JTF (just the facts): A total of 11 large scale color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the entry area. All of the works are pigment prints, made in 2014 and 2015. Each print is sized 33×50 and available in an edition of 10; the images are also available in a smaller 26×40 size (not on display). (Installation shots below.)
Comments/Context: One of the first things we learn when we pick up a camera is that vantage point can be transformative. Simply craning our necks and looking up at the branches of an overhead tree against the backdrop of the sky suddenly has a sense of magical discovery, as if we are seeing the strangeness and beauty of the world for the very first time. And exploring and testing extremes of perspective in this way has led to some of the medium’s most memorable images – Moholy-Nagy’s steep look down from a Berlin radio tower, Eggleston’s ground level view up toward a children’s tricycle, and Rodchenko’s look up underneath a young trumpet player all feel powerfully disorienting, opening up visual experiences that feel unexpected.
If asked to name subjects that might benefit from an unusual photographic vantage point, drying laundry hanging on an ordinary clothes line might not be the first or most promising topic most of us would come up with. And yet, Sally Gall’s new pictures give this mundane domestic subject a jolt of new life. Shot from below looking straight up, the clothes seem to float against the faded blue of the sky, the thin white lines of the strung cords like jet contrails or a musical score.
When the wind is relatively calm, white items on the line (found in various locations in Italy, Cuba, and Croatia) are reduced to lines and zips, the elemental forms of napkins and sheets turned into gestural sweeps and soft curves with defined edges. And when these lines get crowded, a dappling effect occurs, like white dots and dashes or expressionistic alternating monochromes.
But it is Gall’s bold splashes of color that are the most exuberantly joyful. Girls dresses billow out into sinuous round forms like flower blossoms or floating jellyfish, a bright red dress becoming a glorious red poppy with undulating edges that explode with sensual joy. Denser collections of clothing become splashes of watery ink, layers of painterly color (mixing blur and sharpness with deliberate intelligence), or studies of diffused light as the sun passes through the colored fabrics. The laundry continually wiggles and wanders in the open air, creating fluid linear forms that cluster into swoops, bundles, and flourishes. The combination of shapes is both intrinsically effortless and surprisingly complex, and the large prints encourage us to see their abstract qualities.
In the end, this is a relatively simple photographic idea that has been executed with unusual flair and ingenuity. It offers us everyday inversions that simmer with vivacious attentive energy, a reminder that even the most homely of subjects can still be filled with secret glamour.
Collector’s POV: The prints in this show are priced at $10700 each (including framing); smaller pints are also available at $8900 each. Gall’s work has little secondary market history, so gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.