|Marilyn Bridges - Castillo from Perpendicular, Yucatan, Mexico 1982|
Regarding Place includes over 100 black-and-white pictures by 17 artists, some of them iconic, some cult favorites, some little-known. The great majority of the prints in the show were donated to the museum’s collection over the last few decades by the Brown family, whose two children attended UAlbany in the 1980s and 1990s, and the show was organized by UAM curator Corinna Schaming, giving a sort of bi-level structure to the selection process. The result is somewhat uneven, but of a very high quality overall, and the installation takes on a subtly intriguing life of its own, as framed prints are variously grouped in rows, stacks, and grids, sometimes loosely spaced, sometimes tightly packed.
Elevated Trestle, Division Street 1941
I’d be more comfortable with a less presumptuous approach – such as “here’s some really nice stuff from the collection, and isn’t it great to have a chance to look at it together on the walls instead of leaving it safe in a file drawer in the dark?” I mean, who needs all that theory? The bottom line: Photos like to be looked at, and it's very good to see these photos out of storage.
Highlights abound, including seven small prints by the ageless Manuel Alvarez Bravo that span the 1930s to the 1970s in a carefree leap; five big, bold prints by Andreas Feininger (two of which are also seen in the current New York, New York! show at The Hyde Collection); an appropriately random-seeming set of 10 images by Andy Warhol (these were donated by the Warhol Foundation in 2008); and five Joel Meyerowitz prints from the 1960s - before he discovered large-format color.
Three photographers are represented by a whole portfolio of 12 or more images: Marilyn Bridges, who makes precisely composed aerial pictures of famous sites; Douglas Huebler, a conceptual artist of the unassuming type; and Sally Gall, whose landscapes are lovely, if perhaps a bit sentimental.
|Joel Meyerowitz - JFK Airport (Caddy and Christmas star) 1968|
Not at all sentimental are the projections by Staehle, though they are also calm and sweet in their way. His pieces, which consist of 24-hour web views of two scenes (one rural, one urban) captured at short intervals and an hourlong continuous loop showing Niagara Falls (with pleasantly roaring soundtrack), struck me as being simply and singularly about the passage of time. Staehle’s cool gaze, aided by Internet technology, allows the viewer to contemplate at leisure a very quietly unfolding drama. Not particularly innovative or unique, in my opinion, but worthy of attention.
Note: If you want to see the Regarding Place and Wolfgang Staehle shows, you must act quickly - they end on Sept. 10.
|Wolfgang Staehle - still image from Eastpoint 2004|