Land Lines @Howard Greenberg

JTF (just the facts): A group show continuing the work of 22 photographers, variously framed and matted, and hung against light blue walls in the main gallery space and the book alcove.

The following photographers have been included in the show, with the number of works on view, their processes, and associated dates as background:

  • Bob Adelman: 1 gelatin silver print, 1963/later
  • Associated Press: 1 gelatin silver print, 1932/1943
  • Ruth Bernhard: 1 gelatin silver print, 1962/1970
  • Margaret Bourke-White: 1 gelatin silver print, 1937/1973, 1 press print, 1936/c1980
  • Esther Bubley: 2 gelatin silver prints, 1945
  • Mark Citret: 3 toned gelatin silver prints on vellum, 1997, 2003
  • Larry Clark: 1 gelatin silver print, 1981
  • Bruce Davidson: 1 gelatin silver print, 1962/later, 1 gelatin silver print, 1963/before 1975
  • Arnold Eagle: 1 gelatin silver print, 1930s
  • Frank Gohlke: 3 gelatin silver prints, 1995/2011, 1 Polaroid Type 52 print, 1973
  • James Karales: 1 gelatin silver print, 1965
  • Jungjin Lee: 1 archival pigment print, 2014
  • Danny Lyon: 1 gelatin silver print, 1968
  • Rhondal McKinney: 6 gelatin silver prints, 1979, 1981
  • Joel Meyerowitz: 1 archival pigment print, 1983/2014 4 chromogenic prints, 1987/1992, 1993/1999, 1984/1999, 1986/1988
  • Nino Migliori: 1 gelatin silver print, 1951/2000
  • Sarah Moon: 1 toned gelatin silver print, 2002/later
  • Ladislav Postupa: 2 gelatin silver prints, c1967, 1968
  • Jaroslav Rossler: 1 photomontage, 1963, 1 gelatin silver print, 1960s
  • Dan Weiner: 1 gelatin silver print, 1956/later
  • Jeff Widener: 1 wirephoto, 1989
  • Garry Winogrand: 1 gelatin silver print, 1962

(Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: Bypassing the charms of the sexy beach, the swimming pool, and the ever loved random sampler of gallery artists, the folks at Howard Greenberg Gallery have pushed a bit harder than most on their summer group show theme this year, opting for a composition-driven set of visual connections. Land Lines is a smartly edited gathering of pictures that uses a wide range of subject matter to break up the viewing plane, creating divisions, striations, striping, and horizontal repetitions. That a summer show might try to remind us of an idea as nuanced as how photographs are organized is something of a rarity; given its intelligence, this one stands out among its many forgettable hot weather companions.

Perhaps due to the tremendous popularity of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s seascapes, bisecting the picture plane using the horizon line as a divider has become an overly familiar approach, but several photographers have employed the technique effectively here. Joel Meyerowitz’ own seascapes (that predate Sugimoto’s) are split perfectly in half, but they are more color studies than exercises in strict compositional balance; clouds and reflections turn the sky and water into a spectrum of hazy orange and dappled grey. Rhondal McKinney applied the same half-and-half method to early 1980s farmland, placing dark sections of plowed fields, dirt furrows, and waving corn against the brightness of wide skies. And Frank Gohlke used the approach as a framework for an mid-1990s investigation of time, his diptychs separated by ten minutes, the only discernable differences to be found in nuances of the sky, the water, and the wind.

Industrial structures have long provided plenty of opportunities for linear patterning, but the photographers included in this show tried to find unusual angles and vantage points to reorient the available geometries even further. Czech photographer Ladislav Postupa (a new discovery for me) took images straight up from underneath, turning telephone poles and electrical towers into unexpected criss-cross intersections. Jaroslav Rossler used double exposure and montage effects to turn ship masts and sail ropes into overlapped constructions. And Esther Bubley and Margaret Bourke-White went in search of curves, from Bubley’s sinuous oxbow gasoline pipes to Bourke-White’s radiating dam turbines.

The images in the gallery’s book alcove use a less literal definition of “line” as their guide. Human bodies lie horizontally in works by Ruth Bernhard, Sarah Moon, and Nino Migliori (his energetically airborne diver), while lines of vehicles create repetitions in Jeff Widener’s iconic Tiananmen Square “Tank Man” and Dan Weiner’s Montgomery bus boycott. Lines of people (waiting, working, posing) fill the back wall, running the gamut from Depression Era bread lines and Civil Rights voter registration to Danny Lyon’s prisoner work gangs and Larry Clark’s mud covered young people. In each case, the density of bodies creates a bold linear form. Tucked in a small back room, and not part of the main show, a selection of images of clothes lines creates yet another thoughtfully clever thematic echo.

Given how few summer group shows seem to spark many brain waves, the line-based compositional exercises in this exhibit felt refreshingly crisp, pushing on intention and controlled craft behind the camera and curatorial connection making thereafter. That a line can mean so many different things, particularly in photography, is an invigoratingly simple idea.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows, by photographer:

  • Bob Adelman: $5000
  • Associated Press: $2800
  • Ruth Bernhard: $20000
  • Margaret Bourke-White: $3500, $5000
  • Esther Bubley: $4500 each
  • Mark Citret: $1800 each
  • Larry Clark: $10000
  • Bruce Davidson: $4000, $25000
  • Arnold Eagle: $4000
  • Frank Gohlke: $6000, $12000
  • James Karales: $7500
  • Jungjin Lee: $23000
  • Danny Lyon: $10000
  • Rhondal McKinney: $4000 each
  • Joel Meyerowitz: $10000, $18000
  • Nino Migliori: $3500
  • Sarah Moon: $14000
  • Ladislav Postupa: $2200, $2500
  • Jaroslav Rossler: $6000, $6500
  • Dan Weiner: $3000
  • Jeff Widener: $2000
  • Garry Winogrand: $6500

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Read more about: Arnold Eagle, Bob Adelman, Bruce Davidson, Dan Weiner, Danny Lyon, Esther Bubley, Frank Gohlke, Garry Winogrand, James Karales, Jaroslav Rössler, Jeff Widener, Joel Meyerowitz, Jungjin Lee, Ladislav Postupa, Larry Clark, Margaret Bourke-White, Mark Citret, Nino Migliori, Rhondal McKinney, Ruth Bernhard, Sarah Moon, Howard Greenberg Gallery

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