Anne Collier @Anton Kern

JTF (just the facts): A total of 19 black-and-white and color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the first and second floor gallery spaces. All of the works are c-prints, made in 2021. The prints are sized between roughly 44×53 and 76×59 inches (or the reverse), and are available in editions of 5+2AP. (installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: With each successive gallery show in the past decade, Anne Collier has shown herself to be an artist who builds up ideas methodically, bridging from one path to the next with measured patience and discipline. This selection of new works finds her continuing that same deliberate approach, with one fresh body of work that combines several ongoing interests, and a gathering of other new images that continue to evolve and embellish earlier lines of thinking. The show feels like a direct progression from her 2018 gallery show (reviewed here), where she first introduced images from cartoon romance comic books and delved into the physical ephemera of self-help.

Collier’s most recent pictures have the title “Filter”, which offers a literal explanation of their content. Starting with an enlarged image of a distraught woman from a vintage romance comic, she then overlays this single cropped view with a series of white paper viewing filters. These filters were made by Kodak to help with color correction while printing in the darkroom, with each tinted window representing a particular combination of settings. Collier has placed these color windows over the woman’s face, the tints (in yellow, green, red, magenta, cyan, and blue) realigning the comic book colors and the white cardboard reframing the face underneath.

The resulting six photographs create a rainbow effect when hung together, with the photographic tool interrupting the emotional moment from the comic, and in a few cases, slicing it into several pieces, like adjacent stills from a film strip. The “Filter” series smartly combines Collier’s interests, as she plays with the isolating possibilities of the melodramatic comic book graphics (and their underlying ideas about both the portrayal of female roles and the technical details of printing processes), while also introducing vaguely arcane photographic tools that recalibrate our sense of how photographic color was constructed. Each of the colors leads to a different mood, the cards representing the old school equivalent of the digital filters we now so easily and readily apply to our own photographs.

The other works scattered throughout the show come as follow ups to projects and subject matter Collier has engaged with previously. One excellent comic book discovery locates a stylish woman with a camera (actually two), connecting Collier’s recent work with comic books back to her much earlier studies of the interaction of women and photography.

Several other photographs update Collier’s “Woman Crying” series, via a pair of black-and-white images where a woman’s bisected face is wet with tears (one looking like a pearl on her cheek), and her “Woman Crying (Comic)” series, with a selection of images that pull back from close-ups of cropped teardrops to now somewhat wider views, where more facial context (a lock of hair, an eyebrow, a profile, a hand to a face, or a reflection in a mirror) is now included.

And a third group of photographs unearths a handful of additional self-help worksheets and cassette tapes, which once again hit archly cerebral and quietly ridiculous notes when seen as still life objects. The tapes presumably offer support on the topics of “Women Who Love Too Much” and “Are You Out of Your Mind?”, while the questionnaires encourage us to consider both our stresses and our uniqueness, with handy lists of things to be stressed about and open fields for filling in what makes us special. As artifacts, they represent both our insecurities and how they can be manipulated, and as photographs, they expose those layers of meaning with deadpan clarity.

Seen together, this show feels like a solidly executed incremental step forward, or a set of refinements rather than a bold movement to something entirely new, but since they have been crafted with such consistent intelligence and excellence, it’s hard to complain. This feels like an exercise in steady progression, where the artist’s existing recipe for success has been tweaked, optimized, and reconsidered, leading to pictures that feel both recognizably familiar and thoughtfully updated.

Collector’s POV: The prints in this show are priced between $24000 and $48000, based on size. Collier’s work has only just begun to find its way into the secondary markets, with recent prices ranging between roughly $5000 and $60000.

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