Posted In: Shows on 4/2/2019
This exquisite vintage print of a succulent was one of five negatives Weston made of the plant in March of 1930. All of them made his printing log as pictures he intended to print. He commented that “they were all well seen and… pointing to a new series which will be important as the peppers, roots, and rocks.” It is an improbable plant…lovely like a rose yet made of sterner stuff. He was drawn to it but not seduced by it. His relationship to it was more along the lines of deep respect.
I have always been drawn to the photographs of A. Aubrey Bodine. They have what I always look for in any photograph I would consider buying or representing… authorship. I could walk into an auction house viewing with 450 diverse lots of photographs on the walls, and immediately pick out the Bodines from 100 feet away, like I can an Atget, or a Frank. All description bowed to the presence of a unique expression - which is what they are. Not long ago I went to an exhibition of the work of the American painter, Thomas Hart Benton, and saw in him a strong kindred spirit to the work of A. Aubrey Bodine. They even, at times, made pictures of the same places, within the same time frame. There must have been something in the water back then to create such a strong bond. Both their work was illuminated and so well described by Carl Sandburg in his well-known poem, Chicago (although Bodine’s city was Baltimore), that I must share it with you. It begins: Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders Above are some of Baltimore’s big shoulders.
The engraving that forms the majority of this collaged image was a popular one. It was available in many English print shops and could be found hanging in many middle class homes. But not this version… this is unique. This one turns fairytale love into magic through the addition of just two snippets of albumen print faces. It changed two idealized lovers into real people in love… a big difference… you knew this couple, or you could. Efforts like this minimal vernacular confection clearly established photography’s place at the halfway point between fantasy and reality. These heads, part of another context, were brought together by someone (perhaps one of the lovers) who wanted to make the story, their story, not only by identifying them, but by breathing life into them, like Pygmalion and Galatea… forever in thrall to love.
I’ve known Bernard Meyers for about 5-6 years now. He just sort of walked in the door with little preamble, and started showing me work. At first I liked it, but not much, and I encouraged him to keep working and to keep coming back, or some condescending art dealer talk. But he was serious and so he did. Once or twice a year he would let me know he was coming to town and would like to show me new work. His work was based in architecture, starting with wrecked greenhouses and their netting, but he certainly didn’t waste his trips to New York, and soon glass, steel, and extruded aluminum possessed him. The rational integrity of building’s surfaces would not hold steady. They were torn apart and reconfigured from a variety of different angles… a kind of Blade Runner Cubism, or rather Futurism, because they were in motion, running in jagged paths this way and that. They became threatening, even violent as the razorblade imagery reached a fevered pitch, mounted in a crescendo and climaxed. There was almost no architecture left whole, or at least rational. Finally, a blessed silence. Then I got an email with this image standing alone… the fever had apparently broken, and this is what was left. There still is an understory of architectural elements, very foursquare, no jagged edges in sight, and with these Matisse-like cutouts providing depth and space… now what?
Bernard MEYERS, Highline, New York Francis Olschafskie mostly deals with our world, as seen, between the layers of busy, jagged reflective surfaces which are everywhere we look. We move through these layers distracted by the visual cacophony of all that is thrown at us. We have to decide what is in front of us, what is behind that and what is in transition with us to know where we stand. It’s a lot of work for the viewer, because the visual cues contradict the usual order of perception and are there to deliberately spin us around. That job of restoring order is certainly worth taking and the viewer is rarely disappointed for the effort. But here we are presented with something different… a religious work that is very quiet and has a strong whiff of Renaissance architectural settings to slow us down, e.g. Masaccio, Mantegna, and Botticelli. The Christ figure centered in a temporal space, with the suggested forms of angels fliting by at the very edge of our consciousness. The angels are where Olschafskie brings back his usual reflected layers to tease us with their presence. The tiny window and roof of a building high and just left of center assures us that we are indeed in Italy where this sort of magic occurs daily. Look closely and see if Francis can make a believer out of you.
My recently deceased friend Charles Schwartz was a polymath collector, but he had a special fondness for cased imagery Daguerreotypes, tintypes, and Ambrotypes. He and I would go around the various venues where these things turned up: trade shows, tabletop shows, Daguerrean Societies events, “Antique” stores, and the large flea market at Brimfield, MA. Arriving the night before we would rise before the birds and head off to find those treasures before any other dealers would. It was dark and we had our flashlights in whose light appeared the faces of our colleagues and competition, Willie Schaeffer, Mack Lee, Janet Lehr and even George Rinhart (remember him?). The general rule was to buy items only in the best of condition. There was always good things to have and fight over, but there was also boxes of the damaged and the underwhelming. After buying what he wanted Charles would always return to the boxes of these lesser lights and dig for buried treasure, which you could buy for $3-$7.
Charles called them “my orphans”, and he never sold them. After all, what could you get for them? Beyond the obvious flaws these works had value that went beyond their surface issues, or even because of them, that made them objects of wonder, in a kind of Duchampian, transformational sort of way. They literally rose above their defects and became a new thing right before your eyes. He would scan them into his computer, enlarge them and print them, without any help from Photoshop. We have three of them at our booth and a bunch more on our website: Click here to see them.
We look forward to seeing you in booth 311 this weekend!