VON LINTEL GALLERY

Friday, March 26, 2010

'Roland Fischer and the Transformation of Photography' | An essay by Lyle Rexer


An essay by Lyle Rexer about Roland Fischer's work that is published in Fischer's new monograph -



Roland Fischer and the Transformation of Photography

Roland Fischer's work represents a clearing of the space of photography.  By clearing (lichtung), we mean both a place where light can enter – a privileged idea of the poet Paul Celan and of Heidegger – and the act of creating an opening, conceptually or physically.  The light Fischer brings is to the relation of photography and its objects. The space he creates is a realm of independent appearances, in which the visual disposition of the image takes precedence over its source.  This brings us, as viewers, into a new relation with reality-based images, and with representation itself.  It is the central reason why Fischer can argue that, in some fundamental way, he is not a photographer.  He has used photography to transcend photography.

I want to trace a path to this clearing before I describe its boundaries.  There is much talk today about the dominance of photography and its epigones – film and video – as a mode of representation.  What is meant here is the triumph of reality-based imagery, mechanically generated through an optical system mediate by a lens. This system maintains what we might call an umbilical   connection to the world, and this ontological link has, since the inception of photography, caused a kind of chaos in the discussion and understanding of the medium.  All the familiar discursive splits were present from the beginning in the rhetoric of the medium – between "science" and "art" as originating impulses, between "expression" and "document" and "artist" and "operator" in the practice of making photographs.  Less obvious were deeper rifts between the conceptual and somatic aspects of the art, which have generated a more or less constant tension.

Concealed above all – because the original desire for photography was so widespread and its popular appearance so sudden – was the paradox that lay at the center of photography.  It was a mode of representation that had no codes, none but the structure and minimal coherence of the real, and hence, according to Roland Barthes, the medium could not signify.  It had to adopt a series of masks in order to convey meaning – in most cases the conventions of familiar genres such as landscape and portrait.  Yet this could never fully disguise the utter contingency of the subject and its profound visual independence in a photograph.  Reality as the ultimate found object.  Photographs were about seeing and interpreting, and there was a fundamental incongruity between the two actions. Contemporary photographers are aware of this incongruity and have dealt with it in a variety of ways, which go far beyond the idea of simple indeterminacy or ambiguous reference.

Fischer inherits this situation, and he starts with an awareness of its dimension far beyond that of his contemporaries.  We can say this much, that regardless of how Fischer characterizes himself, he participates in a searching examination of  photography that currently comprehends every aspect of the medium, including its material conditions, its structural role in the economy of images,  its ontology, even its perspicuousness.  Because of the serial nature of some of Fischer's projects and the level of abstraction he achieves in many of his photographs, some critics have sought to group him with the Dusseldorf artists, but we will see that he asks different questions and in a number of areas comes to far more shocking conclusions about the ability of photography to represent the world.

I want to begin with the first group of photographs that came to my attention, the series of building facades.  We are thoroughly aware by now of the photographic obsession with the built environment.  In the paradigmatic cases of Thomas Struth and Stephen Shore, the concern revolves around the intersection of point-of-view and history.  The precise position of the camera (and the observer) are seen to correspond to an entry point into history, with its dense information and its interpretive limits.  Fischer takes an almost diametrically opposite tack.  He is fully aware that the structures he photographs, especially the corporate ones, are at this stage of the game surfaces whose abstract patterns mirror the highly abstract technical structures of capital they house (or conceal).   But these are not primarily political or historical pictures, as I had first thought.  Following a strategy common to American photographers of the 1950s, Fischer has deliberately decontextualized these facades, wiping out any sense of scale and, wherever he chooses, altering the perspective to displace the image from an observer’s (camera's) point of view.  We do not know even whether the repetitive fragments represent a small corner of a fa├žade or the entire structure.  Fischer further plays with scale by varying the size of the reproduced image, and this can have the unsettling effect of making even a detail into a seemingly endless and overwhelming repetition.

