JTF (just the facts): A total of 23 color photographs, framed in white and hung throughout the main gallery space. The chromogenic dye coupler prints come in three sizes: 16×29, 36×43, and 48×57, each in editions of 10. There are 16 in the small size (matted) and 7 in the medium size (unmatted) on display. All of the images were taken in 2009. (Installation shots at right.)
Comments/Context: Wijnanda Deroo’s images of New York restaurants are a short-hand catalog of the diversity of this great city: its traditions and routines, its ethnicities and neighborhoods, its celebrations and memories. Her quiet, unpeopled interiors capture the essence of the dining experience at each individual place, from table settings and surrounding decorations, to exuberant colors or muted light, running the gamut from down-and-dirty to over-the-top extravagant.
Deroo’s pictures document these rooms on a human scale, at eye level, often looking straight at a geometrically balanced group of tables, or down a long bar or counter. Many seem to have been taken in the purity of the morning, when the light is bright and the tables are neatly set. Her photographs are like formal portraits of these spaces, rich in color and texture, some “personalities” crisp and starched, others worn and smooth. The Russian Tea Room and 21 Club are darkly opulent, while Milon and Papaya Dog have ebullient effervescence to spare.
When taken as a series, the works provide a historical (sometimes almost nostalgic) snapshot of the nature of dining in New York; as restaurants age and mature, or come and go, they reflect the aspirations, moods, and tastes of those they serve. Deroo’s formal compositions etch these quintessential places in memory, removing the cacophony of the babbling customers, leaving behind silent, studied environments and surfaces, each patiently waiting for its next jolt of life.
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The small 16×20 prints are $3500 each; the medium 36×43 prints are $5000 each; and the large 48×57 prints are $8500 each. Very little of Deroo’s work has appeared in the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.
My favorite image in this exhibit was Jerry’s, 90 Chambers Street, 2009; it’s the coffee shop image on the left in the group of three at right. I like the breaking up of the picture plane and the way the light falls on the red leather of the booth.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Through January 29th
210 Eleventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001