JTF (just the facts): A total of 12 color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung in the main gallery space. All of the prints are archival pigment prints, available in editions of 7, made in 2011. Physical dimensions range from 18×15 to 30×23 (or reverse). (Installation shots at right.)
Comments/Context: Sharon Core’s brand of image appropriation is wholly different than a commonplace cut and paste or an easy lift and recontextualize. In previous works, her meticulous process has included baking cakes and pies, growing vegetables, and scouring flea markets in search of period ceramics and tableware, all in the name of painstakingly recreating paintings via photography, with an eye for exacting detail.
In her newest works, Core has immersed herself in the genre of the floral still life, exploring the subtleties of how explosions of riotous color and delicate bouquets have been captured across three centuries of artistic activity. In each case, from an Dutch master from the early 1600s or a Modernist arrangement from the early 1900s, she has faithfully documented the conventions and idiosyncrasies of how flowers were presented, cultivating her own blossoms in her greenhouse to ensure period authenticity. Her images display a kind of technical accuracy that is thoroughly impressive, where backdrops, tabletop accessories (like shells and insects), and even the angle and strength of the light are controlled with precise perfection. Tulips, peonies, roses, and dozens of other varieties have never looked so good.
While there is a certain awe inspiring wonder that comes from standing in front of these fastidious pictures, even though we are flower collectors, I was surprisingly less than moved by the conceptual inversion being explored. I can imagine one of these pictures hanging in a collector’s home, and having that person trick visitors with the image, gleefully explaining that it’s not a painting but a photograph, and everyone nodding their heads in respectful, smiling amazement, putting their faces right up close to inspect the details. Or it seems likely that a museum might hang one directly next to a period painting to show the similarities and differences (see the link below). Either way, this of course dives directly into the idea of what truth means in photography, and into the evolution of approaches to “natural” picture making across various time periods. But somehow, while I was obviously struck by the technical mastery of these photographs, they made less of an overall impression than I was expecting. When the “gee whiz” factor wears off, we’re still looking at beautiful floral compositions we’ve seen before (albeit in a different medium); I realize that this is the point, but if I tell the truth, while these are pictures I should love, they somehow left me with a sense of being slightly underwhelmed.
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced between $7000 and $9500, based on size. Core’s work has slowly begun to enter the secondary markets in recent years, with prices at auction ranging between $8000 and $81000. The images from her series of Thiebaud cake recreations have been routinely at the top end of that range.