Multi Panel @Pace/MacGill

JTF (just the facts): A group show containing individual works by 17 different photographers, variously framed and matted, and hung against light grey walls in the entry area and the two room gallery space.

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

  • Vito Acconci: 4 gelatin silver prints (and photographic text panel), each mounted to foamcore, 1970/1979
  • Richard Benson: 52 inkjet prints mounted to wall, 2014
  • Harry Callahan: 3 gelatin silver prints, 1941
  • William Christenberry: 20 pigment prints, 1974-2004/2014
  • Chuck Close: 4 gelatin silver prints with ink, graphite, and tape mounted to foamcore, 1975
  • Robert Frank: 2 gelatin silver prints enlarged from 8 Polaroid negatives, 1991
  • Emmet Gowin: 1 pigment print, 2012
  • Paul Graham: 6 pigment prints mounted to Dibond, 2004
  • Robert Heinecken: 16 cut gelatin silver prints mounted to board, 1968
  • Peter Hujar: 4 gelatin silver prints, each mounted to board, 1966
  • Michal Rovner: LCD screens, paper, video, 2013
  • Lucas Samaras: 12 Polaroid photographs hinged to board, 1969-1971
  • Kiki Smith: composite of 12 chromogenic prints mounted to board, 2001
  • Hiroshi Sugimoto: 3 gelatin silver prints mounted to Dibond, 1993
  • JoAnn Verburg: 2 gelatin silver prints mounted to Dibond, 1982-1983
  • Andy Warhol: 6 gelatin silver prints stitched with thread, 1976-1986
  • William Wegman: 4 gelatin silver prints mounted to board, 1975

(Installation shots below, courtesy of the Pace/MacGill website.)

Comments/Context: Writing reviews of contemporary photography can sometimes feel like following in the footsteps of a police procedural – I’m the plucky detective and each essay is a looking backward, historical map of the artist who did this, and then that, and then this, and then that. We’re in a process-centric period in photographic history, where we seem to care just as much about how an image was constructed as about what it might mean. This show dovetails neatly with that general prevailing mindset, offering a broad sampler of multi-part works, delving into a variety of the innovative ways that photographers have expanded beyond the single frame.

Take one photograph, wait a few moments, take another, print them out and lay them side by side, and suddenly a frozen instant becomes a passage of time. This simple before/after concept is the basis for an entire genre of multi-image works on view here that investigate the movement of time and the development of linear narrative. Harry Callahan tracks pedestrians up a zig zag staircase, William Wegman watches his dog’s legs go up and down on stilts, and Peter Hujar jumps and dances around his studio; in each case, the camera stays fixed and the action creates progressive change. Kiki Smith and Paul Graham start with this same idea, but then break down the straight line (sometimes cinematic) narrative into a multi-faceted, non-linear sequence; viewpoints change, time slows down and speeds up, and the whole end product becomes an amalgamation of perspectives and opinions.

These concepts are extended further in the hands of Hiroshi Sugimoto and William Christenberry, where elapsed time comparisons stretch out – identical seascapes drift from light grey to middle grey to dark grey, while a red building stays relatively constant amid the changing circumstances of the forest, the grass, and addition (and removal) of a trailer over some thirty years. When the time element is stripped out, these images become categorized arrays and typologies, from Emmet Gowin’s moths and butterflies to Richard Benson’s cancelled stamps. Go one more step and remove subject variation, and multi-part becomes strict repetition, like Andy Warhol’s baby strollers and Chuck Close’s maquette head shot portraits.

Maybe this show is really the ultimate expression of this step-by-step concept – a multi-part exhibit of multi-part works. Seen together, it’s a master class instruction manual for adding parallelism, repetition, and time to the static photographic image, one we can study with see-how-it’s-done fascination.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. Many of the photographers are represented by Pace/MacGill:

  • Vito Acconci: $50000
  • Richard Benson: POR
  • Harry Callahan: $20000
  • William Christenberry: $27500
  • Chuck Close: $175000
  • Robert Frank: NFS
  • Emmet Gowin: $4500
  • Paul Graham: $55000
  • Robert Heinecken: (sold)
  • Peter Hujar: $75000
  • Michal Rovner: $150000
  • Lucas Samaras: $125000
  • Kiki Smith: (sold)
  • Hiroshi Sugimoto: $175000
  • JoAnn Verburg: $35000
  • Andy Warhol: $90000
  • William Wegman: $55000

Since this is such a diverse group show, we will dispense with the usual discussion of secondary market histories for the individual artists.

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Read more about: Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Emmet Gowin, Harry Callahan, Hiroshi Sugimoto, JoAnn Verburg, Kiki Smith, Lucas Samaras, Michal Rovner, Paul Graham, Peter Hujar, Richard Benson, Robert Frank, Robert Heinecken, Vito Acconci, William Christenberry, William Wegman, Pace/MacGill Gallery

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