Sometimes I want art to challenge me, to shake me up, to confuse me. A friend of mine once suggested to me that one learns more from art that you hate than art that you love. Yet sometimes I want to luxuriate in art that I know, that I understand, and that gives me simple pleasure in viewing again and again.
Bill Hunt and Sarah Hasted have provided just such an experience for me in their current show: "Contradictions in Black and White". I don't think I've ever seen a gallery show that had more work from my all-time wish list than this show has.
It started with the large-scale Adam Fuss photogram of smoke. I've mentioned this work before in this blog. I lust after it every time I see it and wonder if I'd ever grow tired of it.
Next was a number of fab composites by Ray K. Metzker supplemented by a "double frame" and a few unique images by him. Composites are the ne plus ultra for Mr. Metzker and I covet each one I see, but the double frame series is equally rigorous formally. I own a few and admire most of the rest. It is an amazing set of work in which he combines two frames (two negatives) in one picture that must be shot sequentially in the camera. The challenge of composing a what is basically a photomontage in camera without digital imaging is simply astounding.
Michael Flomen is not so well known as Metzker and Fuss, but his work is on my list as well. Check this artist out. Don't be fooled by the simple beauty of his surfaces. There is substance under the appeal of the image.
One of my favorite Irving Penn platinum prints was here, too: the crushed Deli Package. I love this series so much more than the celebrities, portraits, and fashion. If I had to pick one Penn to own, this would be on the short list.
Add to the list some pretty great Callahans, a few choice Margaret Bourke-Whites, and a sweet Vera Lutter, and you have a recipe for my visual happiness. If you want to see for yourself, it's up until February 28th. Check it out.