Perhaps most important, as a result of this destabilization, the photographs begin to lose their photographic quality, that is, they seem not to refer to anything at all but to represent a pattern generated out of the particular occasion of the work.  So we are faced with a peculiar situation in which we know we are looking at a representation but perhaps not a sign; that is, the thing that would complete the relationship of signifier and signified is suddenly gone missing.  The photographic image has become unhinged, its umbilical cord to anterior reality cut.  American photographers of the 1950s only flirted with such radical ambiguity, to spiritualize images and open them up to a wider range of associations.  It was crucial that they stay anchored in an actual situation, in order to sustain a bond between psychic and natural realms.  For Fischer, no such mediation is necessary or even legitimate for photographs.  Fischer does not appear to believe that abstraction is the royal road to transcendence, except transcendence of the momentary.  The point is to sever then image’s dependence on history (and our tendency to look through the photograph) in order to force us back to the surface, to the unique objects that photography can produce, objects that in showing something, show themselves.

It is paradoxical to talk about photographs as both free-floating objects and representations, but this fractured speech has the virtue of breaking us away from conventional (and rarely fulfilled) expectations of photographic truth and increasing our awareness of both the signifying and aesthetic functions of photographs.  Like the earliest photographers, who worked before the experience of photographs was codified, before anyone knew what photographs were supposed to look like, we can touch something essential about photographic pleasure.

The introduction of pleasure as an idea and a goal brings us to a discussion of Fischer's pool portraits.  I first saw these displayed along with the facades, and the pairing took me aback.  Not that portraits and landscapes of structures had never been equated.  At one point in the 1990s, Struth and Thomas Ruff were both making virtually identical pairings of such images.  Fischer’s path is again more aggressive.  He does not resort to an anthropological format, with its rigid frontality, but decontextualizes his subjects by immersing them in water up to the point of a classical bust.  His angles vary, almost intuitively, but the subjects hover between particular and general, types and individuals.

To some degree, we are in familiar territory here, opened up by August Sander and his attempted typologies of Weimar-era social characters, but only to a degree.  Sander actually gloried in the particularity of his people, as well as in their historical rootedness, evidenced in their costumes and settings, even as he clung to an idea of their inherent stereotypicality.  Fischer, I believe, wants to give his subjects a kind of new visual birth, unprecedented freedom – hence the water imagery.  He seeks to divest them of any associations whatsoever, especially the notion that they have lives and identities anterior to their appearance in his photographs.  It is as if, again, the photographic instance gave birth to these subjects, whom we contemplate in their blank novelty.  Their identities, roles, situations, masks (to reference Barthes again) – their "truth" – are all beside the point.  They exist as pictures, to be contemplated without prejudice and even, I believe, without association.  Again, Fischer creates a unique situation in which the referent of the photograph disappears into the picture, and we are held at the surface the image, with no place else to go and no desire to go any other place.

That was the pull I felt when I first saw these photographs, an attraction toward them and toward nothing and no one else and no other place, no elsewhere.  I remember also being deeply unsettled by this because it was so superficial, and it provoked something like an almost pure or abstract desire.  The pool portraits are deliberately erotic photographs without referencing any other part of the body except the face.  Their erotism is of the face and the surface without antecedent experience, without past or future.  Completely guiltless, simply images to be desired, not even bodies, the disembodied experience of pleasure itself.  In the series, the experience repeats itself over and over, with slight variations, never yielding more, or less, than the first experience, holding us at the same moment, the same promise.

It is remarkable how Roland Fischer has formulated such a hovering approach to what has always been a concrete medium, and to do it through its very concreteness and specificity.  Perhaps we have reached the point, as human beings, when we can do something far more difficult with images than use them to enjoy the world: we can enjoy them in and for themselves.


