount the decisive share of the creative effort themselves. A brief, fleeting glance is not enough. Viewers become immersed in the staged scenes full of details and accessories to experience a moment that is intensely real. Fantasy and the powers of imagination and association fashion the visual event in the mind to become a subjective, alternative reality – an uncanny reality.

In his photographs, Crewdson deliberately works with emotions and fears that extend through his oeuvre in recurring, in part very different scenarios. They mirror alienation, absence, shame, sexuality, and loss – human states of emotion that deeply touch the viewer. That the artist focuses on the mind in his works may be due to the fact that, as the son of a psychoanalyst, he experienced insight into the profundity of the human soul very early on. His works can be regarded as metaphors for fears and desires, for the things that take place below the surface, the palpable, as if Crewdson wanted to make visible a new or different level of reality situated somewhere between the conscious and subconscious.

At the same time, the Beneath the Roses series can be seen as a psychological study of the American province. The settings show social realities and document the economic decline of a society behind the backdrop of the American way of life. Unsentimental and direct, they reflect working-class life – which allows us to strike an arc to the work by Duane Hanson, whose oeuvre also revolves around the concept of humanity, the facets of which he lends expression to in his silent, introverted figures.

The evolution of Beneath the Roses was documented in a series of production stills, original drawings by the artist, and detailed lighting plans. About sixty works from this reservoir are presented in a studio exhibition at the museum in order to illustrate the complex technical process of producing the photographs. Gregory Crewdson completed his study of Street Photography at the Yale School of Art in New Haven in 1988. He returned to Yale in 1993 and has occupied the Chair of Photography since.

Press release from the Museum Frieder Burda website

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Natural Bridge)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Natural Bridge)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Railway Children)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2003

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Railway Children)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2003
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (RBS Automotive)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (RBS Automotive)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Shane)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Shane)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Sunday Roast)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2005

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Sunday Roast)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2005
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Temple Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Temple Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (The Father)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2007

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (The Father)
From the series Beneath the Roses
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Trailer Park)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 200

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Trailer Park)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2007
Digital carbon print
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

Gregory Crewdson. 'Untitled (Worthington Street)' from the series 'Beneath the Roses' 2006

 

Gregory Crewdson (American, b. 1962)
Untitled (Worthington Street)
From the series Beneath the Roses
2006
144.8 x 223.5 cm
Gregory Crewdson, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York
© Gregory Crewdson, 2010

 

 

Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8b
D-76530 Baden-Baden
Phone: +49 (0)7221 / 3 98 98-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
Closed Mondays

Museum Frieder Burda 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: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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