The Frederick Sommer show at Bruce Silverstein remains one of my favorite shows in the current cycle. I was a Sommer fan before, and this exhibit cemented his status for me, as well as introduced me to facets of Sommer's practice of which I was unaware. An artist whose life spanned the century, his work shows dadaist and surrealist influences while maintaining a rigorously personal style. My favorite is a pairing of two of the musical drawings - one is a traditional drawing and the other is a photogram drawn with fixer on photo paper. They encapsulate for me the diverse yet focused practice of a still too unknown artist. Not to be missed.
Rick Wester has a solo exhibit of the work of Sharon Harper's One Month, Weather Permitting. As the press release notes, cameras have turned towards the heavens since the invention of the medium. One recalls Quentin Bajac's show and book, Dans le champ des étoiles - Les photographes et le ciel, 1850-2000 just to name one particularly fine overview. Ms Harper's series is a satisfying addition to the canon as it engages simultaneously the medium itself and the act of taking a picture. Her picture-taking responds both to indexical control as well as the embrace of chance and improvisation. Visually, the work recalls Misrach, Hans-Christian Schink ("One Hour" series), and Chris McCaw. But emotionally and conceptually it stands on its own feet. Ms Harper is an artist who had remarkable success 10 years ago and has fallen somewhat off the radar since then. I hope this show will mark a return of her star on the horizon.
Two shows that disappointed were by marquee artists at high profile galleries: Daido Moriyama at Luhring Augistine and Wolfgang Tillmans at Andrea Rosen. In the case of Moriyama, the older work in the back gallery reminded why he is an important photographer. The large scale b/w prints in the front room seemed emotionally blank to me; a jazz trumpeter riffing on a song he's played too often. Tillmans I sometimes just don't get. I am a fan of the abstract work and assorted other series. But his "slice of life" work that tries to mimic casual, personal photography leaves me flat. While I am engaged by the intellectual intention, I don't find the intention embodied in the pictures. Still from such an important artist, the show's worth a look. You should make up your own mind.
Matthew Marks Gallery has a vintage show of Robert Adams' Summer Nights, Walking project. Mr. Adams revisited the prints from which he chose the original book and decided that less was not more in this case. It's subtle, ephemeral photography -- as we would expect from this artist -- and well worth walking through on a quiet, early spring afternoon.
Back uptown, I stopped in again at 764 Madison for two openings. Higher Pictures had the first US solo exhibit of Japanese master Issei Suda, and Parker Stephenson had the opening of Yuichi Hibi's Shanghai show that I mentioned in a previous post. Both qualify, for different reasons, as work you've probably not seen before. They're wonderful exhibits on their own merits, but for freshness alone they make my must see list.
Last, there is a delightful, quirky show of wallpaper (yes, wallpaper) at the International Print Center of NY. It is not an important show in any way but is a treat to see if you're fan of design, usable art, or the history of printmaking. The link and short press release are below with a sample image. Check it out:
Contemporary Pictorial Wallpapers
Contemporary Pictorial Wallpapers
Curated by Sarah Richards
On view: March 11 - April 24, 2010, Tuesday - Saturday, 11 am - 6 pm
International Print Center New York announces the presentation of Wallworks: Contemporary Pictorial Wallpapers, opening on Thursday, March 11th and remaining on view through Saturday, April 24, 2010 in IPCNY’s gallery at 526 West 26th Street, Room 824.
Wallworks contextualizes contemporary wallpaper design by examining its evolution over a period of some two hundred years. Curated by decorative arts specialist Sarah Richards, it will include 35-40 examples of commercially available wallpaper illustrating the intersection of the decorative arts and culture at large. The range of technologies included in the exhibition will illuminate the commercial application of fine art printmaking techniques. Traditional mediums, such as woodcut and screenprint, will be shown along with mechanical reproduction and modern digital techniques.