Lyle Rexer

Brooklyn, New York


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MARCO BREUER | Installation Shots from 'new pictures 2' @ MIA


 MIA  Minneapolis Institute of Arts












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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

VALERIE JAUDON | 'Sight Reading' Art Daily Review



Solo Exhibition of New Paintings by Valerie Jaudon at Von Lintel Gallery

"Valerie Jaudon's new paintings feature bars and bands of white paint, either placed against a raw linen ground or seemingly incised into a solid white field. Short and concise figures blend with long, complex compound shapes. The asymmetric construction of the paintings sets up a reading that is programmed but non-logical – one that leads the eye in unexpected ways across and through the canvas. Disjunction and dissonance meet with resolution and completion. To regard these paintings is to participate in an act of translation – to move from a map, a diagram, archaeology of overlapping circuits, into an experience. Jaudon is concerned with setting up the conditions of observation, showing the viewer how to look, not what to see.

These are some of Jaudon's most romantic paintings, musical and full of feeling, but as always, crafted with great care and precision. They are intensely material. The paint is thickly brushed and refractive, scattering light and adding chromatic complexity to her whites. The painted linear elements contrast with the rich, absorbent brown of the linen, just as her systematic geometry pushes up against the intuitive and contingent. Jaudon has developed her pictorial language over many years, and these paintings consolidate her previous work while opening up fresh vistas for future investigation.

Valerie Jaudon was born in Mississippi and completed her graduate studies at St. Martin's School of Art in London. An original member of the Pattern and Decoration group, she has exhibited regularly since the mid-'70s and has completed many site-specific public projects. She is represented in museums and private collections around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Stadel Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition marks the artist’s fourth one-person show with Von Lintel Gallery."



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Thursday, March 11, 2010

DAVID MAISEL | LIBRARY OF DUST 'Design Observer' review

"From 1913 to 1971 five thousand one hundred and twenty one mentally ill patients were cremated on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital. Their remains were sealed in copper canisters. The canisters were stored in the hospital’s basement until the 1970s when they were moved to a memorial vault underground. The vault was subjected to periodic floods. In 2000 they were removed from their institutional crypt, placed on plain pine shelves in a storeroom, and were left virtually forgotten until David Masiel heard of their existence and photographed them.

What struck me when I first saw Masiel’s photographs at the Von Lintel Gallery was their wild, unholy color. It was as if the canisters were in bloom: ablaze with cadmium and magenta, azure and sunburst yellow, desert ochre and emerald green. Some had foamy white rivulets that slipped across the coppery sheen or bubbled outwards like lava. The colors of the canisters were so intensely vibrant as not to seem real. 

...

Standing in front of these large-scale photographs, as I became accustomed to the visual impact of their astonishing color, the meaning of these images grew. Each canister held the remains of a human body, an unknown person who had been labeled mentally ill, who had been locked away in an asylum, and who after death had been left unclaimed for years, stacked on a shelf. These canisters held significance far greater than simply being beautiful objects.


...

If all this seems grim, take a look at the canisters again. Their swirl and surge of color reminds me of nothing less than the spectacular images taken through NASA’s Spitzer telescope: the visual identity of the canisters miraculously mirrors that of the universe itself. And yet each rivulet and blossom of color are as distinctive and as personal as the human remains held within. It’s as if the mysterious something that leaves the body at the moment of death, often called the soul, is trying to escape. What's left is evidence of extraordinary beauty."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MARCO BREUER | 'new pictures 2' @ MIA


 MIA  Minneapolis Institute of Arts


Presented each fall and spring, "New Pictures" highlights the vital experimentations in photography and new media undertaken by artists who grapple with making images that address today's culture. 


Breuer's works invite close inspection of their complex and delicate surfaces, colors, and forms. At the same time, they challenge our assumptions by raising the question "What is a photograph?" Breuer omits the two elements most commonly associated with photographs: the camera and a representational picture of the world. By sanding, scraping, burning, embossing, and cutting the light-sensitive surface of the photographic paper, he emphasizes the medium's fundamental elements: light-sensitive photographic paper, and light. In the end, Breuer's images are not just pictures, they are physical marks of the material world.


Lecture: Abstract Photography

Saturday, March 13, 2010
2 – 3 p.m.
Pillsbury Auditorium
Hear Marco Breuer, the artist featured in the MIA's New Pictures series of international photography, discuss his work with David E. Little, the series curator.

