Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fotosphere, a Chelsea casualty

I recently received an email from the good people at Fotosphere Gallery:

For the past seven years, FOTOSPHERE has been serving as a gallery space and photo workshop.
Unfortunately, due to the change in building ownership,FOTOSPHERE will no longer be able to continue the business here.
We are very saddened by this and will be closing the gallery in mid August 2008.

I have been an admirer of this gallery for some years. Koichiro Kurita and his wife have been showing platinum-palladium and collodion work of many fine artists in addition to the beautiful work of Mr. Kurita. I find that the work has a lyrical quality that is quite seductive combined with a rigorous and luminous printing philosophy. The prints of Mr. Kurita need to be seen to appreciate the fineness of the image combined with his use of handmade Japanese paper and exquisite platinum-palladium technique.

An excerpt from his CV:
Koichiro Kurita's works are exhibited internationally and collected by major museums including Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Princeton Art Museum, The Fogg Museum Havard University, George Eastman House, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Minneapolis Institue of Arts, Maison de Europeanne de la Photographie, The Biblioteque Nationale de Paris, Fuji Art Museum and among others. He lives and works in New York City and gives workshops in his studio.

Please check out this gallery before it leaves they close their doors. It will be worth your while.

P.S. one can't help but wonder if this is a harbinger for many more gallery closings in the coming months. The art press may herald that there is no slowdown in the market. But my own eyes tell me a different story. Rents are rising in the now-hot 11th Ave corridor with many new high profile buildings in the works. If rents go up and sales slow, can 300+ galleries stay in west Chelsea and make money? We'll see.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Artists See Artists at Deborah Bell

I had intended to do an in depth blog about the superlative show up now at Deborah Bell. Alas, I've procrastinated, and now I'm in France without the materials in front of me to do a proper post. But this show is too good to pass without comment. I urge all of you photo lovers who happen to be in Manhattan at the moment to take time to see this exhibit. If it were in the small photography exhibition space at the Met, it would be garnering stellar reviews. It's that good. Ms Bell has compiled remarkably fine examples of artists photographing other artists covering a time span of the late 19th century to the late 20th century. There are some familiar images, but the revelations of the unexpected images are part of what makes this show special. The other special part comes from the exceptional quality of the prints included. Each print seems more luminous and shaded than the last. Brassai, Fieret, Dora Maar, Arbus.....and much, much more. If you love photography (and why would you be reading this blog if you didn't?), this is a must see. Check it out.

Thinking about Creative Destruction

I recently had a discussion with artist Bastienne Schmidt about my Creative Destruction theme. As I work towards a taxonomy of what I feel is the core of this idea, I've been enjoying working over the definition with artists and friends. (Please check out my blog of Bastienne from my Houston Fotofest post of 2008. She is an artist to watch and an artist whose work yields many pleasures). Bastienne opined that any puncture or marring of the surface of the physical print qualified as Creative Destruction. She immediately called to mind Carlos Garaicoa with his pins and thread outlining now-destroyed buildings. the fact that the pins actually pierce the gelatin layer of the photo is, in her mind, an act of destruction even though the viewer doesn't read the act as something that has defaced the image.

I think this is an interesting path to pursue. In Mr. Garaicoa's case, the fact that he's documenting destruction and demolition is an argument in favor of his inclusion in the list (he's certainly included in any list I have of great living artists). However, at this moment, I'm not quite swayed by the pinholes being an artistic gesture that "destroys" the print. If the viewer does not perceive the work to be about destroying the print, and the artist has no intention of destroying a facet of the print, can we say that there is creative destruction? I lean on the side of "no". I would be more inclined to include someone like Anne-Karin Furunes who punches holes in her silkscreened images to create a newsprint photo/graphical effect. The point of the holes is to take away as much of the photo as she can while leaving an image. The point (literally) of Mr. Garaicoa's pinholes is to create a platform for additional media in his work. I think there's an essential difference.
(Ann-Karin Furunes on Barry Friedman's website)
(Carlos Garaicoa on Lombard-Fried website)

Another artist working with thread and needles puncturing the surface of the print is Finnish artist Ulla Jokisalo. I think this work is more arguably in the world of Creative Destruction as the needle and thread repeatedly stab the print. There is almost a stagecraft effect of making the print seem to bleed. That the work is about troubled childhood memories and a "broken" home life only add to my thought that this artist should be added to the list. Thoughts?
(an example of her work)

What about the collages of Stan Vanderbeek? There was a wonderful show recently at Guild and Greyshkul Gallery showing his prescient and attractive works from the 70s. Part of me says that this is no different in philosophy from the collages of John Stezaker which I have mentioned so frequently in these posts. Yet, again, I think intent is everything. Stezaker seems to be looking to mar and distort the images he's using. Mr. Vanderbeek, in the spirit of all collage artists, seems to be using found images to his own ends. They are raw materials to be manipulated, but their destruction is not explicitly part of the artistic process. If it were, then every collage in existence would be on the Creative Destruction list. I don't think this is the case. Check out views from the exhibit and let me know what you think. (Stan Vanderbeek show link)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Not in Basel

Ahhhh.....another day NOT spent fighting the throngs at Basel. Bliss. And is it just me, or is New York just a little bit nicer these days? I wonder......