Breuer Wall Drawing 

Since Monday, Marco Breuer's abstract photographs have been removed from the Perlman Gallery walls and the space has been painted chalkboard black. Tomorrow Marco will begin the process of drawing on the walls in chalk and engaging the photographs. The site-specific drawing should be done on Friday and on Saturday you can hear Marco discuss the work at 2:00 p.m. in Pillsbury auditorium. 



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Friday, March 5, 2010

In case you missed Daily Candy's list of 'Fashion Week Diversions'...


Got time to kill between fashion shows? We know the coziest place to eat a warm cupcake, read a good book, or just plain duck-and-cover from the snow.
Artsy Von Fartsy

Chelsea's Von Lintel Gallery presents thoughtful paintings and pictures. Past exhibitions have featured the dreamy landscapes of photographer John Chiara or Stephen Ellis's vibrant pattern paintings.

Read full list @ Daily Candy


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VALERIE JAUDON: Group show @ The National Academy Museum

185th Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art

February 17-June 8, 2010

The 185th Annual: An Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art will feature 65 emerging and established artists selected by a jury of National Academicians. This biennial invitational is an inter-generational exhibition of non-Academicians that offers an opportunity for the public to preview new artistic directions in contemporary American art.  Seen from the perspective of distinguished American artists, this national exhibition includes artists working in the New York area and the Eastern region as well as the Midwest, West Coast, and as far away as Hawaii.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

VALERIE JAUDON: 'SIGHT READING' Opening Tonight


VALERIE JAUDON
SIGHT READING

March 2 - April 17 2010

OPENING RECEPTION Thursday, March 4 
6-8 PM

Von Lintel Gallery is pleased to announce Sight Reading, a solo exhibition of new paintings by New York-based artist Valerie Jaudon.

Valerie Jaudon's new paintings feature bars and bands of white paint, either placed against a raw linen ground or seemingly incised into a solid white field. Short and concise figures blend with long, complex compound shapes. The asymmetric construction of the paintings sets up a reading that is programmed but non-logical – one that leads the eye in unexpected ways across and through the canvas. Disjunction and dissonance meet with resolution and completion. To regard these paintings is to participate in an act of translation – to move from a map, a diagram, archaeology of overlapping circuits, into an experience. Jaudon is concerned with setting up the conditions of observation, showing the viewer how to look, not what to see. 

These are some of Jaudon's most romantic paintings, musical and full of feeling, but as always, crafted with great care and precision. They are intensely material. The paint is thickly brushed and refractive, scattering light and adding chromatic complexity to her whites. The painted linear elements contrast with the rich, absorbent brown of the linen, just as her systematic geometry pushes up against the intuitive and contingent. Jaudon has developed her pictorial language over many years, and these paintings consolidate her previous work while opening up fresh vistas for future investigation.

Valerie Jaudon was born in Mississippi and completed her graduate studies at St. Martin's School of Art in London. An original member of the Pattern and Decoration group, she has exhibited regularly since the mid-'70s and has completed many site-specific public projects. She is represented in museums and private collections around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Stadel Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition marks the artist's fourth one-person show with Von Lintel Gallery.


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The Lake Project: Photographs By David Maisel @ David Brower Center

The Lake Project: Photographs By David Maisel    

February 10 - May 21, 2010

In 2001, David Maisel photographed at Owens Lake, once a 200-square-mile lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in California. The resulting Lake Project offers stunning aerial images of a fertile valley transformed into an arid stretch of land.
Beginning in 1913, the Owens River was diverted to bring water to Los Angeles. By 1926, the depleted lake exposed vast mineral flats, and the lakebed soon became the highest source of particulate matter pollution in the U.S., emitting some 300,000 tons of carcinogens annually. Blooms of bacterial organisms emerged from the little water that remained, turning it a deep red. Viewed from the air, vestiges of the lake appear as a river of blood, a bisected vein, or a galaxy’s map.

As a stunning work of both art and advocacy, The Lake Project helped to contribute to public awareness and mitigation efforts over the last nine years.

Gallery Hours
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Artist Talk
Thursday, March 11, 7 p.m.
In the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Theater
Tickets are $10 and available at www.brownpapertickets.com


Presented in partnership with Kala Art Institute 

David Brower Center 
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704 
Tel: 510.809.0900

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"A Fine Message": David Maisel's 'Lake Project'


A Fine Message
David Maisel's photos examine ecological ruin and repair.
By DeWitt Cheng

"What this country needs are pristine landscapes and fine cars to drive through them at top speed (how gorgeous are Pacific sunsets glimpsed from twisty cliffside roads!). Seriously, how to reconcile these conflicting imperatives? David Maisel's magnificent aerial photographs of the parched 200-square-mile Owens Lake (east of the Sierra Nevada, upslope from Los Angeles) proffer no overt polemics, but they do depict, in stunning detail and panoramic scope, our huge environmental footprint, or bootprint. They also find a paradoxical beauty in toxic dust storms, crystalline encrustations of white salt, brine pools full of reddish-purple halobacteria blooms, and — here's the happy ending! — the EPA's 2001-02 remedial Shallow Flooding, which brought migratory and nesting shorebirds back to what had been, since the 1920s, a vast, arid wasteland. Maisel, a social documentarian, conceptualist, and landscape photographer (airborne division), found his calling while exploring the devastated Mount St. Helens in 1983; he describes his subsequent studies, both landscape- and artifact-based, as "mining the aesthetic territory of the apocalyptic sublime, and ... addressing themes of loss, elegy, and memorialization ...."

Read full review @ Eastbayexpress.com 

Artist's talk Thursday, March 11, 7 p.m.; BrownPaperTickets.com. The Lake Project runs through May 21 at Hazel Wolf Gallery, David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way, Berkeley). 510-809-0900 or BrowerCenter.org

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

VALERIE JAUDON | BIOGRAPHY

Valerie Jaudon was born in Greenville, Mississippi, on August 6, 1945. She studied at the Memphis Academy of Art, Memphis, in 1965, as well as at the University of the Americas in Mexico City (1966-67) and at St. Martins School of Art, London (1968-69). She has been the recipient of several grants, including a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Mississippi University for Women, Columbus, (1999), a Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, Alabama Chapter, (1994), and a Painting Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1992). 

Jaudon has exhibited extensively in museums and galleries throughout the United States and Europe. Her work has recently been featured at the Stadel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany (Valerie Jaudon: Paintings and Drawings, 1980-1999), and at the Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (Abstraction at Work: Drawings by Valerie Jaudon 1973-1999). She has completed various public art commission, such as Long Division, for the MTA Lexington Avenue Subway, 23rd Street, New York City (1988), Reunion, at the Police Plaza / Municipal Building, New York, NY (1989), and Free Style, at the Equitable Building, New York, (1989). 

Jaudon is represented in numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT, and the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA. She has been invited to numerous public panels, such at the DIA Center for the Arts, New York, and the The Art Institute of Chicago. Jaudon lives and works in New York City.


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VALERIE JAUDON | SELECTED WORKS

Valerie Jaudon
Vernacular, 2010
oil on linen
48 x 48 in
 
Valerie Jaudon
Lexicon, 2009
oil on linen
48 x 48 in

 Valerie Jaudon
Transcription, 2008
Oil on linen

Valerie Jaudon
Codex, 2006 
Oil on canvas on board
42 x 42 in

  
Valerie Jaudon
Stanza , 2006
Oil on linen
42 x 42 in

Valerie Jaudon
Stanza (detail)   

Valerie Jaudon
Name Only, 2005
Oil on canvas on board
34 x 30 in (86.4 x 76.2 cm)
 
Valerie Jaudon
A Double Life, 2003
Oil and alkyd on canvas
48 x 48 in 


 
Valerie Jaudon
High and Low, 2000 
Oil and alkyd on canvas
60 x 60 in 


  
Valerie Jaudon
Queen of Hearts, 2001
Oil and alkyd on canvas
  90x 120 in 

Valerie Judon
Holy Ridge